Friday, January 23, 2009

Stars Shining Bright Above You

We woke up on Wednesday morning a changed nation. I know, I KNOW I said that I won't belabor my political favoritism on this site, but let's get this out of the way right now: we are breathing a collective sigh of relief.

I mention it not because I want to fling my virtual handful of confetti along with the rest of the self-congratulatory bleeding hearts (although I am happy enough to do so - I have bad aim, though, so if you don't want any in your eye, I'd move on back.) I bring it up because while the tenor and tone of government has changed, and while the last three days have already proven this President's commitment to restoring our country to the good graces of the rest of the civilized world, INDIVIDUALLY not much had changed.

Whatever do you mean, Ms. S? I hear you asking. Well, I have not miraculously been cured of my tiresome habit of talking over people, nor has my propensity for dairy products suddenly been voided as I guiltily realize the amount of energy it takes to sustain a herd of cattle. I have managed to make it half a week without even losing very much of my patented GenX cynicism (although the rampant goodwill of my compatriots is trying its persistence), and to top it all off, I am still a total geek. Not just a science-fiction reading, costume-wearing non-apologist, but a lover of the less than mainstream, disdainful of popular opinion. Case in point, when Z. said the other day that Obama might be Morpheus, I conjured up this:
rather than THIS, which is what I am fairly certain Z. had in mind:
Now, while I am delighted at thinking that our new Commander in Chief might have all the infinite powers of one of the Endless, I was a little confused. Dream of the Endless is an arrogant, distant tragic hero that has no understanding or concern for human foibles. Surely you can see why I might be slightly alarmed. Also, he is fairly obviously a white dude with an unfortunate haircut, who in my head speaks with Neil Gaiman's rusty London inflections. Not much in the way of resemblance, unlike Bondage Cowboy Curtis there. Boyfriend's voice is CREAMY.

Neil Gaiman, though, is a savvy man, with Ideas about how the world should be, and here is what he has to say: "... gods, religions, and national boundaries, ...are absolutely imaginary. They’re completely notional. They don’t tend to exist. As soon as you pull back half a mile and look down at the Earth there are no national boundaries. There aren’t even any national boundaries when you get down and walk around. They’re just imaginary lines we draw on maps. (...) I just get fascinated by people who assume that things that are imaginary have no relevance to their lives." I can't help but feel that the idea that we create our own limits is one that Obama understands very well indeed. Perhaps the brother of Destiny and Destruction is an apt choice, after all. And we should not forget that when asked if he is always pale, Morpheus replies, "That depends on who is watching."

Monday, January 19, 2009

I don't understand

Every year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors artists who have made a contribution to the genre. They do this with a big splashy ceremony, and then when you go to the RnRHoF, you can go look at the exhibit listing all their accomplishments. Or so I assume, I've never been there. I am sure that you can name the first inductees without even knowing anything else about the institution; try rattling off the ten most influential early rock and rollers you can think of, American style, and you're probably right. Did you guess Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry? James Brown, Ray Charles, Little Richard? Jerry Lee Lewis? The Everly Brothers? Maybe Sam Cooke and Fats Domino weren't immediate choices, but they make sense in context, right? That was in 1986. It took them all of two years to add Bob Dylan. Cream and the Bee Gees and the STAPLES SINGERS have all made the list. Guess who has been nominated twice and never inducted?

That's right. Iggy and the Stooges.

Jeff Beck, while a very talented musician, is being honored as a solo musician after already being honored as a member of the Yardbirds, and Iggy Pop gets passed over for the second time? I just don't understand. I am happy for all the nominees this year - Run DMC's inclusion is particularly delightful - but the HoF's criteria confuse me. Earth Wind and Fire were added before the Ramones. Bob Seger before Black Sabbath. The Dave Clark Five have made the list, but not the B-52's.

Particularly irritating? They have a category called "early influences". It used to be reserved for the forerunners of the rock and roll sound - blues and jazz musicians, for the most part. Know who it is this year?

That's an Elvis tune she's wailing, my friends. Early influence, my ass. Wanda Jackson was, is, and always will be a rock and roller. She was a contemporary of such luminaries as the aforementioned Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. Forerunner? Sigh.

At least Bill Black made the cut this year in the Sidemen category. Wanna know why?

WHOOOOO-EEEE. Bass slappin' doesn't get any better.

I wanted to post Walk This Way, but I can't embed it. You have to just click right here. That's fuckin' rock and roll, my friends.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I lasted one whole week.

