Dogs, Sweet Things, Johnny Eggz…

I’ve gotta get back into this blog because I keep getting asked to do things that point back to it. Just this month I’ve done a livestream reading to benefit the Wild Project, Tattoos For Women did a multi-page feature on me, I sat in on a podcast with Inebrination, a radio interview with Heavy Metal Han, answered interview questions for a French book about Motorhead and was just informed by someone at KNAC.com that the Cycle Sluts 30th anniversary is coming up and they want to do a piece on the band. I had no idea we even had an anniversary. Anyway, all great avenues to promote myself, but also pressure to shut down the Xbox and create something to promote.

For whatever reason I was born under a lucky star and attention comes whether I ask for it or not. Much like romance, I’ve spent my life embracing it one minute and then pushing it away the next. And now it centers around this little blog, which has been great for me and happily for some of you, but this extended downtime has shut down any urge to pontificate as well. In the face of too much to say, I haven’t felt the urge to say anything.

In the interest of combatting entropy, I’ve decided that until the muse calls, I’ll post some old stories. I have enough of them already written down, everyone enjoys the tales of yore, and it helps me to have them warehoused somewhere.

But before that, as many of you know, recently my dog went missing. He slipped out of my building while I was distracted and then simply disappeared into the ether. It was a hellish day. A dear friend put up a large reward for his return and while I wandered the streets in tears, taping flyers to lamp posts and looking under cars, I got hammered via text by a tag team of scammers who became increasingly threatening as they tried to extort money prior to “returning the dog”. At the end of the day, as I trudged hopeless and aimless outdoors in order not to have to face down a long night of staring at the ceiling in anguish, I got a call from a lovely woman who had picked him up and taken him home when she saw him frightened and alone in front of my building. She refused all reward and told me he was very well behaved. I was extremely lucky…again.

The lesson for me, beyond to always have ID on every collar and harness is that there are many, many, many lovely people out in the world. With all of the turmoil we’ve been through over the last year and a half, it’s easy to get cynical. I was blown away by all of the shares, messages, texts, emails, and visits to my neighborhood to help out. People showed up and searched without even telling me. My posts about it were shared thousands of times. I was blown away by the outpouring of kindness from friends and strangers. And now that he’s found I get stopped on every walk by strangers who are excited to see that he’s safe.

So I guess the message I’d like to impart today is that there is hope for us as a species, and to not to get bogged down in the negative. There are more people in your corner than you know.

ALICE MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
SAM HARISS/DAVE TIERNEY/JOHNNY EGGZ/RAFF/CHRISTA ELIZABETH:

Okay, pre-pandemic I did an interview for Alice Magazine with Sam Hariss and Dave Tierney of The Sweet Things. And because I’m lazy and I like to eat, I asked our friend Johnny Eggz to make dinner so we could sit around and talk and I’d record it and make that the interview. Johnny plays guitar for Sheer Terror, is an amazing cook and one of the funniest people I know, and his wife Christa is awesome.

The article was published, with photos taken by the Uber-talented Johan Vipper. I can’t find it online so if anyone can, feel free to send me the links and I’ll add them here. Because we talked for so long, a lot of bits had to be cut out. So here’s some of the excerpts that didn’t make the cut.

———————————————————

ME: All right, let’s do this. Where did you guys get together? There was mention of a Hebrew summer camp? Or did I dream that?

DAVE: I think our bio says we met at a bar mitzvah. 

SAM: It does. I had known Lorne from around. We had talked about playing together but somehow he got the idea that I was flakey (laughs). 

JOHNNY EGGZ: Naaaaah!

ME: That sounds about right. 

SAM: Regardless of that he suggested me for a tour that Dave was doing. Joan Jett had just passed on me for playing with her band so I was kind of bummed…

DAVE: And I didn’t have the luxury of being as discerning as Joan. 

ME: So Lorne suggested you for The Sharp Lads?

DAVE: Yeah, we were doing a tour back in January of 2015 and I asked Lorne, who couldn’t do it, and then suggested Sam.

SAM: So that happened, and then we were on the road, and Dave and I had kind of clicked musically, we were into the same bands – The Black Crowes and a lot of that kind of shit, whoever ripped off Keith Richards essentially. And I wanted to be in one of them. We were in Baltimore and Dave suggested we start a band; but he had two other bands already, so I told him that I would only do it if it wasn’t a side project and that he had to quit his other bands. I don’t know how I had the balls to say that because I had nothing going on at the time. But he agreed. So he finished out two more tours with The Sharp Lads and then wrote the first two Sweet Things songs in New Orleans. And then we had our first practice and I didn’t go. 

DAVE: Well, me and Lorne had been talking about doing this band for a while and then he said, “Get HIM to be our bass player.” 

RAFF: Poor Lorne…

DAVE: Yeah, and now we’re in this life sentence…Haha! So I was waiting for them to show up at practice and I worked on a cover of “Cokin” and then wrote “Love to Leave” 

RAFF: Which is still one of everybody’s favorite songs. 

DAVE: Yeah, it’s still like maybe our best song!

RAFF: So, your new album “In Borrowed Shoes On Borrowed Time” is veering into country territory, which people probably aren’t expecting. 

