Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Glasgow Flip Books.

On a day like today - a day that's wet, rainy, cold, and grayer than a sea captain's undershirt, I always think of Glasgow. Where you're surrounded by that kind of wet cold that sinks into your bones and doesn't leave until spring. Or until you can quell it with a wee dram. I spent a lot of time in Glasgow after college. Writing in the Cul de Sac, gazing at Kelvingrove art, traveling the countryside, making friends at Furry Murray's and Blackfriars. Tromping up the hill by the Glasgow School of Art. Sleeping on a friend's couch just off Byres Road until the money ran out.

I wrote a lot. Most of it was shite (as Glaswegians say). Waxing poetic about whiskey, Scottish brogue, and heather. But a few things were all right. Okay even. I discovered glesca flip books while digging through my old skritchings. Looking at old journals and wondering who wrote them because this woman certainly wasn't me.

The poem reminds me a lot of the weather today. And of Glasgow. And of my time there. For those of you who don't spend weekends trolling around flea markets and curiosity shops (i.e., those of you with a LIFE), flip books are little books with one drawing on each page. You flip them to see a mini-movie.

glesca flip books

I take stock of my world
without you in it.
Jotting down the scenes
which reel before me
like flip books.

A child stuffs a toy gun into her mouth
pulling the trigger over
and over,
sitting at the feet of Barras merchants
under their watchful cover

Rat a tat tat
Rat a tat tat
I know exactly
where she's at.

I check off items, inspecting my navel
to see where it's been.
Pissing and spying "I love him"
teeny tiny on the stall wall.
I know who she means.

A waitress, her eye ringed with bruise
Turns, does not peruse
the screaming pages of the tabloid.
Looking up quickly,
Is someone watching?
Am I the Scabby Queen?
Do they know?
Too late, the purple eye
speaks for itself, and so
this book snaps shut.

A city full of edges, jagged lines
It's HURT to look for too long.
Red eyes full of paper cuts, observing alone.
There's no one to tell
of the things that are shown.

Slinking night shapes by my window,
empty faces at day
wearing the difficulty of being
empty sockets gouged and ghostly
under the veneer of business as usual.
Haunting grime collects in the rind of these masks,
and they are familiar.

Rat a tat clicks the gun,
"I love him" written where it is seen by one,
empty faces at day.
All of these I seem to know.
All of these snap shut.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

1987 Mix Tape.

I'm going through all my crap in the attic last week and what do I find? Some gem of a story idea? Some forgotten memory I've pushed down so far I've forgotten it? Some inner secret from my family tree I can only reveal here for the very first time? No. I find a half-empty notebook with scribbled grocery lists, memos to myself and one list more interesting. A list of songs for a mix tape I made in 1987. Holy crap.

Looking at it hit me like a scent you haven't smelled in 20 years, but the first time you do it spins you backward in a split second. Like when I smelled "White Linen" after my grandmother passed away. I actually cried. The moment was surreal.

Instead of a scent, snippets of sound hit me. As I read through the list I heard the lyrics. Some of them I hadn't sang to myself in 25 years, but here they were in my head. Can't remember where I put my keys, but can remember all the lyrics to "All You Ever Think About is Sex" by Sparks. Go figure...

1987 Mix Tape
52 Girls - B'52's
Good and Divine - Yello
Musique Non-Stop - Kraftwerk
24-24 - Cabaret Voltaire
Wood Beez - Scritti Politti
Let Me Go - Heaven 17
The Walk - The Cure
Girl From Ipanema - The B'52's
Tar - Visage
Angel No - Yello
Adolescent Sex - Japan
Worth Waiting For - Gene Loves Jezebel
Big Funk - Cabaret Voltaire
Planet Claire - The B'52's
All You Ever Think About Is Sex - Sparks
Beat Box - Art of Noise
Swing - Japan

I mean, when was the last time you ever heard YELLO for crying out loud? Except maybe in a commercial for Axe, that sweet smelling shit all my eighth grade boys would wear to attract girls. All they ever attracted was flies. Blech. And Gene Loves Jezebel? Woof. Those twins were hot. Remember seeing them play at Rockitz on South Laurel Street in Richmond to a half-empty house on a weeknight. We snuck in underage by sending someone in with a fake ID, then inking the stamp they got onto our own hands with a ball point pen. Smudging it to make it look real. Sitting in the Lum's parking lot, hoping it would work. It did. Wonder whatever happened to Gene Loves Jezebel? You don't even hear them on Sirius First Wave.

