Welcome To My Bed

How-To Lists Gone Wrong, and The Attention Span Antidote

It seems that most blog posts take a "how to" tack these days, with steps listed out as if the road to success always happens in a discernable secquence.  The same way that music magazines fall back on the top 10, top 100, best of, must listen format, bloggers are wont to reducing their most brilliant insights to any easily digestible list of wisdoms.  I get tired of reading things in this bulleted format.  It is the literary equivalent of a powerpoint presentation--snooze worthy, even at its most successful.  Invented to battle boredom by distilling everything down to it's barest, most essential set of points, the format has become not only ubiquitous in the blogosphere but hokey in its omnipresence.  Fancy transitions, links, photos; none of the bells and whistles make how-to posts any more compelling to me than the most assinine "advice" articles in Cosmopolitan, regardless of topic.
However.  There are times when it's actually an appropriate organizational tool.  This week, I read an excellent compilation of advice to young writers by Sarah Manguso on the Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Work In Progress blog.  No catchy headings, no overwrought humble-brags or even any anecdotal evidence whatsoever.  Just clean prose presenting sound advice.  Here, we have an example of a restraint I feel is lacking in a lot of online writing.
 
The internet is a glorious arena for writers, as it offers so many avenues of expression, and nearly limitless posibilities.  Our stories can become multi-media extravaganzas.  Any reference made can be linked to, anything seen can be inserted into the readers view via embeded photo or video.  The writer has ultimate power via the internet to footnote their thoughts in attempt to provide a reading experience as close to the writer's process of synthesis as possible.  And this is exciting.  Of course it is.  But with the ease of inclusion comes the peril of drowning the reader in distracting ancillary information.  Does my audience really need to see a picture of me holding the pie I baked to understand a written description of it?  Do they need to be link to all semi-relevant Wikipedia articles in a post that is not about fact, but about the experience of information?  By reudcing your thoughts to single-serving format and drowning them in unnecessary ephemera and minutae, you are saying that your reader isn't smart enoguh to find her way through what you have to say without extensive assistance.  You are calling her a bad reader, and calling yourself a bad writer.
 
Manguso's article links to nothing.  There are almost no specific details.  We get common nouns and simple sentences.  Her advice carries more weight for this absence of direct context.  No apologies for what she knows to be true.  No approval sought.  Quite simply--she presents the truth as she knows it, and leaves it to the reader to provide context.  Think about the best novels you've read.  In my reading life, the books I want to live with longest and most often are the ones that have made space for me between the lines.  This can be said of all successful writing.  It is not only a reflection of a recognizable image, but a space to inhabit.  Manguso's advice makes a space where I can imagine my writing life more fully realized and attended to.  That space is not typical of the how-to form, and that she is able to break the form and emerge with something sparse and necessary is a gift.
 
The way the internet is structured draws out our impulse to individualize everything in service of creating an identity in a vacuum.  But identity is not solely based upon personal signifiers.  What kind of car I drive (or whether I drive at all) has little bearing on how I feel after a long stretch of highway.  Why cloud my point of view with product placement, or even an overexposure of the self when I can trust what is felt, and the writing that comes from it?  I'd much rather sit down with a small kernel of meaning, however unclear, to work towards articulating, than draw an explicit map (landmarks inluded) of how to get there from here.

Pink wig, thick ass, give 'em whiplash.

The new hair, in full-ish effect:

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The newest painting, now that it's no longer shrouded in secrecy:

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And my new favorite outrageous lady:

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Spent the better part of last night listening to Nicki the Ninja. Pretty sure the only reason I ever disliked her is that her verse on "Bedrock" is the only underwhelming one she's ever spit, and that's the track I heard her on first. But we couldn't have her upstaging the boys again, could we?

Lil Kim needs to get her ass back to music-land (besides that brief moment on Luda's "Battle of the Sexes") and join this little lady in breaking up the boys club with some serious skills. I'm rather tired of there only being one or two female MC's in the mainstream at a time.

Cock-a-doodle-dee.

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Today's episode is brought to you by the feathered friends that both inspired this morning's haircut and live on my current shirt. Regardless of the fact that it snowed today, I still can't stop myself from succumbing to my intensive need for changes to my physical appearance. Too broke for new piercing or tattoos, but those clippers under my bathroom sink are always around, offering a free alternative to racing down to the drugstore for more hair dye. So I brought back the hawk in full force, just in time for the early onset of winter.

