Archive for November 11th, 2012

November 11th, 2012

Ethyl Meatplow plays CalArts (Flipside interview)

John: I took my pants off and shoved the microphone up my butt! I’m thinking, yeah it’s Cal Arts, yeah, Karen Finley,
performance art! Right on!

Carla: They were so un-hip!

John: We stopped between songs just to curse!

Carla: And fuck with them. Our female dancer had jockey shorts with a big dildo glued to the front and she was naked on
top  - she was like “Echh ecch.”

John: And all these butch dikes were up front going “Yeah! Yeah!”

Al: John, what kind of sounds did you manage to get out of that microphone?
Carla in Meatplow. Click to see full image. John: I was too busy screaming, I was screaming loud enough for it to reverberate in my colon! I gave it back to the sound man  and he’s like “Oh, if it’s broken I have to pay for it!” And I took out the money they gave us and I was like “Here fucker, I’ll pay for it right now!” and he’s saying “Naw, that’s alright…” and runs off with his tail between his legs. The perfect way to end a   perfect show.

Full interview here.

November 11th, 2012

People keep making “Misery” jokes because I am a writer stuck in the house with a busted…

People keep making “Misery” jokes because I am a writer stuck in the house with a busted ankle but at least he had a crazed murderous fan to entertain him.

November 11th, 2012

an inflated, dialectical Disney parade





Among the greatest killers of sensible, reasoned discourse (on Tumblr or wherever) is when ostensibly smart people deliberately misinterpret another’s statement, usually when that statement was ambiguous in the first place— so make further enquiries before assuming— or when it was making an affirmative statement about one particular thing which is then interpreted as a definitive slight against the opposite, without any evidence to suggest that the statement-maker feels that way. It leads to this awful, nightmarish level of debate that’s based around extremes and, to steal Maura’s phrase, “but but but”-ing, ending up miles away from the point in hand. Everyone ends up firing arrows into this awful, inflated, dialectical Disney parade float version of the original nuanced idea, which remains ignored.

On a similar note, it feels as though much of the Tumblr/Twitter conversation from the last few weeks/months has been about urging people to “check their privilege.” In and of itself, maintaining a level of awareness about your position and about how those that do not benefit from whatever circumstances aided you arriving there is a good thing. But if you’re going to encourage someone to CYP! then do ensure that you’re applying that vigilance across the board; as an example from a few weeks back, if you’re going to attack Lana Del Rey for wearing a Native American headdress, cool, but make sure you’ve got Orlando from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Natasha from Bat For Lashes, Kylie Minogue, Victoria’s Secret, Ke$ha, and whoever else in your line of fire too. Sniping CYP! [“c-n-yp-ing”? needs work!] at a popular or controversial figure as a form of righteous criticism rings utterly hollow if you’re not consistent with it.

This sounds really great as rhetoric, but I’m having a difficult time reading it as anything but silencing. You see something in popular culture that bothers you, then you point that thing out (on Tumblr, mind you, not in the context of any more ambitious critical project), and somehow that’s entirely irrelevant or hypocritical or hysterical unless you take on the permanent responsibility of Omniscient Privilege Cop? Come on. People react to phenomena that interest them in particular or affect them personally. When we seize on a single example that speaks to a persistent idea in culture, the larger conversation, which draws in the rest of those instances, follows. That is how cultural criticism — in both the professional and casual senses — works.

In this particular instance, I’m not even sure what was supposed to be so “nuanced” about the original idea. If we’re talking about what Ann Powers said, the sum total of that statement was, “Hey, cool idea! Why don’t you hire some more writers who aren’t white males?” Seems pretty simple to me. Honestly, what I find depressing is how much debate has of necessity resulted from that, because the people who were being so gently criticized for staffing a publication that seeks to buck the music-journalism status quo with writers who (at least from a demographic perspective) uphold that status quo couldn’t just take a wise veteran critic’s words to heart and move on with them in mind.

1. I wasn’t talking about Uncool, hence the lack of specifics cited. I just couldn’t think of a better way to put what I said than Maura’s “but but but” remark from her post about that publication, which I liked. There are at least six instances in recent memory that I was targeting with my first post, and they weren’t all to do with music. (cf. my original point about making assumptions.)

2. “I’m having trouble reading it as anything but silencing.” cf. last cf. I said what I meant, and nothing else by implication.

3. Re: Omniscient Privilege Cop: I am sick of social critics only pointing out issues with things/people that they do not like, rather than applying them across the board. If you’re not consistent with your personal politics, why should anyone ever take what you have to say seriously?