SAM: Well, we really like cowboy shirts! And we all kind of privately really like country and realized that everyone else in the band knew what good country was and had a knack for it. And you get bored listening to the same three rock and roll albums so it was something new and isn’t being done well by many people we know right now. So it’s kind of a cool little niche to mix with what we’re already doing. 

DAVE: We’re not doing it too consciously; we’re just following the muse. But you tend to find more good songwriters in the country genre. Or for me maybe it’s just ones I didn’t know because I didn’t listen to it growing up. I thought it was an obscure type of ethnic music and I didn’t know anyone who listened to it. I probably listened to some stuff that I didn’t know was country? Like my parents had Neil Young albums, which some of that kind of stuff could fall under the category.

RAFF: Yeah, but growing up we didn’t think that was country. Or I didn’t. 

DAVE: Yeah, it doesn’t make it onto that rack in the record store but it’s really not that different.

SAM: I got into it first and foremost because of Keith. I liked Faraway Eyes and that was the gateway.

RAFF (joking): So you like Keith Richards, do ya?

DAVE: I think once, a long time ago, I meant to download a Flamin’ Groovies record and I accidentally got the Flying Burrito Brothers instead. And I loved it. 

SAM: Yeah, and then it went from Keith to Gram Parsons. Who, side note, just couldn’t hold his heroin. 

RAFF: So let’s talk about the drumming situation. It’s just the three of you right now with fill ins because you lost Darren Fried?

SAM: We had a great replacement for a day but he’s French and couldn’t stay in the country. Darren was great for us. He had a good mixture of two things that he always says…

DAVE: He can play rock music and he’s a hard hitter but he can find the groove. He can put the tiniest bit of swing in it that makes you want to move.

SAM: And he can fill out a pair of denim shorts like nobody else.

WIVES HATING BANDS:

JOHNNY EGGZ: If you’re married to some kinda broad who makes you quit your band, it’s not gonna last. 

RAFF: But a lot of guys that we know have this happen. I know so many men who married women who thought it was cute in the beginning and then not so much once they’re married. 

JOHNNY EGGZ: They aaaaall do. 

RAFF: I don’t! I would never! I feel like it’s the same thing as marrying a painter and then telling them they can never create art again. Why would you want to take something that big away from someone if it made them happy? 

JOHNNY EGGZ: But you’re not a civilian. When I met my wife I realized she’s not a civilian. She’s an actress, she wrote movies, she sings in bands. She understands. Who else is gonna say, “Oh, you’re gonna be in France for my birthday, you’re not gonna be home for Christmas? Okay, have a good time!” Doesn’t happen. You did it, you were in the Cycle Sluts, that’s why you get it. 

SAM (joking, to Raff): Luckily that hasn’t happened to us!

RAFF: Haha! I hated it all from the get. Okay, what’s the plan for this year?

DAVE: The new record is coming out May 24th (2019), music video coming out after that, touring after that. 

JOHNNY EGGZ: Who’s putting the record out?

DAVE: Spaghetty Town Records out of Georgia. They have some really cool bands on their label. 

RAFF: Funded by Wendigo Productions. Put that in there.

SAM: Well, you’re going to be writing this! Just put down your internal monologue!

RAFF: No one needs to hear that. But yes, I’m gonna paraphrase the hell out of all of this. 

DAVE: Eight days in the UK in early June…

SAM: Tentative talk about maybe making it over to France. 

JOHNNY EGGZ: So where’d you record? How’d you do your deal?

DAVE: We did our album with Matt Chiaravalle, we started in July 2018. 

SAM: Yeah, seven months.

JOHNNY EGGZ: Seven months??!!

DAVE: Yeah, at Flux Studios and then a ton of overdubs at Mercy Sound where we brought in a lot of guests. 

RAFF: Let’s talk about that.

SAM: We got Alejandro Escovedo on the record. It’s funny, because I think of him as an Americana/country kind of artist, and a lot of these guys that we’ve become cool with like that, we like because that’s what they do. And they like us because they like punk. So I could tell when he came in that he was thinking that he was going to be able to do something where he could do a bit of yelling and we made him do his usual thing. So we got him on a second song that was still not yelling, but more of a ballad. And you know, he was in The Nuns, so I told him we should cover that Nuns song, what’s it called?

DAVE: Neurotic Jew?

SAM: No, it’s even worse, like Cheap Jew or something like that?

DAVE: Uptight Jew? The singer, I think, was Jewish?

[Ed. note – Google tells us it’s “Decadent Jew”]

SAM: We’re all Jews, and nobody dislikes Jewish people as much as Jewish people, because we had to grow up with each other. Anyway, so yes, we had Alejandro, and the Uptown Horns, who have played with everybody from the Stones to James Brown to Billy Joel…

DAVE: Plus our good friend Liza Colby who has been singing with us for a long time, Brian Hurd from Daddy Long Legs on the tin sandwich, and Rob Clores on keyboards. 

SAM: Yes, he played with The Black Crowes and Tom Jones. Oh, and shout out to the guy in the comments section on the article about us in Metal Sucks who said we were “slightly less metal than the Blues Travelers”,– Rob also played with The Blues Travelers. So full circle there!

