Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bleedin' Armadilla #6 - Peter Murphy @ House of Blues

Upon moving to New Orleans from Brooklyn, Kelly McClure and Lindsey Baker noticed a lack of music blogs featuring New Orleans music blog type things. This is a music blog type thing called Bleedin' Armadilla that will be a regular feature here on Total Bozo. This music blog type thing will focus on shows we see here in New Orleans, both local bands, and bands that tour in the area. Disclaimer: do not look to this music blog type thing for "actual' music coverage. We'll mostly just be talking about ourselves, and what sort of emotions, grievances, etc. we happened to have during these shows. Thank you. This is Bleedin' Armadilla.

My formative years were spent listening to goth music and I feel like I never shut up about it. I'm sure a lot of people were goth in their teens (okay, and twenties) it's not that big of a deal. Some people grew up wearing PacSun shirts, and some people grew up wearing capes and bondage bracelets. Everyone went through their own emotional journey. During my journey through darkness I listened to a lot of goth tapes and CDs, but didn't go see a whole lot of goth shows. I think this is partially because my dad had nightmares about me flailing around in a dark, smoke machine filled room, cutting myself to devil music and tried his best to prevent that from happening with frequency. I saw a couple though. I was obsessed with a band called Human Drama and saw them a handful of times. I saw Christian Death once. I saw Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson, but any goth worth their weight in black eyeliner will tell you ... they aint goth. One band I always wanted to see and somehow kept missing was Bauhaus. And one singer I always wanted to see but kept missing was Peter Murphy. I finally had my chance last night at the House of Blues in New Orleans and I went into the show expecting to have a princely evening (like an actual prince, not "Prince") but came out of it with the grim (in a bad way) realization that Peter Murphy is the Kanye West of goth. 

Last night's show was advertised as being a "Stripped" acoustic show, but we were pretty quickly tipped off to this not being the case when we walked into the venue and saw multiple electric guitars, a drum machine, and band mics on the stage. I'd been given a photo pass to cover the event and had been nervous about that on the drive over since I've never been in a photo pit before, but we made our way up to the very front of the stage with ease on account of the fact that no one was really there. The room filled up eventually but 20 minutes before Peter Murphy was set to come on there was enough room to get a polite game of four square going. 

As I stood there waiting I found myself getting emotional, reflecting on the days of my youth and how easy it is to conjure up the sights, sounds, and feeling of the past. Like that machine Harold from Harold and Maude uses in Maude's house that allows him to sniff a tube and smell what a winter's day in New York smells like. I remember what the wet grass of my high school's football field smelled like as we walked through it to sneak away for lunch, or how the light in my bedroom looked as I lounged around listening to Bauhaus and dreaming of having my own apartment where I could be as weird as I wanted 24/7. I was thinking about all of this when I looked to my right and saw Peter waiting in the wings preparing to come out. He looked good. Like a sweaty vampire. Half of me wishes the night could have ended there, with me still believing that one of my teenage idols is a proper idol, and not the pompous ass that most of them turn out to be.

Within seconds of performing the first song "Cascade," Peter was fighting with the sound guy, making hand gestures, pointing at his mouth and to the sky, and making some 'x' sign with his fingers that I still haven't figured out the meaning of. He didn't seem to be happy with the audience and he definitely wasn't happy with the sound, although it sounded great to me. His vocals, throaty and low, were flawless all throughout. No one can take that away from him, even while very openly beginning to highlight was a doucher he seems to be. After not receiving the quality he was going for, he stopped the show altogether and waited backstage with his bass player/violin player, and guitar player until things were fixed to his liking. When he came back out his attitude had gotten noticeably worse than it was to begin with and I started to wonder if maybe he was on "all of the drugs."

Stage banter is usually a great thing and tends to create a shared "we're in this together" atmosphere, but not when the person doing the bantering is in a poopy pants bad mood. Peter started off the chatty portion of his set by mistakingly saying he was in New York and then, after being like "oh shit, where am I" while rubbing his forehead, made some remarks about hating New Orleans, would never move there, and how if he got shot that night his family would be millionaires. *Sigh* What a dreamboat. As he was doing this a girl in the audience shouted out that she had flown in from New York just for this show and Peter interrupted her yelling "don't talk to me!" He could very well have been "kidding" but I didn't think it was funny and I doubt many other people did either. You could feel a lot of batwings crumpling under the weight of disappointment.

