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Cowboys and Medievalists

2005-01-30 - 12:40 p.m.

FunWithEars, I sent you an e-mail (to the gmail account) regarding your very generous offer. Keep an eye out for it . . .

Also, I gave all my love to Texbex on the phone, as she has been one of my best friends since we were 17, but I wanted to make the official diaryland message of condolence to her. Sweetheart, somewhere your grandmother is having a really great conversation with Jim Morrison and Sammy Davis Jr. in the middle of the desert. Actually, I don't know what happens after we die--as cool as Jim Morrison and Sammy Davis Jr in the desert may be--but I do feel that there is something. One day, when that pretty goth girl comes for us, we'll find out.

I'm in a better mood today than I have been all week. I've actually been in a rather pissy mood all wook, because of the wonderful combination of back pain and sedatives. I pretty much never wanted to get out of bed, but I had a lot of work to do this week so I dragged myself out and headed to Wheeler Hall. I've actually gotten most of it done, although I still have to write up a Milton presentation, submit a question on The Sound and the Fury to our class's website, read for my censorship class, and keep studying for the Spanish translation exam. I did a practice exam yesterday, and did pretty well except for a couple of phrases that made NO SENSE. Why? Because we were translating, from Spanish to English, something originally written IN GERMAN. That would be Das Kapital, folks. I eventually had a sentence that read, to me "going to the to burn and or the air currents body escaping through the crystal" and eventually decided that the test was on crack. Hopefully, having two fuzzy phrases still counts as proficient.

So yeah, all I've been doing is sleeping and working, because if I walk too much or even attempt to do yoga my back says, "Oh, no thank you." So I felt tired and fat and bored and really, really angry that this couldn't have waited until I was 30.

Yesterday, though, things got better.

The first thing that made things better was that I spent the morning reading neither Faulkner nor Milton nor any piece of academic criticism (I actually like Faulkner and Milton, but still, when they're assigned, it's work), but rather Neil Gaiman's short stories. They were dark and funny and touching and macabre and all those other wonderful things that Gaiman's stories can be. It was nice to escape from the world of my bad back into one where an old woman can find the Holy Grail in a secondhand store (and thus earn a few visits from a knight of King Arthur's court, who's very convenient to have around if you need to clear some boxes out of the attic), or where the cure for cancer has the interesting side effect of changing a person's gender, or where a virtuous witch-queen must protect her lands from the predations of a vampire with skin white as snow, hair black as ebony, and lips red as blood (for a very good reason). The collections is called Smoke and Mirrors (the song by The Magnetic Fields with the same title has been playing in my head for the past two days), and I highly recommend it.

Second thing was getting a call from Kidrin, whom I haven't spoken to in ages. Kidrin was a freshman when I was a Senior at Penn, and we acted together in a one-act. It was the only time I was the lead, and she was a figment of my imagination. Our scene together was the best acting I had ever done. I had never felt so great onstage before. She called me and talked about finishing her last one-act as a Senior, which made me feel really. Fucking. Old. However, that was mitigated by the excitement that I would be visiting her soon, and that I was goign to help her with her costume design for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Most important, though, was the party for Berkeley's most popular medievalist, one Origynelle Gangstre. I have been wanting to hang out with this girl for nearly a year. We were going to meet up over the summer, but we kept missing one another. We never had a compatible schedule last semester to even have a meal together. Finally, though, I was able to chill with her in one of the most unlikely locations that I could have imagined.

See, those who do not go to Berkeley need to understand, first of all, how cool this woman is. For those who went to Penn, she is NelaBella cool. Yes, that cool. To my dearest NelaBella, you can never meet this girl because your combined coolness would create a vortex that would possibly destroy the entire world, or at least redecorate it in funky prints. Also, NelaBella and Origynelle Gangstre? Birthdays right next to each other. Makes me believe in astrology.

For those who know neither NelaBella nor Origynelle Gangstre, my heart bleeds for you. The only way I can describe OG's coolness is to say that, on her birthday, we went to a country-western bar called The Saddle Rack, and her presence meant that a bunch of left-leaning Berkeley students, many of whom were queer, all had a rockin' time. She brings the party.

