mass violence: simulated, real, and the inability to tell the difference.

In The Dark Knight Rises’ unsettling centerpiece, Bane hijacks a stadium of screaming Gothamites as the city crumbles completely around them, resulting in a sort of orgasmic visual dénouement that only a $230 million  superhero movie would attempt.  Sitting in the (police-guarded) theatre watching this scene, I wondered why I’d paid to feel so uncomfortable: terror as entertainment seems an indulgence when people around the world experience such scenes of decadent bloodshed (or at least the fear of such) as their daily reality. I often get into arguments with friends and acquaintances over issues of cinematic violence; I’m preternaturally squeamish and unconditioned to the gory trauma, both visual and psychological, that serve as most Hollywood blockbusters’ most alluring selling point (the general consensus is that no one else seems to mind).

On Marathon Monday in Boston, I thought back to Bane and his takeover of Gotham during a football game. I wasn’t in Copley Square, but instead in my kitchen about a mile away from downtown. Cryptic text messages from my mom and a friend alerted me to the bombs at the marathon; phone service was down.  My stomach turned with the proximity of the danger, and then again at the sickening familiarity of what has now become a sort of regular occurrence of life in America: unnatural disaster in some form, a shooting, a bombing, a tragedy. Earlier this year, the city was shut down for Nemo, and before that, Sandy. In order to most effectively live in America now, should we cautiously expect random acts of terror much in the same way that we anticipate inclement weather? Bring an umbrella;  get ready to sprint from a crowd?

And within minutes of the news breaking, texts pour in from friends and relatives, close and long-lost, neighboring and the farthest-reaching. Far from the scene but close enough, the events themselves are experienced almost exclusively in digital format: the ever-tactful Huffington Post with their sans-serif shout BOSTON MAYHEM, controversial tweets and well-meaning but ultimately useless hash-tags (#prayforboston: thanks or something).

In my crude search for some semblance of a live feed, I accidentally, regrettably, listened to footage from the first blast. A pop, a beat, then the screams: I’ve seen this one before. We’re so inured to such scenes that it becomes nearly impossible to discern the simulacrum from the original.

Mayor Menino recommended that everyone stay inside for the evening. Never before have I been unable to leave the house for fear of my own safety in the wake of a disaster that doesn’t involve three feet of snow, which is indeed a luxury. From inside the house as the sun set, I listened as the birds chirped almost perversely, and reggaeton returned to the street in the usual passing blurs. Tweets turned back to regularly scheduled selfies and hopefully we can leave the house again tomorrow.

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punk and other demons.

My dearest subscriber[s] to Emily Magazine and other stalkers,

I know you’re like OH GOD WHERE R THOSE POSTS THAT SHED NEW LITE ON THE HUMAN CONDITION WAT HAPPEND 2 HER etc etc. There’s no good answer other than the fact that I can’t ever finish what I start whether it’s  a sandwich or Anna Karenina, plus I’ve been RLLY busy feeling weird about Franco on “Freaks and Geeks” and making these:

awesome

Last night I went to a “punk show” in a sweaty donation-run venue; cigarettes were smoked two at a time by the trombonist (tru punx, that) (inside, I might add, like it was 2001 in Tulsa) and some cartoon porn played behind them. Usual Tuesday shit.  There were three bands, including the newest project of Das Racist’s Kool AD, Party Animal. Somewhere between the first and last bands, that gnawing little voice that sometimes strikes when I go to shows crawled into my cranium: where are the girls with something to say? [And before you’re like, OH GOD HERE SHE GOES AGAIN, let me just say that if that thought exists in your mind, you are already extinct, the world doesn’t need you anymore and is waiting for you to end. (Tuff love.) ]Anecdotally, over the past ten years, I’ve been to hundreds of shows: let’s estimate I’ve seen about 200 bands that average 4 people each. That’s 800 people, and I’d guess about 20 to 30 of those people have been female. And not because of any vendetta of my own against female performers, but based mostly on a wide survey of both fringe and popular acts of multiple genres over the past decade.

