Sunday, October 30, 2005

Double Standards And All That, Vol. 642

As long as I have an angry, resentful blog for my anger and resentment, I might as well air it all out. So here's another observation from the world of The Angry Homosexual: People make enormously different small talk with you when they assume you are a straight man vs. a gay man.

I've been running research subjects lately for a study. They are pretty much all 18- and 19-year-old guys. To make things easier, I've been toning down anything remotely gay when I'm around them. I'm generally a pretty outspoken gay activist, but I just want to get the stupid data collected with a minimum of drama, and I don't think I'm a sellout for "passing" to take the easy way out. So I've had a lot of experience lately with helping people assume I'm heterosexual without having to do anything I'm loathe to do (e.g. bragging about beaver hunting).

My redneck Halloween costume also helped me spy on the straights this year. My original intent a couple weeks back was to pick a costume that would be really gross yet irresistably hot. Last year was the first time in my life that I was neither a twink nor overweight, and I went for "caveman," which was funny but the pictures were not so hot. So I thought I'd try again for the "I'm pretending that I picked something that's repulsive but I want you to think that I'm hot in this costume" costume. I think I succeeded: a couple acquaintances who don't know me well enough to observe the neon sign that hovers over my head and reads "DON'T FEED THE EGO" said I was the Hottest Gross Trucker Ever and some girls who didn't know me commented that my costume needed a beer gut and noted my impressive lack of one. (I'm sure those of you who know me well enough to read the sign are groaning by now. There are always new tourists to feed me). Anyway, now that I've succeeded in my Gross/Hot costume, I can cross that off my list of goals for life, and maybe next year I'll even wear something that has sleeves. BUT that's not the point. The point is, long after making myself happy with the costume, I realized that an added benefit of the costume was Mingling As A Het.

The last few weeks of running subjects already had me in the groove of talking football. Last winter I had one football-watching roommate and this year I have two. So I've seen twice as many games as last year, which itself was more games than I'd probably ever seen in my life up to 2004. And I've accepted the fact that the fun of watching football, more than anything, is having something to talk about with strangers that isn't politics or religion. And that makes me genuinely like football. At any rate, watching football games allows you to even have small talk to make with 18-year-old straight guys, because it's the only thing in the world that they are capable of talking about.

Now, when I wore my redneck/trucker costume, I naturally assumed the redneck persona, because that's one of the reasons I love Halloween. If I didn't actually get to be a different person for one or more nights, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Last night was especially fun because the first party was with good friends out in the suburbs, and I had to drive, so I spent an hour and a half nursing a single beer. While totally sober, I honed my redneck act to a "T." My entrance alone fooled a couple good friends. Love wearing a trucker hat over my eyes. Kept up the country homophobe routine quite well, until I had a slip near the end of my time there: I started to stroke off the neck of an inflatable guitar of an '80s punker. So, with a large red phallus pointed my direction, I broke character. But otherwise it was impressive. So when I went to the next party, a few blocks from my place, my friends there were impressed with the act and I started to drink a little. Finally, I made it to the third party, also in the 'Heights, where I pretty much knew one person. He and I got good and stoned upstairs and then I was on stage. Under-the-influence redneck in a house packed with complete strangers. Coming downstairs, I ran into a couple girls who were like "who are you, like, a trucker?" - to which my instant response was "weeeell, no, technically, I didn't pass a little thing they had called a test-for-crystal-methamphetamine-use, so you can just say I'm-a-in-between jobs right about now." This with a Kansas City Royals trucker cap down over my face, with me cranking my neck 45 degrees back to expose wide blue eyes and a face full of stubble accentuated with French Roast coffee grounds. Priceless, if I may be allowed to pat myself on the back.

Generally, in social settings, I'm around friends and I really get pretty gay with people I know. Women friends can get me gossiping or talking about people's haircuts; straight male friends can get me to brag up exploits as they would theirs (and they often love this); and of course, around my people we always end up sharing news about who's doing whom, or who wants to do whom, etc. But here's the interesting thing to me: the small talk that gets made with me always makes me gayer. And that's OK, but it bears restating: strangers who assume I'm straight want to talk about sports, what state I'm from, and what books or movies I like. It makes sense that people who know I'm gay want to talk about gay shit, but Jeebus H., I think there's a self-fulfilling prophecy here. Little could make you gayer than being talked to about gay shit day in and day out. Now, I'm more than willing to do this, and in fact, I've often willingly taken on the role of Ambassador From Gayland among the hets, and Liaison To Heterostan among the moes. But it strikes me that the people who most like to pigeonhole me as a mo are the same people who always want to talk about the types of things that make me seem the gayest: hair, clothing, other people's business.

If people asked me about the weather, they'd hear about the weather. And that's what last night was all about. I can't REMEMBER the last time I was in a house of 125 people, and met probably 25 people, where not ONCE did I have to talk about, I dunno, when was the last time I had sex; do I like to swallow jizz; when was my last relationship; what do I think about men who wear popped collars on polo shirts; which bars do I like the best. Now, you might be saying to yourself, "but Hipster LOVES to talk about all those things." And you know I do. But there's a something to be said for talking about other topics. And I felt like for once I got to ONLY talk about those topics.

