Friday, March 31, 2006


my friend ben chappel died last night. or early this morning, i'm not sure. he was at home in new york. emily called and told me.

a few days ago i read a long feature article in the boston phoenix newspaper about how your myspace page lives on after you're dead, and about how people started using myspace pages as computer-memorials, posting to the dead as if they were living. it struck me as really odd, but obvious. people have to mourn.

so this is my post for ben.

i met ben about a year ago, he was interviewing me for a magazine in new york. he showed up at the restaurant with a girl friend of his and when i asked him how he was, he told me the truth, that he had had a horrible night last night, last night was a reunion with the german girl he had been in obsessive love with for ten years. i guess it didn't go well. so instead of talking about the dresden dolls for his article, he laid his head in my lap and told me about his broken heart. it was the start of something beautiful. after that, we randomly emailed a lot but didn't actually spend any time together until a few months ago, when our e friendship was growing stronger and we kept trying to make plans. we had a way of communicating on email that was totally frank. we would go days or weeks without communicating, then ben would email me from his blackberry and chronicle what he was doing in his life. then i would write back and we would sometimes keep this going for an hour, describing exactly what we were doing and seeing. we never, ever called each other. it seemed wrong to do that.

i loved our correspondence, and i kept all of our emails. i went back and read a lot of them tonight, and it pieces together about anything you'd want to know about either of us. i would email him from a cafe in bordeaux, france, and tell him about my fears of how i would feel when i came home and about the people i had loved and lost in my life and about the waiter and what the wine tasted like and the rain looked like and the air smelled like. he would email back from his friend's house in harlem about how he couldn't sleep and what went through his head all night, about the dirty pane of glass he was seeing, about his aunt, about the shoes he bought. we never pressured each other. often it just felt like we were two alone people reaching out to each other and talking about our alone-ness and enjoying the stories that came with it. i will save all of these these, i will continue to save them the way i save things. this is an excerpt from one of his early emails to me, one that struck me:


+ In fall, with luck, I will be wearing a scarf, stepping out from my
Montreal flat, and heading to some sort of English Lit or what-have-you
class. I hope leaving all the things I've built, but that bring me no
feeling, is the right thing to do. Are people meant to feel passion,
or support themselves, or both? Can you do both? I don't know.

+ I am listening to the new Okkervil River EP that I treated myself to
today. Ultimately, my 16 cds came to over $200. The woman with the
shaved head asked me if I was holiday shopping, and I lied and said
yes. She told me that I get four free sandwiches in the cafe upstairs,
one for each $50 increment I spent.

+ I never graduated college but I sit in an office and I teach
(taught.) a class at Columbia. I wing it all. People are charmed and
easily fooled. People are unaware as to how easy some things are, and
that keeps me in business.

+ I am writing a very long email to you. When people surprise you with
signs and songs, for your birthday, you are offered a lot of liquor. I
apologize for what that yields: a long, rattling, pointless email to a

+ I saw your section today, in the record store. There was one CD
left. The Dresden Dolls. I was alone, with headphones on, wandering
the aisles. The music was about New York. I went and bought a New
Yorker book of stories about New York. I imagine sitting on a mountain
in Montreal, bundled up, knowing no one, knowing not where my life is
going to go, reading about the city I'd captured, used up and left.

+ I am making rash decisions in my life, and leaving all I know. I
must weigh the possibility that I am trying to run from myself, who, as
my friends say, will be the same wherever I am. I think I just need
some time off. I think it can be that simple.

+ it's ten past four, and the song said, "we might die from medication,
but we sure killed all the pain." melodrama is appealing, but
overrated. it is also hard to avoid. we are human.

+ i am no longer going to capitalize.

+ i am afraid that if i end this email, i ill be forced to do something
mature and relating to sleep and work and the rest of the elements of a
life i'd never planned on.

i will tell you secrets, and you can feel free to never respond to this
e-mail. i just need to write. you don't need to read it. this is the
only outlet i have that has any intrigue attached to it. i will tell
you things about me, and i will write, also to myself, things about me.
you can, if you feel like reading this, read it in chapters. dickens
published great expectations in pieces. can you imagine it being 1812,
or whenever, and waiting to find out what pip's great expectations
were? can you believe that television has replaced, in cliffhangers
and weekly episodes, the compilation of a novel? what walt whitman did
in the city i'm about to leave, just republishing the same compilation
of poetry over and over, expanded, has been replaced by TV ON DVD
sections at Virgin. The owner of Virgin has his own reality show on
FOX. The owner of FOX is .. well, you know about what he does, I
imagine. you're a well informed woman. Though, I must admit, I almost
did buy Arrested Development on DVD, until I realized I probably
wouldn't watch it more than once.

I changed my mind about the secrets. This e-mail is much too long.

