Sunday, October 28, 2012

1987, Probably

I was in a photography class in college, and we all had to go outside and practice on each other.

It was a black and white assignment, but color would have been wasted on a photo of me in college. My skin was pale white and my hair was nearly black and I almost always wore black clothes.  This was actually a dark purple sweater, one of the few colors I felt comfortable in.

I bought the rosaries and the black link chain from a big flea market in Roanoke, and the little gold lock I stole from my parents; it went with a suitcase.  I sometimes wore the little key on a hoop earring.  Sometimes I would wear the black chain as a bracelet, wrapped half a dozen times around my wrist.

I remember haggling with the woman who sold me the piece of chain.  That's what you were supposed to do in flea markets, and since I spent so much time there, I learned how, even though it made me uncomfortable to go back and forth with people.  But I didn't have much money to spend. She was selling in the parking lot where people could set up tables for free, like a yard sale.  People had to pay to get an actual booth inside the building.  We were haggling over a few cents, she wasn't even asking a dollar for the chain, and I remember looking at her holding it and seeing that she'd had some kind of cut across the bottom of her hand under her thumb. It looked strange, like the sides of the cut hadn't healed together, and she had sharp looking scars. I realized I was a perfectly healthy college student with insurance and parents to take care of me, and she hadn't been able to get adequate medical care to heal herself. I shut up and gave her the original price for the chain.

I can't see any in this photo, but I usually had on a lot of bracelets, too, including black leather wristbands. I had a few strips of antique black lace that I'd sewed snaps on and wore around my wrist.  I clearly remember getting a huge kick out of coming home and taking off pounds of jewelry, dumping it in a big pile on my dresser.  Those metal link chains are heavy.

I'm almost five feet one inch tall, and I'm sure I weighed less than 110 pounds here.  I thought I was embarrassingly overweight. I never wore shirts tucked in because I thought it emphasized my fat stomach.  I remember hating this picture because I thought the fabric stretching across my thighs looked awful.

I wish I had more pictures of myself back then.

That fake leather jacket had triangle-shaped panels on the front that eventually got covered with buttons: Adam and the Ants, Prince, the Dead Kennedys, the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Fear, an anarchy symbol, Punk's Not Dead.

Something about the way I felt back then is similar to what I'm feeling now. Creative but fearful, sensitive and sad, excited but hopeless, I'm still trying to figure out what it is exactly.  Or what I'm supposed to do.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I don't know.

Maybe it's letdown from the fabulous concert experience, maybe it's that work has been wearing on me,  maybe it's PMS, maybe it's that I miss my Mom and wish I could go visit, maybe it's the shorter daylight hours, maybe it's a combination of all of the above, but lately I have just felt so blah.

I miss the days when I was, essentially, being paid to stay home.  What is with those people who get "bored" at home, and take a job just purely to "keep busy"?  I knew some people like that at my former call center job.  After I got laid off, I got up at 6:30am every day with Greg, did my little 12-minute workout, answered emails, cleaned, took free classes at the Apple store and the library and the local employment office, took my laptop to the mall or the library to write, worked on projects (like making a printed book of all the photos from our honeymoon), took photos or video of the kitten, went for long walks in the park, cooked dinner. I loved it, and I was so busy -- I literally never turned the tv on or picked up a book all day, and was constantly busy.  With life.

But now I have to go to work all day, so I can't get anything real done.  When I get home, I just feel so tired. I don't want to do the dishes, I don't want to clean anything, and I can't even find energy to write a blog entry or return an email.  And so everything gets dirtier, and emails pile up, and then it just seems like such an insurmountable chore.

I have wanted to research our family tree and make a book for Mom, but when I was unemployed and getting severance I felt like spending $77 for a 6-month subscription to the Ancestry site was too much, I didn't know when or if I'd find a job.  Day before last I finally forced myself to sign up, and it is really fascinating to see the census from 1910, with my father's parents and before my father was born, and then see the one from 1950 which listed him as being 4 1/2 years old.  Still, it's practically November, and I had hoped to have something for Mom for Christmas, and I don't know if that'll happen.

Whenever I do talk myself into doing something on my giant list of obligations, it doesn't even really make me feel better to cross it off, it seems like it just leads to something bigger.

Well, I'm a bummer.

To end on a lighter note (and an Ant note) I do seriously love the internet.  Though I don't post there often, I have been a member of the forum on Adam Ant's website for years, and I posted about going to the concert here in Orlando, and included a few pics.  Hilariously, a total stranger (and fellow forum user) recognized me from my pics and realized that they had taken a pic of Greg taking a pic of me in front of the Hard Rock!

