it’s been a long time since i’ve posted here. i’m not sure exactly what prompted the sudden hiatus, save for my crazy job and general life-malaise.
but as tonight unfurled, i realized “i’m going to write when i get home.”
i went to see rufus wainwright in concert at the orpheum theater, in downtown LA. it was my third rufus-ing since 2003, and this year marks roughly a decade of my love for The Folk Opera Prince of Everything.
a bit of a surreal night to begin with, appropriately enough. my car broke down today so i took the bus, leaving as dusk hit. eastward on venice, watching the city melt into dirty color and the amazing majesty of downtown loom closer. it gave me some nice lonely prep time, to reflect on all the years and moments that have passed since i first fell in love with rufus’ sound. to think about where my young life ended up, 22 and rolling around aimlessly in this glittery ditch, scrabbling to get just one handhold and lift upwards. watching my sweet childhood sort of fall away. rufus used to sound like the future…now he sounds like the past. still gorgeous, but now the melancholy stings, is relatable rather than romantic.
as i rode, i thought about “the art teacher”:
i was just a girl then
never have i loved since then
got to the orpheum. it’s easy to forget how different downtown is from the rest of LA. the streets are wide, residences armored and hidden, buildings gigantic and cheeky in their art deco glamor. it’s as if a small corner of new york stowed away on a midnight train and disembarked, planting its elegant feet at the edge of this blase flat palmy city. i was actually moved as i craned my neck towards the sky. it was the same nosebleed stance i used to employ as a little kid prancing in manhattan.
beautiful theater. very fitting for le wainwright. sleekly polished 1920s architecture, restored to that LA shine. truly amazing inside. i’m a sucker for chandeliers with fairies in ‘em.
anyway, long story short (“too late!”), the opening act was this guy teddy thompson, who has apparently had some success on KCRW - which is to say, he was a white british guy with a pretty voice, pretty guitar, and a pretty good idea that no one cared about his set. god, i hate the word “set.” i guess, his collection of vaguely bitter personal ditties? i liked him all right but was too busy leg-jiggling to really focus. i was in a weird mental place. i needed my Prince to come and remind me of all that was magic and love and sex and joy and infinite.
and finally, he did.
rufus is older than i remember. a little more stationary on stage. maybe even a little thicker. but he was still BEAUTIFUL. just this…presence that channeled a spark of life, which seemed to bubble up directly from his classic, comfortingly familiar, gold velvet pants.
i felt sunlight, actual soul-light. i’m not sure why he makes me so intensely happy to be alive when i see him perform. he just seems so natural and in his element. his judy garland hand gestures and goofy smile. his classic drawwwwl, that nasally voice that used to sound so mean in the early 2000s. now whenever he speaks, there is a lovely calmness that bespeaks age. graceful, ageless age. he is nearing 40 now - he was still in his late 20s when i fell in cerebal love. and this transition does not depress me, like all the other markers of the passage of time in my life. he is buoyed by long success, by fatherhood, by humble steadfast musical genius.
he performed many songs from his new album, “out of the game,” which i have not yet listened to. i’m glad i waited to hear/see them live for the first time. i have to say, i don’t care for much of the album - as is the case with most of his newer work, i prefer the odd throwaway tracks to the “theme” songs. i like the songs in which his original sensibilities (which include raw painful lyrics, daring experiments in instrumental arrangement, and bizarre genre-mashing) rear their uglybeautiful little heads. more on that later.
besides the new songs, he tossed out a couple of standards that just poured through me like hot honey. what a rush to hear the opening strums of “greek song” or the dirge-like intro to “one man guy.” there is something very special about watching your favorite artist perform a song you have heard hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. in these moments, it was me and rufus only. no audience, just the two of is - me and him the way we used to be, the way i always wanted it all to feel. urgent, present, wondrous.
