Everett True

Letters from Rosie 6

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Received another excellent, thought-provoking email from Rosie, partway inspired by my recent Tall Tales And True post.

Hey ET,

Just read Tall Tales. Want more. I’m going to tell you what I’m thinking and I’ve been thinking it for a while.

Yr blog posts, although plentiful in number, are too short for my tastes. I want stories, ET. I want long, meandering,been-sitting-here-listening-so-long-I-am-now-a-bit-cold-and-need-a-blanket rock histories, like Ilyiad-level mythologies. The subtleties of yr writings here (the lack of names, particulars), may confuse the common reader, but fuck that – write for the few, the faithful few who know yr writing and yr persona so well they can anticipate yr meaning.

I know a lot of great white working class boys in Belfast who love The Rolling Stones. No further analysis is required. But for me, I can’t be arsed with them because of Mick Jagger. I think Mick Jagger is a mean man. My mum always used to say you could tell who was mean from that 60s generation because the mean ones were all still alive! Dylan, Jagger – they were in the fray as much as Edie or Brian Jones… but they looked after number one and hence are still with us today. It’s hard to kill a bad thing. When Mick Jagger got knighted, me and my mum had a chuckle. She was a pretty respectable lady but even she couldn’t believe Jagger would tow the establishment line like that. She said, “The reason why he accepted it is because in his head he’s probably seriously thinking, ‘Yeah! I deserve this!!'”

Some things I’ve been thinking about on the side – re: the Nils Fax Spat (really, really interesting for so many reasons). I know a lot of amazing, sensitive and liberal guys, but on a couple of separate occasions recently, I was talking to a few of them about being a feminist and they flat out told me they are not comfortable around such women. In the past I have always just dismissed this kind of response, but these are males I respect and know respect me. The question for me is, why does the word feminism grate on some liberal/intellectual men? I think it’s not political – I think it’s a personality clash!

I know three men on planet earth for whom feminism is an exciting, cool word. You, my best friend Steven Rainey and another friend Ricki O’Rawe (in a band called Not Squares), and it’s really down to these men’s personalities. They just aren’t threatened by the word. They have crushes on Xcene Cervenka and read Love And Rockets and hold reading groups in their flats and start bands with girls in whom they are not romantically interested and are flattered if you compliment them on their empathy and/or verbal communication skills. God, those types of guys make my world turn, I tells ya. But they are a type and a fluke. I don’t think you can set out to be that guy. I think Calvin and Slim and Kurt could be added to that list – but I don’t know them personally.

The thing is – I don’t want to alienate all the other awesome guys I know when I call myself a feminist. So how can I be an active feminist without being scary?  Scary, pompous, affluent white western women looking for an enemy in the bloke next door are… not cool and not really helping the movement. I’ve been reading Christina Hoff Sommers. Equity feminism she’s calling it. But she seems like a bit of a conservative in some ways. Kathleen Hanna recently said in an interview that feminism in yr twenties can be an argumentative time, and that the expression of yr politics balances out and mellows as you get older and yr activism becomes more focused and more effective. So I guess I’m going thru a typical twenties feminist phase.

Lady Gaga keeps saying she’s redefining sexiness. She’s not traditionally beautiful. Hence the hyper-ornamentation. She hasn’t got much of a choice. Patti Smith said of Tom Verlaine (via Dylan), “It’s a rule in rock’n’roll that somebody somewhere must stand naked”. In the mainstream music industry, at the level she’s at, with that saturation exposure, it takes a kind of courage bordering madness to be an average-looking female. You can be an average musician and songwriter at that level, ironically, but you can’t be short-chinned and big-nosed. And yet she’s up there. She couldn’t be there in her natural state – no makeup, brown hair – the world wouldn’t want her. So she has swung violently the other way, in terms of creating a theatrical persona, as opposed to going under the surgeon’s knife. Therefore she IS re-defining sexiness.

She reminds me of the queens in Paris Is Burning; the quest for ‘realness’, meaning the western ideal of natural beauty. It also reminds me of what Courtney has said too – her theories about the crime of being ‘undecorative’ and being too tall to be truly beautiful – that beauty is power… how do we smash that idea? In increments. This Gaga person can have an effect… by refusing to have any plastic surgery. Keep the small boobs and the big nose. I really hope she does.


10 Responses to Letters from Rosie 6

  1. Anonymous March 23, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    "Lady Gaga keeps saying she's redefining sexiness."

