Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sweet Tooth Jukebox: Sinead O'Connor



Folks, it's time for another dispatch from the '80s vortex, brought to you by my new book Sweet Tooth. Buy it now, monkeys--the NSA already knows you want it.

Anyway, onward to the rock 'n roll: was there ever a more ferocious and foxy dame to appear on our teevee screens in the eighties than Sinead O'Connor circa 1987's The Lion and the Cobra? Of course there wasn't. Two years later, Sinead would become extremely and exhaustingly famous for covering Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," for her rapturously received album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got (which I've always been kind of lukewarm on), for tearing up a picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live, and for getting yelled at by Frank Sinatra. But oh, in the glorious year of 1987, the world was all "wtf?" when a tiny lightbulb-headed woman with pipes for days and limitless spleen to vent burst onto the scene and was everything any angry and sexually frustrated teenager could want in a pop star.

Nearly a teenager herself, Sinead was raw and bald and gorgeous and angry and Irish and pale and terrifying and flawless and maybe a little nuts. She could move from a dulcet coo to a siren's wail in the span of one line, and you never knew which Sinead to expect from moment to moment. The first song on The Lion and the Cobra, "Jackie," a spooky lament for a (literally) lost lover, perfectly encapsulated the spitfire anger, sadness, and aching melodrama at the heart of the album. "Jackie left on a cold dark night, telling me he'd be home," she begins, donning the persona of the ghost of a dead sailor's wife who spent the last twenty years of her life

Washing the sand with my salty tears
Searching the shores these long years
And I walk the seas forevermore
'Til I find my Jackie, oh. 

Heavy! Here, have a listen:



Now, who among us hasn't found ourselves haunting the seven seas because we's lost our one true love in a shipwreck or a mutiny or a Scylla and Charybdis attack? It's the human condition!

The single "Mandinka" was a more upbeat rocker about "dancing the seven veils" and not knowing no shame, not feeling no pain and also, somehow, the Mankinka tribe in Africa. Sure, why not? It's also a song about a singer who can visit all the octaves, any time, whenever she wants. Don't believe me? Here:



Up next is Sinead's sex anthem, "I Want Your Hands on Me," which has the most air-drum-worthy beats in all the land. Truly one of the shwingiest songs of the decade, maybe even in human history, who can say? Did I listen to this song over and over while fantasizing about blowing the entire varsity soccer team behind the bleachers? You're awfully nosy!



But the song that really set Sinead O'Connor apart was the six-minute-plus epic "Troy," in which she had the audacity to compare a love affair she was suffering through to the sacking and burning of Troy during the Trojan War. (It's kind of like when in my diary I compared my teenage diabetic disappointment with Diet Shasta to the crucifixion of Christ, but this blog post isn't about me.) Thing is, she totally pulls it off, you guys. It all makes perfect sense. She was sacked and burned like Troy. She rose like a phoenix from the flames. And she gave hope to the rest of us, since we were all Trojans in the late eighties. Or something. The point is, the Internet is making it impossible for me to embed the video here because of "restrictions" or some shit. What is this, North Korea? So here's the lame youtube, audio only.



(Side fun fact: Did you know that Enya did the spoken word part on the song "Never Get Old"? I KNOW!)

Sinead went on to great fame and fortune with her next record, which catapulted her into the stratosphere on the heels of the gripping, dramatic video for "Nothing Compares 2 U," in which she gets so caught up in the emotion of it all that she sheds real tears. I, however, found this album pretty disappointing after the brittle majesty of The Lion and the Cobra. It didn't have the anger, the searing drama, the glistening, gorgeous mythos of her first. Though "Three Babies" and "Jump in the River" both nodded toward the lush and schizophrenic romanticism of her debut, the album as a whole was too tame, too prematurely adult.

Then, of course, Sinead became a pariah in the US overnight when she pulled the SNL stunt. She was knocked cleanly off her perch on top of the world and never regained it. Because when you've lost MC Hammer, you've lost... um, what exactly?



After her spectacular fall from grace, Sinead released a decent album of American standards called Am I Not Your Girl, which failed to do much for her in the marketplace. Her next album, 1994's Universal Mother, had some awesome tracks on it, but it was a little ponderous for the masses--Sinead had officially become a niche artist. She's put out an album every few years since then, none of them electrifying, some of them quite good, like her last one How About I Be Me and You Be You? 

