24 hours ago, I was doing my damnedest to fall asleep and ignore the mind-typing that began firing off in my head as soon as the lights went out… most of the mind-typing consisted of the things I want to say in an email that is long overdue-an email that’s been impossible to do yet- thanks to the ever-constant changes that keep happening in my day to day life… every time I think I can sum things up, something happens and I’m thrown for a loop, but enough of that for now, I’ll sort it, I’ll find the right words and I’ll catch up soon-I know I will…But after mind-typing another epic chapter of this particular email, I fell asleep thinking of the next blog post…something unexpected… a bit self-indulgent, like perhaps doing a hideous ’25 things you don’t know about me’…which I usually abhor, but must confess I often find myself reading, despite who its about-mostly because I keep hoping to find something truly individual, something that makes a person really stand out, though unfortunately most of those lists consists of things like ‘I really love mint chocolate-chip ice cream when I’m feeling blue’…I can promise you, my 25 things will NOT be so lame…For example, I was planning on uploading some photos-showing you a few pieces of my yesterdays, to help you become better acquainted with who I am now..things like photos of me… grilling meat (!) while wearing my infamous ‘Spoiled’ t-shirt in front of the Wiedemann Mansion’s carriage house, where I lived briefly before being chased out by a snake that fell through the ceiling and tried to murder me (OK, perhaps a slight exaggeration for dramatic effect, but only slight, because seriously, the snake did try to bite me and this is only one of several near misses I’ve had with snakes throughout my life…I’m convinced its totally symbolic, but I’ll save it for another time) and a nest of brown recluse spiders that introduced me to an entirely new kind of fear..Soon-after i moved out, the carriage house was remodeled and the asking price was a million dollars…..funny that a 70’s paneled wreck could become something so pricey.. and I wanted to share my beloved ‘monkey and ‘huggy’ with you…and I still will, but it’s not happening right now…I woke at 1:00 this afternoon to Nile telling me that Lou Reed had died, and immediately Dirty Boulevard (incidentally the song’s line somewhere a landlord’s laughing till he wets his pants was my reply when I heard about the Carriage House’s steep price tag) began playing in my head and there’s been a sick lump in the pit of my stomach all day and night…so at the risk of sounding like another countless individual that feels compelled to write a heartfelt dedication, perhaps if I explain what this lump in my stomach is all about, it’ll disappear and then perhaps tomorrow, we’ll get back to things like finishing important emails and showing you some pieces of my world-past & present, OK?
In 1989, I was just beginning to discover the person I was becoming…I was 18, out on my own and looking for things to lose myself in. I was broke and my family wasn’t in the position to pay for college, so school wasn’t an option…during this point, I had a job… for a day… that paid me $2.12 per hour, but I walked out after being slapped on the arm by the boss for not understanding how to work the shoddy cash register and refusing to ‘politely serve’ two girls who kept tossing their forks to the floor just so I would have to bring new forks to their table while they giggled at my ‘weird black hair’…I had some anger and anti-social issues to say the least, but I was also hungry for knowledge…I wanted to know everything, and I was determined to discover it on my own, without the ‘need’ for a teacher or a classroom, and I think this urge began with an overwhelming obsessive interest in Jim Morrison and after reading Danny Sugarman’s No One Here Gets Out Alive, I had an entire notebook of interests to pursue all day- every day in the library downtown…everything from Kerouac’s On The Road to Norman Brown’s Life Against Death…and soon, Walt Whitman presented himself to me… standing out like a cross between a long lost father-figure and an impossible lover, and let’s face it, I’ve always been in need of father-figures and impossible lovers, so I began to study Whitman like a religion, and the more I read, the more poetry began to conquer that space in my head that had once been reserved for my plan of becoming the next Janis Joplin…and so this period was the beginning of what I am today…but one of the biggest, earliest influences- besides Whitman’s “Song of Myself“ and eventually Ginsberg’s (who actually LOOKED a lot like my father) “America” was the night I saw a TV performance of Lou Reed performing Dirty Boulevard. Of course I had heard of Lou Reed, mainly from Walk on the Wild Side, though until this performance, I hadn’t really given his work a chance, but from the first listen of Dirty Boulevard, I was hooked!
