This blog was originally posted to The Dresden Dolls Diary.
rolls head around high-school library poll:
….i wish i was on a plane…..to france….
– claire (“it’s a fat girl’s name”), the breakfast club, 1984
on a plane….to france…..not for tour with the band or for promo or work this time but for Actual Fucking Vacation….like, do nothing shit.
feel so guilty even saying it, i know i’ve earned it, must be those puritanical new england roots of mine
i’ve gotten on lots of planes in the past few months to do yoga retreating, recording, video-ing, family-and-friend-visting, but this is different, this has no structure. not quite sure what’s going to happen and thats the way i like it.
the woman beside me is reading a cheesy-ass airport romance novel
but i like her
i have not, in the last 7 years, purchased a plane ticket to JUST GO SOMEWHERE. so i did. when i was in bordeaux about two years ago with the dresden dolls i decided i was going to come back, someday, for a vacation. i don’t know how i decided. i just did. it was the perfect south-ish of france day, the perfect weather, and as i walked through the streets of the town, something just struck me: this is the perfect place to come and be by myself. endless small winding streets, a labyrinth of squeezed-together blackened buildings all low to the ground, lots of mellow south-of-france people, old everything, croissants, coffee. wine.
how much of it was informed by my love of the breakfast club, i will never know. we tend to have poisoned and collective fantasies.
warning: i think this blog is going to be really fucking long. sorry. this flight is 6 hours and 50 minutes and i haven’t taken an ambien yet.
i thought i was going to get to go on this fantasy bordeaux vacation last year but the usual crunch set in and it was lost.
i’d actually forgotten about that. until a few days ago. then life played a cruel joke as i was searching my sent items on my mac using the keyword “bordeaux”. the first thing that popped up was an email that i had sent to ben a few months before he died. the email was a picture (a drawing, really) of an old old bordeaux that i found on a google image search and the text i wrote to him: THIS IS WHERE I AM GOING. i had been sharing with him my nascent bordeaux fantasy. i’ve been thinking about ben more than usual lately. maybe it’s the time of year, i dont know. maybe it’s because i lost the headphones that i bought because he had the same ones. they got shuffled away in the video shoot. the first thing i did when i came back to boston was went to the same store to see if i could buy the same pair. had to special-order them. special-ordered them. some things like that are important. for a few months ben kept popping up in the address field every time i would email ben folds. i had been emailing ben chapell so much, i suppose, that the mac just said: “this IS the ben you want to email, right?” i removed him from my adress book but i hadn’t forseen the possibility that he’d come back from the dead while searching for flight information. i miss him. i miss him.
it’s been a crazy fucking few weeks: truly, the happiest of my life so far. yes. i can honestly say that. there’s been so many incredible moments that i wish i could bottle it all, save it, stretch it out, wish i could toss a few of the spectacular moments that maybe i didn’t need in case i find myself hungry for good days when i’m old and doddering.
random thoughts from comments:
i appreciated somebodys comment about the spin class equivalent of noga: nin. think of all the other possibilities for active non-exercise. such as norobics and nogging. nin as a form of exercise had a very nice ring to it as it conjured images of somebody focusing very hard on weightlifting an imaginary trent reznor. since it is an imaginary trent reznor, it could be the fishnet-clad 1989 version of trent reznor who is much skinnier than the present day buffed-out version of trent reznor and therefore much easier to lift were he not to be a theoretical trent reznor but i suppose if you’re practicing nin and that means that by virtue of it being a non-exercise and therefore a non-existant trent reznor it really wouldn’t matter either way.
thank you for the link, but you will be proud to know that i DO already own a zen alarm clock. it is one of my most prized possessions and i think i have also given about 5 of them as gifts over the years. i first saw the zen alarm clock (which wakes you up by ringing an actual soft chime with a hammer in increasing increments of time, it’s delicious, look for one on ebay, they run about $50-$100) at my friend sasha’s house in brooklyn back in the day. she was playing bass and violin for king missile and invited me to crash there or visit one day and when i saw the alarm and said WHATS THAT she said: that is the zen alarm clock, it will change your life. and she was right. waking up to the fucking radio or a buzzing piece of shit alarm clock or a ringing hotel phone is one of my least favorite ways to start a day and i didn’t even realise how much it was affecting me til i changed it. now, if they would make a TRAVEL zen alarm clock so i could take that shit on the road, given i am only at home with my zen alarm clock about 15% of the time, i’d be set. will somebody please invent it and drop me a line.