Attached is the sloppy representation of the framed photo you suggested.



so a few months ago i went down to new york for some reasons and one was to go on a date with ben. we met in a cafe in the village and we sat and talked for a few minutes. i saw that he had an iPod and headphones and i asked him if he wanted to hear a song from the new record, which we had just finished but not mastered. over guacomole and beer and wine, i popped open my mac on the table and he plugged his headphones in. i played him necessary evil first. while he listened, i typed him a note on a blank screens, telling him that i had tried to keep the song off the record, and he answered via typing back. from that point on, realizing that communicating via typing was far more comfortable for both of us, we conducted the next two and a half hours of our date without speaking. we traded headphones back and forth and typed and ordred beer and wine and more food as the hours wore on. the waitress thought we were crazy. i would play him a track from the record and he would play me a song form his iPod, mostly wilco and the silver jews, and some okkervil river. we would make occasional trips to the bathroom.

then we went home to his apartment, hung out with his two cats, and read in bed together. we just held each other for dear life and fell asleep. we fell in that kind of love that you fall in for a while when you're with someone, barely talking, knowing that you know each other on a level, that you don't need details, that your relationship is just What It Is, that you will hold each other in the night and the morning and then the next night, you will be in different beds in different cities. not asking. not becoming attached, because you can't. because your life isn't built that way. because you scare all your girlfriends away, ben said, because they all say you care more about your cats than you do abou them. because you aren't ever in one place long enough, amanda said, to grow attached enough to a person to really fall in love the way you used to. not that you don't want to. i left ben in the morning and went back in the afternoon. i thought about him. i wondered what would happen if i ever stopped touring. and came to new york, and stayed. would we fall in love? probably. probably not.

then i left. ben ended up helping me shape and edit the introduction text for the sheet music book, because he was brilliant writer. we were about to embark on a project for one of the magazines he writes for to try to conduct an entire weekend of speechless sticky-dating and print the entire date in the magazine. we thought that might work. i went to new york this past weekend and ben called me on saturday and left a message. i got busy and distracted. i didn't call him back and came straight home to boston, emailing when i got back...apologizing. i never heard back.

in memorandum. here is the first, last and only almost-wordless date between amanda and ben chappel, which he asked me to email to him a few weeks later, so it too was saved. i added the "A" and "B" because it wasn't always obvious who was writing. but i left the typos in.

i think ben would approve of my sharing this. people connect in the strangest ways. you don't need to explain, you don't need to worry. you take all the love you can get, how it comes, before it goes away because it does and it will.


Subject: THE DATE
Date: February 6, 2006 10:08:12 PM EST

A: i fought really hard to keep this song off the record
B: why?
A: i dont like it


A: so did everybody else

A: i like this one

B: i remember the first time i heard backstabber at subtonic, afterwards a friend i was with and i were obsessed with it.


we still talk about that song!

A: of all the recordings, i think it's one of the two weakest, but its still ok.

B: we also still talk about two headed boy at that show. brilliant

A: b side

B: aeroplane one of the best albums of all time

A: agreed

i've been explaining it to older people as the seargent peppers of the nineties

B: and now jeff mangum is on some weird religious crazy solmething or other.

i have this great solo album of his, live at jittery joes, where he plays an amazing version of two headed boy 1 & 2

A: do you think we communicate better through writing?

B: probably, but i communicate better through writing in general.

i can never find the words to say, but my fingers can always find them

more time to process and no worries about getting htem out of your mouth.

thats the weird thing; i never process. i just type type type and it comes out faster than words, and i never re-read

A: im the same way i think it also has to do with things just seeming better thought out when they have time to come out of your fingers than your mouth. except that that sentence didnt really make sense.

B: i got it. my mouth does ok when im comfortable, or drugged.


A: thats life.

A: thi sis paet of the problem with internet dating and IMing. perhaps people who fall in love over the internet should ease into their relationships by meeting at bars but only typing ewith each other fotr a while

B: and it helps me to have the music

A: yes, i could be in japan right now and the quality of our communication would be about as good.

B: yes. i'm much more epressive through stickies.

A: i have to say though, i really am enjoying the added bonus of eating and dri knig witbh you while we communicate.

there is a hip bandplaying in the bar and i cantg place it but i bet you know it

the candeliers in here are the same as the big one they had at the studio where we made this record

B: not so far from home

A: i'm getting soup

do you want anytjhing?

B: another beer please

A: this is the girl anachronism of the new album

B: though it reminds me more of half jack

A: uhh ohhhhhhh

B: no good good. not the same. great

i want it now
A: greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedy

B: that i certainly am

"god i love communicating"

"i just hate the shit we're missing'

A: this song is about our relationship

B: yeah right
A: close enough

when anybody asks, i'll tell them you'tre mute

B: i may as well be

nevermidn i forget the quote
something like, "better to let people thing you're an idiot than to open your mouth and prove them right"

A: this is true.
you've almost heard the entire record.

B: well if i had one id let you listen to it too.

A: youre a very nice man-boy

B: im working on b eing more the former than latter, but it takes a significant amount of time to figure that bit out.

