Monthly Archives: March 2012

Popping in New York

Cowboy boots competition

The Chrysler tattoo has returned to its homeland: I’m in New York, attending the EMP Pop Conference at New York University. I gave a paper today on “The Roads to Ruins: the Runaways and Los Angeles.” Went okay. It’s been quite a scene. Last night’s keynote featured Santigold, Esperanza Spalding, Angelique Kidjo, and Heems (Das Racist). (Link to my Pop and Hiss blog about it below.) On my way to the party tonight, hosted by Rock’s Back Pages, I ran into Greil Marcus. The Kimmel Center classroom was packed with old friends, favorite writers, and minor celebrities: Lenny Kaye, Danny Fields, Alice Bag, Vivien Goldman and Jana Martin (the Fictionaires!), Greg Tate, Barney Hoskyns, Lucy O’Brien, Ann Powers, Daphne Brooks, Josh Kun … the list goes on. Thursday night, out for dinner, we saw Matt Dillon, Fran Lebowitz, and another old friend, Dean Wareham. Two more days. I love New York.

The Fictionaires

via Language, music and art: Santigold, Heems tackle urban experience –

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In Dreams

I lost my dreams.

Frida Kahlo

Dreams — daydreams and night dreams — used to guide me. In the morning when I woke, I would make sure to remember what had happened to me during the night, and that memory would cling to me throughout the day, like a tissuey emotional shroud. I loved my dreams; recurring ones were old friends. They helped me see life in new ways. They taught me.

I thought about my old friends when I toured “In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States.” This exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is one of the most powerful and affecting gatherings of artwork I’ve seen in years. Re-seeing imaginative and confessional works by Frida Kahlo reminded me of her deep gift and profound statements. Looking from her paintings across the room to Alice Rahon’s Ballad for Frida Kahlo, I was also reminded of the powerful connections between women — how we can be each other’s muses.

Rahon was one of a dozen painters, sculptors, and photographers about whom I knew little or nothing prior to this show, and now I’m obsessed with. Dorothea Tanning paints a bare-chested woman — herself, I think — with a seaweed skirt and a winged griffin at her feet. The fascinating Lee Miller — model turned photographer, object become subject — photographs a breast removed in surgery, and then twins it. Gerrie Gutman paints a terrifyingly ghoulish statement of herself  holding a casket, symbolizing her loss of custody of her son; it made me think of Kristin Hersh. Sylvia Fein is gothic and impish. Leonora Carrington’s horses gallop and have breasts.

These are dreamscapes, fantasies, nightmares — projections from the parts of our brains and hearts that we don’t always use every day. The less we use them, I’ve found, the rarer they appear. In Wonderland inspired me to take those first moments of consciousness, and remember where my mind went wandering the previous hours.


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The Roads to the Pop Con Runaways fans, New Yorkers, and pop scholars: I’ll be presenting a paper called “The Roads to Ruin” at the EMP Pop Conference at NYU on March 23, at 2:15 p.m. I’ll be providing a sneak peek at some of the research for my book Queens of Noise, framed within the conference theme of Sounds of the City. With music, slides, and video. Registration is free but should be done in advance.

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Hardest-Working Girls

One thing that strikes me as I compile the timeline for Queens of Noise is how hard the Runaways worked. These teenagers toured their ass off in the few short years they were together. And they recorded four studio albums and one live. No wonder they burned out. They certainly weren’t going to fade away.


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