In Lester Bangs‘ 1979 piece “White Noise Supremacists,” he calls bullshit on what he perceived as overt racism in his own circle, the New York underground. He does, however, manage to call Nico a “cunt,” while maintaining that sexism in the scene was “even more pervasive.”

Thanks to the iron fist of prep school set in a cultural vacuum,  my own introduction to a scene of any sort came woefully late: I was a sophomore in college and new to Burlington, Vermont (but of course, the reason prep school exists at all is to keep its minions’ eye on the prize of Adam Smith). My new best friend Meredith was a product of New England punk the way I was of Mid-Atlantic radio, and she knew a band who described their sound as falling in the middle of Bad Brains and Cat Stevens. After our first meeting at the state fair riding the ferris wheel, putting our lives in the hands of the drunk carnies blaring Master of Puppets, we began spending Friday nights with them. Our evenings became marathons of Scattergories, Genesee Cream Ale and Emilio Estevez’s greatest hits. We went to their shows at 242 Main, an all-ages venue in Burlington (initiated in the 80s by then-mayor Bernie Sanders, the last governmental paragon of the Radical Left, currently one of the only senators who finds time in his schedule to acknowledge wealth disparity and corporate oligarchy in this country). On Halloween, Meredith and I paid tribute to Marc Bolan and David Bowie by dressing as our imagined cover band, Peppers & Milk (named for Bowie’s alleged diet during “Young Americans”-era coke fiending). At 242, Meredith had a literal pissing contest in the co-ed bathroom with a guy in a Captain’s hat (who suffered from performance anxiety).

The guys, raised in a small punk microcosm were like no one I’d met before, and became my own standard of males my age. Everyone else at school lived for snowboarding, Phish and weed. Around the Scattergories board, a T was rolled, and one of the prompts was some variation of a come-on. “Ten, like perfect ten,” said one of the guys. “But that’s stupid and sexist,” he continued. The next guy, who we didn’t know as well, was up. “I put tits comma bitch,” he said without missing a beat. We all erupted in laughter. Over another game and another case of Gennessee, a guy who was visiting from out of town mused, “Well girls can’t be punks because girls are just girls.” Meredith WHOA-WHOA-WHOA-ed her indignation. Later our friend told us he was just quoting a song. But the question remained: what were we? Friends, fans, audience members? Just girls?

Discussing this over $10 manhattans with a friend last night between sets (punk as fuk), she posited that it’s not “part of the female ego” to get up in front of a room full of people/ the world and express oneself. It’s a theory impossible to truly assess, but there’s  something inherently imbalanced about the cultural constant of woman as spectator. In our (ahem) post-punk world, why is it still radical for a woman to demand an audience? If that’s the general cultural consensus, punk failed. so. fucking. hard., and we’re as provincial as Joanie and Chachi. The baddest female I’ve ever seen in person was at a basement metal show in Portland, 2009: all denim, leopard undercut, shredded like a fucking boss. Pimply audience bros didn’t stand a chance.

I’m tending to side with Kate Carraway on this one, who listed “Trying” under her list of “What Girls Hate”:

“…I was listing on a scrap of paper the bands that my guy friends have started (which number infinity) and the number of bands that my girl friends have started (two). I think I am just going to radicalize myself and my choices and stop assessing and advising on how a lot of women are too uncomfortable and too threatened by doing anything/having an opinion/saying anything to be creative or have a good time or whatever because there is too much to it and I feel like being a bitch about it makes me a ‘Smile!’ guy but with reverse intentions. I do have this idea that instead of telling each other to “S a D” we should say ‘D some S.'”

