By Melpomene Whitehead; photos by Pru Phur
This season's Madagascar Institute's party, How Much Have You Fallen, had a theme--your worst moment. I've had so many, I had a hard time picking just one, was it vomiting all the way home on the PATH train one New Year's eve? Was it fighting with the crazy lady on the train? Or being told one winter's night while walking down Ninth Avenue that my skirt got tangled up in my leather jacket and my ass was sticking out? I decided my most embarrassing moment was an era--the mid-nineties, when I lived in the East Village. So I wore a little black velvet dress, clunky shoes, and, when Hornbuckle asked me what made this a costume as opposed to just what I wear when the laundry hasn't been done, I put on my heavy-framed glasses. Viola! I was Lisa Loeb! Hornbuckle dressed in his new worthless sweatshirt, which you too can get at cafeshops.com/worth_less, while I sang "Stay." Fallen was in a virgin space somewhere in Brooklyn, conveniently (for me) off the A train. Jesus Marimba, this space was enormo, Two factory floors of fun! Our first stop, after getting a couple a' cans of PBR, was to Miss Halo 5's Costume Museum of Fallen Celebrities, featuring exhibits marking the decline of such luminaries as Hugh Grant and Sid Vicious. People seemed particularly exited by the Lizzie Grubman piece--a fashionable dress marred with SUV tire tracks, and the Martha Stewart money apron. You can see what else Miss Halo 5 is up to at http://quadprincess.com
I was anxious to see the ramen station, so we left Miss Halo to attend to a cadre of debauched cuties and went to the second floor, where, among very wonderous other things, was set up a long banquet table covered with disposable bowls, plastic spoons, and many many packages of ramen. Although hot water was available, many, including Ian and Simone of Angriest Pussycat, decided to eat their ramen sushi style--
raw. Now, that's falling far. I must confess that there were times when I was so hungry I did the same, but never, ever in public. But I was never as cute as they are, either.
There was so much to do upstairs--one could play Spin the Bottle, ride on a people-powered carousel, challenge the barely-mechanical bull, dumpster-dive for prizes people were even, inexplicably, getting vacuumed--that it was difficult for us to pull away from the devilish pandemonium and get downstairs to see Uncle Fucker. But before we did, we did spy Touching You with two lovely european ladies. "How the hell does he do it?" A mutual friend of ours asked me later. And why is he always complaining is my question.
Uncle Fucker was quite a treat, playing their catchy cow-punk speed-metal. But, for me, the real treat is the Uncle Fucker dancers, the Fuckerettes. The F-ettes (four at this show) had amazing choreographed routines that easily rivaled the Solid Gold Dancers. There were pistols, lassos, cowboy hats, handstands and enough two-steppin to satisfy the cracker in all of us. What to watch? The maniacially demonic speeding fingers of former truck driver Slick Dick Grizzly? The ferocious fiddling provided by the tarty Texas Slim? Or those god-forsaking F-ettes throwing their bouncy boo-yas in your face? Sit back and relax? I cain't! I gotta dosey-do! Check them out at unclefucker.net
It would have been difficult for a traditional music act to follow Uncle Fucker's set. Luckily, Ortho is not that. This night's Ortho performance featured three guys with metal midi hats and a chick twiddling the knobs off-stage. It was sort of like a demented futuristic Nairobi Trio (now when was the last time you saw an Ernie Kovacs reference in a review of an electronic music act). Oddly, during the delirium, a young gentleman got up on stage and stripped down to his skivvies, which were adorably adorned with what appeared to be an iron-on pussy cat. Was he doing a silent vagina monolog? Or was he just presenting the party-goers with his most embarrassing moment? Ortho handled the interruption with great aplomb, allowing him to remain on stage while they cavorted.
As we were leaving the party around 2 am, we saw the cops outside. It looked as if they were going to try to bust the event. But we knew they had the proper permits and even the insurance needed to cover this giant warehouse space. But the cops shut down the party anyway. Why? PEOPLE WERE DANCING. In case you're interested, you CAN get a one-night liquor license, but you cannot get a one-night cabaret license. Which means you can have a party and sell beer, but no one can dance. ok. That makes a lot of sense! The police reportedly said to one of the party organizers, "You have a lot of white people here in a bad neighborhood. They're going to get mugged and we don't want to deal with that." By he way, there were quite a few blacks, asians, and hispanics at the party too, but I guess the cops don't care so much about their safety. Maybe we're protected by the minority police force.
