Category Archives: Music

Why I Think That Lady Gaga is Pretty Great Even Though (In Fact, Because) I Don’t Want to Have Sex With Her.

There are lots of celebrities whom I would like to have sex with. Lady Gaga is not one of them.

“Joe, you red-blooded bucket of unabated virility and leonine manliness! Why on earth not? Aren’t you utterly entranced by the current Empress of Popular Music?”

Well, Hypothetical Reader, yes. Yes I am. I find Her Gaga-ness as fascinating and entertaining as any other consumer of popular culture. However, unlike so many other nubile young famous people, I don’t really want to fuck her. When you really think about it, that’s kind of neat.

And also, really, really fucking weird.

I mean it! Really weird. Utterly strange. Most of celebrity, fame, and general media-ness has to do with the parading about of pretty young things, both male and female, whom the general populace can fantasize about whilst touching themselves at night. If you disagree with me, then I would like to politely refer you to to Jersey Shore, a massively popular television show that seems to be mostly about breasts and hair of titanic proportions, and men who possess no shortage of hair gel but not a single shirt.

I suppose what I’m trying to say, is that if you don’t think that popular culture is about fantasy sex, then you are a delusional stupid person who has a bowl of sodden guacamole instead of a brain.

So, yeah. Anyway, here’s how it usually works in the music world: You’ve got your standard rock-star person up there on stage. Let’s say it’s David Bowie, someone who’s also known for being sort of weird and shiny. There are lots of women in the audience. These women are watching and enjoying the music, but also, on a certain level, they probably want to fuck the Thin White Duke. Sure, it might be in just a little corner of their mind, but they think to themselves “I would totally do his glitter-covered ass.” Many of them would settle for having their male consorts be a bit more Bowie-like, and proceed to pursue men who wear impossibly tight pants.

You’ve also got men in the audience, men filled with a sense of identification who want to be David Bowie. They don’t want to fuck him, but they want to be him while he’s fucking someone else. They put themselves in his role, and they get off on it. This is why James Bond is popular.

Meanwhile, you’ve also got gay and bisexual dudes who want to be and fuck David Bowie simultaneously, and they are probably having the best time of all, eventually breaking out into a cocaine-fueled dude orgy that fills the other people in the concert with a mixture of arousal, envy, and fear.

Where were we? Oh yes. Sexy fame. That’s how it usually works.

Lady Gaga does not seem to do this.

“Joe, you massively erudite cogitator! How could you say that? Didn’t you notice how she often dresses in a provocative manner?”

Yes, Hypothetical Reader. Yes I did.

Lady Gaga objectifies herself. I do not mean that she objectifies herself in the sense that the word is normally used, but rather she portrays herself as an object, specifically something manufactured. In her videos she’s often made to look artificial or damaged in some way, covered in armor, plastic, bandages, or exotic clothing. She does bare a lot of skin, yes, but she comes off more like something that has been engineered to be a simulacrum of sexuality. There is a sort of perfunctory and robotic way of her movements, or rather, how her videos are shot and edited to portray her movements. She and her backup dancers move like they are filled with pnuematic cams and shafts, and there is a an unnatural, puppet-like lurching to her.

She does not flirt with the camera. There is very little in the way of knowing winks or direct interaction with the audience. Instead we are given a kabuki-like tableau of massively elaborate costumes and enigmatic visuals. Faked sex in popular entertainment is often pitiable, and Gaga, rather mercifully, does not attempt it. Instead, she revels in her bizarre nature persona.

I like this. After seeing lots of interchangeable starlets look directly into the camera and act like they are singing just for you, Gaga’s detached and cold videos are immensely refreshing. She does not attempt to be authentic when she is not. She does not pretend she is not artificial when she is. She is completely honest about how fake she is which kind of makes her like Andy Warhol, except that she’s entertaining.

It also makes her more honest than, well, most other pop stars. Lady Gaga proudly proclaims that she is a product of an advanced industrial society, a singing, dancing super-robot. And she is a glorious super-robot, a fantastically well-engineered one.

