Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Doin’ It to You in Your Ear Drums, in 88 Words or Less: “Disco Lady”

This week we’re getting a little cosmic on House of Pride Radio, with Johnnie Taylor and his 1976 hit, “Disco Lady.” Listen in from 6pm to 8pm Pacific tonight!

If the planets make music as they orbit the sun, this is the last song they’d play on Saturday night.

Up in the sky, like a balloon in a parade,
she gets so high
to get down.

DJ, just give us a sign!
No parking, baby, on the dance floor:
The planets align
Do the Bump behind her

With every step of her shimmer-gold funk-me pumps
a swirl of stars;
Can you see Mars?

Shakin’ it up with slinky Mercury
Uranus shakin it down
Horny Pluto shovin’ it in and out
Disco Lady round and round

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Doin’ It to You in Your Ear Drums, in 88 Words or Less: "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Today on House of Pride Radio, I'm honoring this 1978 Rod Stewart classic, #308 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Listen in from 6-8 pm Pacific tonight!

It’s Rod the Mod and you’re seeing leopard;
got on nothing a bag o’ marbles can’t hold.
Peel a grape and gape:
He’s there right in front of you!

Multiply this, and now you’ve got a whole roomful of Rods
except where his head should be
you see
Bette Davis, Prince and Cher
the UPS man!
Yogi Bear!
the Golden Girls, Barack and Joe,
Everyone who’s nice you know
Brigitte Bardot and Tom Jones, too
They’re all sexy—
so are you!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Doin’ It to You in Your Ear Drums, in 88 Words or Less: "I Am Woman"

Ready to bust out some serious lady vibes?  This past week I listened to Helen Reddy sing “I Am Woman” about 25 times in a row, and it got fiercer and fiercer each time. Here’s what it made me think about:

Hey hey girlies, this ain’t one
where you throw down your Louis Vuitton
and dance in a cackle-pack,
sneaking looks and thinking
My boobs are bigger, byotch

Nope, this one’s for all of us.
We’re marvelous;
we’re solo in the spotlight.

Breasticles, testicles!
Any kinda ventricles!
No matter whatcha got
The answer is to be!
and yes, to be!
‘cause everyone here once lived in a V.

This one’s for all of us,
We’re marvelous,

We’re solo in the spotlight.

P.S. Listen to me read this on House of Pride Radio today, 6-8 PM Pacific Time!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Doin’ It to You in Your Ear Drums, in 88 Words or Less: "Everything's Coming Up Roses"

It’s 1979, and the last days of disco are being snorted up and shat out by Johnny Rotten, but you don’t care. You’re La Merm, and you break rules harder than any sniveling sod pimped out by Malcom McLaren ever could. You hold a middle C for 16 bars, yet you’ve never taken a voice lesson in your whole life. You do everything in one take, and you have a Christmas tree that you light every night, reminding yourself that yes, everything’s coming up sunshine and Santa Claus.

 P.S. Listen to me read this on House of Pride Radio tomorrow!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Doin’ It to You in Your Ear Drums, in 88 Words or Less: "Hit That Perfect Beat"

One of my we’ve-been-friends-forever-and-always friends, DJ Tweaka Turner, is giving me the incredible opportunity to have a regular spot on her weekly live podcast, House of Pride Radio. I’ll be doing the dirty disco version of my lil’ blog series, Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less, but this time they’ll all be dance songs, and you get to hear the song after I read my crazy crap.

House of Pride Radio airs every Wednesday, 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM Pacific Time, and you can listen live here. If you need to get your groove on and can’t tune in then, here’s a little preview of what’s to come.

“Hit That Perfect Beat”
Bronski Beat

I know how
the beat turns

Three hundred and sixty hamsters
take a spin class in the sky
They grunt, they whirl
They pump and grind;
The fur begins to fly.

And just when you think—
Please still, my heart!
A tiny foot on pedal slipped?

They kick their hamster shoes off!
They tear the hamster roof off!

Speedometers explode, this world cannot hold
You, fuzzy spandexed queens.
And they gush, and they spurt:
They worked that skirt.

And the man in the moon’s got mirror balls.

This one is dedicated to Larry Steinbachek, Bronski Beat keyboardist and one of the band’s original members. He passed away in January this year, and I hope heaven’s got a big revolving dancefloor.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

They All Look The Same Way Now

I am ashamed to admit this, but I don’t look cashiers in the eye. I know this is not the eclipse, it’s just band-aids and Brillo pads at Walgreen’s, but the truth is, it’s easier and faster this way. About 25% of the time they’re on the phone and not looking at you anyway, which makes me feel all “I won’t be IGNORED, Dan!,” and another 25% they’re taking care of someone else at the same time while eyeing the people in back of you, which gets me all hypervigilant, like I have to grab my purchase and sprint to the bus that’s not coming because, oh yeah, I’m not going anywhere.

And then of course, there’s my lack of facility with small talk. You’d think I could remember “Nice day today!” instead of relying on a nerve-induced blurt like “Were you vaccinated for the measles virus?,” but nooooo….