But any thoughts I have about Sinead O'Connor and her music always come back to the place where I found her: walking the seas, a despondent ghost, sing-howling about her dearly departed Jackie over an epic swirl of beautiful noise. It never got better than The Lion and the Cobra. And I've been waiting for a reissue of it ever since it was first released, so hurry up, record company, wtf are you waiting for? We need B-sides, alternate takes, remixes, previously unreleased tracks, liner notes, high-minded analyses, and praise heaped upon her by other artists. Sinead has earned it.

Come on, Rhino Entertainment (or whatever record company-type entity handles reissues of Ensign/Chrysalis albums), don't make me sic ghost-Sinead on you, cause she's scary when she's pissed.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Publishers Weekly Loves Sweet Tooth, Thank God!



I knew this review was happening a few weeks ago but didn't know if it would be good or not. It's good! Not only do they describe Sweet Tooth as "lively and invigorating," they also use the word "man-candy," which I'm thinking might be a first for them? Maybe not, they're such saucy flirts over there at PW.

Sweet Tooth Jukebox: Cocteau Twins






















Time for another Sweet Tooth Jukebox dispatch, you guys. Up next: Cocteau Twins, the trio from the Whitest Ever Planet, whose ethereal, otherworldly, transcendent, and [INSERT HIFALUTIN ADJECTIVE HERE] music made grown men cry, grown women wonder where all the heroes went, and grown children wet the bed.

The Cocteaus emerged out of the post-punk UK scene, taking their cues from the Banshees, Joy Division, and the other usual suspects, but they quickly developed into their own inimitable beast, putting out countless dark, blissful, gossamer singles and a steady stream of increasingly jaw-dropping albums. Their first full-length Garlands came out in 1982 and their last (Milk and Kisses) dropped in 1996. While they were with us, there was no more dependable band in the universe--fans always knew there would be new material if not every year then at least every other year. Then, as the nineties began drawing to a close, and after fourteen years together and, apparently, quite a bit of psychodrama, they broke up and, with the exception of one appearance at Coachella that almost happened in 2004 before singer Elizabeth Fraser backed out, they've never looked back.

The Cocteaus are without a doubt one of the most influential bands in the modern era--they basically invented shoegazing, and they've informed the sound of countless artists, everyone from Grimes, Animal Collective, and Beach House to Portishead, Bon Iver, My Bloody Valentine, Chvrches, and even the Internet's favorite punching back Lana Del Rey. (That's right, I said it.) Prince was a fan, and so was Madonna. Who else can say that? Not me.

I could wax on and on about Scotland's pastiest-ever exports, but I'm going to make it easier on myself and you by just stone cold reprinting an essay I wrote for The Nervous Breakdown a few years ago on Elizabeth Fraser, chanteuse extraordinaire and beautiful oddball. I can't really say it any better now than I did then. Enjoy:

ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE: A SALUTE TO COCTEAU TWINS' ELIZABETH FRASER


The late eighties were a great time to be a fanboy of weirdo new wave ladysingers from outer space (mainly Britain). It seemed like every time you turned on your new favorite show, 120 Minutes, some wackadoodle dame dripping with otherworldly moxie was popping up sporting a leotard or a tutu or a completely bald head, leaving your mouth gaping in wonder at the sheer brilliance of it all. You had your helium-voiced ethereal fantasist (Kate Bush), your ferocious and feline Weimar Republic throwback/riding crop enthusiast (Siouxsie Sioux), your tiny elfin powder keg (Bjork of the Sugarcubes), your scary trannie android (Annie Lennox of Eurythmics), and your testy and tempestuous ingénue (Sinead O’Connor). All of these ladies had allure to burn and the musical chops to back it all up.

But there was one lady, from a very distant star (Grangemouth, Scotland), who truly stood head and shoulders above the rest in what she brought to the table. Not only was Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins an alabaster-skinned ice princess with a mystifying hairstyle--she also had one of the most gorgeous voices to which pop music had ever born witness. With a staggering range that took it from the gutter to the stars in effortless swoops, and an easy way with melody and multi-tracked harmonies, Fraser’s voice was downright operatic in the sense that, unlike all of her peers, she sounded as if she could actually acquit herself quite nicely in an actual opera. (Of course, it would be one performed by an orchestra of hologram robots and staged on the distant planet of Mongo, but it would still be an opera.)