The bouncer at one of the bars my sister took me to while we visited Jersey for the holiday insisted I looked like La Roux. This is a photograph from that night:

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My hair isn't nearly as architectural, but I must admit, I am insanely jealous of the amber tidal wave that lives on her head. I mean, look at her.

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I'm going to learn how to sound mostly disaffected over a dance beat, grow my hair out a bit more, and then promptly steal her identity.

Maybe this is only something I want because it is a Saturday, and I just got out of work, and I am mostly delirious from lack of truly restful sleep.

Gazing down at all the young and beautiful, with their questioning eyes.

Last Saturday I made a pilgrimage to the Boston outpost of the House of Blues to see Grinderman. Now, I will admit to being poorly acquainted with him up to this point in my life--Button and I have surely listening to plenty of the Bad Seeds while galavanting in our high school days, but fuck if I know which albums or how long ago that was--so I had to do the pretend-you-know-all-the-things-the-cool-kids-do dance for most of the evening.

But mostly, I spent the night mesmerized. I'm sure I've mentioned in the past that the physical sensation of live music makes me happier than most things in the world. Rock music especially. The vibrations in the air move my blood faster or something. The bass in my chest sounds like "home" more than the word itself. And this particular instance of live music, I could not tear my eyes away. Some people are just built to carry off a magical kind of stage presence, a conviction I've come to from my years in poetry. But it was at shows that this idea first entered my mind. Performance, though a construct, is something that at its core must be instinctual. To be seen, to see yourself being seen, and to then feed off that energy and use it to create an experience that would not have been possible otherwise is astonishing when properly executed. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Mr. Cave was made for the stage, and I am glad to have witnessed him.

Take a look for yourself:



In my internet travels this morning, I stumbled across this blog post, chock full of pictures of the man, mostly in his younger days. This photo in particular made me very happy:

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I have been cleaning my room for what feels like (and is probably close to) the past three weeks, and it looks like a more color-intensive version of the same. Books and papers everywhere, clothes falling into coffee cups, typewriters strung with paper and stories half-typed. I've cleared away the dishes, but the mess does not get much smaller for all my trying. I suppose this is the way some of us will always live. It's like the mess in my head's just overflowed in the real world. Generally, I've decided to avoid it, choosing instead to melt Rachmaninoff records all morning to make new wall art. If Nick can survive the clutter, so can I.

And then there's this, which just makes the day that much better.

Ain't no party like a NoHo party.

Saturday night after work I ran over to Pearl Street in lieu of joining the annual zombie pub crawl to catch Lynx and Beats Antique on the Blind Threshold tour with Zoe Jakes. Not only did I dance until my legs got rubbery and uncooperative, but I can honestly say that I've never had a show experience like that before. There are days I forget that one of my favorite feelings is live sound rattling in my chest. With two drum kits on stage at once that night, it was impossible to forget. And in addition to the amazing and invigorating experience of the room, there was stunning dancing besides. I had never seen anyone belly dance before, and I'm pretty sure I've been supremely spoiled in seeing one of the more famous belly dancers on the planet do her thing over some of the most fun, original dance music I've come across in a hot minute. My jaw was on the floor half the time for how simply the set-up was: two guys, two drum kits, a laptop and mixer, and the occasional electrified string instrument. Every few songs, Zoe came out in a different costume dripping of rhinestones and self-possession and wow-ed everybody. I know little to nothing about belly dance, but my roommate is an instructor, and I am willing to take her word that this woman knows her shit.



At the end of the night, a hippie chick had given me a glow stick, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside from the music, and both my ears and eyes thanked me for feeding them such delicious things. The following is an episode from the tour's video blog regarding a song collaboration between the two music acts on Lynx's forthcoming alubm, featuring footage from the show I attended. And there we are, in the front row. Bow-throwing back from my Jersey hardcore days still comes in handy every now and again.



Oh, and Lynx played a banjo beatbox cover of "No Diggity". Jus' sayin'.

Kicking undead ass, via Boston.

I know a lot of ladies with more than their fair share of pizzaz. But one in particular is celebrating a big day today--Madame Psychosis' first ever music video is live on youtube! HOORAY!

If you like zombies, and I'm sure that plenty of you do, you should probably check it out:



If you like what you saw/heard, check out Madame P's new EP on Bandcamp, and the rest of her AKA Jade Sylvan's projects here. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Pomp (& circumstance).

I can't sleep. I haven't had to say that aloud in a long time.

