Thursday, June 14, 2007

Suffering For Fashion

My best friend works at a beauty salon. And since we all know that we, as over-advertisement-exposed Americans, are about 90% dependent on word-of-mouth information to make most of our purchasing decisions, I've been an almost-perfectly-loyal customer of her salon since she started working there. Well that, and the fact that since she books all of my appointments, I tend to get a significant discount on services.

By the way, I say "almost-perfectly-loyal" because the only time I've ever strayed from going to a stylist at the aformation salon in the last couple years was when a hairdresser acquaintance of mine from outside that salon insisted on coloring and styling my hair. I don't know why that was relevant. Anyway, that was several months ago.

Needless to say, my hair was developing a rather unsightly wispiness and I knew it was time for a haircut. So today, I went to my 3:30 appointment with the adorably-cute real estate agent/hairstylist named Stephanie. She is one of the most perfectly cute women I have ever seen - tall, slender, sweet-spoken and blonde. And for once, her blondeness is something of an asset - given that most (most, not all) beautiful blonde women I meet are completely superficial and stupid. (It's a stereotype for a reason, people.) Still, Stephanie is beautiful, sweet, brainy and an all-around wiz with shears.

So, I showed up for my appointment about 15 minutes early to catch up with my best friend - who went to Disneyland this past weekend for her birthday. Just so you know, my best friend and I don't get together for the primary purpose of gossiping. I was just sincerely interested to find out what staying at the Disneyland Hotel was like. (Again, I don't know why that was relevant.)

But, as I stood at the counter waiting for Stephanie, I couldn't help but overhear some of the conversations going on around me. My best friend, who was working of course, had to pause her story about Disneyland (see! it was minutely relevant after all) because some woman was scowling at her from my side of the counter, in desperate need to schedule her next appointment before she left. She was vicious - looking back and forth between me and my best friend, probably analyzing the sheer injustice of the fact that my friend hadn't turned to help her quickly enough. Granted, she had only JUST appeared at the counter, and the fraction of a second it took for my friend to respond to her could never have been seen as customer neglect. Even when my friend turned to help her, she still looked over at me a few more times as if I was violating her personal bubble of salon space.

What does all of this have to do with music, you ask? Well, this whole thing reminded me of that Of Montreal song, "Suffer For Fashion" from the "Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?" album. It starts off like this: "we just want to emote til we're dead / i know we suffer for fashion or whatever." Lyrically, the rest of the song basically criticizes the societal norm that forces us to subject ourselves to just about anything to be physcially beautiful... and that our human obsession with doing so is actually weakining us.. blah, blah, blah. (All this, coming from a lead singer who wears feathers, glitter, women's clothing and the occasional blue eye-shadow on stage - but that's beside the point.)

"How can I help you?" my friend asked the woman.

"I NEED to schedule an appointment for the week of July 16th with Doreen," she said, with pen in hand as she browsed through her little, black leather organizer. She said this with such a tone of inconvenience - as if it was my friend's fault that she had to schedule this seemingly unwanted appointment.

My friend continued to schedule the appointment and they eventually agreed on 1 p.m. on July 18th. Our new woman friend gave one last scowl and proceeded to march pretentiously out of the salon, leather organizer and all.

I get it. I know that a lot of people religiously make appointments at the beauty salon... but come on! This is not a military operation. We're supposed to go to these places because we feel like getting cute or because our hair is getting too long, not to pollute the world with bitterness and inner ugliness. This woman took the concept of "suffering for fashion" completely wrong and turned it into her horrible necessity. She has turned into exactly the kind of person that Of Montreal's song indirectly describes as bad.

If only she had heard this song before coming to the salon today. (Realistically though, she didn't strike me as the type of person who listens to Of Montreal on a regular basis, let alone actually take their advice). But still, for the rest of us - maybe we should consider this message before getting crazy at future hair appointments.

"If we've got to burn out let's do it together / let's all melt down together." Ugly wouldn't really be ugly if we were ALL ugly together.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Jack + Meg = Unconditional Love

Okay, so I can't seriously boycott my senses (see previous post if you're confused) - and so here's something new for today.

If I had to pick just one band in all of history (besides The Beatles because they're perfect by default) to best represent the beauty of life and love... I've decided that the honor would go to The White Stripes.

With the release of their gazillionth album coming up next week, I found it absolutely necessary to surf the entangled web for any trace of a music video (or whatever) that had to do with the album. And so, I was elated when, upon googling (yes, I know that "googling" is now ridiculously used as a common verb..) "icky thump," which is the title of the aformentioned album, I found a youtube video of the single.

Now, before I get into my reflections on the video, there's at least one important thing to consider about Jack and Meg White. From the beginning, their story has been a complex one - first they insisted on trying to convince the public that they were brother and sister. Then, it eventually got out that they were ACTUALLY ex-husband-and-wife, and that Jack took Meg's last name in marriage. Of course, the Jack we know now has kept the surname "White," despite his divorce with Meg (which of course, the details of the breakup are still unclear).