Which brings me back to my original point: I don’t want to fuck a robot. Sure, I used to live in Japan, but I never really got into that scene.

I respect a well-engineered and transparently fake thing. I like machines, spectacle, and moving shiny things. Moving shiny things like Lady Gaga. Her whole schtick is well-executed artificiality, and that beats fake authenticity any day. It also acts as a refreshing counter the cloying and ultimately pitiable attempts at sexiness that are so often trotted out for our collective “entertainment.”

So, no. Gaga the android, the plastic-and-brass dance robot, the techno-puppet, does not arouse. She does something better- she entertains.

Watching The Planets!

The Flaming Lips have finally released the video that I took part in, and it is pretty damn cool. I’m most visible towards the end, wherein we all take off Wayne Coyne’s clothes.

Here it is, very NSFW.

Vampires: Occasionally Entertaining!

Saw Nosferatu last night, the 1922 German silent film. The movie was accompanied by a live soundtrack composed and performed by Mood Area 52 and shown in the Mission Theater, a smaller venue with the twin advantages of having both beer and an awesome balcony. Several people were wearing top hats and corsets and the like, and a mood of delightful retro-ness carried the evening. The movie itself was great. There were three things I liked about it:

1: Count Orlok is an evil sonofabitch. No vampiric torment here, just creepy, carnivorous, awesomeness.

2: Nosferatu is Dracula, for the most part. The studio wasn’t able to get the rights from Stoker’s widow, though, so they just changed the names of the characters and kept the exact same plot. The blatant off-ripping is kind of hilarious.

3: In modern vampire fiction, vampires always have to live beside their fictional counterparts. There is usually an expository scene where a character (usually a vampire or vampire hunter) explains what works and what doesn’t, differentiating the “reality” of a given piece of fiction from the common cultural effluvia that accompanies vampires. (My favorite scene of this nature is probably when Kris Kristofferson says “Crosses don’t do shit” in Blade.)

Nosferatu didn’t have a scene like that, and it was kind of refreshing and sort of weird to see. The vampire was presented as something new and alien, which is wholly different from how we see him popular culture. We’re inundated with vampires, drowning in them, and the characters in modern fiction inhabit the same vamp-soaked world where everyone has seen at least three different versions of Dracula. Nosferatu isn’t like that at all, and it was very cool seeing a familiar face presented as something so novel. Vampires are cliche now, but this was where a lot of those cliches come from, this was the root of so much else. Despite the prevalence of vampires, Count Orlok still seems uniquely monstrous, and the creators of Nosferatu, even as they ripped off Dracula, created something that still seems fresh.

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Horror Movies

As I write this, I’m listening to Manowar. It is not what I would typically call “good” music, but I’m enjoying it so I guess that counts for something. I’ve been listening to metal all evening. Earlier this week I re-watched From Dusk Till Dawn, which is not what I could call a “good” movie, but I enjoyed it a lot so I guess that counts for something. Both the Rodriguez movie in question, and lots of splashy metal, belong to a genre of camp that I thoroughly enjoy, and have historically had trouble enjoying.

My basic thought process (or lack thereof) was that an entirely well-adjusted person would not find any enjoyment in things like gore, spikes, vampires, zombies, blood splatters, dismemberment, werewolves, monsters, slashers, etc. I worried not so much that horror movies, etc. would turn me into a psychopath, but that my fandom of such a genre betrayed some inner werewolfian nastiness. (I think the term “guilty pleasure” is a bit overused, but in my case my enjoyment of this stuff really was steeped in guilt.) If I was such a good guy, why was I smiling at all of the guns and blood?

It is worth noting that if stuff like splatter movies and heavy metal actually did earnestly portray violence, gore, and death, then they really wouldn’t be that much fun, would they? And, when I do see honest, real depictions of violence, I do get kind of queasy. You know that famous picture of a guy executing a Viet Cong? That picture is honestly and horribly terrifying. Watching George Clooney and Harvey Keitel blast the shit out of vampires, though, is my idea of a “romp.” When just enough of the edges are off, when it gets a little “safer,” this kind of thing seems kind of fun.

