Sunday, June 28, 2009

All hail the Fabulon Freaks: Geek Love, a book worth reading

I picked up Geek Love by Katherine Dunn thinking it was something along the lines of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I had never read but heard was good. I figured that it would be a fun read, maybe a light love story about two outcasts. I was wrong.

Dunn's geeks do not tape together their broken glasses or hide from large groups at social events. Instead, they soak up the spotlight on stage, taking pride in missing limbs and deformities as adoring fans quite literally worship them in cult-like ways. Geeks are carnival freaks, and Geek Love is a novel about the traveling Binewskis, a seriously dysfunctional carny family.

When Al Binewski realizes his family's good ol' fashioned traveling show is lacking a truly marvelous act, he decides to recruit his wife (trapeze artist and live chicken eater), Crystal Lil, to breed a family of freaks. Feeding her lots and lots of drugs and after several botched pregnancies, they create: Arturo the Aquaman (flippers for arms and legs), Iphy & Elly (twins joined at the waist), Olympia (bald albino dwarf hunchback) and Fortunato AKA Chick (a "norm" with dangerous powers.)

Olympia tells the story from her own perspective, which ends up being like a long, thrilling and often times nauseating (but in a good way?) carnival ride. The book is hilarious, disgusting and completely heart-breaking. In Dunn's world, freaks are beautiful and anyone else is ugly and base. With a completely foreign backdrop, Dunn showcases the ugliness of power and greed and has you second-guess you're own opinions of "normal."

Dunn's profound reflections on parental love, motive for procreation and family value are worth noting, especially considering the story is told by a child for most of the novel. Particularly, the reversal of maternal roles with children and their parents, or, more interestingly, the portrayal of youth/infanthood as not the age of innocence, but as the age of pure insight due to barbarism.

Here is my favorite "Wow" excerpt:
It is bitter for the young to see what awful innocence adults grow into, that terrible vulnerability that must be sheltered from the rodent mire of childhood. ... How deep and sticky is the darkness of childhood, how rigid the blades of infant evil, which is unadulterated, unrestrained by the convenient cushions of age and its civilizing anesthesia. Grownups can deal with scraped knees, dropped ice-cream cones, and lost dollies, but if they suspected the real reasons we cry they would fling us out of their arms in horrified revulsion. ... We need that warm adult stupidity. ... We make do with it rather than face alone the cavernous reaches of our skulls for which there is no remedy, no safety, no comfort at all. We survive until, by sheer stamina, we escape into the dim innocence of our own adulthood and its forgetfulness. (105-106)
Katherine Dunn (pictured above) is a great writer and radio personality from Portland who is most famous for covering the boxing world as a journalist. She has contributed extensively to the outstanding Willamette Weekly. Check out Geek Love (1989), an oldie but goodie, if you can handle dark, thought-provoking, table-turning plot. After all, it was nominated for a National Book Award!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Three records to which I cry

Every so often, I get the blues on Sundays. Don't ask me why. Probably because the weekend is ending, probably because I am often alone in my room.

Here are the albums that I end up putting on. Because they are beautiful, perfect (only because they are imperfect) and utterly tragic:

1. Pink Moon- Nick Drake

And my favorite song off of the album, "Place to Be":

2. Sea Change- Beck

Cheesy/but also kinda cool video for "Lost Cause" off of the album:

3. Either/Or- Elliott Smith

"Between the Bars" is my favorite Elliott Smith song. Disclaimer: This video will make you cry:

What are your three favorite melancholy records?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gotta Have-it Creatures of Habit

So, I recently joined a committee that is setting out to revitalize the Davis Second Friday ArtAbout. We (various Davis gallery staff-members & owners) are starting by straight-up getting more art all over the Davis downtown area (not just in galleries) -- in cafes, shops, restaurants and salons. I asked a lot of my artist friends if I could put them on our list of interested participants, and we've already gotten them some shows in downtown businesses.

I am most excited about former Aggie co-worker, Rosa Chou, who will be showing her series of watercolor illustrations "Creatures of Habit" at Barista Brew on G Street. I am so proud of Rosa, because this is one of her first solo shows.

I am SO purchasing one of her adorable pieces:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Feta makes everything betta

Don't you just love it when you whine to yourself "Man, there is NOTHING to eat at home!" and then realize you have a few random things that you totally forgot about that are just straight chillin' in the veggie crisper?

The resulting dinner for one:
1. Roasted Beets+Feta+Olive Oil+Salt+Pepper
2. One Fresh Tomato+Garlic Salt+Pepper+Feta
3. Five Asparagus Spears Cooked at 450 Degrees in Olive Oil+Garlic Salt+Pepper

Honestly, a stash of olive oil, garlic salt and feta rescues any random vegetable sitting around that isn't enough for a whole meal on it's own. (And squeezing some lemon on it all makes it even better.)

I probably say this a lot, but seriously my short work stint at The Greek in Ventura changed my life. Feta (and lemon) tastes great on evvvverything.

Just ask Mr. Panos. Here he explains what da Greeks eat on Greek Easter:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My first post for Tom Tom Magazine!


I recently became the West Coast contributor for Tom Tom Magazine, a new Webzine for and about female drummers. Each month, I will be posting an interview with a West Coast drummer I admire, as well as reviews and other fun feminist/drumming-related stuff.

Check out my interview with Lauren Hess of Agent Ribbons!