Monday, July 21, 2008

The End and the Beginning

I was a diehard Smashing Pumpkins fan for about a seventh of my life, between the years 1998 and 2001. I got into the band after hearing a complete broadcast of the 1998 album Adore on Q101, "Chicago's Alternative," which I listened to religiously. My father got tickets to see the band perform on July 7, 1998, at what was then known as the New World Music Theater, in Tinley Park, Illinois. I loved the poetic impenetrability of Billy Corgan's lyrics, the soaring guitars, and, well, Billy Corgan: from the first time I saw the "Ava Adore" video on MTV, I was hooked on the bald songsmith's curious combination of vulnerability and theatricality. By the middle of eighth grade, I was madly in love: with his crooked teeth, with the birthmark that covered most of his left arm (as seen in seventh-grade me's favorite picture of him.) I wrote long poems to him in my journal. My greatest wish was to take a picture with Billy.

In my eighth grade yearbook, our answers to two questions were printed under our names beside our pictures: "If I could have one wish it would be..." and "In twenty years I will be..." My answers were "To be the inspiration for WPC's songs and JV's comics" and "Driving in a van with EG, listening to 1979." JV was Jhonen Vasquez, creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, EG was my best friend Erin, and WPC was none other than William Patrick Corgan.

My love for the band waned after I attended their epic five-hour breakup concert; I'd put so much emotional energy into my fandom, waiting outside the XRT building in the November cold and getting my wallet stolen at a Tower Records signing for which I had convinced my parents to let me miss school. I didn't get into Zwan. I liked Corgan's 2005 solo album TheFutureEmbrace but not the way he undercut its release by taking out a giant ad in the Chicago Tribune calling the Pumpkins back together. Of course the reformed Pumpkins were just Billy and stalwart drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. His endless confessional blogging seemed to have destroyed any possibility of pulling James Iha and D'Arcy back into the whirlpool.

I imagine I'll write much more extensively about the Smashing Pumpkins (and Adore, the critically reviled album that remains my favorite) in this space. But the main reason for this entry is the new Watchmen trailer:

That's Billy's reedy voice there, singing "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning," the B-side to "The End is the Beginning is the End," which was written for and featured on the Batman and Robin soundtrack:

I'm sure this was the meta trick of some soundtrack scrub out in Silverlake, but all I hope for is that we get another greenscreen video with Billy in a unitard, gesticulating wildly.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


If a girl who describes herself as "bisexual-leaning-towards-lesbian" tells you you look like Starbuck, you should consider yourself hit-upon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Something Brief About Radiohead

After my first boyfriend and I broke up, he got really into Radiohead. This was the April 2000, so he must have been listening to Kid A. It was the end of my freshman year of high school, and I had no experience with the band. Sometimes my ex and I would attempt to have amiable conversations outside the school while waiting for our parents to pick us up. He normally started off with some kind of backhanded compliment, such as "You're not dressed so slutty today."

And then he would start talking about Radiohead. Did I know, did I know, that Thom Yorke hated performing? That he performed with his back to the audience? Because all he cared about was the music? Did I know this?

No, of course not. I didn't listen to the band - although I did have a distinct memory of purchasing OK Computer in the seventh grade, hating it, and giving it to my mom - and I couldn't figure out what my ex was all worked up about. Later that year he wrote a bunch of poems with suspicously Radioheadesque titles: "Music (for the closing credits)," "IamnotwhoyouthinkIam," etc. And that was pretty much the last gulp of his engagement with popular culture before ascending into Grateful Dead cover band heaven, where he remains to this day.

Now, almost ten years later, Radiohead is a pretty undeniable cultural force. I went to see Radiohead in Milan on June 17. It was awesome. Thom Yorke did not, in fact, perform with his back to the audience. He danced like he was having a constant sexy seizure and stopped only to announce the football scores. And I wasn't dressed slutty, either.