Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal. Show all posts

October 22, 2014

Chapter 6: Breaking Up With My Mom : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

The hunger for independence happens for most kids somewhere between 8 th grade and sophomore year of high school. It is within this window of time that moody teens decide they only want to be seen alone or with friends. Parents are plucked, no kicked from their social equation all together.

1987 was the year I broke up with my mom. Up to this point she had been nothing but an incredible trooper and friend. She was not only willing to take me to any show I asked to see, she was genuinely excited to see live bands with me – something that I can barely get my adult friends to do with me now. 

Together my mom and I saw:

* Prince – twice (Purple Rain & Parade tour)
* Howard Jones - twice
* UB40 w/ Erasure (to be accurate that took place in 1988 @ Pier 84 in NYC)
* Bryan Adams w/ The Hooters at Madison Square Garden, 1987
* They Might Be Giants – The Ritz , 1986 - (So many men tried to pick up my Mom that night, it was freaky)
* Adam and the Ants w/ Wall of Voodoo – 1985 at Radio City Music Hall (Rabid female fans threw bras and panties at the stage all all night long but especially during "Strip" )
* Squeeze opening for David Bowie on the Spiders from Mars tour in 1987 at Giant’s Stadium
Peter Gabriel - So tour in 1986 at Madison Square Garden
* And while not a band, there was Hands Across America along side 6 and half million other people

But then age 16 happened. Hormones took over and I went through the Jekyll and Hyde change. I transformed from a content sidekick of a parental unit to a brooding teenage turd who preferred to play orphan.
My mom could have handled the change in my attitude with screaming matches or groundings but instead she did something miraculous. She became a willing chauffeur to any and all shows I asked to see, 99% of which were 40 minutes away in New York City. To be clear, the city was not the tourist friendly Disneyland it is today; it was the seedy New York of the late ‘80s . These were the rough and tumble Ed Koch years of NY.

The whole scenario still blows my mind to this day. A handful of my friend’s parents (along with my own) willingly gave their daughters permission to attend a number of concerts in New York parent-free. Not even coolest of cool moms on Gilmore Girls (picture w/ the Bangles below) would have offered that level of privilege and freedom to her daughter. My friends and I were trusted to stay at the show (IE not leave the concert to wander the big, dangerous city alone), behave respectably, and then meet my mom at an arranged pick up location near the venue when the concert was done. We mostly followed the big alternative bands of the day so luckily these shows were held in respectable, large all ages venues that welcomed a gaggle of bridge and tunnel girls with an allowance to burn on expensive cups of soda and band merch.

The concert ritual began months before the actual big event. It all started glued to a telephone with a parent’s credit card; borrowed with permission. Pre- internet you could get concert tickets one of three ways: by calling the ticket agency handling the event, visiting the ticket agency booth (Ticketron/Teletron had a  window at a sporting goods store a few towns away – too much of a distance / time suck to a busy parent or sibling with a car), or the venue located a whole state away. I LOVED the competitive thrill of getting through on the phone (much like trying to be the 100 th caller on a radio station for a prize from Z100), so the phone was my preferred way to buy tickets. I would hope for it to ring after just a few tries but inevitably I would get a busy signal. And then another. And another. Methodically I would dial with the receiver pinned between my shoulder and cheek. With one hand poised over the keypad, I would hang up with the right hand and then re-dial with the left. I always called from my dad’s office. He had the least distracting to a teen room in the house and he ended up with the only phone in the house that had the modern and magical redial button. That was my secret weapon.

Sometimes this ticket buying process took hours - all depending on the size of the band and venue. If and when I managed to get through to a ticket agent, I then had to then scream for my parents who needed to be present just in case the other voice at the end of the telephone questioned my age and asked for a parent’s permission to charge the card. We only had one telephone line in the house so the rest of my poor family was barred from trying to use it until I got through - bless their patient hearts. The coveted tickets would then be mailed to our house and the wait for those tickets was unbearable. They were the tangible proof that we concert bound and on our way to greatness unlike anything we had ever experienced before. Freedom! New York City! Loud music! Flocks of interesting strangers!

In hindsight,  I think the hardest part of this whole process was learning about upcoming concerts in the first place. Collecting this valuable information was a difficult job and without a car or a computer, it took a lot of timely investigative work. I meticulously kept notes while listening to the radio each night. I depended on the word of mouth from friends (who also learned details from their older brother & sisters) . The final piece of the puzzle was scouring my parent’s multiple newspaper subscriptions that featured advertisements for upcoming concerts.

