Subdermaljanet vodka, we hardly knew ye

By Melpomene Whitehead; Photos by Pruiga Phur

March, much like a man, is in like a lion and out like an eel, wet and slithery… isn’t that how it goes? More marches, more war, and I ain’t never seen more ‘journalists’ at any march than I saw at the March 22 rally, where four hours worth of people wended their ways down Broadway from somewhere in the 30s (I think it was supposed to begin on 34th, but there were so many people it stretched up to 42nd st) to Washington Square Park. It was a gorgeous lamb-like day, ironically, and along the march people shopped, stopped at street vendors for hot dawgs, why, there was even a fair on Astor for a little diversion. All the while, folks with very fancy camera equipment pointed, clicked, and interviewed the unusual, like the vietnam vets against the war, and the drag queen who had the highest damn heels I ever seen. They were so high, her fishnet clad legs were quivering about 3 blocks into the march! Darling, there is something to be said for sensible shoes. I know they’re not as stylin’, but we’re at war, yo! You gotta adapt, sister! We managed to meet up with all our friends (let me tell you what a fuckin power-group we had: writers Virginia Vitzthum, Anne Sussman, and Sarah Fisch, reporter Jen Block, former Mr. LES Mike Amato, writer and full time activist Bruce Ron, M-Word member M. David Hornbuckle, documentary filmmaker Jason Stella, video editor Tia, who, along with Jason, worked on Rev Jen’s controversial film, I Was A Quality of Life Violation… and then there’s Mel). Of course, we all got split up, and hooked up again with cellular technology… how the fuck did peeps do this sort of thing before? Did they all hold hands? Geez! Amidst cries of "free Iraq," and, inexplicably, "free Palestine," I decided to chant "free beer!" which I thought was fucking funny. Later, we hooked up with Girlbomb who was still carrying her brilliant "Scaredy Cats for Peace" sign. "I spent a lot of marker-time on this," she told us. "I’m using it at every rally." Somehow, even with our energetic marching and chanting, we did not end the war.

I did a couple of non-war related things this month too. One of the things I love about living in New York City, and I know I’ve said this before, is that you can just go out randomly and find something fun and amazing that you didn’t know about before. Sugar QuiefThis time, at Continental, I found Sugar Quief. Now, before their set, my pal Whiney G and I were making fun of them because we, as writers and editors and also pop-culture geeks, know that it’s spelled QUEEF. A queef, for those of you who are a bit more genteel than I and WG, is the sound of air being expelled from a vagina, usually during sex or immediately upon withdrawal. These are also known as pussy farts. So we thought, based upon their misspelling of their own name, that they were gonna suck. But we were wrong. I think. well, they kinda sucked, but in a conceptual/performance art/comedic way, not in a we’re-trying-to-be-the-Strokes way. The songs were very crazy and all over the place, and the lyrics, when you could understand them, were high-larious. Plus, they all had personas, like there was the casual Friday guy, and Titty Fight who wore a slinky red dress. I like a band that makes me jump around and hoot and holla and laugh, and Sugar Quief does all that. A subsequent conversation with Titty Fight, SQ guitarist, revealed that the band debated the proper spelling of queef, but for reasons unknown to me (maybe they were stoned?) decided on the improper spelling. It was also revealed that TF has enjoyed the occasionally pussy fart from his gal-pals. And I do mean enjoyed.

March is not known as the cruelest month, but it was pretty damn harsh this time around. Not only did we have this war business, but March saw the final performances of two of my favorite local bands–Hialeah Jorge and the Cuban Cowboys, and JanetCuban Cowboys, v March Vodka. First, let’s deal with the Cowboys. It seems that el little matadors other band, Hula, has become so popular that the Cuban Cowboys have decided to devote themselves to Hula’ing full-time. Jorge remains, with his nipples, and will shortly have a new set of Cowboys to get his back, but meanwhile, he sent off his current ninos de la vacas with a grand and bittersweet farewell at Mercury Lounge. Ah! Dios Mio! Cowboy Madelyn assured us that Jorge will be backede by cooler cowpokes than the current line-up of Chad, Alex, and Mad, but how the hell could that be true? Although I have heard that one of the new members is a certain former member of Pop Canon, M. David Hornbuckle’s old band. Huh! And I’ve heard a lot about this person, and all I can say is I’m shocked and awed or something. I’ll keep y’all updated regarding El Cuban Cowboys.