somebody asked me my thoughts on the following artists:
Joanna Newsom – i like her, even though she looks and smells like a gelfling. the voice on the first record really turned me off but she seems to have toned it down for ys. i find it hard to relate to the lyrics, even though the can be captivating, they seem Away, a bit too literary for my taste. i have to admit ive barely listened to either record, but that’s my impression. i am mostly impressed by her ability to be seemingly totally original, herself, what-she-is, no bullshit and draw people in. that’s very special and i appreciate whoever does it whoever they do it, whether they are joanna newsom or devendra or fucking eminem.
Sigur Ros – i think they’re amazing, bought my first album about 4 or 5 years ago in germany, and and and i want to see them live. i’ve heard they slay
Regina Spektor – its funny you should mention that now, because i’ve been thinking a lot about regina, how could i not. if you’ve known me for a while you’d know that i am a huge fan, bordering on the obsessive from back in the day. i was turned onto her music by a friend (im pretty sure it was anna vogelzang, a great piano-singer in her own right) a while ago, maybe in 2002, long before she blew up. somebody mentioned her, i went out and found soviet kitsch (actually, i think i pulled that “hey i’m in the dresden dolls can you send me a CD?” card and she mailed it to me) and spent the next 4 or 5 days in a love haze. it was the first time in years i re-discovered listening to music for pleasure instead of business (i would repeat this experience about a yar later with a bright eyes record) and actually Took My Walkman To Bed because i was so excited about hearing the sounds that this woman made with her piano and voice. we invited her to open up for us on a tour of new england, maybe 4 shows, and that was how we started getting to know each other. more shows and sleep-overs ensued (regina once stayed over at the same time david j was in town, a true convergence) and we would talk on the phone every few months to catch up about our respective lives in the weird Major Label Machine. she was working on the beginnings of “begin to hope” back then, and she was oh oh excited about how good it sounded. i remember talking to her once when she was walking from the studio back to her apartment and she just sounded fucking High on the process, so happy with what was coming out…
i saw her last show at avalon in boston, with full band, and was just blown away by how far and how fast it can happen for some people. i used to say to people: “looking at what is happening with regina every month is like watching an alternate/quantum version of my own life”….because she was doing the solo piano thing, which is what may well have happened if i hadn’t met the drummer brian viglione and started the dresden dolls. i would sometimes feel jealous of her solo-ness (“damn. she gets to be alone on stage, tour alone, and do whatever the fuck she wants”), sometimes badly for her solo-ness (“damn. she’s all alone up there. no drummer to make bang bang loud loud”) and certainly, when she blew up big time, envious of the mega-attention the label had given her (“damn. what if OUR record had had a budget & TV placement like that…?”) but mostly i am just in awe of her abilty to move me, every single fucking time i see her play (and often just via headphones). she is a song-writing genius, in my opinion, done, if anyone ISN’T already familiar with her music: i recommend starting with “soviet kitsch” and then moving to “songs” and “begin to hope”. “11:11” isnt really worth it, nowhere near her best. regina plug over
re: the new avril video
well, we were waiting to see which direction she would go for record #3 and the votes are in: CHEESE FEST.
where’d brooding, angry avril go? this fucking video makes ME brooding and angry. it’s the most hate-ridden, ignorant, mean-bitch-promotin’ video EVAR & makes me wanna hurl. omg SO over it. that said, “under my skin” will never leave my top ten.
back to life
the birthday show in nashville i find it hard to describe. it’s been so long since ive toured or played live shows that i was really bowled over and touched by how loving and generous everyone was. we put this show together in literally four days and then…hundreds of people show up. there is all this energy, all these gifts, all this attention. i feel like i have a magic faucet plug into the universe. how did i get so fucking lucky?
