Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's Music time, baby

Yay, it's super happy fun ball time! (Hopefully without the vertigo or slurred speech!)

[Disclaimer- I am just a fan writing about musicians whom I love using the info I've gathered from the albums I own, shows I've seen, and the stuff I've read on myspace, facebook, wikipedia, etc... so if I got anything wrong or smixed up, just tell me nicely and I'll do my best to rectify the sitch, werd?]

This is the music post in which I salivate over Jenny Owen Youngs and friends. It's long overdue. Basically, if you've listened to Jenny you've probs listened to Bess Rogers, Dan Romer, Allie Moss, Andrew Futral, Saul Simon-Macwilliams, Ingrid Michaelson... I could go on because JOY and peeps are the kind of friends that make music together and apart not unlike all the members of Broken Social Scene. Let me try and break it down for you.

There's solo Jenny Owen Youngs. There's solo Bess Rogers. Bess Rogers has also appeared on JOYs solo work and written songs with her. There's a podcast called Once More With Feeling starring Bess Rogers, Jenny Owen Youngs and Andrew Futral, and it sometimes has a video counterpart. There's Age of Rockets, a band that includes Bess Rogers, Andrew Futral, Adam Christgau and Saul Simon-Macwilliams. Adam Christgau has also played on Jenny's solo stuff. Dan Romer is a producer/mixer extraordinaire who is also lead vocals/guitar for Fire Flies. He has worked on albums for Bess Rogers, Jenny Owen Youngs, Ingrid Michaelson, etc. There's Robot Explosion, a band that includes Andrew Futral, Bess Rogers, Jenny Owen Youngs, and Saul Simon-Macwilliams. Saul Simon-Macwilliams has appeared on Bess and Jenny's solo work. There's solo Allie Moss. She has also been backup vocals/tour support for Bess Rogers and Ingrid Michaelson. There's a 'dutch pop' project called Ingrid + Andrew that is Ingrid Michaelson and Andrew Futral. There's Jukebox the Ghost, a band Jenny has written/performed a song with. There's Au Revoir Simone, a band that has an Age of Rocket's remixed song. There's Gregory and the Hawk, Jenny's friends whose songs she likes to cover sometimes. The singer for Gregory and the Hawk, Meredith Godreau has also appeared in Jenny's solo work. There's Chris Kuffner who has played bass/double bass/produced for most of these people at some point, no exaggeration. I think that's all the major players. There is also Chris Garneau who is friends with many of these people and is also a musician, but to the best of my knowledge he hasn't actually played/recorded with them (but Chris Kuffner has played bass for him.) My apologies to any musicians who play on these various albums whom I haven't mentioned. You rock too! And of course I wouldn't really know about many of these fabulous musicians had Jenny Owen Youngs not opened for her friend Regina Spektor a few years back. I heart ReSpekt! Her voice appears in an early JOY song. So, did you catch all that?

ps- Do you tweet? You can follow Jenny, Bess, Ingrid, Allie, and Andrew on Twitter and see what kinds of wacky convos these friends have! For other band info you can follow Jukebox the Ghost and Au Revoir Simone as well. There is a twitter for the Gregory and the Hawk fan site, Wide as the Ocean. If you want the others... look them up. But most of them (like Dan) don't appear to tweet. Not yet, at least ;)

Oh no! I almost forgot to include the link to Ingrid Michaelson's song about Twitter. It's hysterical (and includes a little Eminem reference) :D

AND NOW... what you've all been waiting for.... THE VIDEOS!!

I'm going to start you off with one of my fav JOY songs, Fuck Was I. From her first album and edited (censored) for the interwebs, unfortunately. Bess is there too:

This is an excellent live recording of Jenny singing Voice On Tape. The original album recording of this song includes snippets of a voicemail from Regina Spektor. There is also a Robot Explosion version of this song, but I like this one the best:

If you don't watch any more of these videos... 1- Shame on you! 2- Watch this one before you leave! It's Jenny's cover of Hot In Herre and it's brilliant! When I saw her play it live, at the end the band started morphing the song into Oasis (Wonderwall) and it was amazing:

Here's a great new video from her album that just came out this month. The song is Clean Break, the album is Transmitter Failure:

Here is the first ever video counterpart to Jenny, Bess and Andrew's podcast, Once More With Feeling. They are nuts and it's funny:

This is a so-so quality video of a live performance of Bess Rogers playing Modern Man, accompanied by Dan Romer:

