My interview from Cindy Crabb's new MASCULINITIES zine!

Friend and former Radio Harvester guest Cindy Crabb just put out this really cool zine about conceptions of masculinity and she interviewed me for it and I'm really honored to be included and also stoked that it's finally out and I can share it. I think these kinds of conversations are super important and I feel really lucky to have been given the forum to have one publicly.

I haven't read the zine yet. I literally just got it from my mailbox and texted Cindy like, "OMG YR ZINE IS BEAUTIFUL CAN I PUT MY INTERVIEW ON MY BLOG?!!?!!?," but I'm sure the other interviews are great. You should pick up a copy of it if you're interested. Cindy says she'll have it up on her distro website by Monday, so go buy it and other zines she's made and other zines she sells because she's amazing.

Anyway, here's the interview:

Cindy: What was masculinity like growing up?

Colin: I have a really contentious relationship with my masculinity, so I like the idea of this project. I wish there had been more resources like this when I was younger.
I grew up in a fairly affluent suburb of NYC, with a diverse public school. I didn't think about masculinity much when I was very young, but when I was a teenager, it got tied up with my substance abuse history in a really intense way. I started getting fucked up all the time when I was about 15, just smoking weed all day, and then when I was like 19 I started drinking all the time.
A lot of the social and societal discomforts I was medicating by being fucked up was this anxiety I felt around gender, masculinity, my masculinity, how to perform masculinity. I've been off booze for about two and a half years now. When I was 28, I quit drinking.

Cindy: What kind of messages about masculinity were you receiving?

Colin: I didn't play sports growing up, and that wasn't something that was made a priority. I remember my Dad got me a baseball mitt, and I never wanted to use it. And I remember one day telling him, "I'm never going to want to play catch with you." He was basically relieved because he didn’t want to play catch either, so being athletic wasn’t a paradigm that I had to butt up against at home, though I still do have anxiety around playing sports even now based on how unpleasant I found the mandatory, gender-segregated ballgames in school when I was a kid.
            My father drove a cab and didn't take shit, but he was in general pretty low-key.  His father was incredibly unavailable. I think about masculinity a lot in the frame of how it's been passed down through generations, and how the previous generations inform the version of masculinity today that's being put on me.
            Grunge was a huge thing when I was a little kid. I read about Kurt Corbain, read the liner notes for Incesticide where he pretty explicitly calls out bro culture and toxic masculinity in a way that, looking back, was super radical for something so mainstream. It just seems like the dominant culture in the 90’s was a little more gender ambiguous in ways it hadn't been before.  Or maybe it had been like that in the 70's with disco, I don't know.

Cindy: Yeah, it does seem to come and go. Like there was disco and then it got more traditional, and then there was Glam, and then it got more traditional, and then there was Grunge.

Colin: Yeah. Well, I grew my hair out super long when I was really young. I remember being at my Grandparents 50th anniversary or something, at this Eastern European, Jewish schlocky steak-house in the Lower East Side. I must have been 12 or 13, and my hair was down to my nipples, and I thought it was so cool. And then this old-world waiter thought I was a girl, he addressed me with a female pronoun, and I was so STOKED! I was like, "he doesn't know what gender I am, this is so cool.” I thought it was funny, and then I looked at my Dad, and he was bummed. But he wasn’t bummed that the dude had thought I was a lady, he had long hair in the 70s and him and his cousin Luke used to always get mistaken for women hitch-hiking. He seemed disappointed in me that I enjoyed being misgendered and I didn't understand why. My therapist calls this sort of thing micro-aggressions. Or like, I joined NOW when I was 13 or so, and I remember one Thanksgiving my shitty uncle Donny saw a NOW bulletin laying on the table in the hall, addressed to me, and he was like, “What’d you grow a vagina?” He actually said “vagina” because he’s this weird Christian who doesn’t curse. And like, that wasn’t a big deal, and neither was my father’s disapproval at the anniversary, but then these little tiny things end up adding up and making a clear picture for me that there are specific things I’m not supposed to do because I’m a guy.
            I was also really into dressing in drag when I was young. Just before and up until puberty. I remember wearing this slinky dress with these Jackie O glasses to see The Craft in the movie theater and I was like, 13 or so and I was scrawny so my body itself was kind of this neutral, genderless canvas and people would assume the gender based on the accessories, right? That’s why I was so into Judith Butler when I found her in college, talking about gender being a performance, because that’s how it had felt to me. And I remember at the time, the way that I thought about it wasn’t that I was doing any sort of transgressive gender play, what I liked was that I was tricking people. Like, I was undercover as a different person.
            And I stopped doing that around the same time as I started getting really fucked up, which is also the same time that all the micro-aggressions had finally crystallized into a clear picture for me of what behaviors were off limits. Probably also around this time actual violent reprisal for men failing to be masculine enough came into the picture too, though none of it was directed at me. But that was on the table. Kids started getting beat up at school for being faggots, excuse my language. It’s only now, looking back, that I can see the correlation between when I started suppressing all my instincts to be a gender freak and when I started mediating all my lived experience through substances. The other thing is that getting fucked up was like, an easy out if I acted weird. Like, I wasn’t a failure as a man, I was just stoned. I think if the culture had been different in regards to gender, I likely would have become female at some point in my adolescence. I didn't do that, though, because I didn't even see it as an option.

