Somebody’s Miracle


I’m going to see Liz Phair this weekend. I’m really excited. It’s my favorite DC venue: the 9:30 club. It’s small, very intimate.

The last time I saw Liz Phair was in 1999. She played at the University of Minnesota, where I was about to graduate. The student activities committee brought her in–the “Major Events” group was in charge, but I had a sort of tertiary awareness of it as I was the co-chair of “Bijou Films” that year, running a couple of small film series on campus. My colleague on the committee picked her up from the airport and drove her to the show. I was very jealous.

It was her tour for whitechocolatespaceegg, an album I loved. I still love it: “Big Tall Man,” “What Makes You Happy,” “Johnny Feelgood,” “Shitload of Money,” and of course “Ride.”

Torry went to that concert with me. In a move very characteristic of him, he threw a note to her onstage that some stagehand whipped away before it even touched the ground. We stood at the front of that show together. It was so long ago maybe I was a different person. Liz Phair is short. We were almost the same height, even with her standing on the stage. Granted, it was a little stage in a little hall in the student union. It was the same place I took ballroom dancing lessons with my friend Katie. It was next to the building where I was an RA. It was above the bowling alley where I had–yes–bowling class.

Torry has been dead for five years. I bought a t-shirt that night. It was red. It said, whitechocolatespaceegg on it. A few months later, when I am living with Torry in Minneapolis, my father will take a picture of me in my bedroom wearing that shirt. I’m standing there awkwardly, giving the tour of this apartment. I look awkward and uncomfortable. The t-shirt is too big for me. I didn’t realize that until years later. I didn’t have the kind of self-awareness then that I have now. But I suppose we all look back at our photographs and realize how much we didn’t know at that particular moment in time.

When I stop and think about it, I have more memories than I can sort through all tied to that one square mile of Minneapolis. John Berryman jumped off a bridge near where I lived. You could see it from the dining room of our dorm. You could see it from the lounge where the hall council had a coffeeshop once a month and where, as part of my job, I hosted a reading for people who lived in the building.

I don’t always know how to do this, how to live in a world that keeps filling up with ghosts.

Alotta Vagaga

On Monday Beau and I went to the Lady Gaga show in Richmond. It was awesome.

I know that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Gaga, and those who think she’s gaga. I’m clearly in the first camp, but don’t disparage those who won’t join me (so do me the same respect by not leaving your snarky comments here).

The show opened with a short film starring Gaga, called Who Shot Candy Warhol? Gaga combs her hair with a Hello Kitty brush while answering an interviewer’s questions. The whole thing is very Truffaut, until somebody gets shot! In the heart! Gaga appeared onstage in all her pant(y)less glory and sang Paparazzi. And she danced. And she was actually singing while she danced. It was impressive, and authentic, and fun.

Gaga is an ethusiastic performer. After each number, she’d chit chat with the audience, telling us how wonderful her fans were and how excited she was to be there. I think she kind of got off on being on stage, though, because while singing, she’d intermittently shout, “Scream!” And the audience would scream. Or “Hold your guns in the air and shoot ’em” (during “Beautiful, Dirty, Rich”). She loved telling us what to do…and then watching us do it.

The show was sparse, stripped down. The set was almost austere as far as pop shows go, and she only had three back up dancers, three men who’d been traveling with her for two years. The biggest set piece was a real scooter they pushed her in on before she sang “LoveGame.”

Yes. She wore the bubble dress, for a while. She wore it while she played the lucite piano and sang stripped down (pun intended) versions of “Brown Eyes” and “Poker Face.”

Although the show was fun, it was short. No opening act (yay!). She didn’t sing all the songs on her album (losers included “Paper Gangsta” and “I Like It Rough”). But she gave 110% to what she did do, and, like a honest-to-real diva, she showed up 60 minutes late for the show.

But, she said she was sorry.

Melt My Heart to Stone

I had tickets to see Adele tomorrow night at a little club in DC, and then got a disappointing phone call (from a California number…?) saying the show was canceled and that I’d be receiving a full refund.

I’m pretty bummed! Since buying her album I’ve really come to love her music. I was looking forward to seeing her in a small venue—my favorite kind of concert experience.

So, I don’t know what’s next. Maybe tickets to go see Cut Copy? They’re hot too.

He Ain’t Mister Right

Last night I got to tag along with Reb to the George Michael concert in DC. In the process, I met and confirmed the existence of both Tender Buttons and Tender Vittles, which was very exciting for me. They are both indeed tender, although Buttons has a bit of an edge to her that I appreciated. She’s obviously the dominant sister, although they’d both argue that they’re the smarter sister.

After spending some time marooned by poor customer service in the bar at a Greek tapas restaurant, we got to the arena and immediately bought cocktails and merch. I was very unhappy to discover that the only shirt I wanted to buy, a gray one that simply said, “Wham!” across the front, was for kids! Hello! Lame.

Once the show started I realized a few things:

1. George Michael probably isn’t Mr. Right, but knowing that is half the battle.
2. George Michael should probably be classified in the “petite” category of gentlemen.
3. George Michael has three dance moves, all of which feature prominently his pelvis, but they work, so I suppose that’s all he needs.

The performance was great. The show was upbeat and featured All the Songs You Know By Heart, including a generous helping of his Wham! hits and his early solo stuff, which, we all know, is the best. And, granted, the concert did seem to celebrate his twenty-five years in the music industry, and he seemed both touched and excited to be doing the show.

Tender Buttons and Reb were really adamant in including GM on the Divas List, and I had to agree with them. (TB put him right before Patti LaBelle, so you knew she was serious.) Although the tickets claimed the show would begin at “8 pm prompt” with no opening act, Mr. Michael kept us waiting for at least 30 minutes while he finished putting on his face or whathaveyou. He held the microphone toward the audience nearly as often as he held it to his own lips, seemingly to let us bathe him in our fevered shouts and impassioned wails.

My favorite moment: after concluding his final song, “Freedom” (which he only sang after making us shout the title three times—D-I-V-A), GM pulled his now-signature shades from his face and, in a camera close-up that rivaled William Hurt in Broadcast News, appeared overcome by emotion, about to break into tears of joy, but at the last minute held it in and instead lifted up his head with a bright smile and a jaunty over-the-head wave before dashing off stage, leaving his backup sings to “bring us home,” as it were.

Reb and I totally danced our behinds off during the show, and we also had soft serve. George Michael + ice cream. *sigh* That’s the life.