Sunday, February 18, 2007

audi 5.O

(...cue sad, funerary-like violin music, dubbed over with charging horses and bugle...)

in the words of john wayne: i am blowing this popsicle stand.

i have gathered myself up and am heading off into the great unknown and am (gaa) completely unplugging from the interweb and telephone for several weeks.
my email is set to autoreply.

with the exception of a few retreats (never more than a week) to meditate in the woods in western mass, i have never deliberately decided to switch off like this.
i feel like it's an imperative. i really don't like the part of myself that reaches for the phone or the email the minute i have a blank space in my life.
it frightens me. we're all becoming like this.
it's amazing to be connected but there needs to be enough real life occurring so that the connections are not empty.
faster speeds, more friends, bigger webs of contact, finding old contacts, blogging...all doesn't mean shit if the underlying content isn't worth sharing or reflecting on.
we are all, i think, faced with so many choices and so much temptation to plug in, post, respond, search, find, share further, etc. that we are also forced to engage in a constant struggle between self and self-sharing and reflection. you're looking at one of the guiltiest parties. too many times i catch myself living as my own archivist. that, i think, i the main reason i have to unplug for a while.
of course i won't be able to stop collecting experiences, lyrics, mental photos, whatever, in my vast mental shoe box marked "to synthesize"...but at least i'll be forcing myself to synthesize within the hour or the day.

i was on the phone with edward form the pink dots as i was packing this morning. he too says he gets sucked in to the internet addiction, checking email every few minutes, unable to unplug.
he goes to his girlfriends in finland to get away and write, clear head, where there is no internet and he's forced to re-concentrate. we find ways....if we don't have the discipline at home, we leave. i'm leaving.

the retreat im doing is an intensive yoga teacher training camp, no leisure time. wake up at 6 am, meditation and yoga all day, crash to bed in dorm rooms, wake up, repeat.
no caffeine, no dairy, all vegetarian, certainly no drinking and smoking...full-on detox, major self-inspection and physical tuning. godspeed me.

before i forget, there're another place i want to point you guys....several people commented in delight about the "funerary violin" music rotating in my disc-changer.
this is the result of a recent correspondence i have taken up with a highly esteemed and talented Rohan K, who penned the recently hailed book:
"An Incomplete History of the Art of Funerary Violin". i suggest reading it, it's full of mystery, sadness and wisdom (and scores for you violinists).
there are clips from historic funerary violin scores up at
in addition, Mr. K fronts his own piano-centric tom-waits-y band, which is beautiful and can be found here:

more oh
those of you wondering about the title of the last blog (and why there wasn't more fucking and fighting detailed)

the reference was to sxip shirey's song in which he sings (through a megaphone, no less):

"i live in new york city
i live in new york city
i live in new york city
i fuck, i fight in new york city."

songs the SHIT. i hear tell that both brian and reggie were invited to record on sxips album so keep the eye out.
there's a clip of him playing this song at the show we all played at joe pub the other night with reggie watts beatboxing to back him up... can't hear the lyrics in the clip but its STILL the shit:

as far as the gory-detailed chronicling of my fucking and fighting, it will have to wait until my golden-years autobiography, when all the complicit parties are either dead or senile.

i'm writing this on the plane to santa fe, where i'm going to visit my step-sister lisa for a few days before i hit it.
she's almost four months pregnant and this will be the first baby in my immediate family. i cant wait to rub her belly. i'm psyched: auntie manda.
i will bestow on this child his or her first beatles record unless somebody else beats me to it.

shaving your head bald (a la britney) seems to be the last resort when you have no control over your life and need to re-self-define. i did it when i was 21 and freaking out in college. brian did it when we were recording the first record. bob geldof/pink did it in The Wall. it's natural. i personally thinks she looks hot. i'd hit it.

this is the first time in years that i am on a plane heading towards myself.
packing was fucking confusing.
i am so used to packing for tour on autopilot that i had forgotten how to pack for "vacation".
about a year r two ago i stopped packing and unpacking certain things and just left my bags packed when i got home.
road clothes, road bathroom shit, show bag would all just sit in my bedroom until the next flight or tour, which was never far off.
it felt wrong to be hitting the road without an extra roll of black gaffer tape. i relented; i left it at home.