DAVE: Rob is like our secret weapon. We asked him to play piano and organ and he came in with a clavinet.

THE SOPRANOS:

JOHNNY EGGZ: I was almost on that show.

RAFF: Really? What happened?

JOHNNY EGGZ: So I’m on the fuckin’ Staten Island Ferry talking to this guy Doc on the phone about how he had moved to 168th Street. And I was saying, “168th Street? Motherfucker you moved UPSTATE. Jesus Christ, what the fuck!” On and on, whatever I’m saying and there’s this woman across from me reading a book and going like this for the whole half hour ride. (Motions looking over the top of the book)

And then finally I get off the phone and she closes the book and puts it on her lap and goes, “Are you an actor?” 

I said, “Nah! I’m a guitar player.” And she said, “Do you wanna be?” 

And I’m like, “All right. The broad wants to fuck me. I’ll bite.” She gives me her card and says be in her office at 10 am the next day. I still don’t think it’s real but I thought, eh, what the hell. This is gonna be fun. 

Next day I go to the office and I walk in and I get into the lobby and say, “Rita Powers?” and they send me in the elevator and it goes up and opens and the sign says, “Powers Management”. So I think, “Shit, this is fucking real!”

She sits me down and she tells me she’s going to get me the Sopranos. And I tell her I don’t know how to act. She says, “You just be you. But we have to build you a little and get you in front of the camera so you get to know what the hell is going on. They’re not gonna put up with someone who doesn’t know so you’re gonna have to do some things before that.”

So I’m like, “Cool!” I signed the contract, now she’s my agent. The first thing she has for me is a Nokia commercial. So I show up in Times Square, outside, for this commercial, looking like the Fonz. She’s not there, so I’m walking around like a fuckin’ asshole that doesn’t know anything. I’m like fucking Crocodile Dundee being friendly to all the other actors because I don’t know that actors and actresses are fuckin’ assholes. And they fuckin’ hated me. I’m walking around saying, “How ya doin’? How ya doin’?” And they’re just miserable people. 

So they realize that I don’t belong and they’re like, “How did you get this?” So I tell them, well, I was sitting on the ferry and blah, blah… And NOW they really hate my fuckin’ guts. Because these people have been working their whole lives to get this and I’m just some jabroni that wandered in off a boat and said, “Hey, I’m an actor now!” 

So they’re looking at me and I’ve got the black pompadour and my whole deal, like a heroin addicted fuckin’ Dean Martin. And they say, “This isn’t gonna work.” And I’m like, whaddya mean, this is me! But they pound my hair down and they put me in a hoodie that says Nokia on it and they give me fuckin’ pom poms. 

Finally Rita shows up and I’m like, “What the fuck is this?? Look at me, I’m holding fuckin’ POM POMS!” 

She’s like, “It’s acting!” And I say, “I’m a guitar player! This isn’t me!” And she looks at me and says, “Well what fuckin’ label are you signed to right now? None? Okay, you’re an actor. Go act!” And I fuckin’ did it. A fuckin’ Nokia commercial!

BANDS SWEET THINGS WANT TO PLAY WITH…

RAFF: Okay, back to music…Sweet Things, give me a list of bands you’d like to play with. Let’s put it out into the universe. 

SAM: The Rolling Stones.

RAFF: Yeah…no. 

DAVE: I wanna play with Ryan Bingham. He’s my favorite kind of songwriter these days. And I like the new Jenny Lewis album. 

JOHNNY EGGZ: Jerry Lewis??

DAVE: Jenny or Jerry Lewis. We’ll take either. Old 97’s…

SAM: Blackberry Smoke, Chris Robinson’s band As the Crow Flies…

DAVE: When I was younger people always told me I looked like Chris Robinson. I don’t get it anymore but like 10 years ago. When you have long hair you always get comparisons to whoever. Dumb shit, like Kurt Cobain.

SAM: I get Slash all the time and I look nothing like him. It’s just the hair and hats. 

PUNK ROCK:

JOHNNY EGGZ: I hate Led Zeppelin. Hate ‘em.

RAFF: Really? Well, you’re a real punk, so it makes sense. 

JOHNNY EGGZ: I hate all of it. I hate Led Zeppelin. I hate Pink Floyd. I hate Journey.

RAFF: Well, I tried to explain to Sam that when we were kids you had to align with one or the other. So I liked Led Zeppelin but I couldn’t admit it to the people I was hanging out with because that wasn’t our identity. We were punks. 

DAVE: My stock answer when I was in high school was “I like punk and Led Zeppelin”. 

JOHNNY EGGZ: I think I hated them more because I hated their fans. 

RAFF: Well, there was such a divide at that time. Way more for Johnny and my generation than for yours. You were either a stoner kid that listened to Zeppelin or you were a punk that got shit in the school hallways. 

JOHNNY EGGZ: It was fucking HARD. Being 14 or 15 years old and being a punk rocker, a hardcore kid. I got my ass kicked for having blue hair. “Freak! Fag!” 

DAVE: Yeah, when I was really little Green Day was the thing. So we thought we were punk rock. 

