Wednesday, November 26, 2014
We're leaving Barcelona, heading towards Bilbao to catch an overnight ferry to England. Outside the city lies a near-desert marked by occasional stone foundations, once buildings, trees of some sort, olives or fruit—the Spanish countryside, orchard-studded and cloudy overhead, is a blur at eighty miles an hour, lovely as anywhere. After last night's show my throat hurts in a way that is hard to put into words. Just breathing, abiding, it burns. I can't really speak, my voice, a rasp. I'm an overdramatic child on the verge of tears. I'm homesick. I twist in my earbuds and put on Luther Vandross, because I need to hear someone who can still sing. I close my eyes as the opening bass line dances and swells, it's become so familiar, and I'm back in Brooklyn tripping on the sidewalk between my apartment and the grocery store. I open my eyes; in the side mirror I can see my face is flushed. It's incredible how certain songs can carry you in and out of tangible memory. I'm barely in the van any more. I feel tracks rushing under my feet, I close my eyes tight, Luther's voice carrying me away, my heart swells, I'm on the A train and I'm going to see a boy.
I've been on tour since the fall of 2013, when my band became moderately popular overnight, seemingly by accident. We had to make a spontaneous decision—whether or not to leave our jobs, sign a recording contract, write an album, and take to the road. It's the most exciting and stupidest decision I've ever made. We tour four to six weeks at a time; take three or four days off; then leave again as soon as possible. We spend up to ten hours a day in the van to play for about 25 minutes, then we pack up, sleep somewhere for a few hours, and do it again the next day, seven days a week.
The first time I spit up blood, I figured it was a fluke. A cold, playing too hard, too many cigarettes. But after that first time, it seemed like my body began breaking down at an unparalleled pace. Speaking became uncomfortable. At a level above quiet conversation, it's actually painful. I try to sing along with the radio and no notes come out, no matter how hard I try. For half an hour every day, I scream until I burst blood vessels around my eyes and nose. It's my job now. As a result, my vocal chords are destroyed. The first time in my life that people have paid attention to what I have to say and it's threatening to take my voice away for good.
Hey buds— we are ending this week early due to American Thanksgiving, which I don't know if Haley has ever experienced in real life, but if she asks, tell her it looks like the above.
WE STILL HAD SOME GREAT STUFF IN THIS LIL' BABY WEEK. Gabby Noone gave chain restaurants astrological signs. Erica Lies interviewed the founders of the first annual Appalachian queer film festival. Alan Hanson and Hallie Bateman gave us an NYC-based DSM, Baba Yaga gave us advice on our exes, and Anna Fitzpatrick gave us some reality, real or otherwise. We've got one more real good post coming for you at 2pm, so stay tuned.
This will be my first time home since starting my Big New Job (this). How am I gonna explain The Hairpin to my family??????????? LOL. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Wish me luck.
Image via Flickr Commons.
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Expectation: You are witty and charming beyond belief. Your hair has never looked better. You end the evening with a passionate kiss, and neither of you have bad breath.
Reality: It's obvious that both of you are trying really hard. Half of your jokes fall flat, but to be fair, so do theirs. You exchange a friendly hug at the end of the evening.
Alternate Reality: You are a scorpion. They are a shapeless ball of light. The world has ended, but it wasn't really there to begin with. The sex is awkward but adequate.
Recurring Arrival Delusion
An endless thought-loop, regardless of how many times it is proven incorrect, dedicated to the idea that each and every train in the city is running perfectly fine—except for yours. Your train must be re-routed today. Broken. Driven into the sea. Where is it? It is definitely not here. There goes the F. And another. But your train will not be coming today. Why are you still standing there?
The way the Appalachian region sits in the popular imagination, it’s the last place anyone would expect to find a film festival celebrating queer identity. But in the same month that West Virginia—the only entirely Appalachian state—legalized same-sex marriage, it also welcomed the first annual Appalachian Queer Film Festival, boasting a diverse lineup of features and documentaries. It included mainstream films like Skeleton Twins, starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader and To Be Takei, the Sundance documentary about actor George Takei. The festival featured lesser-known films such as Kumu Hina, a documentary about a transgender woman who teaches and preserves Hawai’i’s indigenous culture, and Goodbye Gauley Mountain, a protest against the ravaging practice of mountain top removal by filmmaker Beth Stephens and performance artist Annie Sprinkle.