Cindy: Of course.

Colin: My introduction to punk was kind of crazy too. I brought home a NOFX tape a friend of mine had made me, and played it for my dad, and he gave me a copy of the first Dead Kennedys record. And both him and my mom were really into Gang of Four. So things that were rebellious for other people were not even remotely rebellious for me. But then when I was 14, someone gave me the first Bikini Kill record, and both my parents were like "What is this!?" and were freaking out, so I'm like Ok, here's something I can use to rebel. I finally have a thing that's not ok. So a lot of my politics when I was young came from a very cursory understanding of feminist issues. I remember thinking at the time that my life would have been easier if I was a girl. I had the political understanding that navigating the world as a female-bodied person was more difficult in a lot of ways. I didn't think it would be easier like that, but I had this notion that it would make more sense, my life would make more sense, if I were travelling through the world as a girl instead of a boy.
            I don't know if it's a great tragedy that I don't feel that way anymore. Because now, in this life I have, I love my body, I love being a man in the world. I'm fascinated by it, it's intriguing to me, it's interesting and it's fun. I like the clothes, I like being a dude a lot, and I'm very grateful for who I am. 

Cindy: Can you articulate more what do you find intriguing about it?

Colin: Maybe. All of this is going to be intrinsically tied to punk. Growing up punk in the 90's in New York was a pretty wild time for studying masculinity. Like I would go to see Blanks 77 on a Friday night, and see Anti-Product at ABC No Rio on Saturday, and then go see some New York Hardcore band on Sunday. And the way I would act and dress and speak, and even my posture would change, in these different places. It was something I did without thinking, but it was totally different. I felt out of place at the hardcore shows and I LOVED it. Well, I don't know if I loved it actually. Maybe I hated it, but I kept going, so there must have been something that I was into. Sometimes these days I describe my forays into the Sunday afternoon CBGBs Hardcore Matinee as being motivated by wanting to witness the spectacle of male violence, but I think that’s just me trying to seem precocious in retrospect.
Hardcore was so different from the Peace Punk and Street Punk scenes, both of which resonated with me way more because they were explicitly about either fighting injustice or partying, which were two things I liked to do. The NYHC scene was these huge dudes in camo cargo shorts, doing windmills and beating the shit out of each other. But at the same time there was this notion that - this is a thing that we share. This hyper-masculine bond of hardcore shows.
            I understand the response to the masculine aggression at hardcore shows - like "you can't do that. You have to make space for other people too." But at the same time, some people really needed those spaces and people to get that out with and be able to participate in violence with. Looking back on it, going to those shows was really a way to see into a very dark place, but it was also a hopeful place because it was clear that there was something almost therapeutic going on.
            I don't need that kind of catharsis, I never have, but I have known people who really did, and most of them came from much more violent backgrounds than me, and they needed to let it out somewhere in the world, and I think that was a really healthy, important outlet for those people to have. I don't know where the balance is.     
            I guess I'm at a place now in my 30's where I'm like -- do all places need to be inclusive to everybody? You know. I went through a pretty unfortunate folk punk phase in my early 20s and I didn't necessarily bring my hardcore friends to the neck bandana housepunk shows where I was playing a ukelele with my shirt hanging coquettishly off my shoulder. They would feel probably just as uncomfortable and awkward as I felt in their hyper-masculine spaces.