i wanted to rock out so i put a band together with bass-playing jared (from ben fold;s band, he knew some of the songs anyway from the recordings) and drum-slaying doni (from …and you will know us by the trail of dead and nowadays more in the band Forget Cassettes) and we had one only-slightly-beer-sodden rehearsal the day before the gig. they were both pro and intuitive, incredible musicians and i felt that holy-shit-MUSIC! feeling as we plugged in and played those first few songs. i had jotted out a brand new song, rare for me to work that quickly, the night before they came and so i went for broke and arranged it with them. we also broke out a cover of “sister christian” by night ranger and by that point in the set my life was complete. i think 5 separate people brought cakes, i was given at least 12 ponies (i re-gifted a few of them to the 6-year old in attendance), and a pair of girls brought a pinata which i slayed out on the smoking porch. they didnt tell me it was filled with glitter and so my head was covered with glitter for a few days, which was nice, it was like luminescent dandruff
(the woman beside me just made a funny comment when the french steward brought me my wine. i have noticed lately how everybody on planes are always on their number one best behavior. from apes in the jungle to being stuffed in a box like this, hundreds of us, for seven hours!!!! evolution and socialization: fucking impressive
oh you’ll sleep well, she said
you bet your ass i will, wait til i pop the ambien, bizzatch)
at the show i played some the new songs that ben and i have been working on and Holy Shit do they sound good live….any doubts that i was hanging onto festering have fully melted and i felt like a fucking powerhouse, ripping through one song after the next, sopping up the audience that i’d felt so missing in the weeks of recording, as i sang into a response-less microphone and empty room. now the music was real. people could hear it, i cold hear them hearing it, i could feel them feeling it & this is what i like about being a musician.
after the show i went on a til-dawn bar-tour and playground-tour of nashville and got to sleep after the sun came up.
the LA shoot for “shores” was…….breathtaking? awesome? i’m running out of adjectives. it’s irritating that all this good shit is happening at once, it makes it all seem a little less incredible. fuck. i seem to use “incredible” and “awesome” a lot. whatevs. plainly priceless, as you can plainly see from the pictures posted up on the myspace (more coming…). there were about 50-100 people hanging (so patiently, especially as the cold rolled in) on venice beach and i kept doing this “fucking pinch me” thing to whoever would listen because i was so happy. all the friends there, all the love, all the work, it was just (fuck adjectives) FUCKING INCREDIBLY AWESOME. i saw the rough cut for it yesterday and i think we came close to capturing the magic, we’ll see. editing videos is weird, it’s so hit and miss. the director, andrew, and the producer, frank, were great gentlemen (and broke my not-working-with-michael-pope cherry gently….pope is, by the by, doing great and currently living in brooklyn and working on a new feature film, which will most certainly be amazing and feature some kind of amanda cameo, even if i have to be naked and blowing somebody….and i would not put his past michael pope…i would count on it….long parenthesis over). frank gets special love for taking me on an epic motorcycle ride to the best sushi view in hollywood.
(oh the sky is orange right now outside the plane the plane)
in LA i stayed the whole time at katie kay’s magic house near los feliz. staying in a house or apartment of a friend (especially the house or apartment of an amazing friend such as katie kay) tends to change everything. hotels are not Home. when not feel home, do not act Home. when you are Home you are happier. i would rather stay at Home and deal with very small inconveniences like Sleeping On The Couch and Waiting For The Boyfriend To Get Out of the Bathroom than stay in a fucking soulless hotel room. granted, hotel rooms are great when you need Very Alone and what not but good friends are usually very chill in the Alone dept. and in this case, i actually wondered if i was encroaching on katie’s Alone because she had so much Shit To Do for the video. she killed it, all the costumes, NAILED, the woman is a shining light of brilliance and inspiration….we spent long good talks eating and juicing and driving around LA. emily came to town to join the fest, erin maxick dropped in and took us to yoga. the night before we shot the video (all of our alarms were set for 5:15 am) i was listening to the track over and over and decided around midnight to go out to the street for a good ol dance-and-lip-synch fest for practice, inspied by watchi david lee roth 16 times in a row and being stunned by his earnestness. emily asked if she could video-tape and i said yes and i have yet to see the footage of me bopping around hollywood at midnight in my sweater, lipsycnhing music that only i could hear, but my guess is it’s hilarious.
