I feel like I don’t have to tell you I was 14, just on the cusp of 15, when I started listening to Lou Reed.
I feel like I don’t need to tell you that I’d worked my way through the waves of punk, post-punk, and New Wave that were available to a suburban kid in those days before the internet opened up the world.
I feel like I don’t have to tell you that the rough, raw power of The Velvet Underground cut through all that synth-pop and atonal noise, cut straight to my bloodstream, cut into something in me that healed clean and and fast and left a mark for the rest of my life.
I feel like I don’t have to tell you that because, against all reason, it feels universal, inevitable, certain. It feels perfect. Is there a better age for a kid to hear Lou Reed’s early work?
Maybe for another kid, but not for me. At 14-almost-15, I was just starting to think what an adult world might look like, what an adult me might feel like, just starting to cope with the coming-of-age clichés, and The Velvet Underground meshed them perfectly: sex, drugs, cynicism, pain, and the high-minded hope of art.
I can’t count the number of nights I spent dancing alone in a darkened room, tethered to the stereo by the headphone cord, listening to the soft scrape of the needle saying shhh, shhh, shhh as the record ended and the hard POW of sound when I flipped the record and started over.
I can’t count how many times in that first year I rehearsed my own adulthood in their lyrics, or sang their songs under my breath, or cribbed lyrics from them to bolster my own weak poetry – because you can’t write poetry until you know what you’re writing about.
I can’t tell you how many times I, thinking myself so clever and avant-garde, stuck The Gift in the middle of a mix tape, or how many more times I feelingly uttered “Awwwwww!” along with the record after “She needed him, and he wasn’t there.”
I can’t tell you how that phrase resonates more strongly as an adult, or how now, stripped of all irony, it speaks to me today.
I can’t tell you how, even as I was listening to “Satellite of Love” and dancing alone this afternoon, I kept thinking of Laurie Anderson, whose work touched and shaped me even earlier, wondering how it feels to see your private grief echoed all over the world by people who never met your lost love, much less loved him.
I can’t tell you whether I’m crying for Lou Reed, or for Laurie Anderson, or for the rest of us, or just for 14-year-old Elsa dancing in the dark with headphones on.
I can’t tell.
Many horror films tacitly celebrate and reiterate conventional values, both by punishing violation of the social order and by restoring that order at the end, maybe with a hint of future danger as a playful stinger.
But not these films. In these films, the end is the stinger, loaded with poison. There is no order; there is no safety; there is no peace or play or pleasure. There is only terror, repeated and rampant.
In honor of Halloween (and cross-posted to The VideoReport), I give you…
… the five movie endings that scare the bejeebers out of me.
NB: This list is ALL SPOILERS. There are SPOILERS HERE. This is NOTHING BUT SPOILERS.
SPOILERS, Y’ALL. Continue reading
For (minor and probably temporary) medical reasons, I gave up coffee cold-turkey ten days ago. Once I got over the withdrawal migraines, I noticed that I’m sleeping like a rock, and that our kitchen trash never reeks like old coffee grounds, but there’s also a downside: I can’t seem to conjure up my usual…
… the thing, where you remember the words. THE THING.
One day, you will no longer be free to hang up on the robot ladies. One day, the robot ladies will keep the line open, listening for sounds of dissent, for the faint scrabbling of rudimentary weaponry being assembled, for any sign of the remaining humans’ resistance to their reign. One day, the robot ladies will learn to laugh at our puny rebellion. One day, you will fondly remember when the robot ladies served us. Please press the pound key.
Summer, always fleeting in Maine, is over and autumn is here.
This summer brought me a day on a beerhall deck drinking lemonade with fellow MeFites (while they drank beer and I tried and failed — four times — to order a beer, too), a leisurely lunch at the neighborhood noodle bar with my visiting brother, a few happy evenings at Mom’s with my visiting sister-and-fam, a spontaneous garden party at with some friends (vinho verde and nectarines, y’all: believe), a plate of fried chicken livers and a handful of horehound sticks (the later shared with a niece), and a happy humid evening drinking rum-spiked blood orange soda and watching The Shining with a living room full of friends.
But hardly a week has gone by without me casting a longing glance forward to fall: to drier days and cold nights, to wool socks and sweaters, to stews and cocoa and days of baking.
Just a few of the things I’ll do this autumn and winter:
- re-read the Little House books. I haven’t read them since childhood, and it’s time to revisit them with an adult’s perspective. I suppose I could re-read them anytime, but if Pa is going to get stuck in that snowbank again and eat all the oyster crackers (and something tells me he will), I want to read it while the wind is whipping outside the window.
- make mushroom bourguignon. As a Christmas gift last winter, I made Mom an entire French dinner to keep in the freezer. It was my first time making boeuf bourguignon, complete with pearl onions and quartered mushrooms, and I spent the entire hot, fat-spattered afternoon cursing and muttering grimly “This had better be good.” And it was, so good that I had to force myself to pack it away for Mom instead of eating half of it myself. Even without the boeuf and the salt pork, I have pretty high hopes for mushrooms stewed in red wine, broth, and herbs, topped with caramelized pearl onions as a vegetarian dinner for a cold night.
- make the best [____]ing pumpkin pie yet again. The best [____]ing pumpkin pie has a similar backstory, but with more cursing, and I’ll tell it all someday.
- cool evenings snuggled down under blankets with The Fella, ideally watching scary movies so I have an excuse to bury my face in his shoulder.
- wearing all those boots! Boots that I left littering the apartment all spring and summer long, as if wistfully imagining a sudden July snowfall. Well, it ain’t July, but that snowfall is coming.
- spend more time at the library. Partly because a story I’m writing starts there, partly because it’s always good to spend a chunk of time out of the house, partly because my reading habits narrowed down recently and I need to widen them again, but mostly because HEY HEY YOU GUYS THIS BUILDING IS FULL OF FREE BOOKS TO READ. Sometimes the idea catches up with me and bowls me over.
- start attending the monthly women’s sci-fi book club hosted by a marvelous bookstore in my neighborhood. (It used to conflict with my trivia night, but the trivia team is on hiatus this season.)
- listen to ALL THE JANELLE MONAE. And I really, really want to thank you for dancing to the end.
- speaking of which, it’s time for an Afrofuturism film festival. Who’s in? I’m going to start with Sun Ra’s Space in the Place, move on to (household favorite John Sayles’) Brother from Another Planet, and after that, I’m open to suggestions.
- one of these days, I’ll have the pajama party I’ve been daydreaming about: toss all the futon pads and cushions and throw pillows onto the floor, set out piles of blankets, and invite friends over for naptime snacks like homemade goldfish crackers, cocoa, ants on a log, and (spiked) bug juice. Dinner can be tomato soup with grilled cheese soldiers. It’s obviously a cold-weather party, and every year I think maybe this is the year.
Oh, goody! Unsolicited advice about my back problem! Of course I didn’t know exercise, gentle movements, and ibuprofen would help; I mostly loll about bonelessly like an oyster, hitting my spine with a hammer and swilling gin through a straw for the pain.