In the end, though, I can’t completely explain it and just have to accept that I know for a fact that I’m a pretty good guy. I also know that I like watching the undead explode. Thus far, wringing my hands over the matter hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I might as well just acquiesce to enjoying what I occasionally do and tell the guilt to take its business elsewhere.

So: Fuck it. I’m through with making guilt-ridden judgments or having reservations about my own enjoyment about campy, cathartic, fun portrayals violence. I enjoyed every bit of watching Clooney & Co. blast vampires into bloody smithereens, and right now I’m enjoying obnoxious, shouty music without a shred of guilt. Halloween is coming up, and I know I’ll be in the mood for horror movies aplenty, soon.

If you don’t like it- fine. I have headphones.

A Most Satisfying Encounter With the Flaming Lips, a Horde of Very Nice Naked People, and a Giant Spherical Vinyl Fur-Vagina

K posted it, and I saw the call up. The Flaming Lips were shooting a music video in Portland, on Mt. Tabor, and they needed naked bicyclists. This was too good to pass up. I am a bicyclists, and in a few moments I can easily turn into a naked bicyclists. I, along with my friend K, were definitely going to this thing. We met up, biked to Mt. Tabor, and sought out fame, fortune, and rock ‘n roll nudity.

I was not expecting Wayne Coyne to actually be there. I imagined that the whole project was going to be overseen by a director or producer with a pre-approved shots and images to capture. A limited amount of people, I thought, would be told where to stand and what to do, and it would all be very scripted.

I was utterly and completely wrong. Instead of some functionary that I’d never heard of overseeing the shoot, The lead singer himself was addressing a crowd of semi-clothed Portlanders and explaining the dilemma at hand. Earlier in the day, Coyne and the crew had been filming people riding down a hill on their bicycles entirely naked, as was the plan. The park ranger, however, had come by and told them that such absolute nudity was not an appropriate activity upon Portland’s mini-volcano, and demanded that everyone’s bums and junk get covered up.

So, as K and I approached the crowd Coyne explained the solution: The next day the shoot would move to Sauvie Island, where full nudity would not be a problem, and there would be more space anyway. For the time being, though, he wanted to utilize the pretty environment. The solution: guerrilla nudity. On a more visible path, several people would be wearing underwear, there would be lights, and lots of whooping. It would all be a diversion, though, designed only to look like filming was going on. The real shot would be down below.

About twenty of us descended down a path for a shot of naked people pushing Coyne’s trademark hamster ball (which he calls the Space Ball) up and down a hill. “Okay,” he told us, “we have to do this quick. I don’t want anyone to get arrested or in trouble. When I say ‘go’ the underwear comes off, and as soon as we cut, put it on again.” We got around the big ball, pushed it around, and no one was completely naked for more than thirty seconds. It was still a lot of fun, but only a taste of the next day’s activities.

“Wow,” said Coyne after we’d pushed the ball up and down the hill a lot, “for a bunch of naked people you really don’t smell that bad.”

The next day’s shooting, though, was an entirely different matter.

The lot of us (and our bikes) bused out to Sauvie Island where Gus Van Sant apparently has a house and a fair amount of property, and the director, according to Coyne, was quite enthused about having his land invaded by a bunch of enthusiastic naked people. The house itself wasn’t all that opulent looking, but Van Sant has quite the enviable lawn, some nice woods, and a small beach at Sauvie Island. I could think of worse things to spend millions and millions of dollars on.

The day’s shooting consisted of a few main scenes- a longer shot of a mob of naked bicyclists, filmed on Van Sant’s sizable wooded driveway, more shots of people rolling the Space Ball around as well as us lifting it and Coyne above our heads and carrying it away. The main set piece of the day, though, involved another, similar inflatable ball. Except this one was covered in fur. And, it had a giant vinyl labia on the front of it.

Here’s a (NSFW) picture of it.

