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.


HUMP DAY GRAB BAG: Surf + Turf

March 31, 2010

gay skateboarder magazine

WHAT’S THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A SKATER?

gay skateboarder polaroid

TELLING YOUR PARENTS YOU’RE GAY!

I take that by now it’s accepted, collected, and celebrated common knowledge that there isn’t anything queerer than skateboarding and its wetter predecessor surfing. For the skeptics amongst us, I could easily rest my case by exhibiting the following photograph:

jodie foster riding a skateboard in 1977

(Ms Jodie, you’ll be tickled to recall,  starred in 1980’s Foxes alongside Runaway Cherie Currie. The film’s tagline: The city had it coming. Boy, did it ever! Not to mention, lest we forget, three years earlier, Ms Jodie had already lamented, I’m alone to skateboard and surf, and I’m dreaming of loving in her 1977 disco track La Vie C’est Chouette.)

I’m stopping myself before this blog post turns into a shrine to Ms Jodie (which it all too easily could). Luckily, the coincidence of queerness, surfing, and skateboarding is a rife cultural archive. And, as all I gabbed about yesterday was the impending California sun (which is merely waiting for these morning clouds to part before it shines in all her afternoon glory, I promise!), I’d like to sift through a minuscule sampling of this punchy archive with you now.

This is always where everything begins all the time ever. In 1982. No, really, I mean, we came from the water, ladies. I think water is god’s tranquilizer . . . to be a surfer, between the sky and the water, would be, to me, the most wonderful thing:

Ptrick showed me this video from 1986. I’m certain that Ms Diana would not deem these witches to be cheats. I’m the queen witch, and I only ride at midnight:

Juxtaposition is not a dirty word. And this video juxtaposes four of my favourite things: Soviet-era animation, Arthur Russell, dolphins, and girls. (Dolphins are another subject on which it’s best not to get me started. And I’m not ONLY talking about Lisa Frank or these cosmetics. I’ll just say I’m a proponent of the belief that dolphins are supreme beings and leave it at that.) Out on the ocean surf, I’ll have to pull myself together. Now it’s harder, I’m not on my turf. Just me and me and those big old waves, rolling in:

This past weekend Tommy and I went to the 2nd Annual Rainbow Book Fair where he picked up a reprint of J.D.s No. 6, which happens to be devoted to skateboarding. I keep trying to make my way through it, but, well, as it says in the zine, Mom caught me jacking off to some Thrasher magazines two months ago.

Speaking of jacking off, let’s speak about Christian Slater in 1989’s Gleaming the Cube and specifically that upside-down cross in his queer ear. There were only two things Brian did care for: his skateboard and his brother:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Sleater-Kinney’s Surf Song from 1994 is my favourite Sleater-Kinney song. I’ve always had trouble finding this song on the internets, so if you find yourself in the same boat, lemme know. We’ve got to start a band this summer:

sleater-kinney surf song

Yesterday Max posted about The Doom Generation, and it reminded me how Gregg Araki really knows how to set the (sex(y)) scene:


4. 4.

ext.HEAVEN-night

Token TRACKING SHOT across the local staked-out turf known as “Heaven” which resembles ruins leftover from the last A-Bomb test (in actuality it’s the rotting, abandoned lot of a deceased drive-in theatre). Cars doing donuts. Dueling stereos blasting out competing trendy NOIZE. KIDS of all sizes, shapes and colors loitering, getting high, screwing, y’know, doing all that Rebellious Youth stuff.

We’re TRAILING one kid, no shirt, muscles, bitchin tattoos, a SNAKE draped over his shoulders like a mink stole, who zigzags through the flotsam and jetsam on his skateboard with MUSIC (“Sex On Wheelz” by THRILL KILL KULT or some such thing) cascading from his ghettoblaster.

The CAMERA comes to rest at an ultra-cool, faded sky-blue ’70 Ford Torino with totally fogged-up windows.

More contemporarily, this video world premiered at the 2003 National Queer Arts Festival. I love the title and the earnestness, and it makes me think about the conceptual linkages between skating and queerness—failure, community, and rebellion. We ride even more and never stop riding:

[blip.tv ?posts_id=300096&dest=-1]

Finally, this video accompanies a range of girls skate and surf wear. Summer lukes, ladies. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. Y chromosome gets the perfect wave:

If I’ve left out yr favourite homo thrasher, then I’d be delighted if you’d please share it with us all in the comments section below. Until next time:
obama shaka


Dear Michelle

May 19, 2009

By deer michelle.

Dear michelle,
What exactly is rageaholism?  I think I get angry too much about things that are inconsequential.  Like yesterday I wanted to punch someone to death because they were standing too close to me on the subway.  What do I do?  Quietly counting to ten doesn’t work.  I’m afraid I’m going to have a rage-related heart attack and die young.
Sincerely,
Angry Anna.

Dear Psycho,
I think you have some unresolved issues that are making you angry at strangers and other annoying douchebags. It’s easier to think you are angry at that lady standing too close to you than to acknowledge that you are just really upset about personal shit that you can’t control.  However, I am the same way.  People should really stand further away on the train, this isn’t fucking China.  I suggest you start drinking more.  It’ll relax you, and then you can always blame yr rage on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol.

Feelin' on yr butt - what?

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QUEEN CAMP: Lesson 1 of Faggot Speak

April 7, 2009

QUEEN CAMP: Lesson 1 of Faggot Speak

by Stephen

queen20camp20logo

I stumbled upon Gay Talk (Formerly entitled The Queen’s Vernacular) in a used bookstore by fate. This pink book fell from the shelf. I looked at its yellow paper and I JUST KNEW deep down that I must share its faggotry: the slang of those sugar in the blood pre-Stonewall Miss Things!

So for my first dramatic role on the Birdsong blog, I’m going to sing out some great phrases and words you can use while you close Polk Street! I call it Queen Camp.

Today’s Vocab:

get out of budget dresses– to step out of the everyday routine. “My honey got me out of budget dresses.”

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