HUMP DAY GRAB BAG: Alternative Alternatives

August 25, 2010

By Max

NOT TO BE A HUGE JERK, but there’s This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now and kind of bumming me out. I don’t want to shit-talk cause it’s a total waste of time, but it’s gotten to the point in my life where when people mention how much they love this singer, I feel deep pangs of personal guilt, because it means that the person I’m talking to and I are fundamentally disagreeing on some things. It’s like how in the early 00s (‘member?) sometimes you’d be at a soccer game or the supermarket or a PTA meeting and someone would say nonchalantly that they had voted for Bush, and it would just send up a red flag? It feels like that.

The thing that bugs me about This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now is that she purports to be something of a Performance Artist. Now, I’m not going to say that Pop Music and Performance Art are mutually exclusive, but I will say that the kind of Pop Music this singer is making is absolutely antithetical to the goals of performance art. According not only to my, but in fact anybody’s definition of performance art. Performance Art necessarily means something that is expressed / transmitted via (you guessed it!) PERFORMANCE. This Singer’s work is almost always mediated through studio magick, the radio, MTV, YouTube, Fashion Photography, Twitter, etc. It’s deliberately a kind of Art that doesn’t need to be performed live, since it’s readily accessible. Just saying. So when I am getting bugged out about this I figure I can either rage against the dying of the light (incorrect use whatever) or I can offer some alternative to This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now. So let’s do that.

So, first: ROISIN MURPHY.

Maybe you already know about her. The thing with This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now is that she often claims that the biggest misconception about her is that she’s fake, that she’s artificial, and she wants you to know that she is Always Glamorous, Always In Drag, and very Real. OK I’ll bite: BULLSHIT. This video for the title track from Murphy’s second solo album Overpowered plays with a similar idea, in a much more interesting way (I think). The premise of the video is that Murphy’s stage persona never comes off, that she wears her ultra-bizarre high fashion outfit (Courtesy of Gareth Pugh– Murphy was wearing Pugh long before Kylie, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and the Pop Singer In Question) in cafes, on the bus, etc. as a way of juxtaposing the artificial with the real. It makes an interesting comment on the nature of celebrity culture and beauty. Oh also, this came out in 2007.

KYLIE.

HAD TO GO THERE. The thing about Kylie Minogue is that she’s world-famous everywhere except for the USA. In most of Europe, she’s more famous than Madonna. Madonna has, for those Europhiles (and American Fags) who have been keeping track, been ripping off Kylie for decades. SO while This Pop Singer Nowadays rips off Madonna, she’s actually not even citing the Minogue sources. The almost-Goth, sort of vaguely “dark” aesthetic that This Pop Singer employs was much better used, again in 2007, by Kylie in the video for “2 Hearts”. Other than the fact that this song and video are excellent, the fact that the shiny skull is a reference to Alexander McQueen, the skull itself was actually a symbol of triumph. When this video came out, it was the lead single from Kylie’s “comeback” album X. Comeback, I mean, from breast cancer. Kylie has an authentic right to glamorize the macabre because unlike the Pop Singer Nowadays, who’s whole shtick is utterly devoid of anything involving “the real world” or “obscurity”, when Kylie released this video, singing into a skull microphone, she has just beaten Death. Top that.

GRACE JONES. In your FACE BONES.

It’s no secret that I love Grace Jones. I listen her every single day and she is a totally guiding force in my life. It is with no small amount of disappointment that I continually see This Pop Singer referencing her work. Grace Jones’ eccentricity is best exemplified by the video above (total. personal. anthem.) Unlike the current Pop Singer, who equates randomness and embellishment with intellectual weight, this video shows Grace in what appears to be her natural habitat, running from Keith Haring’s studio to the wardrobe closet to the chiropractor. The message here is that even with this totally unsustainable, unreal level of glamour, she is able to look directly to the camera and sing a love song. The layers of artifice serve to create a distance which the song’s message ostensibly crosses, rather than simply mask the singer’s face. Grace wants you to know that you and her are meant to be.

ROBYN.

Look, one of the things that I don’t understand about This Pop Singer, is how she simultaneously seems to be singing about her “feelings” while denying any trace of actual human emotion. She is bloodless. Does pop music have to be this way? Not if Robyn has anything to say about it. The marriage of a human heart and a dance beat may sound strange on paper, but with Robyn it makes perfect sense.

DIAMOND RINGS

Thought it’d be nice to have a non-girl, non-superstar in the mix. Toronto’s Diamond Rings proves that you can do really cool interesting pop music without a multimillion dollar budget. Look, even Kathleen Hanna is a fan. That ought to be enough. This video is really cool and proves that really, real people can and do succeed at aspiring to glamour and art. Who needs a custom haute couture outfit? Just put a sexy kid in a Karl Lagerfeld t-shirt. Signify, baby. This is what postmodernism ACTUALLY looks like.

So whatever. These are some things you can listen to and watch instead. Check them out.

Stay dry, America. Stay motherfucking dry.


Simply Frump Day

March 26, 2010

by Tommy

Dear New York: I’m back   -_-

This might come as a shock to most people, but San Diego is pretty damn simple compared to the Big Apple.  I’ve only been back a couple days and already my dark circles filled back in (thanks for the drum n bass, neighbors), I’ve had some hand-wringingly awkward conversation with an ex on the street, and nearly saw Wilkes punch a stumbling-drunk stranger in the jowls at 1:30 AM for walking up to us and saying, “White man… black woman…” She took off after him and all I heard was “HEY, FUCK YOU He’s not white and we’re not together…” or something to that.