the morning of the shoot i woke up at 4 am with a very christmas feeling in my stomach and knew that going back to sleep would be impossible. so i decided to be a good yogi, went to katie kay’s dark kitchen, brewed this great white/green te mixture she has stocked, and took my mug of tea and a blanket out to her front lawn to meditate across from the little buddha statue sitting under the tree. i sat for about half an hour, got up around 5 am all proud of myself for being all centered and enlightened and promptly tripped across katie kay’s front steps, smashing her mug into several dozen pieces on the cement and very possibly waking up several neighbors. i laughed very hard at this.
when we showed up at the beach the whole crew was already in full swing and the rest of the day was a blur of sand and whacked out clothes and faces and color and love. the characters on venice beach blended nicely with ourown collection of freaks….costume changes at the cadillac hotel every twenty minutes….david j from bauhaus showing up in his dapper white suit….margaret cho showing up in FULL belly-dancing regalia….kelly from “kelly likes shoes” showing up in full dress and making out with me in the sand…jason webley showing up and teaching the entire cast of school girls the “elephant elephant” song (another gem from the record we’re producing by the amazing siamese twins, evelyn & eveyln, more details on that later i assure you)….the bodybuilder who just happened by and decided to oil himself up for the shoot…the roller derby girls who came all decked out…the stilt-walker troupe…everybody freezing their asses off….my A&R guy david bason and my art director jeff from roadrunner getting in the video with their bare legs clad in high heels….i could go on: my only regret is that the video won’t feature HALF of what was happening on venice beach that day. there’s only 3 minutes for the whole video FUCK!!!!!!!
there is a STAGGERINGLY gorgeous and huge photo-set of all this madness up at :
pixie is the BEST.
& video should be done by june…..
the shoot wrapped at around sunset and i felt a level of tiredness in my body that i used to only feel after a double shift of stature work on top of a three hour drive. a heaviness in my limbs that was so infused with satisfaction that i could ever decide from moment to moment what to focus on. superkate, my kick-ass assitant for the day, drove us back to katie kay’s and i sat there like a zombie in the front seat, unable to process everything that had just happened. it was as if the best moments of my life had just been compacted into 9 hours and i was trying to digest it all. i almost fell asleep. i SHOULD have gone to sleep. but instead i went to a club dow the street where jason webley was playing. i was delirious. i became more delirious. every time i see jason play i am inspired, the guy is just so fucking GOOD at entertaining a room of people, i’ve never seen him not play from the darkest depths of his fucking heart.
we stayed up late into the night and the next day was a complete recovery, we all went to madame matisse and ordered huge omelettes, jason drove off to his next tour date, and i collapsed back into bed until the next day. had two meetings, more film and tv agent meetings and huge sushi galore with em.
then i flew home and slept for like two days, for reals.
once i woke up i had to deal with the onslaught of mail and email and Basic Shite That Is Always There, but i took it in stride. i saw a lot of music. i soaked up the scent of my apartment and the incoming springtime, the flowers bursting like mad in my neighborhood. i Let Shit Go. i am getting better at this. one night patrick wolf and amy winehouse were playing at avalon and me and becca jumped in a cab to check it out. patrick was adorable as shit and inspired me to order, at no great expense, a baritone ukulele from eBay. he was pure energy on the stage. all my old family/crew was converged there, wonderful wonderful. i went over to central sq to see cuddle magic with andrew (a-fucking-mazing: www.myspace.com/cuddlemagic) then we went back for the amy winehouse afterparty. patrick danced with the drag queens (YES, THE VERY SAME ONES WHO PLAYED SOCCER WITH THE KAISER CHIEFS….how lucky are THEY in the rock dept. this month??)
a few nights later i went to see the arcade fire.