So I started thinking about my hair again. It's been an obsession lately (and always). I've dyed it twice in the past two weeks, once lighter, once darker. I am satisfied with the color now, but the length is driving me nuts. Having an inch and a half of hair is difficult. With my styling options close to zero, it seems my collection of hats is growing exponentially. Not because I want to cover my hair by any means, but because I just want something interesting to be happening on my head. Oh, how I rue the day that I shaved off my mohawk! Well, not really. I've quite enjoyed this crop. But I am ready for some different extreme. These two ladies and their fabulous coifs have been spinning through my head as of late:

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Now, Rihanna is someone that can essentially do no wrong by me. Argue her talent all you want; I'm not going to tell you what opinion to have as far as pop music goes. But for the past few years, basically ever since she cut it short, her hair has been fierce as a tiger let lose on Las Vegas. If I could have even half the pompadour she's rocking at the right of that pair of pictures, I would be beyond pleased with myself.

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If you have not heard of Janelle Monae, you have been living under a boulder of epic un-coolness. This woman can sing and dance like I have not seen in years, not to mention carry a sci-fi story of Frank Herbert-proportions on her shoulders rocking wing-tips and the freshest white shirts. I love me some Gaga, but I have half a mind to smack the entertainment industry hard in the mouth for being so moony-eyed over that New York love child of Madonna and Marilyn Manson when Janelle is leaps and bounds beyond. If we wanted to have a no-holds-barred battle between high-concept pop divas, I know Monae would win, hands down. That being said, her hair, while defying all gravity, has absolutely captured my heart.

I suppose what all of this means is that I'm currently sitting at my kitchen table in the dark, meditating on ways to make my hair grow faster. After dinner tonight, I had a brief modeling session where I showed my roommate Jericha this fantastic vintage dress I picked up mid-July. In talking about how to style it, I went off on a tangent about the plans for my future hair. She told me I was only allowed to dress pin-up if my hair got larger than life. I am inclined to agree. There is nothing that makes me happier than the idea of winged eyeliner, sky-high pumps, and even higher hair.

Except maybe this last picture:

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In other, perhaps more important, news, the website for my winter tour is up and running. I have been smiling too much and doing impromptu happy dances in the crosswalk on my way to work because of it. It was designed by the badd-ass and talented William James, a man I admire for many reasons, the least of which is that his typewriter collection rivals his pearl snap shirt collection. RESPECT!

If you're in the New York area this weekend, you should come out to the inaugural tour date, my show at Sarah Lawrence's Teahaus, sponsored by their Spoken Word Collective. I will have limited edition books and lots of words and hugs and dance magic to share. Word on the street is there's going to be an epic after-party, as it's their first feature of the semester. I am honored, and absolutely beyond excited to rock New York hard. Details here. I'd love to see your smiling face in the audience!

Last, and perhaps most importantly, today is my sister's twenty-fifth birthday. Well, more like yesterday at this advanced stage of morning. I am sending her a unicorn for good luck in the coming year, her silver anniversary of living. What a wonderful lady!

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Here we are at the Flying Rhino last fall, our favorite restaurant in Worcester. I can't wait resume our tradition of monthly dinners, this time with wine.

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Did I mention it's now nine days until my 21st birthday?! SHA-ZAMMM.

Ok. I really need to go to bed now...

Where the quiet part of my heart lives.

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The leaves in the suburbs put farm country to shame. Hadley asparagus may be delicious this time of year, but I will take rhubarb any day of the week, if only because it means I get to play with knives in the backyard, all while donning my peacock-print Tina Turner dress. And since I can't have her fabulous, giant hair at the moment, I suppose I will settle for wearing the old denim jacket I unearthed in the basement this afternoon, to be rocked a la 1984:



And just because I found this somewhat disturbing, here she is dancing seductively with a giant shoe?



If I have time to be watching all of this, it is thoroughly summer. I am in the midst of my only real vacation for the next string of months and I've already managed a close encounter with a deer on the Palisades Parkway, locking my keys in my car outside Sean's new apartment, getting lost off the BQE, a brief layover in Clinton Hill to visit the men of Black 29 Productions, the "recession special" at Gray's Papaya, a dentist appointment, and two massive loads of laundry.

Also, mostly so that my sister knows what I'm talking about when I say "those cats that wave at you in Chinese restaurants", I bought this:

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I think that I may have a super power that allows me to turn pictures the color of my hair?