Merzbow was coming to town, like Santa! bringing clatter for all the good little boys and girls. And we had a choice of seeing the noise-master general for free at the Swiss Institute or paying to see him at Tonic. So naturally we went to the free show. The best part of seeing Masami Akita as Merzbow (note: I said _seeing_) is looking at the various signs of discomfort on the faces of the audience. There's a lot of squinting and scrunging of faces, a lot of fingers in ears. Usually about 30 minutes in there's a lot of sitting on the floor along with a lot of leaving. I saw people holding on to the walls. I saw people shaking their heads rhythmically. I saw only a few people smiling. I was one of them. Merzbow is like a roller coaster ride, and some people smile in response to that sort of stimuli. Merzbow's set builds like the better roller coaster rides, too, starting off slowly, bringing the noise levels and layers up to a peak, and dropping down again. And just when you think it's over... there's of course more. Listening to Merzbow is a totally different experience from seeing Merzbow. It's internal and it seems to connect you to your subconscious in a way you usually find only in dreams. It makes Merzbow unique in that way, as a group event like a performance becomes a very solitary and intimate experience. It's not the sort of music where you nod your head and raise your fist and bond with the dude next to you. It's such a personal experience, you couldn't even bond with Masami Akita himself over it. Even with a tube of supergloo! I think it really stimulates creative thought also as the listener participates in the music, by looking for patterns and melodies that are not easily apparent through the dense texture of noise. If you don't know Merzbow, I really recommend him to all you extreme music fans.
Still in the mood for noise and speed, we went over to ZeroBoy's slotcar races over at RV on Avenue B. The proceeds from the evening were going to take care of the production costs of ZeroBoy's play, World War Zero (Thursday-Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3, Jan 18-Feb 2 at Theater for The New City 155 First Ave.) I didn't have slot cars when I was a kid, I only had Hot Wheels because we was poor, so I was too afraid and embarrassed to play now. But it sure looked like fun. They actually had elimination races leading up to the final race, but we didn't stay until the end because it was damn cold in there. The whole thing made me feel like I was 14 and hanging out in someone's basement while their parents were out for the night. You can find more info on World War Zero at zeroboy.com
Early December I got to witness the debut of The M-Word, the acousti-punk duo of M. David Hornbuckle and Poisson D'Avril. Is the M in the M-Word for M. David? No. No, they tell me. Is it for... Mungo? Maenad? Milquetoast? What? I guess for now it's up to interpretation, as the duo ain't talking. About that anyway. They will talk about existentialism, small-block Chevy repair, hamsters, and the political implication of correction tape. The two, with Hornbuckle on geetar and d'Avril on 40 gallon plastic transhcan, delightfully destroy your preconceptions of what rocks and what don't. The M-Word are sort of like Mojo Nixon and Steve Roper, if they were the bastard children of Nietzsche and Edna St. Vincent Millay, but cuter, as in none of those four people I've just mentioned were very cute, but P. d'A and Hornbuckle are really really cute. You can hear them at their website, theMword.com, but you oughta see them live next time they play. You'd never know someone could really get that many different tones out of a trashcan.
Speaking of cute bastards, I got to watch a little bit of HBO this month, and I saw a 'documentary' on a brothel. It was one of the famous Nevada brothels, that's all I can tell ya, because I missed the beginning of the show. But I realized something--there is nothing sexy about a girl dressed like a member of the Vanity 6 attempting to seductively coo, "Do you like my ass? Do you wanna spank it?" It's just plain skeevy. In this 'documentary,' a camera was placed in the bedrooms/offices of the girls and I cold not believe the tremendous lack of passion and sexual excitement. Watching this, I understood why I could never be a prostitute--I could never say these things to a goofy, grinning man and keep a straight face! Also, I think I got rid of my Maryjane Girl ensembles in like 1991.
Melpomene Whitehead edits snevil.com. email her at firstname.lastname@example.org