further deconstruction of umbrella & other news

This blog was originally posted to The Dresden Dolls Diary.

i was in the chiropractor’s office while i was home, he wears a white turban and has a really long beard.
in the waiting room there was a copy of “Real Simple” which, as i understand it, is a magazine about living more simply.
the tagline of the magazine:

Real Simple: Life Made Easier.

what would have henry david said about this one?

but that is not the funny part of the story,
the funny part of the story was the fact that when i opened up the magazine randomly to see what was in there, i opened to an advertisement for something or other. i think it was actually a ad for another magazine, which also makes me laugh in retrospect.


the advertisement was a modern black-and-white affair with text and a photograph of a very weird-blender-looking-high-tech-device-with-a-handle

the text said:

“I don’t know what it is, but I want it.”


being not in the habit of writing music anymore and anyway being disgusted with myself at the thought of using my own personal not-even-very-large heartbreak to write lyrics, i went to the local hipster bar instead.
i drank two oatmeal stouts and talked to a girl named rachel who has worked with the blind who approached me because she recognized me.
we talked about the coasts.

then i wrote in my journal and then i got sick of that and bummed a cigarette off a bike courier and drew a picture of myself feeling sorry for myself. i’m still 16. i can’t handle the fact that my romantic self is dying, that i’m getting old, that doing the unexpected is too much of a bother.

that i know too well how things will go – because i do know, because i have the experience – and so i let go, i don’t do.

i don’t want to let go.
i want to torture myself, i want to feel hurt, i want to feel my own heart breaking, i want to remember what it’s like to fall in love. it’s been too many years, i’ve loved nothing but my self and my own creations and the scenery that goes along with it. fuck that.

meanwhile, my balanced self nods wisely saying: this is the pain that you have to experience to grow up. finding balance means feeling the pain of not doing certain things.

but i WANT to drive to other people’s driveways at three in the morning and declare my love. i want to make things happen. irrational things.

exactly, my self says….but you don’t.

but i don’t WANT to be rational. i don’t WANT to be responsible. that means i am OLD, and DEAD.
i realistically have nothing to lose.
why can’t i be like i used to?
i want to be stupid.
run out naked into traffic and all that.



i just got an email from michael franti. we have the same management company – madison house (great bunch of people and dogs there).
we met a while ago in australia and went to each others shows. our music couldn’t be more different but MAN the guys got soul. he is very very very tall and rarely wears shoes and writes overtly political reggae-rock-inspired songs about peace/politics/fucked-up-ness. he’s a marley/mellow clash. i had no idea he was actually famous until i got home from that trip and they were playing his CD in my yoga studio, and everybody knew it. it’s nice when you meet famous people and you don’t know it. he’s recording a new record in LA and doing yoga in the parking lot. he sounds like my long lost brother, except i’m not black. ok.


from comments:
“Sorry about your cat. I always looked at temporal bodies as slingshots being pushed to their breaking point, and when we die the trigger is released. I’d like to think your cat is getting the ride of it’s life right now.”

thank you for all your Cat Still Exists confirmations.

i had a dream last night and Govinda was in it.

here it was:

i was in my old house, the house in lexington that i grew up in. almost all my dreams take place there. my best friend, who’s a shrink (go figure) says that the old house represents my Self. it’s stable, never-left, never-changing, a good repository for whatever images my poor and over-worked little brain-imagination can stuff inside it. (i also have very frequently recurring dreams in which all my possessions, and my self, get immersed in some body of water but we’ll leave that to another blog SHALL WE).

i was running around, distracted and breakneck speed, wearing sweatpants and a dirty t-shirt, as i usually did back then. i kept feeling something trapped in the cuff off my pants, something like a little furry animal still alive, and i kept thinking i would tend to it, but i kept forgetting. finally, after too many bouts of running around and doing, i remembered to reach my hand up through my pants to see what the object was.