Then, several years into their extremely successful music career, Jack White met model Karen Elson. Then, Jack MARRIED Karen (with Meg as Karen's maid of honor, of course) and the couple had a daughter - Scarlett, who is now about a year old. SCARLETT WHITE! YES!!!! Jack's daughter with Karen Elson has Meg's last name! AND.. the name Scarlett is a synonym for the color RED. RED + WHITE = the color scheme of The White Stripes. Let's think about this for a minute, shall we?

Besides the fact that Jack and Meg White might just be the most important musical duo of all time in terms of pure talent and genius (besides Lennon and McCartney, that is), they are also both completely enamored with each other on a personal level. You can easily tell how close they are by the countless interviews they've done and the way they play together on the big stage. When I saw them live a couple years ago (and from completely memorizing my concert DVD of them playing at Blackpool), I conclude that there's not a single duo in all of rock & roll today who can play in absolute perfect sync with each other than the two of them.

(Now stay with me, because I have to get into another story thats necessary to relay to my point properly.)

Two years ago, my ex-bf and I dressed up as Jack and Meg White when we went to a rave for Halloween. We had a band together (with another one of our best friends) but we had broken up our relationship on okay terms just a few months earlier. For the sake of the music, we kept the band alive. As a tribute to The White Stripes, as well as to our own once-passionate and ever-musical romance, we figured that we were the perfect people to dress up as Jack and Meg. But here's the kicker... between the time my ex and I had broken up, and that night dressed up as Jack and Meg, we had abstained from all intimate relations. But, interestingly enough, that evening after the rave temporarily sparked our interests in each other (to go into detail would be rather un-ladylike). Of course, this temporary reignition coincided with being "Jack" and "Meg."

Okay, so here it is - as if any more proof was actually necessary! The newest White Stripes video for "Icky Thump" is one of the most passionately beautiful videos I have ever seen. The way Jack and Meg interact with each other in that video is the most perfect demonstration of "making love" - not sexually, but musically. Jack and Meg White, despite the fact that they are divorced, are joined into ONE soul whenever they make music, even if Jack is married to someone else. See, it doesn't matter. They will ALWAYS be "Jack & Meg," no matter what their personal lives dictate. Beyond the message of the song itself, they are THE human embodiment of LOVE, in a way that is extremely infectious... and if you ever get the opportunity to experience it, then you are truly lucky.

Life is full of broken ideals and constant change but music will always be a medium for understanding the unspeakable. Simply put, love is what you make - and The White Stripes are living proof.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Zep's Effect on Sanity

What is it about hearing a Led Zeppelin song that makes you want to break out into a Dionysian wine dance AND jump off a cliff at the same time?

I think the fact that music is so intimately intertwined with memories (which at the time, seemed like completely mundane experiences, but are now painful reminders of what you DON'T have anymore) is just another one of God's cruel cosmic jokes.

I mean, think about it, it's just like when you're walking through a crowded place and you get a whiff of a cologne/perfume that transports you to this alternate universe where you're all of a sudden hand-in-hand with that "one that got away" or "the one that completely ripped my heart out." Then, you are rudely disappointed by the image of some horribly unattractive man/woman (or whatever have you) who is unfairly wearing the same scent that your ex wears. From that point on, your day is just completely shattered because not only have you been reminded of someone you USED to love (or perhaps still do), but now the smell is stuck in your nose and you'd give anything to just be happy and carefree again.

My point is... the basic senses that we have are not simply "basic" at all. They're tools of destruction, designed to break our spirits and kill us slowly. Sure, sure... we've been conditioned to love our senses but when you think about it - what do they truly accomplish beyond the obvious, most rudimentary survival needs? Sure, we are able to see, smell, taste, hear and feel... but beyond that, our memories use that information to torment us for the rest of our lives. And most sinisterly, that information usually comes back to us when we least expect it.

Just like Led Zeppelin. Yeah, you think they're all fun and games, and just good old rock & roll but no, hearing them is both orgasmic and terribly heartwrenching. Probably not to you... but of course they are to me (more proof of my stupid senses backfiring on me).

To support my aformentioned theory that our senses are out to kill us during our most vulnerable times, I'll tell a VERY SHORT story. I was innocently surfing myspace yesterday (please reserve your guffaw for later) when I was unexpectedly greeted by one of those new playlist things that seems to be taking over profiles left and right. Through my laptop speakers, I began to hear Jimmy Page's crunching, yet catchy, guitar intro of "Heartbreaker." I wanted to rock out and cry at the same time because of course, anything Led Zeppelin reminds me of my last boyfriend. As soon as Robert Plant started to sing, it was definitely over. Needless to say, I denied that friend request.

I am proposing a boycott - a boycott of the senses, that is. Because really, it's just not fair to be put through this kind of torture - especially when Zeppelin songs are so easily accessed via myspace.