I was pretty heavy into New Wave back then. This was before my House Music slash clubbing period but right after my Smiths period. Give me tinny European pop music heavy on the synth, strange lyrics, and band names please! I was a HUGE Cabaret Voltaire fan - still have that record. (Yes, as in VINYL). And loved 9353, this band from D.C. who had this great song called, "Famous Last Words" with lyrics that went:

It's okay
It's not loaded
I'm a good driver
Don't worry honey.

Over and over. See, I told you. Can remember lyrics, just not where I put the damn keys. Awww, and Green from Scritti Politti. Gotta love a man who calls himself Green and puts the very hot and mohawked dancer Michael Clarke in his video. Okay, maybe he's more pop, but his first album was weird enough to be included here certainly...

Maybe the only band who holds up still is Heaven 17. "Once we were years ahead but now those thought are dead..." Or The Cure's "The Walk" (I can still sing the opening riff, probably will be able to when I'm 90). And who can forget the B'52's "Girl From Ipanema?" Did you know "Sheeeee goes to Greeeeeen-Laaaaaaaaand....... ?

Anyway. Wonder what would happen if I downloaded all this (has iTunes even HEARD of Sparks?) and listened to it in its entirety? Would I travel back in time like Christopher Reeve in that movie? Would it be painful? Joyful? Or just weird because all the music is now crap to my 20-years-older ears?

These songs make me think of cranking music in my car. I was probably driving my '67 blue AMC Rambler and the songs were probably blaring from a boombox (no stereo). The heat didn't work, and my door handle was fashioned from a wrench with a mitten over it. I loved that car. I was probably on my way to my boyfriend's apartment on South Adams, near the Jefferson Hotel. No warmth there either, except from a kerosene heater. A real shithole. Or maybe I was driving to some crap job. But the music got me through. It still does. Today it's more Michael Franti and Zero 7 or Francis Dunnery, but the idea is the same. Crank it up, sing at the top of your lungs, and meditate. Be in the moment and just sing. Forget everything else. Relax. Or as Japan sang back then, "Relax and swing."

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Turn Your Head and Cough.

This won't hurt a bit! (Is that a shot or a suppository?)

So. Here's a "cough" for ya. I got a cease and desist letter this week from a group of lawyers calling themselves Merchant and Gould, "Guardians of Great Ideas!" Barf. You know Don Draper didn't come up with that one. In murky legal-eze they demanded I shut down my blog, edible cville... Seems they have trademarked the word "edible". Okay........wait a minute. How in hell do you trademark a WORD? Supposedly they represent a magazine franchising company, Edible Communities, Inc. which owns over 40 publications around the country with names like Edible Buffalo, or Edible Austin. You get the idea. They promote local sustainable agriculture from an office somewhere else. Oxymoronic. Kinda like Wal-Mart selling organic apples. Wish I had known about it when I still taught 8th grade English, I woulda used them as an example like "jumbo shrimp". Edible Buffalo! Straight from............Minneapolis.

They feel my little operation, an operation of one woman trying in vain to gather more than five subscribers to her little blog about Charlottsville restaurants, will confuse readers of a new magazine being launched in March, Edible Blue Ridge. Okay. I'm flattered. But really?

I wouldn't even take their letter as gospel except I remembered an article I had read recently. Seriously, at first I thought I was being punked. But then I remembered the article. And I remembered I had commented on the article. As a joke. Crap! Had my little attempt at humor turned into a Plaxico Burress episode? Mayhaps.

