Friday, October 24, 2008

the state that I am in

Katy, a friend of mine, contributed a great, funny, heartbreaking piece on Belle & Sebastian to, a music blog by people who a)know their shit and b)know how to write.

It stirred up many Belle & Sebastian-related memories for me, primarily of high school and Octobers past. I have always loved this season. Dead things are on the ground but everything else is just starting: school, new chances, the best season for clothes.

I figured I'd post my response to Katy's post here as well. Consider it my crispy fall leaf treat to you.

Growing up, I lacked any older sisters/brothers/cousins who could have educated me musically. So until I met that high school boyfriend who got me watching Hype and Singles and playing The Cure: Show on repeat, I rode my own musical melt: which meant my Mom’s Chicago and Springsteen records and stuff on The Mix.

The first real record I ever bought was Tigermilk by Belle & Sebastian. (And by record, I mean CD.) I was in seventh or eighth grade, stalking the soundtrack aisles at the Borders two towns over from mine, seeking out the two-disc original Broadway cast recording of RENT, when I saw the album in the Staff Picks bar above the rest of the CDs. I was a sap for pretty words even then, and the title drove me to find the CD in its alphabetized cubby, flip it, and fall in love with the song titles and drawings on the back of the case.

I took the album home and listened to it before I fell asleep that night. It was kind of like the first time I French kissed: initially overwhelming and sloppy, ultimately the best thing ever. Stuart Murdoch’s geeky, soulful croon scored my own multitudes-heavy teenage years: years I spent in common social exile with similarly goofy outcast friends, like all the best people and sociopaths. I had a particular fondness for “Expectations”, a sort of geek-girl anthem full of sass and longing; for genius, respect, and boyfriends.

Belle & Sebastian felt like my secret. I got every album and single I could get my hands on, and terrified my mom when I made a wall-height poster of the naked-lady Tigermilk the shrine-like center of focus in my pastel pink room. The best part of the secret was my ultimate B&S jam: an even sassier geek-girl anthem, “La Pastie de la Bourgeousie.”

And you love like nobody around you
How you love, and a halo surrounds you

That song felt like my reward for being true to myself. It was a promise: Girl. You’re smart. You’re going to get out of this place and do great things, and hot boys from the UK are going to write you love songs and beckon you to open fields of eucalyptus, westward bound.

Imagine the crushing blow dealt my heart when I found out all the film school fucks who I hated even more than my high school bullies knew all about Belle & Sebastian too. That they had been to their shows in the UK. Had every import. Were dating a girl who dumped Stuart Murdoch. That Belle & Sebastian wasn’t just for the outliers, the awkward, the heartfelt. I should have known: they have Borders everywhere.

For awhile I felt betrayed by my favorite band. What kind of crap were they trying to pull, appealing to the heartless masses as well as snowflakes like me? I avoided them for awhile. Got into Patti Smith and Television and The Stooges. Shit that involved razorblades-as-personal-political-statement, angry shit that would have turned Stuart Murdoch’s elfin white skin ash grey with fear. Years later, when my class issues quieted (just a bit), and I was feeling in need of a strong dose of my fearless teenage self, I dusted off the old iTunes and downloaded that old anthem. And now I’m wise enough to admit mass appreciation of incredible music is a good thing. Because this song still instills me with hope and courage and romance.

You’re too tall, much too tall for a boyfriend
They run and hide, from your buckteeth and split ends
Don’t be scared of the books you’ve read
You’re the heroine, you’ll be doing fine

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kelly Link Likes my Music Video

Forever ago, I made this music video:

Extra forever ago, I fell in love with the writing of Kelly Link. It was the first book I ever bought in NYC (where I went to film school). I got it in a bookshop complete with snobby shopkeeps and a fat cat. I judged the book by its cover completely. Can you blame me?

I took it home to my cramped Washington Square dorm and curled up on my extra-long twin bed. It was my freshman year of art school, and if art school kids are square pegs in round holes, I was the L wrench that came in the box: inexplicable, perhaps useful, shiny and out of place.

I cracked the book delicately and started to read. I was absorbed into a world of sadness, magic, triumph, and lists. Sets of names of forgotten lovers, sets of ways to spring a trap, sets of twins and sisters---all coded in myth and mystery. The stories contained some of my favorite things: heart, wit, and girl detectives. In the beginning of that awkward year, they became something good to fold into and grow out of.

I think children who were avaricious readers grow into adults who are avaricious readers, and the avariciouser we get the harder it is to fall in love with a book: to be taken in by it, feel connected to it in a visceral and emotional way. I still connect to this book, even though a few of the stories have changed their meaning to me. I'm no longer a fierce and fumbling eighteen-year-old away from home for the first time, getting lost in the scream and flash of a city I had dreamed of since a kid. I'm pleased to find a constant in content like this, something that grows with me or was always there waiting for me to see the change, what more there was beneath the surface.

But enough love lettering! The point of this misty meander down memory lane and cheery clip up...present & future drive is....Kelly Link thinks my music video is cool!

Fall in zombie love with her here.

(you can read the full text of many of her tales online, and download a complete copy of Stranger Things Happen on this site.)

Or cut to the chase and read Flying Lessons, one of my favorites, now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Gaim Plan

I'm going to see Neil Gaiman read from The Graveyard Book tomorrow night at the Tivoli Theatre. If you're going too, let's share a cosmic high-five then lope around in a soulcandyfed daze.


Name the different kinds of people," said Miss Lupescu. "Now."

Bod thought for a moment. "The living, " he said. "Er. The dead." he stopped. Then, "...Cats? he offered, uncertainly.

a brief note before more geeking

Copy is not enticing.

Sandwiches are enticing.

Also, tv on DVD boxsets. Or men with strong eyebrows.

Never copy.