COLIN ATROPHY’S 2015 TOP TEN (in chronological order):
1. Started this column.
I turned in my first column on January 4th! It was my Best of 2014 list and it had way less stuff than this one. But listen! It’s really exciting to write this for you all every month. I feel like lately it’s been a little blah because I’ve been moving and retired and not really thinking too hard about writing but I have some exciting stuff starting next year that I think will give me plenty of fodder for the charming self-reflection and ruminations on the minutiae of life that you’ve come to expect from me. Mostly maybe I want to use this space to express my gratitude to Grace and the MRR people for having me and for everyone else who reads it every month! THANK YOU SO MUCH.
2. Hired an impersonator to sing to me on my birthday.
In my last neighborhood in Queens there was this guy I would notice around who had dyed black hair and kinda like, Queens Dummy Marky Ramone aesthetic. Sometimes he was dressed like a Swingin Sea Captain and other times he was dressed like a Swingin Guy At A Luau. He was always at the corner store buying 8 Mr. Goodbars, which intrigued me. One day I was hanging around at this new bookstore that my friend Cosmo and some other people were about to open in the neighborhood and in walked my neighborhood mystery man. He was walking through the store running his fingers along the spines of the books and he kept looking up at me like “can you believe this shit?” Finally he was like, “what the hell is this place?!” sounding legit dumbfounded. Cosmo was all, “it’s a bookstore,” and he goes, “pretty fuckin low brow neighborhood for a bookstore huh?” What an angel.
He was holding a big stack of CD-Rs and after a lengthy silence he slid one along the counter. It had a picture of him dressed as Elvis. “I’m a triple impersonator,” he told us. “I do the big three. Elvis. Tom Jones. And Englebert Humperdink. The musician.” My birthday was coming up and I didn’t know what to do but I hired him on the spot. The afternoon of my birthday I got really nervous that he was gonna say something transphobic or like super sexist, but instead he was just really needy and any time I’d try and talk to anyone while he was performing he would start bugging me and yelling my name from the stage, but luckily I love attention so that was alright.
A few months later I took my friend Daniel to this pretty great diner in Maspeth and he was losing his shit about how great it looked and then we walked in and Daniel was like “OMG check out that Elvis impersonator” in hushed tones and right then the Elvis turned around and he was MY Elvis and he was like, “hey Colin! How you been? How’s your father?” and I basically seemed like the coolest guy on Earth.
3. Troy Ave “Doo Doo”
Troy Ave is this rap dude from Crown Heights who Funk Flex was hyping like crazy all year on Hot 97 but who never really busted through to the mainstream. He has whack politics probably and definitely works really hard to affirm busted notions of what masculinity should look like so it’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world that he never got popular. But this song is a super catchy feel good anthem with no real politics beyond rising above the haters, which I think pretty much everyone can get behind. Plus the hook says “to the people who thought I was gonna flop / y’all a part of the reason I ain’t gonna stop / against the odds I went hard until I plopped…” and plop was my official word of 2015, so that’s obviously very important to me.
4. Sheer Mag “II” 7”
The first Sheer Mag 7” was so perfect that I was like, “there’s no way the next one will be as good,” and then it was! I wasn’t gonna bother including this because probably everybody will, but then this thing happened that I gotta tell you about.
Last week I was making a pie with my mom and it was kind of a tender time because her baby boy moved away and now I’m back and it’s very emotional. ANYWAY I was chopping up apples or something and she asked me to put on music and so I put on this record, and as those first drum hits on “Fan The Flames” rang out in the kitchen I started crying thinking about how good the riff is and that I was about to share that awesome riff with the woman who gave birth to me. FYI, my mom 100% did not seem to care or be moved at all by the song.
5. Popper Burns “Popper Burns” Cassette
OK! Gonna keep this one brief, but I really can’t understand why this band isn’t huge. Totally the best weirdo rockers I’ve seen in ages and their record is SOOOO GOOOOOOOD. Manic freaked out queers doing punk about gender anxiety, patriarchal damage, surveillance paranoia, war, fucking, etc. Frontwoman Patti Melt is one of the most intense performers I’ve seen in a long time and the rest of the band creates a dissonant, dystopian musical landscape for Patti’s ranting. Def go look them up and listen to their record if you like fucked up punk by fucked up freaks.
