I used to work at the NYPress alongside Neil Strauss, who went on to co-write Motley Crue’s The Dirt. All of us freelancers were given scorning nicknames–it was a thoroughly Mamet-ly environment–mine was “Little Doughty.” Neil’s was “Worm Boy.”
Neil went on to write The Game, a book about pick-up artists, one of which was that guy Mystery, the guy from VH1’s The Pick-Up Artist. It’s a creepy show, with a kind of jarringly touchy-feely core. Nebbishy guys are taught to be confident. That’s good news, right? What skeeves me out is that the pick-up artists have a jargon–“two-sets,” “I.O.I.s,” “kiss-closing,” “negs”.
On the other hand, I’m a rock star and I don’t have the brass to walk up to the cutest girl in a bar and chat her up.
Neil Strauss, it seems to me, genuinely cares about the guys who read his book looking to learn, at last, how to meet women. The book is largely Neil’s own tale of transformation, from nebbish ness to confidence. It’s a little disingenuous, considering the average guy can’t walk up to a woman and say, “Hi, I wrote a best-selling book with Marilyn Manson.”
But he’s got some good advice, actually. For instance: if you want to meet a woman in a bar, don’t walk up behind her, because that will seem weird to her; wait until she’s facing forward and walk up to her from the front. That’s good stuff, right? Common-sensical.
This guy Mystery is a piece of work. He dresses like Al Jourgenson’s gofer. Eyeliner, leather pants, etc. And he’s got this nerdy Canadian accent (sorry, Canadian friends) that render his ultra-serious scientific booty jargon goofy.
But, c’mon, let’s be honest; we who consider ourselves better than this guy player-hate the bejesus out of him. Because his shit works. He circumvents that natural male fear of rejection–the onus is on us to walk up to women, vibrating with anxiety, to be judged–accepted, or dissed.
I saw him appear on Conan, and though I did find him cringeworthy, there was a telling moment; cutting to commercial, fellow guest Kevin Pollak mouthed “Wow” to the camera. It was forced, and sour-grapes-y. Because Kevin Pollak was thinking: I’m a movie star and I can’t walk into a bar and talk to any girl I choose to.
Ultimately I look at this guy and think of a line from Superbad; Jonah Hill is talking about how all girls have a hook-up they regret, and he says imploringly, “We could be those mistakes!”
I’m cooking up a DJ set. I’ve been programming kind of Atari-esque house tracks for a couple of years; I also have ideas for samples, ideas that I’ve been storing up, as I haven’t had the chance to use my loop-seeking skills since Soul Coughing.
I’m trying to learn Ableton Live (a piece of production/mixing software)–I have no intention of learning how to rock turntables–I want to play the whole set from a laptop. I haven’t traveled much in dance-music circles lately, so I don’t know if that in fact is the standard. I guess it might be considered cheating, but I’m a guy that really has no interest in authenticity or credibility–I just want it to sound good.
Anyway, there was a time when turntables themselves were “cheating”–have I told you this story? A friend of mine went to see George Clinton in the early 80s, and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five opened. A lady standing behind him was yelling indignantly, “He’s just playing the record! He’s just playing the record!”
Later, as my friend was flying on L.S.D., George Clinton leaped from the stage and crashed into the folding chairs in front of him.
Who knows how long it’ll take me to be able to DJ competently? Don’t hold your breath. When I cobble something together, I’d like to throw some discreet rent parties as practice.
The Scrap and I went to Dayton, Ohio the day before yesterday. It was fucking humid, and we ate at Denny’s twice. He his Moons Over My Hammy, and I my Super Bird. The air was so thick the guitars wouldn’t stay in tune–it was funny for the first couple of songs, but really threw me for the rest of the set. A bunch of seven year old girls were dancing in front of the stage, and yelling requests for “27 Jennifers.”
Who are those people in the yearbook photos on the MySpace ads? She’s a Model Now?! And They’re married and have seven kids?! They must be people that work at the ad agencies. Who else would sign the releases? They keep recombining and mixing the ads–now one doesn’t simply click to see the name of their crush; we have to slap the belly of the Classmates.com big-hair girls. I call on all Americans to volunteer their yearbook photos in the name of cultural variety.
I love those Match.com ads with the webcam shots of the cute-but-not-model-beautiful girls smiling and playing with their hair as some unknown typist flirts with them online. It distresses me that they’re now replacing them with actual model girls in fake webcam shots pretending to be flirted with.
Yesterday a big photo crew came over to my house and took pix: for the album cover of my upcoming Golden Delicious, for press shots, and pix of me and bass player Scrap for our Fall tour, The Question Jar Show
Above and below: the most esteemed world-renowned Jim Wright, photographer.
Emily, art director and all around benificent presence.
On the left, Nicole, the stylist (buyer and sorter of clothing). On the right, photo assistant Natalie.
Nicole is the superawesomest. There is a thing in photoshoot styling I call Shiny-Shirt Syndrome. The band dude stands there in the shot, wearing a shiny shirt that he’d never wear in his actual life. Nicole has the superpower ability to find clothes that actually look like I would wear them in life. I have met very, very few stylists that do that, and make one look chic to boot.
Above: makeup artist Elisa. She made the zits on my chin magically disappear. She is possessed of a charming Texan presence, being a Dallas girl, is a yogini, and is just about the cutest, sexiest woman that ever walked the Earth. Which made her leaning close to my face to erase my zits a heart-pounding experience.
