The best interview are the ones where no one is getting along.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I saw "The Ring" when I was a Freshman in high school and it scarred me for weeks. My friends and I sat in the fifth row at Oak Tree Cinemas and tried to laugh but ended up crying. We were all haunted by the sickly, crumbling faces of the people who'd seen the killer cassette. We felt dreadful about life afterward. I remember looking out at the dark and wet Oak Tree parking lot and thinking to myself "DOOM." That night, I turned the television away from my bed. I couldn't handle static of any kind.
Today I'm in a different place, and I can intellectually distance myself from most horror films. In the spirit of distancing, I watched parts 1 through 5 of "The Ring" on Youtube. Obviously, it's harder to be emotionally raped by a film on Youtube. You can pause the film, read some of the New York Times, absorb Gawker gossip and watch the Office on Hulu. You can even play "Legally Blonde: The Musical" during the scene in the mental institution. Terror averted, right?
Well, sort of. The smeary photographs taken of the soon-to-die, the goulish child of Naomi Watts, and the Dali-esque images on the killer cassette still manage to send chills up my spine. But this youtube thread helped me put shit in perspective:
I wonder how Samara would ring someone if they had no telephone or cellphone.
How does that hot mama call people?
Does she have a cell phone in her well with her?
Northgambit sets it straight:
well dude, I guess the writer just assumed that if you have a tv n a vcr, u have a phone. n it's nt real life, get over it.
I'm trying to, Northgambit. I'm trying to.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Tonight I set out with my shiny blue iPod, out to the streets of Seattle, to the alleys and forested corners of my neighborhood - Ravenna - crying, openly, publicly, while twirling in place and listening to Rufus Wainwright. I looked drunk, possibly insane, and certainly out-of-place, walking with an over-determined gait and crinkly eyes past the Zeek's Pizza and Bagel Oasis.
I started with the instant tearjerker "Do I Disappoint You?" ducking under trees, and past warm houses. I kept my daze fixed, looking out at the world like a camera set to pan. Rufus's tinkling piano swells either provide the impetus to or background for a divine and completely overwrought emotional breakdown. "Why does it always have to be chaos?" he sings as the trumpets swell. "Sensational. I'm gonna smash my bloody skull. Oh baby no you can't save my soul."
The world looked cold and bleak and beautiful, the leaves on the trees volatile, the air brisk and dangerous. "I will never be as cute as you. According to the board of public relations," Rufus confessed. "I will never fly as high as you, according to the board of public citations." These were just the rules and regulations, he explained, the tempo jutting forth, quickening my pace. Suddenly the swells were wondrous, and I joined Rufus in feeling wonder at the world. Even a little bit of flute felt appropriate. "...and I like everyone, yes I like everyone, must follow."
Then came the sullen boy choir which composes the beginning of "Not Ready to Love." "I'm not ready to love, I'm not ready for peace, I'm giving up the dove to the beast," Rufus croons lightly. "I'm not ready to surrender, to another gloved murderer. I'm not ready to love," he says, the vowels escaping from his throat, but just barely. I could feel it, whatever "it" was. I practically tip toed. "I'm not ready to love the way you should be loved...until I'm ready to hold you...the way you should be held." I nearly melted into the sidewalk at that line, my heart felt so warm and full.
I ended the night with "Between My Legs," pitch black in Ravenna park. Instead of walking into the park, I climbed over the wood fence. My Advil Cold and Sinus was wearing off, and I could feel my headache coming back, but I didn't care. "Again I'm afraid of one thing, will I walk away from love knowing nothing, wearing my heart between my legs." It didn't make sense, it doesn't make sense, the lyrics will never make sense. "But all I can say...is I can find, can faaaa--aaaa---aaaake it," Rufus croons, before diving into a jittery, post-apocalyptic story about rocket ships that fall, and finally "packing up the station wagon"
And then....and then....and then, and then, and then...
...the most beautiful part of the song reveals itself like a clearing in a field. It's all violin and guitar pricks and then...bongo drums help set the stage for the finale. "There's a river, running underground, underneath the town, towards the sea." I'm now climbing on the jungle gym like a teenager on shrooms. Rufus picks up the pace without losing the strain in his voice, "On which from this city, we can flee."