it was a tiny yellow chick, just barely hatched and hours old, beaten and bruised from all of my hustling about. i felt a guilt so heavy i couldn’t bear it: if only i had paid attention sooner. i even knew, i felt it moving; yet i did nothing.
it’s eyes fluttered open but couldnt stay open. it was barely moving, barely breathing. i thought to myself that maybe i should kill it and put it out of its misery.

i did do that once.
i was at some friend’s house and all alone because they hadn’t arrived. and there on the ground by the side of the house was a dying bird, a chickadee, a little one. it was obvious the end was near, it was barely moving, heaving little bird breaths.
my heart was breaking and before i could think about it twice i lifted my right black mary-jane (i remember not wearing my boots, because the sole of the show was paper-thin) and stepped on that bird as hard as i could. and then again. and again. it was harder than i thought. which reminds me of how easy it is to be killed but how hard it is to kill yourself.

anyway, my right foot reverberated for a long time. even now, under my right arch i can feel that little warm body and the bones crackling, not giving as easily as i thought they would, defying death.

this bird in the dream was like that bird. i put the bird down on the floor of my old bedroom, which was emptied of all the original furniture though the walls were still covered in mess-collage.
under the window on the wooden floor where my futon used to be.

i was grief-stricken, guilt-ridden, panicked and convinced i was working against time to save this little life, if that was even possible, which i doubted.
i ran down to the kitchen. there was my mother. i started rustling through drawers and cabinets:

“i need something, quick. a bird upstairs is dying. something warm. some safe place to put it.”

she didn’t seem phased and she suggested that i use some of the leftover warm tea-bags that were being used in the dish she was making.

“no! those won’t work….i need something NOW something and quickly.”

and i grabbed a dishcloth and a big bowl and ran back up to my room. in the place where the bird had been was little kitten. not a newborn kitten but a grown-enough one. fully functional.
my logical mind ignored itself and i thought:

how amazing
the chick has evolved into a kitten, and lived.
and then i thought to myself: that’s completely stupid.
chickens don’t turn into cats.
but i was under some sort of fantasy-dream power so i let that one go.

the kitten hopped up onto the top of my old bedroom closet, where govinda was lying on her side, white belly bared, being her very happy and alive and very soft-and-furry self.
the kitten cuddled up against her and they seemed to get along famously. i felt a surge.

i jumped down from the closet ledge and saw a large plastic cat-carrier sort of structure on the bare wooden floor. an incubator. it was emanating warmth and peeking in it, i saw a large pink blanket folded and in the corner, the newly-hatched yellow chick sleeping soundly. my mother had put it there.

when i told this dream to my friend, i burst into tears telling that last part.

i am broken-hearted and feeling old and losing my sense of freedom and self. my step-sister gave birth two days ago. i’m an aunt.

i know what most of it means.


from comments:

Well you know what they say. If you’ve gone over the cliff, as we all do once we struggle out of the womb, you can do one of two things:

1. Enjoy the view
2. Scream the whole way down



i saw st. vincent play in boston at the middle east.
i think she’s the most incredible thing i’ve seen/heard in a long time & i highly recommmend checking her shit out

regina+pj+joanjett+doris day

go see her live if the tracks don’t do it for you.
tell her hi.


the other day, while driving back from the hospital and being faced with several faces of death, i was reminded of a poetic theme of my life: massachusetts avenue. i grew up off this street, many of my major epic break-ups and hook-ups and massive other goings-on have taken place on this street. i started composing a song in my head. i forced myself, when i got home, to finish the song.

it was not terrible, but it was Terrible. upon completing 47% of the song, it dawned on me that it was a complete, shameless rip-off of the jeep song, truce, ampersand and one other song which i forget now. that;s how bad it was.
i tried to finish it but instead lost myself back into the harsh reality that song-writing (any art, pretty much) is a craft that must be practiced, not mustered

(fuck, i really wanted to be artistic and lazy)



you can run into my arms
it’s okay don’t be alarmed (?)
come into me (delay: come into me)
there’s no distance in between our love

ok stop right there.

there’s no distance in between our love.


it makes no sense.


two years ago i joked that i would only ever endorse one product if i had the choice: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile Soap.