The first glimpse I got of Elizabeth Fraser was in 1988, when the video for “Carolyn’s Fingers,” a single from Blue Bell Knoll, the Cocteau Twins’ fifth album—and the first to get major label distribution in the U.S.—was in regular rotation on MTV’s “alternative” shows, such as the aforementioned 120 Minutes and its daytime counterpart PostModern MTV. She was exquisitely weird-looking--her short mess of kinky hair was tamed with Dep (or whatever) and styled (sort of) atop her head like a lopsided valentine, and she stood against a spectral blue background dressed in an all-white ensemble so un-rock-‘n-roll that Ms. Fraser wouldn’t have looked out of place if she’d worn it to an after-service luncheon down at the Presbyterian church. Her bandmates, guitarist Robin Guthrie and bassist Simon Raymonde, were also alluringly pale and otherworldly, but this was Elizabeth’s show.

Her voice stopped me in my tracks, as did her ice blue eyes and her soft, smiling face. And the song itself was a gorgeous wash of glacial guitar and epic, angelic vocals beamed in from the celestial moons of Tatooine or some shit. But what were these mysterious words this woman was uttering that sounded so unlike any language I’d ever heard? Was she singing in Klingon? Elvish? Scottish?

After hearing this celestial chorale, I of course spent the next few months feverishly tracking down and buying up any and all Cocteau Twins imports I could get my sweaty little teenage hands on. And as I immersed myself in her band’s spacey, cold-to-the-touch back catalog, I learned one simple truth--there was no way Liz Fraser was singing any human language. She was just forming her mouth into sounds that sounded good and letting those sounds be the lyrics. Album after album, song after song, there was no telling what on earth was happening in her world. Was she singing about gumdrops and unicorns? Egg drop soup? Gang warfare? Yes. All of these things. Or none of them, maybe? Who knew? I had to travel far back in time, to the dark, primordial year of 1982, in order to hear Ms. Fraser utter any word you would find in a dictionary. A few songs on first album Garlands, amid all the twittery yelping and staccato-hiccup vocals Liz was once wont to engage in, included a handful of real phrases of English: “stars in my eyes, stars at my feet” – “I could die in a rosary” – “winged water, feathered river”. Your typical early Goth pap-- nothing that wouldn’t be out of place on a Bauhaus song. But after flirting with human language early on, Elizabeth Fraser dove headfirst down the rabbit hole and spent the rest of the eighties throwing the world’s linguists for a loop.

This was a revelation: that someone could dispense with language altogether and just use their voice as an instrument. It was also a singular self-effacement in the context of a decade that gave us such strong "Look at me!" attention hogs as Morrissey, Robert Smith of the Cure, and, yes, the ladies mentioned in the first paragraph above, not to mention the mainstream Queen Bees of the Me-decade like Madonna, Boy George, and Bono. We may not have been able to always figure out what all these singers were going on and on about (what’s a Lovecat, for example?), but they were most definitely singing real words used to convey any number of real meanings. “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” – “Let’s Go to Bed” – “Love and Anger” – the singers behind all of these songs, delightfully weird as they may have been, were, when it came down to it, relatable as humans.

But Elizabeth Fraser? She was a blurry blotch of brilliant ambiguity, an otherworldly seraph floating on a cloud of compelling, vertiginous vagueness and hiding behind a veil of hyper-imaginative deflection. Liz gave away nothing about herself in her lyrics. Even her song titles, though written in Roman letters, were bizarre transmissions from an outer-galactic polar volcano, though they were mercifully transcribed into English on the record sleeves: “A Kissed-out Red Floatboat”? “Cherry-Coloured Funk”? “The Itchy Glowbo Blow”? “Ella Megalast Burls Forever”? Whatever are we to make of these phrases, Elizabeth? Sure, sometimes she came down to earth and threw us a bone with a “Love’s Easy Tears” or a “Sigh’s Smell of Farewell,” or, you know, perhaps a “Blood Bitch,” just to prove that she’s human like the rest of us (and, at heart, an adorable little Goth). But then she’d go all sphinx-like once again with ditties like “Fotzepolitic” or “Aikea-Guinea.”

