Monday, May 23, 2011

Gaga, Queen, Queen, Gaga

I knew she was going to do this!* aka Holy contrasting contexts! So on "You & I" (all "U's" with umlaut, of course), the chords from "Born this WaY" are half-time'd, and it becomes a gospel hymn ('cause that's how it works!) and you throw in Queen's beat and Brian May's wall-of--many-Brian Mays and

Gaga becomes the-sweet-ghost-of-Freddie* and holy moly and the last song being "The Queen" gives you an idea how interlaced all of this is, or rather this final song troika, and the fact that "You and I" ends with one chord voice of pause, the literal edge of...something...

...well, duh, of course we go to "The Edge of Glory", now the Monster Hymn of Chrome and no, I'm not overthinking this, I'm barely touching the surface of a record where she's been the queer messiah-ette, Almodovar kook, constant Xtian inversionist, Denmother of the Darned, Friday Night Goth, seriously, she wears idenities faster than critics will fail to come up with coherently cynical ways to dismiss what she's doing.

*God, it must have been so weird being Brian May, alone with Mutt Lange, with another incredible vocal queen. he must think "I'm so fortunate", "My life is so weird" and "I miss my friend so fucking much".

**"Yes, a post with footnotes. It's the new thing."

BTW: Gaga's techno

Lady Gaga's BORN THIS WAY is this generation's most important recording as depth-y and iconic as BORN TO RUN or New Order and Kate Bush's first three records (I'm still putting together how to contextualize it). I can't be more put my belief of this more emphatically.

So I'm just going to be posting things I observe over the next few weeks or months regarding the album.

Right now, Number 1: Gaga's techno.

In glam and Ziggy Bowie used this "boogie" that nothing to do with no one's idea of "boogie" except "boogie" sounded American which suggested something new and glam certainly was supposed to be that but boogie also suggested viability as in some African American tradition which found it's way into massed saxophones in Bowie's glam.

Which is to say that Lady Gaga is using European "techno" in a similar multi-use manner, to do things it wasn't meant for, to suggests things it wasn't designed to do. So you have "techno" grooves used like they were the Muddy Waters blues Jeff Beck's weren't, you have "techno" as music history lesson as "Government Hooker" kisses New Order/New Wave, or hard rock that isn't "Highway Unicorn".

"Techno" is her roots music.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sully v. Gaga!

As people who are interested know, Andrew Sullivan is unhealthily obsessed with Sarah Palin and what Sullivan calls "Palinism", which he describes as the ability to, by sheer force of delusion, decide everything is it whatever one desires it to be.

I think Sullivan is obsessed with this because of what he sees in the mirror each morning.

For example, there is Sullivan, arch conservative of a subgenre known only to Andrew Sullivan, a conservatism that's actually 21st century "liberalism", but hey, who's counting.

Anyway, Sullivan, among his many charming peculiarities, has found it necessary to declare the death of gay culture as a way of mainstreaming queers into American life and so help gay marriage happen more quickly.

This is the sort of exotic view of Americans that only a person from a foreign country--Sullivan is from the UK--could possibly formulate.

You and me, actual Americans, we know how gay marriage will happen--it will happen by fisting it up the tight evil ass of gay hating scumbag Americans, just like other civil rights before it were forcefully ass-rammed before it.

But back to The Death of Gay Culture. So gay culture must die so gay marriage can happen. Okay--except already we've seen this isn't accurate or true. Now onward to real.

It isn't. But to an in-spirit Palinist, it MUST be true, so reality must be, uh, rearranged.

So Lady Gaga sucks.

Whoa! That was a jump, you might say! But check it out.

Sullivan was saying the other day how Lady Gaga is overplaying her hand to her huge gay audience (*but I thought you said gay culture had no SILENCE!),

--that she was nauseating with "Born this Way" just like John Lennon was with "Imagine" what with liberals who didn't know poverty from fuck being equivalent to a straight woman not knowing "difference" from fuck but hey, it's a nice song but--

It's not as good as Madonna.

Madonna who REALLY spoke for the gay community. (Madonna who wasn't, uh, gay, but had a gay designer--Jean Paul Gautier--doing silly things for her).

But Lady Gaga, she's no Madonna! (Who had the gay Alexander McQueen doing her designs, who was an actual genius, but you get the sense Sullivan doesn't know or care about this.)

Anyway, Sullivan's argument seems to be that gay culture is dead because Madonna is WAY better than Lady Gaga because Madonna had her hits when Sullivan was a clubbing youth.

So case closed, right? Gay culture is clearly dead.

And GLEE? It's not *really* gay culture because it's *assimilated gay culture* because in order for a culture to be a culture is has to be on the fringe.

Okay--what about that eternal gateway to gayness: showtune culture!

No answer.

Okay--then what about RuPaul? That's totally on the fringe!

Too far on the fringe. Who cares about a bunch of queens?*

But that's what Lady Gaga says in her song! "Don't be a drag just be a--"

*Didn't we take care of Lady Gaga?*

Well actually, no.

Sullivan presents himself as the king hipster queer conservative who knows who Erasure is.

Which makes sense of why his entire frame of reference is in the late 80s.

Because how else could you possibly *still* be referencing Madonna vs Lady Gaga three years after Gaga burst on the scene when the actual discussion is how well will Gaga be able to pull off a post-feminist, queered Bruce Springsteen?

But I guess with gay culture dead and all, Sullivan doesn't have to think about this, he can eternally go back to 2007, compare Gaga to Madonna and always find the lady wanting.