This is just a snippet of Secret (an old performance of a song on Jenny's new album) but it shows Jenny and Bess singing together and Chris playing bass between them. It also has good sound quality:

Factoid: Transitter Failure is a song that Jenny and Bess wrote waaay back in the day and performed on the Robot Explosion EP. Recently Jenny redid the song and it became the title track for her second album. Here is a performance of the song, it's so beautiful:

There isn't much out there on Youtube as far as Dan Romer/Fire Flies performances go, but this one isn't too bad:

Here is a great one of Allie Moss singing I Will Go Anywhere:

This past winter Ingrid did a song with Sara Bareilles called Winter Song. Embedding is disabled (for all Ingrid Michaelson official vids, actually), but it is soooo worth the click.

Here is a pretty good live recording of Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz performing her song, You and I:

This is a fun and super recent video of Jenny and Jukebox the Ghost performing Last Person, the song that JOY wrote with/for JTG. When I saw them in concert here in Chicago recently JTG performed the song WITHOUT Jenny and I was sad:

This is Au Revoir Simone singing Fallen Snow, the song that was remixed by Age of Rockets/Andrew Futral:

This is my favorite Au Revoir Simone song, Stars. It's actually one of my fav songs of all my fav songs/artists:

Here is Gregory and the Hawk performing Boats and Birds followed by JOY covering GATH followed by GATH covering Beyonce!:

AAANNNNDDDD I'll leave you with Jenny covering a Dan Romer song, Rays. She also talks a little bit about her covers and is her awesome, weird self. I have heard the chord progression/medley that she talks about, twice :D

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh, California... I'm sad to say this, but I am so ashamed

Yesterday I marched down the streets of Chicago (again). In the rain (again). The California Supreme Court voted 6-1 to uphold Proposition 8, cementing the current ban on same-sex marriage in the state. In somewhat bittersweet news, they allowed the 18,000 same-sex couples who got married in those few legal months to remain married. I feel that Dorothy Snarker summed up my feelings here exactly:

"The jumble of a ruling by the state’s highest court yesterday only serves to highlight the inherent inequality of banning gay marriage. In essence, the court created three classes of citizen in California. Gays who got married when it was legal. Gays who aren’t allowed to get married now that it’s illegal again. Straights who can get married anytime they damn well please. It makes no sense and yet there it is. Hello, separate, but in no way equal.

I am thrilled for the 18,000 couples who get to stay married. To be forcibly divorced by the government seems cruel beyond the realm of unusual. But if good timing is all that matters between “I do” and “I don’t” in the eyes of the state, how is this fair? Justice is supposed to be blind, not arbitrary."

And if one more heterosexual, upper-middle class, white male tells me that we lost 'fair and square' and should stop whining, I will snap. I told one guy that he can talk when the general population gets to vote on his basic civil rights. We did not lose 'fair and square.' Rights of a minority group were allowed to be voted away by the majority. The government and constitution is supposed to prevent the tyranny of the majority, is it not? Major changes in people's rights are supposed to be legislated. No one would allow white people to directly vote to take away rights of black people. Nor young people to shaft the elderly. Men to deny women. Right? We didn't have people taking to the streets all over the country (or the world) when NY and NH started dicking around, did we? Because even though the decisions so far have sucked, it's all gone through the proper channels. Bills have been killed in Senate, House or Governor's office. It wasn't just put to a general vote.

However, I just found out that the Prop 8 ruling has moved to federal court! The lawyers suing on behalf of a group of same-sex couples are hoping the case will be seen by the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds "that Prop 8 violates the U.S. constitutional guarantee of equal protection and due process."

Keep your fingers crossed, folks! One day things will be right in this nation and we will be able to tell our kids about how we fought for what was right.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Share Your Tattoo

[I know this still isn't the post (er, posts) that I promised. But... oh well. Na na na na na. This is my blog and I'll do what I want ;)]

One of my 'tweeple' requested that her followers twitpic her their tattoo pics with the hashtag #ShareYourTattoo. But as we all know, I have 17 tattoos, and that would end up being like 14 tweets- that's just nuts! And since I'm taking a break from cleaning and painting to watch Food Network Challenge I thought I'd throw this post up with pictures of all my tattoos :D

My first tattoo- A blue Celtic crescent moon that I got when I was 17. It will be 10 years old this July! (Eric, Spider Tattooz):

These are my 2nd (Eric, Spider Tattooz) and 5th (Darrell, Spider Tattooz) tattoos. The green Celtic trinity knot was #2 and the word 'once' on the back of my neck was #5. I'm one word in the short story Skin by Shelley Jackson, a story she published through volunteers each getting one word tattooed on them. I'm the eleventh word:

Tattoo #3 is an Amy Brown fairy with the colors tweaked a little. The tattoo artist (Darrell, Spider Tattooz) and my friends found it to be very amusing that he had to add flesh tone to the fairy because I am so pale...