I spoke with festival founders Tim Ward and Jon Matthews on the eve of their opening night. Over the telephone, we talked about growing up queer in Appalachia, bringing independent film to West Virginia, and showcasing the contemporary Mountain State. READ MORE
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Cancer: The Olive Garden
When you're here, you're family! But even if you're not, that's okay, because Cancer’s extreme need for emotional stability and fear of change will force you to stay, eating endless salad and breadsticks, until you have no choice but to love them.
My voice isn't adequate for this conversation.
But I can't ignore it.
So here's what I've got for you today.
"It’s tough to believe in anything other than the present when you’re forced to fight for every inch of ground you’ve got; it’s harder still when you’ve got to question most of your interpersonal interactions. Is this why I didn’t get the job? Is this why my lease application was denied? Is this why I got into college? Is this why this person keeps following me around the grocery store? And when you ask, you’re looked at like you’re crazy, met with denial — because it’s always plausible, deniable."
Everything that could've been said has been said; everything that could've been done was avoided. Last night, Michael Brown was put on trial for his own murder. You will hear me repeat this a lot: what age is a black boy when he learns he's scary? Millions learned last night.
Let's focus on the good. Mike Brown was 18 years old, freshly graduated from high school. He was funny, silly, quiet and respectful, a gentle giant. He liked to take selfies. He liked to rap, and there is not a goddamned thing wrong with that. He is gone, but we cannot forget him.
If you are angry, like me, here are some things you can do. First and foremost, always and forever, register to vote. There is no excuse. You can contact your local representatives to implore them to require body cameras on every cop. You can sign petitions like the ACLU's against racial profiling, or Change.org's to protect communities from police violence. You can donate: organizations like Black Lives Matter and Operation Help or Hush are on using social media to garner change, the National Lawyer's Guild is providing legal support to protestors, and the Ferguson library will remain open today even though schools are closed, to provide solace and shelter.
Keep thinking about Michael Brown. Keep thinking about Trayvon Martin, about Oscar Grant and Tamir Rice and Sean Bell, about so many others. Keep thinking about all those little black boys who never made it home, about all the little boys who are afraid to leave. But do more than think: do. "Let's not just make noise," as Brown's family has implored us. "Let's make a difference."
Emily Gilmore has just taken off her skirt and escaped the basement through the window. Richard has followed her outside.
As you no doubt already heard, yesterday marked the passing of a man the media has aptly named an “entertainment icon” by the name of Mike Nichols. Mike earned his icon status by performing just about every major task one can perform in the modern creative arts, working as a comedian, a director, a producer, and a writer. He will be best known as the director of such films as The Graduate, for which he won an Oscar, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Catch-22, Angels in America, Working Girl, and many others. But today, we dip into the archives and take a look at the first job Nichols performed that brought him to national attention: that of one half of the comedy duo Nichols & May. READ MORE
I dropped out of college the first time in a bright kind of fall. The college, because I’m Canadian, was actually called university, and the university was of Western Ontario, a great, big, unevenly beautiful school at which both of my parents had matriculated. It would have been nice if that’s why I too had enrolled, or why my decision was forcibly encouraged; the real reason was that the U. of W.O. was a 12-minute drive from our house, where as a stay-at-home student I’d cost a lot less, help with the chores, and continue to attend our evangelical hell-hole of a church.
Resigned, I spent my first year of an undeclared major wearing comfortable shoes and riding the city bus to school. I remember making very few friends. One of them I kissed for 20 minutes by the light of a neon Sublime poster, and when my mother read my diary to find this out, she not only sat me down for a long talk with my dad, but also, the following Wednesday, showed up at 3:10 p.m. to an even longer lecture on Hegel. Five hundred students of Modern European History turned to look at her. I looked for a sharpened pencil. She just had a feeling, she said to me later in the van, that I was doing something here besides learning.