Once tickets were procured, the only really important thing left for me to do was pick something to wear. I had yet to discover thrift stores so most of the items I wore still came from the local Paramus Park Mall. I had transitioned away from preppy jock bookworm but the Bergen County malls still limited me to a sea of popped collars, shoulder pads, and the Miami Vice fallout of never wearing socks. Crazy neon colors had been all the rage with the mainstream culture so I responded by embracing the more Gothic color pallet of black, gray, and cream (super funny knowing how colorful my wardrobe is now). My concert uniform also would include at least one Swatch , a long skirt or pegged pants, bulky sweaters with an even larger shirt underneath it, and multiple silver/ turquoise rings. The bonus reward to going to these concerts was that the more band shirts I purchased at them, the more often I could show the world that not only I was an cool enough to be at this show, but that I had impeccable taste in music overall. I am not ashamed to admit that my band shirt obsession has not diminished since 1986.

We would ride to NYC in my mom’s white Chevy Celebrity listening to mix tapes or if the wind was blowing the right way, the alternative hits of Long Island’s WDRE (“Dare to be different!”). My mom must have had the patience of a saint. We were a carload of high energy girls bouncing around like ping pong balls in oversized cable knits about to be chaperone free at a concert. We had hormones multiplying by the minute. There was the intoxicating prospect of meeting cute boys but the reality was most high school kids were not allowed to go to concerts alone so the members of the opposite sex were all at least college age. That could have spelled after school special stranger danger disaster but the actual number of members of the opposite sex we flirted with at these shows were zero.

The concerts themselves were a blur. Literally. Like most teenage girls, we had trouble sitting still. These concerts were rarely spent in the original seat I had purchased (most of these shows had seating). The game was to hunt for open seats that didn’t look like anyone was showing up to fill. The goal was to find group seating that moved us just that much closer to the stage. We would wiggle and worm our way up towards the stage, often getting within the first 20 rows. The biggest decision of the night would be to risk losing the seat we had hijacked in the name of dancing. We wanted to dance in the isles, by no means common behavior of the adults around us but as painfully enthusiastic girls, it seemed very necessary. The opening acts at these concerts were more often than not unknown to us so we would use that hour to wander the halls, stairways, and theater lobbies (the most gorgeous being Radio City Music Hall’s ornate Art Deco décor. People watching up until this point was limited to our NJ suburban backyards so the alternative show going crowds of a New York City show was as good as it could possibly get. There were the classic new wavers, new-romantics in their pirate blouses, pale looking librarian types in oversized glasses, the impeccably dressed (think Bryan Ferry), and gay people who I had personally only seen once before in Provincetown, MA on a family vacation. The atmosphere was as important and as memorable as the bands themselves. Admittedly my friends and I were an anomaly to be stared back at. We were very young, spirited, and parentless. We were fish out of water suburban brats from one state away. We were also not welcomed by those sitting around us as we squealed and jumped like dolphins in heat, danced like third rate Go-Gos, talked loudly about the world we knew nothing of, and did all of the typical things sheltered teenage girls do. The echo of “Where are their parents?” still ring in my ears.

What amazes me all these years later, besides the deep trust our parents had in us, is that pre-cell phones there was no way of knowing what time a show would be over by. It was all planned and discussed on the car ride into the city. Mom would hang out in the city on her own (bookstores and coffee shops) and when it came time to pick us up, she kept circling in the car until we showed up. Typically our rendezvous point was across the street or on one of the side streets of the theater / venue.  She never seemed stressed or angry if any of the shows that ran a little late. I remember her talking about how she enjoyed the time to herself in a city she once called home after college in the mid ‘60s. These occasional trips gave her an opportunity to revisit her old stomping grounds as well. She was and remained a night owl through her life and was truly dedicated to offering us the unique opportunity to seek culture and art on our own terms.  
The rides back home usually went relatively quickly as the traffic out of the Lincoln Tunnel or George Washington Bridge was light after 10 pm. Inevitably one of my friends would fall asleep but it was my job to keep my mom company and awake. There would always be plenty to recap from the night and babble on about in great detail. Who knew that years later this actually would be a valuable touring band member skill to have. I remain an expert at being the high energy front seat passenger who keeps the tour van driver entertained into the wee hours between long drives between shows like Seattle to Denver in 24 hours straight.

On a very special occasion my mom would stop at one of the endless diners along Rt. 17 and we would share disco fries (french fries with gravy and cheese; New Jersey’s version of poutine) and grilled cheese sandwiches. These are among my favorite memories I have of my youth.
These occasional concerts introduced me to New York City as a home away from home. Most teenagers are told to avoid their closest bustling major metropolitan, to fear it, but my experience was the exact opposite. I had gone to hundreds of museums and theater performances there as a kid with my family and was also given the training wheels to explore a little more of NYC without the guidance. This unusual freedom and trust offered a number of things. At my most impressionable age I was given the gift of experiencing live music without the filter of adult supervision. I built up street smarts from a very early age and knew my way around NYC better than most of the parents of my friends. Rather than thinking of the city as a dirty, dangerous, and worthless place, I believed it to be a mecca of culture and endless possibilities. My adult life has been built on this one of a kind foundation and my enthusiasm towards experiencing live music still thrives. City, good. Music, better. That about sums my life up to this day.