OK, so I misread you (not deliberately, mind) on Uncool, and that’s my fault. It would have been helpful to have some examples of what you were actually referring to, but I can imagine those conversations because I’ve seen them and participated in them and generally agree. Nuanced analysis that — and to me, this is the key — is more about interacting with the idea itself than advancing the writer/Tumblrer’s point of view is in desperately short supply. I blame a cultural conversation with weird and often arbitrary pieties, but also a critical landscape where even the most laudable writers live and die on the personal brand they’re pushing with every polemical piece or Tumblr post. People make variations of the same point over and over so eventually they will become known as The Person Who Says That One Thing. That One Thing is a version of what the writer thinks, but rarely the whole story as even she, herself, sees it.

But your second paragraph still seems silencing to me, and not because I’m making an assumption. I just don’t see you giving an option that isn’t either devoting one’s life to being Omniscient Privilege Cop or just shutting up about it. It’s hypocritical to be OK with one context-free headdress (or brownface or bindi) and not another — and I don’t actually think that’s the issue at hand in most cases; I haven’t seen a whole lot of people calling out one headdress and shrugging off another, whether they choose to make a public statement about it or not — but that doesn’t mean that everyone who points out a single instance needs to drop everything to perform their outrage at every obscure instance of privilege that manifests itself in the culture. Or that every Tumblr post about a rock star in a headdress needs to come with a dissertation on the whole history of white people appropriating Native American culture. To say so is to create a situation where no one is qualified to call out anything — and, as a result, none of these conversations happen. It reminds me, a little bit, of academic feminists who would exclude everyone who hasn’t done a PhD’s worth of reading from participating in broader discussions of women’s rights.

November 11th, 2012

"I don’t think it’s terribly controversial to note that women, from a young age, are required to…"

“I don’t think it’s terribly controversial to note that women, from a young age, are required to consider the reality of the opposite gender’s consciousness in a way that men aren’t. This isn’t to say that women don’t often misunderstand, mistreat, and stereotype men, both in literature and in life. But on a basic level, functioning in society requires that women register that men are fully conscious; it is not really possible for a woman to throw up her hands and write men off as eternally unknowable space aliens — and even if she says she has, she cannot really behave as though she has. Every element of her life — from reading books about boys and men to writing papers about the motivations of male characters to being attentive to her own safety to navigating most any institutional or professional or economic sphere — demands an ironclad familiarity with, and belief in, the idea that men really are fully human entities. And no matter how many men come to the same conclusions about women, the structure of society simply does not demand so strenuously that they do so. If you didn’t really deep down believe that women were, in general, exactly as conscious as you, you could probably still get by in life. You could probably still get a book deal. You could probably still get elected to office.”

- Jennifer duBois, Writing Across Gender (via k-nuty)
November 11th, 2012


It won’t surprise most of you that I grew up sorely lacking in any domestic skills. Last summer at the beach Jen was making spaghetti for Oliver and she put the sauce in a pot to heat it up and I was like, “What’s that for?” And she was like “You always do that. Have you seriously been putting cold spaghetti sauce on your food your whole life?” The answer is yes, I had been.

John taught me a lot of the few things I do know how to do. How to mop. How to make a bed. (For real. I still suck at it though.) When I was really sick and the chinatown doctor gave me like 3 sacks of herbs he cooked it all up for me because I only had one little pot, and explained that you have to take the spoon out of the pot while it cooks so that it won’t get hot and burn your hand. He never made fun of me being so dumb, it was the same as when he would explain some complicated musical thing.

He wasn’t perfect, obviously.He had his demons. He had a terrible temper. Once we were going somewhere and I couldnt find my keys in my apartment and he was double parked and he was nearing the boiling point so I literally stuck my hand into my couch cushions and came out with a fist, and was all “Here they are!”, then had to ask my landlord to let me in hours later. Many years after that I was all “I LIED TO YOU ONCE” bec I am really a shitty liar, I always confess, usually immediately, and he was like I have no memory of that but I am quite sure I was being a fucking dick.

I’m so sad he made this choice, and I know he convinced himself it was the best thing for everyone because that’s the twisted thinking that happens with this disease. If you could live on love, he would still be alive. Of all of us, and all we went through, he really deserved a happy ending.

November 11th, 2012

"Punk to me has always been a moral philosophy, more than a style of music or a fashion you wear. The…"

“Punk to me has always been a moral philosophy, more than a style of music or a fashion you wear. The underpinnings of all of the songs and clothes was, for me, a core rejection of the way the world operates, the mainstream world. IT was a critique of capitalism, which make some people rich on the backs of so many powerless workers. It was about smashing beauty standards that taught fat girls and boys and anyone not adhering to inhuman expectations to hate themselves. It was a bout challenging racism, challenging homophobia. And when you get down to what all of these rebellions have in common, it’s basic kindness. Love, even. It’s making a pledge to not hurt other people—not to profit off their bodies, not to turn hostile at the way we differ from one another, but to go forward, toward a giant community, fighting only against whoever would keep us down and powerless. Under that whole “personal is political” motto of feminism, I feel that personal kindness, treating people decently, is political—is punk. —Beth Ditto”


—Beth Ditto, in her new memoir, Coal to Diamonds (via mikkipedia)