Thursday, April 22, 2010

Music Box: Fun Girl Three

The most frequent question I get since getting laid off from work is, "Do you get bored?" While I suppose people are just trying to make conversation -- and perhaps they're not sure what to say when a touchy subject like losing your job is involved -- I never hesitate answering with an emphatic, "Are you kidding me?!" That I live in a city with a million things to do, see and experience on any given day makes the question inherently ridiculous. Yet truth be told, I would feel the same way if I lived in Minot, North Dakota. Even putting the museums, parks, bars, clubs, restaurants and shows aside, with a stack of three-dozen unread books, hundreds of rarely played CDs and 1,192 unread e-mails -- oh, and what if I got into Netflix? -- my sudden unemployment has me asking myself, "How did I ever find time to work before?" In addition to reading my first book in too long (Patti Smith's "Just Kids," which was good but not what I was expecting), the three most thrilling things to happen in the weeks since my last day at work were getting to meet several childhood "idols" of mine, in three disparate settings.
    First up was the beautiful and talented Tracie Young, with whom I have become friendly via e-mail and Facebook in recent years. She and her adorable son, Liam, were "on holiday" in New York recently and asked me to dinner. I've had the biggest gay-crush on Tracie since I first saw her singing backup for The Jam and Paul Weller back in the early '80s, and grew to love her even more when she released a handful of singles and an album shortly thereafter. Over the course of three bottles of wine -- those Brits keep drinking, and I kept spilling (I was more than a tad messy before it was over!) -- I got to ask her every question I ever wanted to about the '80s New Wave music scene (Marilyn was actually quite sweet), how her recording career came to such an abrupt end (she got her label sued) and what she's been up to ever since (married/divorced with two kids and she hosts a show on the radio). Tracie is gearing up for the glam Cherry Pop CD reissue of her 1984 debut, "Far From the Hurting Kind," complete with nonalbum singles, b-sides and surprises (she's completely in control of it!). As if a lovely evening of chat -- oh, and once forced singalong (hey, I said I was drunk!) -- weren't enough, Tracie also brought me a bootleg CD of her sophomore album that was never released. What a crime that the label chose not to release it then, it's really wonderful stuff (especially "No Smoke Without Fire," "Me and Jimmy Stone" and "Love Without Jealousy" plus the demo of Style Council-esque "Waking Hours"). Luckily for her fans, Cherry Pop will also finally give this gem the proper release it deserves. As they say across the pond: brilliant. Cheers for that, Tracie!
    Last Saturday, Michael and I had the honor of seeing performance artist Karen Finley's latest one-woman show, "The Jackie Look," at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Times Square. In it, Finley excoriates the state of celebrity culture through the eyes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, playing her as if she were alive and giving multimedia lectures on the subject of trauma. Finley doesn't believe Jackie would think too much of the Sixth Floor Museum online gift shop -- anyone the "proud" owner of the Dealey Plaza Holiday Ornament? -- but also tackles a range of topics from the media's obsession Michelle Obama's arms, daughter Caroline's, um, unfortunate, um, run for, like, the Senate, the art world, and the lasting impact of the assassination of JFK.
   Finley doesn't try to "become" Jackie -- her Illinois accent wouldn't allow for that. But her take on what Jackie would likely have felt about the uncivilized world of blogs, reality television and 24-hour news coverage feels right, and had me thinking Jackie would long for the days of just Ron Galella stalking her if she were alive today. After the show, the show's producer (and my pal) Chip Duckett introduced us to Karen and her gorgeous daughter, Violet. While Karen was never "one of my girls" back in the '80s -- we all loved "Tales of Taboo," but were terrified of the woman behind it -- I'm so thrilled that I finally got to see her work in person. (There's still one more show -- tickets HERE. Thanks, Chip!)

And then there was the night I'd waited nearly 30 years for that finally happened a few feet in front of me. Nabakov Nerds Pal Shazar and Andrew Chinich -- better known as Slow Children -- reunited for their first show since 1982 on April 14 at the Living Room on the Lower East Side. Regular readers know that I'm obsessed with the band's two quirky SAT-vocab-friendly albums -- "Slow Children" (1981) and "Mad About Town" (1982) -- and have been friendly with Pal for years since finding her playing solo gigs downtown years ago. But to finally hear her and Andrew together doing the songs that I used to play over and over again in my childhood bedroom -- "Too Weak to Eat," "Suspense," "Late Night Transatlantic Flight," "Brazilian Magazines," "President Am I" and "Spring in Fialta" -- was an experience that I will never forget. (Good news to fans who missed the gig: this is NOT a one-off gig!)
    The evening was all the more special because I was joined by Chip Duckett and Lesbian Power Couple Urvashi Vaid and Kate Clinton, who are both sharp as tacks and had me laughing all night and even persuaded me to eat dinner at a Cambodia restaurant. (Kenny, you're not at Better Burger anymore."
    Of course, no evening would be complete without the "pic with." Andrew and Pal both looked and sounded terrific and clearly relished every minute of their long-overdue reunion. Still, I'm willing to bet I know who in the room had the most incredible night, and he didn't have to be at work the following day. (See all my videos from the night HERE. All photos from the Living Room by John C. Espinosa.)




Marc said...

Great to hear that you're making the most of your well-deserved time off. Take full advantage -- even if it means you have to go to the gym once or twice.

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