From 1986-1988  - the parentless concerts included
* R.E.M. / 10,000 Maniacs -1987 - (Stipe in a dozen shirts that were taken off one by one to reveal a new message)   
* The Replacements - 1987 (I had never seen adults so drunk before in my life)
* Depeche Mode - Music for the Masses tour - 1987
* U2 -Joshua Tree Tour - 1987 - Madison Sq. Garden. ( Bono in a sling)

* Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Ritz - 1988 (Socks in all the right places)
* Big Audio Dynamite - Irving Plaza - 1987 (The closest I ever came to seeing The Clash)
* Grateful Dead - Giant's Stadium - 1987 (Don't ask, I did it for a stupid boy)
* A Conspiracy of Hope / Amnesty International - 1986 - Giant Stadium : Third World, Peter, Paul, & Mary, Little Steven with Darlene Love and John Waite, Bob Geldof, Jackson Browne, Ruben Blades with Fela Kuti and Carlos Santana, Yoko Ono, Miles Davis, The Neville Brothers, Joan Baez, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, The Police, U2, and more. (After this concert I became an active member of Amnesty International and created a chapter in my high school)

*and last but not least, Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! benefit concert in Philly - RFK Stadium - 1988 : Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Sprinsteen & the E Street Band, Tracy Chapman, Youssou N'Dour, and Joan Baez.

April 14, 2014

4. You Are Not Alone : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

Part 1.

If I am going to write honestly and openly about my lifelong passion for underground music, I have a series of life changing traumas I should share. I have rarely spoken of these events to my closest of friends and I have never written them down for anyone to read. The truth of my early life is even largely unknown to my extended family, so I am certain this very personal post will be a shocking one for many.

My desire to withdraw from the mainstream and make music my permanent alternate universe happened when my body was violated and abused by men I trusted.

I was molested by my father multiple times before the age of 11. It is impossible to express what this level of betrayal feels like when it came from a person who was supposed to define trust and offer me boundless protection. A child’s safe place should be their home and in their parent’s care but I lived in dread of mine. By the time I had the courage to finally tell my mother about it, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I couldn't bring myself to add to her grief so I opted to keep this terrible secret to myself. Being a victim of molestation by my father has remained my painful secret for over 30 years.

The world around me collapsed as a preteen and in turn music became my primary escape. Mainstream Pop music however suddenly sounded insincere and felt meaningless. The top 40 radio I was raised on represented a poisoned youth for me so I was quickly driven to find something new and different. I was dedicated to finding music that sounded as raw and emotional as I felt: tortured, angry, sad, wounded, weird, and dramatic. I was and wanted to hear all of these things. When you are trapped in a threatening environment, music can have miraculous powers to transform you elsewhere. I quickly became obsessed with finding music that fulfilled this need and I found that solace with Modern Rock.

By the end of grade school (8th grade) I wanted to spend as little time at home in the same space with my father so I worked a part time job from the moment I legally could. It was there I was sexually assaulted multiple times by a male co-worker who was just a few years older than me. As many victims of abuse will tell you there is a fear that somehow you must have deserved it and although this was the farthest thing from the truth, it prevented me from telling others about it. And just like that, another place I once considered safe, was suddenly a threat to my body. The fear of judgment by others and my attacker's revenge outweighed my courage to seek help.  

The following year I briefly had a boyfriend who was a senior at my high school. After just a few weeks of going out, he date raped me on Valentine’s Day. Then after dropping me off at home that same evening, he never spoke to me again. School, the one place a kid with no place has to call their own became just another place where a man had taken advantage of me in the most unforgivable way possible. The burden of carrying yet another terrible secret ate away at my insides. By the end of my freshmen year in high school I was suffering from ulcer like symptoms. I also suffered from severe panic and anxiety for the next two decades and it continues to be a lingering issue for me today. As a young teen I lived with depression, shame, and bitter frustration because every environment I was stuck in left me feeling utterly powerless and abused.