RAFF: And to me, I just thought, great, now we’re rehashing and watering down this shit? I love them as people. Billie Joe in particular is, in my mind, one of the loveliest humans to grace this planet, but it was for kids and I wasn’t a kid by then. Although now when I hear their songs I think I was too hard on them, they’re great writers.

JOHNNY EGGZ: I’m sure they’re great guys! But my God, don’t make this music. Unless they want us on the tour! Then I’m all over it. 

RAFF: Well, D Generation toured with them and I traveled on a few of the dates as a girlfriend, which is so annoying to bandmates but somehow it happened. So I was in France and England for a short while and they were awesome. So generous, so fun, so cool. They would hold up a show if the audience wasn’t there yet to make sure that D Gen got to play to the crowd, which was all little kids with green hair. 

JOHNNY EGGZ Lemme tell ya. D Gen is the best band out of New York that didn’t get over the hump. Best band that never made it, period. They should have been the biggest band in the world. They were great in the cities, you just couldn’t put them over in Wisconsin. They were too smart for the room in the smaller towns. The resurgence of punk was right there. Every asshole band was huge and D Gen was better than them all but they didn’t dumb themselves down enough for mass consumption. 

HARDCORE: 

RAFF: Well, hardcore has never been the most glamorous of genres.

JOHNNY EGGZ: No. But other bands get broads coming to their show–Madball, and Ignostic Front, Jimmy [of Murphy’s Law] gets the girls. It’s not Sheer Terror though. Look at us! (points to a poster of the band on the wall).

SAM: Well, your logo is a bulldog.

JOHNNY EGGZ: No, I’m talking about the picture of us. You know what I mean? We’re just not, know …

CHRISTA: Underwritten by Bausch and Lomb.

JOHNNY EGGZ:  Yeah. Paul’s onstage [frontman Paul Bearer]. He looks at us, and just goes, “We got an endorsement from Pearl Vision Center.”

RAFF:  Haha! I like Paul. He’s funny.

JOHNNY EGGZ : He’s probably one of the funniest people I know. 

RAFF: But in this very dry kind of way that I find entertaining.

JOHNNY EGGZ: In a weird kinda way. He comes up with the weirdest shit, just … goes on, and on, and on with it. Like, we’re in a van. We’re driving fucking nine hours to the next town. Jason, the guy with the glasses standing next to me [on the poster], he’s heavy. He’s 350 pounds. You see Anthony, all the way on the other end? He’s young. He’s only 30 years old, and he’s little, very little. He’s, like, standing on his tippy toes to look like that in the picture. Paul will be like, “Jay,” that’s the heavy guy, “If we were caught in a plane crash, and we were stranded on an island, and Anthony was very sick and too weak, would you let him suckle from your breast, if that meant he would live?” 

(Everyone erupts in laughter)

Then, Jay is like, “NO. The fuck you talking about?” Then, Paul would be like, “You hear that, Anthony? He’d let you die.” 

And we’re all laughing and you think it’s over, but he just keeps going. “Now, you mean to say, if that was the ONLY way he could survive, you wouldn’t let him–”

SAM: Suckle from your breast?

JOHNNY EGGZ: Jay says, “I’m a guy! I don’t lactate!” “Okay, let’s say you DID lactate, you COULD lactate, would you give sustenance?” It just goes on and on. Then, Jay’ll put the headphones so now he doesn’t even hear it. Now, Jay’s out of it. And Paul’s just going on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Then Jay’ll take the headphones off an hour later, and he’ll hear what Paul is saying, and he’ll be like, “This is still fucking going on?”

NUDITY:

JOHNNY EGGZ: I’m the naked guy. I’m always naked. It cuts the tension when the band is bickering. 

RAFF: Just to get naked?

JOHNNY EGGZ: Just get naked, and just walk in. You can’t sell it. You walk in the room, and be like, “What’s up, guys? What’s up? I heard some yelling. What’s everybody yelling about? Anybody got any potato chips?”

RAFF: Dave could probably get naked, but Sam never would.

DAVE: Yeah, I’d get naked. That can be my job.

Fluidity

Sam and I have decided to change the parameters of our relationship. Which I suppose is another way of saying we’ve broken up. But our situation has been so unusual from the get that to call it a standard breakup would be misleading.

If it were a bit more normal I probably wouldn’t put out this open blog entry. Breakups are always too complicated and painful and personal to sum up well in words. But people have been so fascinated by our connection–some creating distorted rumors and suppositions, some just understandably curious, that the story might as well come from the horse’s mouth. And it’s easier for me to put it down here than have to explain and re-explain to everyone in my social media orbit.

Despite this, 2018 has been pretty great so far and I am clearer than ever on who I am and where I’m going. This is a welcome change from the confusion, self-hatred, and sorrow I experienced during 2016 and 2017 that Sam helped me navigate through. I feel infinitely lighter and more optimistic in general.

He and I came together at a time when we needed each other but didn’t know it. It made no sense to me in the moment. Why would a 24 year old (at the time) be interested in spending quality hours with a woman as old as his mother?  And vice versa. Why would I damage the comfortable, partnered existence that I had and had loved to enter into something so clearly unwise? I had fully intended to spend the rest of my life with my ex. It’s still difficult to wrap my brain around it sometimes. Looking back I can see that I was in denial about some aspects of him and about some aspects of our life together.