after the retreat i'm heading straight do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-fucking-shit into the studio to start tinkering with the solo record.
i want to step off the plane and immediately hit the piano before my brain has a chance to start gathering junk and static.
i've got folders of lyrics and lists of songs ready to go....and a soul ready to explode, so i can't imagine the pre-production won't go well.
i'm going to stay relatively unplugged in the studio, just to give my brain and fingers a rest.
by the time thats done it'll be mid-march and i'll head back to boston and NYC for re-plugging, talking, emailing, dancing and wine-drinking. wine rocks.

i love planes in general but i especially love planes when there's a 6 year-old sitting behind me who just doesnt get over the fact that we're in the air and keeps giving a running commentary on how awesome everything looks outside the window. america's covered in snow. the Great Lake is covered with patterns of floating ice shifting like membranes over the waves. sun is so low that the buildings on the shore are casting solid shapes on the surface, which is a dark jade color, which makes the whole view look like a deco painting. the kids mom is explaining the ice. i just dropped into my lap an article on barack obama and i felt that surging zeitgeist-feeling of hope for this sad country. right now, things don't look bad from up here.

i also read through the last five months of fan mail while i was at home this week. and everything that came with it, the books, the zines, the discs, the poems, the pain, the love, all the deep connection. i wish i could express to you how insanely fucking lucky i feel, but its impossible. it's impossible but maybe it's not necessary, because you guys already Get It.

read yall on the flipside, motherfuckers.




Friday, February 16, 2007

i fuck i fight in new york city

i'm back from NYC.

max has been sketching and painting ryan rosses all over the cloud club and "frying bread", which i guess is what people do in england when they're hungry.

max is staying here because life in england became too much to tolerate. i see him downstairs in the front room day and night, wrapped in his overcoat because he refuses to turn on the heat, squinting and crunched over ryan ross after ryan ross, clutching his pencil with furrowed brow, as if the world would finally decide to be kind to all of us if he could only capture that las vegas pout in perfect graphite two-dimensional likeness. he'd been sleeping in my bed while i was in New York City and there were still panic! at the disco centerfolds from kerrang! magazine scotch-taped to the headboard. his favorite bands: tom waits, nick cave, panic! at the disco. i forgive him. i have avril. the ryan ross he was working on in the UK before coming here got his nose smudged with jam. the one he was just working on got his nose smudged with red pen. we think it's a sign. we don't know what kind. maybe watch ryan ross's nose for signs of "work". ryan ross is the guitar player. they've become gigantic. i wonder how he's doing.

i noticed how the majority of comments come in immediately after i post the blog.
50% of them come in within the first 12 hours. thus: you are all LIVING online. crazy. but here we are.

new york new york...playing with sxip, corn mo, reggie & co. at joe's pub was like taking a bubble bath of the soul. Church.
the new songs went over really well and i felt so much love in that room. playing, playing, playing. we all sang a song together at the end of the night....a song by baby dee.

conrad from ...trail of dead is now a full-fledged brooklynite and we spent good times together, drinking gimme coffee and planning art takeovers. his visual art is amazing. he's been obsessed with poser, a computer program that creates 3D graphics....he told me many details of Tchaikovsky's life and death. he was apparently forced to commit hemlock suicide a group of his peers due to the fact that he was gay. this wasn't revealed until after the fall of the soviet union.

i recorded some vocals with voltaire, whose tongue-in-cheek goth-folk i have always thought was hilarious. i remember seeing him in boston 5 or 6 years ago, singing "bomb new jersey" at the somerville theater.
we wandered around the village with his 9 yer old son son, mars. i was always in awe of kids who had grown up in the city, especially manhattan. living in a house in the suburbs, i thought it was just inconceivable that you could LIVE in an apartment. i was insanely jealous. we used to drive from boston into cambridge and right off the highway at fresh pond there were three hi-rise buildings. i would state to my parents (this is...age 5) "that is where i am going to live. in the city. on the fifth floor from the top". little did i know, this was NOT the city. this was east cambridge, there happened to be three tall buildings, and they happened to be housing projects. my mother was always dismayed. i stood my ground for years. we would drive by and i would point there and remind her that we were passing my future home. in the projects, fifth floor from the top. it seemed like paradise at the time. walking with mars and his dad through the east village to do mundane things like pick up laundry and groceries was one of my most pleasant experiences.

