Monday, April 30, 2007

The “Communists” at My College Were Total Hypocrites, or, how sometimes a cigarette tastes oh-so-good

Every liberal arts college has them: that group of kids that are kinda artsy and maybe a little dirty and give you that “I hate authority because my old man used to make me mow the lawn. I don’t like mowing the lawn” attitude. When these kids get to college they don Che Guevara t-shirts and spout out other people’s manifestos, maybe print up some of their own. The hang around on the green talking shit about the Man and Capitalism and smoke their cigarettes. That’s right. Cigarettes. And I’m not talking hand rolled either. I mean “Nothing more archetypal of Capitalism then Marlboro Reds or Virginia Slims and other such products of the Devil Himself Philip Morris USA”. Being the discerning observationalist that I am, I never quite understood how the two philosophies went together. But really, what else can you expect from kids who, for the most part, can’t drink legally yet? A Soviet flag and dirty jeans a Karl Marx makes you not.

I never really smoked until I moved to Ireland. And even then, as it does now, “smoking” only meant socially. There was that pack of Camels I had senior year of college. The summer prior I worked in the mail room and they were sent as a promo to someone who no longer attended the school. Even if we’d had a forwarding address, the postage didn’t allow for it. So, my first pack. I smoked most of it one balmy night when I was depressed about the way the things I cared most about weren’t turning out. It was sickening, but I felt justified. And then there were the occasional few when I was younger, including my first that I split with a friend, behind a portable in 6th grade, during break time at a Girl Scout event we were at. That’s right, Girl Scouts. I’m adding that detail so you think I’m a bad ass because only a bad ass smokes behind a portable at a Girl Scout event. Bam. I didn’t pick it up after that because, let’s be honest, I was underage and illegal things make me nervous. But also I was afraid I’d become addicted. Good thing I’ve since discovered I don’t have an addictive personality. Ha.

There are, in my opinion, two very nice things about cigarettes. I don’t mind doing things on my own. I’m very good at it. But sometimes, say, during a set change at a show or while waiting for someone, you can only pretend to text message or tie and re-tie your show for so long before feeling somewhat self-conscious. For example, if I wanted to hang out in a field, by myself, while other people chatted away with each other, some might think me weird or “eccentric”. But if I’m out in a field smoking a cigarette, well, then, who’s to question the naturalness of my act? Instead of weird and aimless, I'm doing something. I’m a normal member of society and oh-thank-god for that.

Okay, okay, time to be realistic here. Everyone knows that the more salient point to cigarettes is HOW FUCKING COOL YOU LOOK SMOKING THEM! I mean, who doesn’t want to look like that kick ass Joe Camel or Marlboro Man? Or maybe I can be like Marlboro Man with breasts. Kind of like…Mrs. Marlboro Man. Except that suggests some sort of marriage bond and ew! gross! he probably has rotten breath and yellow stained fingers and teeth (on that note, thank god I didn’t pick the camel. Who wants “My hubby’s hung like a, er, camel” to be literal? Especially after I managed to re-instate myself into normal society simply by smoking a cigarette in that field).

Anyway, I just had a cigarette. Parliament Light, and lo, it was good. The nice thing about not being a real smoker is how quick the nicotine works and how much longer it stays with you. I think I might have another. But first I need to re-hang my totally awesome Soviet flag from my window…dang thing keeps falling down.

Love, Rachael

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Klaxons at Studio B, or how I forgot how much fun other people's sweat is.

Dear Web Journal,

I have a little secret for you. I don’t know what the fuck “new rave” is supposed to mean. And to add to my confusion, Klaxons, the NME-named forerunners of the current “new rave” music trend penetrating the States from over the pond and the undeniable stars of Friday night’s gig at Brooklyn’s Studio B, have said they are not “new rave” (all self-respecting musicians discard labels, right?). Which leaves me hoping there is some complex musical theory to back it up, whatever “it” is, including time changes and, um, other music terms I don’t really understand. Because just throwing in glow sticks and a bunch of kids on E like its the late 1990s shouldn’t be enough. But sketchy “new rave” label or no, Klaxons were a fucking great time.