At this dismal point in my life, truly the only thing I had as a 15 year girl old in crisis mode was my faith music. These newly discovered non-mainstream musicians sounded and looked far outside the safety zone of the average Pop star but it was the most average people in the world that had taken advantage of me. "Normal" was officially dead to me.  I could have let my anger and hate win or I could have gone into survival mode and found peace. I chose the latter. Music helped me transcend my body and most importantly it made me feel less alone during a time when I didn't know of other people like me. Before the internet as a kid who was dependent on parents or school buses to take them places, my options for real freedom in suburban N.J. were limited. I built a comfort bubble by avidly collecting music that separated me from everyone else I knew. It makes sense. When you feel different, like an outcast, you naturally seek out things that personify this. The few things I did have control over like clothes, books, film,art, and music is exactly how I chose to redefine myself.

Today I live in the present. I cannot change what has already taken place. All I can do is work on healing myself and continue to grow. These experiences have made me more sensitive, compassionate, expanded my emotional pallet, and most importantly, helped me find forgiveness where I never thought I could. I know exactly how strong I am. I can endure the worst of times and survive. It is painfully unfortunate that these traumatic events have happened to me but it is reassuring to know I made it through. I have worked very hard to come this far and I am proud that these poisonous  people didn't ruin all of humanity for me. I can honestly say I feel lucky to be the person I am today and have so many tremendous people in my life who have helped me reach this point. I am filled with love, joy, and hope. I want anyone who has been through something this awful to know it is possible to recover. There is no exact healing timeline or steps since each person and experience is unique but it is possible. The first step is knowing you are not to blame. The second step is offering yourself unconditional love and patience as you begin your path towards healing. If the numbers are correct, about one third of the American female population has been sexually abused, so as lonely as the feeling can be, you are far from alone.

People who have not been a victim of molestation or sexual assault often have a hard time understanding how a person could not seek immediate help after something like it takes place. The reality is that young people, especially children, can’t be expected to know how to handle something this traumatic. Mentally and emotionally it is an especially complex thing to digest when you are attacked by someone you know. These brutal experiences can cloud the mind. Terror and shame creep in and suddenly common sense and logic have been replaced. It can be difficult to know how to talk to strangers openly about something like this and it can be even harder to try and tell friends about it when there is a good chance they know the person who you are naming as your attacker. This is why so many girls and woman remain silent.

If there is one thing I would like to ask of others if they hear stories like this from loved ones, it is not to judge the person who has survived this devastating experience. It is never appropriate to tell someone they should have done something differently before or after they were abused. Listen and be supportive. Don’t confuse the victim for the catalyst of the crime.

Part 2.

I have gone through many channels of therapy as an adult but the best tool for healing turned out to be singing in a band. I joined Dahlia Seed in my early twenties and it was then I was finally able to explore my emotions and no longer suppress them. For the first time in my life I was able to share my insides publicly. There was nothing more empowering than this. I could scream and vent in ways I never dared to before.

During my early 20’s I also tore my skin by scratching it severely; often performing shows with my arms pouring blood. I was cutting  (I only learned later in life that this compulsion had a name) , a subconscious effort to expel my demons and take control of my body when other’s had robbed me of that privilege . On a more dramatic level, seeing my skin bleed reminded me that I was human when internally I felt anything but for so many years. What few people understand is that this ugly period of self exploration helped me regain my self esteem and strength. To be even more specific, I finally owned myself again. From the outside we were just a band with an intense singer but it was a thousand times more important to me than that. If you listen to these old Dahlia Seed records, you can hear it not just in my words, but in every note I sang.  (The final DS release entitled Please Excuse All the Blood maybe makes more sense now) I thankfully grew out of my bloodletting practices but singing remains a very important, positive emotional outlet for me. This remains true as a member Positive No today.

One of my least favorite questions about my singing style to this day is “Why do you sound so angry?” The truth is I have spent my entire adult life recovering from a stolen childhood and taking my body back. My voice tells that story; a resilient woman with a wounded child at her core. I am not angry. This is me breaking the silence.

For more information and for those seeking help:

To Start at the beginning of my Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast, go here

December 21, 2013

2013 in Review

There are three things that I am most proud of in 2013.

I returned to playing music in a serious band again (Positive No), my record label turned 5 (Little Black Cloud Records) and then with a small team of Richmond locals, we created a soon to be annual music / food / art festival called the Fall Line Fest.

All of these things have really connected me to this city, the people who live here, and our local culture in ways that I find endlessly inspiring. I LOVE making music but I have always been equally passionate about sharing music I love with others too so I am very happy to be heavily invested in both sides of these passions.

I can only hope 2014 brings more of the same. New songs to write, record, and share (Positive No single / full length !!!). Find new music to fall in love with. Help continue to make the city I call home one that continues to be a beacon for great art. I am proud to call Richmond home. I can't wait to see what this city offers next year and more importantly, what I can do to help.