As I said a couple posts down, I think I had outed myself by the time the clock hit 3 AM for the second time. A couple of the straight guys had gotten so friendly and cool with me (believing me to be straight) that I ended up making too much eye contact, or following them instead of women; and there's only so long you can talk to girls without them realizing that you're just not into them. (My countrytrash alter-ego would tell you that womenfolk is smart like that). But prior to the Hook-Up-Or-Leave hour, I was doing a good job of fooling them all. And my rewards for living a lie? Getting to talk about Minnesota in terms completely unrelated to its sociopolitical climate. Getting to talk about football, baseball, and hockey in conversations that didn't assume that I'm a poseur who couldn't possibly understand them. Getting to hang out in a crowd where I didn't have to have gay drama BUT I didn't have to be an outsider either. Just getting to Not Be A Minority for one damn night in my life. I'll tell y'all, I am proud of who I am and I wouldn't change it ("it," of course meaning my longstanding boner for Brad Pitt) for the world. But for one night, to just escape the pigeonholing, was so damn cathartic.

Where In Sam Hill Is This Blog Going?

The last few weeks have been so stressful that my blogging has been sporadic and more rant-ish than ever. I never intended this blog to be of (what I consider to be) the typical variety: the "here's what's going on in my life" type of journal. My conception of the AHHB is short essays on life, as skewed toward the things that I tend to obsess about. Obviously, these include:

1. Issues of diversity (sexuality, race, religion, gender, etc.)
2. Social interactions and social scenes, especially where issues of diversity come into play
3. Illlegally downloading music, exploring musical genres, listening to who influenced whom and whom they were influenced by
4. The social sciences and the humanities, and how their differing views clash, especially with regards to issues of diversity (e.g. social-constructionist views of sexuality vs. Biological Deterministic views)
5. The ups and downs of abusing alcohol and the joys of occasional non-abusive pot smoking
6. Other personal issues (stress of grad school, stress of being gay)
7. My personal lifelong journey towards trying to be less fucked-in-the-head (successes and failures of, naturally)

In terms of the audience, I of course am writing for myself. I find that blogging gives me the chance to go back and read what I was ruminating on at a specific time; rarely do I ever look back on something and feel that my opinion hasn't changed since when I wrote it. Pretty much every post here I would heavily edit, had I not promised to adhere to the "15-minute-read-once-correct-once" rule. And reading y'all's comments also helps me decide how close or far my grip on reality is at any given time. Yes, this is my little place on the internet to say all the wack shit in my head and get a little feedback on it.

Of course, I am also writing for your reading pleasure. I haven't aggressively marketed this blog other than getting it listed on the DC Metro Blog Map and e-mailing the URL to my least-squeamish friends. So know that you're here because I think you can handle the offensive, nasty, rotten things inside my head, and that in between the stuff you hate, some of it you might even love some of the nasty offensiveness. But also know that you're here because I love you and want to keep you in the loop of the madness in my head. And there would be no point in actually publishing a blog on the internet if there weren't entertained readers. So feel free to make suggestions as to where this blog should go. I'm open to making this as entertaining as possible. (The one exception would be airing other people's dirty laundry. There have been two posts now where I've ripped on people I know, and I hope that I haven't hurt the wrong people - i.e. those in the middle - and I hope that people will let me know if this is a problem). But in general, when it comes to things I'm authorized to say, I want you to like reading the AHHB. So keep the comments coming.

OK, on to another post that I've been procrasturbating writing for awhile.

The Power Of The Costume

Tonight (AKA This Morning) we got an extra hour from Daylight Savings Time. And an extra hour of night means extra blogging. Oh baby.

I went to a costume party two weeks ago; then, another one last night, and three tonight. I wore the same costume to all five parties: a frightening redneck/hick/goodolboy straight out of Homophobia, U.S.A. Good times.

I love Halloween. I love any time that people select and create their own costumes to magnify their personalities on the big screen. The one night of the year when women all get to dress like HOOOO-OOOOes and the men are dressed up like all kinds of shit that tells you what's wrong with them deep down inside.

Wearing a redneck costume (which was AWE-some), I met a guy dressed as a hockey player, and he was all talking about how he's from Michigan, and he wondered if I'm from a hockey state, too, and I'm like "yeah, I'm from Minnesota," and soon we were talking all about the Midwest and life. A few other guys at parties said "you look like my cousin" or "you look like everyone from back home." Of course, the ladies were direct as well, telling me that I looked like their "friend from Ohio" or whatever.

It was funny that when I was designing the costume, I was thinking about being "trash" or "scuzzy meth-dealing wife beater" and yet somehow I inescapably said "Midwest." And people who were from the Midwest couldn't get enough of it.

As far as what kind of scary things it said about me, I think the most obvious interpretation is that I wanted to "play straight" for awhile and picked a costume where I just wouldn't look like a mo. And I couldn't believe how well I passed. Most of my friends would (and have) laughed in my face when I say that I can pass if I want to. But I showed up to parties and had good friends not recognize me. That's how into it I was. Now, clearly, this is a reflection of the massive chip on my shoulder that says that there's no difference in manliness between straight men and gay men and that I can single-handedly prove it. A little extreme to try to prove a case like that by myself, but I can be a little perfectionistic about things. So there was my journey.

