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I listened to a lot of music when I had cancer. I had some free time and was on a lot of pain killers. It was a good use of my time. I listened to a lot of sad music, but when I was tired of being sad, I was angry and needed something to meet that need. I would get on Beastie Boys kicks. Many tracks were loud, and driving but full of positivity. Sometimes too, the lyrics felt oddly appropriate to my situation. I sang along with “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” because that’s what it felt like I was doing. “Time to Get Ill” put a wry smile on my face. “You gotta fight…” held extra emphasis, I wanted more time to party and do plenty of other things in the meantime. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” passed the time when I couldn’t sleep all night in post-op recovery.

The Beastie Boys aren’t only good for cancer listening, however. I memorized every second of Paul’s Boutique during one of my first jobs out of college. I was working through a temp agency, doing data entry for medical billing company. The supervisor was a nice guy. He knew exactly how much the job sucked. He set me up with a laptop in an empty office with a window. I had a never ending supply of hand filled out medical forms. He told me I could work overtime. I was flat broke, so I did. I went into the office everyday early, went out for lunch to get away from the computer screen, and worked late every night. I had Paul’s Boutique on repeat in my portable CD player. For three months.

Training for my first marathon also required some music. If I was feeling sluggish, I’d turn it to “Sabatoge” and sprint in spite of myself. Hot summer runs through the city were fueled by “Roots Down.” When the day came, I found myself at the startline in Pittsburgh, where I learned to love, really love music in dirty boxy clubs. It was already drizzling and humid even at 8am on a May morning. I prepared for soggy shoes and got ready to go. It was pretty miserable in sections but I was fueled by the amazement that I could push my body like this, even after cancer for 26 miles. I was rough around mile 23 and just in time, on my ipod came “Fight for Your Right.” This slow plodder broke into sprint and played air drums and I pumped my fist in the air. People stared. It was awesome. I rode this high all the way in to the finish.

What’s my point? I don’t know. I’m sad. The Beastie Boys are like soul food for your ears.  I’m just bloody sad that there won’t be more. Sad that I won’t be able to listen to them without knowing one of them is missing. Sad that I was diagnosed before Adam Yauch and now he’s no longer with us. Fuck cancer. Fuck every time someone has to say the words, “very treatable” the way Adam did in 2009. Sad that there won’t be more smart lyrics, more heavy beats, more… goodness. Sad that the world is a little less bright.

Last night, though my desire for a post-work cat nap could not be quelled, I made it to the Wild Flag show at the Black Cat. Wild Flag is a relatively new effort by four women, two of which are ex-members of the iconic riot grrl band Sleater-Kinney, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. The other two band members, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole have been involved with their own awesome bands such as Helium and The Minders, respectively. Despite the fact that they have yet to release an album and in their own words, are touring right now to kind of figure things out before hitting the studio for a full length release, the show sold out. The band did not disappoint. The openers, Yellowfever and The Aquarium, were pretty mellow and seemed tame in comparison to the melodic noisefest that followed. It has been a long time since I saw a stage full of women look so completely comfortable in their own skin. Watching four seasoned performers work the stage, the crowd, and each other was a genuine treat. 

It was interesting to watch the band as a whole. Wild Flag is it’s own entity, however it’s almost impossible not to see or hear them without waxing nostalgic for S-K. While everyone was singing in Sleater-Kinney, Corin Tucker was really the main front person.  For Wild Flag, Brownstein seemed to have the lead on vocals in addition to rocking the guitar. Her voice is unmistakable and last night ranged from that low, kind of almost bored tone that I associate with Northwestern music from the 90s to a wild, all out scream. It was great to hear her live again. Janet Weiss is one of my two favorite drummers to watch (the other being Samantha Maloney who I managed to catch back in the day with Shift before she played for the likes of Hole and Motely Crue) and she was all over the place, hair flying, sticks a blur. At one point I think Rebecca Cole was literally punching keys with her fists moving up and down the keyboard. The highlight of the night had to be when the band jammed out, maybe 3/4 of the way through the show. DC native, Mary Timony raised her guitar over her head to catch feedback repeatedly, fighting her guitar strap and the cords to her amp. The sound was amazing. The action was at once sensual and needy and defiant. At that moment she was visibly, 100% invested in the sound and led the crowd in with her. Together the band, the crowd, the bartenders, everybody was swaddled in the reverberations of four women rocking the fuck out.