6. Book came out.
My book came out. I threw myself a giant release party at Silent Barn where I read to like 200+ people including a bunch of my extended family and friends dating back to childhood. Then IN SCHOOL and DOWNTOWN BOYS played. I really felt like part of a community and like there was a sense of continuity to my life. I had been going through a bunch of stuff while I was writing the book and had isolated myself pretty intensely from the people who care about me. During the 9 months between when I handed the book in and it came out I spent a lot of time rekindling friendships I had let slip, as well as making new friends. It felt really good to care and be cared about. OMG also I been hanging out with this truly sweet babe from my past and she didn’t live in New York and the morning of my book release she surprised me by SHOWING UP UNEXPECTED ON MY STOOP. There were a whole bunch of reasons that she wasn’t gonna be able to get to town for it, but then she showed up anyway it was one of the nicest things anyone has done for me ever in my life.
7. Left New York.
So then I moved to Texas to live with her! Well not exactly that fast, but almost that fast. I’ve talked about it a lot in previous columns, but I just wanna say again how glad I am to have finally moved away from the place I grew up and how exciting it is to be thinking about a new life outside there. Moving across the country to live with an excellent babe rules too. She’s the first person I’ve ever dated who is as nice to me as I am to her, which is a real good change and I highly recommend it. Date someone who is nice to you! You deserve it!
8. Met Eileen Myles.
So this isn’t really that big maybe but I met Eileen Myles and I think that’s rad because she’s basically the greatest. I had a dream right before we went to go see Eileen read that I was in this kind of zombie apocalypse scenario where everything was scary and frantic but I ran into Bruce Springsteen in a sporting goods store where we were both stealing guns to fight zombies and I asked him to sign a baseball for my girlfriend, “in case we all make it through this.”
Well, because of that dream and also because of this rumor I heard about Jimmy Shotwell getting a baseball signed by Noam Chomsky, I decided I would get Eileen Myles to sign a baseball and then I forgot to bring a baseball!!!! As if I own a baseball. OMG. But I had brought a copy of my book to give her and she was like, “well, I’m going to Europe and I don’t have room in my stuff, is it tacky if I ask you to mail it to me?” And I was like, “of course not.” And then I had her sign a copy of my own book, which I think is very funny.
ANYWAY she was obvs super tough but seemed very nice and it’s not like we’re friends or anything, but there’s def something cool about meeting her because I’ve stared at the cover of Cool For You for a really long time thinking about how rad she is. I think like, a large portion of the way I perform masculinity is based heavily on the photo on the cover of that book. Not that I spread my legs that wide when I sit, but more in terms of ~ViBeZ~. Maybe one day we’ll be friends and I’ll tell her that in person, but at least for now I’ve got a copy of my book that she signed.
9. Returned home to visit after having moved away.
Touched on this for a sec in the Sheer Mag section of the column, but I can’t stress enough how cool it was for me to return home. Having never moved away before, I’ve never felt the glorious enveloping warmth of return. For me it was returning to the place I grew up and my birth family, but I understand that I am one of the lucky ones and those places are fraught for many people. That said, living in a place where I felt comfortable, safe and cared for by many was pretty rad, but going back there to visit really takes the cake! I felt like a celebrity!
10. Suspicious Beasts “Might Die Tomorrow” LP
SUSPICIOUS BEASTS main songwriter Yusuke Okada, is one of my favorite people and he drew my column header, so, you know, I’m biased. But listen, I love this record so much. I’ve been listening to demos of these songs that Yusuke emailed me for a while now, so hearing them fleshed out and properly mixed is super cool. Yusuke is one of the best and most prolific song-writers I know and his records have a timeless feeling to them that is hard to pin down. I asked Becca what she thought it sounded like last night and she said “guitar-based pop music. There’s a lead that sounds like the BYRDS but its pop, not country.” But also the last time they toured in America I saw them twice and learned that they are the by far the loudest band out of anyone I know! This record came out on the very unfortunately named label ALIEN SNATCH, which is in Germany. You can buy it from them or maybe from elsewhere too? I don’t even know. Ask your local record store to order it if people even still do that anymore.
I would also like to mention that Yusuke is in two other bands which both rule. One is called LOST BALLOONS and it’s his project with Jeff Burke from MARKED MEN. They have a record on ALIEN SNATCH too. It’s louder and more punk and has a toned-down MARKED MEN feel, which works very well with Yusuke’s style of self-loathing via song. Then he has another outfit called FRIEND where he shares songwriting duties with Nate Stark formerly of BENT OUTTA SHAPE (+ many other bands). The band is rounded out by Chuck Van Dyke (STUPID PARTY/ a bunch of Chattanooga bands) and Matt Callahan (BENT / YOUNG MEN / etc) on bass and drums respectively and listen up, they’re really good. They don’t have a record out so just go see them or something.
None of these are punk bands, per se, but they are weirdo rock by punks that fits well within MRR’s purview. Like Billy Childish. I dunno, just listen to this shit, okay? BYE!