Where I think it broke down was the part where the girls keep being interested in you, and people start to couple off male-female style. It's one thing to try to get people to assume that you're heterosexual, but then there's that point where you can't actually start to make the moves on someone whom you are categorically unattracted to. So that's as far as you can go. Now, in college, I would push this as far as possible by getting a guy and a girl in bed with me and trying to make things work. And that's pretty much as far as one could think of going. But these days that youthful curiosity is long, long gone. So I can try to secretly mack on the straight guys who have told me all of their life stories as revealed by their costumes, but it won't get me too far. They tell you everything, but then when they realize you're hitting on them, it all changes. So unfair for me. Again, there's a limit to which I've been able to hack into The Heterosexual Life. But I think it makes me a great advice-giver. Because in the costume, I was able to infiltrate enemy lines and see what happens. And now I have that much more to say about man-on-woman life, and I have that many more insights about the gay world by comparison.

I guess it was all a lot less about being about my costume and a lot more about my spywork in Heteroville. And I feel very enriched as a result of my spying.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I Hate Fake-Bisexual Cunts Who Toy With Actual Lesbians

A few years back, a lesbian friend of mine inadvertently fell in love with a stupid "bisexual" whore. I put the word "bisexual" in quotes here because this individual fits into one of two categories, neither of which is really that bisexual:

1. Straight women who are never happy with anything, like to manipulate people, and want to pretend that they are persecuted and/or exotic, so they tell people that they are bisexual, but between the thousands of men they fuck, they never fuck a single woman, yet still claim they are bisexual even though they clearly aren't picky about the men they sleep with and thus it's questionable why there's never been a woman they've wanted to fuck.

2. Bisexual women who want to tell people how persecuted they are for being bisexual and live up all the drama of being a sexual minority, yet are too chickenshit to sleep with women, despite sucking half the dicks in the DC/Baltimore area in the past ten years. All the sociocultural drama of bisexuality without the muff diving.

Now, there are a lot more straight women than bisexual women in general (if you exclude the contention of those who call everyone bisexual), so it's statistically more likely that a given fucked-up psycho woman is straight than she is bisexual. Even if all bisexual women were crazy, and only a small percentage of straight women were crazy, there would probably be more crazy straight women than crazy bisexual women. So I'm going to assume she's straight and pretends to be bisexual, but I acknowledge that she could be bisexual and wanting the persecution without the sleeping-with-girls part. Anyway, to recap the facts: this chick got around in high school, college, and grad school. That's OK with me - I'm all about people being happy whores if they want to; what I'm not OK with is when a manipulative bitch who's had every guy she ever wanted decides to fuck around with a woman's heart because she's bored and/or sadistic.

But the fucking-over of my friend was a few years back, and my friend decided to stay friends with the person that hurt her, and I guess she's either a bigger person than me or she's a little bit masochistic, but I don't know which, and that's really her life and her decision. You can't get inside other people's heads, and you can't fight other people's battles for them.

Here's where my problem is: this wench hates me because she knows that I know that she's a manipulative and evil person who played psychological games on someone who was in love with her, whom she had no intentions of getting with, and whom she later accused of having invented everything in her head.

So this worthless waste of flesh hates me for knowing that she's a waste of flesh. But she has nothing negative of substance to say about me - the reason she hates me is that I know she's not really bisexual, and I know she was manipulative and nasty toward my friend. That's why she has decided to pretend that I'm an Evil Racist White Man. Now, I find this rather funny, since it's simply not true. But it still bothers me that I don't see this person in months and I show up at a happy hour event and there she is, and she's had three martinis, and she decides to start egging me on, saying stupid random shit about white people, about how "only white people wear shorts in winter, and I KNOW it's true because I was walking the other day behind these three teenage black girls and they said it, and I was like, yeah, that is so true!" ...because then when I tell her she's wrong, she can accuse me of being a Reactionary White Guy. Never mind that I'm gay and actually face persecution; she plays up her Pakistani heritage as if she were The Most Oppressed Person On Earth (despite being rich, suburban, and utterly not a victim).

Now, I love stereotypes. I think stereotypes about any majority or minority group are usually funny, but I don't like stupid prejudicial hate. This is specifically why stereotypes aren't politically correct: if you let people use them in a funny, non-hurtful context, you also have to allow bad people to use them in a malicious context. That's why I'm a fan of restricting excessive stereotyping to when you're around close friends and everyone has a pretty good idea of each other's actual opinions about things. And, of course, in my anonymous blog that uses extreme offensiveness - like calling people fags and cunts - in a literary context. I keep this blog anonymous to allow me to say all kinds of shit that I don't think should be said on the street.

But when this bitch says that stupid White-baiting shit, I just want to say, Shut up! You and I both know you're one of the least persecuted non-White people in U.S. history, and when you talk about the plight of The Brown People and pretend that you're being oppressed on a daily basis, it makes me want to put you in irons and sail you around the planet in a slave ship, then send you to a new segregated graduate school that has lead in the paint and water and asbestos on the heating pipes. Then you'll actually know what racism is, and you won't pretend that it's impacting every minute of your life when it's NOT, because you grew up rich, you married rich, you went to good schools, and the only time you've ever been race-baited that you've ever been able to articulate was one or two instances in middle school, when kids will pick on ANYTHING they can about you, and it has nothing to do with race per se...

But wait - you're aware that this is all bullshit and you're doing it because you want drama, and you want to fuck with me. Just like when you pretended you were bisexual and toyed with my woman friend for months, because mindless sex with different men every night made you bored like Sarah Michelle Gellar in Cruel Intentions, so fucking with people is the only thing that stimulates your gaping axe-wound
.