Cindy: I know what you mean. I had friends in the hardcore scene - female friends, and they hated riot-girl for trying to demasculinize it or stop the violence. They were like "these are our spaces. We need this!"

Colin: Right! And I say this as someone who never needed that, and who found it alienating.
            I also remember going to see a Barbara Krueger exhibit at the MOMA with my mother, and there was a print of some dudes fighting, and it said, "You construct intricate rituals in order to touch the skin of other men." And I immediately just imagined replacing that imagine with like, a pile on sing along at a hardcore show. There’s a certain intrinsic homoeroticism to a lot of those super-hetero, hyper-masculine spaces that I find really compelling.
             I think the problem isn't really the degree of violence in those spaces, but rather the degree of censure against those who don't conform. And I think it’s because the participants know they’re participating in something that could easily be construed as homoerotic, and because masculinity is defined largely by what it’s NOT rather than what it IS, they need to violently defend their straightness at all costs. The fact that all these men are shirtless and sweating and touching each other is only okay if they’re all straight, so anyone who punctures a hole in that reality is met with violent reprisal. I think that’s very dangerous and problematic, but I don’t think the consensual, cathartic violence of a hardcore show is bad or wrong at all.
            And you know, I still act differently depending on where I am. Like I went to the junkyard the other day, and the way I talked to those guys, the way I made eye contact, it was very different than how I would be at home or at a punk show.
            I love that in this world, there are all these spaces, and you have to learn the rules and you have to learn to navigate them. I think that's so fascinating and potentially this beautiful thing, where there's all these eclectic, different ways for people to see each other. I don't know. But obviously, there's the same problem, the censure of people who don't conform, which is actually super terrifying.
            I remember in high school I was at band practice and I was like "why don't you wear earplugs," and my bandmate was like "only pussies wear earplugs."  Neither of us were “like that,” but he said it because it seemed like a tough-guy thing to say, and I laughed.
            And I don't want that. That's not positive for anyone.

Cindy: How did you make the transformation from self-medicating around issues of masculinity and gender, to the kind of acceptance and celebration of who you are today?