Many people in the orbit assumed that hormonal changes had driven me out of my mind. And it is partially true–there was an element of uncontrollable madness that took over steering the ship. I was so confused about what was happening inside of me that I coped by partying and running from silence. In quiet moments my brain never stopped racing. In my retrospective mind’s eye the images from that time period are midnight blue tinged and spinning, like a drunken polar night that goes on for months into years.

That murky phase is done, not to be repeated. My wise mother says that once we learn something fully it becomes a tool we add to our personal toolbox, then it’s unnecessary to have to purchase it again. Now I understand that my soul insisted upon change that my brain and heart didn’t want or understand. There was a rhino-sized weight of baggage that needed release and I couldn’t do it in the relationship I was in. I had to burn myself down to bitter ash to make that happen. It was excruciating, devastating. But at the end of the tunnel I found some self-forgiveness and let go of crap I’ve carried since childhood, maybe from other lifetimes.

Throughout all of this soul-searching chaos, there has been this stalwart kid who is not in any way equipped to handle the midlife crisis of a woman who is high-pitched on a good day. He hung in nonetheless. He still hangs in, with patience and acceptance of who I am at any given moment. And he has taught me some things. That I can trust some people. That life doesn’t always behave in predictable ways but that I can trust my inner voice, no matter how far from the beaten path it sends me. That sometimes our spirit might be ahead of our thought process. That love doesn’t always follow the rules.

I have also learned quite a bit about societal perceptions about aging which is my mind are often erroneous and imprisoning–serving to delude us into thinking that sickness and decrepitude are inevitable, and that people automatically become undesirable and uninteresting after the first blush of youth fades. This mentality is outdated and I refuse to adhere to it.

Most of Sam’s male friends are unbothered by the age difference between him and me. I have noticed that his buddies see women as people more than men my age. Which is not to denigrate my peers, just to say that there is an ease between the sexes that we didn’t have growing up. Some of my male friends in my age group initially found Sam’s presence somehow personally threatening and took it out on him by treating us and/or him like a joke. I still have near-strangers on facebook adding snide comments under photos, as if by denigrating him they can somehow take the sting out of it for themselves.

Women in all age groups veer wildly on opinion. Some women I know, and some that I don’t, have sent me facebook messages with enthusiastic variations on “You go girl!” I’ve been extended fist bumps at parties. Then at other times Sam and I have experienced women’s anger toward me when they figure out what’s up. Young women sulk at my thievery. Women my age are much more straightforward. We overheard one growl, after groping him, mind you, “Why is he so interested in HER? She’s one of US.” Another time a woman standing next to us in a bar angrily and repeatedly demanded to know my age, with no pretense of civility. To which I finally responded, “Old enough to know that I don’t have to tell you my fucking age.”

But both my closest male and female friends have always remained supportive and understanding, despite whatever misgivings they may have or had. And in the end, after being forced to examine my insecurities about myself and the effects of time, I arrived at a place where I don’t care so much. I would love to look 25; I have every beauty gadget available for purchase. But for the most part I’m comfortable in my skin. I feel loved and lovable, and Sam helped and helps with that. He is a conscientious and caring soul and there are deep reasons that we came together.

But we have always known that our connection would have to be fluid. He has things to learn that he can’t do with a hybrid girlfriend/mom padding every fall. He needs to make his own stupid mistakes on his own. He needs to practice on some little girls before he commits to a lifetime with a woman. I love him and I want him to have everything in the world without being held back. And while I don’t know whether I’ll ever go back to a “normal” relationship with someone closer to my own age, I do occasionally enjoy the company of an adult who can pick up the tab and do their own laundry. I want to wake up early and meditate and go to the gym. He wants to stay up til 5 am every night and close the bars. It’s natural that we would be in different places in life.

So we’ve both come to the conclusion that while we wish to remain partners in crime as much as possible, we are not going to call one another girlfriend or boyfriend anymore. We are committed to remaining close and being gentle and communicative with one another if/when other people show up in our lives.

Which of course is easier said than done and this weekend, right about the time I was twisting my arm patting myself on the back for being the most mature human being to ever walk the planet, I had an emotional meltdown that involved much weeping and irrational panic. Separation and change, no matter how small or necessary, feel like death to me. I hate it. I want everything to stay the same and everyone to belong to me and me only. But Sam was there to talk me down and assure me that he wasn’t going anywhere.

So that is another gift of this connection, the very fact that it isn’t a linear march into retirement means that it can roll with the punches. When I was young I thought the only real love was romantic, and that romantic love was all about drama and insanity and passion and great Wuthering Heights highs and lows. That was draining and terrible and bad for my health. Then I thought I would find that one person to stay with for the rest of my life. Which I did. Then I crashed that car into a tree where it exploded and burned my eyebrows off. Now I value all the love in my life equally. My friends, my family, my animals–they’re all pieces of the puzzle that make me whole. There is so much love in the world to be had if our hearts are open to it. I’m not attached to form anymore.

