Monday, January 29, 2007

Gotta Fill Your Cupboard

The first cd I ever bought was the Dick Tracy soundtrack. I bought it at a used cd store in Marietta in 1990, when I was 10 years old. I believe the rest of my family had been shopping for Laserdiscs. I still love this cd. It's all Madonna singing big band music written by some Hollywood dude (with a pony tail, surely) in the late 80s. She's laying on the sexy. When my parents left me alone I would push all the furniture back against the walls and do a dance routine to the song "More," complete with imaginary canes and a chair as a prop. "More" was a celebration of excess: "Got my diamonds, Got my yacht, Got a guy I adore. I'm so happy with what I've got, I want more!"

I have no idea what the plot of the movie was, but Madonna wore a very low neck gown and she was bad (always making puns on Mr. Tracy's first name) and a singer in a night club. I loved her like any girl who was born in 1980 did, and I thought she was beautiful.

Warren Beatty was the male lead. Who cares? You know? He didn't sing and have back up dancers!

So I was tremendously disturbed to watch Shampoo a few nights ago, and discover that in 1975 Warren Beatty was hot! I've just seen him in the tabloids every now and then, and you'd have no idea that he was once a total, coiffed fox with tight jeans! Damn! If my hairdresser were that hot, I'd have much shorter hair. Good thing the guy who cuts my hair is stocky, pale, and gay.


Talk about weird sexual dynamics in the 1970s! Good Lord, they weren't kidding. And I didn't get my information from I Love the 70s or any other VH-1 special. My version of the 70s is informed by:

1. Spike Lee's movie Summer of Sam
2. Feminist Theory
3. Woody Allen
4. My Best of the 70s music compilation
5. Just imagining what could have gone on in between the 60s and the 80s.

I was so very satisfied that he didn't win the girl in the end, I can't even tell you. Goldie Hawn went off to Egypt, where she'd need a team of bodyguards unless she stopped wearing those uber-mini skirts. The other chick went off with the married guy (what about his wife and daughter? Nevermind them! It's 1975*!). Poor Mr. Beatty had to walk down off the plateau by himself; we can only hope he didn't chaffe.

*It was, however, set in 1968.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Twin Peaks

{I'm having some trouble with uploading the right image, so please excuse the lack of them in this post}

When I was working at the Barnes and Noble outside of Atlanta when I was 17, my coworkers and I watched the entire Twin Peaks series on cassette. Every Thursday, we would go over to this guy Alan's house and we'd watch three episodes. Alan was slightly older than me, had bad acne scars and this poster of Marilyn Monroe hanging in his living room:

I had a huge boner for him, the same way I had a huge boner for any boy three years older than me who was skinny and treated me like I was pretty. I had a boyfriend and I'm an honest woman, so nothing ever happened. I just wore impeccable white socks from the Gap when I came over to his house in case I had to take my shoes off. Once he commented on how clean they were.

The other two people were Kim, a goth AIDS activist with horn rimmed glasses, and this guy Sean who I would now describe as an arrogant film guy but at the time just seemed really cool.
I loved these people. I had never met anyone like them. They were nice to me, even though I was Mormon, insanely naive, and my favorite band was 311. I swear to god Kim changed my whole life when she said in passing, "Jesus, half the people in the world are trying to pretend to be something they're not!" Her words were tremendously influential; it was like she was telling me something I needed to know that nobody had ever told me. It's nice to remember this, because if I overheard a 20 year old goth girl say that now, I'd be bored. At the time though, I was a girl who wanted each pair of her white cotton panties to be perfectly folded and the crotches to be impeccable. In fact, here is a photograph taken during this time, of which I was secretly very proud:

(I bought each pair of those with my own money that I should have been saving for college).

But Twin Peaks was great. I have the loveliest associations with it. I felt so cool at Alan's house. They'd drink a beer or two; I wouldn't leave like I normally would have with my high school friends. I'd sit far away but right beside Alan. After the shows one night, they played a Portishead cd. It was like Susanna Adult School.

I moved to Provo, Utah to attend BYU. When I came back during the summer, I had platform black patent leather Steve Madden strappy sandals, Victoria's Secret pantyhose and I had this new way of putting all my hair on my head so I looked like some sort of hip Roman goddess with baby barrettes. I kind of looked like I worked a salon in a mall in Atlanta, but I wore much less foundation and pinker lipstick. I went to work and flirted with Alan, but after a few days I realized he had this new creepy side that I hadn't seen before. I still don't know what that was.

I eventually took Kim's words to heart; I left BYU, the church, and overtime I even stopped shopping at the Gap. All of those socks are now lost, but I still have and wear many of the underwear. And yes, they are all still immaculate.

Kim got a job full time at AIDS Atlanta. Sean moved somewhere. Alan became a cop, but I didn't know that. He was killed at work in 2000 by a hit and run driver. My name was in his datebook, so they called my house and spoke to my Mom. When she told me about it, I couldn't remember who he was. I didn't know any Alan who would have become a cop.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Am But Mad North-North-West

KALX, the local Berkeley radio station, is hosting its "Best of 2006" week. Each DJ plays the songs he or she thinks are best from last year. Twice today I heard a track from a band called A Hawk and the Hacksaw. I recognized immediately that it was Elephant 6 related. At first I thought it was the Olivia Tremor Control, only with fewer members. Both times I heard it, the DJ said that it was former members of Neutral Milk Hotel and Beirut.

Beirut is indie-rock inspired by Balkan gypsy music. I eat that sort of thing up, all heavy layers and bells, but I think I prefer field recordings to things like this. I bought the Beirut cd only because Jeremy Barnes (the NMH drummer) was playing on it and I heard a snippet and thought that it was good. I'd like to emphasize that Mr. Barnes isn't a member of the band, he just played on the record.

So these DJs throwing around this A Hawk and A Hacksaw project as being from former members of NMH is mildly annoying. I think I wouldn't mind it if it was just "A former member."

What I do like is the name of his new project: A Hawk and A Hacksaw. What a great name for a band!

"I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw." --Hamlet, Act II, scene ii

According to T. Burton:

"Parrying Rosencrantz' and Guildenstern's clumsy inquiries, Hamlet warns them not to underestimate him, 'I know a hawk from and handsaw,'(II.ii.394) with 'handsaw' widely considered to be a variant or corruption of 'hernshaw,' an early word for 'heron.' He means 'I'm sane enough to know the hunter from the hunted.' "

I took a Shakespeare class from and Anthony Burton at BYU. I wonder if T Burton is him. Dr. Burton wrote a sonnet every morning for a year. I really think only a Mormon would or could do something like that. I remember one of them was in praise of toast. The others were more serious; I think one was about his wife, some nuanced understanding between the two of them. I wonder if she liked his poems, if she looked at him and saw him twenty years younger, when his hair was thick and it was cool to wear a braided belt, if she imagined herself then thinking of the future being married to a Shakespeare professor who wrote sonnets for her. I see him backlit in a brown field coat, and her looking straight ahead, loving him because he sees himself as the hero in his own text.

Some small part of me wishes that things like that would work for me.