My memory isn't what it used to be so I am sure I am forgetting some of the musical highlights of this past year however below is what I can recall loving on a stage and or recorded.

Listen to my Spotify playlist of these artists here.

Best of 2013

Jacco Gardner - Cabinet of Curiosities
Youth Lagoon  - Wondrous Bughouse
Two Inch Astronaut  - Bad Brother
No Joy  - Wait to Pleasure
These New Puritans  - Field of Reeds
Bottomless Pit - Shade Perennial
Pinkunoizu - The Drop
Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister
Pity Sex - Feast of Love
Lorelle Meets the Obsolete - Corruptible Faces
The New Lines - Fall in Line
Oblivians - Desperation
Bass Drum of Death - S/T
Shannon and the Clams - Dreams in the Rat House
The Liminanas - Costa Blanca
Connections - Private Airplane
The Mantles - Long Enough to Leave
King Khan & The Shrines - Idle No More
TV Colours - Purple SKies
Wau y Los Arrrghs!!! : Todo Roto

I Love Them So Much That I Put Out Their Album

Universe People  - Go to the Sun
Stephen Brodsky - Hit or Mystery

Runners Up  

Broadcast - Berberian Sound Studio
Braids - Flourish // Perish
Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
Dreamdecay - NVNVNV
Deafheaven - Sunbather
Grouper - The Man Who Died
La Femme - Psycho Tropical Berlin
Chelsea Wolfe - Pain is Beauty
Jenny Hval - Innocence is Kinky
Wire - Change Becomes Us
Savages  - Silence Yourself
Holograms - Forever
Mogwai - Les Revenants (Soundtrack)


39 Clocks - Pain it Dark
The Dentists - Some People 
Clothilde - French Swinging Mademoiselle
The Clean - Vehical
Toy Love - Toy Love
The Verlaines - Juvenila
Marcos Valle - Garra
VA / C'est Chic! French Girl Singers of the '60s
Snapper - S/T 

Local Loves

Canary Oh Canary
Snowy Owls
White Laces
Clair Morgan
Hoax Hunters
Dead Fame
Dumb Waiter
Nelly Kate
Warren Hixson

Favorite Positive No Moments

Playing on stage inside a giant blanket fort we built for our Via Florum record release party.
The Well (RIP) creating a menu inspired by our band
Recording with J Robbins
Playing the Fall Line Festival along so many bands we love.
Released our debut EP 
Recording and releasing a Christmas song with friends in under 12 hours.
Meeting Bob Nastanovich (again - since we crossed paths in Hoboken in the early '90s)
Local venues for giving us a chance to play there.
Making new friends, one of whom will be our bass player in 2014.
Unbutton / Davenport Cabinet show that have three of my oldest friends in the band.


My favorite live shows of 2013 were Fall Line Fest related. Our band kicked off the bill and was followed by: CruiserSuburban Living, Helado NegroSpeedy Ortiz, and Pity Sex. As it turns out, not only was all of the music that night incredible but all of the band members were great to work with too. When this show was over we ran over to see Stephen Brodsky (I released his solo album this year) and Hop Along. I saw a lot of tremendous music that weekend but the best part was that I didn't have to leave my backyard to do it.

It was also incredible to see The Breeders and El Vez. It felt like a private performance for 350 friends which for the festival promoter who put on this local event, I am certain is NOT what they were going for.

Last but not least, I still can't believe I got to see The Swirlies play this year. They sounded better than ever and also balanced out the worst performance I saw of 2013 / that night, Kurt Vile.


Happy to still have a full time job with insurance (says the woman presently on crutches)
Honored to have Nancy Sinatra follow me on Twitter
Returned back to Seattle for the first time since the '90s and saw so many wonderful old friends
Recorded with J Robbins
Spending every day with the love of my life, Kenny.
WRIR for being the sound of our city.
The roof over my head and all its glorious colors and toys.
One of my last remaining family members beating breast cancer
The joys of a screened in porch
A hurricane free summer / fall
Bob's Burgers
Les Revenants  - the idea of lost loved ones reappearing is emotionally and psychologically stirring
It has been a great year for beer. I am on untapped as TKW.

Thank you friends for all the remarkable things you do that keep me inspired and feeling loved.

November 29, 2013

3. I Would Die 4 U : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

Part 1.

I developed a taste for alternative music as I moved into my middle school years however I held onto one mainstream musical obsession up until the ninth grade. In 1984 I was 12/13 and in that awkward place between child and teen. Prince was the first Pop star who introduced me to sex appeal, even if I had no real idea what sex was no less sex appeal.  Whatever it was, I wanted to explore it.