The whole album, Embryonic, is all about birth and whatnot, and the big idea of the video was that all of the naked people got shot out this giant spherical fur-vag and we were a bunch of reveling, newly-born primitives who encounter Coyne, a supposedly magical being in a crystalline Space Ball and we think that he’s special in some way or another. But, his Space Ball deflates, we see that he’s just another fleshy organism just like us, so, like any right-thinking group of whooping nudists we of course pull him from his deflated Space Ball, strip off his clothes, and then carry him off, subsequently stuffing him into the giant, hairy mother-vag that recently spat us all out. Very straightforward.

K, who was pregnant, said that the big, round fur-vag would proceed to dominate her maternal anxieties.

I was pleased to be among the twenty or so people involved in the birthing scenes, and even though I didn’t get to crawl out of the orb-shaped birthing fuzz myself, I did get to hoist a few people out of it. I can say, with a certain amount of confidence, that it was the first time in my life that I’ve ever hoisted naked strangers out of a comically large set of female genitalia. K, though, was fortunate enough to get spat out of the thing, which will probably be good practice for when she has to eject a smaller human from her various biological systems. (“I love it that you’re pregnant,” Coyne said to her, “it goes with the whole birthing, mother thing. That’s great.”) The feeling of the birth scenes was great, what with people shooting out of the giant vag and the rest of us whooping, hollering and generally carrying on in the buff. “Everybody freak out!” began to replace “Action!” as the directorial command of choice.

A bit on the nudity- I was sort of surprised at how non-sexual it all was. One would think that getting naked with a bunch of reasonably fit bicyclists would be an invitation for general bawdiness, but it seemed that everyone was trying very, very hard to not be pervy. I restrained myself from checking out the various highly attractive women too much, and in general the atmosphere was towards revelry and whimsy rather than lewdness.

There was more shooting of naked bikers, and towards the end of the day we did some night shots all carried Wayne Coyne’s naked body aloft over our naked heads. I was happy to be one of the guys hoisting him above the crowd, and can go to my grave with the knowledge that my hand has full on cupped middle-aged ass of the lead singer of the Flaming Lips, for whatever that’s worth.

The whole affair was easily the most naked people that I’ve ever seen in one location. Even after seven years in Eugene and attending Burning Man, I’ve never encountered that many bare asses in one place at one time. It was sort of freeing and relaxing, really, to just be standing around completely nude and not giving a shit. Not that I’m going to stop thinking that nudists are weird- they are. But, it was great to have an opportunity to do weird shit for a purpose. The crowd was fun, though, and I was impressed with how hands-on the Flaming Lips were with the making of their own video. It will certainly not be the product of intermediaries or a studio- it will be unequivocally theirs.

The video should be released sometime in the first half of October. Hopefully me and my ass will be in a shot or two.

A Few Love Songs For Rational Adults

After that last post of fist-shaking ranting, I feel that it’s only fair for me to hold up some examples of good pop music and talk about stuff that I actually like. Pop music that doesn’t have sophomoric lyrics or stupidly naive views of human love and relationships. Pop music that’s actually good, that says something astute and interesting about the human condition (whatever that is) and turns us into better, smarter, sexier people by listening to it. There’s plenty of music like this out there. Music that doesn’t just smile at us through a haze of pot smoke and idealism about how nice niceness is, but instead links up its brain and heart into an emotionally mature, intelligent supersongwritingmachine and entertains us with flashes of brilliant melodic insight.

Here are a few examples of stuff about love and emotions and all that that seems like it was actually written by rational adults. If you can think of any additional examples, by all means speak up.

Pretty Much Anything by the Magnetic Fields

69 Love Songs is easily one of my favorite albums. If I were a character from High Fidelity, it would be on my top five list. On that list, it would have a number like “three” or “two” assigned to it. The album isn’t just great because it has songs about dancing bears and bunnies fucking, it’s great because so many of the songs that once can actually relate to. These are songs that drag love into a laboratory, do bajillions of test on it, and then publish their findings in Nature. Not many naive proclamations of how awesome stuff is, these are mostly studies of the particular.