Foreshadowing the crazy (STORY TIME):  A passenger on my NYC-bound plane decided to act up/shout racial slurs/be a misogynist and eventually we had to taxi back to the gate and air marshals ejected him from the flight.  Because of some malarkey he told the agents (I think he said someone was smuggling weapons or something) our near-full 140 passenger flight had to de-plane and be re-screened at the security checkpoint.  Then the plane had to be searched. If you’ve ever tried to wrangle people together for dinner or karaoke or whatever, even getting five of them to do some shit is hard. Imagine 140- some of them children, some of them old people, one of them a mumbling mess of tie-dye and space cake cos he’d taken his plane-vicodin a little early.

Read the rest of this entry »


Q & A with GERRY VISCO

January 11, 2010

by Max

I first met Gerry Visco at QxBxRx, NYC’s infamous queer punk dance party, where she showed up with out mutual friend Joseph Keckler. Joseph told me that she was there to cover the evening for NY Press. I was go-go dancing that night, and was immediately charmed by the platinum blond bombshell that was scurrying around the dance floor, alternately shaking her booty and snapping photos. She definitely seemed to be on the wrong side of the camera. I was immediately charmed. Over the last few months, I’ve been lucky enough to catch some of Gerry’s performances, and have been keeping up with her written output. I am so thrilled that a real life Style Icon such as Gerry Visco sat down to answer some of my questions. Let’s get to it!

Read the rest of this entry »


Birdsong Dispatches Cuteness Delegation to the U.N.

August 12, 2009

by ultramaricon

UN 10

In 2006, the United Nations launched a website where nerds, real estate agents, the press, and U.N. employees can keep track of a long-long-long overdue renovation of their New York City headquarters.

My roommate works there. She tells me: the move is on! The historic Secretariat building, constructed and furnished in 1950-1952 (and apparently still stuck there) and its stouter no-name friend will be gutted! You must, she tells me, come and stage scenes from Mad Men with me in every single lounge! We must pass papers around ineffectually in all the important auditoriums, like the hall of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Trusteeship Council! Soon I will work in some ugly Madison building (Avenue, not Wisconsin) and we will have lost our chance to role-play Men in Black in the Formica-armored breakrooms!

So I grabbed the nearest Tommy and a camera and we had us a Bring Your Roommate and His Gay Companion to Work Day at the United Nations, y’all. Not since Nicole Kidman starred in The Interpreter has the General Assembly seen this much pouty-face. We were the life of the party, a party of three, roaming an incredibly boring and expansive office complex rotten with asbestos and Empire deco.

But, in fact, it was not boring at all. The coherence of design made it feel more transporting than outdated. It wasn’t too grand nor too somber. It was unbelievably tidy and sunny. You could smoke almost anywhere, even when they asked you not to. It was quiet. It was, to put it plainly, a dentist’s waiting room the size of the World’s Fair.

So below you will find not a sharp-toothed investigative report into the United Nations’ day-to-day nonworkings, nor a reflective or historically-braced account of our nerdy ramble amid some of the most bizarre artwork ever gifted from one world power to a conglomerate of world powers (I found all the ivory, guys!), nor very much political commentary on the U.N.’s internal representation of itself to itself–I was only there a minute and all I could think about were the chili con carne tacos and single-serving bottle of white zinfandel waiting for me in the Cafeteria of the World. What you will find are photos of Tommy and me mugging idiotically in various Very Important Venues before getting chased off by security guards. Oh, sorry: Security Guards.

I have organized them not chronologically, but in movements. These movements will move so fast you’ll think it was only 22 pictures. And indeed it is only 22 pictures, organized as follows: Security Depends on Us Passing Paper to Each Other, We Think and Negotiate on Furniture That Is Very Low to the Ground, Fashion, Lunch, Stop and Let the Roses Smell You–The English Roses of World Peace, Where’s Tommy? and finally, The Saddest Souvenir Mug in of the World.

Read the rest of this entry »


Japan!

July 12, 2009

by Jane

Look, if I could make movies I’d make sure to have a very long scene with two people trying to have a conversation while they’re in different rooms with one person shouting over and over again, “I can’t hear you!” and the other person continuing to talk, even if she could hear him tell her to stop. Then they’d walk past each other and switch places and it would go on and on like that. It wouldn’t even have to be that big of a place, it could be a small apartment, but each room would have a noise of its own, like a fan or a TV or running water so maybe you couldn’t really hear either of them very well anyway. Read the rest of this entry »


In Preparation

June 14, 2009
Celine Resort 2010

Celine Resort 2010

I feel more and more doll-like.  Like the ones with the pull and the string and I say, “I miss you!  Where are you!  I’m sleepy!” I get lazy lying in an air conditioned room.  And then hate myself.  So then I trade one thing for another. 

Right now my aspirations are to be a meringue.  I think it would feel right.

Read the rest of this entry »


Today’s Reading

June 7, 2009

by Jane

Picture 3

I’ve tried to explain the sameness of the days here.

The sameness of the days is the same kind of something. The sky is the same unremarkable blue. It is always very warm and very dry. And in the afternoons, there is the same kind of cloud hanging over the foothills east of here.

So it was very bright, very warm, and very dry, and I was wrong; the cloud was bigger today, spanning the whole eastern view. I spent the weekend sitting in the passenger seat. By Sunday afternoon, just my right cheek was red from sunburn. Read the rest of this entry »