The RitchiesAnd Janet Vodka! God, I can’t even… I’m overcome… Chris Vodka will be evading the impending draft by legally fleeing to Canada in April. I always knew he was a smartie. So the rest of the band, and the whole Red Warehouse crew, sent him off hit ‘em up style with a special color-coded Red Warehouse at the former Green Door. Lots of free beer to get us all ready for St. Paddy’s day, too. I got there while some atrocious band was playing, and all their friends were there–their friends in golf shirts tucked into their ironed jeans. That part was really scary. Luckily, those people left when Pop Mafia came on. They thought the Mob was TOO LOUD. Pussy farts! That was fine by me, it wasn’t like there was a dearth of peeps there or anything. Later, Janet Vodka played their final show, accompanied by Satan’s Cheerleaders and that dude from TrancePop Loops playing the dobro. JV was one of a handful of bands who combined a fun show with intelligent and interesting songs. And Chris, Ron and RJ, the core of JV, are stupendous musicians. I know they’re all onto the next thing already, but I’m going to miss them so much, you really have no idea. Come back, Chris!!! I’ll hide you in my closet from those nasty bookies who are after you! Geesus, I almost forgot about The Ritchies, featuring everyone's favorite wrassler, the WWF Poet. The Ritchies are fun in the same way the Tuff Darts are fun--they play no-frills punk rock with very silly lyrics. Well, not quite no frills. That chick on guitar took a couple of mean solos, perhaps invoking the undead ghost of J. Mascis, the dude who brought the geetar solo back to punk rock. That, and total dysfunctionality. Not the Ritchies! They're not dysfunctional! J. Mascis! The Ritchies are fully functional.

After only two weeks, Mickey’s Blue Room kicked Frank Wood outta booking Tuesday night there! But the M-Word played the last show and convinced the manager to continue booking music. They rocked, in the rocking sense. The tiny room was the M-wordpacked with hoodies who wandered in to see what all the noise was about. It was about math, I think, and philosophy, and the crosstown bus, which amazingly stops right outside Mickey’s! The M-Word that night was mucho, as in mucho caliente, while they energetically entertained the Blue Room crowd with their intellectual acousto-math rock. I was also entertained by the awesome selection of tap brews, including my fave, Magic Hat No. 9. Plus, they have a trivia game AND a 25 cent cashew machine. Blue Room women loudly wondered how that crazy drummer Poisson D’Avril was going to continue rocking for the next 35 minutes, when he had been so demonically crazy during the first ten that he’d already lost 10 pounds of water weight. "Oh, he can keep it up all night," deadpanned Hornbuckle. Can he? Is that a threat or a promise?

I managed to see Hula in their first show since leaving the Cuban Cowboys, oddly at the same place I last saw the Cowboys. Mercury Lounge was packed with hipsters swaying to Hula’s sultry, jangly, indie-pop. I’d say trancy, but I don’t want you to think that they’re one of those bands, you know, the boring ones. Hula are entrancing, but they’re definitely not Hulagoing to lull you to sleep. Their songs combine an uncommon sweetness along with an unsettling sadness that makes invokes a luscious melancholy that will leave you aching for more. Go to for more info about them.

Finally, after like 209 tries (five, ok? FIVE), my crack team of smart-asses won the $200 first prize in the Big Quiz Thing. Immediately, one of us tried to buy delicious cookies from the second place team. We were hungry! And now that they’ve increased the trivia-frequency to twice a month, we have even more chances to eat! I mean lose! I mean win! The Big Quiz Thing will be every other Monday at the Slipper Room. And I will forever know that penguin means white head. How did I miss that one?

Melpomene Whitehead has written for Harpers, Brill’s Content, Time, the New York Daily News, and New York Press. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of short stories. You can read more at and email her at