Of course, the baiting worked this time. She wanted to piss me off and it worked. I hadn't seen her in months and I had forgotten how good she is at fucking with people. There's a reason she did such a number on my friend, and that's because she's a cunning, nasty, person. So although I'd only had 1.5 martinis, and she'd had 3.0, she got me to say some things that I don't even believe, like "you've never experienced racism" - and I'm sure she has on some level. And she got to rant about what an Evil White Man I am, and it's one of those charges that you just can't deny. What am I supposed to say? I can't say "I'm not racist, I have tons of friends of different races," because that one's been taken by actual White racists. I can't say "I'm not racist, I have sex with people of color," because Thomas Jefferson tried that one and it didn't work well that time either. "I have a Black roommate" is weak, and "I love Ray Charles" is pretty much the bottom of the barrel. There's really not a damn thing you can say when you're a White Guy - even when you're a gay guy who's combatted FAR more homophobia in your life than people of certain ethnic groups have encountered racism - to oppose the charge that you're an Evil White Man.

And this individual knows that. That's why she had to go there, and that's why I stewed about it all weekend. I should have laughed the whole thing off, because I know inside that she's full of crap. But it bugged me to hear her using the language of people who have actually experienced terrible oppression - I know she's been reading up on this subject - because I was offended on behalf of people who actually experience terrible racist persecution and don't just say that shit for drama. And it bugged me as someone who's fought uphill battles my whole life to hear this spoiled bratty bored cunt pretend that I'm the oppressor and she's the victim. Because from her rich husband to her would-be lesbian suitor, this bitch has always used other people. And I'd like to punch her in the ovaries.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Week Without Blogs

It always used to bug me when bloggers that I read went a week without posting. Like a pigeon in a 1950s psychology experiment, I'd keep pecking the "refresh" key and expecting birdseed, but get bupkes. I knew that people got busy or had no creative steam, but dammit, I wanted new posts!

So now I'm that angelheaded disappointer, and all I can say is, sorry. You know I got it in me to kick out some killer posts when the muses inspire me. So wait for them. They'll be precious and shit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The World Of Pop Music Before 1963

Dave Marsh, a famous postmodern music critic, wrote a gynormous book about rock (yeah, that one), back in '99, and his thesis was that soul music, was the true "heart and soul" of rock. Soul was Black and over-produced; Psychedelia was White and under-produced. Both came together into "classic rock," but soul was the better of the two (in his opinion).

Now, I generally agree with Dave. If you look at pre-British invasion White American music, it pretty much sucks. White music didn't get good in this country till we merged Black soul with British rock. (And Dylan, of course, brought the beat poetry into the lyrics and was the sole White American who actually contributed to the birth of real classic rock). But let's not get too down on ourselves: here's what Whites did right before '63 or '64:

-The Carter Family, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. The virtual invention of country music was a big jump from folk.

-Not exciting: Woody Guthrie. It probably offends certain music geeks when one suggests that Woody Guthrie sucked. But seriously, have you tried to listen to Woody Guthrie? He sounds like a shitty hillbilly version of Leadbelly. Now, Leadbelly is hard enough to listen to, and he's more or less single-handedly responsible for synthesising and promoting the entire history of African-American music. Whiteys John and Alan Lomax - albeit somewhat racist themselves - went around and recorded Black musicians, and the world owes them a great debt. But from what I've read over the years, it was pretty much Leadbelly who opened them up to all of this. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong. But back to Woody Guthrie: he, um, did............ ? Well, he wrote a "non-fascist national anthem" (This Land Is Your Land). That's nice - but it SUCKS. He inspired Bob Dylan.... to mire his otherwise gorgeous songs in God-awful hillbilly yodeling till he turned 21 and realized that intelligent music didn't have to sound like shit. Though I have to admit, Wilco & Billy Bragg did some nice work with his unpublished lyrics. Still, though, the lyrics themselves weren't that profound on all those songs. But my feelings for unlistenable preachy givin'-socialism-a-bad-name folk music aside - we had a small handful of really amazing country artists. That's a good thing.

-Sinatra and Elvis. These two occupy a conflicted place in your heart if you're a hugemusichipstersnob like myself. The tendency folks seem to have here is to worship them or abhor them. As a young child, I decided they were fake, cheesy, and gauche. As a college radical, I decided they were exactly what was wrong with my race. But these days, I try to use a little more "historicism" than "presentism" in listening to these guys. I mean, part of me feels like, yeah, a lot of Whites listened to these guys over, I dunno, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles - but a lot of Whites listened to Billie and Ray, too. Further, is it so much better for Whites to prefer Black music over White music? Does it necessarily make the world a better place? I'm not convinced that Snoop-listening White frat boys are any more likely to hire Blacks for jobs in ten years than are Phish-listening White frat boys. Wanting Shaq to make a three-point shot and wanting Shaq to be your brother-in-law don't exactly go hand-in-hand. So I'm not convinced it's any more or less virtuous for White people of our parents' and grandparents' generation to prefer James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, over Elvis Presley, The King of Rock & Roll.