A: you didnt have

what song are you on?

B: my alcoholic friends

A: this one is good. its about me and brian starting a backalley abortion clinic

i'm going to eat some soup, really excited.

B: no more coat hangers

what kind of soup

A: vegetable blackbean.

you didn't have a strong male rolemodel.

B: i was the male roldmodel. mother's shrink, sister's dad

how much younger was the sistewr?

22 now - 4+ years younger


A: i grew up with my stepfather mother and sister, 4 yrs older/ my mom left my dad when i was 1.

my stepdad had two kids, my older stepsister lisa, who was a bookwrom, and karl, who was the coolest older brother type in the world. he painted and played bass and he died when i was 21.

B: how did he die

A: slowly and painfully from lou gehrigs disease

it sucked.

B: a childs death\\shit

makes the parents unable to separate the other from the child sometimes. i can't i

A: my hangover is officially gone

B: but now youre so tired!

i am too.

A: are you going home to bed?

B: i dont think ive gone to bed before 3am or later in at least 10 months

it's inconceivable. more likely home to watch law and order on tivo and do freelance crap. that is, after all, my life.

A: thats heartbreaking.

B: its ok. i have the best 2 cats of all time and i like law and order.

A: its better than navigating real people

B: good pointr. i was going to take the subway home and read until the ambien knocks me out.

i have chronic insomnia and got ambien for it -- i took 20mg and that didnt even put me to sleep. then my shrink decided it was anxiety-based (DUH) and gav eme klonopin. now i have no health insurance, quit all my brain-meds, and need to use a sleep mask to have any chance of falling asleep.

songs over.

A: dp you want one more?

B: absolutel6yv

very possib;ly best track on the record

up in arms

no hitler and no holocaust!

revisionist historian. thats what errol morris' "mr. death," my favorite of his films, is about.

A: it's horrifying.

B: i think of you whenever i watch hedwig

songs over

A: i think if you hear two more youl be complete

B: then dont mess with my itunes

A: im going to silently pause, go piss and come bac k and start again without a vocal word, ok?

B: wilco - smile all the time

is playing

how do you beat loneliness

smile all the time

another song: "the ashtray says, youve been up all night"

another song: "a fake sunset on a television set could upset her, but i never could"

i love that line.

very representative of very many people.

A: true

we were recently doing a theater workshop and the show is about weeping. anyway

one actor told the story of how his brother was at the hospital with the whole family crowded around their very sick cancerous other brother. everyone was weeping, except him. a few days later, he started to weep openly at a tv ad for the united negro college fund and their mother lacerated him
"how can you cry at THIS and not at your dying brother??"

B: when i was 17 my best friend was murdered; i have never cried for him, but he is the hardest lost ive ever experience. earlier this past year another good friend was killed in a car accident and i never cried for him, either, but i did stop going to classes and doing work.

my grandmother's dog is named "paxil"

A: you need to come to the onion cellar. that's where they give you onions and knives instead of drinks and the dresden dolls are playing a 4-week residency next year.

B: theres a silver jews song with a line, lets see if i can remember it now, something like, "i hate when they hang mirrors behind the bar; because i hate to look at myself when i dont know where you are"

A: good.

B: its better written by him -- i cant type. -- he would never use "hate" twice in one line. i just cant remember the first substitute.

another line of his, which inspired my fake band called "all my favorite singers," is "all my favorite singers couldn't sing."

thats how i feel about him. because he can't sing.

A: almost none of my favorite singers can sing.

what song?

B: mandy still

your battery has lucky 13

A: unlucky 12 now

B: 11 is mine.

A: 8 is mine

B: you should put your band name on the mp3 id3 tags

A: these are just home recordings, not mastered...

B: i know but they sound mastered.

i dont know how you managed that, but i cant imagine them sounding better

"she's the kind of girl who looks for love in all the lonely places"

A: hi

B: i love the jeep song

the best line in this song is the same spot second time around..."she's the kind of girl who leaves out condoms on her bedroom dresser/just to make you jealous of the men she fucked before you met her\"

that is so dangerously female

oh im at that line NOW



jesus, women, how can you look in the mirror in the morning

A: i'm getting used to it slowly.

B: well. i don't even know what to say about that. i guess you've acquainted (oops) yourself with lucifer, then.

A: are you done?

B: done what?
A: with the song....

B: yes. rice chex now

A: did you hear this one?

B: yes

there won't be any second coming

this is the saddest one

years ago i gave a friend your first album, and she was delighted by my "coin-operated boy dance"

i would move around like a puppet when i was drunk

A: charming.

B: it was.

A: can i come to your apartment adn read while you work? we dont have to make out or anything, i just think it would be nice.

A: yes and you can charge too.B: lets go i want a cigarette


A: i dont give a shit.

B: me neither

A: i suggest we dont talk but when we get there, i can plug my computer back in and maybe we can type with each other.

B: ill pplug in mine and you can get on my airport and we can just IM on my couch.