Doors were supposed to open at 10 pm on Friday, but by the time I walked that long, slightly scary walk from the Bedford L stop and arrived at 10:30, the lines outside were massive. Luckily enough, I ran into some friends “saving my place in line” at will call and had a nice spot at the front. Thanks friends! Once inside we went to the front of the stage to wait for the opening act. The crowd quickly filled up and though I was not too impressed with Brazil’s Bonde do Role, I was impressed by Bonde do Role’s female singer’s leopard print pants:

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And my friend Nathan was even MORE impressed by how sexy he thought she was. I have to hand it to Bonde do Role though, even if the music was just Portuguese screamed-talked-sung over Guns n' Roses and even a *gasp* sample from The Darkness, the energy was the perfect pace setter for Klaxons. Plus, her leopard pants were REALLY, REALLY cool. In that I-would-never-wear-them-but-I’ll-totally-support-you-if-you-do kind of way.

After a laborious set change (what is it with Studio B only having ONE person set up instruments?) Klaxons came out to one of the most welcoming crowds I’ve seen in a long time. And I don’t mean just in “Too cool for school” New York, but anywhere I’ve been. At the precise moment they took the stage, a gap opened up and I was pushed through by the crowd to the very front. Right in front of the cute one, too:

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No really, everyone around me was totally jonesing for this kid. Including this annoying British girl (aren’t they all) who tried to elbow her way past me. Where exactly she thought she might go I haven’t a clue-the crowd was so large and packed so thick there was nowhere to move. Her explanation for the pushing was “Excuse me, I have to get there so I can get Jamie to take his shirt off”. Now, what makes her think I am going to give up my perfectly good spot at the front of the stage, where every second finds me slammed (deliciously) into a very large amp by the lurching sea of sweaty people behind me, so she can “get” some skinny white boy (albeit the cute one) to take his shirt off? Furthermore, after taking a good look at this girl, nothing about her convinced me she had some special “get guys to take their shirts off” power. Because if she did, then maybe we’d have to be friends.

But I digress. Although not really, because it brings me to my next point. Klaxon's music is really sexy. I don't understand how or why, but it is. And the reaction of the crowd totally backs up how sexy it is. This may sound weird (it would be unlike me of it weren't), but I had forgotten how great it feels to be covered in your own sweat and the sweat of everyone around you. They played everything you'd expect, opening with "The Bouncer" (or maybe not, I don't really pay attention to set list orders. I mean, who really cares anyway?) and mixing their numerous singles through out the rest of the set. "Magick" (my favorite) and "Gravity's Rainbow" sounded especially good to me. The show ended too quickly, I wish I'd tried to see them multiple nights while they were in New York.

And oooo look, it's the cute one again:

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And the, um, other Klaxons:

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And some sweaty, happy people:

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So thanks, Klaxons. I'm glad you were worth the hype. And blah, blah, blah.

Love, Rachael

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Slight Exaggerations to Follow, or, how my life flashed before my eyes

Dear Web Journal,

Twice in the last week I have feared for my life. Not that kind of teenager fear of death of the “Ohmigod, I just got a D on my test and now my dad is TOTALLY going to kill me” variety. No, no, this is much closer to the “I Know What You Did Last Summer” kind, or the ring-ring, “Yes?” “I’m coming for you” “Stop calling me!” *click* ring-ring “Yes?” “I’m getting closer” “Stop calling me!!” *click* ring-ring “Yes?” “I’m calling from inside the house” kind of fear. (By the way, that story is why I was never a babysitter. Seriously, it happened to this girl I know, well, this girl who knows a girl who has a cousin in the next state over. Whatever, it’s scary).

Yesterday evening I was walking from God-knows-where (Hell’s Kitchen) to the station in Times Square to catch my beloved Q train. Normally this walk is pleasant. Well, not the Times Square part, necessarily, but the part about being outside and loving life, just fucking loving it, you know, happy to be alive, breathing mostly fresh air and greeting your fellow human with a smile and a “Hiya, welcome to New York” and just you know, just fuck, love it. Just love it. Yeah, normally I like that part (because apparently, that’s also the part where I take some excellent mood-enhancing drugs. I mean, just kidding, Mom).