Thank you friends, for reading, and for your constant support.

With Sam smaller

Fergie and Me

I’ve been getting my ass handed to me all over the place over the last few years. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Lately things have been cheerful. I’ve accepted that my ex-partner is not the stellar friend or even human being that I once believed he was and I’ve stopped trying to bridge the gap. It’s been interesting to finally understand how skewed my thinking can be when I am viewing things through the muddy glasses of self-doubt and recrimination. I was so convinced that I was unworthy that I couldn’t see anything but my own flaws, and I overlooked way too much and accepted way too little as a result. Now I’m not asking for things that will not be given, nor am I planning on giving any more. Sometimes the rear view mirror reveals more than expected.

I’m also clear that Sam, while remaining one of my closest people, has much to experience in his life that cannot always include me, and vice versa. We’re still attached at the hip most days, and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon, but it is not a relationship in the normal sense of the word.

Anyway, this is not another relationship blog. Yawn to that. I’m just saying I’m in a pretty independent space right now and that information is coming in hard and fast from all different places. Exes and onstage alike.

So I was asked to sing at the last Sally Can’t Dance party that happened on Sunday, this one a tribute to the Stones “Some Girls”. Sam and I were supposed to sing a duet at the Cramps one a few months ago but we bailed bc he was going to be out of town and I didn’t think I’d be any good at a Lux vocal. And we love the Stones and listen to that album constantly, so it seemed appropriate. We picked “Lies”. It’s short, Sam could sing an easy back up for me and then do his own song, which was one not on the album – “Happy”.

Alas. Alack.

I would never compare myself to Fergie, but the fact that she’s having a bad week musically has not escaped my attention after my own night. I like her, she’s sexy and cool and seems down to earth and fun in interviews. And now she’s had her ass handed to her over her noodley version of the national anthem. Lots of ass-carrying in this life, whether you’re famous or not.

So here’s how mine went down. And then I’ll tell you what I learned from it.

I can carry a tune and I am comfortable with a microphone in my hand. I’ve had lots of experience onstage so I’m not shaky about it. But I am fully aware that my voice is limited and I am not a “real” musician. I have no desire to be in a band anymore and prefer working behind the scenes. I’ve never played an instrument and I do a lot of counting in my head to know when to come in on verses or choruses. I can’t harmonize for shit. BUT I have charisma and I’m fun and I’ll dress up and that makes up for the not always stellar vocals.

Because I am not someone who jams or sings regularly anymore, I try to prepare as much as possible ahead of time for these one and done guest appearances. I’ll listen to the song over and over again, counting bars and writing the lyrics down until I know exactly what and when I’m singing. “Lies” by the way, is a mumbly mess of lyrics.

I thought I had it down pretty well. It’s not a standard verse chorus verse chorus arrangement, but it’s a two minute song where you’re primarily yelling. Two verses, two sort of choruses, a lot of repeating the word “lies” over and over again and then you’re out. Easy peasy.

When I did Motorhead’s “I’ll Be Your Sister” last year I walked into rehearsal and we banged it out perfectly in two takes. The musicians were all friends of mine and everything was nice and tight and to the recorded versions.

This time I didn’t know anyone. And while they were all excellent players–professional, friendly, well-respected in the business–they were much looser with the songs, which is appropriate for the Stones, not as appropriate for me. I don’t do loose very well and after the beginning verses I couldn’t consistently tell when I was supposed to come in. We ran through it twice, sloppily, and though I felt nervous, the band leader assured me that he would cue me and I figured we’d be good as long as I kept my eye on him.

That night one performer after another got up and pretty much killed it. Everyone was on point and I still thought I’d be fine. I always am, in one way or another. And I had really good eyelashes on, a present from Zoe Stark. They were so big and lush that Sam said, referring to his transgender sister, who is gorgeous– “You look like my brother!” High praise indeed. It’s hard to go wrong when your makeup is right.

But onstage things go at a much faster pace and you can’t pause to regroup. Sam and I got up and made it through the verses okay. Then the rest of it collapsed in on itself. I had no idea where to jump in and I kept looking around for the cues that didn’t come. Sam was following me so he was equally flummoxed. I stood there gaping at the band in confusion and then, boom, the song was done. They just hammered through the second half without any cues or vocals.

Mortifying.

I did what all good singers do after a bad show. I drank ALL the tequila and cried to anyone within earshot. Sam reassured me that we could make people delete the video and then we’d just have awesome photos left behind. Dina Regine, who you should be listening to if you aren’t already, told me it was fine and to own it un-apologetically. I nearly burst into tears when she said that because she’s so talented and kind. Erik Toast, one of my favorite frontmen ever, reminded me of the creative and slightly confusing way he butchered “Ace of Spades” at the Motorhead Sally. Which, btw, I thought he did on purpose, so I guess owning it really is the way to go.

And then I had yet another drink with Mick Stitch, who is family to me. And before I continue, can I acknowledge how lucky I am that all of these amazing people are around to comfort and advise? Best rock and roll life ever, even when it’s not.