So at some point around the time that I realized I loved Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, and the Beach Boys - I started listening to Elvis and Frank with slightly less jaded ears. I've got to say that the early Elvis - I think this would be about the first half of that 30 #1 Hits CD that everyone went batshit crazy buying a couple years back despite the fact that it's the same goddamn songs on every other fuckin Elvis CD ever made, but this time it's a NEW PACKAGE! And it's shiny and gold! - is good music. Sure, the guy was a Black-hating White racist who made zillions by making Black music a little bit Whiter, but Christ! It's a free country. He made money because he (well, really Sam Phillips, the genius who made him) figured out that other Whites were just as White as he was. Damn, do you gotta hate the guy's music for that? No, I take that back - it's OK to hate the guy's dozens and dozens of shitty LPs that he made from 1963 or so onward - but you gotta give the guy props for a lot of his early singles, because they're really good. (This is pretty much verbatim what my mom told me when I was about 11 and I didn't believe her till I was about 25. Mom, if this blog weren't so filthy that I actually gave you the URL, I'm sure you'd be proud).

As for Sinatra, it's easy to hate him as a cheesy douche who was installed as a musician based on his mob connections - but there's more to the guy than that. First off, he wasn't all about ripping off Black music, as Elvis was; the dude was an unapologetic Dago and I can appreciate that. Second, what other music really gives you the same feel as Sinatra? I love Nat King Cole, but he might have been one of the few Blacks to ever rip off White music. And he just sounds a little different. Good, but not the same. There's just that Italian-restaurant feel that you can only get from Frank. Even if his music didn't influence anything after him - I can't think of anyone good who built on him; only hacks like Harry Connick and Michael Buble whom I wouldn't waste my saliva to spit on - who just sang his songs with less panache. So Frank counts on the list of OK White American musicians prior to '63 or so.

-Buddy Holly, of course. The guy wrote cute, fun, pop rock for a period shorter than the time since my last dental checkup, and then his plane crashed and he burned up in flames in a Midwestern field in January. A couple dudes died with him - one of whom, if I remember this right, was named The Big Bopper, and I really doubt he was ever actually going to contribute anything to pop music. But Buddy did, and that's what counts.

So, anyway, Dave Marsh comes along, and he says, look, soul music is what really made rock boom (and I personally would date that boom to roughly 1963). But here's my problem with his 1001 best songs:

[If you're still reading this long-ass music post, you might want to check out the list]

Most of what he's listing isn't soul music! From my scanning of the list, about a third of it is Doo-Wop - that cringe-inducing genre of White-written, White-produced, White-owned music performed by Black artists who were forced to straighten their hair and wear argyle. Hang on, you're saying, I'm looking at the top of the list and it's great. But keep going down. It gets worse. Most of the groups on that list whose names are "The" followed by some benign plural noun - were probably singing cookie-cutter crap written by Carole King's first husband. If you don't know the name of the group and the name of the song, it's probably not the heart and soul of rock and roll. "Stop!" you might say. "Who wants a best-music list that's all Hotel California and American Pie?" I certainly don't - I look to music critics for offering critical opinions, not a summary of what the masses like. I could get that from Rolling Stone's "best song" lists, which are even more worthy of scorn and thus not even worth arguing about. But the fact that a White hipster would make the case that Black music is the foundation of rock, and then have half of his best-of list be the least Black Black music ever, is a little sad.

Dave Marsh's list isn't terrible. He has "...Grapevine" as #1, and I'd probably have it in the top 100. He's then got my most-likely-if-I-thought-about-it #1 choice (Johnny B. Goode) in #2, and my favorite funk song ever - also a top 100 choice for me - "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag," as #3. Lots of good songs up there. In general, a pretty good list.

But come on, Dave, Doo-Wop is not soul. Soul music is usually defined as being the subgenre of R&B that started when Ray Charles synthesized gospel and pop music in 1954. Soul just about died when Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. That's when the James-Brown-led funk revolution took over. So Ray was building steam during the doo-wop years and his soul music finally took over. Than, James was building steam during the soul years and his funk replaced soul. See, Ray was the only person doing soul in 1954. Motown records wasn't cranking out killer singles till about 1963. See, there's that number there. 1963ish. Because that's when pretty much ALL pop music got good, Black OR White.

I definitely believe that, for the most part, Black music was what it was all about prior to '63 - but I'm talking mostly jazz and blues here. A lot of the (chronologically) really good "soul music" on Dave's list starts about then. "One Fine Day" by The Chiffons (1963) gives me shivers sometimes. Maybe bigger soul fans can correct me here - but I'd put this song at just about the end of doo-wop before soul took over, and what a beautiful transition. Still, there was still a lot of pretty cheesy, cookie-cutter music of that era that hardly represents the pinnacle of African-American artistic genius. Sorry, I just don't think "Give Him A Great Big Kiss" (1964) by The Shangri-La's - #200 - is really that noteworthy at all, and I definitely don't think it represents the heart of rock - CERTAINLY not more than "In The Midnight Hour" (1965) by Wilson Pickett - placed at a shameful #209. I'd put "...Midnight Hour" in the top 10, because it's one of the best songs ever recorded, AND because it's actually soul music. And if you don't believe me, download the fucker right after you download "One Fine Day." And make love to your old lady ( /barely legal boytoy) to it.

