Category Archives: music

In Which We Are Appropriated

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Let me share my outrage with you, yet again. Our story begins in New Orleans in 1985. Homogay mrpeenee is busy leading a happy, quiet homogay life when his puny attention is snagged by a snappy tune called Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat.

And what a brilliant song it is. It’s the story of a young gay man thrown out of his home because he’s queer, everything he owns “in a little black bag” after already experiencing ostracism and gay bashing. Even those of us lucky enough to have avoided that extreme when we came out could still identify with the pain and the alienation and the fury in that song. Plus it had a really rockin beat.

The singer, Jimmy Somerville, is a role model, fierce and furious and pissed off and not willing to take any shit. He’s a humpy, short redhead (I’ve always had a weakness for them) and his videos dancing around to his music are very appealing, but the message in his songs was for his gay brothers to demand to live our lives unafraid. FUCK TOLERANCE, I DO NOT WANT TO BE TOLERATED. Oops, sorry, I got carried away.

Anyway. Try to imagine my feelings when Super Agent Fred sent me a video of Smalltown Boy covered by some yahoo, Marcus Layton. I’m not including it here because I don’t want it to get even a single more view. The cover is so unoriginal it might as well have been karaoke. The video itself is a classic of the “My cousin has a camera” with abrupt quick cuts of bland youth rollicking around some parking garage with a boosted grocery cart: urban but not too urban, we don’t want to have to mess with any riff raff. It is stripped of any politics in the original and it includes heterosexual humping just to rub salt in the disco wound.

Did anyone involved in this production ever listen to the original, could they have possibly understood the lyrics? Or did they just hear a song they liked, downloaded the lyrics from Google, and recorded their own stupid Brady Bunch cover.

I worry that some people vaguely think the struggle for gay equality is over, that somehow, the right to marry means that The Gays won and now we all can go back to not worrying. I got news for you. In living memory there was a time when simply being gay was illegal, not merely frowned upon or socially awkward. It was against the law and you could go to jail. Not just in some bum fuck rural outlier, but in London and New York. I worry that young people, young queers, think the fight is now about the right pronouns and including the right colors on the right flag. Our living an out life is not inalienable. A Supreme Court Justice recently included, in a draft decision for the court, the suggestion that attacking gay legal rights would be just peachy keen with him.

The kind of appropriation this cover represents, where the queer context of the song is erased, shows how easy it would be, in small encroaching ways, to shove us back into the good old days closet. Just like women and abortion, I can’t believe we’re still fighting this fight. Oh well. At least we know the words to the song.

Smalltown boys, naked edition:

Love them big boys.

You need to get out of the sun, baby.

Dappled.

It’s the peak of beachy weather. At least it is if you’re not living in San Francisco where it remains chilly.

oh, my dudes, I forgot to mention, on July 25, that it was the 15th anniversary of my little blog. Yay.

This seems to have been the first dick pic I published, from August 25, 2007. Another anniversary.

That first year, when I was much more apparently energetic, I cranked out fifty-four posts in one month.

I’m pretty sure I couldn’t think of 54 words now.

Like a Hole in the Head

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I need to preface this by explaining that I am so near sighted that when I wear my glasses instead of contacts, I have absolutely no peripheral vision.  None.  I go through life with literal tunnel vision.  The guy who taught Drivers’ Ed in my high school was shocked when he performed a standard test to make sure the 16 year olds he was preparing to launch into the world at the wheel of gigantic 1970s death machine autos could hopefully see what was coming their way off the starboard bow.   I scored so dismally low, he considered flunking me, but in the end must have decided “Oh, what the hell…” because I got my license and, to the best of my knowledge, never killed anyone.

Sos anyway, I was wandering out of the kitchen, mentally composing an email to our dear Diane von Austinburg and wondering what the other song Alphavile had besides Big in Japan and certainly not on the look out when I blammed into an open cabinet door.  I must have been cruising at some considerable speed since the blow knocked me to ground and took a pretty big chunk out of my scalp.

So what was the song by Alphville I was distracted by? Not that it takes much to distract me.  It was Sounds Like a Melody, which I recall was a favorite of my queer friends and me.  I’m not sure our enthusiasm would have survived seeing this video and the appearance of Martin Gold, their lead singer.  Those teef!  Dear god.  And parachute pants! I am sort charmed by the keyboardist’s sullen contribution, jamming with one pouty finger. And are those backup dancers roller skating through all the smoke machine output?

jerrycolthaymesmain

Obligatory naked guy.