Mick and I have known each other for a very long time, since we were kids really. My sister and I have a nickname for him that resulted from seeing him passed out naked in my apartment regularly when he went out with her many years ago. I have promised not to use it in public anymore but I will tell you that it has something to do with the fact that he has a great ass.

Mick did an impeccable version of “Respectable” that night. It was snotty, sexy, and on point: one of the highlights of the show for me. Talk about owning it; he made that song his bitch. I told him that I just didn’t hear my song live the way I heard it on the album and that it threw me, hard. I told him how embarrassed I was at the performance, in that packed room and bookended by so many spectacular renditions.

Mick told me he had the same experience in the rehearsal, but he made the band repeat his song over and over again until he felt it was right. He told me that you have to claim your space of leading the band when you’re singing. That was the rubber mallet of “Oooooh” hitting me over head.

DUH! That hadn’t even occurred to me as a possibility. Once again I was so insecure and worried about taking up space, about not being good enough, that I handed over my destiny to strangers who could not possibly anticipate my needs and had very little stake in my success or failure. I knew instinctively what would work for me and I never thought to ask for it.

I always do this to myself. I do it in relationships, I do it in jobs, I do it onstage. But why? Why am I always willing to subvert imperative, yet simple things in order to appear more pleasing or to acknowledge that someone else is better or more worthy than I am? The band wouldn’t have cared if I made them repeat the song a few more times. At worst it might have been annoying. It was my own fear that put me in that difficult position. I’d rather take a chance at sucking in front of a packed room than merely annoy a few talented musicians.

I think this is something many women do, and definitely something most women my age were trained to do. We are afraid of taking up too much space. I was taught to “be nice”, to the point that it crippled me and got me date raped and caused me to confuse abuse with love. I was never taught how to say “no” gracefully or to hold my ground with ease. So I’ll accommodate and accommodate and then out of the blue explode from the pressure and cause unnecessary damage and/or scare the crap out of everyone.

Anyway, beyond the actual lesson, very much a two minute tempest in a teapot, especially now that I’ve had a couple of days to process. Sam dropped me off at home at the end of the night and I went upstairs and cried into my favorite cat until his white fur was smudgey with mascara. Cleansing for me, not so much for him. The next day I retreated into my personal comfort zone of video games, spaghetti, and early 70’s Todd Rundgren. My girlfriends all texted very kind messages. They love me and would cheer wildly if I opened a bag of potato chips onstage. Jesse Malin called because he’s the greatest ex-boyfriend in the history of ex-boyfriends, knows me well, and wanted to make sure I wasn’t spiraling into my standard overly-dramatic hole.

I assured him I wasn’t. I’m great and grateful. Sometimes you’re gonna blow your two minutes in the spotlight and that’s okay. No one died or got fired; I didn’t have the entire NBA smirking at me like a bunch of dicks.

Life goes on. But I did think it was worthy of noting for anyone who operates the same way. It doesn’t have to be about music; it applies to all interactions in life. It is okay to ask for what you need. It is okay to receive what you need without apologizing. There is enough for everyone and making yourself smaller to appease other people or because you are scared of asking deprives both you and the world of your bigness.

This is, IMHO, the reason that some women get strident and rageful later in life. They said yes one too many times and now they’re gonna kill you if you ask them to pass the salt. Subverting ourselves either crushes us into dust or turns us into monsters. And the world desperately needs all of our bigness right now. There’s no more time for false humility or petty bullshit. So next time I’m gonna rehearse the shit out of it until grown-ass musicians are crying into their beer and waving cues at me from across the room.

But check it: great photo from Jeff Smith–eyelashes on fleek. Don’t worry, I took them off and put them back in their box before smearing the cat. I am a professional, after all.

Jeff Smith

Namaste, bitches.

 

Freedom

I’m still a little unsure of my footing on what to write here so the entries have continued to be sporadic. But I’m closer to being on track.

First reason for hesitation is that it feels petty to write about my middle-class white girl rock and roll spiritual journey when there is so much heaviness happening everywhere. The other reason is that the last couple of years were so difficult and complicated that I wasn’t sure how much I could state publicly without invading other people’s privacy.

Now I am moving forward and leaving the past behind and it feels amazing. And I know in my gut is that spirit is a area where we can foster deep, if less immediately obvious change. So as I learn more about my own personal growth, I feel an urge to tell my friends in the hope that in some small way it can help them. And then maybe our happiness and wisdom will osmosis into the world. So that’s what I will continue to write about until other inspirations hit me. I don’t care about having a huge blog following, this has always been primarily about entertaining and connecting to friends and like-minded souls.

But first, let’s have a photo of my cat, because I find him amusing and I think you should too. He is currently suffering due to the overly warm temperature in my apartment. I’m sitting in front of the computer in my underwear, too lazy to get up and shut all the windows and turn on the AC. He knows that if he looks as tragic as possible I’ll relent and get off my ass to arrange his ultimate comfort.

Beep hot

Note the glazed eyes of suffering. He’s his mother’s son. #highdramaatalltimes

I’ve been traveling a lot lately. This summer I had a golden opportunity to be a guest at Canyon Ranch, which is a high end resort spa in Massachusetts. I ran amuck while there, in the best way possible: massages and facials and squirreling free tampons and razors and meditating under trees and ordering more food than anyone should. Most importantly I got some therapeutic energy work, which was recommended by a clairvoyant I saw there who stated most emphatically that I could use a tune-up. Her assessment was that while I am personally grounded, the city creates a static around all of us that needs to be cleared.