In contrast to her contemporaries, Elizabeth Fraser was a completely blank slate. The only entry-point into Liz’s world was her voice. No one could possibly know what that voice was saying, but it sure was beautiful. Therefore, the songs—these gorgeous, majestic, spine-tingling cathedrals of sound—could mean whatever you wanted them to mean. Did you just get dumped? Liz understands. Grandma died? Liz’ll take care of it. Failed your driver’s test? Liz has you covered. Coming to terms with your terrible homosexuality? Let Liz handle it. Just woke up with blood on your hands in a strange hotel room? Liz knows and she’ll make it better. (You should probably call your lawyer, though.)

Interestingly, it was when Liz started peppering her songs with more recognizable English on the Cocteau’s 1993 album Four Calendar Café that the internal dynamics within the band started fraying. On several tracks on the album, Elizabeth, who was romantically involved and had a child with guitarist Robin Guthrie, sang of domestic strife and romantic ambivalence. “Are you the right man for me/Or are you toxic for me?” she sang on single “Bluebeard.” "Is this what my body says? Use me, drain me, fall around me," she sighed on "Theft, and Wandering Around Lost." Though she employed a bit of English on the band’s final album, 1996’s Milk and Kisses, she largely reentered the Cloud of Lyrical Impenetrability on most of the songs such as “Eperdu,” “Tishbite,” and “Violaine.” After this last triumphant album, Fraser and Guthrie’s relationship, as well as the band they had made together, imploded and receded into legend.

The Cocteau Twins released eight albums, eighteen singles and EPs, and a number of collaborative recordings during their fourteen-year run from 1982 to 1996. (The most memorable of the latter, by the way, is Liz and Guthrie’s cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” which you should watch immediately. Do it now.) That’s a lot of songs, very few of which giving us even the slightest clue as to the Mystery of Liz. To this day Elizabeth Fraser remains an enigma wrapped in a riddle folded into a puzzle and then combined with a larger riddle and magically reduced to a smaller but still quite complicated puzzle that morphs into a conundrum that then disappears into a black hole. This is obvious.

Criminally, Ms. Fraser hasn’t released a solo album in the sixteen years since she was a Cocteau Twin, with her most high profile musical outing being the three tracks she sang on Massive Attack’s 1998 album Mezzanine. For years it has been rumored that she was working on a solo album for Blanco y Negro records, but nothing has ever materialized. She released one song called “Underwater” in 2000, but nobody heard it because it was a limited edition of only 200 copies.

Some exciting news came in 2005 when it was announced that the reformed Cocteau Twins would be headlining the Coachella Festival in California. But it was not to be--Elizabeth pulled out of the appearance after realizing she simply couldn’t face working with her ex-bandmates anymore. In November of 2009 she released a lovely song called “Moses” as a tribute to a friend who had recently died, and chatter about a solo album began anew. But now here we are in 2012 2014, and it’s still radio silence from Our Lady Fraser.

In a 2009 interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, Liz, was as hard to reach as ever, though for once, she laid out in plain English what was behind all her otherworldly warblings:

She has always struggled to write lyrics, she says, but suddenly something will click and she “goes with the sound and the joy” – that’s why she sings sounds and words that have no meaning, of which she can only make sense later. As she puts it, “I can’t act. I can’t lie.”

So when you were singing along with Liz Fraser as she chirruped some flibberty lyrical nonsense in whatever song—was that a Cherry Coke mention in “Iceblink Luck”? A reference to Sudan in “I Wear Your Ring”? Something about lettuce leaves and Lois Lane in “Summerhead”?—she didn’t know what she was saying any more than you did. Perfect.

Elizabeth Fraser may not have known what her subconscious was conveying in the vast majority of the songs she sang, but she still sang like she meant every word.

Come back, Liz. It's been way too long, and right now the world needs more of your sublime cherry-coloured funk. Or, you know, whatever you want to call it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sweet Tooth Jukebox: Siouxsie and the Banshees



Welcome to another installment of Sweet Tooth Jukebox, a series of posts inspired by the music I memorialize in my new book Sweet Tooth, available now, just buy it already, Jesus. Sweet Tooth Jukebox is my chance to force you to watch videos of my favorite bands from back in the day and read my words about them because knowledge is power and you were probably listening to Starship in the '80s. (I secretly was too, sometimes.) Pay attention, there will be a quiz, probably.