Elliot Smith, Say Yes

While a lot of Elliot Smith’s career is a nasty illustration of Why Heroin is Bad, he was also a brilliant lyricist in addition to being a suicidal smack addict. He wrote lots of songs, but I’ll focus on the one that everyone seems to like, Say Yes.

The song’s all about vulnerability, expecting the worst, and feeling sort of weird when things actually work out. Smith finds himself in a position where he doesn’t feel like he has any power or agency. (“They want you or they don’t,” etc.) Feeling powerless, feeling like you have nothing to offer and plaintively asking for acceptance is an experience that I think pretty much everyone except psychopaths and egotistical douchebags have experienced. Say Yes encapsulates yearning, definitely, but also the pleased disbelief that things can actually be good. The lyrics seem to say “Holy shit! You’re still around? I haven’t fucked this up? Um… Wow!”

Early stuff by Liz Phair

Years ago, before she turned into an overly polished Avril Lavigne soundalike, Liz Phair was a respected, self-taught, indie singer/songwriter. Remember that? Anyway, I still like her. I even kinda like her in her new pop-princess guise. I have particular affection for Johnny Feelgood off of Whitechocolatespaceegg because it’s just so damn direct, and that’s not something you get out of pop music much (really- explicit lyrics usually aren’t). It’s a song about having dirty, rough sex with a guy who sounds like kind of an asshole, and the refrain is simply “And I liked it,” the implication being, that maybe she shouldn’t have.

Who hasn’t thought that at one point or another? (Well, virgins and Mormons haven’t.) But, for everyone who’s ever had a sexually rewarding encounter with a person of dubious character, this is the song for them.

Favorite lyric: “Moderation is a memory.” Phair isn’t proclaiming her love to the cosmos, or belting out how unrealistically transcendent it all is, she’s acknowledging her own irrational mental state. Refreshing little twist, there.

Most stuff by Dan Bern, especially Johnny Cash and Anais Nin

Dan Bern is another singer/songwriter from the nineties, and at this point in my little list I feel like I include someone slightly more current, but whatever. This is a post about good love songs, though, not hip, new music.

Johnny Cash and Anais Nin is a delightful little song about two very dissimilar people having a relationship. This sort of thing happens quite a bit- I once dated a girl who wasn’t a depressive cynic, for instance. In the song the two titular characters run grooves into each other, shape each others’ interests and experiences, and each adapts, changes, and learns something from the other. They get into what their partner is into, expand their field of experience, and generally become more well-rounded human beings. This is great! As much fun as temporarily getting lost in some superhigh love-nirvana might be, ultimately relationships ought to bring out the best in us, improve us as people, and help us experience more of the world at large. Jonny Cash and Anais Nin is a song about that- people who, instead of retreating into the maddeningly comfortable little bubble of their relationship, become partners in crime and subsequently devour more of the world because they met each other.

Also, the song has horse fucking. How could you go wrong?

The Beatles, Something

Since I spent my last post beating up on the Beatles I feel that it’s only fair that I say something nice about them now. I actually love the Beatles- I remember listening to my stepmother’s old Sgt. Peppers cassette back when I was in middle school, and it blew my friggin’ mind. I mean it. The ominous and discordant climax of A Day in the Life scared the shit out of me when I first heard it. Really! I wondered to myself what the hell was that about, what was that?

(Answer: Drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.)

But, onto the song at hand. The Beatles wrote lots of cheesy little love songs that probably took them about ten minutes or so to pound out. (I’m not exaggerating- they allegedly wrote I Wanna Be Your Man, the Rolling Stones’ first single, over lunch while Jagger & Co. watched.) Something is not one of those songs. For one thing, it was written by George Harrison, whom I always thought was a bit more introspective than Lennon & McCartney.

The reason I like Something, is that even though it is a soaring and cuddly-sounding song, it’s ultimately about uncertain about a person and relationship, but going with it anyway. There are plenty of times when people can’t really articulate why they’re attracted to a person, and when their friend asks them “So, what’s your plan with this,” the reply is “I don’t know.”