to whoever picked up on this from the last blog entry:
" drive feels like a black mark that land on my head like a 276 pound guilty weight..."
and assumed they were cracking the code on the sing "672"....that was actually a complete coincidence. as was the fact that two pots of tea at cafe pamplona come to total exactly $6.72. two people came up to me wildly excited to have found out my secret. WRONG!

at union pool, watching franz's otherOTHER band, guignol, sxip tells me the story of how his theater director friend had found that one of his young actresses couldn't make a facial expression of surprise.
he concluded that they had entered a world of :) and :( and >:( instead of facial expressions, since teens are rushing home to communicate with each other online and their faces have fallen out of use.

i remember sitting behind my apple IIe in 1993, logged onto the precursor of the was a strange modem-connected chat board called Argus. i found an indian friend there and i remember asking him why he kept typing ":)" and he answered "put your head sideways and look again" and i still didn't get it. i was slow then, im still slow now.

i went with barnaby and his boyfriend to the Museum of Modern Art party....catpower was playing and it was one of those mexican standoffs between the super indie hardcore fanbase (there for the music, which was insanely quiet with terrible sightlines) and the rest of the crowd (cocktail swizzlin who the fuck is catpower anyway what were you saying types). she sounded ok but left the stage, seeming pissed, after a few songs. then she came back on and sang random a capella nonsense for a while. watching someone else's random trainwreck from the side of stage is always a weird cross between terrible and satisfying, since you're not the one suffering.
we headed out to an uber-gay dance night at don hills complete with nekkid boy pole dancers and i was in heaven, but tired. i left to sleep but got sidetracked by emily text-inviting me to a private karaoke room with the cribs and franz ferdinand. i was starting to feel like paris hilton. i went and it was hilarious (note to self: "fascination street" is the WORST karaoke song EVER).

the next few days saw me all over town and in all sorts of weird-ass places....i saw many many shows, among them: the new broadway hit spring awakening (great play, music didn't cut it), david byrne playing the music from his imelda marcos musical (sort of boring without staging, but david byrne was a gift to watch in himself), little buildings (a musical sung by architects and buildings, it was insanely cute) and point break live! (this one was SICK: a low-budget staged re-make of the early 90's keanu reeves/patrick swayze film. each night an audience member is selected to play keanu reeves and a chick with gym shorts and knee pads supportively follows him around squealing things like "now look really UPSET and say THIS!!!" while thrusting a cue card in his face....and given the fact that keanu basically always looked stunned and dumb in the film, it worked brilliantly. i hadn't ever seen point break and this stranger next to me had a video iPod. he had downloaded the movie that morning, and the show wasnt starting for fifteen minutes, so he gave me his headphones and i watched the entire thing on fast forward, stopping at the crucial bits. its the FUCKING FUTURE. i was there with dave bason who had along a band called motion city soundtrack. i had never heard of them, but the justin the singer got chosen to be the night's keanu and was perfect. then we ate foods and talked about band things. they were incredibly nice and smart. later i looked them up on the internet. they're huge! they're emo! who knew....this parentheses has gone on a long time.)

i went to aaron's house in yonkers and there was a den of rabbits taking up an entire room on the top floor. we listened to ESG and drew on the table,i went to my manager's new apartment and watched his 11-month old take a bath, i went to a birthday party (thrown by an ex-jehovah's witness turning 29. apparently when you're a jehovah's witness you can't celebrate your birthday so she was re-making her 13th birthday party....) with reggie and the whole party did foot reflexology, danced slow dances while people measured our bodily distance with rulers, and danced like mad to olivia newton-john. we all ended up in our underwear and reggie and i didn't leave until 5:30. this was a sunday. this is why i love new york. the cafe near reggie's place in the village is owned and run by a french woman and we got to know each other after i started setting up my office and cranking on my computer there several mornings in a row. i would speak to her in my terrible french, which i am trying to get up to speed for my month there in may. may. may oui.

jac took me to union picnic and we ate like kings. voltaire took me to indochine and we ate like queens. i took myself to cafe gitane (my new york Again cafe) three times. emily took me to her yoga studio in williamsburg and i ended up there another four times. it was perfect.

steve paul, a stunning human being and holdover from the old warhol/factory crowd invited me over to his place to do imromptu keyboard with a puppet named edgar. the huge chairman mao warhol print int he bathroom made me want to die. i ended up playing covers of "satisfaction" and "femme fatale" (the the puppet singing back-up on both).

i found an acupuncturist and went in twice for the hand. its doing better (i also got it shot full of cortizone yesterday by a western doctor. stick WHATEVER you need in there, people.).

people keep asking, so i answer: i read all the comments. ALL the comments. until i post a new blog; once a new one is posted, i rarely go back and read the comments on the previous posts. and to the soul who posted:

"kreig said...

okay if you're really amanda from the dresden dolls, why dont you talk about brian at all?