it became clear about halfway through the show that not only was this a different man, but he was totally aware of the disparity between this aged-like-fine-wine rufus and the rakish cad of 1998. he also performed “april fools” - warmly and enthusiastically enough, but with none of the debauchery or sweetly evil ennui he had at twenty four years old. he knew this and embraced it.
but what really drove home this epiphany for me, this quiet acceptance of my rakish cad having found peace…was a new song, “montauk.”
he said, “this is for my beautiful little daughter.”
it is stunning. strange, nostalgic, fearful, hopeful. sparkling crashing waves. rufus has a way of looking backwards and forwards in the same song. often in the same lyric. you can hear his awe at a little baby, how life has arrived so quickly. and how time will slow and speed again, all over again. how one day roles will reverse. love will sour, sweeten, wax, wane. it touched me.
it begins with a funny family portrait:
one day you will come to montauk
and see your dad wearing a kimono
and see your other day pruning roses
hope that you won’t turn around and ago
but things never stay that rosy.
one day you will come to montaukand see your dad trying to be evil
and see your other dad feeling lonely
hope that you will protect him
and much as rufus’ dear mother passed away, he will too. his daughter will. and it’s all right.
one day, years ago in montauk
lived a woman, now a shadow
but she does wait for us in the ocean
and although you want to stay
for a while
don’t worry, we all have to go
please take a listen.
"montauk" melted into "14th street." another old standard. and that was the end of the show. i loved it. it was mostly new to me, much to digest, but it seemed right. it seemed all right to leave all that overwrought, grandly sad stuff in the past. to lock up those huge tearful angsty emotion-swells that used to blanket me when i heard his voice. i was soothed. it was OK, i guess, not to FEEL as dramatically. it was OK to appreciate lovely, smooth things. not to drown in valleys of amazing sadness.
until the encore.
silently, gracefully, pensively, rufus re-emerged. and sat at the piano to wild cheers. and determined fingers began the flowing river-chords of “the art teacher.”
this was when i became a concert stereotype. giant tears rolling helplessly down my cheeks.
it was just…good. needed. things were different, life was changing coolly before my eyes and it was time to grow up. but “the art teacher” still prowls inside. it is the pain and perfection and soul-zenith of life, to feel music in the way i feel this song. and he still feels it. i was absolutely transported. i was just so…fucking…there.
amazing concert, amazing night. pure magic. i’m glad i have written it down.
i have offered here many many words, but it is my hope that the universe will bend karmically in a way that affects his life. i would like all this goodness to bounce right back to him.
you sent me signals in the night. i received them all. you have changed me with your art, and i am forever grateful.
i love you, rufus wainwright.
Brian Dannelly [on Carson Phillips’ sexuality] (via heathermione)
Oh my lord, I can’t WAIT to sink my media studies teeth into this film. I noticed EXACTLY this in the trailer and I am so fucking thrilled because this is exactly what I was hoping Chris Colfer would do. I think that this guy is so much more than the angelic gender-bending snivelly clotheshorse that Kurt has become. I think the real Chris Colfer is probably just a witty, charming asshole with a lot of ambition, and that he UNDERSTANDS the role of sexuality in his career (and society at large). He seems to be actively rejecting his neat little GAY GAY GAY box, aka the prison of Glee. He’s evoking a sexless anti-hero here - the BEST kind of young hero, a la James Dean, Artemis Fowl, Holden Caulfield, all the pretty/handsome boys who shined too beautiful for this world and just didn’t fit into the scheme of things.
And I’m sure he’s nice and everything, but I don’t know…I adore him because he obviously kind of hates humanity, or at least everyone who’s not as smart as him. That comes across in this trailer, and even though it might be a clumsy first attempt at acerbic high school dramedy, it still offers something very exciting that we don’t get to see every day: an ORIGINAL VOICE.
YOU SLAY ME CC! FAN 4EVR, BABY.
it’s been a hot minute since i posted anything at all. been working on my other blog. can’t wait till it’s legit.
I hate you, always forever.