Yes, I have already broken a resolution. And it was the important one. Of course. Damn it all. Here's how it went down:

I have a tattoo. I have two, actually. They are both on my left arm, easy enough to see if I am wearing short sleeves, which more often than not I am, at least while working. I get comments on them all the time, even though a tattooed barista is about as remarkable as, say, a grilled cheese sandwich or a rainy afternoon in Seattle. Generally the things people have to say pertain to their meanings; occasionally someone will say something about the size or placement or cool factor; rarely someone will ask me why I have them. Today's comment stunned me. Then I slowly got indignant and finally mad. Mostly I was pissed because I said something NICE when I should have said something MEAN.

What got said, Stella? What lit your fuse?

"Well, that's certainly a unique tattoo for a lady!"

Now, you might be thinking to yourself, well, it's true! Not everybody goes waltzing through life with a three inch tall musical notation emblazoned in their flesh! And you'd be right. But the pertinent - and angering - portion of the statement wasn't the uniqueness. It was the outright chauvinism: FOR A LADY?

Mister, that's a unique attitude for the 21st century. Mister, how dare you assume I'm a lady? Mister, I'm not like those other girls. Mister, FUCK OFF. I DIDN'T ASK YOUR OPINION.

That's what I meant to say, except I didn't want to be mean. Instead I just said, "I'm a bass player." He said something non-committal in response, and it was then that the indignation set in. It was plain that he knew what it was and what it meant, and that THAT was the thrust of his commentary. If I had a few roses there, or a fairy in flight, or even a nice, Sailor Jerry-type sparrow, he wouldn't have said what he did. Maybe he'd've said: "Your tattoo is nice." or "That butterfly almost looks real!" He wouldn't have said anything about how unusual it was, because, let's be frank: there are lots and lots of tattooed women out there, but our society at large still only wants to accept it if our tattoos conform to the prevailing ideals of delicacy or beauty or femininity.

So, Mister? Yeah, you're right. It's an unusual piece. I play the upright bass in a rockabilly band, and I wreck. You're right. There are not a lot of women doing what I do, and even fewer who proclaim so proudly. You're right. I could have prettied this up with some floral work, or made it smaller, more ethereal, less bold. It's a tough fucking job, though, and I have to be a tough fucking person to do it, and this is a tough fucking tattoo. My ability to play the bass has nothing to do with my tits or my lipstick, and neither does my ink. Thanks for noticing. Now fuck off.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


I don't hold with New Year's resolutions. In my experience, they do nothing but make you feel bad come the beginning of February about the things you've already managed to screw up with less than 10% of the year gone. One year I promised myself I would finish all the UFOs in my craft room. HA! Fat chance. I have strata of craft projects that you could grid and chart, like an archaeological dig. I often superiorly declare that my resolution is to not make any resolutions, and along those lines, one of my resolutions for 2009 is:

Don't make promises I am not going to keep. It is rare that I do this anyway, but sometimes its easier to be nice and say yes than to hurt someone's feelings. No more. If I say I am going to do something, I am going to do it. More importantly, if I say I am NOT going to do something, then I shouldn't find myself going full steam ahead and cursing fate instead of my own cowardice.

Stop being nice when I really SHOULD be mean. When my ex and I were in the death throes of our relationship, I once caught him out with the woman he was cheating on me with. I made him come home - and bring her with - so I could read him the riot act. Before you get all indignant about the monumental unfairness of my subjecting her to our airing of grievances, let me tell you what ELSE I did: she had a cold that night, and when she came over she was miserable. So I handed her the box of tissues I had been using to mop up my own furious flood of tears, made her a cup of ginger tea, and forced her to take a multivitamin and a couple of Tylenol. Then, after the conversation (I was too solicitous to FIGHT, even though I was raring for one) I made my ex drive her home wrapped in one of our blankets. I tell this story not to garner any sympathy from you, but to illustrate how easy it is for me to subsume my own righteous rage under concern. I have to learn to harden my heart about these things, at least a little bit, so that my own brittle egg of emotion doesn't crack under the strain of someone else's sadness.

Learn to PLAY the guitar, not just hold it and strum ineffectually at random strings. Ineffectual, random plucking will now be reserved exclusively for the bass, which, as my main instrument and the love of my life, is as it should be.

Continue to not eat cookies. This is easier than learning to kickbox, and I am nothing if not lazy.i won't be eating these. no matter how much i want to.

And a final, very specific one: Say the actual word to the person it is intended for. To his face. Hopefully while looking him in the eye. Because saying words like it, or that are almost the same, is NOT THE SAME. It takes courage I don't have yet. Yet.

Et vous, mes amis? Will you be partaking of the pistachio macarons that this year offers you, or are you steadfast in your refusal on moral grounds? Leave your 2009 resolutions in the comments.