I jump off the jungle gym, and wander dazedly back towards 65th and the rest of civilization. I do one last twirl (a flute begged me to) before returning to a regular-person stride. My gaze is still blurry and all I can see is the light and warmth of the buildings in front of me. But my shoulders have lightened. My headache is gone.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I fart on you Amsterdam, London, Madrid and New York. Berlin is the best damn gay city around. Travel guides don't do it justice. Germany's capitol city is the sexiest, smartest and artiest place to be gay in the entire world. Here are some main points to drill home in your power point presentation:
Berlin's Mayor is a Gay!
Klaus Wowereit, mayor of Berlin, is a sexy bitch. He's also a total 'mo. In 2001, prior to the mayoral elections, he famously said, "I'm gay and that's okay," which is a great line because it rhymes. Previously, the largest city with an openly gay mayor was Manitoba, which doesn't really count. Wowereit is a charming, older gay man who knows how to party- he was once famously photographed drinking champagne from an actress's red pump. In the past two years, he has signed an official welcome message for gathering fetishists that has raised the ire of Christian democrats, but Klaus doesn't give a fuck. "We are proud that people of varied origins and predilections feel at home in our city and celebrate together. The first weekend in September will be marked by pure joie de vivre," he wrote to the leather and latex festival's organizers. When, I ask you, has an American mayor ever even openly considered the concept of "joie de vivre"? Never. Instead of getting down and out about the lack of economic riches in his city (Berlin is poorer than poor) the mayor simply says "we are poor but sexy." Yes, yes, yes you are.
Berlin Has More Than One Hundred Gay Bars and Cafes!
So many! In Mitte! In Schoneberg! In Charlottenburg! In Prenzlauerberg! The Gays have conquered the whole damn city! Walk into any bar in Berlin and you're likely to meet people from Austria, Barcelona, Russia, New York, even Israel. The Gays even have their own frickin museum, in Kreuzberg. What the fuck! On any given night, there are over forty gay events to choose from (cultural, clubbing, snozzing) and the monthly magazine listing these events, Siegessaule, is so thick that it feels like you're opening a September issue of Vogue. Suck it, Ms. Wintour!
Berlin Throws Amazing Parties!
Have you ever wanted to dance on the top floor of a converted office building? Check out NBI club near the Prenzlauerberg station. Technoholics will much appreciate the Berghain: a massive dance club set in a former power plant on the border between Fredrichshain and Kreuzberg. At full capacity, it can hold 1,500 sweaty bodies. The party doesn't stop until 8am, when the shudders open to reveal a burst of sunlight. Those looking for calmer nights might want to check out the pop quiz parties at Hafen or the general awesomeness of Heile Welt- both laid back gay bars that attract a potpourri of different kinds of people.
Berlin is "Intellectual"!
Berlin makes being an intellectual look cool. Wander around Rosenthaler Platz and you're likely to find scores of artists, students, and academic types lounging about drinking coffee and talking about art and music. Mobel Olfe, a bar near the Kotbusser Tor stop, is full of these types of gays. You'll have conversations for days. For a heady dose of post-drag performance art, check out Chantal's House of Shame at Bassy club. Rockstar performance artists like Vaginal Creme Davis provide mindfucking entertainment for a thoroughly enlightened crowd. No pretense, come as you are - Berlin shuns the typical gay caste system (based on looks, not brains!) so oppressive in most mainstream American gay clubs.
Berlin is Cheap As Fuck!
The Circus, an arty traveler's hostel in Rosenthaler Platz, is a fine option for those staying a few nights in Berlin. Rates hover around 20 euros a night, the rooms are clean, smell nice, and many come with private balconies. The hostel is also just a hop and skip away from the subway, and near Augustrasse - by far the best street for art galleries. Wander into Kunst Werke for exhibitions that rival PS1. If you're looking to stay for a while, skip craigslist and go straight to wg-gesucht.de - a local student housing website. There, you can find apartments for as low as 250 euros a month (about 400 dollars). A lot of the cheaper rents these days are in places like Neukolln, which is a Turkish neighborhood still close enough to all the action. If you don't know German and can't understand the website, you can always copy and paste the text on Google translate and see what happens. Usually you'll get at least a rough sketch of what the site is trying to say.
