The King of Pop and the Pope of Pop

This is wonderful post comparing Michael Jackson and Andy Warhol, two of my favorites! The post is long but well worth it. Enjoy!

dancing with the elephant

Willa:  A few weeks ago our friend Lisha McDuff sent us a link to a documentary about the biggest pop star of his time, and it was so fascinating to me – especially the way he redefined art to include areas we don’t typically think of as art, like his fame, his public persona, his speaking voice, and even his face.

However, as the documentary makes clear, in a way he was forced to make his face part of his art because he suffered from auto-immune disorders that attacked the pigment of his skin. In the documentary, there are photos that show large white patches on his cheek and neck where the pigment has been destroyed. People who knew him later in life say his skin was unnaturally white, and he sometimes wore makeup that made it even whiter.

He was also very self-conscious about his nose – he…

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Marking the Day

What I can say about a year is that looking back, it seems like a lifetime ago, and like yesterday. 

Over the past couple of weeks I have come to a new place in grief where I can find the peace in holding the past and the present simultaneously.  I can go back into memories of last year at this time, and feel it and cry, and yet know this new safety and control that grounds me in the present.  It happened.  Auntie Barb died last year (still so bizarre sometimes) and I had to experience it.  I experienced that horror and panic of, Where the fuck is Barb?  She was just here, where did she go??  I experienced the terrifying lack of her physical presence, and the hole where caretaking was.  I can feel all of that again like it was yesterday, and then I can make the shift in my mind that is the comfort of knowing that I don’t live there anymore.  An entire year has passed and life is so completely different.  And I am fully invested in my present.  I have a life.  I lived.  I’m here now.  And my life is pretty good, with the intention of getting even better.  I’m here now.  Not back there anymore.  I can visit but I don’t live there.  What a relief.  I’m grateful. 

Yesterday morning I went to grief group.  I had skipped a couple of weeks – once because I just didn’t feel like it and once because I was in an amazing training (post to come).  But out of a sense of duty I went yesterday.  It was… nothing.  The format is they have a speaker and then you break into groups according to your loss.  I wanted to ditch after the speaker but I made myself stay because I thought I should.  I’ll still never understand why there’s always one if not four people who have a significant mental illness in these groups, people who need a higher level of support than grief group can give.  Still.  I did my best to stay with it, but I just didn’t need it.  I could comfort others.  But frankly, I do that for a living and wasn’t feeling it on my free time.  Plus, I’m just not in the overwhelming sadness anymore.  So listening to other people in the depths of it, yes it tugs at heartstrings somewhat, but I’m not in that place. 

Where am I?  Maybe this is acceptance.  I still cry sometimes, it sneaks up on me.  But I love her, and I think back on things she said and her support and love.  And I know that my leaving her behind in a sense… it’s good for me.  I leave her behind and I take her with me.  She is always with me.  I wear her watch everyday.  I put on her other jewelry.  I think of her words of encouragement and support.  I think of her long list of complaints about work and people and life.  And I make choices to enjoy mine more.  I love her very much and I am blessed to have had her for the time I did.  She decided not to fight cancer the second time around and die on her own terms.  And in her own sentiment, she expressed that this was a good way to die. 

I don’t know where she is.  I assume she’s with everyone she ever loved that passed away before.  I’m not so angry about religion and spirituality and afterlife anymore.  And I’m not trying to decide what it is or isn’t.  Sometimes I think I feel her and then I try to rationalize it or quantify it, and then I let it go and smile let it be whatever it is. 

Here is her favorite picture of herself.




And something else I think about a lot lately is that she left me her laptop with her iTunes library.  I merged our music and discarded some things.  But my iPod has saved the history.  I’m somewhat repetitive about what I listen to, and I’ve been working with my same library since about 2007.  Still, today, the 25 Most Played are a mixture of Arcade Fire and Danger Mouse (hers).  She was nothing if not obsessive!  She would always tell me about how beautiful she though those albums were. 

I miss my beautiful, wonderful aunt. She’s here and she’s a million miles away.

ode to odelay

I decided to go for an all Beck shuffle on my iPod at the gym yesterday.  As the Odelay songs popped up, I started to reminisce. 

For people who have known me for a long time, they may know/remember an obsession I have had with Beck that may or may not have had a slightly creepy edge to it.  I just took him really personally.  And if there were things that he did that I thought were genius and you didn’t agree… well I may or may not have yelled at you in genuine anger… ahhh… my unexamined young adulthood. 

I’ve calmed down a little bit.  On a number of things actually, but this is about Beck.  I guess it was a perfect storm, our beginnings.  Sure I had heard and loved Loser in high school.  But I was about 19 when Odelay came out.  I on my own for the first time, smoking a lot of pot and right smack in the upswing of my experimentation with psychedelics.  I remember hearing Odelay for the first time driving around with Natasha and Johanna in their little shared neon, thinking, “What the hell is this?  So weird and amazing!”  Sound collage.  Weird sounds, familiar, robotic.  And that was before people were mixing folk/rock/electronic/rap so it was just so new. 

Then there was that time that we went up to Steve’s cabin up north and ate a lot of mushrooms and listened to it over and over.  Natasha got sick.  I lost contact with my body, became glued firmly in place to the couch, and sat there paranoid and terrified that I had peed my pants, completely out of contact with enough of reality to verify that I hadn’t until many hours later.  Good lord.  But throughout the whole trip, there was Odelay on repeat.  And it was magnificent.  Minus the peepantsparanoia. 

Earlier or later that summer, we traveled to Alpine Valley to see Beck in concert.  That time I’m pretty sure it was acid that swirled the experience.  Beck was dressed in a rhinestone covered leisure suit, we had yellow lensed sunglasses, and some kind of little kid contraption that was like a mini kaleidoscope that made everything just a little bit more awesome.  I was young and it was fun!  We tried to meet Beck that day, but he had left. 

I was also making a lot of art back then and I loved Beck visually.  I’ve still got some pieces stashed away that maybe I will post later for inspiration.  But I was obsessed with his image, the doe-eyed deadpan of it.  I just thought he was so cool.  He has a leg up family-wise.  His grandfather was a famous artist, mom was an Andy Warhol muse (don’t get me started on Andy Warhol), so he was born into the right situation. 

I guess a lot of it was the time of life, the drugs, my main interests and obsession in those days, but I absolutely adored Beck in an oddly creepy, mildly possessive and defensive kind of way.  It was a perfect storm.  Older, wiser, sober, I have calmed down on that and for the most part I am more on the reality based side now 🙂 

But Odelay is still a hell of an album.  Still genius.