Anyway, it's no fun picking apart other people's choices for the best songs ever. Best-song lists are always going to be arbitrary. But here's my point: Good pop music, for the most part, just wasn't around before the early 1960s. There was good Black music that wasn't really pop, and people like Ray Charles and Chuck Berry were expanding into pop, and there were a handful of good White musicians spread out across genres. But the early '60s - that's when it all took off. So don't use the fact that most of the music on the radio in the '50s was *sung* by Black musicians to suggest that this was the mechanism by which White music got its soul. And the music of The Drifters, The Platters, The Coasters, and The Five Royales should not collectively comprise 10% of the songs on your list of Best Music Ever.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Blah Blah Blah Another Music Geek Post

Look, I know y'all people come here for rants and raves about sex and drugs, but I feel this desperate inner need to throw in some posts about my hobbies. Haven't played soccer in a few months, and the grad team this year might not coalesce. I've already thrown my chips into flag football for the fall in lieu of soccer, but the season hasn't started yet. My guitar still has a fucked jack port, so no amplification possible. Little chilly for biking lately. That leaves me with illegally downloading music as my current hobby. It works when you're in hermit mode.

So here's my music geek post to fill the "not about sex and drugs" quota for the week.

I'm curious if other people had music that they listened to with their parents as a child, that completely and totally defined music forever. Not this "well my mom listened to Randy Travis when I was a kid so I don't always hate country" shit, like my friend Wolfie told me once in high school. That's hardly a testament to the beauty of music. I'm looking for music that really defined your life as a child, like when one of my exes was in my car once, flipped through my iPod, found some tracks off of Born In The U.S.A., and cranked the volume. "This came out in the summer of '84," he said, "which was right in the middle of my parents' divorce. My mom and I listened to this record, like, every day that year." I think we even shed some tears together during "I'm On Fire," which about 98% of the guys I've dated can agree is pretty much the sexiest song ever recorded. And close to 2% of the guys I've dated have been deaf.

I'm talking about the music that your parents loved, that you loved, that set the bar for all other music ever.

When I was a kid, all we listened to was classical music and Simon & Garfunkel. That's what you heard when you grew up in the Hipster Household. We had the greatest hits tape in the car (Mom & Dad shared a car in urban Minnesota in the early 80's) and we had all 5 albums on tape at home. The classical music was good and all, and I watched MTV with my babysitters or at home. Loved the videos for Take On Me, Goonies R Good Enough, and The Boys Of Summer. Those are the only three that really stand out in my head, but I saw a lot of MTV in '84-'85. The Dancing In The Dark era, but I don't remember actually seeing that video at age 5. I'm sure I did, but that's neither here nor there.

But classical music and MTV aside - Simon & Garfunkel set the standard for all other music ever in my whole life. I listened to every goddamn song those Jews recorded and I loved it. The harmonies just make me want to cry. Tonight I was heading between events 2 and 3 (only a triple-booked night; a little light for me, of course) and I had selected my guilty pleasures mix on the iPod (whose name is "Little Buddy" and whom I've had since the summer of 2002). The guilty pleasures mix is about 10 Simon & Garfunkel songs, a couple Paul Simon songs, and about 10 Beach Boys songs. About one CD worth of harmonized, pussy-boy-tenor music that makes me want to cry. I can't really sing along with any of it; one or two octaves down, it sounds like crap; and my falsetto ain't pretty but you know it comes out for "HELLLP MEEEEEEEE RHOOONDA - yeah. Getheroutof my heart." But I digress. It's some beautiful music.

And when I listen to Simon and Garfunkel, there's some little executive voice inside of me who says "Yes. This is what Music is. I am satisfied." If you are part of the 99.9% of the planet that agrees they were one of the greatest groups of all time, then you know what I mean when I say they were great. But for me, it really clicks, because S&G was what I was raised to believe was the height of all music ever. And when I hear the Beach Boys or the Boss, I definitely get all into it. But it's especially with S&G that I can say, "YES." I'll have all kinds of memories - driving to grandma's house and we stopped at this one restaurant right when The Boxer ended. Or "We listened to Homeward Bound the day Dad bought the Audi in 1986." But it's not just the memories - on top of the memories, it's also that feeling inside that you're listening to the purest music available. That no matter what your adult self thinks is awesome (Depeche Mode, or Nina Simone, or Leonard Cohen, or whatever), there's this child self that was formed on one specific kind of music. That the neurons in the temporal lobe of your brain grew up wiring themselves to each other over Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel harmonizing like gods. That you hear Art Garfunkel singing "I wandered empty streets down / past the shop displays / I heard cathedral bells / tripping down the alleyways" and your eyes well up with tears, not because it's the most brilliant prose ever written - cuz it ain't - but because at that moment you are five years old again, and you're with your family, and to your little ears, this is what music IS.

I guess it's true. You never forget your first time.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fuckin' Semiotics And Shit

Christ AlFuckingMighty! Why does everything have to mean so goddamn much when you're gay?

Seven days ago, I decided to grow a beard. Now, I had a goatee and/or sideburns and/or a full beard and/or a chinstrap (AKA Amish beard) for most of the time from my 15th birthday to my 24th birthday. The ladyfolk always liked it; the straight guys appreciated my amazing hair growth for being such a smooth kid. My LT BF, Timster (who sometimes posts in comments), always liked it. So did Joe, my first serious BF when I was 18.