The New Gay, a hipsterish alt gay blog in D.C., just posted this wonderful D.C. field guide for gay people. Check out "The Capitol Hill Fag":
2. THE CAPITOL HILL FAG
Habitat: Halo, A Happy Hour Near You, The Closet
The Fag most likely to follow dinner with his girlfriend with a night of fevered craigslist dick-shopping, this is the DC Fag that gives all other DC Fags a slightly-worse name. Even when not closeted, their undying ambition for a political future will lead them to conduct themselves in a manner usually reserved for Victorian royalty. They will not so much as speak of marijuana in public or use the group shower at their gym in fear that it will damage their 2024 bid for City Council.
They are often indistinguishable in appearance from regular gay people, and such are most easily identified through their vocal patterns. They will invoke the name of their obscure gubernatorial employer as a pickup line and blanch visibly if you do not recognize the California State Educational Comptroller by name and face. The more buttoned up the outward appearance, the dirtier the creature within. That clean-shaven blonde guy in the seersucker suit will ask you to take a dump in his fishtank while he calls his mother.
I lived in D.C. for two years, met all of the fags on this list, and can tell you with authority that Zack's humorous analysis is spot-on. And the whole blog is great.
Thanks to Eli for the heads up!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Ew. Since the dawn of the internet, universities have tried to woo prospective students with official (or anti-official) looking websites. Come: let's judge books by their covers!
The New School:
Are you a college? A sidewalk? Are you Bansky? Do you exist? Where do you hold classes? Out on the streets? What do you learn about? Hot dogs and garbage?
"I love being able to bounce ideas off my classmates," says a pensive Marie Clare Brush, BFA candidate in fashion design. Is that like a head shot? Are you a model?
So, you're on Youtube. And twitter! (sample tweet: 'Tell Us Why You Chose The New School - Enter on our Facebook Page to Win a New iPod Nano!') But you also have a flickr page, like some struggling music photographer.
Is this a myspace profile? Can I date you? You're kinda hot. I'm confused.
The George Washington University:
Scrolling flashy web-updates, messages from Michael Moore, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, information on Swine Flu....what is this, the Huffington Post?
Why are you holding paint brushes, Michelle Obama and various children? Do you want to remodel my bedroom? And what does George Washington have to do with all this? Was he particularly good at remodeling bedrooms? Are you his slaves?
What is a foggy bottom? Is that like farting? What's refreshing about it?
Questions! All I have is questions for you, GW! And yet, you remain mysteriously silent. I think I'm going to have to go to CNN and tell them you couldn't be reached for comment.
New York University:
You're an arch in a garden. Are you a monument? A park?
Are there rules for sitting in your park? You seem to have lots of rules.
And where are all the human beings? Everyone's face has been blurred out, except for the man at the very bottom of the screen. Do you like human beings? Or are you more of a monuments kind of place?
Are you a forest? Is there a laboratory in your forest? Do you make hella bombs? Are you a nuclear facility? Am I in Hanford? You're quite a pretty nuclear facility. Do trees make things easier? Is bicycling like reading a book?
I'm not sure if I'm supposed to read you or print you out and tack you on to the wall. Maybe that's the point? Maybe you're a dream?
Brigham Young University:
I think you're trying to be "urban" and "edgy." You have buildings. You have old people and skeletons and soccer. They don't "connect." You are a collection of disparate topics, loosely related and thrown on to a website. You are governmental, bureaucratic, set in stone. Your font is internet 1.0. You're a beta vision of school websites. I want to penetrate your cold exterior, but you're totally weirding me out with all of your mixed signals.
You are an index, a library, a catalog of ideas. You're the kind of museum where everything is in storage. You don't care about the internet. You care so little about the internet that you use pixelated stock photos of wiry people to advertise something as important as a flu vaccine (why are colleges convinced everyone visiting their websites has the flu?) You don't need to advertise yourself, and you want to make it clear that you don't need to advertise yourself, which is kind of like advertising yourself as someone who doesn't care about advertising yourself. Analyzing your homepage just now made me 3% smarter, which was probably you're sneaky goal to begin with.
You are Facebook, you are Flickr, you are casually dressed, you have children, you have fun, you're a cool mom, you don't care too much about status, you don't try to pose in photos, you don't even change what you're doing when there's a photographer around, you stand in rivers, you like America, you learn through play, you like babies...you're basically a forty-year-old high school Literary Arts teacher who tries to train her students to be cultural relativists. You make me feel excited and also a little bit nervous and unprepared and misanthropic.