And for anyone whose gone to the theater or opera, whose walked through Chelsea or the West Village, who has tickets to Rufus Wainright or Scissor Sister or, yes, Lady fucking Gaga, and the millions of people and dollars in support people and industries in these super gay cultures, your need to claim all of us dead, well Andrew, it’s kind of insulting.

PS: Notice I did not upload an image of Sarah Palin.

This is because if you are reading this, you must be a person of good intent and because as much as Sullivan makes me want to tear my hair out and go Grr! and Argg! at least once a week, I think he's a good egg, and would never put his image on the same virtual page as that of that terrible, terrible heathen fry-brain. Not that there's anything wrong with actual heathens.

PPS: Actually, I knew several very nice heathens. Their ceremony was beautiful and full of spiritual elegance.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Deke worked the dark third-floor at The Odyssey disco in West Hollywood, mining the bad-Daddy chickenhawk trade for tens and Tuinals, a thirteen-year-old midnight cowboy in clothes to match, not counting his Teenage Jesus & the Jerks tee-shirt. A boyish shag blond, his face became even more angelic from the free plastic surgery he'd endured, rumor had it, after his father broke his jaw one night in the grip of passion.

Above all things, Deke cherished the sound and image of David Bowie. The music, especially songs such as “We Are the Dead” (from Diamond Dogs), “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars), and “All the Madmen” (The Man Who Sold the World) validated his emotional geography, while Bowie’s shifting exotic looks affirmed Deke’s desire for a mutable exterior of easy-access beauty that, in his mind at least, might for an evening negate the squalor he knew.

Until his stay with Good Uncle Vic, Deke had found lodgings in the filthy basement below Frederick’s of Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard, a veritable underground railroad for punks, runaways, kid hookers and other distressed youth. There were other places that charged negligible overnight fees in even worse areas, places like the Canterbury Arms, a 20’s German film industry √©migr√© hotel gone to seed. Even more desperate lodgings were offered by borderline cases like Andrew Collar.

Collar worked at a computer video transfer place he claimed was aligned in some technological manner with George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic facility, and with whom Deke found lodgings for a spell during the bad spring of ’82, two years ago. He owned a co-op in Universal City, the place was always packed with tow-headed early teen multiples of TV’s James at 15 star Lance Kerwin. (In 1999, Kerwin was arrested for crack after two failed marriages he currently lives on an all-Christian rehab ranch.)

All Collar wanted was company and the right to the occasional candid Polaroid. Then there were outright monsters like Good Uncle Vic, Deke’s ultimate destination before fate beat sheer velocity.

Good Uncle Vic, whose handle people always pronounced in full, was a prescient post modernist who could have told you what that meant. Looking like a screenwriter’s idea of a child molester—half bald, bug-eyed, and perpetually sweaty—he did everything he could to make his appearance even more loathsome, which he correctly guessed would gain him the admiration of kids who thought they looked worse and did everything they could to emphasize it. Good Uncle Vic—a displaced native of Germantown, MD—owned a six-bedroom house in Van Nuys, CA, and a storefront in Flushing, New York. Being an interested party, Good Uncle Vic kept up with the latest trends in youth culture.

This was 1981, and so the kids were excited about the New Romantic movement, which featured made-up androgynes fronting bands with colorful names such as The Teardrop Explodes, Visage, and Ultravox. Because of scattershot US release patterns, the dour urban trance rock of Joy Division, whose lead singer Ian Curtis had recently hanged himself at the age of 23, was also in favor. (The band had gotten its name from the World War II novel The House of Dolls by Karol Cetinsky; in the book, 'joy division' was a term applied to young concentration-camp inmates forced to prostitute themselves for Nazi soldiers.) With further research, Good Uncle Vic discovered that all these groups enjoyed a primary influence in the works of David Bowie.

And so, to create the veneer of being in the know with kids who respected little else, he played New Romantic sounds, along with every David Bowie record available. He had permanent guests running both residences, and who kept a Super 8mm projector wound with Swedish Erotica loops intercut with bottom feeder boy porn (shot on-premise) showing at all times, some of them staring Deke. In two years, Deke’s partially decapitated body would be discovered in an apartment on Franklin Street by West Hollywood Sheriff Department Vice, a one-room completely lacking in personal effects except for a small tape player and smashed cassette tape in pieces and unraveled in a wild perimeter of the room. Their report would list the cause of death as "shot-gun wounds to mouth, self-inflicted."

[extracted from my novel, GONE. ]

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Krallice Comes Through

I'd really rather given up on Krallice. It wasn't that my brethren were 'hipster' metal. They just didn't seem able to get their color-wash right. Their mixes never made sense. Their songs suites would start you here then drop you there and you'd be left wondering if it there was any thinking behind what they were doing, if it was just a case of them gluing one cool part to another cool part and calling it a day.

Even when a composition felt like an actual composition, their song architectures were unwieldy--admirable, but nothing you wanted to live in. As fellow New Yorkers who were getting a lot of good ink, I wanted to join the party, but as in therapy, my issues just wouldn't go away.

"Diotima" is the sound of a band who have finally found a way to put on record that noise that's been rattling around in their collective head for so long. The interplay between Colin Marston (guitar), Lev Weinstein (drums), Nick McMaster (bass) and Mick Barr (vocals, guitar) has become that great metal thing, the single beast made of many parts.

To me, this is extreme metal doing it's job greatly. It's metal that's abstracted itself out of being able to be termed "metal", while all the black metal --tremolo-picked guitars, rasp-vox, canon accent drums--have literally been distorted or reverb-blurred into a wash of pulsing indeterminacy. In short, this band that kept promising greatness, finally delivered.