Joe was the guy I lost my virginity to. My Bi-Female roommate freshman year (off-campus apartment - I was too snobby for the dorms) was all offended and shit when I came home one morning and announced that I was no longer a virgin. "Hipster, you've had sex before!" I was like, "Feminazi bitch, please. Oral don't count unless you a lezzy and crap." Joe was a total bear cub, and me being a smooth non-tattooed blond dude was a little odd for both of us. He was sucking old ugly dudes' dicks in Ohio by the end of high school. But he came to Minnesota and met me, and knew he wanted to give it up to me. And I always had a good stash of kind bud around, because I had some serious straightboy pothead friends back home in the suburbs. So Joe would come over, and we'd watch Springer with my roommates, (which was still novel in April of '98), and I'd roll a fat doobie, and he and I would take a little walk around the block and get high. Then we'd go back to my place and 69. So after a month or so, Joe decided to take it up the ass. And it was a little painful for him, but fucking amazing for me. And a few nights later, we thought we'd switch it up. So he was fucking me for like 10 minutes and I was just in pain, and he wasn't getting much out of it himself. I think we ended up jerking each other off or something. But after that, he rode my cock a dozen or so more times before he flaked out because I wasn't going to be his life partner or something. Whatever. Point is, we knew that he was pretty much going to be a bottom for life, and I was going to be a top for life, and we were both totally cool with that. And Joe loved my beard.

I had a whole string of short-term BFs for the next few months, but in the fall of '98 I kind-of stopped dating the gay boys, I was tired of the bullshit drama that always ensued. From about November of '98 to about April of '00 (18 months?) I mostly messed around with straight or bi dudes, or had MMF threesomes, or whatever. The straight and bi dudes loved the facial hair. And Timster, my 4+ year BF, was cool with it. But in the last 18 months of being single (there's that number again), I have had nary a hair on my neck, chin, 'stache, or cheeks. So I thought it would be a nice change to have a little reddish squirrel on my chin.

What the fuck? I went to Cobalt by myself tonight, which is always a little bit of a stretch, because the guys there are so bitchy - but it always seems to work. And with the beard, it was like I was a different person. Mind you, this is a 7-day beard. My hair grows heavy on my face and ass, and pretty much nowhere else, but still. A reddish-brownish-blondish beard on a smooth blond white dude, after 7 days, hardly makes me look like Grizzly Adams. But after 20 minutes, I started noticing it.

First up were the not-OK-with-being-gay dudes. The "I Live In Adams Morgan And I'm Not Into The Gay Scene" guys were all talking to me, and I was thinking, "I'm a top. You seem very not OK with getting fucked, if I had to guess. What are you expecting?" But they saw the beard, and they decided I was safe to talk to because I must be self-loathing too. Then it was the curious guys. "Hey, I'm [Name]. Are you straight? Because you seem like it." Finally, it was the cute boys who already had BFs or were bored. They were talking to me, and I was interested, but they were talking to me like I was their fucking married cousin or some shit. None of the flirting - nothing. Nada. Because guys with beards must be fucking bears or some shit. Or we're into S&M.

Christ!!! Can you imagine straight women being like this? Only gay men read so fucking much into fucking everything. It's the semiotics of it all. Non-Gay-Men don't take college classes on postmodernism/skepticism/cynicism/critical theory and don't know what the fucking word semiotics means. But somehow, the gay boys are convinced that EveryFuckingThingThatYouDo has some DeeperGodDamnMeaning. If you have a beard, you want to move them to the country and tie them up.* If I go to Cobalt with a threadbare t-shirt and a smooth chin, I can't keep the boys off my cock. I bring 'em home in ones or twos practically every time these days. But ChristAlFuckingMighty, show up with a few hairs on your chin and they can't get farther away from you. I just can't imagine straight women standing around deciding on what a guy's facial hair says about him as a person, unless he looks like Kip Dynamite. I mean, really, I'm busy and stressed out with graduate school, it's fall and getting chilly, and I haven't had a beard in at least a year and a half. I just wanted to grow one.

*Granted, I have an insatiable urge to tie Jake Gyllenhaal up on the side of a mountain and plow his ass, but really... why am I "safe" when I'm smooth with a t-shirt and a scary bear when I show up with a beard and a button-down shirt? It's just fucking over-the-top bullshit is what it is.

So therein lies the rub. I could go to Remington's (the country bar) or the Eagle (the leather bar) and try to find a dude, but I'm thinking that I'd be Out-Top-Daddied by someone about 10 years older than me and with a handlebar moustache. There's just no options for a young smooth-chested guy who wants to grow a beard. The queeny bottoms are scared of you, and the bear cubs want a "real" daddy. Things would be so much easier if I were straight. I really don't think straight women overthink this shit the way gay men do. Hell, I don't think straight men care what a woman's purse says about her as a person, and I KNOW that lesbians don't care what a woman even looks like, which you know if you've met even one lesbian ever. So why the fuck are my people so hung up on this shit??? I look good with a beard, and that's all there is to that. No deeper bullshit, nothing. I spent 7 days not even thinking about it other than when I was shaving my neck and thinking, "this looks nice. I haven't had a beard for awhile." But GodFuckingDammit, I had to go to Cobalt tonight and be reminded of the everpresent hatred of the non-leather gay world for fucking facial hair. Christ.

(Now the question is... shave it and get laid, or keep whacking off? I know my choice for tonight, since it's already 3 AM, but I just can't decide what I want to do in the near future...)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Cannot Wait. Cannot Wait.

Cannot wait. Cannot wait. I cannot wait for December 9.

Overworked, Overtired

It seems like just weeks ago I was a nice young man having lots of charming coffee dates with female friends and going to all the bars with gentlemen, and being all groomed and shit.

Now I'm a hermit, desperately trying to complete a billion research projects, living with stubble because it takes too much time to shave. Haven't seen almost nobody lately. Can't afford the time to go out.

