Thursday, May 29, 2008

texas hardcore explosion 1985 yeah! (it's on)

Now I've really done it. I did that thing I said I was gonna do. You know, that thing with the punk rock fotos. That.

So: All of you dear people are most lovingly invited to my new blog, which is more like an exhibition disguised as a blog. It's all photographs I took in Austin many many years ago of some of the people and bands I thought were the coolest cats pajamas what ever lived. It has a long unwieldy name, which may cause Google's web crawlers to mistake it for some sort of cowboy porn site, but hey, if that results in increased traffic to these pictures, I'm all for it. I've also set up a flickr site, and that looks pretty cool as well (I suggest viewing the pictures as a slideshow!) Here's the links:

I finished the flickr thing yesterday, then ran the slideshow to review it, and just started beaming. I was so happy and proud to see all of these old faces on the web screaming back at me and transmitting immortal. We were all so young and skinny and beautiful in our own scruffy way. We knew that the Big Boys had invented punk funk before our very eyes, that David Yow was the funniest homosapiens on the planet, and that the Butthole Surfers were the wildest band this side of Uranus. We thought we were culture rebels like none before us, and even if we were wrong about that last part, does it really matter?

Monday, May 26, 2008

...and one more thing.

This image has started appearing on posters around our town. People, why have the characters of this marginally-clever-tv-show-now-turned-into-a-no-doubt-flaccid-movie been made into mutants for the advertising campaign? S. J Parker models a robe from Star Trek episode #43, "The Trouble with Sequins," Cynthia Nixon appears to be auditioning for the role of Ms. Mao on a Chinese propaganda poster, and Kim Cattrall is a chimpanzee. Why, god why?! Kristin Davis, the sexiest girl on the series (which isn't, on the whole, sexy at all) is shoved to the side like a rhythm guitarist. Huh?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life's Too Short

I don't know if it's because I saw Before the Devil Knows You're Dead last night, but today I feel like my problems are small problems. Most of the people in that (well-made, seductively fucked-up) film are so overwhelmingly pathetic and desperate, it made me want to come straight home and hug my wife. (So I did, and she looked at me like I was insane.) But even if I just look around on this streetcar this evening, I see people who've got the sort of trouble I'll never know. Losing a well-paid university teaching gig stings a little, but at least I'm not a junkie cuckold who's planning to rob his own parents' jewelry store. Or a suffocating middle-aged guy trapped in a life he hates.

On the other hand, I do appear to be a middle-aged guy, and as Phil Hartman once said, "You know, when you hit forty, you're halfway home."

So I've decided that I'm gonna use these few weeks of unplanned unpaid vacation to do something I've been meaning to do for a long long time. I'm gonna publish my punk funk pigfuck rock photos. Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, Big Boys, George Clinton, Scratch Acid, Texas skinheads, My Bloody Valentine, Sun Ra--all the best sort of stuff. Not in a book, not anywhere fancy, just in a blog or at FlickR or some such. Maybe I'll make a two-dollar documentary out of them and put it on YouTube. Because I've been sitting on these goddamn amazing images for more than twenty years, and that's just stoopid. It's time for someone else to see them.

I don't want to turn fifty and start regretting things.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

10 pm Monday night

What. A. Shitty. Day.

Up at 5 am with princess # smallest, who screams bloody murder for the first two minutes when she realizes "Mom-mie!!" is not getting up with us.

Then it's off to my first day of teaching a new photography course: I'm calm, cool, and ready to drop some documentary foto science on--Whoa! 3 students?! Dude, where's my class?

Teach for two hours anyway, then huddle with the school academic director to find out what's, uh, the deal with the other seven students who I thought had signed up for the class.

Then home by 2 pm to resume quality time provider duties with the previously mentioned smallest package, who resumes screaming seven shades of hell when she realizes Mama has slipped off to work. The shrieking lasts for half an hour.

Until the academic director calls to tell me they've decided to cancel my photo class. Oops--bye bye 3000 Euro!

The day plummets from there, and at 8, after more screams from #2, and some (sugar-fuelled) attitude and unkind words from princess #1, I flee my family. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.

End up bleary in a bar at 10 pm, head in my hands and rubbing my eyes like some extreme eye-pain-having fellow.

* * *

Tomorrow I will sort through the wreckage. Tonight I will leave this bar and crawl home to the spare bedroom and hope to sleep dreamless, screamless and peaceful. Here's hoping....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

the thin pink line

So outta nowhere, Anette bought me three nice new shirts. (Well, maybe she was responding to my awesome Mothers' Day present to her, but...) Normally, this would be all Good. But one of them has caused a bit of a furor here at the Euro Like Me editorial headquarters. Here it is:

This may finally be too much for me. Note the tight fit, the plunging neckline, and, well, the hue. Because, as an American male heterosexualist, I can only go so far over the thin pink line.