i must pause here for a moment of fucking silence for the Arcade Fire. oh oh oh oh oh oh oh…………
this band….o…this band is doing it for real, my brothers and sisters. the only time i’d seen them was when i met them and saw them for all of two minutes at coachella a few years ago.
they BROUGHT IT, they PLAYED. the production itself was brilliant: video-feeds screaming big brother surveillance, neon lights that bent ironically towards heaven….they were so not afraid to be performers. they have the tunes; they have the talent. we said hi to will and win the singer (who is way taller than i remember, but just as gracious) and as soon as we exited to the street i heard “HEY AMANDA” and i turned and there were two guys, fans of the arcade fire and the dresden dolls. all High from the show. we chatted up i noticed that oneof the guys had a cast on his arm. it went all the way to his fingers; his hand was cocooned. his friend was wearing an arcade fire shirt that he had made out of bleach. i complimented him on his handiwork. then anthony, or me, i don’t remember, asked
“what happened to your arm?”
yeah, it sucked. lost all my fingers, except the pinky.
how? we asked
at work, factory accident. sucks doesn’t it.
but he was wearing the biggest grin on his face.
the arcade fire show was still pumping through him, making all limbs and lack thereof irrelevant, maybe
we made the usual…at least youre here, at least you’re not dead……..
out hearts were swollen like killer tomatoes when we got into the cab home
oh well, can;t really tell the difference anymore ?
i watch my packing habits. packing for tour, packing for shoots, packing for whatever. i;m always doing it.
i watched myslef packing this morning and got really hilarious with it. sometimes i’ll REALLY let myslef go and talk to myself, out loud, in a completely un-checked stream-of-consciousness.
“now go to the bathroom. toothbrush wait take the charger for the toothbrush now put it in the backpack pocket ok yay you did that now oh shit you need your passport let’s go get it ok ok it’s in the filing cabinet yay we’re going to the filing cabinet ok passport yay it’s actually in here ok now we’re going to put it in backpack what else is in there oh gross now list list list let’s see the list list time to pack books but dishes maybe dishes ok so the place isn’t rank when we come home ok dishes time dishes dishes maybe just water all over them but dont actually clean ok ok put on an elliot smith cd good dish music yay really listening to music”
mind you, these are not THOUGHTS i am quoting, i am TALKING here, out load: to myself and the fleas.
sometimes i stop and notice it and fucking crack up laughing. then i shut up out of weird leftover self-consciousness.
i was planning on taking one small suitcase and igically ended up with two large ones.
how did i morph from minimal “i will take one blank book and maybe two pens” ? into a library of books and an amelda marcos collection of shoes for one photoshoot in france?
i put it this way to my housemate troy:
“oh my god i will have free time maybe i can learn to knit maybe i can learn to play autoharp maybe i can learn to read MUSIC!!!!!! maybe i can read EVERY FUCKING BOOK IVE ORDERED FROM AMAZON!!!!!!!!! HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IN TEN DAYS I CAN EDUCATE MYSELF SO FAR INTO THE CONFLICT WITH IRAN THAT I WILL NEVER FEEL IGNORANT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!”
add one photo shoot on top of that and you’ve got two suitcases stuffed with possibilty
(the thin texan behind me just asked, REALLY condescendingly, im ASSUMING you dont want these? re: the three empty plane-wine bottles cluttering his foot space)
today before i boarded the plane
oh oh oh oh oh
today was really beautiful
this was the best.