A forum member taking a pic of
some lady taking a pic of some guy, and
Greg taking a pic of me.  It's meta.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Commitment of Being Passionate

I am old.  I know because when I went to the ladies room at the Hard Rock Live, the attendant saw me looking at myself in the full-length mirror, messing with my hair and adjusting my clothes, and she said, "You look young."

I am also still a teenager. I have literally not taken off my black Adam Ant rubber wristband since I bought it at the concert. I flip it inside out at work so you can't see the part that says Antmusic for Sexpeople.

I have worn the bandana on my head like a kerchief, on my head like a hairband, around my neck like a scarf, around my neck like a choker, and for the first week or so I slept with it on my nightstand so it would be right next to me.  Also: apparently Adam Ant smells really good.  I thought maybe it smelled of cologne or something, but it wasn't really that chemical-y a smell.  I made Greg smell it and he identified it as scented body wash, which is exactly it, I think.  Clean, but not soapy; scent-y but not perfumey.  I did genuinely consider keeping it sealed in a plastic bag to preserve the wonderful smell.  I ended up deciding that touching it was more important than smelling it.  After three weeks, the smell is gone.

If I could go back in time and tell my seventeen year old self about all this, she would be embarrassed by the push-up bra, overjoyed at the idea of the front row seat, amazed at the thought of Adam playing his 1977 punk songs in 2012, and completely bewildered by my decision not to quit my job so I could go see every single show on the American tour.  Or at least, at least the ones on the East coast.

I am really considering an Ant-related tattoo.  I googled Adam Ant tattoos and found quite a few of his face, which is not a thing I would ever get (fond as I am of his face).  There were a lot of his Antwarrior logo, which is just perfect for tattooing, but not for me.

There were several people who got his signature tattooed on them, and and a lot of copies of his Pure Sex tattoo.  (As a person who is me, I absolutely adore the idea of the type of person who gets a tattoo that says Pure Sex and their own name. I mean it. )

His tattoo is a heart with a dagger through it, the banner
on the left says Pure, the one on the right says Sex, and
above the tip of the dagger it says Adam

In googling, I found a number of interesting pictures, including this one of James Franco, who did an Adam Ant inspired photo shoot for GQ Style.  Who knew?

Photo by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vonoodh Matadi

It is entirely possible that one day I will write a blog entry about something else, and what a fine day that will be, whenever it comes.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Joy. Part II

Part I is here.

Then finally the lights went down, and the opening bars of Plastic Surgery started slowly, and Adam walked out, facing away from the audience while singing the first few lines.  


Then when the chorus kicked in he turned around and was right in front of me, performing right in front of me.  

Greg got some pretty good pics with his iPhone

"I've got a fetish for black
A fetish for green
A fetish for those arty magazines
I've got a fetish for blondes
A fetish for blondes
A fetish for blondes
A fetish for brown haired girls
I've got a fetish and that means I'm sick
So very sick
Any more for the Christian D'or?"
~Christian D'or

So many of the really punky songs, from before he was famous, from before the MTV Goody Two Shoes era, so many b-sides and album cuts.  Songs that I've never heard him do live before. Even singing alternate lyrics that I'd only previously heard on bootleg recordings of his pre-fame concerts.

"You gave me punishment, it lasted an hour
It made marks on my skin
I'm just a bundle of misery, girl
Since you kicked my cheekbones in
There's a whip in my valise, oh yeah
Who taught you to torture?"
~Whip In My Valise

I didn't take any pics, I was
too busy enjoying
But he also did a lot of hits (not all of them, he had quite a few, especially in England), and plenty of songs that everyone (it seemed) in the audience was singing along with.

Especially Antmusic.

"Well I'm standing here
what do I see?
a big nothing threatening me
it's so sad when you're young
to be told you're having fun
So unplug the jukebox
And do us all a favour
That music's lost its taste
So try another flavour

And Kings of the Wild Frontier, which is still ringing in Greg's head a week later.

"No method in our madness 
Just pride about our manner
Antpeople are the warriors
Antmusic is the banner!

A new Royal Family, a wild nobility
we are the family"
~Kings of the Wild Frontier

See the bandana on his hip?
And I was so very happy, dancing in front of the stage, singing along with every single word of every single song. Adam looked fantastic, and believe me when I say that he wears 57 better than any man ever has before. He was energetic, dancing all around the stage, and looked as though he was enjoying the hell out of it. He sounded great, and his rocked-up versions of Desperate But Not Serious and Prince Charming were surprising and SO good. He did one song from his upcoming new album, and even though the song is currently unreleased, I knew a lot of the words just from watching YouTube videos of him performing it live.