That’s the best part of Something- the big big, spiraling bridge bit is a profession of ignorance. Harrison is saying to us “Wow, I have no idea why I like this or where this is going, but damn, it’s great and I’m going to enjoy this.” The Quiet Beatle managed to write a song that was about reverie without pretense, no small feat.

I’ve also always liked Lovely Rita for some reason. Nifty piano part there.

The Beatles Were Wrong! or I Shake My Fist At Naive Pop Music!

The Beatles have been in the news a bit recently, what with their new box set and special edition of Rock Band. It seems that the powers that be at EMI have decided to cash in on the Fab Four again for the first time in a decade or so. Maybe soon they’ll finally be on iTunes…

But that’s not really what I want to talk about. I want to use the Beatles’ momentary spot in the limelight to talk about one of their songs that I think is not only wrong, but damagingly awful. A song that is horrible not just because it’s incorrect, but awful because it promotes self-deception and a twisted view of human relationships. That song: All You Need Is Love.

Catchy and friendly as it is, I really hate this song. I hate its title, and I hate what it expresses. I hate how people quote it, and I utterly revile how it promotes a simplistic and childish view of human emotions and relationships. I also hate how it is sort of emblematic of the Beatles’ psychedelic phase. Strawberry Fields Forever is much better.

Love is not all you need. Love is not something that will solve all of your problems or make you into a perfectly, existentially satisfied human being. There is so much more to our mental and emotional makeup than a simple desire for love, just as there is more to our physical makeup than a simple desire for protein.

Mind you, I am not opposed to love. That would be ridiculous, sociopathic, and misanthropic. I’m none of those things. I am ardently pro-love. I’m all for losing oneself in a flurry of dopamine and romance. What I do think, though, is that love is a necessary, but not sufficient, ingredient for human happiness and satisfaction.

In so much of fiction and pop culture love is portrayed as the ultimate. “You complete me.” “Happily ever after.” All of that. What a horribly limited experience to pursue. That’s all you want? Someone else? That’s all it takes- the company and affection of others? What about intellectual and artistic pursuits? What about adventures and experiences? These are definitely things that are nice when shared with loved ones, but I would contend that solitary enjoyment of such things can also garner some satisfaction.

Likewise, what a horrible burden to put on your partner. If someone were to tell you, “you’re my happy ending,” “you complete me,” or “all I need is your love,” that should really freak you out. No one person is capable of being those things, of being the fount of existential satisfaction for another. People need each other, yes, but they also need other sources of meaning and affirmation.

For example: While her life is overshadowed by mental illness and suicide, Virginia Woolf and her husband Leonard had a fantastic marriage. They were intellectual partners and professional collaborators, and each of them wrote enthusiastically about their marriage. (And yes, I know that Virginia slept with ladies. I don’t think that’s a strike against their relationship, though. If anything I imagine that Leonard was totally into it.)

Despite their wonderful partnership, though, Woolf was the one who wrote A Room of One’s Own, which basically says that artists need a certain sense of personal autonomy in order to flourish. Love, according to Ms. Woolf, is not all you need.

So… there. Take that, Beatles! Me and Virginia Woolf say you’re wrong! Suck on it! And while you’re at it, most of the rest of pop music can suck on it, too! So much of it seems naive and non-lucid. Grand promises and proclamations that aren’t really tenable or applicable to real human experience. You have to do a fair amount of digging to find something that actually seems like it was written by an adult, something that portrays human emotions and needs in a realistic or poignant way.

Also, Imagine sucks. I still love Sgt. Peppers, though.

A Bit of Awesome Portland-Based Smut

This is just to joyously perverse/sexy to not share with others. Anything that puts strippers, drag queens, a furry and a superhero all together is probably going to get at least a smile out of me.

My sister and her fiancee caught Storm Large earlier this year, and had nothing but awesome things to say about her. This video makes me wish I’d caught the show.