Tattoo #4 (Darrell, Spider Tattooz) is a bracelet of pink flowers, tribal art and an Emily Dickinson quote- dwell in possibility- from her only poem thought to be about her being a poet:

Tattoo #6 (Darrell, Spider Tattooz) is a cross of flames with the acronym G.R.A.C.E.- God's Riches at Christ's Expense. I added tattoo #14 (Robin, Metamorph Studios), the bottom portion, as a memorial to my brother Jeffrey, on the 4th anniversary of when he passed away. Tattoo #15 (Jerry, Tattoo Factory) is a little dude from explodingdog standing on the word 'nerd' in a fabulous font (that I can't remember the name of...):

Tattoo #7 (Darrell, Spider Tattooz) is a small asian elephant head. Elephants and asian (especially Indian) things are my favorite. This little guy could probably use a touchup:

My 8th (Derek, Tatu Tattoo) tattoo was my first 'large' piece. It's a dragon with the kanji for fire and water- my version of a yin yang:

Tattoo #9 (Casey, Tattoo Factory) is made up of rows of rainbow stars and tattoo #12 (Beth, Tattoo Factory) is/are the eyes of Buddha, so the combo of the 2, for me, is Pride and Compassion:

Tattoos #10 and #11 (Christopher, Tattoo Factory) go together. I got them both on my 25th birthday. They are both sanskrit/hindi in the devanagari script- Ahimsa (nonviolence) and Om (the natural sound of life and healing):

Tattoo #13 (Robin, Metamorph Studios) was my first truly large tattoo (dwarfing the dragon) and it still remains to be my largest piece. It's a beautiful, fairly traditional phoenix:

Tattoo #16 (Robin, Metamorph Studios) is artwork from Tegan and Sara's album The Con. The original artwork is by Emy Storey who is pretty well know for her T&S and Deathcab For Cutie artwork:

And finally, tattoo #17 (Robin, Metmorph Studios) is the large Ganesh and it is still in progress (color to come soonlyish):

Friday, May 22, 2009

In the Name of...?

[We now interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you serious thoughts. I know you were expecting pictures of hot girls and some Youtube music videos, but you're just going to have to wait a little longer. They're still coming this weekend though, I promise...]

Perhaps you should all read this fabulous Autostraddle Roundtable post: I'd Rather Laugh with the Sinners Than Die with the Saints. I am so proud to be interning there. And to spare everyone a tome in the comments section, I'm writing my own feelings here.

The first time religion and I butted heads, I wasn't even born. My mom was pregnant with me and my dad took off. They weren't married. My mother's Catholic priest (and her own mother) condemned her to hell and declared that my bastard existence might be saved if I was raised in the Church. They made my mother baptise me as a Catholic and forced her to swear on a Bible that she would raise me as such. She consented only to raising me as a Christian. The only time I went to church or Sunday school was when I was in Minnesota with my grandparents. It wasn't enough for me to pick up too much of the Catholic guilt but I still remember a lot of the mass rituals.

My mother was a punk, a partier, but calmed down a bit later when she met and married my step dad and had my little brother. I was barely 8, my mom 29. She wanted to bring us to a church (and a view of God) that wasn't so hypocritical and judgemental as she had found the Catholic Church of her youth to be. She found a local Lutheran Church through a friend and we converted and became members. The Lutheran Church didn't condemn us to hell for anything, it seemed more open and understanding. It was like the big family that I never had. And so began my long, close relationship with the LCMS. I attended church and Sunday school. Later I took classes and was confirmed. I sang in choir, I played hand bells, I taught Sunday school, I attended youth group. I could recite all the books of the Bible in order (I still can do most of them. I own roughly 10 Bibles. I've read the whole thing). During Jr. high and high school I was involved in a lot of school activities but I still found time for church activities as well. I even found time to have one pseudo-boyfriend (he was really my best friend, we never even kissed, and he is now gay) but I didn't really date or have much interest in boys. If I did like a boy he was usually girly or gay (a sign?) and in my head I still had that idea of just waiting for the one I would marry and give myself to... True Love Waits and all that. I wasn't preachy or superior about it though. One of the things my mother had instilled in me was the idea that everyone is their own person with their own thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. and that there was nothing wrong with that. Most of my friends were (and still are) atheists or agnostic. I could never be part of a proselytizing church because to me religion and one's relationship with God is so personal, you don't throw that on others.