One Simply Must Boogie Down

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In the midst of all the sad brouhaha over David Bowie’s passing, I ran across a mention someone made of the great show he did on Midnight Special.  I’m not including the video of it here because everyone else is already covering Bowie better than I ever could (if you do feel like trotting over to youtube to catch a peek, I’ll wait for you.  It really is quite something, in a loose, sloppy sort of way and shows Mister Bowie as a master of shiny peach blush.)

Mostly, I was amazed that Bowie had graced the show with his genius. If it had ever crossed my mind, I  think I would have classified Midnight Special as simply a disco phenomenon, but a quick peek at our old friend Wikipedia assures us they highlighted everyone from Tom Petty to the New York Dolls to Fleetwood Mac to Dolly Parton.  The list of guests is most impressive; apparently anyone who could stand up long enough to grab onto a mic was on it, LIVE.

As I remember it, the show was simply something you turned to on Friday nights when you were already too loaded to leave the house.  There you would be, stoned stupid, hoping for something toe-tapping only to be confronted with the Magic of Helen Reddy.

Here’s a little something that’s much more memorable.  Ish.  A sort of affordable version of the Jackson Family called the Sylvers and their deathless anthem Boogie Fever.

Now isn’t that better?  Footwork that defines the term “tight,” mauve velour, and a bass line serving up funk you could eat with a spoon.  My favorite is the drummer, with a blase look that explains more clearly than words that he is immune to said fever, and yet performing as flawlessly as a metronome.

Nuns in the News

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And yet another clip.  I seem to be turning into a lesser Redundant Variety Hour.  This one comes to us from the our dear Sister Mary Legs in the Air, who’s running the reno in New Orleans for me.   Sister got his name initially because of his fondness for all things religious, but specifically Catholic.  Sort of a passion for the Passion.  Natch, his contribution turns out to be a rocktastic nun.  Irene Cara, Bride of Christ.

Bitch nails those power notes.  Dancing in Oxfords.  Religious ecstasy in the audience.  Safety Gay monks stripping down to pastel clam diggers.  Everything you want except for dumping a bucket of water over her.  She’s a maniac.  Do you think this is a standard for Italian drag queens now?

Sister is much in the mrpeenee news this week because Secret Agent Fred and I  leave Thursday morning for New Orleans to check in on what shenanigans the crew has gotten up to lately while putting my house there back together.  With any luck I will return with photos of the lovely electrician, Marty.  Or maybe his name is Marti.  Could be.

Sell it, sister.

Oh, It’s a Perfect Day

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Secret Agent Fred and I stumbled in to a little place we know for dinner tonight and while we were tucking in, a wheezy three piece combo in the room next door struck up.  I was willing to ignore them until I realized they were covering (or attempting to do so) Pink Floyd’s Money.

From there on, it was just down hill, of course.  A Beatle’s medley; something Fred claimed was from The Smiths (for which I took his word, since I hate all things Morrisey;) and finally the smooth jazz sound of Perfect Day.

I like Perfect Day very much, the mismatch between the song’s cheery bubble of lalalalala and Lou Reed’s kind of atonal drone.  I have always assumed it was something of a sneer on his part against the very sunny type of music it parodies so spot on.  And yet, it also seems to be his sincere appreciation of what a perfect day is: simple, unstructured but full, happy.  With you.

So to then hear it ground out by the very kind of band the underlying mockery is aiming at was not just ironic, but thought provoking.  Three hacks plodding through their set, stuck in a barful of people who wouldn’t pay them any attention if their combined hair (which wasn’t much) was on fire.  Did the band get the joke?  Is that why they were playing it?  Or had some snarky hipster requested it and then gone off to snicker at his musical wit.

You know there’s that old joke that not that many people bought the Velvet Underground’s music, but they all went right out and started their own band.  Maybe that’s the drummer’s story and he insisted on including it.  Maybe it’s one twelve songs the keyboardist knows.  There are many possibilities.

Then when I was looking for a video to illustrate this post, I ran across this promo one from the BBC in 1997.  Again, it largely seems to miss out on the sarcasm I’ve always heard in the song, so maybe I’m just imagining it, bitter old queen that I am.  Still, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

The cast is certainly star-studded.  Of course, Bono makes an appearance.  Is there  ever one of these kind of things he misses out on?  But also, David Bowie, in an earring that, were he not a Big Star or if he had had a friend on hand, surely he would have been talked out of.