I haven't named him yet. (Suggestions welcome.) He will match perfectly with all of the old furniture my grandmother has nearly been carrying to my car herself--since I've been here, I've been offered all manner of dressers, shelves, end tables, lamps, etc. from the vast stores in the basement, attic, and garage. It would seem that my family has enough furniture for three families. I can be almost certain that none of it is new. Curb shopping coupled with pack rat tendencies makes for interesting after dark navigations of the living and dining rooms. And every visit I've made for the past year, I forget they moved the location of the kitchen garbage.

And because I haven't written any solid lists in the past few weeks, here are all the things that would be in my dream apartment: a fire pole, an iron spiral staircase, floor to ceiling bookshelves, talking candlesticks/flatware/appliances that sang with me so the chores went by quicker, an endless supply of avocado salad (avocados, orange peppers, red onion), and that stained glass fake Tiffany lamp that used to hang over my Gram's kitchen table.

I love New Jersey. I refuse to speak ill of it. Cos when I'm here, even on the days when it's hotter than Tina's legs in any given mini skirt, I get grass naps and New York as my great big humid backyard.

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Magic morsel #20 (oh, how appropriate) and 21.

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My feet always forget that my wallet actually enjoys working doubles. Even if closing Sunday night is followed by opening Monday morning. I can do this. I really can. Promise.

Cass and I are finally signing for a summer apartment, hopefully sometime this week. Our living room theme, according to a post-it she left on my laptop last night, will be "gypsy camp". Also, I may or may not be getting a pet python? We'll discuss all this later. In the meantime, my current favorite remix:



Happy, happy manic Monday internet. Swallow some sun into that skin and blush for me baby. I am so tired I must've come out the other side of the feeling.

Little happiness.

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+ I am writing so many poems that I am overwhelmed with pride to read on stage. When people come up to me after an open mic, be they friends or strangers, I can take the compliment gracefully and start a conversation. Not so ugly duckling anymore. More of a goofy, blinking owl trying to turn my head all the way around so that I can see absolutely everything, hooting and hollering whenever there are words to be shout at and with. I am more than okay with that.

+ C Rudz told me last night that I have a delightfully unique laugh, and to never lose it.

+ C Rudz and April Ranger are going on a tour of the West Coast, bringing their sucker punch sunshine to the Sunshine State (no, not Florida) and its neighbors. If you can catch a show, you must. They will melt your faces with their talent and overwhelming goodness.

+ Speaking of face melting, Karen Finneyfrock featured at the Cantab last night. Not only is she a phenomenal poet and a charming lady, she will sell you socks. I kid you not. Ask her about it, cos she'll be in New England for a minute on tour.

+ I haven't even gotten to St. Paul and I'm already thinking about NPS 2011, which is coming to Boston. I am absolutely thrilled by this. NorthBEAST advantage? I think, yes. J*me quoted Mark Twain on the mic last night--"In New York they ask 'how much money does he have?' In Philadelphia, they ask, 'who were his parents?' In Boston they ask, 'how much does he know?'" I like to think the bit about Boston holds true. Regardless, that week of August will be nuts.

+ All my happies today are poetry related. I guess it makes sense, being that it's National Poetry Month.

Ooh-la-la, or, I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M GOING TO NPS 2010.

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This about sums up my shock and awe at the events of last night's slam as accurately as anything else, although I must say that I am not wearing a hat that fabulous. But the sentiment is definitely the same.

In the final bout for the Hampshire County Slam Collective's third ever NPS team, we came up with a first in the history of HCSC (at least as I know it): an all-lady team. Christina Beam, Anna Meister, Katie Frank, my lovely roommate/partner in committed friendship Cassandra de Alba, and yours truly will be storming St. Paul this August for some serious shenanigans, and also some serious poetry business. As a fundraising ploy, we are going to have a photo shoot as pin up girls and then make a calendar. I am very excited about this whole thing. The road trip, the estrogen, but especially the calendars.

In other, semi-related, poetry news, I submitted some poems to Write Bloody last night as part of their yearly call for new authors. I am also terribly excited about this, especially because of how soon I find out whether or not I've moved on to the next round. So many big steps to take in one week.

Papa bear is still in the hospital getting stronger (I told him we need to have a Rocky-style training montage replete with egg drinks and Philadelphian stone steps, etc.), and my sisters are working overtime looking for various heart surgeons to get second and third and fourth opinions from. Ever the glamorous one, Chrissie is going to get in touch with Oprah's very own Dr. Oz (she has more connects than any other working class 19-year-old I've ever met) and Kaitlin is inquiring with old friends who've had heart surgery who may be able to point us in more productive directions. I feel useless, as I know absolutely nobody who's had these types of problems, and thus cannot ask any doctors, famous or otherwise, for help. I just have to keep crossing my fingers. I hope they don't get stuck this way. But then again, even if they did, at least I'd have that extra luck.