2:17 PM"

FUCK you've found me out. why has it taken you people so long?
the REAL amanda would obviously be detailing all sorts of painful personal stories of her relationship with brian, cementing the foundations of their already rock-solid friendship even further and insuring a healthy future for their relationship!!

it's one of the hardest things in my life to not write about that shit. don't rub it in.

one night reggie had some friends with tickets to see girltalk, a mashup DJ i had barely heard of. the show was at some random club in brooklyn....we went to his friend's place on the way and picked up beer and sushi. his friends were wonderful williamsburg brainiancs who created, a youtube challenger that folks are starting to catch onto. we had a good long talk about the extent of reality in virtual reality. we concluded: if you can't get her pregnant, it's not the same.

there was a girlgroup of four or five in attendance, twenties and super-brooklyn-hipster....the headbands, the striped hoodies, the dark skin-tight jeans stuffed into white pointy boots, the mullets. i was oddly intimidated. if they had ever heard of The Dresden Dolls, chances were they hated the band. even though these girls were ten years younger than me, i felt like i was back in the 7th grade lunchroom, desperately hoping to appear cool. i was, of course, decked out in one large (unwashed, i'd only planned to be in new york for 3 days and i ended up staying 13) swarm of gray sweater and my army boots. my winter couture hasn't changed in 12 years. reggie assured me i was pretty. yet these girls were only a taste of what was to come at the girltalk show, which was like the belly of the beast of hipsterdom. galore: slanted haircuts!!! pointy shoes!!! so many ironic outfits!!! i was enthralled.

and oh ........did the people dance..... they danceddance DANCED and danced (heres a clip from the show: ....we got up front and crushed and shook ourselves to death. i almost lost my beer. the mashups were great, all 80s and 90s pop and hip-hop glory as squished together as our bodies.... people throbbed, the crowd took over the stage and it was quite a sight to behold.
we didn't stay out late enough to see how it ended. but reggie did get a picture of me flailing in the moshing hipster mob of glory:

next thing you know i will move to brooklyn, get a slanty mullet haircut, wear pumps and start adding "beats" to my music.

on that note, things with the solo record are taking beautiful shape. i've been scouring through the collection of songs.
i've been enjoying living too much to write very much, and i DONT CARE. doth i protesteth....? i dunno; im trying not to care.

the last gasp in NYC was playing at Rubulad, a loft party in brooklyn that was so jam-packed with people that the fuzz shut it down about a half hour after i played. it was so crammed you couldn't move from one side of the room to the other. i wasn't supposed to play but i'd run into one of the rubulad guys (named, by the way, for theri old telephone number) the night before and taken up the invite. aaron's band golem (whose record i sang on about a year ago) were playing in a different room and it promised to be an insane night. the piano was wildly out of tune and i banged out night reconnaissance, point of it all and guitar hero...was going to bow out but took a request for bad habit. it was fun and humbling to play again in front of a group of people who were all talking and partying, some listening, some special treatment. i had to convince them to listen. this is also why i love new york.

the very night i got back to boston i headed with max straight out to the world inferno show....where i continued to dance ass off and join in the crowd kick-line during their splendid hit "only anarchists are pretty". since then i've been in hiding, sorting through piles of life, music and fanmail and editing the london roundhouse DVD (which looks AMAAAZING and will be released this june when we tour, if all goes well).

contents of refrigerator and pantry combined: one half avacado, one bottle salad dressing, one odwalla juice.
contents of house: shifting; lee in montreal, pope downstairs, max in lee's apartment, troy and vessela from fluttr effect/pan9 housed next door for now
contents of sink: full of mugs
contents of CD player: rohan theater band and various funerary violin CDs
contents of email inbox: extremely daunting. will not be getting back to anyone in the next four weeks
contents of head: weary but happy



more links:

ruff cut of the song i recorded with voltaire (studio photos too):
world/inferno friendship society:
funerary violin:
point break live! (if you're in NYC you MUST see this - closes feb 24):