    She's sexy like Elton John and Queen

  2. Robots Dancing Alone March 25, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Gaga does redefine sexiness. She gives with one hand and takes with the other, always maintaining control. Witness the myriad comments on her videos; 'I just don't find her sexy for some reason' etc. etc. She never surrenders to the gaze. She creates a metonym of herself for the stage which she uses to slip in and out of gendered categories and cultural norms.

  3. Anonymous March 27, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Part 1

    Well about feminists, I'd actually like to meet female feminists but I never seem to meet any…It seems that feminism will never truly make its stride (and it actually has to an unparalleled degree (which is not true if you have any conjectures as to Prehistory, but that's another story)) but most woman I've encountered would not like to question gender roles, they don't care about a lot of certain feminist ideals – they still believe in one's appearance, they observe a man's status (always important…They don't want you to be a feminist, they want you to be a "real" man, take the lead, dominate, but then again this is the Midwest hellhole of Chicago, albeit the indie/bohemian women(!), who are lot less sensitive and different and shallow from a quite a few "normal" women.
    Have you ever heard that women don't like "nice guys"? It's true, and yet growing up I always thought that women would respond to sensitivity and responsiveness and understanding and feminist ideals and sincerity and sex wasn't a priority for me and all these things and I'm struck by how naive this sounds as I write this, but it took me to realize most women respond to basically a primal thrill from a man, they don't think about it too much, and usually the men who elicit this primal thrill are men who tend to exhibit strong masculine tendencies and physical comeliness and maybe exhibiting a certain hipness or cool, which is a glorified way of saying capable of a certain detachment and a capability to remain guarded and not let one become too distinct or sincere or genuine. And actually all of this might not be wrong, it is difficult to question one's gut reactions to things but the thing is things like feminism used to ask men to question evaluating women on more instinctual, physical criteria… actually they still do, check this out –


    but women do the same fucking thing! And A lot of women would never dream of giving up or quetsioning their criteria for suitable mates. Growing up, for whatever reason, I considered myself a feminist, not because of my family, perhaps its just an innate morality that I have. And I remember hearing from media and culture that men were pigs, which in a sense a lot truly fucking are, but by the same token, not every single last one… and I used to feel sorry for women 'cuz they would be minding their own business and men would just keep on showing up and expressing sexual interest in a girl. I used to think, God, that sound difficult. But, the thing I would notice is that this would happen in public or let's say in a movie and instead of responding in a truly reasonable and straightforward and saving a lot of time and grief by responding like "Hey, I know what your intentions are, stay the fuck away from me you fucking piece of slime." Instead, women would humor this, and smile and go along because and I didn't know this, it didn't make sense to me at the time, why not treat them with hostility for this unwanted, unsolicited attention, 'cuz they like the attention. Isn't that something. And they would even have the gall to criticize the man for his ability to show this attention in an accepted (re:pleasing manner) or lack thereof instead of being straightforward and keeping things simple and and being honest and displaying this hostility in the first place. Women can have infirmities and insecurities, too – oh, I didn't know that.

    (more to be posted)

  4. Anonymous March 27, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Part 2

    But thats's the thing about some feminism – it seems reluctant to truly question women's attitudes and behaviors. It seems a lot of feminism would to focus the criticism on men, while holding women as these flawless victims. But the truth, women can fucking suck too. And no one seems willing to discuss or even acknowledge this, especially in feminism. Women are going to have to start policing their own. But not in feminism, huh. But really, women can display sickness just as much men. They play mind games- again in dating, women (more than one in my experience and it doesn't seem to be freak occurences here) like to play head games if they don't like you and display interest in them. Some women have this strange quirk of leading men on and engaging them in this chase in order to humiliate them – instead of just being straightforward and honest and exhibiting disapproval right away and being honest and healthy about it. The reason this happens is women sure do thrive on attention, its like a fucking drug, they don't want to give it up, especially when they don't get as much as they want, so they encourage men that they really shouldn't encourage because the men show them some attention and the women want to horde it up like its a famine or something. They want that continued attention, even if they don't like that guy, because its a from of power over someone, which isn't always bad, having a form of power over some one, for example parents should exercise power over their children(albeit in a sane, healthy manner), wouldn't you agree. But some women in courtship will test how much a man likes the woman ask things of them, just to see how much power she can exercise, and there are quite a few men, they possess an attraction to someone, and they are enthralled by it, well, because it is attraction, and they do things to appease to the object of attraction so to feel satisfaction and wholeness, and of course if you don't please yout mate, or, the one you're courting, then you risk disapproval and rejection, and then you are *alone*, and *being alone* feels like SHIT from on high. And men will do things not to be alone, God Forbid!