Made the switch from a common thief to up close and personal with Robin Leach.

1. Huzzah for employment. My new(ish) job allows for a lot less sleep and writing time than I would like, but there are definite perks. First, the platform stiletto torture chambers of my wildest cheapskate dreams, purchased this morning:

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Note the mud smears--I could not wait to put them on, so I've been wearing them and trekking through the spring soft ground. Never have I been happier to feel my heels dragging through the dirt than today. On this particular day it means that I am roughly five inches taller and mentally channeling Rihanna a la "So Hard". I don't remember where I read this, but she was definitely in the Barabadian equivalent of ROTC before deciding to pursue pop stardom. Clearly, bad ass is something that runs through her regardless. For reference:



2. Cassandra just left for spring break and I am already going through a serious case of the lonelies. We have been singing Biggie together all day and gave the mall a good twice-over before saying goodbye for the next few days. I do not yell "wife" across crowded rooms at her for nothing--I am not sure I'd be so high functioning without her. Behind every success story is a strong woman, and she is mine. We keep saying things in unison lately. Our midday foray into the world of commercial fashion turned up some serious gems.

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Recyclable foil prom dress?

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Sartorial choices to match your patio furniture?

Ummm, hello? World? Who birthed these hideous things? Who do you expect to buy them?

Also, a little old lady on the escalator told me that she loved my style and that I looked very nice today. It made me especially giddy because I am wearing ripped tights, a zebra t-shirt, an extra long undershirt, and a beanie, topped off by a pair of maroon Vans and my army jacket. If an old lady can appreciate that, perhaps I do know how to dress myself well.

3. And then there was one. Alone in our room, I revert to old habits for killing free time: namely, youtube video trolling. I would like to thank last night's the E! channel special for alerting me to the potential of extra large Diet Coke cans as acceptable hair rollers. And also, for reminding me that Gaga is an entity one cannot solely listen to, but a perfect storm of high and low culture to be observed with as many senses as possible. Mostly because she does things like wrap herself in caution tape, escape from prison, poison mad randoms, and cop Brett Michaels' bandana style. Among other things. Like cigarette butt glasses and black eyebrows with platinum&yellow hair. I am not sure there is anything she can do to make me stop loving her. I bought an issue of Cosmo at the supermarket last night simply because she was on the cover, and I usually refer to Cosmo as "sexual empowerment for anti-feminist dummies" (or probably something much meaner, if I can help it). But this woman. She makes me do things. Just look at her. How can so much awesome fit into that tiny body?



4. Figures that the first time I sit down to legitimately blog in who knows how long, I end up posting Rihanna and Gaga videos, talking about how great my roommate is, and not every really accomplishing much of anything by way of serious thought. I drank coffee for the first time in at least six weeks today. "Jittery" does not even begin to cover it. I am going to blame that for this. VAGUENESS! I leave you with some food porn from Worcester dinner with Kaitbeast last night, pan-seared scallops in truffle sauce with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and julienned zucchini. I love my sister. I love the Flying Rhino. I love that I laugh so much harder with good food in my belly. Life is busy and satisfying, the two best things. And just so you're aware, satisfaction tastes extra-special-good when it looks like this:

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And if you don't know, now you know.

Viewing party for successful unemployed wannabes.

1. Last night, in lieu of going to a party that would have required driving and small talk and a general regard for personal grooming, Cass and I opted to stay in our cozy treehouse and watch the Jersey Shore finale and reunion show. It was definitely the superior choice. Afterwards, I climbed into bed and watched two episodes of The Tudors (which has more sex acts per episode than anything on TV, except maybe True Blood), then Grey Gardens, and then Step Up 2 on Netflix. I then attempted to watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but decided during the opening credits that I didn't like the looks of 5 AM and should probably hit the hay. So, for those keeping track at home, this is what is currently in a blender in my brain.

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wonka boy


If I had remembered my dreams upon waking, I'm sure they would have been epic and/or terrifying. Good thing SVU didn't make into into the mix, or things could have gotten pretty out of hand.