Also, (look quick or you’ll miss them) Suzanne Vega, Doctor John (!), Emmylou Harris, sounding swell, and Tom Jones, who is not identified.  Did the BBC assume everyone would know who he is?  Maybe they were right.  Not to mention, Mrs. Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, pixie-ish as ever.

I hope you enjoy it.  Try not to get stuck on Bowie’s ear-bob.

Junkie

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Safeway late on Sunday night: read it and weep, bitches.  I go there so you need not.  Actually I go there because I like to take vicodin with seltzer water which means I go through quite a lot of the stuff and I find Safeway’s in-house brand, the charmingly ludicrously named “Refreshe”, to be my favorite. I pronounce it with an exaggerated semi-French accent.

Speaking of Safeway brands and the fall of civilization, the company has invaded the home turf of stoner junkies everywhere by coming out with their own line of fine, fine snack products ripoffs.  It’s called the Snack Artist and it reproduces well known and beloved junk foods.  I can personally attest to the quality of their version of Cheetos.  I don’t know what chemical crap makes up the yellow-y orange dust that clings to your fingers like super glue after you’ve put away a pound or two of them, but man are they tasty.

Less fortunate is the crack they took at Lil Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls.  I’m sure you remember how distraught we all were when the Hostess Baking Company went tits up and the source for those chocolate cake rolls with cream filling (and let’s be honest; every word in that phrase should be enclosed in ironic quotation marks: “chocolate”  “cream”) was cut off.  I was thrilled to run across Safeway’s attempt to fill the void, but valiant as it might be, the result is simply lackluster.

Still, I plan on working my way through the entire line of potato chips of many lands, tortilla chips in every conceivable flavor and ersatz Twinkies.  The only drawback (aside from possible death by junk food) is that moment at the checkout stand when you sheepishly empty your cart and you feel that everybody, the cashier chica, the bag boy, the lesbian in line behind you, is judging you based on what you’re buying.  In my case, this consists of 12 two liter bottles of seltzer and enough garbage snack to feed a small dormitory of stoner boys.  And a bunch of bananas like some pathetic attempt at healthful living.

Also, expanding on my much updated post below about Spotify, I have given up and switched back to Pandora which, I think to punish me for cheating on her, insists on playing long swatches of The Smiths.  ENOUGH, already!  It’s like living with a morose teenage girl.  Let me know when Roxy Music comes on.

Tunes

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Secret Agent Fred convinced me to join Spotify, a music streaming site which all the hip kids have been into for years now.  It’s just one of the elements of modern society I try to avoid, like anything labeled social media.  I’d also like to point out here that I have now boycotted Facebook long enough that the NY Times assures us it is now considered passe.  Take that, bitches.

So, Spotify and I have been struggling with each other all evening, me trying to figure out how to force it to play music I actually like and it, having snuck into my iTunes library, has decided I like country music and cheesy 80s pop.  Fair enough, but why it should then produce an All Justin Timberlake, All the Time playlist for me seems baffling.  I think I might like Pandora as a source much better, it operates in a much more intuitive and straight forward manner, plus I like its playlists.  Spotify seems to be mostly concerned that you are listening to exactly the same tunes as all your bffs.  Since I have no bffs, that is a problem.

Between avoiding Timberlake and Journey (!) I am pretty much fed up.  Just now, though, we have suddenly broken through to Prince and Little Red Corvette.  Well all rite, crank that bitch up.  Just don’t follow this with Toto, that’s all I ask.

11:44 PM UPDATE:  This just in: Pat Benatar.  Heartbreaker.  Bitchin’.

11:46 PM UPDATED UPDATE:  Kenny Fucking Loggins.  Dear god.

11:55 PM DATEUP:  Human League.  “Don’t You Want Me”  I haven’t thought of that in a million years.

12:52 AM APDUTE: A-Ha.  Take On Me.  I surrender.  I’m going to bed.

1:01 AM THE LAST UPDATE, I SWEAR.  Psychedelic Furs! Love My Way!  I’m so glad I stuck it out.

Seen on the Street

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I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but my fast paced life as a celebutant is just so darn distracting.  Anyway, last week I spotted this shaggy looking drag queen in the Castro, hanging out on a milk crate with a giant keyboard on her lap, serenading passersby with this warble as aimless as it was tuneless, commenting on Life.