A: i dont know how to IM yet

B: well ill teach you. you have 5% left, lets go/


goodnight ben.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


i never post direct follow-up blogs, but in case it just seemed to be necessary.

i came home to boston from texas tonight, went out and drank with my housemates, caem home again, read all of your posts, and turned off my computer.

then i ran a bath.

then i i sang along to/danced in the kitchen to/lip-synched into the bathroom mirror to every single song from the smiths "the queen is dead".
i stopped "mr shankley" and leanred the chords on piano. the bath sat there.

"the boy with the thorn in his side" had particular relevance.

then i took a lukewarm bath and kept listening. fine.

then i turned the computer on and wrote this.

now i'm going to bed.

there is a light and it never goes out

there is a light and it never goes out

there is a light and it never goes out

there is a light and it never goes out

there is a light and it never goes out....


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Music is Poisoning Me

i used to listen to music all the time.

it was like church.

from the time i was really young, it was sit, sit sit, then later sit and cut and paste and listen listen listen to music and get lost inside of it. worshipping, mindlessly.

what happened?

i think it was a few things.
i have to now point out the irony of the fact that i tried to put on music on my itunes to write this diary entry to and had to turn it off.

i can't handle a soundtrack anymore.
everyone else around me seems totally capable of listening to music while they email, while they work, while they write, talk, live.
i can't do it. actually, who am i kidding. i've never been able to. i couldn't do my homework with music on. i coudln't concentrate.
music was different. music was an activity in itself, unless i was doing something completely visual, like drawing or collaging or making a fanzine or pasting up shapes and glow-in-the-dark-stars on a ladder onto the ceiling in myu bedroom. music was o do physical, listening work to.
i think part of the problem is that i don't do those things anymore. almost all of my work is brain work. that doesn't allow listening. and when i am doing nothing, i want quiet.
i don't listen to much music anymore. i can't really handle it. and it frightens me.

it's an identity crisis of sorts.

i've been at south by southwest for 3 days now.
this is the land of music, of overmusic, uebermusic, of too much sound, of show flyers and business cards and CD demos flying through the air like so much pollen. they all land in the gutter.
you see them there, soaking in the dirty rainwater, but you can't stop to reflect, the crowd pushes you on. noise and more noise drowns out even the good music.

in the last 3 days i have
-played in a rehearsal space with brian for 7 hours
-played a show for about 1000 industry people (it was a good show, a good show yes yes yes)
-laid comatose in the hotel room, shunned housekeeping
-spent 12 hours in the studio recording with ...and you will know us by the trail of dead
-been in countless bars and clubs playing music

and i have been wondering all the while.
what is this shit?


i put music on, music people give to me, and i can't hear it anymore. my mind is full of things that aren't music.
but there are So Many Ways of listening. i can't help it. i have always listened to lyrics first. through the years i listen with my business head, my ME head, will this band be a good opener, will this band appeal to other people, will this band XXXXX and all of a sudden i cannot hear anymore. my head is so clouded with judgement that i can't listen. i can;t hear the way i used to.

i used to just listen. and i liked, or i didn't. then all of this happened.

that's why i was so ecstatic when i found regina spektor. sure, i was excited because my brain fired off FRIEND COMRADE WE SHOULD PLAY TOGETHER OOH TELL PEOPLE OOH but fundamentally there was something deeper, something that said: none of that shit matters. i felt the same way when i heard the latest antony & the johnsons, and the trail of dead record that came out last year. just.....Good. good good good. disregard all other voices while listening. but it's getting harder.

i almost never listen to music anymore. i own great headphones. i have a great stereo at home. but i almost never use them. i can't. when i have free time and i am on the internew or emailing, i need silence. when i am at home, i like to listen to my apartment. when i am doing dishes, i turn music on. i have two choices: Friend Rock or Not. Friend Rock is the name i adopted (from ad frank, orginally) for the CDs that friends and fan give me. they accumulate very quickly. when i get home from tour, there are usually dozens. they get given to me on the road. i do not listen as i go along. i can't. i probably, at this time, have over 300 un-listened-to Friend Rock CDs in various piles and Cd wallets at home. I keep up with them, i organize them, but i rarely sit down to listen. when i do, it is a job. sometimes brian joins me. it goes like this:

play first 10 seconds of track one
> if engaging, listen to next 30 seconds
x if not, eject and fling
> if engaging, listen to next minute
-- if not engaging after one minute, skip to next song
x if not engaging after next song, eject and fling
> if engaging after next minute, comptee song and continute listening
> if still engaging, rejoice

this is a VERY basic breakdown. often i will skip through 4 or 5 or 6 songs on a bad CD before flinging.

but a lesson in demo-giving....make sure the first two songs are strong as fuck.

back to my conundrum.
listening to music has become WORK.
i don't want it to be. i listened to music for years because i loved it, not because i wanted anything for or from it, not because i wanted to DO something with it.
though that;s not really true....even in high school i was making music videos in my head to every song on my walkman. but that was outside reality, it doesn't count.