2. The job hunt saga continues. After calling and leaving a message at the office of the coffee shop I had my heart set on (in all likelihood, I'll never get a call back), I decided I needed to take matters further and do a second variety of canvasing--the internet kind. Honestly, I'm not sure why I didn't think of it sooner, being that half my life exists in virtual space (thank you, beloved Blog Land). Anyway, this afternoon, I woke up after that long night (and morning) of Netflix Instant Watch chomping at the bit for some employment. I dipped my big toe in the western Mass edition of Craigslist and shoved some debris around, eventually unearthing a gem: a restaurant in NoHo looking for someone to start on lunches and a Sunday night shift, to later be phased into the regular schedule. In a moment of frenzy--I have missed waiting tables more than I would risk articulating--I rewrote my resume, hopped in the car, and drove over, ready to conquer. And it seems they were prepared to be conquered, because the manager told me to come back for an interview tomorrow morning. Perhaps, if all goes as I wish it would, I'll have a new source of income by the end of the week.

3. I'm not sure if any of you watched this year's Golden Globes (I didn't), and even if you did, I'm not sure you would have even caught this bit of awesome on the red carpet broadcast. So, I bring you Amanda Palmer rocking the red carpet the way it should be rocked:

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If ever I end up at one of those things, you can all rest assured it will be in a naked dress of my own.

Buried in AWESOME.

1. Happy Holidays everybody! The snow is melting in drizzle, so I'm pretty sure I can only be buried in intangible awesomeness today. I don't know if it has something to do with the fact that I'm getting older (and thus, hopefully, more grateful) or what, but this Christmas was definitely one of the best I've ever had. Maybe it's the shift in traditions--for the past few years now, my sisters and I have gone to midnight mass with my dad and then out to a huge diner breakfast afterwards to do some catching up (read: hysterical laughing) before the big day; introducing each other to our favorite beers; spoiling our brother with electronics and big squishy hugs. But even the things that stay the same every year made me extra-smiley this time around. (And I didn't even take my wisdom tooth Vicodin all day, so we can't blame the painkillers.) I got to give copies of my new book out to all my aunts and uncles; the cousins made (very) tentative plans to go on an all-inclusive cruise together in a few years when we're not so broke; and then there was cheesecake. Also, I got a parasol prototype that they'll be selling at the Seattle Museum in the near future:

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This lead to discussion of starting a traveling performance troupe as a family. We're all so loud and entertaining (at least among ourselves), that it seems the obvious choice. I think I'm going to learn to juggle, and when Chrissie gets out of business school, we can hit the road with balanced books and a whole lot of wacky fun.

2. Poetry found its way into everything yesterday--besides getting the collected works of Anne Sexton and some Plath, my sister bought me Anis Mojgani's Over The Anvil We Stretch and Sarah Morgan's Animal Ballistics. My brother made me a book of his poems (we must pause so I can yell about this for a second: MY BROTHER MADE HIS FIRST EVER CHAPBOOK!!! AT THE AGE OF 12!! IT'S HAPPENING!!!!!). I put several spoken word albums on my brother's Christmas iPod, his favorite of which is Connor and Ian's The Narwhal's Revenge Song. I made a spoken version of my new chapbook for my dad, as well a spoken anthology of poems for him that started out as a read-the-classics-aloud session and ended up peppered with words of friends I dug up on Facebook, Blogger and Youtube, as well as in my iTunes library. It seems that no matter how hard I try to ally myself with traditional page poetry, I find myself defining performance as an integral aspect of poetry.

As an aside, my great aunt shared an interesting quote last night that I think applies to lots of writers I know: something along the lines of "we all start out as poets and end up novelists because it is easier". I can't remember who said it, but it rings true in many ways. Novels are so much easier to sell--very few regular Joes go to the bookstore and spend their time there in the poetry section, and it's a shame. Virginia Woolf writes a lot about how poets are born with a gift, whereas novelists and essayists can be trained to a certain level of competency. It's an interesting tension to think about, especially in light of all the genre-blurring the Lady Poets have been discussing since moving in back in September. We seem to have reached a consensus that the differences between "fiction", "non-fiction", and "poetry" are chiefly in terms of form; in most cases, content crosses over with relatively few hiccups, and thus the concept of genre is something best left to the critics and ignored by the writers themselves.

3. Today, even though it's rainy, I am smiling extra-large, already starting in on new sets of mittens. I am ready to soak up this vacation as a completely immobile fun-sponge. Time to make a nest with all of my new books (among them a first edition of Who Killed Amanda Palmer? from my dad) and my knitting and my parasol. For now, as much as I miss the Lady Poets, and Boston, and Providence, there is nowhere else I'd rather be than curled up here, in New Jersey. It feels good to say that and mean it.