Aside from the nature of the man performing them, the songs were wonderful. The set had a nice variety with "hits" and deep cuts from his solo career like "Indigo Eyes," "Strange Kind of Love," and "Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem," as well as beloved songs from his days fronting Bauhaus like "King Volcano," "Silent Hedges," and "Hollow Hills." I'd find myself getting swept away, forgetting the turd factor of his stage presence long enough to really enjoy the music, and then he'd have another flare up.  During one song he crept along the lip of the stage and kicked my beer cup and camera to indicate he wanted them off. I hated how sensitive that made me feel. It was like getting spit in the face by the person you wanted to take you to prom. As he was walking back and forth he'd put his hand out for people to touch and I, still wanting to connect, put mine out and missed him by an inch. I felt the heat of his hand on my hand, but we didn't touch. I could have written just that sentence for this review and it would have said it all.

After the show ended a stage worker was nice enough to tear a setlist off and give it to me. I looked it over carefully in the car home and was depressed to see that he had planned to do two encores, but only did one, which may actually have been for the best. I don't know if any of us could have taken any more and been able to salvage the memory. I'm still working on it. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4/20 Marijuana Post

By: Kelly McClure

Today is April 20th, which is 4/20, which means marijuana things. I just opened a new tab and started typing "origins of ..." and "origins of 420" was one of the first things to come up. Along with origins of blaze it, and origins of 420 high times.

Let there be no mistake about it ... 4/20 is a "marijuana things day." And this is very much a marijuana things post.

The first time I ever smoked pot was in high school. My high school was in Riverside, California and was set up in a such a way that you could be dropped off by your parents out front before school and then scramble away to do any sort of non school related sex or drug thing you had a mind to do and no one would stop you. No one was standing at the front of the school shaking students hands and handing out American Flags or anything. School officials had a general sense that humans ranging from the ages of 14-18 went there sometimes, and they got money for that fact, and that's more or less all they cared about. I would usually get dropped off out front by one of my parents, pretend to walk towards the school until I was confident they had driven fully away, and then cross the street to smoke cigarettes by this one bush everyone smoked cigarettes by. I'd go to class eventually, but not until I did some manner of non school related activity that I thought best prepared me for that specific day.

One day, by the bush, I decided I was going to do drugs. I'd never tried any sort of drugs before and decided that my pre class activity that day would be to do some. There was a guy named Danny who would often hang out by the smoking bush and I knew him to be a person who sold drugs. He was sort of chubby and had that kind of poofy hair that grew up and out instead of down. On this particular day he was wearing a brown Member's Only Jacket. I asked him if he had any "pot" and he produced what I now know to be a marijuana cigarette from a metal Band-Aid tin that he pulled from the pocket of his jacket. I paid him $3 I think,  and that instance is, to this day, the only time I've ever paid for pot.  With marijuana joint in hand I picked a secluded side of the smoking bush and sucked the whole thing down myself in under five minutes because I didn't know how pot happened.

Everything looks different now. This isn't the right smoking bush. In fact, this is a tree.

My first class that year was English and once I got inside and sat down at my desk I had already begun to lose all control of my body. I was sweating, felt as though drool was just dropping from my mouth, and was convinced that the police would be coming for me soon. One activity we were made to do that hour involved us getting up to write something on the chalkboard, which I did, but when I sat back down and looked at what I'd done it appeared as though I, instead of actually writing something, just mushed a piece of chalk against the board using the palm of my hand.

The rest of the day got gradually more and more normal and when my Dad picked me up to go home I asked him if I smelled funny. When he said that I didn't, and inquired as to why I had asked that, I said that I dropped some burrito on myself during lunch.

I've since done pot a bunch of times, and find it to be moderately enjoyable. I kinda wish I liked it more than I actually do because I think enjoying a substance known for making people "chill" would enhance my life experience. For many years I thought I was allergic to pot because every time I smoked it I'd throw up, but I later realized that this was just happening because mixing pot with multiple bottles of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill would make almost anyone throw up. In recent years my experience has been better, apart from the one time a roommate of mine in Brooklyn made pot cookies and I had too much and then my body seized upon itself like Emily Rose. 

Being the non-frequent 4/20 reefer smoker that I am, it was a twist of fate that a representative for the company Burn Box recently sent me a selection of stuff to try out. Burn Box is a monthly subscription service, kinda like Birchbox, but instead of getting mini body lotions and state of the art hair-ties you get rolling papers and pot pipes, etc. I was excited to receive my box and secretly hoped there would be actual pot inside because we don't have any in the house ever.