it's all fucking relative.
we played for a huge audience at SxSW, and fucking slayed the show as far as i'm concerned, and the first reviews to come up on the web were terrible. but the show was great. it's starting now....the Great Divide.
i can tell now, there are going to be people out there that just Have to Despise this band. what are they listening for? what do they want? some people freak about us, some people hate it. obvious. but DESPISE US? is it that we're so threatening? why? because we're dong what we want? because we're not directly mimicking bands from 1983? or 1973? or 1993? i dunno. maybe.

but i think Everyone is listening differently nowadays. the Joy Of Music is disappearing rapidly. it's all about other things. things outside. things like credibility, coolness, crowds and t-shirts. when did it happen? this must have been happening in the late seventies when some people were listnening to donna summer and some were listening to the sex pistols and that's how you chose your friends. but was it like THIS? where a band was a compelte advertisement of Who You Are, the way it seems to be with teenagers nowadays? was i in the middle of it and didn't notice? confused. bob lefsetz would have an answer, i am sure (bob: i was born in 1976).

about a month ago i got the new kate bush CD. i am not a fan, i actually just recently discovered her catalog, which i like don't love.
i was curious. she hadn't put out a CD in 12 years. double disc. i heard the about the fourth track (mrs. bartolozzi) on the first disc and i just stopped. i fucking loved it. and i didn't listen to anymore. i just listened to that track. over and over. for five days. i probably put it on 20 times. i couldn't bring myself to listen to the rest of the disc, much less disc two. wrong of me? i don't think so. i was just so excited that i wanted to savor it.

i want music to be like church again.


conrad from trail of dead fascinates me. he is one of the best songwriters i have ever met and he seems to be totally blase about recording. but then again, he's made more records than i have. will that happen to me? will i disappear into the next room into the clutches of a video game when someone is singing a vocal on my next record? it's totally possible. he's a genius. he can do what he wants, he gets no complaints from me. rock and roll and what it means, all of this shit, is a myth. everyone does what they want to do. always has been. there is no Truth.

recording with them today was mind-blowing. so different from being in the studio with brian. this band pieces songs together. they're almost never in the studio at the same time. i can't fathom that. what can that possibly BE like? we listened to track by track and i laid down piano on a few tracks that weren't finished, taking sveral takes to get everything right. then we did a new song track from scratch (me on piano and conrad on guitar and donald on drums) and then conrad and i laid down some back-up vocals on the one we;d just recorded. and it all when brian and i are in the studio it's like take after take of MUST BE PERFECT madness. and this was just...."oh.........yeah. it's fine". and it was fine. maybe we're too uptight. but then again, it's all relative. i listened to two ofd the finished tracks from the new trail of dead record and that shit is TIGHT. i assume they will take the mess and drivel i recorded and turn it into some kind of sonic masterpiece. donald and i had some art-noise fun doing a nuch of overdubs for a long song in which we put a brick on the sustain pedal of the 9-foot steinway and just made as much noise as possible inside of it using brass knuckles, sticks and guitar picks. conrad and i went out drinking and talked about music and the State of It.

there were moments in that studio earlier tonight where i felt complete, ever more complete than being in the studio making my own recordings. it felt real. making music without thinking too much. conrad and i came back to the studio after drinking at the local (have you ever tried an irish car bomb? - don't) and just played and played on the piano, re-tracing all the songs we'd written back to their stolen sources. his came from a shane macgowan song. mine was stolen from the psychedelic furs. his was stolen from radiohead, which was stolen from a paul mccartney song. indeed, he said, there is nothing new under the sun. we could have played this game for hours.

in other news:
the album is coming out (in the USA, at least) in exactly one month. the tension mounts as the reviews come in black and white from every side. the press in the USA is indifferent, the press in europe and australia are freaking. i am going home for a week or so of family and friends and rest and then we are hitting the road for about ten weeks nonstop. i will be surprised if i have the energy to blog but i might surprise myself as this had become ever more therapeutic. reading all of the comments (yes, i still do, you motherfuckers) is one of the things that keeps my life rolling and helps me not feel alone. i am constantly astounded and ecstatic to find how many intelligent and literate people read this shit and comment on it. i love the internet. i still can't believe it's completely real but i am starting to. every time i get a real, thick book from i have more faith.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blather:Japan.Fans.The White Stripes.PMS.Bad Press.

The nice thing about having a blackberry, besides the fact that I can check email while sitting on the toilet, is that I realized I can directly blog while anywhere and send the text to myself. Since this feels like a candidate for one of the more miserable days of my life, I'm going to keep an ongoing log. While sitting in chairs and in cars. While waiting.

8:00 am boston time - logan airport. in a chair, waiting.