Andy Adelewitz, aka Mike Doughty H.Q. Manager. Paragon of fortitude. He took most of these pix–pictures of me getting my picture taken.
Scrap. His government name: Andrew Howard Livingston. His aliases: Scriggs, Scrill, Scrackalacka. His role: bass player, chaplain.
There was a couple taking wedding pictures as we shot in Prospect Park.
We shot some at Bar Toto, on 6th Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Above: me pretending to write for the photo. Below: what I was actually writing.
Everybody came back to my apartment and went through Polaroids.
I dreamed last night that somebody told me this joke: Two tiny Martians are riding their flying saucer low over a cobblestone street. They crash into the back of an iguana. One Martian turns to the other and says: “Document, my ass!”
They’re shooting photos for the cover of Golden Delicious today. As I type this, stylists and photo assistants are tramping into my apartment. A guy is setting up a buffet for the staff right in front of me, here in my kitchen.
Photoshoots are fun if you do them once a year.
Up on Sunday, watching the Yelly Show, a.k.a. The McLaughlin Group. It’s killed my Meet the Press buzz–footage of Karl Rove in 1972, with large hair, big brown-framed glasses, and rockstar-svelte frame. I’m gonna switch over to VH1 and hope for a Bret Michaels marathon.
So. “The Heavily-Fortified Green Zone.” Why is it never just the Green Zone? It’s like in the Odyssey, where every time they’re mentioned, it’s “sweetly laughing Aphrodite” and “the wine-dark sea.” Or, for that matter, “stately Wayne Manor.”
I went on an internet date last night, and the woman looked nothing like her photographs. She was smart and nice, and it was a fun chat. But I think she could sense my disappointment, which I felt bad about.
The internet dating thing works for me–I was seeing this awesome girl for a few weeks that I met, she had a ritzy gig and actually flew me out to Chicago where she was working. Lots of fun.
There is that dice-roll, though, of the photo-to-reality ratio. Sometimes you see a black-and-white portrait of a woman with an 80s hairstyle; i.e., high school yearbook photo. In my generation, that’s 20 years ago!!
There’s a guy named Mike Dougherty that writes music reviews at ‘L’ magazine, a Brooklyn nightlife guide. My landlord LaShawna asked me if I was him. I thought she meant Elle magazine, which briefly made me wonder if I had a secret life palling around with Shalom Harlow.
The incredible John “Jack” Kirby–our phenomenally talented piano player, and the MVP of my upcoming album Golden Delicious–was in town yesterday, and we were gonna get together with our friend Wendy, who did the Reverb Barenaked Planet stuff on the Barenaked Ladies tour last year, and consume massive amounts of vegan nosh at Caravan of Dreams. Just as I emerged from the B train, I saw a tiny sparkling spot just to the left of the center of my sight. It’s unmistakeable; the beginnings of a migraine.
I’ve been getting migraines since about the fourth grade. I get what is called an “aura” beforehand–that shimmering, crystalline spot grows larger over about an hour, until half my field of vision is vibrating. It has this very psychedelic effect of blanking out a part of whatever I’m focused on; a word will be missing from text, a nose from a face, a finger from my hand.
An odd an awkward part is that, though I’m not in pain, and won’t be for 90 minutes or so, I have to call whomever I’m supposed to meet with and calmly state that I’m about to be in horrible pain. Happily (uh, actually, not so happily), John gets migraines with the same aura, so he understood. Not everybody gets the aura; some people get no signal, some people get strange things like an intense smell of citrus fruit.
I would get them at school and have to go to the nurse’s office and matter-of-factly explain that I had to go home. I often would have to fake some pain so I could get home, and into a dark room, before the actual pain came on.
They’re caused by the restriction of veins in the temples. A doctor once described migraines to me as an extremely mild form of a stroke.
I get them rarely in the past few years–maybe one or two, yearly. When I first got clean, and my mind was going haywire, I would have jags where I got them every other day for weeks. When El Oso was being recorded–it was a horrible emotional mess, the struggle of making those Soul Coughing records–I was getting them daily. Obviously to me, it’s my brain telling me that I have to get into a dark room immediately, that it’s essentially the nuclear option for my inner self to commandeer my stressed-out body.
This is the second one this month, and I’m uneasy. What is my brain trying to tell me? Am I stressed out and unaware of it? What’s going on that I’m not noticing?
So I’m planning this show for the late Fall that I’m calling The Question Jar Show.
I was inspired by the shows Scrap and I did at the Mexicali Blues in Jersey last December–we played nothing but requests yelled out from the crowd. I wanted to do a whole tour like that.
The new wrinkle is the Question Jar: a big jar into which the audience can drop written questions. I’ll answer ‘em between songs.
My next record, Golden Delicious, isn’t out yet, and I want to preview the songs, so I will be hiring professional hecklers to yell out the titles of songs no one’s heard of yet.
No, actually I’ll probably just cheat, and play them sans request.
Speaking of which: Golden Delicious has been mixed and mastered, and is ready to go, musically. There’s still photographs to be taken and things like that, which takes FOREVER.
So yeah, it will be out slightly after forever arrives.
I am having the love with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ new thing, IS IS. So large! So funky! So deliciously cryptic!