Once upon a time, I got a few kicks by provoking micro-bursts of homophobia, gender confusion and bizarre color prejudices simply by wearing a pink shirt. Even the most seemingly progressive people, particularly Americans, go Neanderthal when they see a man in pink. "Oooh, Pat, are you trying to tell us something?"

European men, even straight ones, seem much more comfortable rocking the rosa. But I just don't know if my transformation into a full-on, stinky cheese-eating, high tax paying, color-care-free Euro-dude is complete yet. It seems that the pink chickens may have come home to roost. Or maybe it's perfectly normal for a guy to occasionally ask, 'Do I look gay in this?'

And would it matter if I did? Some of my best girlfriends have been fag hags. (It's a very sneaky maneuver: at first, they think, 'He's gay-I'm safe.' Then you pounce.) And it's not like I haven't ever been mistaken for a lesbian. It feels a little funny the first time, but then you move on.

Is it really so important that strangers on the U-Bahn know which team I'm playing for? Apparently so.

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's a Jungle in There

"So what's going on at kindergarten these days, Adinah?"

"You know what? Phillip and Simon always go to Mariella and say (adopts teasing, sing-song voice), 'Baby Mariella! Futzy Mariella!' All the boys do it. Not Oskar. Then Phillip and Simon say to Teresa that she has funny hair. So all the girls go to Simon and say, 'Baby Simon! Baby Simon!' And today Simon went around the kindergarten (adopts lurching, erratic movements) and bumped into Mariella and me and some other kids, and he said, 'I'm drunk, I'm drunk.' "

Translation: The two oldest boys in the group are claiming the oldest girl in the group is actually an infant and reeks of farts. A gender-specific mob mentality has developed. There are some who resist the savagery, including Adinah's best friend, the boy whom she has said she will live with (but not marry) when she gets older. The boys also tease the other Ethiopian girl in Adinah's class, who has a magnificent moptop. Simon, apparently the Lion King of the group, is acting out (when I mentioned his 'drunk' act to Anette, she asked, 'Have you ever met Simon's mother?')

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

V. climbed up onto the couch to sit next to me yesterday. She pushed in next to me and pressed her head back into my shoulder hard, just so I would put my arm around her. It was like a linebacker asking for a hug. Then she overdid it, made her whole body as stiff as a board, and almost fell back off the couch.

This was a remarkable thing. She has been living with us for a full six months now, and our second daughter has not only learned that she can ask for affection from Anette and I, but she's learned how to ask for it. Sort of.

She's sleeping through the night sometimes now. She's screaming and hitting less. I made a family portrait of us a few weeks ago and I didn't look at it closely until a week later, and V. looks so happy--and so much like one of us.

Something else is changing, but it's harder to quantify. Yesterday, we met V.'s biological mother again, and it went pretty well. But when we got back home, V. threw a minor tantrum. She cried, pointed to our bedroom and the spot where Anette sleeps, and she said "Mama." Which wouldn't be notable except that V.'s never said that word before. She has said and still says "Mami," but she uses that word for all adults--Anette, me, the waiter, the stranger next to us on the U-bahn.

She did it again today, while Anette was gone. Sitting in our dining room playing by herself, V. suddenly started whining low, pointing to a photograph of my wife, and miserably calling out, "Mama, mama!" I couldn't really console her. I was curious about her use of the word, so I got out a photo album which includes a picture of V. with her bio-mom. She pointed at her bio-mom and went off in that goo-goo-talk she speaks, like she was very patiently trying to explain game theory to me. But she didn't say "mama."

She probably understands her family a lot better than we think. Perhaps she's starting to use language to make sense of it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I don't believe it

I don't believe in Santa Clause, or his evil Austrian cousin, Krampus.

I don't believe the President of the United States.

I don't believe the Apollo moon missions were faked.

I don't believe John was the best Beatle. (Ringo was.)

I don't believe in flu shots.

I don't believe in an "Austrian" character, nor an "American" one, though I do believe they both have a few identifying traits.

I don't believe in the end of the world. (Or maybe I just never think about it.)

I don't believe Brad and Angelina are doing it for the publicity.

I don't believe Jesus was a white man with a beard. She may have been a black woman on a motorcycle, though. Or an alien. Wait, no, hey, I don't believe in Jesus Christ. I mean, I don't think I do....

I don't believe I'm gonna live in Vienna for the rest of my life.

I don't believe I will become famous or rich or bitter.

I don't believe you can never be too rich or too thin.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Vienna Past/Perfect #3

The first district is the old city, and today, it's the Vienna that drive-thru tourists see, a hub of overpriced antiques and street quartets playing Strauss. I like it more than most Viennese, but then I'm still a tourist here myself. But in this photo from 1950, Karntnerstrasse looks pretty hopping--in a international spy movie sort of way. I suspect there were many rumba bars. Now it's a pedestrian zone with potted plants. Oh well.