Colin: I think that happened largely via my sobriety, which it took me a few years to even realize was something I wanted. In 2008 a really good friend of mine died. At the funeral, I couldn’t cry. Like, I went and I looked at his body in the casket and I had written him a little note and I slipped it in his shirt pocket and I wanted to cry so bad but I couldn’t. And then someone asked me if I wanted to go get a drink at the bar across the street and I had about 8 drinks in 40 minutes and when I got back inside it was like I had found the key to access my caged up emotions, and I was able to cry and it felt so good! That’s another thing about masculinity, the idea that we can’t be outwardly emotional. There’s just this idea that we’re not emotional, we take care of shit, not having any problems, not letting the little shit get to you. You know what I mean? Some of those things are good things, but taken to these extremes, they’re not.
            People came to the funeral from all over. On trains from Seattle, from places all across the country and across the world, like this huge dirtbag convention. Everybody was shitfaced. I went to a show that night at a bar that he used to work at. They were sad too, the bartenders, so no one had to pay for a single drink. Everyone was WASTED and people were weeping and punching out windows and freaking out, and I had this moment of clarity where I was like “Ok, our friend died from overpartying.” He had struggled with addiction for as long as I had known him. And the collective, community response to that was to just blot it out I guess, but like, this did not feel good.
            People had died in my community before, but there was something about this death that really hit home for a lot of people. For me, prior to this moment, being fucked up and never having a job and not giving a shit and rejecting capitalism and rejection of the shitty fucked up world was all tied up with getting super fucked up and being like “We don’t care about tomorrow we care about right now!” and like “We’re gonna live our lives how we want it, when we want it!” After my friend died, it stopped feeling like a life-affirming thing and just felt like we were all waiting in line to be dead.
            I think at first it had been a healthy outlet, but it turned from like this beautiful thing to this totally nihilistic thing. I never correlated the two till I was reading old journals a few years later, but I took my first ever “sober week” a few days after the funeral. It was actually like 5 days, and I was eating pills the whole time. But I didn’t drink! It was a big deal. I’d toyed with sobriety, I’d stop for a few days, just smoke weed. After the sober week eventually I stopped for 3 months, and then I stopped entirely.
            It wasn’t until I stopped that I even could pinpoint my reasons for wanting to just dull myself all the time. I didn’t have an understanding that I had these deep-seated gender anxieties, and that I had dealt with them by self-medicating. Also like, whatever masculine traits I felt I was not achieving, I knew what I did have was I could get so fucked up and still more or less take care of shit, and at least that was like, a solid, masculine quality. Like, I may look like a wuss, but I WILL outdrink you.
            Towards the end of my drinking I had started this relationship with my current partner, and I just acted really shady to her and a lot of it was centered around how deep in it I was with booze. I had been doing Support New York since waaaaay before I got sober, and all of a sudden I was doing processes for people who had done things that were similar to what I was doing in my own relationship in terms of being manipulative and untrustworthy. I realized this was super problematic, but didn’t do anything about it until my partner brought things to a head in this really intense way that I kind of forced her into via my own inaction, which just compounds the unfairness of the situation. Not only was I the architect of this heinous dynamic, but I was also leaving her responsible for dismantling it.
I think my shitty behavior in that relationship was rooted deeply in my alcoholism for sure, but equally in my masculine identity and socialization. A lot of it was about intentionally not being aware of what my emotions were because I didn’t want to deal with them. Making decisions that would affect my partner without her input, because I was a man and I could figure out what was best. Seeing that behavior in myself, realizing I was capable of it, that really made me want to quit booze forever because I could see how much pain I was putting my partner through and I didn’t want to be that sort of person. And then through the ensuing clarity of my sobriety and really interrogating my own life and motivations I started to piece together this story of myself as a little boy AND a little girl that I had stopped telling at some point.
Also Nevada, have you ever read the book Nevada? By Imogen Binnie? It’s a transwoman road trip novel, more or less. The protagonist, Maria, she leaves out of New York City and goes on a road trip, and meets someone in the midst of a gender crisis in a small town. It’s a great novel, and the gender crisis aspect of it struck a really deep chord in me. When I got it, I was in the process of acknowledging that I had a narrative tension in my own life. That was the beginning of me considering that maybe I have more than a general discomfort with gender in the culture, and in fact have discomfort about my own gender.
Cindy: Where are you at with your gender identity now?