  5. Anonymous March 27, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Part 3

    I will give a personal example, I don't care – I started writing a girl I didn't know on a social networking site, and for whatever reason she would write me back, I really don't know why…I even sent her a picture, truth be told, which wasn't particularly flattering but she wrote me back, and I wasn't too keen on dealing with her on an internet-only basis, so I pressed the issue of meeting her in person because I felt that she would get a good sense of who I was, so after asking a few times, it turned out we both knew of a certain bar, so she told me that to be there between a certain time frame and she told me that she *might* be there(!) Can you believe that? And, of course, she didn't show up. I look back that now, and I realize she was just toying with me, she just wanted to make a fool of me – I'll make this "chump" waste his time and get his hopes up (which hurts even more – to raise one's hopes and then be dashed) for a laugh, cause it feels good to humiliate someone who's not "cool", it didn't cost her a thing. Obviously if she really liked me or even respected me she wouldn't have done that. She wasn't considering me as someone worthy of respect, she was fucking with me. She played with me and that's *sick*. And the thing is, when you have respect for yourself, it's a rule in life, if someone disrespects you (and someone eventually will), even if it seems minor, you should be outraged, it should fill you with disgust. So anyways, it may seem to you that that example wasn't even a particularly striking example but it seems to me that this happens all the time, so much so to be commonplace, so commonplace that it seem a lot of people reading it might even scoff at it, but if you really, really think about it, people shouldn't be fucking doing things like that, its sick and its not healthy.
    And rare is the women who is not concerned about status.

  6. Anonymous March 27, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Part 4

    The whole point of this is that women, too, are capable of sick shit, all walks of life are – politicians, cops, activists, NRA members, anyone who is affiliated with IFC, ethnic minorities, clergy, bohemians, liberals, conservatives churchgoers, rascists, environmentalists, women, men, children, capitalists, marxists, plumbers, people with clerical jobs, blue collar, white collar, vegans, sports fans, video game enthusiasts, doctors, celebrities, and on and on and on…
    This is just my experience, although I've had its ocurred to me on ocassion its just that Chicago is just an uncannily foul place peopled with shallow fucks (you know what it is said about the Midwest don't you, that its a backwater filled with rubes).
    Joking aside, this is why feminism may not be popular with men – as I've said earlier, I'm not sure its popular with women. The strange thing is about feminsism it *has scored massive victories should recognising that they have undone a lot of aeons of injust, foul thinking and change has occured on massive levels and come about in a particularly focused period on unprecented levels…There should be celebrations in the street, and shouts of "We've won, we've won!"
    But if feminism is to continue to be successful, women have to start questioning themselves on a personal level. Because, the question becomes, is feminism about equality or is it about *just* women. 'Cuz if its about only women, then it is not too far from the limited, exclusionary, limited, injust thinking of, oh,..yeah, the establishment thinking that has kept women in fetters for aeons eternal. This might be harsh criticism of women, but that's life baby, that happens to *everyone*. I could definitely go into harsh criticism, I'd really like to, but that's taken for granted here…

    Two more things:

    why liberal men might not affiliate themselves with feminism: people like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon get published and they actually still (!) have followers, a scary thought!

    you know who really redefines sexy? Not Lady Gaga, but Eve Lawrence, its kind of uncanny how much so really, but that's more of a personal opinion, and sexy is kind of a personal thing isn't, not academic?

  7. Jerry March 29, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Everett True
    Fucking Lady Gaga man! More razzmatazz than Michael Jackson, and as good a beats too.