"10:36 and I hope I've made
The right decision (nononononono)
Ninety eight point four's the bore
With twenty twenty vision (nononononono)
You want a thrill so you come and see me
A cheap line in fantasy
I'm still searching for the
Ants invasion
If I'd the courage
I would make my way home
Too many antics in the forbidden zone"
~Ants Invasion


I've always kind of thought of myself as the perfect audience, I love to see people perform whether just in a casual conversation where they are holding court or on an actual stage, and being quiet and shy I don't want any of the attention and am happy to direct my full focus on the performer.  On this night I was probably the best audience anyone has ever been in the history of people, I am sure I looked happy, and thrilled, I was dancing with complete joy, and what songwriter doesn't love a person who has memorized every single lyric they've ever written?  As far as I was concerned, he was performing just for me. He was right in front of me, after all.

"I live the life that I've been left
I leave most things unspoken
But deep inside Geronimo
Is tearing me apart
Now's the time I must digress
From going through the motions
Take my head out of its sling
Free the warrior"
~Killer In The Home

The band and the backup singer were really good

He came out in a jacket, a white shirt, and a t-shirt, with various scarves and belts and straps and things.  At one point he took off the jacket, then later took off the shirt.  He pulled off a bandana tied to his hip and performed with it, wrapping it around his fist, around his neck, tying it around the microphone during Whip In My Valise and sexily pulling it tight.

Then he held it out, and the audience screamed and reached toward the stage with outstretched hands.  I was just dancing, and when he threw it in my direction I made a weak grab at it, but missed.

Greg caught it.  Greg told me later that Adam looked right at me, but I didn't see it, then Adam looked at Greg, Greg nodded to him, Adam balled up the bandana and tossed it directly into his hands.

I missed the whole thing, but I got the bandana.  I wrapped it around my hand and kept dancing.  It kills me now to think of it; clearly Adam Ant wanted me to have it. Is it safe to say he saw me loving his music and his performance, and wanted me to have it? I think it is.

That's my bandana wrapped around my hand

Adam performed twenty-two songs plus five more during the encore, he was onstage for nearly two hours. Being me, I had done a ton of research about his recent set lists, and actually had the whole list on a notecard in my purse. (Full disclosure - I also burned the whole set list onto a CD and made Greg listen to it nearly every day for a couple of weeks before the show.  You know, to prepare.)


So when I heard the beginning of Physical I knew it was almost over. It's one of my favorite Ant songs, and he really rocked it.  Then he unceremoniously put down his guitar and walked offstage, just like he always did at the end.

One of the women I'd met before the show ran over and hugged me, telling me how glad she was that I got the bandana. Two other people from the audience told me I deserved it, since I "knew all the words".  (Good grief, I thought, could they hear me singing?)

And that was it. I wanted to sit down again, and Greg sat with me until the security people starting shooing stragglers out.

It was completely indescribable. He was brilliant, and I feel inspired and energized; I still feel it strongly a week later. It was such an intense, joyful, meaningful experience for me, I feel transformed.

Thanks, Adam.

Plastic Surgery 
Dog Eat Dog 
Beat My Guest
Cartrouble (part 2)
Ants Invasion
Deutscher Girls
Stand and Deliver
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Whip In My Valise
Vince Taylor
Desperate But Not Serious
Never Trust A Man
Goody Two Shoes
Vive Le Rock
Christian D'or
Lady/Fall In

Fat Fun
Red Scab
Get It On
Prince Charming

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Joy. Part I

My concert

It was always such a big deal to get dressed for an Adam Ant concert, not only because I was young and had a closetful of size 4 vintage clothes (largely black, some Victorian, one with actual gorilla fur trim) but also because it was part of the Antperson creed.  

"Fun to go to the A.N.T.S.
Put on a kilt, dye your hair green
And dance to Zerox Machine"

I have to admit, as a 46-year old woman who is now a size 14, I do not have a closetful of cool clothes anymore.  I have a closetful of clothes that were good enough for me to end the ordeal of shopping and go home. That would not be adequate for the front row of an Adam Ant concert.

"They believed in sex and looking good
With their own brand of music
They weren't pandering
So which side of the fence
Are you on?"
~Magnificent Five

Encouraged by losing twelve pounds over the past three months, I decided the main thing to wear to the concert would be cleavage.  I have never in my life bought a push-up bra, but am now the proud owner of a red Frederick's of Hollywood bra that comes with its own boobs pre-installed (so mine have no choice but to be pushed on top).