Colin: I’m fine with who I am right now. Maybe someday I’ll be an old lady. For now, I take care of myself better. I eat better, I take vitamins. I take a holistic antidepressant. I feel more at home in my body than I ever have. I don’t know why. I think little stuff. Like I grew my hair long again and got my ear pierced. None of that is essentially “feminine,” like I have a pretty “butch” earring, but I think I’m being a little more playful with my masculinity. I do my hair up funny and wear a headband sometimes and dress and act a little more femme when I want to and don’t really think twice about it. I curtsy a lot.
Also having a writer friendship with Imogen has been really amazing. When her book freaked me out, I wrote her a letter and was like “Your book freaked me out! I’m in this gender crisis now. Don’t feel responsible for it. Actually, thank you. And I’d love to talk some stuff out. And, I think we’re very similar and would be good friends.” And she’s just been really warm and receptive in helping me parse a lot of this stuff. This was also after Laura Jane Grace came out and transitioned, and that opened the door to me thinking “maybe it’s not too late for me.” I think realizing it was a possibility for me at any time was helpful, because prior to that when I would think about transitioning, it always seemed like something that happened to people who were younger than I was. So even in my 20s when I had trans friends and knew it was an option in the world, it still didn’t seem like an option in my life.
            It’s like this, I barely smoke anymore, I smoke like 2 or 3 cigarettes a day, and I can leave the house without them. But there was a time when if I left the house and I didn’t have cigarettes in my pocket, I would start panicking, not because I needed a cigarette right then, but because I needed to have a cigarette there in case I needed one. Just having them there gave me an out. Laura, who is older than me, transitioning in her late 30s, that was like me having a pack of cigarettes in my pocket. I don’t necessarily need one right now, but I know they’re there and that’s comforting.
            And so I’m getting to a point within myself where this is an option for me, and it’s something I can start to do tomorrow if I want to. That just opened up a box that I’d locked myself into, and so then it became a thing where I had room to be like “there’s so much about being male that I like, and that I’m grateful for.”
            I actually do like my masculinity. I don’t want to destroy it. But I like the notion that I can feel like a girl and still maintain my male identity. How do I embody all my female role models, and all the incredibly powerful and rad shit that I respect and appreciate from the women in my life?
            A lot of my anxiety definitely comes from these essentialized notions of gender that I know are problematic. I was thinking about it a few years ago after I had written a letter to you. I was having a freakout and I wrote you about it, and I was thinking about how great punk is, and all these older people I could turn to as a resource, even though you and I didn’t really know each other, and how wonderful our community was, and I was thinking about all the people I had reached out to in various ways, and I realized that when I was having a crisis I either wrote you a letter or called Kimya Dawson, and when I needed advice about creative shit, I called Aaron or wrote to Eric Lyle. And I was like “oh, this is fucked up! I have very gendered roles for who I reached out to.” That helped me start to examine why I develop certain relationships in my life.
Being sober I was thinking about the fact that even when I was wasted and suppressing a lot of my gender stuff, I did do these types of gender play. One of the things I did was I had a pearl necklace, and about once a month I would get in the bath, put the pearl necklace on and I would drink my Ballentine out of a champagne glass and fake shave my legs like an elegant lady in a shaving cream commercial. I would listen to this Brahms tape and pretend I was Imelda Marcos or Cruella Deville, some vicious rich woman. It was a thing I would only do alone. And when I would clean my house, I would dress up like what I thought of as a rockabilly housewife. And when my cats were kittens they had repeatedly tried to nurse on my nipples, so I referred to myself as their mom.
            So when I started reconsidering my own gender, I thought about “what do I consider female?” and all the things were things that were nurturing. Like caring for myself. Whereas things like standing up to jerks on the street, these things were implicitly masculine. That’s something I’m trying to critically examine now, especially considering that most of my lived examples of people standing up to jerks have been women, yet I still somehow gender it as male.
Another person who’s had a big impact on me recently is Kiese Laymon. In his book "How To Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America," he has this one essay that's been really important to me, both in my personal life, and in the work I do. It's an essay that's a series of letters amongst a group of six black men, (the essay has six separate authors), all talking about masculinity and how it's confined and defined their lives. The first letter is from a straight identified man, Kiese is straight identified. Then the next letter is from a gay man, and then a transman, and then a man talking about being a childhood sexual abuse survivor, and a man who just got out of prison. They're all talking together about their own personal experiences and working on forming positive notions of black masculinity.
When I approached him over the internet after reading it and said, "Hey, your essay totally blew my mind. I been doing transformative justice work for a decade now, and I would really love if you would let us use this essay in our processes. I think it would be a really useful lens to look at masculinity and socialization through." He was basically like, "I have been waiting for someone to ask me that. Thank you so much."
I think what he's doing, this project of his, actively redefining what it is to be a man in this world; part of the point is that there is no universal notion of what being a man means. It's our responsibility as a community, as various communities, to create modern examples of what masculinity can be. The work he's doing in his community is really useful and beneficial to me, and to the larger community of men, in deconstructing masculinity and trying to build a version of it that will be beneficial and nurturing to the world, instead of violent and toxic. He's unapologetic about his being male, but understands the need for a recuperative effort on the part of men to basically everyone else.
            His work, coupled with the notion that I can walk away from it at any time, has a lot to do with my new-found comfort in masculinity and being male because I feel that there's positive work to do, in this body and as this person. Being male no longer feels like a prison. It’s a choice I’m actively affirming, rather than something proscriptive that I’m stuck with. And although the difference between now and before is almost purely ontological, it turns out that was all I needed.