It was a bizarre experience at first, because I would not have been caught dead at a place like that in Texas. And when I say that, I mean that there would have been a risk that I would be caught and killed at such a place were I to make my sexuality known. Actually, that's not really true; I just made those assumptions when I was a teenager. It is, however, hard not to make those assumptions when you're a Mexican, a queer, and a Democrat in San Antonio, Texas. I grew up associating country with the people who stole my ancestor's lands, kept many generations of my family in barrios and out of public pools (if I haven't already, I'll tell the story of my grandfather's experience with poolside segregation later), beat the shit out of fellow queers, and voted Republican.

It wasn't until later that I realized that for every Toby Keith dumbfuck who writes about putting a boot in the ass of the world (sweetiekins, our boot's been there for a while now, which is why they're so pissed off and our feet stink so bad), there's a Johnny Cash and a Willie Nelson and an Emmylou Harris who have their heads screwed on much straighter, and who coincedentally write and perform better songs. Also, like any other good Southern queer boy, I loved me some Dolly Parton. From what I here, she has the best dirty joke collection in all of music. I would pay good money to hear them.

I figured that I would be lucky to hear even one of these artists at The Saddle Rack, though, as mainstream country, like mainstream pop-rock, rarely features the artists I like. When we arrive, sure enough, it was very, very reminscent of a Texan cowboy club, complete with mechanical bull, except for the notable California addition of an oxygen bar. I'd never seen one before. It was scary. All I could think of was that scene in Spaceballs with the can of Perri-Air. It's kind of sad that our world has come to the point where we really do resemble Spaceballs.

At first, a bunch of sat down and just watched the two-steppers. It was fascinating to watch, particularly for the outfits. These people would do Texas proud. There was one girl in a white tank, a pink mini-skirt, pink cowboy boots, and a mass ov very fake blonde hair. There was another woman in a dress that had a red flouncy collar and a red flouncy skirt and a black bodice in between, making it look like a napkin ring. She rocked my casbah.

The dancers themselves were fascist two-steppers: if you weren't going to two-step, get off the floor! However, there were a couple of older gentlemen ready to assist the ladies in learning how to two-step. One was a little gross, but the other was a total gentleman. Then a lot of the girls started dancing with various guys, most of whom were really nice. Then the band launched into some pop, and I managed to drag my stiff-back out onto the floor and began to move.

And immediately felt better. I realized then that I NEED to dance. It is not something I do for fun. It's like friggin oxygen. We danced to some of the band's songs, and when the DJ came back on we danced to "Footlose" and "Mickey," and by that point anarchy reigned enough for us to dance the way we wanted to country songs as well.

The highlight of the evening, though, was the Cotton Eye Joe. People who do not live in the South do not understand the beauty of the Cotton Eye Joe. First of all, it is a lot older than the Rednex Swedish pop version of it. Second, the dance involves people lining up side by side and dancing in circles. You move trot forward for eight measures, then for the next four you step backwards, kicking as you go and accentuating every kick by yelling "BULLSHIT!" as loud as you can. When you are 14, and at a school dance, and there are teachers everywhere, this is the coolest dance in the universe. It was the only time we were able to swear in front of our teachers. Hell, as often as not a few of the teachers were dragged onto the floor, and don't think they didn't yell out "BULLSHIT!" as loud as the rest of us.

Sometimes, it's good to be a Texan.

After last night, I feel a lot better. So good, in fact, that I intend to shake my ass even more this evening when I go see Scissor Sisters in San Francisco. If you haven't gotten into them yet, do yourself a favor and buy the album. It's a queer-glam-punk-disco extravaganza. I would say that I would do my best to try to get backstage to offer myself to Jake Shears as a sex slave, but when once considers that this is San Francisco, the line to do that will probably be too long, and I have shit to do.

Oooh, and also, on the way to The Saddle Rack I listened to this KICK ASS CD by an Argentinian hip-hop group called Actitud Maria Marta. I'm having trouble finding them online, so if anyone knows anything about them, let me know. Narami, do you know these dudettes, by any chance? They rock my casbah.

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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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