So there I was walking when I started to lose feeling in my fingers. And then my toes. And I realized that my face didn’t hurt anymore because it was SO FUCKING COLD OUT it was numb. Was that a *snap*? Was that….my finger breaking off from frost bite? Dear God! I must’ve been seconds away from freezing I place, or the Day After Tomorrow-type catastrophe. My life flashed before my eyes. There was nothing left to do but jump in the nearest store! And the nearest store was a fucking M&M World. I can honestly not believe that someone would travel to New York to shop at an M&M World, but apparently I’m wrong. *shudder* I can’t wipe the image from my brain-pure fucking commercialism. An entire store devoted to selling M&M paraphernalia down your throat. And also, why is there only one female M&M? You know, the green one? Kinda makes you wonder what kind of action they all get up to.


Also, earlier this week, I almost choked on a particularly chewy piece of Short Spare Rib from the kind of Chinese restaurant that white people walk into and then feel proud of themselves for choosing an authentic Chinese restaurant. And I am speaking from some pretty serious self-congratulatory experience here. But fear not, after about a minute of fighting with it, I pulled it out by my fingers. Yum, right? So who wants to take me to dinner?


Alright, so maybe my near death experiences are closer to the teenage variety, but gimme a break. It’s freakin’ cold out.

Love, Rachael

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Wherein I Resolve Most Ardently, or, how a ball of wax made me what i am today

Dear Web Journal,

Holy shit! It's 2007!!!!!1!!11

Actually, pay no attention to those exclamation points. They are only examples of feigned interest in the beginning of a new calendar. Band wagon excitement, if you will. Same shit, different year. Blah blah blah and on and on and on...

Actually I made some resolutions. I don't usually bother, because my will power is not what it used to be. When I was younger, I was that kid that always wrote five extra sentences for the vocabulary home work, or would spend hours on the basketball court making sure i got a certain number of shots in even after everyone else had gone. I guess some people might give it an unsavory name like "over achiever". I completely blame it on my dad. (I blame a few things on him, as it turns out. My emotional retardation, being another one. It's so easy when you don't have to take responsibility for yourself. Thanks American shrink culture). He was always saying stuff like, "5 more minutes every day and that big ball of wax grows larger and larger". Now. WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN?! Ball of wax? Please. But there I was, fool enough to buy it. Thank god I became an adult and can think for myself, because now my ball of wax is pretty stagnant. It might have even shrunk. Ah yes, nothing like the freedom to fail. Now, back to my resolutions.

They are simple. None of this go to the gym/eat healthy/snag a doctorlawyerpresidentoftheunitedstatesofamerica crap that most women use as resolutions. In no particular order:

1. Make eye contact with people. Seriously, I have a bad habit of NOT making eye contact when I am uncomfortable. I realize that it puts me in a position of weakness. I think I actually resolved to do this last year, too, but who's counting from one year to the next, right?

2. Every other week, eat at a new restaurant. On alternating weeks, actually cook a proper meal for myself. This one is easy, unless I get fired from my job in the next few months. Then I will be eating only street food - you know, food you find on the streets.

3. Spend more time in my beloved neighborhood. My lease is up in July, so I may or may not be in Ditmas Park for much longer. I am resolving to spend as much time in my neighborhood, without becomiong a total recluse and losing all my "friends", as possible. It also helps that one of the two bars has a pretty darned attractive and deliciously tattooed bartender. I mean, not that I have an ulterior motive on this one or anything.

4. Um, write something. Once in awhile. How lame.

Please, a month down the line, even two, feel free to ask me how my resolutions are going. I will appreciate your concern for my general well being and mental health. I will feel like a much better person, accomplished, comfortable in my own skin. And I will fight the urge to shove your ball of wax onto the next sharp object available to my person. I promise, no, I resolve.

Love, Rachael