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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Hump Day Grab Bag: San Francisco Edition

July 7, 2010

by Tommy & Wilkes


[editors note: this was actually written during a brief Birdsong HQ hiatus last week.  But now we’re back in the sweltering city because who wants to miss a good heatwave?]

Teebs & I are in San Francisco and now that I’m 3000 miles away allow me to say: fuck you New York.  Fuck you in your fucking oily ear, you squalid hellhole.

Have you ever been really into a dude only because he makes you feel like you have to prove yourself to him?   Yeah doi you have, we’re all totally messed up.  So you understand the kind of relationship I have with New York, as invigorating and seductive as the guy who your friends are all, “woof, stay away from him” about.

New York is unstable and likes to make  you feel bad about yourself because he knows it’ll make you love him more.  It took fifteen years of that city acting like a dick to me before I finally figured out that shit isn’t love.

San Francisco, on the other hand, is nice.  He opens doors and pulls out chairs.  San Francisco remembers what you say because he was actually listening when you were talking, not just waiting for you to be done so he could talk.  The only reason I don’t live here is because I think I’d be bored, but you know what?  Maybe boring isn’t so bad.

That said, the theme for this week’s Grab Bag is THE CITY BY THE BAY, Y’ALL.

u wanna see a dead body?

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Putting the “Hump” in Hump Day

May 5, 2010

by Wilkes

Lately, I’ve been trapped in two very different feedback cycles: I can’t stop thinking about either Racism or Getting Laid.  Everything that rises must converge y’all: I’m probably going to end up hate-fucking a white guy TO DEATH.

That said, the theme of this week’s Grab Bag is: Freudian Crushes.

I dig all types but I especially dig tall, skinny, dark-haired dudes with BIG (HUGE) POINTY NOSES cause that’s what my first love looked like.  Our relationship was a trainwreck so now (even though I’m not attracted to my ex anymore cause #woofinabadway) I still find this kind of dude pretty irresistible.

Perhaps by analyzing my attraction to this type I’ll be able to exorcise its influence on my—SIKE LET’S JUST LOOK AT PICTURE OF SKINNY BABES WITH GREAT SCHNOZES.

Yow.  Adrien Brody is one of Hollywood’s biggest depositors into the 1st National Wilkinson Spank Bank.  Ha, ha I am so gross.  If I was a straight guy writing that kind of thing about women a) I’d have the highest viewed page on &  b) I’d really hate me.

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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.

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Over-the-Hump Day Grab Bag!

February 25, 2010

by Chantal

Where do comedians come from? Maybe they come from the fact that Daddy Drank.
Oh, and So Did Mommy. “Believe me, just believe me the way you believed me when I sang.” Contemporary hot messes need to Learn Their History!
I have a question: Does knowing that at four years old, Molly Shannon was the sole survivor of a car crash that killed her mother and sister Change Your Perception Of Her Comedy?
Maybe it’s just me but when I hear Sarah Silverman say that she was a “frequent bedwetter” with trust issues, my first thought is, Who Touched You? 
Where do comedians go? I know you’re fighting a fear of rejection and you hate the way eyes feel upon you but Comedians, Please Stop Speedballing.
No, Seriously, Never Speedball. You will always die, you cannot win at speedball. It is not a game you play, IT’S A GAME THAT PLAYS YOU.
On a lighter note, I would just like to thank the severely depressed angel who posted The Entire Series of Cheers on the Internet. Sam and Diane give me hope that you CAN meet the man of your dreams at a bar. Runner-up for Incredibly Lonely People I’d Like To Thank is the person who posted The Entire First Season Of Caroline In The City on the internet. As it turns out even my light notes are heavy.
In case you forgot or in case you remembered that the person writing this post isn’t white and in case you wished all my links didn’t feature white people so prominently, I will hammer this home now. I Am Not White and I like imagining that I just took some power away from someone who was judging me. That last phrase references what I am now calling my “racially-specific schizophrenia kernels” because I don’t know what else to call those thoughts. I saw Reggie Watts recently and I didn’t know if I wanted him to hit on me or sample me.
This brings me to my next query: Where’s the article on Hip-Hop and Sci-Fi Tropes? No seriously, I’m sure it exists, just find it and provide me with a link please?
Yea so, I’m Still Not White and this mix of black 90s television + therapy, man you guys, it’s pure Chantal Nip. At times like this (and also, whenever I hang out with Tommy and we play the game that dominates my friendships, a game I like to call Feelings Detectives, Or, How Do We Cure Your Eating Disorder If It Was A Fundamental Way You Bonded With Your Mom? my consciousness just runs around in circles until it crashes into the wall.
Happy Thursday and Meet Me At The Cat Cafe.

Humpty Hump Day: Sex in Ads

February 17, 2010

by Wilkes


Yr damn right sex sells. For example: ABS

Wasn't aware penis cozies were real until I started this post



The thing about sex in advertising is that I like it uncomplicated and delicious like an all-beef, ballpark frank with a slice of warm cherry pie on the side.

But there are a ton of ads that don’t do that and instead use sex in a creepy way.  My theme for this week, then, is Sex/Sux in Advertising.

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Dia del Hump Grab Bag: What’s Cuchi in 2010?

December 29, 2009

by ultramaricon

We lost a lot of notable folks this year, and I’m sure glad Charo wasn’t one of them.

There’s this Letterman-style variety show on Univision called “Esta Noche Tonight” that I won’t link because this post is about things I like.  I’m watching it with my mom in her kitchen in Miami. Charo is a guest, although you wouldn’t know it because in lieu of asking her questions about her new show in Las Vegas, “Charo in Concert: A Musical Sensation” (starting July 10 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino), they have a campesino character with oversized prosthetic ears, crossed eyes and bongo drums sitting beside her inventing stories about a childhood as a fake weirdo. (This kind of shit is so disappointing; Kristen Wiig, I’m talking to you and your back-scratcher hands.)

Charo’s call is to stand up occasionally, pop her hips, and smash her breasts against his head, inducing cuckoo-face and long, flat trumpet sounds from the orchestra, about five times. She obliges so decorously, so practiced at being caliente, and there’s a sleepiness to her eyes while she does it that says, “My bedroom is smoky, full of guitars, and completely absent of sequins, you furry bags-of-dicks.”

Am I dreaming?

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