I woke up at six. I was still incredibly tired and the first thing that occurred to me is that I was leaving and I wouldn't sleep in my own bed for a while. So a strange impulse overtook me and I hugged my quilt and pillows goodbye, realizing immediately that it was some bizarre half-asleep lame-ass excuse to stay in bed. We canceled our show in maine last night. Brian wasn't able to play in vermont two night ago, he had a fever of almost 104. He stayed in a hotel bed and I played solo, inviting the audience to sit on the stage and pellet me with requests. I did my best. I was already sick myself at that point and my voice sounded like shit. I forgot the lyrics to "girl anachronism" so invited members of the audience to come up and sing them instead. Charming. I fucking hate that: I hate being able to charm my way out of a sloppy performance. But who cares, it is it is. We drove to new hampshire and both got onstage for a last gasp, canceled the maine show and drove home to collapse. Brian went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat, I'm going to go to the doctor the minute we land in japan. We have almost 20 hours of flying and layovers in front of us. When we land, we're supposed to sleep, wake up, and talk to the press immediately. I'm not sure how this is going to go down now that I've lost my voice and have been communicating to emily and brian via pen and napkin. One thing is certain: if I were talking, I wouldn't have the inclination to be writing this. I talk a lot. It’s too strange to stop. We talk about nothing when we travel, anything. We listen to the sounds of our voices to remain human. Look at that. Remember that. Why is that. Why is there a giant dunkin’ donuts cup in the terminal? Where do they actually manufacture these huge coffee cup sculptures? Your dandruff is growing. I hate The Man. Do people steal salt and pepper shakers from airports. We should email the japanese label rep. When are you knocking yourself out? Is "glorified" always used ironically? I wonder if I'll ever grow to like bloody marys the way I grew to like spinach and broccoli. Ad infinitum....we just talk. We talk to feel not alone. Words make our mouths exercise. We stop listening to each other and we don't even care. It's understood.

9 am - sitting at the gate. in a chair. waiting.

I went through my Logan Airport Hudson News Stand Ritual and bought two bottles of water, The Economist and Teen People. Life is all about balance. We looked for spin magazine, because we know we're in it, but they didn't have it. No early morning narcissism fix for us. The plane is stopping first in chicago, two hour layover, then tokyo. I'm knocking myself out when we get to chicago. I've been reading the early reviews of the record online. Everyone is able to download it, and I ain't gonna blame them. It's the future. I can only remind all of our fans that the artwork packaging is beautiful and the experience is not complete without owning it.

The reviews are 98% amazing, but we will focus on the 2% that think the music is terrible and the lyrics are trite and overdramatic. How does one scrape oneself out of the goth pigeon coop? This has been a problem from day one. I never thought that wearing whiteface on stage would land us in the predicament of being compared to Marilyn Manson. Are you shitting me? Have you listened to our music, fool? We have as much in common with Marilyn Manson as we do with Cher. Did people lump KISS and david bowie together?

On a different note, in the wake of last weeks bombing of the iraqi shias' askariya shrine, a wave of sectarian reprisals ensued, mainly against sunni arabs, raising fears that the country might tip into wholesale civil war. Despite a four-day curfew and the deployment of american and iraqi troops, the communal strife continued, leaving at least 500 civilians dead; some morgue officials put the toll at more than 1,300. In addition, our shoot with emma roberts (yep, julia's niece!) was a total lovefest! The star of the new movie "aquamarine" divulged her crush on singer Teddy Geiger and her Juicy Couture obsession ("I'm a walking ad for their stuff!") and raved about Teen People: "I get my copy every month!" Get her glam look with a Michele Busch necklace ($140; and Charles Worthington Smart Fixx Curl Enhancing Cream ($7; at Walgreens). President Bush's ratings are at an all time low of 34%. Gloss plus balm in one, soothes lips as it shines. Security issues surrounding the sale of six American Ports to a Dubai-based company. Advanced Any-Angle Self-Tanning Spray. Yes!
12:30 - chicago time. in a chair. waiting.

Kate calls it InLove Chicago. Hard to tell from the airport.

2 pm - Chicago Time. in a plane chair. waiting, pretty much, to land in tokyo.

In the air after a layover that included bad food and a trip to the bathroom. Emily and I got stared down by our fellow passengers in the gate for spreading out and doing yoga on the floor. Thirteen and a half hours is a shit long time.
I started to get airportitis on the terminal shuttle waiting area. We accidentally developed a new game called "beached". I lay down on the ground and told brian I was a beached manatee. He said that a manatee wouldn't flail its arms out like that, so I scrunched them in. He then listed off names of beached animals (norwall, scallop, lobster) and I would do my best to imitate, writhing on the floor while we waited for the shuttle to terminal 5.. Emily noted that we were freaking out the midwesterners. My voice is coming back, but I can feel my sore throat in my bottom teeth.

Some Time - the screen tells me we're over alaska. It’s10:52 tokyo time. chair. sit. wait.