Up next: Siouxsie and Her Banshees. This band got their start way back in 1976 when they played a hastily put together set at the 100 Club Punk Festival in London. If memory serves, Sid Vicious was on drums that night. (Can someone fact check that for me?) Their set included a decidedly sacrilegious version of "The Lord's Prayer," and they made a wonderfully god-awful racket, by all accounts. It took them two years to get a record deal, by which point punk was kind of over, so their debut album The Scream is perhaps one of the first post-punk records. Between 1978 and 1996, the Banshees released 11 studio albums that are amazingly varied in style. Their first two were angular and angry, they added some color and bounce to the mix on 1980's Kaleidoscope, and then basically invented goth on 1981's classic Juju, which featured the single "Spellbound," the video of which showed Siouxsie at her most feline and her eye-makeup at its most turbo-charged.



And let's face it, we all had huge crushes on Budgie the drummer. What was not to love? He was one of the best-ever rock drummers, he had bleached-blonde hair and alabaster skin, and he always walked around dressed like a Victorian carnie. My dream date!



The band cycled through a few more styles--whoozy psychedelia on A Kiss in the Dreamhouse and Hyaena (check out the video for "Dear Prudence" above, in which Siouxsie's rocking some hairy-ass armpits), slithery modern rock on Tinderbox--before releasing Peepshow in 1988, a collection of goth cabaret torch songs and tales of childhood panic/horror that spawned the absolutely bonkers track "Peek-A-Boo," which became their highest-charting single to date in the States. (Fun fact: if you want me to dance at your party like a drunk marionette, give me some booze and put on this song.)

Now, some Banshees fans will quibble with my giving prominence to the video for "Peek-a-Boo" up top, because at the time it was viewed by diehards as kind of a sellout to pop radio. People who think this are wrong. This song is genius, and the video is fun as hell. Siouxsie's got a Cabaret bob cut and some country/western leotard-type sleeveless body suit with long-ass gloves, the boys are dancing muppet-like in the shadows and wearing masks, there's a bunch of animated projections on faces and such, there are tassels, there are hella big feather fans. What else could you want from a video? The answer is: I don't know, maybe a shirtless Budgie?

The less said about the Banshees' last two albums, Superstition and The Rapture, the better, because damn are they awful (though Superstition did include one of their best-ever singles, "Kiss Them for Me" and The Rapture's second half tried mightily to redeem its first.). But let's just say that up through Peepshow, this band was pretty damn flawless. Even their meh songs had at least a groovy bass line you could ride, a prickly guitar refrain spidering all over the place, and/or some glass-shattering yelps from Our Lady Sioux. They were constantly reinventing themselves and never dragging their feet. And they had the best B-sides in the business, hands down. (Seriously, get their B-sides collection Downside Up and be amazed. If you don't swoon in your boots for "Tattoo" I don't even know what to say to you.)

In conclusion, Siouxsie was my fairy godmother in high school and she got me a date for the prom, the end.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sweet Tooth Jukebox: The Smiths



Welcome to the inaugural Sweet Tooth Jukebox post, in which I'll be posting videos and typing out a bunch of nonsense about the bands featured in my new book about my gay, diabetic adolescence in the eighties, Sweet Tooth, which is available now so go buy it, I'll wait here.

Of course, we have to start with The Smiths, as they are all over Sweet Tooth and they even gave a few chapters their titles. But where to start with The Smiths? They are a wonderland of somber and sick hyper-melodrama, a fantasia of feral self-hate and brilliant self-assurance, simultaneously depressing and freaking hilarious. And oh, the one-liners. Why do we love The Smiths? Probably for some of the same reasons that others hate them, chief of these being their swishy lead singer Morrissey, who was always emoting about some boy or girl who left him at the train station or the iron bridge or Wally Range or the Holy Name Church or Buckingham Palace, all while barely wearing his sheer button-up shirt as he swung and swayed like a teenage girl dancing in front of her bedroom mirror and singing into her hairbrush. He irritated the crap out of some folks, but I couldn't help but admire the man--after all, it takes balls to be that aggressively fey.