"Don't you ever, don't you ever
Stop being dandy
Showing me you're handsome
Prince Charming, Prince Charming
Ridicule is nothing to be scared of"
~Prince Charming

I then shopped for a sexy black lace top and a short fitted black skirt, and happily discovered that I am now a size 12.  

"I'm the dandy highwayman who you're too scared to mention
I spend my cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention!
The devil take your stereo and your record collection
The way you look you'll qualify for next year's old age pension.
Stand and deliver 
Your money or your life
Try and use a mirror
No bullet or a knife"
~Stand and Deliver

Greg was somewhat surprised that I planned to spend the entire day getting ready for the concert, but seemed to get the idea when I spent hours trying on multiple combinations of stockings, tights, boots, camisoles, and jewelry, all the while playing Adam Ant videos and working on my hair and makeup. 
Antperson, wearing Death Eater
black leather wristbands,
push-up bra and Vivienne Westwood
day of the dead sugar skull necklace
Husband of antperson, wearing punk
Buzzcocks t-shirt, guyliner
and "ready to rock" face

"We don't follow fashion

That would be a joke
You know we're gonna set them, set them
So everyone can take note, take note"
~Goody Two Shoes

Finally it was time to go.  We arrived 30 minutes before the doors opened at 7:00pm, which gave us enough time to pick up our tickets


admire the view

The view!
and chat with other Antpeople who were already in line.  There were a lot of people wearing Ant-style white stripes, pirate gear, and Adam and the Ants concert t-shirts from the 80s.

Antperson and husband at Citywalk
When the doors opened, I immediately went for our seats, which were, as promised, FRONT ROW CENTER. 

Greg and I sat there surrounded by empty seats, looking at the dark empty stage, and I quietly relived every single feeling that I had ever had about Adam Ant and his music: when I was a lonely quiet girl spending hours and hours loving his music alone in my room, finding what felt like a family of kindred spirits attached to this beautiful man and his brilliant music, when that turned into finding Antpeople pen-pal friends, the long bus rides and car trips to meet them and to see Adam Ant perform in concert, the teenager who had lost the light and turned into darkness and cutting but went on a previously-planned Adam and the Ants concert anyway just out of remembered loyalty and came out of it completely overwhelmed with such joy that it brought back the light, when I learned how to run out of the concert with the opening bars of the last encore and follow Adam's tour bus back to his hotel, when I actually saw him in the hotel lobby in Atlanta, and then met him and got to shake his hand and touch his tattoo with a quivering index finger in a hotel room in Washington DC, when I got to meet him again in a hotel bar in Norfolk and ask him questions and get his autograph on my tour program, when I met Marco Pirroni and Jordan, and then when his career seemed to end and his mental illness seemed to take over, and there was no public word of him at all, for so long, and when he began appearing in public again and began doing concerts and talking about a new album, and it just seemed like it might be a bad thing, YouTube videos of him forgetting lyrics and it was just so upsetting, but then he kept playing concerts and got better and soon all the crappy iPhone YouTube videos of him in concert were driving me crazy, because he looked and sounded great and he was touring the UK and Europe and Australia, but would he ever come to America?

"He who writes in blood
Doesn't want to be read
He must be learned by heart"

~Magnificent Five

And there I was, sitting in my seat, looking at a stage about four feet high - no barrier between me and the stage - just literally a few feet from me.  Right there, he would be right there.

So then we went and got in line at the merchandise tables and bought two t-shirts, a tour program, and two wristbands.  Greg went to the restroom to put on his new Adam Ant t-shirt, and I just sat, dazed, looking at the empty stage and tearing up, just a little.

Ant vandalism at the Hard Rock

The opening act, Brothers of Brazil, were actually quite good, but I was far too distracted to really enjoy them.  When they left the stage and the roadies started clearing off their instruments and bringing out the rest of Adam's stuff, I started getting such butterflies in my stomach that I felt slightly nauseous. I was shaking a little. Greg went back to the merchandise tables for a third t-shirt.

Antperson and husband
wearing Antshirt

A roadie came out and taped the setlist to the floor, Greg took a pic of it with his iPhone.  When he showed it to the people sitting behind us, they were disappointed that they weren't familiar with more of the songs.  (I secretly got a kick out of that. Seriously, this was a surprising setlist packed with non-hits, custom-made for a punk like me.)
Awesome setlist, not including
the five encore songs

"Music for a future age
Don't be square, be there
All good clean fun
(Whatever that means)
Antmusic for Sexpeople
Sexmusic for Antpeople
Get off your knees
And hear the insect prayer"

~Don't Be Square (Be There)

Antperson in position, waiting

Part II is here.