My first thought was to fold, but then I remembered the HOURS of work I had done. Designing. Registering. Learning the ins and outs of search engines. Come to think of it, just shutting down is not really befitting of a woman calling herself, "Feisty Bourbon Girl". How can you OWN a word? And so I called the guy who had written the article. And told him my story. And about 500 other people through email, and places like Foodbuzz.com where I post pretty regularly. And you know what? They put *me* in the paper. What a whirlwind. All for a blog nobody reads.

As all this was rolling out, I tried to remember if I had ever been bullied in such a fashion. Heck, bullied at all! In not so many words, certainly, but I have had a few incidents, a few indelible memories. People have *tried* to take my feisty away.

I remember the obnoxious kid next door hurling rocks at my sister and me as we tried to play Barbies in the side yard. When he wouldn't stop, I picked up the biggest rock and chucked it at his head. The sound it made was very satisfying I will admit. And the sound of his wails as he screamed for his mother were even better. God, that kid was a little shit. He had it coming. I was probably what? 10? 11? Not sure. Makes me sound a little weird I know, but if you were there you would've cheered just as loud as we did.

I remember *another* obnoxious neighbor boy (Jeez, where did we live anyway?) pushing my sister down in the snow. She'd get up, he'd push her down. She'd get up, he'd push her down. Over and over. I watched from the window, willing her to stand up for herself. I was probably 12 by this point. Sis was 10. The boy maybe 8. When I couldn't stand it anymore, I strode out into the snow, stood in front of the boy, hands on hips, and asked, "You wanna try and push ME down?!?!" He didn't.

I'm in 10th or 11th grade, walking to Color Guard study hall. Six months of the year were spent in Color Guard practice for the school's marching band, the other six months were a study hall. I'm dressed like a punk, all in black, down to my black Granny boots that laced up and were cut out on the sides. Cut out like a latticework fence. Purchased from The Wild Pair with money I had made working at Chuck E. Cheese. I wore bright orange fluorescent socks with the shoes so they showed through. Blindingly-bright fluorescent socks. I thought I was cooler than cool, but the girls walking behind me didn't think so and started talking trash. When I couldn't stand anymore I let them have it. Turned around and called them every name in the book, stuff a sailor would blush to say. What's that saying? Cursing a blue streak? Heck, I was in the purple zone by the time I finished with them. They avoided me after that.

And then there's the punch. The only punch I've ever thrown in anger. A *real* punch to the face. I was dressed to the nines, probably 22 years old, and walking up the stairs at Fielden's at 2 in the morning on a Saturday. Or maybe it was 3 in the morning on a Wednesday. Or 4 in the morning on a Tuesday. At that point in my life I can assure you it could have been any or all of those days or times. Those of you who even know the club I'm talking about and graced its hallowed halls during the late 80's and early to mid-90's are probably shaking your heads in agreement. For the late-late-late night set, it was the place to be. Or at least, the only place open.

Anyway, I was climbing the stairs in my short skirt and heels and a guy grabbed my ass. No apologies, just a big ol' grab. So I turned around and threw a big ol' punch. His surprised look said all there was to say. He lost his footing and went sailing down the stairs, knocking down the people behind him as well like a set of dominoes. Did I neglect to mention it was the TOP of the stairs? It was. It was also frikkin' awesome. It felt strong. I remember my buddy Mike was ahead of me and wondered what all the commotion was about. "Oh, I just punched some asshole down the stairs," I replied nonchalantly. Definitely something a Feisty Bourbon Girl would do.

At this point, I have no idea what will happen. Maybe I should change the name to "Incredible Edible Cville..." and have the egg people mad at me too. Hell, with this blog entry, I may have just shot myself in the other leg. This is a fork in the road in my new guise as a writer who actually WRITES that my brain hasn't been able to get around. I'm still reeling something so small and insignificant has garnered so much attention. If it's one thing I've learned so far, it's that my deepest, most gutteral reaction to bullying isn't to back down right away. And this is bullying of the highest order make no mistake. No I'm not a back downer. But nor am I a push backer. It's not in my Buddhist nature to push back. But I will stand my ground.

And smile.

Just keep smiling.

Smile inside.

Because when you allow people to anger you, it means they've conquered you.

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