EDIT: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: She lives in Portland. That’s the Park Blocks behind her in the last bit. This here is some good, Portland-grown smut, and makes me all the happier to live here. She performs her all the time, and now I feel like I’ve got some kind of moral imperative to go see her live at some point.

Yay Portland! Our shit is weird! Woo!

Moderately NSFW, by the way.

In Which An Elephant is Utilized

The woman with the antlers on her head is Amanda Palmer, half of the Dresden Dolls. Earlier in the evening, she gave a ukulele performance in Portland’s Park Blocks. The gentleman with the deer skull staff later climbed on top of the elephant and regaled us all with a few accordion songs. A good time was had by all.

The Most Fun You Can Possibly Have Without Actually Having Sex

“Want some blood?”

Various bottles of the stuff were being passed around. “Thanks,” I said, and doused myself in a fair amount of it. I’d blackened my eyes, smeared white makeup all over my face, and torn up one of my dress shirts. I did not, however, have time for blood. I looked like an overzealous Misfits fan than a zombie, really, but my fellow undead were happy to fix that for me. Various other people were in lycra or street clothes, but the zealous hordes of the nonliving saw too it that they were sufficiently made up. I got myself good and red, dousing some blood on my face for good measure. I was ready to ride through Portland and demand brains.

Pedalpalooza is an annual sixteen-day series of bike events here in Portland, most of which are theme rides. Looking at the calendar, the one that I was determined to go to was the zombie ride, because, well, it was an opportunity to dress up as a zombie. Riding through Portland, shouting “BRAAAAIIINS!!!” at various pedestrians garnered us three main responses:

1- People ignoring us, pretending that a large crowd of bike-based undead were not, in fact, demanding culinary use of their grey matter. This was the most common reaction.

2- Some variant of “Woo!” This was fairly common, which I think speaks well of the citizenry of Portland. They are open-minded enough that they don’t mind restless revenants consuming said open minds.

3- Some variant of “Fuck you!” Very few people had this reaction. I decided that those who did take offense to our antics were tortured, unhappy souls who needed to get laid very badly.

We stopped at a few bars, where a few adventurous patrons allowed themselves to be bitten and slathered in fake blood. There were a few other patrons who did not acquiesce to such zombification, and they were much less exciting human beings. At a bar, though, I got a phone call from my friend L asking what I was doing.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m at the zombie ride.” I said.

“Oh,” she said, with a pausing, “I’m at the Bowie Vs. Prince ride.” Bowie Vs. Prince. At another event someone had rigged up a mobile sound system and was leading around a mobile 80s dance party that was stopping at various open spaces for dancing and antics. Long story short- my friend was able to give me directions and I was able to successfully lead a pack of zombies to an 80s dance party. When rolled up Thriller was, rather auspiciously, playing.

It was a blast- we rolled out with 1999 blasting into the evening, getting “Woos!” from various bar patrons. There was also some bike polo in there. Eventually the whole mass of people ended up at a dance party on the water under a bridge. The next day L and I formed a scavenger hunt team, biking around Portland taking pictues of cycle-themed curiosity.

The whole zombie/80s music/mobile dance party thing, though, made me think a lot about “hipsterism.” At their worst (and most people do talk about them at their worst) hipsters are shallow, image-obsessed douchebags who are only capable of interacting with anything after a safe cushion of ironic distance has been established. At its worst, “hipsterism” is alienating, cold, distant, grating, and fickle. The word “douchebag” is often appended to “hispster” for good reason.

At their very best, though, the young, creative population of a city like Portland is absolutely fantastic, a population that is not afraid of audacity or bold actions. They are a demographic that does have a particular “style” but there is a distinct lack of “one-true-wayism” to it. While things are recognizably “hipstery,” there is a definite pluralism to what can be incorporated into that aesthetic. Almost anything, if presented with a certain sensibility, is considered stylistically interesting, which I quite like.

Also, in answer to any complaints about insufficient illustration: I was having too much fun to bother with pictures. There were costumes, antics, and music, enough that I entirely forgot that I’d brought a camera.