Thursday, April 27, 2006

great moments in alt weekly land

So it's been crazy lately at the paper. If you think I'm just being a dick, and I'm not responding to you or giving you much attention, then imagine if you're P. I mean, half the time I get home after it's been dark for quite a while and collapse on the couch and try not to think about editing and writing and talking about editing and writing and planning and all the other little "fun" things that go into being an editor at a paper. (Of course, then I have to do the freelance work that I have, which supplements my income...so it never seems to end.)

Now that I'm officially the Managing Editor, things have only gotten more harried. But then there are moments that I feel like I'm learning something and having a great time. This week marks a new milestone: the first time I've managed/edited a cover story package from beginning to end. I know it might not sound like much, but we editors never get the sexy fame that writers do. But, like all the great editors I've had and learned from, we are here to make writers better. And so I hope that's what I achieved at least a little bit with this week's NY Press cover.

Now, I didn't dream up the cover image, but I did shepherd this story and this story through the process. And so far, it's even gotten a mention here. Weird, I haven't even seen the film yet.

Anyway, back to the day-to-day work of putting out a little paper in the big city.

(oh and I did do a little writing as well...)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

everybody's a little bit racist

I've been so damn tired every night, shit, there's no way I was going to update a blog.

But that doesn't mean I haven't wanted to.

This past weekend P's mom was in town, and P said, "I want you to show mama a good time!"

So we sure as hell tried. We started out on Saturday by going to see Taylor Mac's latest creation at PS 122. Ever since I saw Taylor back at Galapagos for a few brief minutes, I've been taken with his look, his music, his whole image and art. Well, this also didn't disappoint. The story of a hermaphrodite sea creature named Olokun, good ole Taylor was out there nekkid as nothing, painted green with duct tape taping his weiner between his legs. Was I wondering what P's mama was thinking? Oh, of course, especially with all the simulations of sex on the stage and uninhibited sexplay. But she loved it, enjoying the talking titties (two huge "puppet breasts" that were employed in one of the musical numbers) and Dirty Martini, the burlesque performer, as Yemaya (the sea goddess from Santeria, an Afro-Cuban spiritual belief system).

Now that was a Saturday night!

Sunday we took off for MoMa and then saw Avenue Q: Yay! More puppets!!

Since then I've just been running around figuring out my new responsibilities as Managing Editor at the Press. Sorry for neglecting everyone. I'm sure I'll heave this heavy shell I'm lumbering under off somewhere so that I can once again be social and friendly and fun. I hope.

Monday, April 10, 2006

solo lesbian leanings

Sunday was Sandra Bernhard in her latest.
Wednesday: Lisa Kron in Well.
Yesterday finished it off with Marga Gomez in Los Big Names.

All lesbians in one-woman shows (Well, Well is a "solo show with other performers" but it's close enough—it's so good!).

To wash it all down, TrayB invited me to see Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's Based on a Totally True Story, a gay twentysomething piece, last night. That's right, it was a double feature of gay comedy/drama yesterday.

Yes, it's official, I've filled my queer quota for a while now. And heard so many personal stories it makes me want to experience a little fiction. Fuck the first-person.

Friday, April 07, 2006

that teenage feeling

This music biz is crazy:

Last night I saw Martha Wainwright open for Neko Case at Webster Hall. Both were great. Neko really did it right and sounded amazing. That's not the crazy part. The crazy part is that Kelly Hogan was singing backup for Neko.

I first happened upon Neko when I saw her OPEN for Hogan at the Star Bar in Atlanta. My friend (and editor at the time) T Ware assigned me to do a live review of Hogan in, oh, this must have been 2000. Hogan had already gone off to Chicago and was on Bloodshot, but she'd been part of the Atlanta scene and still had a sizeable following. The Star Bar is a little place in Little Five Points that used to be a bank and is known for its Elvis shrine located in the former vault (you can even kneel down to praise The King and give offerings), so it wasn't THAT big of a following, but the place was packed. And when Ms. Case came out and did her thing, I was instantly taken with her.

I had straddled the fence with this "alt-country" stuff. I had hangups since I grew up listening to too much Kenny Rogers and Crystal Gale as a kid (I had memorized "The Gambler" early on and would play the tape over and over again; my sister's personal favorite was "Baby Don't It Make Your Brown Eyes Blue" which we would both sing in our jukebox game and she would wish she had hair down to the floor to make all the men cry). The "alt" didn't seem to absolve the "country" in the genre. I wasn't convinced.