Give me your hungry, your tired your poor I’ll piss on ’em
that’s what the Statue of Bigotry says
Your poor huddled masses, let’s club ’em to death
and get it over with and just dump ’em on the boulevard…
…And back at the Wilshire, Pedro sits there dreaming
he’s found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures and stares at the cracked ceiling
“At the count of 3” he says, “I hope I can disappear”
And fly fly away, from this dirty boulevard
I want to fly, from dirty boulevard
This was music and poetry perfectly merged, and the brutal honesty of this song resonated so deeply within me because by this point in my life I was a cynical, brutally honest, angry, anti-social poor girl, finding it impossible to ‘fit’ anywhere with anyone…I used to watch people coming out of stores with their shopping bags smiling like their lives were nothing but continuous blissful experiences or I would sit outside of restaurants, smelling the food I could never afford, thinking there had to be something more than what I was tossed into and hearing this song….this was such a kindred connection for me, so I bought the New York cassette as soon as I could scrape the 8 bucks together and from that point on, Lou Reed’s music has in one way or another, weaved itself through a multitude of my life’s experiences.
Soon after Dirty Boulevard, my real life…and an incredibly dangerous, self-destructive relationship became the lyrics of Romeo Had Juliette:
he calls on her wearing a leather vest
the earth squeals and shudders to a halt
A diamond crucifix in his ear
is used to help ward off the fear
that he has left his soul in someone’s rented car
Inside his pants he hides a mop
to clean the mess that he has dropped
into the life of lithesome Juliette Bell
And before long, “Walk On The Wild Side” with lyrics like Holly came from Miami, Florida,Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A., Plucked her eyebrows on the way,Shaved her legs and then he was a she became a picture perfect description of the kind of crowd I found myself surrounded by.
And then throughout the 90’s, I managed to stumble upon the Velvet Underground and although these songs were written before I was even born, they felt so new and songs like “I’ll Be Your Mirror”, “Femme Fatale”, “Heroin”,”Run Run Run”,”Pale Blue Eyes”, “Candy Says” and more importantly “Venus in Furs” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” all found a way to define my world-what and who i was at the time (and in the case of Venus in Furs and All Tomorrow’s Parties, STILL am)… and I have to mention Sweet Jane, a song that always reminds me of a happy, positive era with my best friend, and…the lyrics…how absolutely relevant:
Some people, they like to go out dancing
And other peoples, they have to work, Just watch me now!
And there’s even some evil mothers
Well they’re gonna tell you that everything is just dirt
Y’know that, women, never really faint
And that villains always blink their eyes, woo!
And that, y’know, children are the only ones who blush!
And that, life is just to die!
And, everyone who ever had a heart
They wouldn’t turn around and break it
And anyone who ever played a part
Oh wouldn’t turn around and hate it!
Heavenly wine and roses
Seems to whisper to her when he smiles
Heavenly wine and roses
Seems to whisper to her when she smiles
But I’ve typed enough…you get the point…Lou Reed was an incredible songwriter, an incredible poet, and his work has been seeping into my world since i was 18, and will continue to do so, probably even long after I’ve stopped referring to myself as the whip-lash girl-child in the dark (though that’s not a reference I’ll be giving up any time soon, and if you know me, you’ll probably understand why)
So, that’s what the lump in my stomach is about…the fact that someone who managed to pen so many songs that fit into my world in so many ways is gone…and for lack of better, more eloquent words…it sucks…really, really fucking sucks.
And what will she do with Thursday’s rags
When Monday comes around
She’ll turn once more to Sunday’s clown
And cry behind the door
perhaps too honestly yours,
Without this song, I wouldn’t be me.