Recently I have heard more than one of my friends wax nostalgic for the 90s – for grunge and riot grrrls, and well, angst. Sure, part of it is probably just a desire to relive that portion of our lives when we were younger and there seemed to be more possibility. But more than that, this music for me was part of a movement; It was overly feminist. I remember watching Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder on MTV, flailing around the stage, writing Pro-Life on his arm as he jumped from a chair. The riot grrrls movement was a big, musical fuck you to all of society. No pasty-white all male hardcore band of the same era had half as much of an excuse to scream angrily on stage as the ladies. They sang songs about friends who had been assaulted, about reproductive politics, about not taking anybody’s shit. There was an inherent confidence about the music I was listing to in the 90s. Even when it was overtly personal, there was power in the sharing of emotion.

Despite the fact that I’m a feminist, and pretty much surround myself with feminists in my personal life, I miss having almost an entire genre of music that touts feminist ideals.  Am I removed from it because I’m old and out of the loop? Is there a new crop of feminist music and art to carry today’s generation of girls into adulthood?

I’ve got several blog posts in me but as I’m not really up to typing (I’ll get to that later). Hopefully I can touch upon everything and get into detail if and when I’m feeling up to it.

Besides nice meals with friends (thanks all!), and nice long walks which wear me out but are lovely, I’ve had two big excursions. One was to Jammin Java to see toshi reagon in a parked car Toshi Reagon for the second time. The first time I saw her was at the same location but without her band. In all honesty I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy myself, not because she’s not an amazing musician, but because I just wasn’t into her style of music, but she really blew me away. So much so, that I was almost disappointed that she’d have her band with her because she’s so amazing solo, but again, I was far from disappointed. She played the early show so it was kind of short and I was not ready for her to get off stage when it was her time. She even commented near the end of her set that she felt like she was just getting going. With my limited mental capacities at the moment it’s difficult for me to describe her music, let alone her performance , but I’ll point you in the direction of some reviews that are more articulate than I can be at the moment. I will say that I’ve rarely seen a performer work a room without feeling like things were being a bit forced, but Toshi does none of that. Her music is spiritual, and deep, and bittersweet, and her lyrics capture the complexity of human relationship and experience without being preachy. I highly suggest seeing her if you get the chance. For the way that I’ve been feeling both physically and emotionally, it was the perfect first post-op show.

rotating image athens boys choir

Friday night I got the opportunity to see Athens Boys Choir which again was far more enjoyable and I had way more fun that I expected too, especially two days post-op, even though I was sitting behind a speaker which blocked my view a bit. The work is spoken word, usually with a backbeat. He works with what looks like a version of my computer (smart man) and performs over tracks loaded into iTunes. I love to see how differently this medium is used by DJs, singers, rappers, spoken word artists, etc. Admittedly it doesn’t always work but for the Athens Boys Choir it certainly does. He is an an amazing writer and an engaging performer. Again if you can catch him live – I highly suggest it.


Chuffed!

Originally uploaded by p373.
Pete’s monthly party, Chuffed, held on the fourth Saturday of each month, has gotten some well deserved love from Fritz Hahn at the Washington Post in an article which talks about the unlikely new-ish DJ scene at Selam:


Selam Restaurant sits on a heavily trafficked stretch of U Street NW, midway between Adams Morgan and the 14th Street corridor, but unless you’re a fan of Eritrean food, you’ve probably buzzed by the place without a second thought.In the past year, though, Selam has been growing under the radar, luring DJs from some of the city’s better-known clubs and dance parties to spin in the intimate basement space, whether for one night or for a monthly residency.

Sam “The Man” Burns, dean of Washington’s deep house scene after long runs at Red and Dragonfly, worked the decks in March. DJ Meistro, known for dropping hip-hop bombs at the acclaimed Oh Snap! parties at Wonderland, took a regular turn at a night called Solid Gold. Neil Payne, formerly of the house-rocking PartyDC crew, joined Pete Welsch, once a resident at Baltimore’s Sonar nightclub, and Eighteenth Street Lounge alumna Christine Moritz for Chuffed, which melds funk and down-tempo with Deee-Lite and old-school rap…

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music

  • ben points out this mix from Lovegrove, one of my favorite all time Baltimore DJs. It’s all kinds of warm and danceable. It makes you want a mojito even though it’s 36 degrees outside.
  • the very first chuffed was a blast. the next is on february 24th
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