Oh, people walking down the sidewalk
Coming home
from the train

 I saw her again this afternoon and was struck by three distinct things at the same time, cause my super duper brain is just that awesome.

1) Her repertoire is very reminiscent of that rendered by Eddy Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous.  Perhaps you remember it?  Eddy had only one song, which consisted of only one line which she had written decades before in an attempt to jump on the singer/songwriter bandwagon and had clung to ever since.   It goes like this

I’m walking down the road,
People sayin’ hello….

Believe me, the similarity is striking, although my friend in the Castro was selling hers with considerably more verve.

2) Secret Agent Fred lives in a sketchy-ish part of town across the street from a place that identifies itself as “The Medical Arts Building.”  Details about which medical arts, exactly, are going on in there have been elusive, but since we always saw a bunch of drag queens on the sidewalk out front, we decided gender reassignment was probably on the menu.

Because these girls were uniformly unconvincing, we decided it was some kind of training center and dubbed it Tranny College.  Our theory was that they had a box of wigs and a box of handbags in the back; on the first day of classes, students are herded back there and instructed to take one from each box.  The next day they get their diplomas.  Congratulations!

My point is that the street musician looked very much like a graduate of Tranny College, but poor thing must have been at the back of the wig line.  It looked a lot like she had a dark possum on her head.

3) I was reminded each time of one of my favorite music videos ever.

Al Green, Love and Happiness on Soul Train: is there a more inspiring sentence in English?  But what makes this particluar video so noteworthy?  It is a wonderful version of one of the greatest songs ever.  EVER.  Also, there is the big lump o’ love and happiness on exhibit in Mr. Green’s polyester pants.  But particular to this post let us turn our attention to the church lady on keyboards.  I love the fact that she has brought her purse out on stage with her and put it where she can keep an eye on it at all times.

Also, one has to admire the consistency of her sour expression, which says to me that her thoughts never stray far from her conviction “These chillrun have done turn their backs on da Lawd.” even as Al is rocking it.

Have mercy.

TCB

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Christmas is upon us once again.  Perhaps you had heard?  Just in case you hadn’t here is some Xmas  smut.  You know somewhere, someone has a freak on for this stuff cause, you know, a lid for every pot and all that.

At lunch today, I realized it’s not even a week into December and I am already sick of holiday music, washed up singers (looking at you, Rod Stewart) puking up sickly retreads of tunes trying very hard to be ecumenical by not mentioning Jeebus Whatshisname during a holiday inspired by his birthfday.  It’s not that I’ve grown sick of them, it’s more that I reached my saturation point years ago and now the instant they roll back around, I am ready to do violence at the first tinkling strain I hear of Silent Night.

Who wants this crap?  Who thought it would be a good idea to see what Ella Fitzgerald could do with Little Drummer Boy?  I am fully prepared to give my business to any bar, restaurant or store that puts up a sign saying “Carol Free Zone.”

As an anodyne to the Bangles covering Blue Christmas and all the other seasonal pap out there, let me offer the Verve remix of Nina Simone’s Take Care of Business.  A few years ago, the venerable jazz label Verve shared their fabulous catalogue with modern producers and DJs who wanted to update these classics with some very mixed results.  This is, I think, one of the most successful.

I don’t think you can refer to the lyrics as double entendres, they are so thinly veiled.  “O lawd, don’t keep me waiting / Be as firm as can be” is more like a single entendre, or 1.5 at best.

The whole is very loose-limbed and crazy (with trombones!  And castanets!) especially for a Simone song, but then, Our Lady of Did I Ask You, Motherfucker? shows up to very firmly kick the project’s butt into gear and the contrast makes things fascinating.

Take it away, Miss Simone:

Bitch Stole My Look

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Checklist for a video that is guaranteed to be a super duper smash hit:

  • Break into Tina Turner’s trailer, boost her wig, shoulder pads, heels and even her good brooch.
  • Lure a Sade wannabe out of turning tricks for the evening.
  • Snag the choreographer from some Michael Jackson video that never made it to MTV before he sobers up.
  • Convince the cinematographer from the last Flash Dance sequel that “What the hell” is a good enough reason to shoot your video.
  • “Borrow” the karoke machine from the 80’s Jammin’ Night at the airport bar.
  • Convince the guy who has the aeorbic studio next to the Yogurt Hut to let you use it as a set.
  • See if the pleather jackets are still on sale at the mall
  • Get a fan.
I actually remember people trying to dance like this, but then, I am terribly old.