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rough tradeWhen I first heard Rough Trade’s “High School Confidential” I was immediately taken by its rawness and frank sexuality: it was rare to hear this kind of forthright discussion of desire on the radio stations available in Windsor, Ontario in the early 1980s. Lines like “is he screwing [with] her” were very risqué at the time. (As an aside, I recall that, when I was about eleven or twelve years old, and trying to understand the details of sex, I somehow came to the conclusion that “screwing” referred specifically to anal sex. Of course, I also thought that the vagina was on the front of a woman’s body, just under the belly button, so I was clearly vastly misinformed about a great many things.)

But the most scandalous and titillating (there’s a word that in itself seemed dirty) lyric was the singer’s admission that seeing Dagmar in the hall “made me cream my jeans.” Can you say that on the radio?!

I’d come across the phrase (and don’t doubt that, at twelve years old, even saying the word “come” was a source of embarrassed amusement for all) and knew it was dirty and tied to the newly discovered pleasure and shame of ejaculation (mostly experienced through “wet dreams” at that stage of my life), not to mention crude desire. What a song!

My adolescent mind, just coming to grips with my own sexuality, couldn’t parse the full impact of this line and, even though up until that point in the song I thought the singer was a woman, refused to accept that she could cream her jeans over another woman (and my limited anatomical knowledge had no clue that women could even “cream” at all). So instead of allowing my mind to grasp the possibilities of female-on-female desire, I let cognitive dissonance take over completely and convince me that the singer must be a man after all. And so for years afterward, whenever I heard the song, I pictured a man singing it (in these days before ubiquitous music videos, I’d never been encumbered by actually seeing Rough Trade, although even if I had I’d bet my brain could have convinced my hesitant teenage self that Carole Pope was a man… the subject of androgyny is a story for another time), a man through whom I could identify with my own frustrated desires for the type of woman who was “a combination of Anita Ekberg and Mamie Van Doren” (not that those kinds of girls went to my high school).

Here for me is the power of heteronormative thinking: the assumption that the only possible interpretation of a situation is the heterosexual view. And it was a powerful and instinctive reaction, formed by society, upbringing, and media, I suppose (although now, years later, I’m comfortable taking responsibility for my own presumptions and bias), that was extremely tenacious. How transgressive was this song, in so many ways? It laid the path to an understanding of different ways of being, even if it took me a long time to walk that path.

“You May Be Right”

Friday night I crashed your dancefloor

Every day I say I’m sorry

Sunday comes and cracks me out again

I was only having pops

Now my radio show’s stopped

And we all enjoyed the weekend for a change

I called Sandro on the wiretapped phone

I walked through Doug Ford Park alone

Even drove my Escalade all-terrain

And you told me not to drive

But I made it home alive

So you said that only proves that I’m insane

You may be right

I may be crazy

But then it just may be politics you’re playing

Turn off the mics

Don’t try to quote me

I called you maggots–that’s what I know

And I know I’m right

Remember how I found you there

Streetcars messin’ up St. Clair

I called them gravy trains until you smiled

You were lonely for a man

I said “Take me as I am”

‘Cause you might enjoy some anger for awhile

Now think of all the years you tried to

Find someone to justify you

I might be the average guy you say

If I’m crazy then it’s true

That I did it all for you

And you wouldn’t want me any other way

You may be right

I may be crazy

But I just may be the hero that you’re looking for

It’s too late to fight

It’s too late to change me

You may be wrong for all I know

But I know I’m right

You may be right

I may be crazy

But it just may be a cost cowboy you’re looking for

Turn out the light

Don’t try to tape me

You may be cops for all I know

But then I’m drunk

You may be wrong but I know I’m right

You may be wrong but I know I’m right

 

—–

[with sincere apologies to Billy Joel and the people of Toronto]

Band Camp

Tennis Camp

Stokely Van Camp

Boy Scout Camp

Science Camp

Concentration Camp

Summer Camp

Everyone has a favourite band member. Here are mine:

Beatle – Paul McCartney

Digable Planet – Doodle Bug

B-52 – Kate Pierson

Flashing Light – the keyboard/tambourine player

Monkee – Mickey Dolenz

Hall & Oate – Daryl Hall

Bangle – Michael Steele

10,000 Maniac – Natalie Merchant

Proclaimer – Charlie

Crash Vega – Jocelyn Lanois

Jonas Brother – Nick

White Stripe – Jack White

Magnetic Field – Stephin Merritt

Scissor Sister – Baby Daddy

Mama – Cass Elliot

Papa – Denny Doherty

Smith – Morrissey

She & Him – She

Talking Head – David Byrne

Wing – Paul McCartney

 

 

My friend FabGen is very talented… and I’m extremely jealous. Nevertheless, please take a look at his latest video–it’ll help you recapture some of that Movember high.

I helped film parts of the video–very small parts, and FabGen improved upon them immensely in post-production. You really ought to check out his site, at http://www.fabricationgeneration.com/ or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FabricationGeneration

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