I loved Prince's music but his persona stretched far beyond his top 40 hits. The record and the movie Purple Rain was already iconic worldwide and had pushed him into superstar status. All television, radio, and print that mentioned Prince was recorded or cut out by me, and then I revisited these things obsessively until every lyric, dance move, movie dialog, and melody had been memorized. I was a super fan swept up by and into his neo-romantic Revolution.

But what made Prince so appealing to me?

First of all, Prince’s written language reflected a coding almost exclusively used by kids in school passing notes to each other (or as this article ponders, graffiti - also a youth movement.) As if mirroring the language of my people, his signature abbreviations like "I Would Die 4 U" read like the messages held within the folded pieces of paper my age group kept in our pockets, purses, and notebooks. On a side note, who could have guessed that cell phone technology would lead all of us down the Prince path with texts from from friends and family reflecting something once exclusive to his purple majesty and tiny, torn bits of notebook paper? 

Revisiting Purple Rain as an adult, I am perplexed by the topics his lyrics touch upon: bananas, masturbating, doves, the Lord, computer blues with a dominatrix overtone, and a deeply emotional reaction in ballad form to rain the color of purple. This was not a bridge for a Holly Hobbie loving little girl into adult lust, it was a 42 minute push straight into psychedelic desires of the flesh. These subjects were not found in any book or record I owned so the combination of these themes delivered me to a place that one could not travel to in a car or plane. I call it hormonal transcendence. This would be reason number two for my fascination. 

He was to me what I imagine Hendrix was for suburban girls one generation older than me. Their extended manhood was released through orgasmic guitar solos. Their vocal attack added one more layer of Rock and Roll dirty talk. If I wanted to flirt with adulthood, this music took me there. What better escape from a mundane teenage bedroom than through a man who wore more eyeliner than I did wrapped in size 0 violet suits, ruffles, and sang about a girl named Nikki who was a sex fiend. It sounds ridiculous hokey now but to a 13 year in a training bra, my mind was blown. There were no capes in my closet. There were no lace teddies accented by bullet belts and stiletto heels. I had not skinny dipped in Lake Minnetonka. The trashy glam world Prince and his female entourage flaunted ( Apollonia / Vanity) replaced my Barbie dream home fantasies for good.

  Lastly, his exotic mysticism and eroticism had a hypnotic effect on me. I grew up in a small town with mostly upper class white people so there wasn't much about Prince that seemed cut from my little suburban world. Besides his Afro Hispanic appearance (although his family claims he is 100% black), much like Bowie before him (and other gender benders), he was also my first exposure to men who wore make up, heels, and dressed in a flamboyant fashion. His interviews and film characters have always portrayed him as a heterosexual male, but his soft spoken, feminine overtones made him less threatening and even more appealing to a barely teenage girl.  Petite and seemingly sensitive, Prince was the perfect introduction to sex for a little girl on her way to becoming a woman.

Part 2 

In March of 1985 The Purple Rain tour came to Nassau Coliseum and attending this concert wasn't just a dream to me, it was a necessity. My mother was always tremendously supportive of my passion for music so it wasn't all that shocking that she was excited to take me to see Prince live. What I can't recall, and honestly am glad I don't remember the details of because its utter impossible absurdity makes this story all the more amazing, is how a group of friends and their mothers also all agreed to attend this concert with us. We were a gaggle of grade schoolers going to see a man have simulated sex in a bathtub on stage in the presence of our mothers and thousands of screaming fans. Yes it was totally surreal but it really did happen. Purple orgasms everywhere.

This was my very first Rock concert so to get a better understanding of what to expect, I watched Duran Duran's Arena live concert film. Using my ridiculous kid logic, this was actually how I prepped to see Prince in a group setting. In turn I absolutely believed I would be brought to a frenzied state of non-stop screaming that would lead to my inevitable collapse. I seriously spent weeks fearing that I destined to faint from a sensory overload. I was very excited to see my favorite performer live and in person but I was also scared to death of losing control and my knees giving out. I love that I thought this reaction was an absolute fact in my mind. The reality was, once we entered the arena I was too busy soaking every inch of it in to lose my mind. I was so transfixed by every inch of the room's sights and sounds that there was no way I was going to scream over or collapse and miss one second of it. All of that worry leading up to the show was for nothing and damn you Duran Duran and your fire breathing windmills for misleading me.

For a first concert, I don't think I could have done much better. The only downfall to this is knowing that most artists I would see for the rest of my adult life would never top that experience. Ignoring the whole it was my first concert so therefor it was the best aspect, we are talking about Sheila E as the opener with Prince and the Revolution as the headliner. Everyone's stage presence and performances were flawless, energetic, colorful, and sexy. Every moment was larger than life and their staging put the audience in a fantasy setting with some of the best musicians on the planet. It not only showed me that women had an equal place on a stage with men (talent before gender) but that you could develop a unique sense of style and own it. Hell, if you worked hard enough, you could fill a stadium with people who applaud it.