The box I got included a couple different kinds of rolling papers, a glass pipe, a few pieces of hard candy, matches, a rubber band thing you put over your pot pipe to keep weed pot from falling out of it when you're done smoking marijuana reefer, and a red thing that you make monkey noises on with your mouth that's supposed to blow smoke rings. I think. That last thing we couldn't quite figure out. Oh, and there were also some very small glass jacks that I guess you put in the weed pot bowl to keep reefer crumbs from being sucked into your mouth.

Shortly after my Burn Box arrived my neighbors had a party in our shared backyard so I brought it out for everyone to play with. One of the neighbors had some 4/20 weed pot so I put some in the new glass bowl and got immediately stoned. I don't really remember much of anything else from that night but word has it that a new friend tried to teach me how to be my best self while toasting a Peep over our fire pit while using a metal coat hanger.

Happy 4/20 Marijuana Post Day!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tis The Season

By: Kelly McClure

One Christmas morning, a couple handfuls of years ago, my dad and I woke up to find that my mom was gone. Not gone like she is now. As in dead. Just gone. Not in the house. I was living in Chicago at the time and, having given my Jeep Liberty to my mom after it had been towed for its third time, would use Zip-Car to go visit my parents in Bourbonnais, Illinois on holidays. For this particular holiday I had requested a red Mini Cooper, and I saw it in the parking lot of their apartment area when I moved the flapping blinds to see if her red Jeep Cherokee, the one I learned to drive in, was out there in its usual spot in the driveway. It wasn't. 

It took a while for us to wrap our minds around her car being gone. Even longer to fully believe that she actually wasn't in the house. Was she hiding somewhere? Was she laying on the floor in a spot that maybe we didn't check before? Is this supposed to be for fun? Like, for Christmas fun? My mom was known for doing wacky things on holidays. One Easter she snuck into the backyard of my gramma's house, where she and my aunt and my cousins were inside crowded around her kitchen island talking. She was wearing rabbit ears and carrying an Easter basket full of eggs, hopping around like a bunny and dropping the eggs throughout the yard. As the story was later told to me, it took a long time for people to notice she was out there, and once they did see her out there, they didn't quite understand why she was doing what she was doing. My mom went home mad that day. I don't even know if she went into my gramma's house. I could see her just going back out through the fence she snuck in through, probably lighting up a cigarette once she got into the Jeep. Probably feeling a little hot behind the eyes.

It was definitely Christmas morning, and she was definitely not there. My dad and I both arrived at this firm fact at the same time. 

"She's gone."

"Yeah, she's not here."

We got in his car and drove around town looking for her Jeep. We drove past some of the dollar stores she liked to go to, through the mall parking lot, through the Target parking lot, past my gramma's house. There were a couple hotels in town and we drove past those too, but not with the level of high investigation as we did the other locations. Why would she be in a hotel? It's Christmas. That's literally the saddest thing either of us could think of. Sitting alone in a hotel on a holiday, let alone the biggest and best of holidays there is ... why? 

Every other Christmas there were cookies, and some classic movie on TV (classic to us meaning, like, Uncle Buck or something). There were lights, and different kinds of things in the house that weren't usually there. Festive things. And all of this was the result of my mom being there. These things would just fly out of her. When maybe no one was really sure what my mom was about, what she liked, or what she thought about, did, etc - holidays would firm it all up. Would temporarily fill a hole that sometimes seemed too scary to think about. She was, if nothing else, a mystery - but Christmas presented some clues. She tried. She tried on holidays. And she tried on Christmas. Other things could be sad, or mad. Even violent at times. But never Christmas. Christmas was a day where you could have this life that maybe you could have all the time, but just didn't. 

I left that night to drive back to the city. I didn't want to sleep in an anti-Christmas sort of environment. My dad probably didn't want to either, let alone by himself, but that didn't occur to me at the time. A few days later, when the vice-grip that Christmas tends to have on a person's emotions let up a bit, I called him to see if he ever found out where my mom had went that day. Turns out she had gone to a hotel. One of the ones we had driven by. She didn't say why. He didn't really press the issue. 

Not too many years later, after my mom had died and I went back to Bourbonnais to help clean out her stuff for my dad, I found a scrap of paper in her junk drawer in the bathroom, along with a bunch of other scraps of paper, pill bottles with other people's names on them, and a ceramic squirrel. Most of the other scraps of paper had shopping lists on them, or little reminders to do things, but this one in particular stood out. It said:

"No one to make comments. No one to make me feel bad." 