Doing a reading next week + the last thing I wrote for NUTS.

SO I'm doing a reading a week from tomorrow at KGB Bar on E 4th St at 7pm. I am super stoked because the last time I was there it was to see Sam Delany read so it's the same kind of corny "same stage as my heroes" moment as playing my first show at CBGBs was in high school except this time I'm not embarrassed to mention that I'm excited because I'm not a teenager.

Also, as usual, I just finished my submission for the new NUTS magazine, so I'm posting my submission from last issue of NUTS. I wrote this in August. Hope you enjoy.


Sinead O’Connor – Black Boys on Mopeds

Someone made a thread on a message board I look at with the goal of collectively determining the saddest song ever written. I don’t know what the outcome was and I didn’t listen to 99% of the songs posted, but this song was a contender and for whatever reason I looked it up on youtube and ended up listening to it over and over again for like, maybe three weeks. I don’t know if it’s the saddest song ever, but I do know that at the beginning of the first week it would make me just straight up like, WEEP for the first two or three repetitions. I think I liked crying while I was writing so that’s okay. I also cry really easily. Olympia, WA by Rancid made me cry for years. True story: the other day I was driving in a car listening to Hot 97 and “Stan” by Eminem came on and during the last verse, when Slim Shady is finally responding to Stan’s letter, there’s that part where he implores Stan to stop harming himself and maybe seek counseling and I had to pull over because I was so touched by it and couldn’t see the road through all my tears. 

Pagans – (Us and) All Of Our Friends Are So Messed Up

What a title—excellent use of parentheses, and who doesn’t feel this way?!? I was determined to like this song before I even heard it, when I saw it posted on my friend Nathan’s facebook feed. That’s right. I’m writing a book and I don’t interact with humans and I find out about everything from the internet. I’m not punk anymore, get over it. ANYWAY, this song is so good. I didn’t realize the Pagans had even kept existing into the 90s, and I am totally pleasantly surprised that they released this, possibly their best song, during the band’s twilight. The part where Mike Hudson sings, “Yeah, I saw an old friend yesterday / It wasn’t easy, we stood and searched for things to say,” was maybe a little too real. And the song is totally a bummer, but there’s also a sense of triumph or celebration in still being a bunch of awkward freaks even now that we’re grownups! I love that! ALSO there are a couple of horror movie vampire laughs, which I shouldn’t have to tell you is AWESOME.

Bossy – Who Loves You Most -> Who Loves You More

This weird thing happened at the beginning of August where I got this totally impossible to control urge to listen to the Bossy record, and I found myself just listening to these two songs back and forth over and over. They are the last and first songs on The Best of Bossy and they are definitely cutesy poo little twee love jammers. It’s clear that Who Loves You Most is a home recording and Who Loves You More was the studio result. Listening to them back to back feels pretty seamless for this reason, because the chord progression is the same but the first one is way lower-fi, has slightly different lyrics, and is sung by Jamie, whereas the Who Loves You More has full instrumentation and Cassie is singing. This record came out right after Jamie died and I think the inclusion of Who Loves You Most was a sentimental nod to what a sweet dude he could be at times. A few days into my week of listening to these two songs over and over Kevin Morby reminded me that it was Jamie’s birthday and I remembered that every year at this time I get this totally overwhelming compulsion to listen to some songs of his. Last year it was Elizabethan Collar and Alabam from the Young Men tape Barker put out. It all comes back, I think, to the fact that I had been listening to Stray Dog Town over and over again for the first time in AGES the week that Jamie died and every night I meant to call him and tell him that I loved him and see how he was doing and every night I just went to the bar and got drunk and didn’t call. This year has been especially difficult, though. Listen: what are you gonna do? I am still so sad that my friend is gone, but I am also very grateful for his incredible body of work that I can remember him by and also grateful for the friends I still have.

