I kissed a girl … now get over it.

I frequently let Rhapsody decide what I should listen to based on what it knows about what I’ve listened to recently. This doesn’t always result in playlists I actually like but it does at least relieve me of the burden of trying to decide what I want to hear while I work. And this is how I happened to hear Katy Perry’s “I kissed a girl.” At first I wasn’t paying much attention and assumed it was a remake of Jill Sobule’s song of the same title. But after having heard a few references to Perry’s song in particular I decided to go back and compare. Definitely NOT the same song. This, at least, appeases my annoyance that Perry is getting a lot of attention for this song as if it were original since the song itself is original to her. But the sentiments annoy me. A lot.

In particular I am annoyed by “I kissed a girl just to try it // I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it.” I grew up in a pretty homophobic community so I was a little shocked when I came to college and discovered the degree to which lesbians are fetishized by many straight men. Not real lesbians of course, but the fantasy kind. The kind of girls who kiss other girls while drunk out at the club. Given that, I’m willing to bet that Perry’s boyfriend didn’t mind.

Continue reading “I kissed a girl … now get over it.”

Related fragments of reflection

Five years ago I wrote the following lines in a poem:

The Santa Ana winds
always leave me reeling in fever
unable to sleep.

This might explain why today I feel as if I spent last night partying despite having really had a quiet evening watching TV and folding laundry. I keep slipping into a zombified haze of reflection, despite attempts to actually be productive and make progress on one of my current projects. Of course it isn’t just the winds. Air quality is also lousy as a result of various fires and my throat is dry and scratchy. Lately the phone conversations with my mother start out “so are the current fires anywhere near you?”

Last week I started a job which involves a commute to UCLA three days a week. I’m still figuring out the best time to make the commute within the constraints of a normal workday. Meanwhile I have realized that it has been way too long since I swapped the CDs in my car for something new. Most of what is there is from a hard time in my life and brings with it interesting memories.

Continue reading “Related fragments of reflection”

hitching bath-chairs to boats

There is something fascinating to me about the way certain things stick in one’s memory where they are pulled up to the surface by strange unrelated things.

As a freshman at UW I took an honors comparative literature class that focused on Kafka, Beckett, and Borges. It was intense, strange, and wonderful. The class itself often felt a bit like a Kafka novel in that we were required to write responses each week and a final paper on one of the three authors, but what the professor expected these writings to contain was a mystery. I’m sure I would have found that less weird later in my academic career but at the time the intellectual freedom to do what I wanted with the ideas was a bit scary.

For the final paper I focused on Kafka, reading his letters and some of his stories that we did not read for class. Meanwhile my friend Chris wrote her paper on Beckett. In the course of doing extra reading for her paper she came upon the line “Doubt, Despair, and Scrounging, shall I hitch my bath-chair to the greatest of these?” She used this line in the subject line of an email she sent me (I don’t recall what the email was about but I’m willing to bet that it was related to our uncertainties about the academic work at hand, paired with our relative uncertainties about various romantic entanglements). This line has stuck with me, despite not actually knowing what a bath-chair is nor how this line fits in with the rest of the piece from which it comes (it’s in More Pricks than Kicks, which I seem to recall was even more confusing to me than even the rest of Beckett).

Years later I began listening to Sleater Kinney. I was a late-comer to much of the cool stuff on the Kill Rock Stars label, picking it up long after it was new and hot. I think it was 2004 or so when I began listening to Hot Rock, a good nine years after release of the album and seven years past my semester of immersion in Kafka and Beckett. Still every time I hear the song “The End of You” I find myself jolted into thinking about that snippet of Beckett when I hear the verse which includes the lines:

Tie me to the mast
of this ship and of this band.
Tie me to the greater things
the people that I love.

I seriously doubt this is actually a reference to Beckett. It’s more clearly (taken in the context of the rest of the song) an allusion to The Odyssey but still every time I hear it I think, even if only for a fraction of a moment, of that line and the way I was back then.

I miss the intensity of classes tackling things so unfamiliar they pulled me far out of my comfort zone and made me think things I swear it would never have occurred to me to think on my own. How do you capture that outside the university? Certainly reading widely is one way, but how do you recreate the intensity of classes? Perhaps the only answer is to build a time machine and go hang out with Gertrude Stein and Picasso in Paris.

Smells Like Teen Spirit Testosterone

I commute 60 miles round trip on days when I go to campus. I’m pretty careful about avoiding the times with the worst traffic, but it still works out to somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours in the car. Lately I’ve decided I’m sick and tired of the selection of CDs I have stored in the sidepocket of my door (don’t bother breaking into my car, they’re almost all CDRs from emusic, and I have weird taste) so I’ve switched to radio. It turns out, though, that there aren’t that many stations that I like that actually come in consistently all the way from Altadena to Westwood. So I’ve settled on KROQ. They advertise themselves as the “World famous KROQ” and “LA and O.C.’s only new rock.” I can only conclude from the latter that rock is dead, or at least half dead. Large quantities of the music that gets played regularly is stuff I know from high school. The DJs seem to have a particular penchant for the black Metallica album. I imagine if you listened more regularly than I do it would only take about a week to hear the whole damn album. (The heavy play might be attributable to last year’s live album but I’ve heard songs that don’t appear to be on that album so it doesn’t explain it all). To put this in perspective, if I had had a kid when I was listening to that album obsessively, that kid would now be older than I was then. Add to this the fact that they play a lot of Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili peppers and I started to suspect that their main demographic wasn’t 16 year olds but rather 20- and 30- somethings nostalgic for when they were 16. Of course this suggests that I have no clue whatsoever what “kids these days” listen to. But I’m ok with that. Continue reading “Smells Like Teen Spirit Testosterone”