White Americans: Wow, Black Lives Matter. I can’t believe all you’ve been through. How can we help?
Black Americans: Wow, that’s great, you can march with us, you can donate to #BLM and charities that help with legal fees and bail money, and you can make a habit of supporting Black businesses.
White Americans: Great. What else?
Black Americans: Well, you could amplify Black voices and also petition to local government representatives on behalf of Black people who have died at the hands of police.
White Americans: Happy to do that. And we will also post teary eyed videos about how we regret racism and we will get in fights with strangers on Facebook!
Black Americans: Uhhh if you want to
White Americans: Yes, we will seek out people on Facebook who we don’t know well and unfriend them if they don’t support #BLM!
Black Americans: Well, you can talk with your friends and family about systematic racism, that would be great
White Americans: Not enough! We will track down people we don’t know who are posting about all lives matter on Facebook and we will try to get them fired from their jobs! We will call other white women Karen, the worst thing you can call a person!
I was not surprised that there was a line all the way around the Trader Joe’s. I live in the neighborhood, I see what happens. I was surprised because the store wasn’t even open yet. Was I there too early, or too late? No time to think about it. I found my slot and lined up.
I was behind a man in a tie-dye shirt that had a heavy-duty mask on, the kind with two plastic puck-shaped filters on the front, the metal band across the back of his head glinting dully in the sun, and soon another guy arrived and took the spot behind me. He had on a t-shirt that said SPACE FORCE. After a few moments, people lined up behind him. It was 8:15. We had forty five minutes to go.
The more people lined up, the better I felt about my spot in line. I was in the perfect spot. The people in front of me were suckers. They weren’t going to get into the store any earlier than I was. The people behind me were assholes. They had no commitment and if the store ran out of Joe-Joe’s before they got in, so be it.
I saw a woman ask another woman in line if that was really the line, then sigh heavily and trudge past us all in shame. My heart swelled with pride. I was achieving, just by being there. That’s right, look at my spot. This is my spot, and it’s delineated by two spray painted lines. I wonder if we’ll need them long enough to touch them up, or whether a year from now, they’ll fade into the tarmac, as the urgency and panic of this time fades in our minds.
Time passed. I did squats, trying to impress the guy in the Space Force t-shirt. He gave no indication of being impressed. I listened to a podcast. I checked my phone. I sniffed the air. It was heavy with the smell of eucalyptus bouquets and hand sanitizer. It was almost time.
The first movement I saw was the woman two people ahead of me turn the corner. She walked into the shade of the canopies set up along the entrance. How I’d like to be in the shade. It looked so cool and dark under there. I didn’t even care about going to the store any more. I just wanted to be in the shade. The man behind her moved forward, then Filter Mask, then me. We all slid forward carefully in our slots, like a chain of dominoes. The corner spot was open, because there wasn’t enough space for the turn. I heard a sound close by. It was the door to a Honda Accord closing.
I heard her approach before I realized what was happening. She stood near the space between Corner Woman and Man After Corner for a moment, testing her chances. She looked down the line of people waiting in the sun. And she stepped into Corner Spot, which wasn’t really a spot at all. HEY yelled Big Filters. THIS IS A LINE. She turned away from him, shielding her face in the sun. It’s true, masks make anonymity and boldness.
She carried herself like masked Casanova at an orgy- she could have anyone she wanted and none would be the wiser. She’d just blend into the crowd, with her shitty yellow floral top and her shitty curly hair. The woman in front of the corner turned to see what was going on, but she didn’t really care. It was, she thought to herself, no skin off her dick.
But it wasn’t over. Man After Corner tried a gentler approach, explaining to her at a distance that she had broken the rules, the only thing keeping us all from dying in the streets. Again, she turned away, raising her shoulder to him. The line moved forward again, faster. They were letting us all in. We had to make a mob decision, and we had to do it immediately. A woman not too far behind me threw the first stone. It connected to yellow shirt’s head solidly. A moment passed, but only a moment.
A hail of rocks, keys, shopping baskets rained down upon her from all directions. She screamed, trying to protect her head with her hands, but she couldn’t dodge everything. It only lasted a few seconds. She made a dash back to her car, her yellow shirt spotted with blood among the flowers. We heard the opening, then the closing of the door of a Honda Accord. The line erupted in glee, but also it was time to be anointed with hand sanitizer and to enter the Trader Joe’s. My Joe-Joe’s would never again taste as sweet as they did this day.
Comedy moves quickly, but these bits will get you on all the cool shows and festivals, because everyone’s doin’ em!
Extremely Detailed Solipsism Pretending To Be Mad About Small Things ShockJock (90’s Nostalgia) Fat Guys, Shirts Off If I Yell It, It’s A Punchline I Pooped In Public, A Closer White People Interpreting Rap Lyrics Homeless People Are Weird That Time I Ate Too Much Pot Hillbilly Philosopher (Nihilism in a Trucker Cap)
This August, The Cure threw an end-of-Summer celebration at the Rose Bowl grounds called the Pasadena Daydream Festival. Who hates Summer more than Goths? Nobody.
I love the Cure, I love the Pixies, and I have never EVER seen Throwing Muses and was absolutely DYING to. Since the ticket was expensive, I steeled myself to going alone, but my friend Johnny Skourtis posted a self-pitying story on Instagram the morning of the show saying he was going alone, so I had a festival buddy!
The Day Of:
It was hot as shit. 30,000 goths were sweating and drinking. They sold out of Donut Friend brand vegan donuts. But: everything else was great. Throwing Muses, also known as Some Dudes and Kristin Hersh, were tight and AGGRESSIVE and wonderful. Pixies and their rotating Kim Deal impersonator were good, and The Cure have only gotten better at being the Cure. You want pedals? Layered guitar? Drone? You got it, babe. The band has gotten famous 40 years into their career, and Robert is wearing it well, and seems much happier than he was when he was 30.