I was also really oblivious when it came to gay people. I guess I never saw them as somehow being different. My mom would see Rosie or Ellen on TV (I thought they were hysterical) and say things like, 'Why don't they just come out already? Everyone knows they're gay.' and I wouldn't be able to compute that. How did she know they were gay if they hadn't said? Why wouldn't they come out if it was so obvious and it was ok to be different? At the same time, especially in high school, there were so many girls that I thought were so cool, and I wanted them to like me and be my friend, and I wanted to be just like them. Still clueless, I didn't see that as a sign of my orientation- I didn't see that as crushes on girls. Even when girls hit on me (it happened a couple times) I was like, 'Hm, well, that's weird. Why me?'

I stayed home for college and commuted downtown for classes. I continued attending our family church and even attended (and chaperoned) two youth group trips to the huge LCMS Youth Gathering. One in New Orleans and one in Orlando. You know those scary videos you see of crying children in super domes, waving their hands in the air, singing? Yep. Two of those. At the same time I was making more and more gay friends in college. This wasn't the first time I was around gay people- I grew up in Chicago. My mom worked at a salon downtown where one of her coworkers/best friends was gay- But I was finally old enough to really listen and understand what was going on and hear what my pastor was saying about things like pre-marital sex and homosexuality. It was crap.

And then one semester there was this girl in one of my English lectures, oh man. She had the best (dykey) hair and clothes... I couldn't stop staring at her and I felt weird about it. That's when, at about 20, it dawned on me that I might actually like girls. And what did that mean? How could I go to church with my family and sit there and be a good Lutheran, a good Christian, if I was attracted to girls? My pastor said it was a sin. My mom didn't agree with him, but she still went to church all the time. Was it ok to go to a church and only agree some of the time? Wasn't it the point of belonging to a particular church that you should subscribe to all it's tenets? My pastor said yes, some people said no (I didn't ask directly, but youth group Bible study questions about things like abortion came up) and I didn't know what to believe. I just knew that I no longer felt comfortable sitting there, front row, next to my pastor's daughter, listening to him talk about how you shouldn't even shake the hand of a homosexual. Before, when he had said things like that, I tuned him out, silently disagreed. But now it made me sick. It made me angry. And it made me realize that by going to that church and listening to those sermons, it made people think that I believed the same things. And I didn't, I couldn't. I had many gay friends and was thinking that I might be bisexual, how could I listen to this voluntarily? I wasn't a bad person, so why should I be made to feel badly about myself?

So I began to distance myself. I did some real soul searching. I began reading up on Eastern religions, things that had already always fascinated me. I grew up in the portion of Chicago called West Rogers Park- Old Jewish Town meets Little India- and I knew a lot about Judaism and Hinduism. I, like most people, really enjoyed learning about Buddhism and it's way of focusing on yourself, of putting out only kindness. And I started joining chat rooms and groups online where I could meet and talk with other LGBT people to figure out where I fit in. I met a few girls, we hung out (secretly, of course). And as soon as I graduated college and got a full time job (and eventually moved out) I stopped going to church all together (except for holidays with family). As luck would have it, I ended up working at the gayest Barnes & Noble in all the land. It was with these coworkers that I attended my first Pride parade (and met the first girl who I would love and who would break my heart). And the same weekend I went with an old friend and got a tattoo of rainbow stars. I was 24, living on my own for the first time, being open about being queer to my friends and coworkers (I had moved on from thinking I was bisexual) and not going to church. And feeling guilty about not going to church. And not telling my family, especially my mom, what was going on in my life.