we wrote them some fan mail and they responded by sending an entire box of soap. i was thrilled. i gave the soap away.

i wish i could give this soap to everyone.

now they have made a movie about Dr. Bronner’s life and family and soap (Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox) and brian and i went to see it the other night at the coolidge.

it is an incredible film: the moral ABC, heartbreak, family, mental instability, human connection, the holocaust and it’s long-reaching aftershocks. all there.

go see it if it’s at an arthouse near you:

the site for the film:

A human being works hard to teach love to his enemy, to help unite all mankind free, or that being is not yet Human; so, go the second mile, hold the other cheek brave, not meek! For we’re All-One or none! All-One! Exceptions eternally none! ABSOLUTE NONE!




from comments:

“I’ll fess up: I kinda dig on that “Umbrella” song. Deep down, I’m just a dirty pop whore. I can’t help myself. Don’t get me started on “Fergalicious,” and if you aren’t familiar with that song, stay with that. It’s the purest form of audio crack. Hear it just once and you’re hooked.”

audio crack is a very good way of putting it, but is it necessarily – de facto – bad for you?

i have been re-reading books that i’ve always meant to get back to. i have been trying to do more of that lately.idiotic
i have found that re-reading certain books from my teenage past that i found amazing then are even more amazing now, profoundly.
so i am going back Again and again.
in the past week i’ve been reading “the unbearable lightness of being” by milan kundera. i remember being stricken by it at 18, so stricken that i continued on as a fan and read 4 or 5 more of his books (immortality i also remember being striking, i’m going to re-read that in edinburgh).

let’s talk about rihanna’s “umbrella” in the context of kundera.

here are excerpts from the past few passages that i just happened to read on the plane (sabina = czech at-this=point-currently emigré painter):

Sabina’s inner revolt against Communism was aesthetic rather than ethical in manner. What repelled her was not nearly so much the ugliness of the Communist world (ruined castles transformed into cow sheds) as the mask of beauty it tried to wear – in other words, Communist kitsch [for you Regina Spektor fans out there: Soviet Kitsch]. The model of Communist kitsch is the ceremony called May Day.
She had seen May Day parades during the time when people were still enthusiastic or still did their best to feign enthusiasm. The women all wore red, white and blue blouses, and the public, looking on from balconies and windows, could make out various five-pointed stars, hearts and letters when the marchers went into formation. Small brass bands accompanied the individual groups, keeping everyone in step. As a group approached the reviewing stand, even the most blasé faces wold beam with dazzling smiles, as if trying to prove they were properly joyful or, to be more precise, in proper agreement. Nor were they merely expressing political agreement with Communism; no, theirs was an agreement with being as such. The May Day ceremony drew it’s inspiration from the deep well of the categorical agreement with being. The unwritten, unsung motto of the parade was not “Long live Communism!” but “Long live life!” The Power and cunning of Communist politics lay in the fact that it appropriated this slogan. For it was this idiotic tautology (“Long live life!”) which attracted people indifferent to the theses of Communism to the Communist parade.

long live the punk cabaret!

you can stand under under under my umbrella.

i just listened to it again.
it’s the synthesizers.
it is aimed to hit all the brainwashed children of today
PLUS everyone who loved Disintegration.


And in fact, Soviet films, which flooded of all Soviet countries in that cruelest of times [post WWII], were saturated with incredible innocence and chastity. The greatest conflict that could occur between two Russian was a lovers’ misunderstanding: he thought she no longer loved him she thought he no longer loved her. But in the final scene they would fall into each other’s arms, tears of happiness trickling down their cheeks.
The current conventional interpretation of these films is this: they showed the Communist ideal, whereas Communist reality was worse.
Sabina always rebelled against this interpretation. Whenever she imagined the world of Soviet kitsch becoming a reality, she felt a shiver run down her back. She would unhesitatingly prefer life in a real Communist regime with all its persecution and meat queues. Life in the real Communist world was still livable. In the world of the Communist ideal made real, in that world of grinning idiots, she would have nothing to say, she would die of horror within a week.