This is part of an ongoing series I am writing. The last one I wrote can be found here.

October 1, 2013

Positive No - Via Florum

Sadly my writing time here has diminished as my band gets busier. The good news is however I have new music to share rather than just words and or pictures.

I give you two years of work, available now via all the usual digital music sites.

May 10, 2013

Positive No : Powers of Ten : New Song Alert!

You can read more about the song here.

"Powers of Ten" will be a part of a 5 song EP we are in the middle of recording with J Robbins at his studio Magpie Cage. This 12" record / digital long player will be available through my record label Little Black Cloud later this summer.

May 5, 2013

Bands / Musicians Who Have Stayed With Me since 1990

This is a work in progress as I am sure I have missed quite a few bands / musicians but this is the initial list I could think of. Out of nearly three decades I can't say I ever had one bad experience with opening my home to bands. Sometimes only one or a few members of a band would crash at our place sp instead of listing people's individual names, it seemed more logical to list just their band.

I didn't add Yo La Tengo or Silkworm because I lived in their homes (cat sitting) for many weeks rather than them staying with me.

In no particular order:

Treepeople (pre-Built To Spill)
Archers of Loaf
Small 23
Superconductor (pre New Pornographers / Thrones)
Rye Coallition
Heavy Vegeatable
Cave In
Fitz of Depression
Peechees (members of Bratmobile/Rice)
Red Stars Theory (members of Modest Mouse / 764-HERO / Satisfact / Lync)
Garden Variety
Railroad Jerk
Cloud Room
Sunn O))))/Engine Kid/Thorr's Hammer
Sunny Day Real Estate
Walk the Plank (Calvin Johnson)
Sons of Ishmael
Sleep Capsule
Some Girls (American Nightmare / Locust / Cold Cave)
Dharma Bums
The Rapture
D älek

October 23, 2012

1. Combative Rock : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

* Disclaimer : I have had a few music blogs over the years and I have posted variations of some these stories before. While this version is 100% new, if you know me or my blogs, you might be hit with a wave of deja vu. You aren't crazy. This is re-worked material mixed into new stuff.*

My three dollar allowance as a ten year old didn't warrant me the fiscal opportunity to purchase records and tapes regularly. Instead I would sit for hours in front of one stereo speaker waiting for a favorite song came on the radio. When one finally graced the airwaves I placed a hand held tape recorder up to the speaker panel and hit record. The stereo in my bedroom didn’t have a built in cassette deck yet so if I wanted to hear my favorite song on command (and with a little rewinding or fast forwarding), this was my only option. 

My recording technique a s a half pint was sloppy. I always missed the first few seconds of each song and then my arms would get tired from holding up the recorder. Eventually they would weaken, causing me to move my hands around impatiently for the second half of a song. You can actually hear the sound of my little arms failing me through the hits of the early ‘80s. I desperately wanted to own these songs and get to know them better so Presidential Fitness arm strength failure aside, I continued to record the songs I liked best using this ridiculous DIY style for years. 

These cassettes were my first real attempt at collecting and organizing music. I didn't know I was preparing myself to be a record collector nerd but this obsessive behavior certainly helped nudge me towards that path at a young age.  

T he sound quality on my tapes may have been subpar but to my credit, I was a superstar at playing the name that tune game since I spent so much time with the radio on and my Panasonic recorder ready to be sprung into action. Note: you may want me on your '80s music trivia team.

My clumsy mixed-tapes of Billboard hits were not intended for public consumption. I typically hoarded them in my bedroom and then continued to play them over and over again in private. I memorized each of them from front to back. To this day I still expect the song “Gloria” to always be followed up by "Shadows with the Night" or Nena’s “99 Red Balloons" to have a shout out to the NYC radio station Z100 mixed into the opening verse when I hear them. 

I knew every melody. Every word. Every tempo shift and dynamic swell. I studied every breath and the space between notes. I was training my ears to pick apart the various layers in a song and understand how they work together without knowing I was doing it. This unique ritual of listening to music as if it was under an audio microscope is something I still carry with me to this day. 

My personal library of black case-less tapes were left at home in the Fall of 1982 when I was asked to sleep over a new friend’s house and bring music. This girl lived one town away which meant we didn't go to school together. We both played on a local girl’s soccer team and she had invited me to stay over house for the first time ever. This was uncharted territory for me. I wasn't 100% positive girls from other towns were like the girls from my town AND I had no clue what music to bring. I panicked. My parents trying their best to help without spending any money loaned me their Beatles collection (1967–1970 – The Blue Album) cassette. They were certain this would be more than adequate. The Beatles in my parents defense have proven to be timeless and enjoyed by many different kinds of people of all ages however at Jennifer’s house in 1982, it wasn't adequate.