That's the thing I'm still having trouble with, coming out to my family. My mom is a fairly liberal, open-minded person, and I don't think she would have a problem with me being queer, but it's still a hard conversation to try and have. Especially since, as she gets older and gets sicker, she's gotten more religious. It's still weird to me to see and hear my mom constantly talking about God and her faith because when I was little she had an orange crew cut, smoked pot, wore crazy clothes and never mentioned God. But I understand that her faith is so important to her because she has almost died so many times and could honestly die at any time now. And then there is the rest of my family. I'm actually not really related to most of my family, they are my step dad's family and he never legally adopted me. But I grew up with them and consider them my real family. And a lot of them are conservative. Not mean or hateful, but they have conservative Christian values. That's true even of what's left of my mom's family. A lot of my cousins went to Catholic school. Some of my uncles and cousins are a bit racist, sexist and homophobic in their jokes and comments. My mom and I have always been the 'weird, liberal' ones who liked hair dye and tattoos. Now it's like I'm out here on my own. With each new tattoo my mom asks if I'm finally done. My pastor used to ask if I could pick up Radio Free Europe with my piercings. So now here I am at 27, still in the closet when it comes to my family. Afraid of what most of them will do or think of me when they find out. Afraid that one or more of them might condemn me to hell like that old Catholic priest. Afraid of not having them there. When I was little and it was just me and my mom and our little self-made family it wasn't hard for us to be who we were. Now there is so much at stake.

But in all of this I haven't lost my faith in God. I know He is still there for me, with me, queer parts and all. He isn't the one doing all this killing and condemning and hating. People are doing it in His name, but they are wrong. So much of organized religion seems to have become about hating and brain washing- they don't even understand the book they claim to preach from. I don't feel the need to go to church or subscribe to any particular religion because I don't believe that anyone has gotten it right. How could they have? Mankind is imperfect. Mankind is jealous and hateful. Mankind starts wars. Mankind seeks to put others down, to take away their rights. With all of that, why would I believe what they say about my soul, my future, my life?

I think about how to talk to my mom about this everyday. Should I call her? Write her a letter? Get in the car and drive over there? I see her once a week (or more, with this last surgery) but can never say out loud what is running through my head. Actually, I do have some family that knows I'm queer. I only got to meet my sisters about 5 years ago and I wasn't going to start things off on a lie. I didn't come right out and say anything, but I never hid anything from them. I am also Facebook friends with a few cousins who may or may not have read things that I've posted. If they've figured things out, they haven't said anything to me, which may be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. I've wanted to tell my pastor's daughter, Sarah, so badly. She and I used to be so close. When I moved away and stopped going to church we grew apart. A couple of years ago she got pregnant. She wasn't/isn't married and it was a big deal. After a lot of grief she ended up keeping the baby (a little boy called Johnny) and my pastor is still weird about it. I wanted to call her and tell her that I knew what it felt like to be an outsider, to be alienated. But really, my struggle was private. I didn't have to be the pastor's pregnant, unmarried daughter at service every Sunday. And people seem to see pre-marital sex as a lesser sin than homosexuality, even though 'all sin is equal in the eyes of God.' (A whole other argument I have about the made up levels of hell and sin- that's not in the Bible, it's a Catholic construct used to control people!) So... at least she's straight, right? I don't know.

It just makes me so sad and angry when people use God and the Bible to drive people away instead of bringing them closer. God is supposed to be about love and forgiveness and acceptance. Like the people who protested Kevin Smith and Dogma, they missed the point. Like Margaret Cho said, as Jesus would say to everyone if He were to come back today- 'THAT'S NOT WHAT I MEANT!!' I'll leave you now with a few of my favorite quotes. Quotes about love and life and acceptance. Words to live by.

"I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act."- Buddha

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."- Buddha (Yes, it's the same quote on Autostraddle but I've loved it forever and it's on my MySpace profile!)

"So the moral of this story is: There's only one true judge, and that's God. So chill, and let my Father do His job."- Salt N Peppa (None Of Your Business)

"Maybe you don't like your job; maybe you didn't get enough sleep. Well, nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but, you know, there's no escape and there's no excuse so just suck up and be nice."- Ani DiFranco (Pixie)

"Be strong. Serve God only. Know that if you do, beautiful Heaven awaits."- Arrested Development (Mr. Wendel)

"No day but today"- Jonathan Larson (RENT)

"That's life. If nothing else, it's life. It's real, and sometimes it fuckin' hurts, but it's sort of all we have."- Garden State

"Pay no more attention to the things that you stand for, sit back, relax, enjoy the war from your living room. Holocaust and cable at a fraction of the cost and just to make sure that you don't get lost, here's the media, media, media..."- Bree Sharp (America)

"I wanna be in the minority, I don't need your authority, down with the moral majority, cuz I wanna be in the minority"- Green Day (Minority)

That's all for now. And just for the record, when I say I'm queer it's because I don't identify with the word lesbian. I'm ok with the word gay, but I prefer queer. I'm attracted to women, ftm's and sometimes really genderqueer males. I think the definition is a bit different for everyone. And that's how it should be.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Schools out for....?

