Thursday, May 14, 2015

On Quotes That Communicate "I Want to Be The Super Awesome Rock Star That You Want to Be Like and That Which Whose Band You Want to Be In"

Glasses, Glasses, Glasses, Hair, Hair, Hair, Cute Things, Cute Things, Cute Things
Last night I finished reading Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir  by Viv Albertine, the guitarist from the Slits. I like to read in bed because it helps me get tired, but I was so engrossed in this book that I felt bad about keeping the light on while reading a hundred pages at a stretch deep into the night, because I share the bed with my husband who has to get up early. He says it doesn't keep him up, but I know it would keep me up if someone was sitting in bed reading with the light on, so hopefully not everybody is like me.

A particularly interesting thing about this book is that after reading it I have a new respect for Sid Vicious. I've noticed that in the past, many of Sid's punk peers have painted him as a doofus (and, based on things bandmates had written about him, I've always gotten the impression he was the type of guy that if he wasn't Sid Vicious, he would be that guy buys Sid Vicious postcards at Spencer's Gifts at the mall). But Viv paints a more sympathetic portrait of him, (although, to be fair, she does paint him as a doofus at a variety of moments, and he seems he'd be an annoying weirdo to be with at times). But here's what sticks out in my mind: for one, he could play a number of instruments and play them not too shabbily, and if need be, he'd stay up all night and learn basslines and have them ready to go in the morning (granted, with the help of speed, and also, granted, very basic basslines for things like Ramones songs, but still...). Secondly, he kind of underplayed his intelligence socially at times, almost like he intentionally dumbed himself down for people at times.

Also, he has very nice handwriting.


Here's one of my favorite quotes from the book from page 156:

(The way I'm quoting it, it cuts off in mid-sentence, because I did a screenshot of the quote that I could actually find it on Google Books without having to type the quote out which was nice, and also, the part I really like of that quote is really this part of the sentence anyway.)

This quote reminds me of this feeling I have that many guys watch women in bands and instead of being inspired by a female performer and/or wanting to be her, the men think, "I want to possess them" in some way, as oppossed to be that person. And of course, we all rationally know that it's socially acceptable for a woman to want to be like a man but there's a stigma against a man wanting to be like a woman.

I can't help but think of Sleater-Kinney song I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, which has occupies a similiar space in my head. Some of the lyrics are  Sean O'Neal said on avclub about the song (the quote starts with lyrics from the song:
“I wanna be your Joey Ramone / Pictures of me on your bedroom door / Invite you back after the show / I’m the queen of rock ‘n’ roll.” Those lyrics, delivered in Tucker’s tremulous yelp of a voice, are hardly political. Flip the gender, and it’s the sort of stereotypical, dick-swinging boast that could have been made by any dude with a guitar—and that’s exactly what made it political.
I think that quote articulates really well how the desire behind what a performer wants from an audience can load the performance with political meaning.

It seems appropriate to also mention in this discussion the quote from The Cement Garden where Charlotte Gainsbourg says "Girls can wear jeans/And cut their hair short/Wear shirts and boots/'Cause it's OK to be a boy/But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading/'Cause you think that being a girl is degrading." (Yeah, yeah, that quote was sampled at the beginning of that Madonna song What It Feels Like for a Girl, I know, I know).

A final note on the second half of the book: Interestingly, the material about what Viv did after the Slits broke up was more compelling to me:  getting married, becoming a housewife, trying to conceive a child, going back to school, working in film, battling cervical cancer, coping with divorce and getting back into music and performing. I am interested in what folks do when they have some kind of peak in their lives and then what they go on to do afterwards. I think there's this social expectation that if you get some fame for something and then you leave that field for a different career that somehow you're a failure. It's almost like if you're not famous and you switch careers it's OK, but because the world puts such value on fame, if you are famous and you change your career it's not OK, especially if it's to something outside the spotlight. I guess I liked the second half of the book even more than the first half, more than the we-were-just-punk-kids stuff early in the book. I think this is because people are more interesting as they get older, because they become more complex and have more understanding of the subtleties of things. I guess that makes sense why I am actually happier as I get older.

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