Although I haven't gone to bed yet, I can't wait for A.M. coffee. It seems like such a good idea. Then, after coffee, I will attempt to pay a fee to set a court date to argue an entrapped ticket in rural Maryland - because without paying the fee and setting the court date, my license will be revoked - and tomorrow is the last day I can do it; (2) write an entire academic book chapter in a single day. Ugh, why am I still up at 2:30?

Good Night,
The Overworked Hipster With The Melted Brain

P.S. The stubble is maybe a little bit sexy, but if you actually run into me this week, you'll have to decide for yourself.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Settling Into Small-Town Life

OK, after 100 days in DC (and I still can't believe I lived in the suburbs for so long), I'm finally used to the idea that if you live in DC, you're white collar, you're male, and you date/screw males, you live in a big ol' glass house. I resisted this for awhile... trying to keep people out of my business, dating people who don't live in Greater Dupont, going alone to bars late at night if I wanted to trick out, intentionally avoiding dating friends of friends, etc. Anything I could to avoid the dreaded social incestuousness and gossip that accompanies Urban Gay Life.

Finally I said fuck it.

It's just going to happen that everyone in the young, white-collar, (mostly White), college-educated, sociable gay scene in the Dupont-Adams Morgan-U Street-Mt. Pleasant-Columbia Heights area knows each other or is two degrees apart. And I'll date people within this network, and I'll be having sex with people within this network, and I'll be friends with people in this network, and I'll reject people and be rejected myself and - yadayadayada - people I know are gonna see me doing the walk of shame sometimes. Or maybe they'll see me doing the less-shameful two-man breakfast at 9 AM on Sunday and they'll talk.

And this is something I'm going to have to live with. I would imagine that eventually everyone will have a general idea about a lot of private things about me, and I'll probably know too much about them. And that's just the way it's gonna be.

Small Town America, meet Big City America. We ain't too different, yo! Diners and interconnectedness and everyone knowing each other's business. Hell, we even have big belt buckles. There's a reason I love classic country music. Hank Williams and Patsy Cline had a lot to say about my life. Of course, they didn't speak specifically to bonobo-esque foam party jerkathons or drug-addled sleepless New York trips, but big-picture-wise, don't think we don't live the country life down here in the city.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Yet Another Great Moment In The Advisor-Advisee Relationship

Graduate school provides a great opportunity for some of the best and brightest minds of a society to languish for years under the mentorship of those with questionable leadership skills. Here's a nice little vignette that occurred this afternoon and encapsulates so much of the Grad School Experience.

HIPSTER enters stage right, checking his watch, with a cup of coffee. ADVISOR is seated in a threadbare dress shirt from the 1970s. He is sporting a comb-over and has his own thermos of coffee on his desk.

Hipster: The grad student wedding I went to yesterday was great. Lots of ethnic food, so of course I had to eat a lot to represent The White Race because I knew the rest of my table wasn't going to eat any of it. Chuckles nervously. Must keep advisor laughing without saying anything substantive or regrettable.

Advisor: Heh, well, I couldn't do that! I'd gain 200 pounds!

HIPSTER winces very briefly towards the audience. His attempt at meaningless banter touched a nerve!

Hipster: Yeah, I did feel pretty full afterwards.

In a moment of physical humor not lost on the audience, HIPSTER attempts to re-position himself so that his six-pack resembles a gut. In doing so, he re-adjusts his foot such that he has an unconventionally-colored velcro-clasp Puma resting on his knee closest to ADVISOR. Then, realizing his shoes are a little, well, you-know, he attempts to sit on his feet while maintaining a distended fake belly. Finally, he fakes a cough while tearing off his shoes and shoving them under his shirt. In doing so, he spills his coffee everywhere. Looking up quickly, he realizes none of this routine has been noticed by ADVISOR, who is checking his e-mail.

ADVISOR turns back from the computer to HIPSTER, who is sucking coffee out of his shirt.


Advisor: I've always said it's a bad idea to get married during graduate school. You've got too much work to do, and it takes away from your duties. Now, granted, I got married during graduate school, and had two kids, but in general, one shouldn't do it...

ADVISOR pauses to sip on his coffee. While he is doing this, he lifts his eyebrows towards the audience. He has remembered something! This advisee is a homosexual - and there's nothing wrong with that! - but the passive-agressive warning lecture must be slightly adjusted.

...Really, one should avoid getting into serious relationships in general in graduate school. They never work out because graduate school is too stressful...

ADVISOR looks at gay-divorcee student with a condescending expression.

...Really, if one can focus on one's research duties, it's much better that way.

HIPSTER takes a deep breath, exhales, and sucks the coffee so vigorously from his shirt that it tears off his body, causing his buried shoes to fly out and revealing that he is tan!- a mortal sin in the world of academia and a sign of neglected research. He shoots a frightened look towards ADVISOR, who is back to checking his e-mail and continuing to explain why it was OK for him to get married and sire children in graduate school, but his advisees ought not to. HIPSTER gets his own light-bulb expression and spies a dozen neckties hanging on the back of ADVISOR's office door - presumably, left in the office to be resentfully worn when abolutely required at campus functions - and quickly weaves a tunic out of 30-year-old paisley ties, throwing it over his head just as ADVISOR turns back around.

Hipster: Well, about the research projects...

Advisor: Heh, well, there's nothing to really talk about this week. See you next week!