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A Starry, Starry Night Last Year

2004-04-28 - 9:55 p.m.

A few days ago, I got to celebrate a first anniversary. It was one year ago last Monday, April 26th, when Tori Amos, the woman whose music has meant so much to me, came up to me after the first encore of her Austin show to take my waiting hands in hers, and to thank me for working towards peace.

I still feel a little thrill, and a little tingle in my hands, when I think about it.

I know my Toriphilia can be grating at times. I know this because, before I got into Tori back in 1999, everyone else's Toriphilia grated on my like a son of a bitch. In fact, I used to say, "I think about God much the same way I think about Tori Amos: I have no problem with her, it's the fanclub I can't stand." I mean, seriously. Toriphiles seemed like an alternative, slightly gothy version of born-again Christians, in that both seemed like nice people but you would find yourself talking to them about a personal issue and it was "Well, Jesus tells us" or "Well, there's this Tori song" depending on whether the gay guy in front of you had come out to himself or not.

Okay, so it was women as often as not, and there are plenty of straight male born-agains. But I've noticed that there seems to be a lot of guys with a lot of misapplied fashion sense at born-again meetings, that's all I'm saying. And I swear that I have met straight male Toriphiles. Well, okay, I've met straight men who like Tori Amos, and I'm sure there are straight Toriphiles out there. I just don't need to meet them.

Well, after I saw her in concert, my first words to the Toriphiles I met were "I get it now." My libido would like to thank God in her infinite wisdom for sending me to Tori rather than Jesus. I still use the fan club quote, though, and I just replace Tori with Dave Matthews. Because I've been to one of his concerts, too, and let me tell you, if we queers really are going to Hell, we can go to one of his shows for a sneak preview.

I won't tell the story leading up to my meeting Tori, because it's in a previous entry and it's a kinda boring story. I will say that I had asked her the day before at the San Antonio meet and greet to announce a peace rally that I had been working on, and instead she promised to put it on her website (I never checked, because I couldn't download the software, and I am the laziest human alive when it comes to software, so who knows if she did or not) and came up to me, after a kick-ass rendition of "Spark" (I and those around me in the front were all singing "You say you don't want it again and again but you don't, you don't really mean it" like our lives were at stake) and made me pass out into Shkbob's arms, simply by saying "Thank you" and giving my wrists a squeeze.

Yes, I sound like a freak. Bite me.

Actually, hear me out. Chances are you have an artist or group of artists whose work you cherish. They can be authors, painters, musicians, filmmakers, or all or none of the above. Their work teaches you what's meaningful and beautiful in life. Their art inspires you to create your own, even if its in another medium, causing you to paint pictures out of poems or write songs about sculptures. You know that, if you got the chance to meet them, you would barely be able to properly express your gratitude to them, and your appreciation of their talent and craftsmanship.

If you don't feel this way about someone, then I kinda feel sorry for you. I'm lucky enough to feel this way about a number of people--Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Ani DiFranco, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Dar Williams (who just had a baby boy--congratulations Dar!!), and a good few others.

Now, think about one of those who inspires you in this way. Imagine that you got to meet him, or her, or hir, and that, upon hearing about the work that you do in your own life, that he, or she, or ze, says, "Thank you for doing what you do."

I would think that would cause you to pass out into your best friend's ample bosom. Provided your best friend is there, and has an ample bosom.

I don't pretend that Tori Amos has given a second thought to me since that evening. If she did, I'd probably pass out again, Shkbob or no, but the odds are beyond miniscule. What made it meaningful was hearing the woman whose albums helped me realize the need to fight for the soul of America tell me that I was doing my part, and doing it well. It made up for the cop who had torn up my rally flyer the day before, and the stupid argument about whether we should have voter registration booths at the rally, and all the other crap I had to put up with before and after. I think that's a good way to look at the experience.

As for celebrating the anniversary, I didn't really do much. I was actually having something of a sucky day. I wanted to go dancing that evening with some friends, but I hadn't been able to get ahold of anyone who wanted to go. I was ready to go home and go to sleep, when I decided that I wasn't about to let the day be a total waste, and so I went dancing by myself. I danced alone for a good half hour until I saw some friends come in, after which I spent an hour dancing like a true freak with them. I also met and got the number of a RIDICULOUSLY GORGEOUS man who will be moving to the Bay Area about the same time I will, and while he may be straight I have, in the past, found ways to get around that, so the evening wound up being very worthwhile.

That night, I got home, and I saw that the sky was full of stars. It was incredible. I thought back to the magic night a year before, and how Tori had played "Vincent" by Don McLean, a cover I had only heard for the first time a few days before that show (I refrained from thinking about how Clay "The AntiChrist" Aiken butchered it a few days later). It was one of the highlights of that evening. I began singing "Starry, starry night" and tried to see as many stars as I could, trying to guess the names of the constellations that I was looking at. I was able to capture that moment, like I had done a year before, adding the memory of a collection of stars that I think was Draco to the memory of the wind in her black gown and her red, curly hair. It will hopefully be the first of many good April 26th memories.

I like that I have a day that I can remember every year, one that isn't as public as my birthday or a holiday. I think that's another good way of looking at the experience.

If you go to http://hereinmyhead.com/sounds/slg.html and scroll down, you can download the version of "Vincent" that she played that night, and hear my voice among those screaming on either end of the track.

If you have found this entry too sappy to stomach, cope. I'll write something snarky next time. And remember, it could have been worse. Thank God I don't feel this way about Celine Dion.

Also, for anyone who wants to know what my voice sounds like, go to http://pearlygates.blogspot.com and listen to the audblogs. I'm the guy with the nasal, gay sounding voice. And as for what the audblogs refer to--tune in next time!

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previous - next

The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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