Well, my spring semester is done. My fundraiser happened. I've got nothing but time on my hands. I should clean. I've spent a good chunk of time recently trying to figure out if I'm doing more community college before attempting grad school or... I don't know. Should I just pack it in? Who knows. What I have determined is that I have 2 photo/video posts almost ready to go. And I know I owe everyone another music mania post. So those will probs roll out over the next couple of days. Also, if you notice, I'm getting a little Mike Doughty with these pictures (When Doughty blogs he includes pictures that he took that don't always necessarily have anything to do with what he is saying...) I also have a totally random confession. Today (thanks to an Autostraddle Daily Fix link) I added Kristen Stewart to the people I follow on Twitter. Ok, two confessions. I am totally in love with Mary Alice, the receptionist/shop manager of Charm City Cakes (Ace of Cakes). It's the tattoos and sarcasm and Rockabilly hair and bad jokes/puns.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Finals- One down, one to go

Last night was my final presentation in my Graphic Design I (Illustrator) class. The assignment was to design an 18"x24" poster of a person whom we admire, showing in the poster the things about them that we find fascinating/admirable. I, of course, did Amanda Fucking Palmer because she is amazingly awesome and talented and not afraid to be herself and make her art her way, even if it means she is constantly fighting with her record label. When my prof and I were looking at pics of AFP online, trying to decide how to best represent that, my prof came up with the idea of making AFP wearing a bandolier (like she is in many WKAP pics) but have the bandolier hold a paino keyboard, a uke, a computer keyboard and mouse and her ReBellyon picture. It was a good idea in theory, but with AFP in a crazy outfit and then all that stuff on top of her... the poster got too busy and hard to read. So I came up with my own stripped down version of the poster. And my prof wasn't too impressed. And none of my classmates even knew who AFP is. So... there goes my A. Oh well. I did get 100% on the written and demonstrative final last week, so hopefully overall I still end up with a B in the class.


Tonight is my painting final critique. We only have to show the last 3 paintings that we did (the construction 'painting', the master reproduction and our self portraits), but I'm going to also post the pic of my montage here so I can see all my real paintings from this class together (I'm leaving out the black and white still life and the spectral color fruit projects because they were just exercises done on canvasette).

This is the montage made using pictures from marine and aquarium magazines. I still don't have a proper title for it.

This is the construction painting. I blogged about it before and talked about how it had a music feel for me. I've decided to call it 'Symphony in ROY G BIV'

This is a reproduction of (one of) Monet's Evening in Venice, 1908 (Or Venice at Dusk... he had a few different versions out there. Some were more red, some more yellow.) My version is too pink, I know. The more I tried fixing it, the worse it was getting.

This is 'Self Portrait with Hiroshige' and it's supposed to look like I've torn a whole through the canvas to look out from behind it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


How can there be so much drama if everyone claims to hate it? Mystery of the ages, I guess. But I'm not here to create drama. Just share a poem. It took some drama to get it back, but like Bill said, all's well that ends well. I wrote this poem for a girl over 2 years ago (because she asked me for a poem, and I was smitten) and then not too long after I got fed up with her crap and we parted ways. Then several months back I wrote a little FB note about how I regretted deleting the poem from my computer (and blogs) because it was a decent poem. It was just an observation about acting rashly when you're upset. And a little drama-creating birdy shared that note with said girl who in turn emailed me an 'apology' and blah blah blah. Whatevs. A couple days ago she finally emailed me a copy of the poem and I'm going to share it with all of you because it's pretty and I'm glad to have it back and I'm glad to have something nice to share, considering all the rain and all the crappiness I've experienced lately. (And drama-creating birdy doesn't read this, as far as I know, so I should be safe... No offense to the birdy. Some people create drama without trying/bad intentions.)


If I could write you a smile -
Flushed cheeks,
Rose red lips and
Dimples put to paper -
I would do it for you.

I would capture the springtime -
Green grass and sweet air,
Full trees and bubbling creeks,
Blue skies and hints of life -
In a jar for your bedside.

To see your eyes smile I would
Strike bugs from existence (the poor things),
Bring the beach to your doorstep,
Grow you fields of roses, white tipped with red,
And keep the gray cold of winter at bay.

I would be myself for you -
Write sappy poetry at your behest,
Admit shameful move loves,
And smile way too much -
Show you the essence of myself.