Meeting New Friends:
I was wearing an ancient Cure t-shirt that my sister has been begging me to throw out, and instead of throwing it out, I had repaired the holes with lace scraps, and a twenty something came to compliment me on it. He claimed that he was “the world’s biggest Cure fan” and that he had seen his first show in 2009. I told him I had seen my first show in 1986 at the Bronco Bowl, for Head on the Door, and he protested, I wasn’t even BORN then. That can’t be my problem, man!
Here’s the Cure’s playlist, including Just One Kiss, which was never played in the US before, but which I really like.
Pictures of You
A Night Like This
Just One Kiss(first time live in the US)
In Between Days
Just Like Heaven
From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea
Play for Today
Shake Dog Shake
39 (Altered lyric from “half my )
Friday I’m in Love (with “Where Is My Mind”… )
Close to Me
Why Can’t I Be You?
Boys Don’t Cry
The Morning After:
The morning after, I was complaining to Johnny that although we had been drinking all day, it was so spaced out that I was never really drunk, but that I had a hangover, and then he sent me a video of myself singing to the Pixies that he believed disproved my theory. Anyway, it was nice having a friend for one day. Thanks, Pasadena Daydream Festival!
Postscript: Looks like everyone is searching for an actual festival called Gothchella, and I can’t help you there, but if you want to dress like a hot weather witch, a big floppy hat and a black slip is a great place to start!
“BLANK with FRIENDS” is a common name for comedy shows, but it’s nice because Jackie Kashian really is my friend. I had a great show at Dynasty Typewriter with heavy hitters like Kira Soltanovich, Janelle James, Wynter Spears, Zach Galifianakis and of course- Jackie Kashian and her new Ms. Marvel jacket, of which she is very fond. Jamie Flam got a nice greenroom picture of us that I thought I’d share.
Postscript: Jackie and Laurie talked about my set a lot on the Jackie and Laurie show afterwards, and Kashian mentioned that we butt up against many of the same topics (gender issues, feminism) but that we each have our own spin on it. Apparently, my talk about butt stuff (against) led to a lively discussion in the green room between Zach and Laurie that neither of them appreciated. SORRY ABOUT THE BUTT STUFF.
I survived a questionable adolescence and young adulthood without a tattoo, and I thought, well, maybe my thing is to be weird WITHOUT a tattoo. My dumb hot goth boyfriend had BAD RELIGOIN tattooed on him at a party, which is now covered with a demon, and probably also with dirt because I think that guy’s dead now.
I am of a somewhat perverse personality- if there’s something everyone else loves, I hate it. I’ve never seen Titanic or worn acid wash jeans. Once something is a cultural phenomenon, I’ve already moved on.
When I left school, I found that every punk, every goth, every hip kid, every overpaid graphic designer, every coffeeshop-clogging creative was heavily inked. How cool could it be? I worried that a tattoo had to mean something deep and eternal. I worried about getting something that would later be dumb. My friend Bryan had a Stray Cats tattoo from the 80’s that I watched go out, and in, and back out of fashion. So, I just didn’t worry about it.
Joker’s Comedy Club
Then, one time I was doing comedy in Tri-Cities, Washington. That’s right. Three small towns: Kennewick, Richmond, and Yakima, gather their low-self-esteem populations together and call themselves the Tri-Cities in an attempt to matter. The Thursday night show had a promo table with a local tattoo shop, and they were giving away a tattoo to the prettiest girl in attendance who didn’t have a tattoo. This really brought my two worst personality traits into the foreground: I am cheap and I am vain. The nice tattoo lady said I was cute, I should put in to win the contest. I laughed and said OK. I didn’t think she was right.
I had a really good set, I blew my headliner off the stage. He was murky and resentful. I was drinking for free. I checked in with the tattoo lady. She said I was still the winner by a mile. I was feeling small-town famous.
I hung out longer than I usually do. I started thinking about what kind of tattoo I wanted. I decided on an octopus. Like on the Kraken rum bottle, although that is a Kraken, which is not real. We got ready to line up for a vote. At 11th hour, she showed up: Brianna. Brianna was 24 and had blonde hair piled up on top of her head, and was somehow wearing a pink baseball hat perched on top of that. She had dimples. I knew I had lost, and lost badly.
Brianna got a dynamic ribbon reading “ALWAYS RESILIENT” tattooed on her ribcage, which I am told is a very painful spot, and that was a comfort to me. It was executed right in public, on a rickety massage table in a dark corner of a nightclub. I started to think maybe I was glad I didn’t win.
But then, I woke up surly and resentful that I didn’t have an octopus tattoo. Complaining to my friend Richie, he told me: believe, there is nothing more expensive than a free tattoo. You’re glad you didn’t get inked in the tri-shitties. When I got home to Los Angeles, I got a birthday gift from my baby sister so I could get a tattoo at a fancy shop, from the lovely Amy Nicoletto @amynicolettotattoo, and I don’t think I could love it any more. It looks good with dresses, it looks good with t-shirts, it’s just an accessory that I have all the time, and it doesn’t mean shit.
Wisdom Of The Ages
Looking back, I realize that if I had gotten a tattoo in my 20’s it would have been for The Cure, and if I’d gotten one in my 30’s, it would have been for Nick Cave, and they’d still be great today. This is an often-overlooked plus to being someone who maxed out their taste and personal growth at 17, and will always be the same asshole, and who is also cheap, and also vain.