I just watched a movie that seemed like it was made with the intention of ripping me apart. I don't often cry at movies. One scene in "million dollar baby" got me six months ago. But it takes a lot. I cried four separate times just now, breaking my own record by far. The movie was "north country" and I'd never heard of it...just flipped it on. My god. painful sexual harassment scenes, teenage rape and if that wasn't enough, a central character who comes down with Lou Gehrig's disease, which killed my step-brother Karl when I was 21. No wonder I lost it. I think its time to go to sleep, clutch my luckiness like no day in recent history as much as right now, right now, right now.


7:30 pm - tokyo time
We're on our way to the hospital so I can ask the doctors if they can help me with my throat. We is me and Koji, our roadrunner label rep. You never know with these guys, but he's cool as shit. He picked us up at the airport and got us to our hotel. Emily is staying behind with brian to poke him with hot tongs so that he doesn't fall asleep and start the evil jetlag cycle. I want to drink some Aquarius and they didn't have it in the vending machine outside the hotel. Aquarius is a lovely cloudy powerade kinda water that tastes like lychees. Its habitforming. There are vending machines EVERYfuckingWHERE in japan. Drive 80 miles to Nowhere, see japanese trees and grass and not a human soul around, but there WILL be a vending machine at the intersection of any two dirt paths. I remember the last time we were here for a few days, my life seemed strung together by moments in which I would dawdle off to find a vending machine that sold Aquarius. We tend to like that which we can understand. Put money in, get drink out. Much less difficult that pointing, gesticulating and bowing like mad for forgiveness of the intrusion. Vending machine could give a shit if you're a whitey or a brother or a martian. Just knows you got the cash.

8:30. Pm- tokyo time. sitting in car. waiting.

The doctor at the hospital said I have a clinging lowgrade flu and an allergy to an unknown substance. maybe I'm allergic to music. He gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way.

11:30 am - tokyo. on subway. sitting. waiting.

I crashed hard after dinner, woke at 4:30 am, popped half an ambien and crashed til 9. The journalists and crew don't come pounding til noon, so I am soaking up these few moments of freedom, I've been wandering around shibuya all morning, finding a bank and buying haircombs and feeling that dark feeling I feel every time someone walks by me wearing a surgical mask. I would estimate that one in 30 folks here in tokyo sports the surgical mask full time. Its like some strange twilight zone episode if you're not used to it.I wandered into a dept store and checked out the surgical mask display. There are dozens of options.

On an internet note: The band hosts a forum (many of you are probably familiar with it, if not a part of it: where people log on and discuss the band, the shows, each other, whatnot. I browse it often and post once in a while but have generally watched it evolve into its own ecosystem, for better or worse. There's a vast assortment of intelligence and pettiness, although the trend seems to be leaning towards the petty as the older fans start getting turned off by the squealines of the newer, younger fans who post thirty times a day and sort of dilute the relevance of topics with inanity. This is just life, so it goes. But last night I saw something that hit a nerve.

Basically, some teenagers sporting mall fashions posted a clip to YouTube of themselves drunkenly singing along to "coin-operated boy"...on a boat. Nothing creative about it, just some drunk Ordinary Fucking People having a gas, but the overall reaction of the forum-dwellers was this high-minded "how dare the/rhese people should die/this makes me want to puke" reaction. I fully understood, there's a part of me that totally related to feeling this about a band. But this was downright unsettling. In response, and I partly blame my cranky jetlag, I posted to the thread and voiced my disgust at the elitism. You can see the whole thread here:

And as I sort of expected, some people jumpily apologized, but most were understanding. I reminded them that I have the disadvantage of never being able to discover the band for myself; I'm in it. Music is for Everybody, but I also remember really vividly the protectiveness that I felt about my favorite bands when I was younger, especially when the jocks in my school started listening to the cure. DIE, I thought.

Its such a fine line between being open and honest and being preachy. I never want our audience to feel like there's A WAY to listen to our music. There's millions. Every band who becomes popular has to deal with this. He’s the one. He likes all our pretty songs. And he likes to sing along.

Anyway. All food for thought all the time. I'm glad I at least feel safe and confident enough to have this kind of conversation with our fans, even if its a dicey one. How the fuck else would they be able to trust me, or me them?

March 7
12 noon - tokyo time - sitchairwait

Yesterdays interviews and shoot were simple and went off without a hitch. I was expecting the questions to be more on the typically japanese conservative side and they mostly were save the guy who asked us if we could remember our first orgasm experiences. Brian explained in Long Graphic Detail and I was spared because he took so long. Last night emily, eric (long ago friend and dolls supporter, he used to come to all of our boston shows wearing adam-ant war paint on his cheeks) and I went to the white stripes show in tokyo. We didn't get in touch ahead of time so we got last-minute tickets through Koji but luckily ran into the Stripes' tour manager, who worked for us once in new zealand. This was lucky; we got to watch most of the show from the side of the stage and meet mr jack and ms meg. They reminded me so much of me and brian after a show...tired but gracious, and jack was a total gentleman. We griped about label control and vocal throat sprays with each other and jack showed me his amazing holga camera with multi-colored rotating flash (sort of like those 4-colored clicky pens). meg was also very sweet and relieved to be coming up on the end of a solid year of touring. jack looked nothing like michael Jackson in person. Their show kicked, great energy. And I was pleased to hear them using pre-recorded guitar sampled on one song. Not purists = good.