But as magnetic as Moz was, he wasn't the sum total of The Smiths. There was also, of course, his writing partner Johnny Marr, the king of the breezy guitar earworm, whose busy and infectious fretwork was a sturdy counterpoint to Morrissey's flights of lyrical fancy; and the other two guys, Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke, who made up a solid rhythm section and, even more importantly, brought some reserved, boyish sex appeal that Morrissey couldn't manage because he was too busy swishing and swaying, beating himself langorously with a flower bouquet, and making out with his microphone.



The Smiths were only together for five years, but in that time they released an epic number of amazing tunes. Number one on my list is in the YouTube up top: "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" from their album The Queen is Dead. Your number one might be different, but you'd be wrong. Sure, "How Soon Is Now?", "Cemetery Gates," "This Charming Man," and "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" make great cases for themselves as the King of Smiths Mountain, but none of them has this perfect a mixture of mopey-eyed romanticism, soaring gayrotica, lush strings, a tight 'n jangly pop bounce, and a melody to die/kill for. Plus, the song contains one of Morrissey's most poignant lines in "When you want to live/how do you start?/Where do you go?/Who do you need to know?" (I've never gotten a satisfying answer to any of those questions, btw.)

In short, for this ex-new wave boy, The Smiths are the best band the world has ever produced. They're the Fancy Feast of pop, as my cat Stella once remarked to me, and Stella, even though she's a Republican, knows her pop history.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The 21 Stages of an Insulin Attack: A Diabetic Adventure in GIFs

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Do you know a type-1 diabetic? The kind that has to jab themselves all day, every day, forever, with needles? Then you need to be able to recognize when this person--be it your dealer, your mother-in-law, your office crush, or your Craigslist hookup--is having an insulin reaction. Because things can get real, and you need to be armed with the facts. One moment you might be chatting about wanting to get your hands on a Michael Sam sex tape (there's gotta be one!), the other you're wondering why the person you're speaking to is having trouble forming words or is laughing maniacally and sweating like a honey baked ham for no reason. 

Your friend (dealer, mother-in-law, etc.) is in trouble, you see. Because, though he's an insulin-dependent diabetic, sometimes he may have taken too much insulin, or not eaten enough to cover the insulin he took, or exercised too much, or has been really stressed out lately. Maybe you're hanging out playing Scrabble, maybe you're in your office's supply closet, maybe he's asleep and you're there for some reason--the point is, at these times of what is called "hypoglycemia," his blood sugar will plummet to depths no human should be prepared to accept, and his body will do its best to let you know that you need to FEED HIM SUGAR NOW OMG. He won't go through all of these stages, but that all depends on you and how fast your reflexes are. (Also, how many Snickers bars you have on you.) You can learn more about the hilarious/irritating/dangerous world of low blood sugar attacks in my book Sweet Tooth, a memoir of my life as a type-1 diabetic teenager who thinks he likes dudes but knows he loves Froot Loops.

So, herewith, are the various stages of an insulin attack:


The part when he starts twitching
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The part when he starts sweating
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The part when he seems like he's a million miles away
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The part when he becomes kind of confused
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The part when he sweats some more
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The part when you realize he's probably having an "episode" so you try to feed him some Nutella
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The part when you try to get him to just open his mouth for one freaking second so you can squeeze some cake icing up in there
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The part when you get him to his feet and assume he can still walk to the kitchen by himself
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The part when you realize, oh shit, this is getting real
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The part when he starts to lose control of his motor skills
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The part when you sit him back down and he gets weirdly emotional
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The part when the sweating is kind of becoming a problem
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The part when you try to feed him a Little Debbie snack cake and he rebels
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The part when he falls on the floor and does some weird kind of land-based doggie paddle
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The part when he reminds you of an old horror movie you once saw
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The part when he starts laughing like he's seen the other side and it's hilarious
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The part when the sweating is getting kind of ridiculous
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The part when you manage to get some dulce de leche down his throat
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The part when he realizes that delicious sweet things taste good and make things better
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The part when he's really sorry for being so much trouble
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The part when the amount of adrenaline in his system is way too much for him to remain upright
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Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Copies of Sweet Tooth Have Arrived and Stella's Bogarting All of Them

Guys, I got my copies of my new book Sweet Tooth, which chronicles my adolescence as a poor gay boy who loves sweets, and my cat Stella has already staked her claim on all of them. Jimmy said she's spent all day stacking them in different formulations. The one below is particularly poignant, as it really gets to the heart of the experience of a diabetic who loves Nutella and sometimes has low-blood-sugar episodes. 

