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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
nogoodforme superlatives: Longest-Running Rock-Star Crushes
I challenged myself by renaming this week's superlative "Longest-Running Rock-Star Crush NOT in the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Who, or any 60s-era beat or psych group" in an effort not to rehash the same points I always make about how boys look best in long hair, skintight trousers, Spanish-heeled boots and a fog of pot smoke. Truth be told, once my core demographic had been eliminated, the pickings were slim- i'm fickle and lose interest fast, even when it comes to rock stars. Alex James? Nikolai Fraiture? The keyboardist of the Coral? For a while there, I was convinced I was going to marry him. Now I don't even remember his name. Or his band.
I think Tom Verlaine might have an extra three-odd months on Jim O'Rourke, but I don't care. Tom Verlaine is an old man now. I saw him at a record store in Brooklyn a year ago, and it wasn't very hot. Jim O'Rourke is a fun rock star crush because I can convince myself that, if I work it just right, I might actually have a shot in hell at dating him! I even stole his phone number from the database at my old work; I called him, but the number was out of date, and I only ended up talking to his old roommate. He was in Japan, immersing himself in contemporary Japanese cinema, which is cool and made me love him more. Everything Jim O'Rourke ever does makes me love him more: contribute my second-favorite piece to two years ago's Whitney Biennial; wear striped trousers the way other people wear jeans; quit Sonic Youth. Fantasy is only ever fun when it has some basis in everyday experience. I've accepted the very harsh reality that I'm never going to cuddle up on the couch with George Harrison and watch episodes of "America's Next Top Model." But Jim? I just want to buy him coffee and a bagel. (Laura)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (the whole damn band)
Let's keep this simple: I first started loving the Chili Peppers to death when I was 14, and today they remain my most very favorite people who I don't actually know. According to my nogoodforme bio, I moved to L.A. because of Jane's Addiction, but that's not completely true: I moved here mostly to breathe the same air as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and for stuff like sitting one seat away from the singer at a Farmers Market communal table while he eats gumbo with his babymama on a Sunday morning. It mostly has to do with that joie de vivre I find unparalleled in most other members of the human race. Oh, and their songs make me so happy, and if I ever had to pick one record to bring with me to the desert island, I'd just hide their entire catalogue inside the case for Stadium Arcadium. And though I no longer have any YM pinups of Anthony taped to my bedroom wall, I do still turn into a squealing giddy weirdo whenevs I see stuff like this video, a perfect example of the intra-band lovey-doveyness I find so relentlessly disarming. (Liz)
I was really gung ho about doing this topic for this week's Superlatives, mostly because I think crushing hard is nogoodforme.com's standard approach of all things life and style and this would be a cinch for all of us. But then I realized how hard this would be for me, for a variety of reasons. First of all, like Laura, I'm incredibly fickle about many musical crushes. I mean, I've gone through the whole cycle of standard indie rock musician and crushed on many a dude in a band, but it honestly has never lasted more than one or two performances. Secondly, there was a point in my professional life when I did get to meet many of my potential music crushes, and sometimes meeting the objects of your intense mental desire often has a way of bursting that blissful crush bubble -- especially once you realize that they're either a) really boring or b) incredible jerks. And thirdly, I tend to keep my crushes close to my chest and be really secretive about them -- to the point where even in real life I'll pretend they're not there! (Yes, I know, it's counter-productive, but that's just me.) So, really, this whole thing is just so anathema to my nature! But in the interest of making this blog work, I'll tell you all my longest-running music crush and just run and hide for a week.
Technically speaking, I've had my longest-running crush on Einsturzende Neubauten evil genius Blixa Bargeld for a bit, and it has ebbed and flowed over a span of years. I've gone on about Nick Cave in the past, but to be honest it could never work with me and Nick because I'd be too busy fancying Blixa -- because there is nothing I love more than guitarists, and Bargeld is a fine one at that, with his "icy sheets of noise" approach to the instrument. But the truth is, I loved him most when he was a Bad Seed with Nick, and since he's stopped doing that, things just haven't been the same. And, curiously enough, once I started playing guitar myself, most of my guitar-centric crushes have melted away to a curious, removed feeling of comradeship instead -- which is great, but just not the blinding, runaway fun of a crush, which is all about giggling, blushes, and swooning.
And so I leave you with probably my most genuine music crush ever, which began, like the best epic stories, unbidden and unexpectedly. If you live in New York, you probably know Calla as one of those bands that have been around for ages. They never quite caught the fire that their scene compatriots in Interpol or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs did, mostly due to the type of music they make. Their whole musical approach is less about grabbing you with garage rock hooks or recycled 80s-gloom melodies and more about rewarding patient listening with a concern for texture, sound and a sort of delicacy of emotion -- one in which a great deal wants to be expressed, but the tension in holding back and keeping it close make it all the more seductive. They're capable of a million moods and all their records have been radically different from one another, but their primary modus operandi is a type of brooding romanticism that is almost old-fashioned these days. (Oh, and the music is dead sexy. That helps.) Plus, their live shows are unexpectedly dynamic and intense, and who doesn't love that? They're kind of like the ultimate secret cult, occupying the same position as, say, Luna, or even Television back in the day: they're sort of too arty and a bit underappreciated, but still manage to endure and command respect from their peers. But lately I've come to love them for how they soldier on, especially in a scene that rewards fashion and style over subtlety and a genuine approach to songcraft. I mean, these are pretty handsome men -- I'm sure that they could hire a stylist or something and get a piece of the fashion/music gravy train, but something about them is too honorable and proud to do that. Because they are about songs and music, and that's what I love most about Calla, still and above all, probably best expressed in the sensuous intensity of "Fear of Fireflies," probably one of my most favorite songs of all time. (I say this about a lot of songs, yes, but this time I mean it!) Sometimes I think I only want to make movies to be able to put Calla songs on the soundtrack, and if that isn't a testament to my enduring love and passion, I don't know what is.
The second thing I love about Calla is their lead singer and guitarist, Aurelio Valle, who is the real object of my crush energy. Not only has "Johnny Depp" been invoked alongside his name (by no less than the dudes at Pitchfork), but he's got an appealing sense of modesty and shyness to go with his prodigious skills as a guitar player. (And he plays one of my most favorite guitars ever -- a gorgeous, gorgeous Gretsch.) I always thought he was beautiful, but I think lots of fellows are beautiful, and he's talented -- but so are many people, and they certainly don't make me blush when they're in near proximity. In all honesty, he could have been one of those brief music crushes I am prone to and pass away with the night. But he's not, mostly due to the role he plays in one of the great anecdotes of my life, which I won't go into here. (But if you sit down with me and have drinks, I would gladly spill it, fluttering hands and breathless voice and all!) It involves a late night, a heroically drunk and mischievous best friend, the Bowery Ballroom, an irate-yet-friendly bouncer, way too much Jack Daniels and then me being pushed into a dark room and in the direct line of fire, which of course made me go mind-blank and totally stupid. Suffice it to say, Mr. Valle acquitted himself with such humor, kindness and grace that I practically melted, because nothing is better (or worse) for a crush than actually meeting that person and finding out they are a genuinely nice, decent human being. And you know, just writing this makes me totally blush, so I'm going to go run and hide now and pretend none of you have read this. (Kat)
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