Posts Tagged ‘1990s’

Four-letter words like Love and Hope

Sometimes a song comes along with a shitty, repetitive chorus, and it all goes down like melba toast…like when John Mayer once encouraged us to “Say what (we) mean to say” in eight not-so-different ways.  Other times, there’s the repetitive chorus that we’re meant to be able to remember—even while shit-faced on Patron…like when Taio Cruz tells that “Little Bad Girl” to just “Go” already, stamping along in time to some David Guetta beats.

But once in a while the simplest, most repetitive phrase in a song can mean everything.  This is when you’re breathing that rare air of The Doors’ “Indian Summer.”  Jim Morrison and Robby Krieger work their magic(k), and suddenly, “I love you the best.  Better than all the rest” is like the most profound lyric you’ve ever heard.  Sometimes a pop song comes along and hits in just the right way, at just the right time.  Such is the case with Rihanna’s new song, “We Found Love.”

“We found love in a hopeless place.”  There it is: the moment.  You don’t need to say anything else.  There’s no need to riff on an explanation of that; you’ve probably known what it means since the beginning of time. “We found love in a hopeless place.”  That’s everything.  You know exactly what it is.

Hearing this song while thrift store shopping for used clothes that the character in my new play might wear does things to me.  Powerful things.  It’s like a huge homage to a time in my life when I did have hope, and I don’t just mean a general kind of universal hope for the future, the suspension of doom that was the 1990’s, I mean on a personal level.  It’s those opening synth sounds that remind you of Crystal Waters’ “Gypsy Woman”…it’s like you already know this song, could recognize it anywhere, always knew it.  When you listen to what Calvin Harris did, the reference to 90’s house music right from the very first moments of the track, already you’re transported to a time when people weren’t glued to their cell phones or email, when there was this new kind of strangely innocent thing, this dance music, this acid house, this scene that had its grisly dark side of OD’s on the dancefloor, but more than that just had a lot of love.  This is the synthesized voice of love in analog.

And then there’s the video.  This is no Lady Gaga over-priced hack-job imitation of the material girl’s ambitiously blond anthology, in which Gaga, the born-rich “artiste,” stares gauntly into the camera in an attempt to convince you that there’s something big and emotional and powerful in her when in fact it’s just another shade of neon in her vacancy sign.


The beauty from Barbados actually feels things in this video and we feel them too.  The people who put this video together knew what the hell they were doing.  They stole all the right stuff: the dilating pupils and bathtub moments from Requiem for a Dream, the grey-skied open fields and flop houses from Trainspotting…this is divine 90’s montage: this video is perfect.  It’s perfect because it’s actually presenting images from an era that was hopeful, in the same way that Harris’ musical track calls on the sounds of some seemingly-ancient rave time, so you feel the hopelessness of now even more.  Sure, they could have shown images of children playing joyfully by fracking wells, or couples embracing while on the unemployment line in, like, Gary, Indiana or something.  That would have been love in a hopeless place too, but that would have been too explicit.  All that is already implied.  And it doesn’t matter that there are shades of Rihanna and Chris Brown’s relationship in the video.  Nobody cares.  Chris Brown is just fuel for the story.  And the story is beautiful.  This past weekend, a poet friend of mine asked me if I’ve ever really been in love. I think you know love when you see it and the real thing looks just like this music video and sounds just like this song. I might as well just say it: I wish I could afford to do something this good…and I can’t.

Instead, I spend time at Zuccotti Park and sometimes I sing down there with just the voice that I have, a voice that can almost sort of compete with the sound of jack-hammers and the general assembly.  And it is beautiful.  It is one of the only beautiful things I’ve experienced for myself as a performer in a long time.  It is beautiful, but it is small.  Too small for me.  I always long to do something meaningful.  I’m not always that hopeful about it.  For now, I’m just one RSS feed in a giant trough of RSS feed.  So I become a part of something, something that I’m already a part of: the 99 percent.  I’m no Rihanna.  I wish I could be Rihanna.  I wish this were my song, but I’m faceless and nameless and the best my voice can hope for is to be a part of the roar of the great din, the crashing on the shore, which has its own cacophonous majesty.  In a sea of stars, there’s no shine in particular, just sameness.  But it’s an amazing kind of sameness.  Invisibility is a kind of superhero power too. This coming moment might be the end of the era of having a name.  In so many Guy Fawkes masks, we’re all Anonymous and who knows what kind of songs will come from the nameless, but maybe we will find a more hopeful place.

Thanks to Michael Geffner for the photo at OWS Poetry Assembly, above.

How I Almost Lost a Lung in the Name of Techno

by Ayesha Adamo

They told me Berghain, Panorama Bar, and an online search admittedly made Watergate and Maria’s sound tempting. But what they didn’t understand was that I can go to a pretentious club with a line out the front – filled with models and yuppie-come-latelies who order bottle service and live to siphon their soulless bodies into fancy suits and stiletto heels (who can dance in that stuff anyway?), albeit to the tune of way shittier music – in my home base town of New York, where the losers wear Prada.

There was no way I was going to Berghain…even though they don’t play top 40 and other sweet sixteen/bar mitzvah soundtracks there like they do in the cipher-of-a-once-great-nightlife-town that is Manhattan. That’s not to say that I needed to help inflate the ego-balloon of the international DJs that I can also hear at the last two worthy dance clubs left in the city-that-used-to-have-a-reason-not-to-sleep either.

I wanted local Berlin, and I was willing to go rogue to get it.

It took some asking around, but eventually I was able to procure a map drawn on a napkin showing how to get to Golden Gate. A subsequent online search back at headquarters (the hotel) turned up a primitive and very basic website, also with a map. X marked a spot near Jannowitzbrücke Station, actually directly across the street from it, and I even managed to excavate a photo of the place – a few hundred square pixels under the train tracks and covered with graffiti: now that’s the kind of nightclub I want to be at.

Naturally, I set out with the hope finding a club that was just a few shades less underground than the place I DJ at in Brooklyn, and this looked like it might be it. I clicked on the links to the myspace pages of the DJs for that night, and was surprised to read “93s to infinity!” at the top of one of the DJ’s pages. A thelemite?!? A sign. This was all I really needed to be 156% sure that I had found the club for me. (You’re only getting that last joke if you’re playing with Magick.)

Showed up at 3 am, which was kind of early, but I didn’t think I’d be able to handle it if I tried for much later, jetlag and all. The door was at the side, but there’s no real way to know that besides luck…and now, by reading my blog. It was also surprisingly quiet, and I wondered if the music had even started yet – it’s hard to hear from the street because the main room is nestled far below at the bottom of a narrow stairwell.

But it sure is loud when you get down there.

And the music! It was like the 1990’s all over again. (I got a little misty eyed). There were dirty sneakers and jeans and cheap beer and bombed out bathroom stalls…heaven. I guess that’s where they got the name Golden Gate.

And the DJs were spinning…could it be? Vinyl?!? Then it really felt like the 90’s all over again. Can’t say I miss dragging around a record box that was double my weight, but compared to New York, it’s nice to see a club that even has turntables. I could see that this place was also equipped with nice CDJs, and what more can a DJ want, really? I mean, besides having the crowd completely entranced and loving it…which they were, myself included.

The only problem was that every person in there was a chain smoker, packed body to rockin’ body in a little black box that was buried underground (literally), and that is how I almost lost a lung in the name of techno.

Sometimes, it’s dangerous goin’ rogue.

When I got back to headquarters, I had to wash my hair 3 times, air out my leather jacket in the window for 2 days, and wrap my dirty clothes in plastic to prevent them from permeating the rest of my luggage with stank. Ah the things we do for love…


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