I’ve had reiki but this was a bit different, so I didn’t know what to expect. I met with a lovely woman who permeated calm and warmth. She had me lay on a massage table and proceeded, for the next hour and a half, to put her hands my legs or arms, meditate for a while, then make some stunningly on point statement about my life and headspace.

Some highlights:

Her: “Do you do a lot of vocalizing? Or do you have a lot of loud sounds coming into your ears?”
Me: “Um…do decades of screeching into microphones and standing too close to speakers count?”
Her: “Yep. That would explain the tear in your throat chakra. Let’s fix it.”

Then she would sit quietly for another 10 minutes or so, repairing or sorting, whatever one does when clearing another person’s energy field.

She looked up at one point and gave me a rundown of my relationship with my mother that was so accurate it nearly knocked me off the table. Yikes! Then she sat for a while and took a deep breath and said, “I keep hearing the words, ‘I’m sorry.”

I burst into the dreaded burning tears that were always hovering near the surface. You have no idea, lady. Or I guess you do. How do you explain without blubbering all over a stranger that you’ve been walking around for two years with that mantra chugging like a train in your head? I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, over and over and over again, waking, sleeping, a constant, desperate prayer for forgiveness? I tried to suck it up. She handed me a tissue and said kindly, “Let’s clear that out too.”

I walked out from her office feeling emotionally drained and 100 lbs lighter. And that relief has grown. It’s as if the quality of light in the air is different now: brighter, sharper. While some of that probably has to do with the simple passage of time, whatever the reason, I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I finally pulled Drew off of his pedestal and picked myself off my bloody knees.

This is the lesson that I’m getting: sometimes our souls push us to do things that we might not understand intellectually, that others might not understand, but that are necessary to hurtle us forward. Sometimes we get blasted out of our comfort and find ourselves in a mess that takes a long time to clean up. It doesn’t make us bad people. We all experience so much shame and sadness over our perceived failures and losses. Change is grubby, painful, unwelcome, but sometimes mistakes and destruction are  necessary to shift.

I have been forced to face myself and forgive myself. I feel a gentleness toward myself now that I never did before. I’m so far from perfect but that’s true of all of us.

Onward and upward. Here’s the rundown.

I am ready to have more nature in my life and I love going to see my family in Michigan every summer. I took Sam with me this time, or rather he and Storm flew out for the last 4-5 days of the trip. It was heavy because I always considered my family and home Drew’s as well. I never expected that to change. But Drew doesn’t want anything to do with it anymore, which is his prerogative. Sam was brave to step into that space and he did great. We babysat foster kittens and swam and ate too much and got close in ways that we hadn’t before. It was nice to get out of the rock and roll context and just be people for a little while.


Our relationship is a strange one. The age difference is so vast that our priorities are naturally different. We both know that eventually things will have to change. He has a lot to experience yet, mistakes to make on his own and out from under my protection, and I expect I’ll be ready for a more equal partner at some point. It’s sad but it’s not. He entered into my life to help me shift, to cushion some blows, and there is nothing but love on either side. We’ll always be close in whatever form it takes. For now it’s day by day with a consciousness toward being gentle with one another.

As I relax into myself, I am feeling the vibrations around me more clearly, and am more conscious of how my thoughts help create the nature of that vibrational energy. Which means that if I want to feel good, I have to choose thoughts that keep me in a higher frequency. This is tough to do sometimes because I love being shitty and my go-to defense is anger. I enjoy talking shit and being pissed off; it keeps me from feeling vulnerable. But I’m working to catch myself when I start down that spiral. It doesn’t mean I have to go all Pollyanna or lie to myself about my happiness levels. But it helps to ask, “Is this a thought process that is going to raise my energy or bring me down?” If it’s the latter, I try to let it go for the day.

Upcoming:

I’m headed to London in September to help Wendigo host a gallery show at the Sanctum Soho hotel. This is going to be extra fun because my good friend Jyrki 69 is flying in to join.

Flyer

I’m also working to organize the second leg of the Dirty Sweet Sounds Tour, in October, on the East Coast.

DIRTYSWEETSOUNDSTOUR2both.jpg

I’m not traveling with the bands this time. Last time in LA was enough. Especially after I woke up and found this in my bed.

Magic Castle

I am ready to adopt a new dog, so I’m looking around for a tiny jerk in need that I can take to work with me. I desperately want a Papillon, which isn’t easy to find via rescue, so if anyone sees a stray Pap wandering the mean streets, drop me a line.

You might notice there are ads around the blog now. It’s a little unsightly but if I can make a buck or two on here I am not opposed. If it doesn’t make a difference I’ll remove them.

So that’s the story for now. Not super entertaining but I’m counting this blog as a clear marker between the past and the future. It’s only gonna get better from here and I’ll have lots of fun stories for you coming up.

Much love to all of you who have extended so much kindness and support.

Namaste, bitches.