Obviously I’m another useless idealist who dreams of a world built from punk shows where humans of all sorts share their voices and jump around and everyone high fives everyone else. Party Animal’s battle cry is a song called “Inappropriate Boner”: maybe it’s that fear that keeps the keys to the stage in the boy’s pockets.

miss u Sam Malone

As you all know, I am moving to Boston to become my generation’s Diane Chambers. So needless to say, I choked on my Cheerios when I encountered THIS little gem from the fine bros over at GQ. You may not find that as squealable as I if you’ve not spent your summer embroidering & wine-spritzing to the finer points of Ted Danson’s sweater collection & infinite inseam, in which case you should commence straightaway.

Cheers Liveblog: Spoiler Alert!

Yall.  I don’t know if you’re aware that Cheers, 1982-993, is available in its entirety on Netflix. It has sufficiently replaced my social life, and ironically, I’ve pretty much stopped drinking thanks to Norm, who is kind an XL slob because of his unrivaled affinity for the mysterious light brew that flows from Cheers’ taps like wine.  Here, an EXCLUSIVE synopsis of season two, episode 7: “Old Flames”. So sit back, pour some Pinot and Poland Spring Sparkling, and start admiring the immaculate fluff of Ted Danson’s mane. THIS IS FUCKING CHEERS.

Ok so backstory: Sam and Diane are dating and also pour and serve beers at a Boston bar. SPOILER ALERT : They eventually break up! And then Kirstie Alley somehow gets a job at the bar? But will it be today?! In this installment, originally airing in 1983, Sam’s old friend Dave wants his womanizing bestie back to troll for trollops, and vows to break up Sam and Diane. Let’s begin!

The theme song! Making your way in the world today really DOES take everything you’ve got! Also kind of feel like this show is hilariously 80s in it’s lack of diversity. You “wanna be where people are all the same”? The crowd at Cheers might as well be a Mitt Romney rally. At least Ted Danson seems to have a perpetual tan. UM ALSO, are they promoting alcoholism via “taking a break from all your worries”?

Carla seems to not accept Sam and Diane’s relationship. Is she IN LOVE WITH SAM? OR DIANE?!

Diane was a student when the show started. How is she paying on her loans and buying new silk blouses while working at a bar? Is she teaching her way through grad school? Also love how Diane made TV/America a safe space for snobby, loud mouth broads who get off on believing they’re smarter than everyone else but just want to get railed by a babe who’s intellectually inferior. In an episode in season one,  she’s protesting a sexist barmaid pageant and declares that she’d like to be “the voice of her generation.” I was like I’VE SEEN THE ENEMY AND SHE IS ME. JK JK LUH YU GRL

SAMS BEST FRIEND, Dave the sportscaster, IS TRYING TO BREAK UP SAM AND DIANE!

LOL Sam is feigning amnesia about like banging other chicks to win Diane back. That’s romantic. Yesterday some dude texted me a photo of weed. #ROMANCE.

Ok, also, Cliff and Norm are sort of pathetic.

So Sam and Diane are fighting over Sam’s “little black book” and Sam calls the art that Diane likes “paint splatters.” LOL these guys are s00 incompatible, I don’t think they’ll last. Also kind of weird to think of a time when your boyfriend wasn’t texting a bunch of dumb sloos behind your back and had to call them from a rotary phone instead.

Diane just said “I hate you with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.” Filed away.

OH GOD SAM JUST LEFT THE BAR WITH A PROSTITUTE MASQUERADING AS A STEWARDESS FROM CHICAGO.

Now Diane is like “I want to apologize to Sam!” THE IRONY

Oh god Sam told Diane that he took that chick home. Bad move bro.

Ok they kiss and make up, and then somehow they pick up a couple golf clubs, ostensibly with the intent to beat each other with them. End scene. Like I said: ROMANCE.

Netflix says the next episode is about Coach becoming a “tyrant” when he starts managing a little league team. I just realized that this show is kind of about nothing, but in an overall less successful way than Seinfeld. ARE YOU GETTING THIS, NYT ARTS AND LEISURE?