Knowing full well that I’d selected a plethora of complex music to review by the end of the year, I swore to myself that I would buckle down and let nothing distract me from my endeavors.
Then I let a whole lot of stuff distract me from my endeavors.
The first really wasn’t my fault. My cousin decided to throw me a sort-of surprise Halloween party.
The French are comparative party-poopers when it comes to Halloween, generally dismissing the holiday as hopelessly American. Though attitudes are softening a bit (especially with the younger folks), my cousin experienced a real Halloween when she stayed with us in San Francisco back in the late-90s. I’m not sure it’s true today, but when I lived in the City, Halloween was the best holiday of the year, hands down. All the merchants in the neighborhood gave out goodies to the children, and when it was time for the kiddies to go nighty-night, the adults let the good times roll with flamboyant costumes, plenty of kink and wild-ass parties.
I hadn’t seen my cousin since I returned from Ireland, so when she called to invite me over for a drink to celebrate Halloween, I accepted immediately. Much to my surprise, I arrived to find a small houseful of women wearing Venetian masks and my cousin shouting “Surprise!” in English. “Je ne savais pas que c’était une fête costumée!” I cried, and she responded by handing me an open cardboard box. I looked inside and broke out in laughter. Here’s the backstory: when she came to visit us in the City, she knew nothing about Halloween rituals and obviously had neglected to pack a costume. She went through the usual what-will-I-wear fit of anxiety until my mother stepped in and explained that the two of us could make our own costumes. Maman took about twenty minutes to collect a variety of objects from around the house, threw the objects into a cardboard box, handed us the box and said, “Voila! Faire un déguisement!” (There! Make a costume!) The objects we found were similar to those described in the caption above. In about thirty minutes, my cousin had transformed herself into an alien from outer space and with the help of a ton of makeup, I became Pirate Jenny.
After guiding me to her bedroom to “change,” I initially drew a blank, but I’d been listening to Fats Domino earlier that day and landed on “New Orleans Madam.” I swiped one of my cousin’s hats and borrowed her bright red lipstick to seal the deal. The pie tins on my tits were placed there to shield my nipples from one of my cousin’s guests who still has a lot to learn about boundaries and had given my knockers a squeeze or two when we’d met on previous occasions.
You may wonder why the party was women-only. Well, that is partially my fault. During the same visit that coincided with Halloween, my cousin confessed that she was attracted to women and didn’t know how to deal with it. I told her about my bisexuality and we spent a lot of time talking about shared desires and fears. My coming out was a bit easier because I lived in San Francisco and my parents were unequivocally supportive of my sexual identity; my cousin faced a harder struggle due to ultra-Catholic parents. We continued the dialogue over email after she returned to France, helping each other accept ourselves for who we were and sharing strategies on how to stay safe. The party was female-only because my cousin feels much more comfortable with people who share her sexual orientation (she makes an exception for me, but at least once during every visit, she shakes her head and says something like “I don’t know how you can stand to fuck men”).
Bottom line: I had a good time, drank way too much and lost a couple of days to recovery. And though I’d sworn that I wouldn’t watch the World Series if the Astros were involved, I’m a sucker for an underdog and wished with all my heart that the Phillies would pull off a miracle. I turned off the TV before the Alvarez homer cleared the wall . . . but I lost a couple of more days to that quixotic quest.
Instead of making any vows, I’ll just say I’ll do my best to stay on track and see how that works. Here’s an update of coming attractions:
- My review of The Pentangle’s Basket of Light will appear next Sunday, followed by The Gang of Four’s Entertainment!
- I’ve added Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces to the list.
- I dropped The Shins Oh, Inverted World and tentatively replaced it with Fastball’s All the Pain Money Can Buy. It’s possible I may skip reviewing the whole album and do a “road songs” series that includes “The Way” instead.
- My research on Bitches Brew and Basket of Light inspired the idea of an essay on musical collaboration.
In other news, I deleted my Twitter account the day the big Muskrat took over, so if you’ve been using Twitter to notify you of new reviews, you may want to sign up to receive e-mail notifications of new posts. Use the widget in the right-side column to sign up.
p. s. The midterms are coming up next week and current trends indicate that the Republicans will take control of Congress. “Never underestimate the stupidity of the American people,” my father likes to remind me. I hear people are worried about inflation and crime and think the GOP will address those issues more effectively. If you run into someone who’s leaning toward the GOP, you might want to point out that inflation is a worldwide problem caused by Putin’s war and an ongoing supply chain disruption that no politician can fix, and ask them if they really believe that a party that has vastly increased the number of guns in civilian hands while aiding and abetting a riot that resulted in at least one death, two suicides and over a hundred injuries involving police officers is somehow more qualified to fix the crime problem.
p. s. s. With the Republicans, you go backward; with the Democrats, you’re stuck in neutral. America really needs a third party.
I searched in vain for “New Orleans Madam” by Fats Domino before realizing that it’s not a song title. I’m not a fast thinker, but usually I figure things out eventually. A month or two ago I got an email informing me that you had reviewed Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but I never found the review. Any idea what happened there?
Yes, the forecast for the midterms is looking rather dire. I hope the Democrats can at least hang onto the Senate so they can get judges confirmed. It’s going to be close.
Ha! I wish there was a song with that title! The Yankee Hotel Foxtrot review link is right on the home page in The Latest section, bottom link. Or you can just use this: https://altrockchick.com/2022/10/09/wilco-yankee-hotel-foxtrot/
And good luck with the midterms!
I love the relationship you have with your cousin (and she sounds like an extremely cool human being). Did your partner go with you? Your review of “Bitches Brew” made me want to go back to the album, as your reviews usually do. Psyched for the “Basket of Light” review, Lord that was a band. Have you seen the documentary “Acoustic Routes”? If not, you will thoroughly enjoy it. Trying to stay optimistic, but between my awful job on Rikers Island and the knowledge that a number of terrible people will be in positions of power after this Tuesday, it ain’t easy…thank you again ARC!
No, my partner finally got to visit her parents in Madrid now that the weather has cooled down. My cousin is one of the best friends I’ve ever had and a major reason why I’ve chosen to stay in Nice despite the obvious effects of climate change.
I have seen “Acoustic Routes” and rewatched it for the review; I wish they’d come up with a way to make slo-mo less fuzzy on replays because it was hard to follow Burt’s and Davey’s fingers in real time!
Well, let’s hope for a miracle on Tuesday!
p.s. If you want to write privately, go to my contact page: https://altrockchick.com/2020/11/11/contact-arc/
I’m braced for the next two reviews you have coming up. Two of my favorite LPs. If you don’t like them, I expect I’ll get an interesting and supported opinion.
Well, the suspense will end tomorrow for the Pentangle, but you may have to wait a bit for Gang of Four as the research is taking longer than I thought. Cheers!