For the first time in my young life a peer made me feel lesser about who I was because of the music I listened to. I showed her my Beatles cassette of which I knew every word to every song and she wrinkled up her face only to finish off her look of disgust with a snort. She passed me her Clash tape and told me this was the ONLY music worth listening to. 

The Clash? Is that a band? The horror! I had no idea what she was talking about. (“Rock the Casbah” wasn’t in constant rotation on the radio yet). I squinted at the pint sized cover art and tried to examine it as closely as possible. They looked a little like the Stray Cats according my inexperienced eye but what was this? One of the members wore rings on nearly every finger and had a funny looking cigarette tucked between them. Men could wear rings too? I had no idea and concepts of gender roles were beginning to crumble. At age 11 my innocent mind didn't know about pot no less what a joint might look like so the illegal and wild aspect of a band member holding and presumably smoking weed flew right over my head. I was more concerned that the band posed for their album photo on railroad tracks. We were taught as children to avoid playing on or near tracks so a rough and tumble looking group of lads stopping for a picture practically on top of them clearly proved to me that they were rebels living dangerously. I hadn't even heard a song by them yet and already my mind was blown.

The Clash were totally new to me and I felt stupid as well as embarrassed for living in my parent’s shadow. I held Combat Rock in my hands for the first time that night and pondered the door this record had opened. I wasn't just listening to music unlike anything I had ever heard before; more importantly it was the ultimate lesson that the kind of music you listened to said something about the kind of person you are. It could also reflect how worldly, individual, and cutting edge you were. Defining yourself by the records you listen to, no less making or breaking friendships was a startling revelation. I didn't appreciate feeling vulnerable about my limited knowledge of music by a girl my own age but it further proved that there was a world of music for me to explore. We started off as equals  when I arrived at her front door 
(white middle class tomboys from Bergen County, N.J.)  but by the following morning I was the loser and she was coolest girl on the planet.

The only redeeming aspect of that sleep over night (besides learning about The Clash) was that her mom's idea of a craft for us was to make a Holly Hobby type doll out of a wooden spoon. She may have been more advanced musically but building a spoon doll was way more pathetic than listening to The Beatles. I was never invited back to her house for another sleepover but shortly thereafter I began asking my mom to help me explore the world of music I didn't know. The goal was to obliterate my musical ignorance. The spell of top 40 radio was broken. 

I delivered this news back to my parents and my Mom was especially understanding. She was a retired Greenwich Village beatnik with an ex husband who was (still is) a Jazz drummer so she seemed to appreciate my yearning to investigate the world of counter culture. It as almost as if she was expecting that day to come. 

She then offered and began taping a weekly late night music video program for me called  Friday Night Videos.  Since my town  wasn't  blessed with cable TV or in turn MTV, this major network show was my singular outlet to watch music videos . Although this show mostly played videos for the same songs I heard on the radio, occasionally something left of the dial would make an appearance. FNV wasn't ideal for discovering new music but it did allow me to see the artists I had only heard on the radio before no less get a visual sense of the style and attitude attached to each kind of music. A morsel of perspective was an improvement over none at all. Some kids grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, I watched Friday Night Videos.

My mom was an insomniac so this really was fate working in mysterious ways when she fell asleep recording one night. This meant that whatever was aired after Friday Night Videos accidently made its way onto the videotape as well. I couldn't help myself but watch every minute of that tape. It was the closest I could come to staying up late like a grown up. This was a window into the adult world of late night television and it was this one completely random and rare event that altered my life forever.

For a brief time period of time in the mid '80s after Friday Night Videos there was another music video show that featured mostly underground music and weirdo skits. I can't recall the name of this show for the life of me but this is where I discovered the Australian group Midnight Oil and their 1982 single called “Power and the Passion”. 

Fuck The Clash. This band not only sounded unlike anything my little girl ears had heard before, the singer was an alarming freak of nature. I mean this in the best way possible. He was bald, 7 feet tall and he danced like a stiff jointed zombie having an epileptic seizure. He sang about important political things in an artful manner. I was in awe. No, I was found. This band looked and sounded like the complicated oddity I felt I was. Sure every kid feels insecure about themselves at this tender age but I had found a band that empowered the fragile me. I wasn't alone. There were more misfits just like me. Now all I had to do is find them. It felt like an eternity but a few years later, I did.