i was invited to accept an award today at youth pride, which is basically the high school version of regular gay pride day, and i was supposed to be out of town. but then ben’s show at the symphony came up ( i had to go, but i missed the infamous brawl) and i stayed a few extra days in town so i went, not knowing what to expect at all. about 2,000 high school kids were gathered at boston common to be out and out and i, rarely vocal bisexual that i am, accepted an award from my old high school’s gay-straight alliance. i stood there thinking quick about what to say….i wanted to say a lot but i had nothing planned. i was just blown over by the sheer beauty of all these freaky high-school kids, all dancing and loud and proud and easy, the way i’d always fantasized about in high school…everyone decked out and united in happy celebration of being queer. me and three of my friends (claire, mehran and fred, aka kasha) in high chool founded the first incarnation of this gay-straight alliance group that presented my with my styly award. we caled ourselves Bi-GLASS (bisexual gay lesbian and straight society) and we mostly existed to throw parties and draw pictures of our group’s logo, which cosisted of the “B” of Bi-GLASS taking the shape of a man’s buttocks while the dot of the “i” transmorphed into a cock penetrating said ass. my god, we had fun back then. we were sick and having a great fucking time, i must say. we didn’t accomplish anything, i think we went to one rally. probably tripping. but watching it having morphed into an actual organization at my old high school was pretty heart-warming.
i think things have changed, if only slightly. in 1993, when i was in the middle of high school, it was JUST BARELY cool, even if you were a freak, to admit you were bi or gay. now, from a distance at least, it seems like an acceptable badge of alternative honor. maybe im just jealous again. but the kids that i met at this rally were like a best-of: all caught up thinking, social, mad, lost, happy, delirious in the blitzing moment of their own creation right there on the big grassy historic-common thats seen revolution, civil rights marches, you name it, weep it…
in a fabulous twist of fate, the drag queen who MC’d right pride was from the Kaiser Chiefs/Amy Winehouse debacle-rama. i love life
i had thought that i would take off right after the awards to dash home and pack for the bordeaux fantasy but the kids kept asking if i was going to be a part of the parade and i knew i technically had time. so i stayed
(i just took the ambien – not much longer for this world)
i got into a world-war II-era combo land-water duck boat with the organizer (btw YOU GO KELLY, you may have ditched high school but look at what you’ve fucking organized, you fucking bitch!!l) and some of the other kids and we did a circle of the completely desolate financial district. this was saturday, i got the feeling that it was the cops idea of a cruel joke to be like “sure, you can have a parade, we’ll take you through the financial district on saturday where NOBODY WIL BE and we will revel in the uncomlicated trafficlessness of it all”….and so it was a parade, but with no street-side spectators, which was kind of awesome because you mostly felt the inner resonance of this group of 2,000 people all cheering themselves on, all taking care of each other. then shit gets fucking weird: all cinematic, the parade passes by marcus stern, the director of the onion cellar. he and i had some heavy struggles with each other but we caught each others eyes and smiled all-gone all-good at each other, pressed fists over hearts, let the past go. we held each other’s gazes for a while. could this parade get more surreal? yes:
the truly bizarre moment kicked in when the driver of the duck boat announced that he hadnt brought any music, did anyone have a CD? i struggled for a second, because i did. i had a “yes, virginia” stuffed in my purse in case i needed one for a gift (and indeed, i ended up signing it and giving it to kelly), so kelly grabbed it and shoved it in the CD player and for a totally surreal 35 minutes i watched a group of high-school kids in a duck boat singing my songs at the top of their lungs to a mostly empty sidewalk. it was weird enough, but it got weirder when i noticed that it didn’t seem to make these kids feel weird to realize that the person who had RECORDED this shit, Stood In a Fucking Studio And Vocalized This Fucking Music was there with them. no, actually///// it didn;t seem to to faze them. my presence was an afterthought at best. it was the music, the music, the music. not me. not ME.
we got to the corner of tremont and boylston just as the last chorus of “sing” was playing. whatever was happening outside the boat, at that point, was irrelevant. crowds of saturday shoppers were standing in the street confused by this boat of traffic-disrupting teenagers who had an army of dead-pan flat-ass boston policemen on motorcycles keeping the road parade-ready in front of them…
and they belted out
“LIFE IS NO CABARET”
while i stood there sort of dumbstruck
“WE’RE INVITING YOU ANYWAY”
and they sang those word to the outside world like an anthem that they weren’t even thinking about anymore, because the words were so familiar, like a given
and its not the wine at high altitude, oh maybe it is – they say in vino veritas, though i know i usually cry at any airplane movie, including harry potter, once i’m airborne
but i’m letting myself cry anyway no matter what the woman beside me thinks
i finally feel like i’m real