Amps For Christ –Circuits / Sister Irene O’Connor – Fire of Gods Love

The cover of the other Amps For Christ album I have (Thorny Path, I think) actually looks way more like this record sounds than the cover of this record looks. This record has a picture of bugs standing on a scrabble board or something (I can’t even remember), whereas the cover of Thorny Path reminds me of playing Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny on the computer in my parents’ basement. The music on Circuits sounds like I am at some weird psychedelic Renn Faire. The Sister Irene O’Connor record is something I heard about from Francesca at MRR. It is this weird private pressing Catholic missionary record by this nun that is apparently impossible to find because record collectors know it rules. It sounds like Vashti Bunyan singing about teen abstinence over Castlevania music. Pairs well with Circuits, maybe because Amps for Christ is actually Christian music and the name isn’t a joke? At least that’s what Naters told me at the record store one day, but I can’t say for certain he wasn’t just yankin my crank. At one point I didn’t leave my house for like three or four straight days and just listened to these two records back and forth the whole time. I felt like I had to “get weird” or something because that’s what writers do, so I put on bizarre outfits and got super stoned and paced my apartment. None of the writing I did for those few days was any good, but it pushed me out of a nasty bit of writer’s block and I recorded an art film of just my mouth saying “Master P says, ‘Masterpieces!’” over and over again for like 15 or 20 minutes.

Albe Back feat Fabulous – Mira Mira Ven Aqui

I heard this song coming out of a car when I was sitting on my fire escape brooding one night and then I listened to it eighty million times. I incorrectly predicted that it would be the big summer jam of 2013, but I was wrong because this song actually sucks, and I can admit that and still love it. Albe Back is a terrible rapper, but he is really young and he is Big Pun’s nephew and his rap name is a PUN and a reference to Terminator so that’s cool. Also at this one part he says “BYE BYE” in a high pitched voice and sounds so vulnerable and adorable and it’s so cute and he says he is “older than a beeper,” but that would make him like, maybe 17? Also a secret about me is that I LOVE Fabolous but I can never remember how he spells his name and every time I write it down I have to do the “FA-BO-LO-US” he says in Holla Back in my head to remind myself. This song has a totally hypnotic, super corny synth loop that has been stuck in my head since before I heard it. It maybe seems like something Trick Daddy and Trina would have rapped on before they had any money to buy real beats. Whatever, I love this song and no one else does but fuck y’all.

I should've posted this letter from Jeffrey Lewis a long time ago.

This letter I got from Jeff Lewis is the best email I've ever received and was the entire letters section of the final issue of Slice Harvester Quarterly. Seriously, it is so good, and it was really exciting to get a fan letter from him because I am a big fan of his and have been for years!


Well I'm slowly savoring Slice Harvester zine # 6, because that's the East Village issue and that's the not only the neighborhood I grew up in but is now the neighborhood I once again inhabit, so I was really looking forward to reading this issue, essentially saving it for special occasions and only reading a few reviews from it every day or two.  So I'm not even done with the issue, but there's a few  things I must comment on, at length (sorry).  Not complaints, just long-winded commentary!