But what Neko was doing seemed different. It was just the venue (where punk bands would play alongside ska groups) but the attitude. She's maintained what she does is NOT country in the least but pure rock 'n' roll. Maybe she's right.

As I looked around Webster Hall and saw all the young faces enraptured by her twang and drawl, I bent over to TrayB and whispered, "Can you believe all these people are listening to what amounts to country music. If it weren't for the fact that she has indie cred, they would never be here."

"Yeah, it's pure Loretta Lynn," he said.

We had a little more inter-change about the fact that she refuses the country moniker, but we know country when we hear it. It doesn't have to be from Nashville, it's somewhere in the stories of the songs. Somewhere in the heartbreak that catches you at the end of that long, beautiful wail. The thing is, it's probably more country because she's outside of that Nashville machine that puts a cowboy hat on someone, ratches up the accent and spits out in a nice neat CMT package. She's making music the old fashioned way: from some deep need inside.

Who cares if it's country or not. It makes me so glad to be hearing her, cowboy hat or not.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

white witch on ice!

I was having such a lovely dream that I slept until 9 this morning:

Erica and I crawled through some cardboard tunnel and emerged in an ice skating rink. But it wasn't just any ice skating rink: it was a full-on production of The Chronicles of Narnia: On Ice. I haven't seen the film (I did read the books), but in my dream it was this fabulous production and at the end, I kept missing the finale which was the white witch being destroyed.

Finally after the third time of us crawling through that tunnel and getting to the ice rink, I maneuvered so I could see the white witch, who burst into a ball of white light. It was astounding and I woke up.

Perhaps this can all be attributed to the fact that I emailed Erica yesterday and was reading reviews of the Lord of the Rings musical in Toronto?

Who knows.

But reality is just as strange. It was sunny when I left the house for work. When I arrived at 28th street the sky was brown. By the time I made it up the elevator and into my office—it was snowing. Lots and lots of snow.

And now it's sunny once again. What an odd day.

Monday, April 03, 2006

the tyranny of mr. smiley

As I'm sitting in the Chinese restaurant waiting for my take-out order, he walks in—beaming.

He's a handsome black man who looks my way and smiles. It's not one of those normal, I-just-heard-something-funny smiles. Nor is it, an aren't-I-clever? crease of the face. No, it's more of one of those evangelical-I'm-so-happy-I'm-saved-you-poor-heathen smiles. That self-righteous attitude comes across even more so because he's trying to spread the smile. Like a communicable disease that needs no physical touch, just eye contact, that tooth-less smile will jump from his face and light up your own dour mug.

He bends his head and looks into the shy Chinese girl's face who has been assigned to seat him and his friend. She ducks and bows her head, trying to avoid his overpowering lips, cheek, eyes, chin. That's when I overhear him answer his friend, "I told her to smile." And she's about to; he's conquered her. Of course, she's used to be being invisible, the simple act of attention bowls her over easily.

I determine that when he looks my way, I WILL NOT smile. Instead, I decide that I will glare. I will burn a whole through his forced good-cheer and hope to show him that his smile is not sincere, it's just some sort of a bulwark against the dread.

But I'm conflicted. It's not that I don't enjoy smiling; it's not that I'm not normally optimistic and friendly. The fact of the matter is that I do enjoy smiling and do so often enough throughout a good day, but this presumptuous tyrant thinks that he can control my mood. He should tell this defenseless, shy girl to smile. He must reduce me to his will because—aw shucks—it's done with a "positive" intent.

It reminds me of a conversation in college when we pondered if we ever smiled willingly. Wasn't it always do to some coercive social pressure? Didn't babies learn to giggle from their parents making foolish faces and forcing their offspring to open their gumless maw in imitation of their own? Don't you respond to a confusing or aggressive situation with a smile to difuse the unsettling feelings or potential conflict? I said no, that there is in fact some upwelling of feeling that transforms one's face involuntarily. It's natural, not nurture. Have I changed so much now that I am cynical enough to deny my own position? Am I such a curmudgeon I would choose to scowl rather than smile?

As the man was taken away, turning his head this way and that so he could smile at others—who innocently ate their sesame chicken while struggling with oversized plastic chopsticks—in a vain hope to infect them as well (perhaps he thought he was storing up these conquests for some greater smile army that would one day rule the world), I did smile. It was at the fact that he was trying so hard to do something that does come naturally. It had been a long day, I was tired and that smile felt good. Maybe it bordered on a smirk. And maybe that natural feeling of wanting to smile for a reason rather than because it was being foisted on me was all that I needed. I walked home with my noodles and rice, smiling all the way, a little bit more bounce in my step.