    Simon Bridger
    ….or bad 8ts euro disco with added shock tactics thrown in. 😉
    23 March at 21:44 ·

    Jon Slade
    i listened to her music and it isn't good. its a shame. i like her speaking voice. x
    23 March at 21:46 ·

    Everett True
    Simon, you're not wrong. Oh wait… yes you are. Insanely wrong. Don't be fooled by the razzmatazz. Great videos, great look, great music.
    23 March at 21:46 ·

    Everett True
    Jon, you should read that blog post – Rosie is awesome!
    23 March at 21:46 ·

    Jon Slade
    will do
    23 March at 21:47 ·

    Alexandra Rajasalo Nyfors
    ET, you really like Lady Gaga? What do you think of Pink?
    23 March at 21:53 ·

    Everett True
    Not familiar with her music at all.
    23 March at 21:53 ·

    Simon Bridger
    I've given it a go with an open mind but i can't get past the fact that to my ears the tunes sound verty much euro disco, now that wouldn't be a complete disaster if there were some knockout tunes in there but unless i've missed them there aren't.
    23 March at 21:55 ·

    Everett True
    Well, fair play. I like Euro disco from the 80s. But I do think she's got some complete killer tunes
    23 March at 21:56 ·

    Alexandra Rajasalo Nyfors
    So it's not just about Lady Gaga being really really hot?
    23 March at 21:56 ·

    Simon Bridger
    Pink is even worse, dreadfully untalented, infact i removed someone as a friend on here because they 'became a fan of Pink'.
    23 March at 21:59 ·

    Everett True
    Is Lady Gaga really hot? Or has she made herself really hot? There's a crucial differentiation here.
    23 March at 22:01 ·

    Simon Bridger
    I don't think she's hot, looks a bit weasly to my eyes, Kim Wilde now there's a real woman! P.S. Hope my good lady Sam isn't reading in on this thread lol
    23 March at 22:03 ·

    Tom Warburton
    Can I use this really bad line: It seems everyone's GaGa for GaGa? I'm not sure I see the appeal either. It's as if Mechanical Animals era Marilyn Manson started doing covers from K-Tel's Disco Nights album. Actually, it's like Cher circa 1978.

    23 March at 23:19 ·

  8. Jerry March 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Blair Hughes and Claire 'Kwak' Welles like this.

    Claire 'Kwak' Welles
    not too long ago, when i was a boring music snob (early 20's), i would have casually hated her for no reason other than her being famous…however i've mellowed these past few years & accept her with arms open lesbian abandon. she's rad 🙂
    Today at 10:31 ·

    Chris Matthews
    Jeezuz, Everett, back in the 'old days' you would have discovered her when she was still working as a DJ at strip clubs, had her on the cover of Melody Maker within weeks as the next big thing, and then written her off as a has-been 3 months after that before she'd even released her first album… you must be getting old, mate.
    Today at 10:34 ·

    Shawn Wolfe
    This makes her even more interesting: http://vigilantcitizen.com/?p=1676
    Today at 10:35 ·

    Bill Cummings
    I like her because she's playing with perceptions but jeez stop with the MJ comparisons now thats hype
    Today at 10:40 ·

    Bill Cummings
    I like her because she's playing with perceptions, with some cracking pop songs. But jeez stop with the MJ comparisons now thats hype
    Today at 10:40 ·

    Claire 'Kwak' Welles
    ps not being a paedophile gives her the edge over jacko, surely!
    Today at 10:46 ·

    Alexandra Rajasalo Nyfors
    Listen, I don't care for her much, because I don't like a lot of the arrangements (too much glamorama) but since I really don't like MJ, Everett seems to be damning her with faint praise to me. It's all in the perception.
    Today at 19:17 ·

  9. Bournemouth Runner March 29, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I think Lady Gaga is a lot simpler to explain than making her "plainness" beautiful (always relative, of course). It strikes me that she is essentially a Performance Artist who, rather than be "outside" the mainstream, is perfectly assimilated within. Everything she does seems like performance art, but without any edge. So, as always, is the avant garde assimilated.

  10. Hector Magaña March 30, 2010 at 6:56 am

    It would seem to me that if it's capable of being assimiliated, its not truly avant garde in the first place. Avant Garde and Fuse/MTV will never mix. I seriously question if you truly understand what Avant Garde is. I shouldn't have to explain that most Avant Garde is seriously, seriously obscure and never ever shown in mainstream, and a lot of it will never ever be recognized by the mainstream, and you have to be accustomed to doing a lot of digging to be able to find the real stuff. Its as simple as that!

    Try Listening to Plague Mass by Diamanda Galas… It will never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never never ever be shown on Fuse or played on Top 40 Radio. IT IS TRULY AVANT GARDE.

    Hey Everett, can we just plain curse off people on here? I'd like to know. In this instance I would really really like to. He/she deserves it.

    I posted that 4 part response by the way, I changed my mind, I shouldn't have posted that as Anonymous.

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