1) Iggy's, on 1st Ave between 12th and 13th.  This place IS my childhood pizzeria, although it has gone thru many changes since those days 3 decades years ago.  It used to be Rosemary's, and in my mind is still Rosemary's - According to my own family legend, Rosemary (I assumed that was her name) and the rest of the people who worked there used to call me "The Calzone Kid" or even "The Calzone Baby" because I was such a fan of their ham & cheese calzones, even at a very young age.  This was also the very first place I ever saw a video game.  It was Pac Man, and I was very compelled by it because the arcade shell/frame/whatever you call it had images on it of the bad guy robots from The Black Hole, which had nothing to do with the disappointly dinky content of the game... they also had a "Breakout" arcade game there for some time in the early 80s (that was the precursor to Arkanoid) and at some points a pinball machine, and I think this was the pinball machine that involved the devil and literally gave me nightmares as a kid because it had a built-in "devil" voice that would say scary things like "I got you!"  All through the years, into my young adulthood, even when the place was in it's "Five Roses" name phase, this remained the ONLY place I would ever eat a calzone, especially after a couple of horrible calzone experiences elsewhere.  The calzones at Rosemary's/Five Roses were so superior to all other calzones, it was like a whole different food.  Holy cow, they were absolutely amazing.  Now that this place is called Iggy's, there is part of me that is absolutely overjoyed it still exists at all as a pizza shop and has not turned into a Starbucks (yet), but the fact that Iggy's does not make calzones is a personal tragedy to me.  Those calzones I guess are gone forever.  However, Iggy's currently has the best eggplant slice in the neighborhood by far, in my opinion.   I was glad you gave them a 7-slice pizza rating, just for old times sake, in fact I think this may be your highest-rated pizza slice for the entire East Village, nice for me to see that my old childhood pizzeria is holding up so well against all newcomers.

2) Concerning "Famous Joe's" pizza at 7 Carmine St (Bleecker & Ave of the Americas) - this is a tricky one.  I could be remembering things wrong, but I think this is an IMPOSTER place.  Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.  There WAS a "Joe's" pizza on the CORNER of Bleecker St., just a few storefronts down, and in days of yore it really was an excellent, top notch NYC street slice pizza joint, it was like the Slice Harvester ideal, and I always held it in very high regard.  At some point, perhaps within the past ten years, a competitor opened up just a few storefronts away, calling itself "Famous Joe's" and capitalizing on the well-deserved respect of the real Joe's, suckering in people who had heard that they should be looking for a great pizzeria on the block called Joe's - but this "Famous Joe's" was an imposter, and not as good as the real place on the corner.  Now, the original place on the corner has closed, replaced by some absolute nightmare yuppie desert-snack boutique or some such gentrification, and all that remains of Joe's is this imposter place "Famous Joe's" which is NOT in fact the actually famous one.  This "Famous Joe's" still probably serves the best slice of pizza for a few blocks around, but it is not to my mind a really exceptional slice, and definitely not as good as the original Joe's.  Am I having a paranoid fantasy?  
ALSO - anytime I'm on that corner, I can't resist walking into Bleecker Street Records JUST TO SEE THE CAT.  They have two cats, both grey, one of which is the fattest cat you have ever seen in your life, and the other one is even TWICE THE SIZE OF THE FIRST ONE.  So even if you walk in and only see the lesser cat, you'd still say "that's a huge fat cat, I'm glad I came in and saw him," but if you were lucky enough to see the bigger one you'd be taken aback at the size of that fat fuck.  It's a tourist attraction that I ALWAYS take visiting friends to see if they are in NYC. 

3) 2 Bros Pizza on St. Mark's Place - I'm really glad that we're on the same page with this one, I am a big fan of this $1 slice although I know you are often against the $1 slice phenomenon, this place has a really good slice for a buck and I was worried you were not going to see it that way when you finally arrived there.  I actually eat more of this $1 slice than any other pizza nowadays - I get at least one of these slices EVERY time I walk up St. Mark's Place - you can't afford NOT to!  BUT your review left out an important factor - there are actually TWO 2 Bros Pizza places here on St Mark's Place, and they are easy to confuse with each other because they are right next door to each other.  It's very strange, I know, but it's an important distinction.  They have different storefronts, different interiors, different employees, and most importantly different ovens - it is literally two different places, and should be judged separately.  In my experience, the one which is further west is way better than the other one.  You wouldn't think this could be the case, but it is.  Every time I recommend that people eat the $1 slice on St. Mark's Place I have to be very careful to specify they only eat from the 2 Bros which is two steps further west.  You need to go back and review which ever one it was that you missed, and specify which is which.

That's all for now!  keep up the great work!

 Isn't that wonderfully thorough? Jeff is on tour in Europe right now or I would post about upcoming shows or something. If you ever get a chance to see him play, do it! The dude is a genius and a gem.