Everybody's Girl: The Gaga Bibliography

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if that isn't a Bowie reference, then what is?


When bored, I often troll the internet for information about my favorite ladies of the moment, be they the girl-crushes of this past summer (when I had seemingly endless time to surf, ogle, and swoon at all my favorites) or the poets I have spent the past four months resuscitating and re-imagining for Spindle. Today, as fruit of this labor, I bring you my Lady Gaga bibliography, compiled over several weeks of active gleaning and countless more of idle internet-wandering.

1. For the style hounds:

My friend Mara pointed me in the direction of this photo gallery--a year of Gaga outfits to observe, love, and if you are daring, integrate into your style inspiration boards for 2010. There is no questioning the power of this woman as a fashion icon (see White Lightning's crafternoons for representative evidence of DIY attempts), and she pursues the title with a nod to Warhol's silk screen assembly line and a bit of Mark Jacobs and Alexander McQueen, just for good measure.

2. For the make-up mavens:

Whether playing dress up with Cyndi Lauper for MAC's Viva Glam campaign or simply spitting in the face of make-up artists who remind us laypeople to never mix a bold eye with an equally bold lip, Gaga is probably best equipped to color outside the lines when it comes to cosmetology. Looking at her carefully crafted visage, I am tempted to wash my face with rhinestones every morning.

3. For the record collectors:

Though ineligible for Best New Artist at this year's Grammys (pshh, technicalities), no one can argue with the fact that Gaga has had a huge year in terms of record sales alone. 8 millions copies of The Fame sold? Check. Collectable version of The Fame: Monster replete with lock of hair and other completely ludicrous extras? Check. B-sides and remixes enough to compile a dance party playlist the likes of which most artists can only dream of? Just do a general Google search and you are inundated. Kid Cudi's already sampled a stripped down piano performance of Pokerface for his song "Make Her Say", and I'm sure that's only the beginning of such activities.



4. For the gossip queens:

It is safe to say that bloggers are absolutely obsessed with Gaga (ehem, Perez Hilton). And they are probably right to be--every time she leaves the house (typically sans pants) she looks bound for somewhere fabulous, or otherwise ends up doing something scandalous, and usually those two points of interest coincide, creating a meta-gossip-topic of epic proportions. Saucily refuting hermaphrodite rumors? Check. Treating the VMAs as a giant installation space? Check. Meeting the Queen? Check. Is there nothing she won't do?

5. And perhaps most importantly, for the feminists:

While reading her dailies in blog land, Sophia came across this gem on Jezebel, a brief feminist perspective on the Lady's shifting relationship to feminism--initially, she didn't want to call herself that, but it is clearly such a large part of what she does that it should not go unnamed. I've been wanting to write a serious (maybe even ACADEMIC) essay on this phenomenon but have yet to find the time to sit down and so. An artist whose entire life is an on-going cultivation of a persona is tough and tricky work, to say the least, and the endeavor walks a fine line between titillating and alienating (see her thought on this tension here). Some people just cannot be bothered with the spectacle. However, the characters she creates for her music videos celebrate powerful women fighting back against the commodification of their bodies within pop culture--as a performance artist, for she is clearly interested in a lot more than just writing and recording pop songs, she questions the art form she actively participates in so that it may become a more positive space for women (and young girls) it so desperately needs to continue as an industry. I run the risk of getting effusive here, so I'll reign myself in to this final observation: comparisons to Madonna are more than apt (view their SNL face-off here, if you can wade through the field of Andy Samberg's punchlines delivered via lead balloon), because sexual awareness and freedom rank high on the list of issues LG addresses with her music and performance; the celebration of pop culture within a larger critical space is where the genius of both of these women lies.

So, is it art?? Amanda Palmer's got something to say about that. The second coming of Madonna? Madge herself has a few thoughts on that. Are we hearkening back to the heyday of glam rock a la David Bowie??! We should be so lucky.



Regardless of your answers to any of the above questions, she is proving rather impossible to avoid or ignore at this point. Even my dad has opinions on her. It is clear she means something different to every person I've talked to, but what can be agreed upon is that, love her or hate her, she is never boring to watch.

Girl-crush of the week/woman of the year.