5 pm tokyo time - sitchairwait

More journalists, more questions, more sticky rice snacks and more walks through the streets of shibuya. One thing I can not get used to over here is the utter lack of male gaze. Emily says she loves it, but she's probably a far greater general victim due to the fact that her tits are twice the size of mine. Italy is pretty bad, there I often feel like a piece of meat walking down the street, winked at, sized up, clucked at and generally drooled over even when I am thoroughly unwashed and look like shit, just because I have a vagina. Here, if a gaze happens to fall on you, it doesn't rest, and it certainly doesn't ever return for a double take. I find it disconcerting. I'm used to the attention. Its like: wait, what the fuck? Why aren't you staring? I washed my hair, I made an effort, asshole! We’re all so conditioned.


some night-time on the plane from japan to australia

i take it ALL FUCKING back. north country was obviously not a touching movie, i'm just dealing with early PMS, as proven by the fact that i just cried, TWICE, during a HARRY POTTER movie on the plane. either that or the stress is really getting to me.
This shit is unacceptable.


March 15th - Many days later, after Australia, in Austin, TX for south by southwest.
3:37 am. this time i am not waiting. i am alone, in a hotel room. i am avoiding sleep.

my blackberry proved to be a poor up-to-date blogging tool. I wrote up a storm (see above) and then couldn’t send the fucking thing to myself for a week because of technical difficulties. It’s not the future yet. It’s now a week later and I am alone in my texas hotel room, jetlagged and blurry, spent.

We went to Sydney and Melbourne and did press and radio stations and relaxed a little bit before flying here to texas. We played a last-minute gig in Sydney, at a teeny weeny burlesque club, during which I started to botch Girl Anachronism again...but this time no pretty young girls volunteered to do karaoke, so we skipped the tune altogether. People were completely shocked. This was a HUGE single for us in Australia. Eh, I said. We should’ve rehearsed. But when? Where? In the airport? This schedule is shit. We’re not being musicians, we’re being promo whores, it’s not good nor bad, but a whole different frame of mind. Getting up on stage to play all of a sudden feels about as natural as getting ripped out of a hot shower and tossed naked, complete with skis, boots and poles, on top of a black diamond slope. In a different country. Maybe exciting. Ok. Not normal.

I got my period on the plane from Syndey to Los Angeles and beached myself, squishing, in the back row of seats on the plane. Brian and I always joke that all of this touring and travel is terribly unnatural for a menstruating woman, who in the olden days would have been sent away from the tribe to squat quietly over a nice patch of green moss for 3-4 days to bleed and suffer in peace. Nope, stuffed liek a lemming into a long sardine-can with wings bulletting through the sky with 245 other people in my breathing/bleeding space. Very far, very far from the nice patch of green moss. i want my moss. I watched three movies (brokeback mountain, the squid and the whale, walk the line – was not tempted to cry a single time), ate chocolate and decided never to have children.

In more exciting news: we received our first terrible review for the album a few days ago, in venus magazine (I’ll give you the bad highlights):

“...Unfortunately, The Dresden Dolls’ lyrics are still self-absorbed and cynical. Palmer’s lyrical concerns have become a bit cliché and, let’s face it, talking about fucking in pop songs hasn’t been shocking for the past ten years. While the rock production is compelling, one becomes suspicious that it might be masking some weakness in the writing, which becomes particularly evident on the latter half of the album (by the time you reach “Me & The Minibar”, you realize this is the third nearly identical ballad on the CD). This album quickly loses it’s ability to surprise you. Despite the fact that the music, dealing with intimate sexual matters and detailing troubled relationships of all sorts, should be confessional or at least personal, it seems as though the Dresden Dolls hide behind songwriting convention and sonic sheen. This album may leave you wishing the Dolls had traded in their fancy production for a better set of tunes.”

Should I be nick cave and not read the terrible ones? No no no!!! I must. In fact, given the popularity of the Hate Mail section of our website, I think we’ll have to start a Bad Press page. Much more exciting to read than the good press, and more revealing. And now I feel naked: hiding behind songwriting convention has always been my specialty. Next they’re going to do the exposé on our secret writing collaboration with the Matrix and the fact that an aged and greedy Vivienne Westwood actually designed our entire aesthetic from scratch 6 years ago in a secret New York boardroom amongst equally aged and greedy old suits with Punk Cabaret pie charts and stripey cloth swatches. “Let’s start them off in Boston....New York would be a dead giveaway” they whispered. “Nobody will ever suspect!”

Ah, oh well. Hey, ho. Here we go.
Bring it. I’m ready.