I knew exactly what she meant. And I know what she means now. It's fucking embarrassing to try. It's embarrassing to care. Wouldn't it be nice to just stop? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

'Carol' And The Case Of The Tragic Lesbian

By: Kelly McClure

When a lesbian movie comes out it's very exciting, regardless of what it's about or who's in it, because it's rare that we (the lesbians) get a movie that reflects our own shared experience of going through life while being all lesbian about everything. 
Unfortunately, almost every lesbian movie has to be filtered through an emotional colander, catching the fun, hanging out, normal life, kissing parts and letting the bulk of the film - which usually centers around the main lesbian characters suffering some extreme emotional, physical, or societal tragedy, go down the drain. This was very much the case with Carol, which I intended to see several months ago in the theaters, and finally just watched on iTunes. 

Aside from a few brief exchanges of actual human intimacy, a few scenes with Sarah Paulson - which felt like eyeball heroin - and three random seconds of Carrie Brownstein where she was very much used to demonstrate "here, you sad lesbian, here's another lesbian for you," this movie was very much just another cautionary tale of how being a lesbian will ruin your life, the lives of everyone around you, and always has/always will. 

Help me, I'm a lesbian.

It goes without saying, or should go without saying, that it is undeniably important to have films that show how lucky we (the lesbians) are now versus the amount of literal burning, beating, throwing-in-jail-happening, and "corrective raping" that was just a part of lesbian goings on back in the day. A lot is definitely better now in that lesbians can be allowed to legally marry - provided the person offering up the license is cool with having that happen - and we can 50% of the time buy a wedding cake/dress 50% of the places we'd want to do that. ¡Viva la RevoluciĆ³n! However, wouldn't it be nice if we could readily watch a film that's  just about two lesbians, or MANY lesbians, having a fun life together where no one gets raped, tries to kill themselves, or goes back to "the man?" 

Most of the lesbian movies I can think of off of the top of my head are tragic as shit. You've got Heavenly Creatures, the touching coming-of-age film where two lesbos fall in love and then kill a mom. Then there's Lost and Delirious where a scorned lesbo becomes so lesbo that she turns into a bird and flies off the roof of her school. Blue Is The Warmest Color is more or less three hours of insanity capped off by a return to "the dick." And Foxfire, a classic none the less, is about how being a lesbo will turn you into a heroin addict and/or make you go on a crime spree. There are only two exceptions to all of this that I can think of in my personal mental lesbo movie library and those are D.E.B.S. (aka, the best movie ever) and Imagine Me And You

The IMDB description for D.E.B.S is hilarious, considering it says literally nothing about the beautiful love affair that takes place between two female characters in the movie, which almost the totality of the film revolves around:

"Plaid-skirted schoolgirls are groomed by a secret government agency to become the newest members of the elite national-defense group, D.E.B.S."

The description for Imagine Me And You fucks it up too:

"Rachel and Heck, long time friends and lovers, finally tie the knot, and during the celebration, Rachel starts a friendship with their florist, Luce. And while Rachel originally intended to match her new friend, Luce, up with her husband's friend, Cooper, she soon finds out that Luce is a lesbian. During the course of their friendship, Rachel starts to question her own sexuality. And though she comes to realize she may have feelings for her new friend, Rachel must decide who she will ultimately find the most happiness with: Heck, her new husband who is also adored by her family, or Luce, who has turned her life and everything she thought she knew about love upside down."

What I'm gathering, to no surprise, is that the majority of lesbian movies have to be primarily tied to how directly lesbianism tampers with the lives of men. A lesbian can stray from men, but in the end, must return - or there are terrible consequences. A lesbian can stray from men, but she'll suffer abuse, and never be fully happy due to all the abuse that she (the lesbian) brought upon herself. A lesbian can stray from men, but she must be a predatory lesbo out about town, leaving her gloves in toy stores to ensnare naive straight women who don't know better, thus degrading themselves into an unhinged life of pussy licking in hotels that they'll never recover from.


What do we know about Carol? Is she a good person, or a bad person? The shit eating grin we're left with at the end of the film, to me, implies the latter. There was no obvious warmth in the eyes of either of the main characters as they re-connected at the restaurant in the final scene. If anything, it seemed that the parting message for viewers was "see, lesbians, you made your lesbian bed, now sleep in it. Lesbians!" 

At least no one got killed, or killed themselves. Really though, who has soup on a first date?