(ps- I took that picture at the lake recently. I'm going to post a series of 'walkinig by the lake' pictures soon because I do take a lot of nice pics down there, esp when I'm doing my training walks)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Music Mania

Hellooo everyone! Here it is, a new music post. We'll call it... Music Mania MONDAY! YAY! Phew, ok. I'm better now. Not sure where that bit of over enthusiasm came from but I promise it's done now. So this music post will be the Warm Fuzzies. No. That's almost too cute. The Chills? Goosebumps? I dunno. Anywho, it's Terra Naomi and Jay Brannan.

Terra Naomi is another person/musician that I heard of from Arlan. Terra sounds a bit like Alanis Morissette but without the misplaced anger and non-ironic irony. (Now, now, I love Alanis, but there's no denying what I just said so don't get angry with me) Some of you may actually recognize her song Say It's Possible as it won the first ever Youtube "Best Music Video" Award in 2006. (Jay Brannan also did a brill cover, but more on that later!) Sadly I've never seen Terra live because it seems that most of her shows are at Hotel Cafe in LA... and I've never even been to California. But Terra is the real deal, hands down. She is a true artist. When her label made her put out a cd that she wasn't proud of... she stopped it from being released in the US and left her label to do things her way! Right now on her website she is selling signed copies of cds to help fund her new album. And even if you care nothing about her music or politics (why are you even reading this then?) you will at least appreciate her covers. I can watch them on youtube forever. All I can do is gush so I'll get right to the videos :D

Say It's Possible:

And now two of my favorite covers by Terra- Amy Winehouse's Rehab & Sublime's Santeria:

For mucho more awesomeness give her a listen-

Jay Brannan, Jay Brannan, Jay Brannan. What can I say about this cutie? I was watching music video on Logo one night and I see this adorable little gay boy singing a beautiful song. In black and white. And he looked really familiar. So I dids my internet magic and found out that it was Jay Brannan from Shortbus! His song Soda Shop was even in the movie. His songs are so emotional, so raw. He is unabashedly himself (re: gay and vulnerable and a bit goofy) in his writing and performances. He does a brill cover of Terra Naomi's Say It's Possible and he did a funny song with Margaret Cho. I shall show them to you now! :D

Let's just start with the cover because it's a video of a beautiful bald gay boy singing while shirtless ;)

Here's Jay and Margaret giving a little Relax Your Neck advice:

This is one of those songs that gives me goosebumps. I believe there's an actual video for this song, but I love his in-home recordings with his cute little intros:

And here is Jay chatting about Shortbus and then singing his song, Soda Shop:

Yay, enjoy! More music posts to come soon. And at more regular intervals, I hope... :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Stolen time