That there is a vat of God's own chocolate hazelnut spread, plus some chalky glucose tablets in case your blood sugar is low and you have absolutely nothing else around to combat it, plus a glucagon injection kit, which is as delightful as it sounds--if a poor diabetic has passed out or is unresponsive to whatever sugar you're shoving in his face, you may need to take out the glucagon and jab him with it, for freedom (and so he doesn't slip into a coma).

After doing her art project, Stella whipped out a copy and turned directly to the part about her, because she's narcissistic, like most cats.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Here's Something Fun: The Book Jacket for the Thai Version of Tune in Tokyo




















You guys, I know you're tired of me talking about myself incessantly, but seriously, this is fun stuff. For some reason, the island nation of Japan, in which I lived for two years (a long time ago, but still) has exhibited no interest whatsoever in translating my book about Japan, Tune in Tokyo, into Japanese, which is just rude and dismissive, no? You know who hasn't been rude and dismissive? Thailand, that's who. Yep, Thailand, that wondrous nation formerly known as Siam, snatched the rights to this book up like a Thai kid in an American candy store or something I don't know whatever.

The bottom line is, I'm thrilled that anyone wants me, and I'm double thrilled that it's Thailand, because I love Thailand--in the original draft of TiT, in fact, there was a chapter about a visit I took to T-land, but I ended up dropping it because it wasn't really on point, but I plan to include that story in a future book, so heads up, Thailand LOVE ME AND ASK ME OUT!

I'm triple thrilled with the design job on this here book jacket. They nailed me! Especially the narrow waist, the large biceps, and the platinum blonde hair. It's like I'm looking into a mirror. What's more, the Thai publisher, Matichon, has included Tune in Tokyo in a "Travelogue Series" of theirs. You wanna see an ad for it? Okay, if you insist.

In conclusion, I don't care that Japan is completely indifferent to my book's existence, because I'll always have Bangkok.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Introducing... Sweet Tooth: the Gay, Diabetic Memoir You've Been Waiting For!

Folks, I have great news, so sit down, shut up, and pour yourself a drink. Or wait, maybe pour yourself a drink, then sit down, then shut up. (Maybe you should shut up first?) Oh, whatever, just shut up and listen: my next book, Sweet Tooth, the follow-up to my generation-defining juggernaut Tune in Tokyo, has a publication date, hooray! You can get your grubby little hands on it on March 11, 2014. Like, this 2014! The year after this one! Do you know how soon that is?

Head on over to Ye Olde Amazon page to pre-order. You might also think about getting copies for your cat wrangler, your food tester, and your doppleganger, because you know you never get them nice things.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Did You Guys Know That Madonna Had Her Picture Taken a Few Times in the 80s?

It's true! More amazing, in fact: one guy, Richard Corman, actually photographed Madonna early in her career, even before she had an album out, or even owned her own upside-down crucifixes. And this fellow is being celebrated at Milk Gallery in NYC with a small but fun exhibit that contains many great shots of our lady hanging in the East Village, and a few shocking photographs of her apparently having lost her mind, braided her hair, and auditioned for Run-DMC?



Anyway, all the gays were there, you guys. All the gays. Here are two of them:



Big fans of Vision Quest, I'm thinking. And here's Madonna at her stove, leaning up against it like she owns it, when obviously she's just renting, at that point.

















That up there's my friend Rachel Roth, who made my wedding cake and takes lots of pictures and gets pissed at you if you don't look at them on Instagram, so hurry up and go look at them before she yells at you.

Speaking of Roth's Instagram, I totally stole the next two from it, cause I've just realized I didn't take many pictures. And when you don't have what you need, children, you just take it from someone else. Remember that. Above is Roth with one of the captions. (Roth, where are all your others? I need to steal them.)


Had that same boom box, except bigger and pinker.


I just... I just couldn't... I just couldn't even... it's... what's happening?


Roth would totally have been one of these blurry East Village kids if she hadn't been two years old and living in Raleigh.

And one more with Danise.

Best one of the bunch, IMHO: full cast shot of classic 80s morality tale Desperately Seeking Susan.


Aw, yeah, this is what you came here for. A pic of yours truly in between two Madonna noses. Drink it in, children.

And there are more photos inside but you get the idea, so here's a great one of Danise looking hot in the freezing cold.