when the sun shines
we’ll shine together:


does it mean that ONLY when the sun shines, we’ll shine together?

meaning that when it rains we will NOT shine together, meaning that now that it’s raining more than ever, you CAN’T stand under my umber-ella
ella ella e eh eh eh?

eh eh?


i played with a full band, Aberdeen City, this weekend. the four days that i spent before the run of shows were sublime. i went to their boiling hot allston rehearsal space and we worked non-stop for hours on end to arrange the songs. we ended up playing: five of mine (“don’t take the flowers” – a new one, “night reconnaissance”, “you owe me a coke’ – which i have to re-title but actually i kind of like it, “awful detail”, “the mouse and the model”) and two tasteful covers (“together” by avril lavigne and “take ecstasy with me” by the magnetic fields). the peak experience came on rehearsal night three when we went for a beer run and i felt something akin to losing my band virginity. none of them knew it.

miller time in summertime. is happiness simple? answer = sometimes yes.

the shows got better and better each night and though i got the distinct feeling that the hardcore fans didnt want to hear guitars mixed in with my piano playing, i didn’t care. i was having too good a time. aberdeen city gave me a blue mandolin and a chord book as a going-away present. i want to drink the champagne of beers forever. I want to get back to writing songs, eh eh eh.

as for aberdeen, go see the band in their own glory:
i highly recommend the songs “god is going to get sick of me” and “pretty pet”:

i usually describe them as mid-latter-day radiohead, but they would probably hate that.
i think what i love best is that i don’t know what they are. they are an excellent band full of excellent, that’s all.
also highly recommended live.

the germans have an expression for when you can’t get a song out of your head: they say that you have an “ear worm”.

She stood in front of her easel with a half-finished canvas on it, the old man in the armchair behind her observing every stroke of her brush.
“It’s time we went home,” he said at last with a glance to his watch.
She laid down her palette and went into the bathroom to wash. The old man raised himself out of his armchair and reached for his cane, which was leaning against a table. The door of the studio led directly out to the lawn. It was growing dark. Fifty feet away was a white clapboard house. The ground-floor windows were lit. Sabina was moved by the two windows shining out into the day.
All her life she had proclaimed kitsch her enemy. But hadn’t she in fact been carrying it with her? Her kitsch was her image of home, all peace, quiet, and harmony, and ruled by a loving mother and wise father. It was an image that took shape within her after the death of her parents. The less her life resembled that sweetest of dreams, the more sensitive she was to its magic, and more than once she shed tears when the ungrateful daughter in a sentimental film embraced the neglected father as the windows of the happy family’s house shone out into the dying day.
She had met the old man in New York. He was rich and liked paintings. He lived alone with his wife, also aging, in a house in the country. Facing the house, but still on his land, stood an old stable. He had had it remodeled into a studio for Sabina and would follow the movements of her brush for days on end.
Now all three of them were having supper together. The old woman called Sabina “my daughter”, but all indications would lead one to believe the opposite, namely, that Sabina was the mother and that her two children doted on her, worshipped her, would do anything she asked.
Had she then, herself on the threshold of old age, found the parents who had been snatched from her as a girl? Had she at last found the children she had never had herself?
She was well aware it was an illusion. Her days with the aging couple were merely a brief interval. the old man was seriously ill, and when his wife was left on her own, she would go and live with their son in Canada. Sabina’s path of betrayals would then continue elsewhere, and from the depths of her being, a silly mawkish song about two shining windows and the happy family living behind them would occasionally make its way into the unbearable lightness of being.
Though touched by the song, Sabina did not take her feeling seriously. She knew only too well that the song was a beautiful lie. As soon as kitsch is recognized for the lie it is, it moves into the context of non-kitsch, thus losing its authoritarian power and becoming as touching as any other human weakness. For none among us is superman enough to escape kitsch completely.

No matter how we scorn it, kitsch is an integral part of the human condition.

take that rihanna


self-portrait in london, august 3 2007.


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