My Uncle Tony was an artist. When I was little he would show me his beautiful etchings in metal. Delicate. He made pewter praying hands for my grandma. I wonder who has those now? He had a coffee table that he made himself. He used to make me little drawings whenever I asked. He was a tall man, a giant. A six-foot-plus tower with a long, dark, bushy mane and beard that made him look a lot tougher than he was. He was a gentle giant. He grew up with four pushy sisters, an abusive, alcoholic father, a mother who was constantly defending her German heritage, and dumbo ears. Yes, Tony had ears that stuck out from his head like sails. And my grandma used to cut his fine, then-blonde hair into a flat mohawk of sorts which only accentuated his ears. Torture. I always remember him wearing the same thing when I was little. He had his big black boots, dark jeans, t-shirt and/or thermal and/or flannel, and a trucker hat. It was a look he perfected in the 1970s and never gave up. His heart was broken then (his spirit was already damaged) and he stopped moving forward. The woman he thought he was going to spend his life with left him. Left him with four pushy sisters, an angry (recovering?) alcoholic of a father and a mother who tried to defend him, even when it maybe didn't seem like it. He drifted along, job to job. Sometimes he lived on his own. Sometimes he lived in his parents basement. I lived there, too, when Tony was living in the basement. When I was little and my mom was sick and/or going to beauty school, I lived with my grandparents, and my uncle lived in the room they built him in the far corner of the basement, near the washer and dryer. He worked nights and I would wake up early, even when I didn't have school or camp, just so I could see him. He would come in with a brown paper bag- beer for him, m&m's for me. We would share this odd morning snack, then he would go to sleep and I'd continue on my day. Some point after that he lost his license. It was not a permanent loss, but it wasn't the only time he was without. He and my grandfather were still not reconciled. Most of my grandpa's kids still haven't forgiven him for how he was when they were growing up. My grandma held the relationships together as best she could, which isn't saying much. When she got sick a few years ago, all the kids came home. I drove to pick Tony up and we talked like old friends. My Uncle Tony and Aunt Pat sort of tried to talk to my grandpa. Then my grandma passed on two years ago, Gabe continued to be bossy, Tina continued to be needy, my mom tried to play peacemaker, Pat stopped trying to have a relationship with any of us, and Tony felt like he couldn't try anymore. At least not with my grandpa. My mom wanted Tony to move here by us. Get a job, stay with them in the suburbs, take the train or bus places. Anywhere had to be better than small town he was stuck in. Tony lived with his only friend Joe in a town not 10 minutes from my grandpa and Aunt Tina, but he never saw them. Then Joe moved into the city to be by his sister. Tony had only recently gotten a car. He was working a job he had been at for about a year. Times are tough in a small town for a 52 year old man with a bad liver and almost no teeth. He spent a lot of time between jobs. He had no money or insurance to get his teeth fixed so he just started to loose them. My mom wanted to help get him dentures. Maybe get him to trim his graying mane into something a little less bushy. She wanted my grandpa and uncle to reconcile before my grandpa's pacemaker stopped working. My mom and grandpa were worried that it would be too late for them. I don't know what Tony thought. My mom called me hysterically crying today (which at first worried me because she still isn't doing all that well from this latest surgery) and she could barely get words out. My Uncle Tony was found dead in his bed. 52 years old, all alone. He had probably been gone for 6 days. He was home from work with a pinched nerve and he died and no one found him for 6 days. He never reconciled with my grandpa. Not close to any of his sisters, really, except my mom. We don't have any details yet but they say it looks like natural causes. 52 and alone, natural causes. My mom is devastated. She loved her poor lonely artistic misunderstood brother so much. And since she isn't well and had surgery #32 just a month ago, she cannot travel from Chicago to Minneapolis. My brother and I have finals this week. My stepdad can't leave work or my mom. This means that my Uncle Tony's funeral will be attended by the estranged father he rarely spoke to, 2 of his 4 sisters (one of whom said his life was a waste), an aunt, a few cousins, and his only true friend (beside my mom). Maybe a few nieces and/or nephews. Hopefully. Maybe a few old drinking/hunting buddies. It breaks my heart. I hope that he passed peacefully and painlessly in his sleep. I hope that he didn't feel alone. I hope that he felt our love even though we rarely saw him, that he knew my grandpa wanted to talk to him again but he just didn't know how. I hope my uncle was having a beautiful dream that the woman who left him broken 30 years ago came back for him, that he left us for her and eternal happiness.

This was February 6th, 2007. My grandma's 75th birthday. Three weeks before she died. The first time they had all been together in almost 15 years and the last time they would all be together. That's Tina crouching next to my grandma, my grandpa, Aunt Gabe, Aunt Pat, my mom (when she could stand a bit better) and my Uncle Tony.

May Tony and my Mayma rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Yippee, or And then there were 5 (almost 6!)

I'm taking a quick break from studying for part one of my lame graphic design final to bring you all this wonderful news. The governor of Maine has signed the same-sex marriage bill into law, stating he thought it was the right and fair thing to do! Yay! So here we are:

1- Massachusetts
2- Connecticut
3- California Iowa
4- Vermont
5- Maine!!
(6- New Hampshire? It's sitting on the govs desk...)

Maybe I should consider moving east...

ALSO! This wonderful collaboration video was made using Lily Allen's song Fuck You. It's for all the homophobes and haters out there. (Hat tip to Queers United!):

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Epic Fail

AAAHHH! I know, I know. Where's the Music Monday blog post? It's there. It's in drafts. It's only half way done! I'm sorry. But I've got the end of the semester projects/finals (I'm painting a self portrait and drawing a poster of Amanda Fucking Palmer in Illustrator), 3-Day training walks and fundraising ( AND I'm now interning at Autostraddle! But Elli, you might say, what about that time you waste trying to sleep between 2am and 10am? Shrug. It's true, I do waste a chunk of time trying the sleep thing every day. I'm not quite ready to give that up yet even though it's something I fail at regularly. I should absolutely have 1-2 music type posts up by Friday. The trans community deal is just going to have to wait. I have so many web links, ideas and feelings that it's just going to take me a while to get it all together. Until then... enjoy this cute little video I took of my kitty Zephyr the other day :D

(That's Jenny Owen Youngs playing in the background. She's another music-post-in-progress)