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This has been a long time coming, and I'm sure by the title, you momentarily thought I'd be talking Gaga (and you wouldn't be groundsless in that assumption, but there's plenty of time to talk about her later). However, if I were to give out a woman of the year award, it would be to Rihanna. Not only is she one of the flyest ladies to grace any red carpet, but she is rocking it out for short-haired girls everywhere (FTW). Her new album has a very special place in my daily album rotation (currently obsessed with "Wait Your Turn", "Hard", and "Rockstar 101"). And then there's the video for Jay-Z's "Run This Town", which may be one of my favorite videos of the year for too many reasons: a powerful woman holding her own in the haze of post-apocalypse alongside a hip-hop heavyweight like Mr. Beyonce Knowles. I can definitely get down with that, especially when there are thigh high boots, bullet corsets, and fur vests in play.



But there are plenty of girl-crushes past that are equally esteemed in these arenas (fashion and bad-assery) in my mind. So why the second title? Rihanna gets my vote for woman of the year largely because of how her strength has taken shape in her personal life. I was discussing this with a friend the other day--how Rihanna's public discussion of personal experience with domestic violence is setting a positive example for young people about how to react to abuse in relationships. To have such a traumatic experience become a public spectacle must have been absolutely devastating to her, but she handled it with aplomb, to say the very least, and a responsibility to her fans I can honestly say I never expected from someone my own age. Her interview with Diane Sawyer on 20/20 speaks for itself:







"The whole night was not part of my plan." / "Domestic violence is not something that people want anybody to know." / "I'm not ever going to date anyone like my father." / "This happened to me and it can happen to anybody." / "Don't react off of love. F love...love is so blind."

By putting it simply, she says it best. Her awareness of the kind of influence she has as a public figure is admirable, to be sure, but my admiration for her goes beyond that. I respect her endlessly for publicly discussing the complex emotions all victims of domestic violence experience--the rationalization and denial, the desire for love to conquer all, the way the memory of the event haunts you long after all physical signs have faded--and explaining the way those already terrible circumstances are exacerbated by living in the limelight. And not once does she ever waver from the image I've always had of her--a strong woman. The most important part of this interview for me was that she refused to let her strength be questioned simply because she was a victim of violence. To continue claiming that strength even when others would like to define her as a victim makes her my woman of the year, because she is showing that women (and all people) shouldn't be reactions to their circumstances, but unflinchingly self-defining.

The boys wanna be her, the girls wanna be her.

Is it possible to OD on fabulous? I have watched this four times in rapid succession and cannot stop hitting play every time it is over.



Going to see her in January at MSG (if Ticketmaster would stop being petulant). My head might explode. Or I'll just run away and join her drag queen circus-- we'll live in a pool of diamonds and always sing along to the radio. Yes. Yes.

Dress-up box, and the historical girl-crushes of the week.

Playboy U named Hampshire # 21 on the list of top party schools in the country this year and while I'm not sure if that's entirely accurate (I mean, since when does a predisposition to decriminalized smokables a party school make?), our biggest party of the year is tonight, and I still have no idea what to wear.

Halloween is an event I change my mind about until the very last possible moment. But here's what I'm thinking at this sleepless moment:

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Edie Sedgwick is what most biographers would call one of the Silver Factory's first "superstars". I am more likely to call her one of Warhol's many casualties. Regardless, she seems an appropriate costume, being that I've been living in my fur hooded coat and black tights lately. The only thing left to accomplish is the silvery hair and the eye make-up, and man, did she know how to do up her eyes. Yes, yes, this is who I am dressing up as tonight. I just wish I had a leopard-skin pillbox hat.

And then, there is that business of the Dead Poets Slam, which throws a kink into everything. I made it to the finals as Denise Levertov (a feat that flabbergasted my poetry professor, who said he was sure that Levertov would never work in a slam; however, I was one of the high scorers of the night) and so I have to show up in the library gallery looking decidedly un-"superstar":

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Even if they may have both been stars in their various cosmos around the same time, that's about the end of the similarities between my two chosen Halloween personas. Incidentally, they are also my girl-crushes of the week (but really of forever: my eternal style icon and my first favorite poet of college who made me fall in love with sharks all over again).

Anyway, I'm off to turn in my thesis proposal and then do some serious writing for my last class of the week, which frustratingly absorbs the bulk of a much needed afternoon -- Georgie wants a haircut, Charley wants me to take him shopping for costume supplies, and then there's this whole business of the slam that I have to prepare for. A few extra hours in the day would probably be nice, but wait a second, isn't Daylight Savings Time this weekend? Oh wait, it's the bad version. Fuck.