So unless I’m at a place I regularly frequent, or at Trader Joe’s, where I think they make their checkout crew memorize wacky Stepford Wifestyle scripts (“What lovely melons you have there!” “Whatcha got planned for the long weekend?”), I keep my head down, always try to have exact change and get outta there fast.

When I go most anywhere else beyond city limits, though, I feel totally safe to indulge in normal, nonmisanthropic interactions. And I’m pretty good at it! I was recently at Kripalu Institute, a retreat center in the Berkshires where everyone tries their best to let the other person go first, buying some birthday cards in the gift shop. The cashier was having trouble with the sale because one of the items wouldn't scan. I could see she was getting some kind of weird error message on her computer screen, and that she was super-frustrated.

"This isn't working, let me try it again," she says to me.

And to herself, a drop quieter, "I'm just going to breathe."

My gut reaction is to detach from her nonfunctioning orbit and just go to the other register, dumping her in a stumpy, Trumpy way that would quickly solve my problem and not hers. But I have nowhere to be, and her stated dedication—saying it out loud, as if it then goes on a post-it note you can only see in the fourth dimension—pulled me back to a reality where people are nice to each other, and where I’m a nice person who CAN SAFELY LOOK AT OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. I remain, invested. And this being Kripalu and me being the type to thank my socks for their hard work, I breathe alongside her, ‘cause I don’t want her to feel stressed.

How many times do you say It isn't working but not
Let me try it again?

"10.26," she says after what was not a-long-at-all-while.

"Yay! It went through!" I say. "I was rooting for you!"

"I could feel it," she smiles.

And I feel a little shy in this new world we agree to be in together: a world where, for the time being, the purchase of a pink birthday card for someone who will soon be 94 (!) is all that matters. And because I am so dang relieved that it’s not me, it’s you, New York, I nervous-laugh since a smile isn’t big enough. She laughs as she hands me my change and I laugh as she hands it to me.

But wait, hands is so the wrong word…She’s doing these wrist-twisting, hand-rotating Shields and Yarnellian gestures that have me mesmerized. Presenting each bill purposefully in a flourish, like she’s trying to turn them into doves.

"11,” she says, and releases the coins to me in a jingle.

“12, 13, 14,” three Georges and here comes a hot rod Lincoln…


I look at the bills in my hand, and they give me that same tucked-in calm you get from seeing your folded laundry.

She explains, "I made sure all their faces are looking the same way now,”

Oh! I know that’s a thing they do in banks, but I am always getting taped-up or written-on dollars, on squirmy occasions still flaccid from the sweaty guy buying lottery tickets ahead of me. These bills are not like that, and I know it’s because she paid them extra attention for me, because I was just the littlest bit nice.

And me being me there’s melancholy, too, because it’s not as if they can see anything anyway. Can you imagine George and Abraham et al. having to witness, dry-eyed and cotton-mouthed, every transaction ever made? 

Is it easy seeing green?
Is it queasy feeling greed?

At least, in this case, it’s not like we're leaving our vintage POTUSes shaking their heads in shame at our consumerist culture. (A lot of us are trying to make it better, GW—please pass it on.)

As I walk out of the shop, I get this lemony flash of a summer day last August. I was running along the East River and stopped short when I noticed this crazy patch of blackeyed susans swaying together in the breeze like they were waving at me, yellow and happy like Big Bird and exclamation points, respectively. In my head I cue up my favorite singalong for flowers and kittens, XTC’s The Loving, just like it does now. And I walk to the sun room to write out my pink birthday card.

What if the faces were to change
The Benjamins pimp Helios’ ride
Lincoln blinks at the breeze;
Back on the register a bleeding heart winks
‘cause money grows on trees.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

White Men Can't Walk

It’s the weirdest thing. Yes, everyone in New York is rushing somewhere, but most people have that inner foot-clock thingie that helps you maintain a certain amount of space between yourself and the person in front of you. Yet at least once I day, I’ll feel someone right on my tail, the clod hopping or sole-slopping getting louder until they pass moosely by.

And you know what?

It’s ALWAYS a white guy, clenching his ass. So tightly I want to scream, “Let go or I will fart for you!"

And I can’t figure out why. Is the stereotype true about having no rhythm, and thus no ability to autocorrect cadence or footfalls—like they’ve got one gear and can only go in one direction… or they just can’t wait to dive into those Cool Ranch Doritos? Or maybe, just maybe, they’re just trying to run away from the gassy guilt of entitlement.

Where you goin' white man??
lay your burdens
down! No one expects you to do anything,
except wear shorts in the winter (WIUWT?),
barf at Santacon and
say stoopid stuff like
“last time I used a rubber it broke
and rolled down my dick.”
(and BTW, you’ve been

Note: My 18-year-old-self showed up earlier this week as I was riding the bus to my first class and wrote the little ditty at the end. The rubber comment is real—overheard as I was walking (like a normal person!) behind 2 guys my freshman year at Connecticut College.