Carl and Renée: A Playlist

Part I: Falling in Love

Yours To Keep – Teddybears Stockholm

You Can Have It All – Yo La Tengo

Pink Moon – Nick Drake

These Days – Nico

Jesus, Etc. – Wilco

We Are Gonna Be Friends – The White Stripes

Part II: Scared of Falling in Love

Grovejet (If This Ain’t Love) – Spiller w/ Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Breathe In – Frou Frou

Concrete Sky – Beth Orton

You Know So Well – Sondre Lerche

You Were Right – Badly Drawn Boy

Everything Hits At Once – Spoon

Out of Time – Blur

Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

With Arms Outstretched – Rilo Kiley

Part III: Everything’s Fine

Charge – Splendid

The Black Arts – Stereolab

Those to Come – The Shins

Such Great Heights – The Postal Service

Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn, and John

Part IV: Nothing’s Fine

Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken – Camera Obscura

Civilian – Wye Oak

I Think I Knew – Cate le Bon

Tears In The Typing Pool – Broadcast

Part V: It’s Over Now

The False Contender – Camera Obscura

It’s Over Now – La Sera

Silver Lining – Rilo Kiley

Love Story – Radiator Hospital

 

Ethan Diamond, Please Be My Mentor

If I’ve adopted a mission statement for my life, it’s to create a sustainable music industry. If music industry people are on the battlefield, our rallying cry is that “Music has value.” There are so many good people fighting for it. Maggie Vail at CASH music, Benji Rogers at dotBlockChain Media and Ethan Diamond at Bandcamp.

Bandcamp is one of the smartest, most useful and progressive music tech companies out there. The way they’ve scaled is brilliant. And Ethan Diamond is a funny, mind-mannered CEO with style and a vision.

Diamond has kept a low-profile over the past few years but built a ridiculously cool Bandcamp team. They’ve aligned themselves with the reputable indie labels too. He spoke at XOXO Festival when I attended in 2014. His talk was charming and inspiring. I felt a kindred spirit in him.

As I was walking to leave the conference, I spotted him sitting by himself. The introvert in me wanted to leave him alone, but the ambitious side of me said, “When are you going to get this opportunity again?” So I talked to him.

I told him that I liked what he said and introduced myself. He then pointed out that we both had similar Hershel laptop bags and he invited me to sit down next to him. So I told him my story — I’d been booking shows in Houston, recently moved to Austin and started grad school. I gushed about how Bandcamp is terrific and I believed it was contributing to creating the elusive sustainable music industry that we need in this post-Napster world. I asked him if he thought about the contributions Bandcamp could make to the live music industry. He didn’t have an answer but he listened to me kindly and respectfully as I babbled at him. I thanked him for his time and walked about because I had gotten so nervous that I felt like I was going to puke. I went outside and cried anxious tears afterward.

I’m being a bit cheeky by pleading Ethan Diamond, please be my mentor. Ethan Diamond took about 10 minutes out of his day to speak to me. This speaks volumes to his character and his company. I’m still learning about how I can contribute to music. As I’ve said before, it’s my passion, my religion, my truest love in life. It HAS value. It makes our lives so much better.

Really, I envy those that have someone successful that recognizes their passion, strengths, and commitment. I would love to be able to develop my ideas and thoughts not because I’m a genius but because I’m ambitious.  I never thought I’d get to work in music with artists that I love and admire but I have over the past 5 years. It’s my dream to get to his level and become a colleague rather than a mentee … maybe one day. I can dream. After all, dreaming is free.

 

Misogyny, Advocacy, and Allyship

King David, A Man After God’s Own Heart …But Really?

King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was musically inclined and supposedly a great leader.  Leonard Cohen wrote a much-covered song about him.

Do you recall the story of how Bathsheba became his wife? Supposedly, David saw Bathsheba bathing, lusted after her, summoned her to him and impregnated her.  She was married to a soldier at the time. So he schemed to have him return from war and have them get busy. He then had her husband, Uriah the Hittite, killed in battle so he could make his her wife and “protect” her from being accused of adultery. Probably cause he wanted to keep hittin’ it.

When a powerful man summons you. Really what choice did a woman have under those circumstances? We don’t really understand the full-context of their relationship but the woman is assumed to have been SO alluring that David – a man after God’s own heart couldn’t control himself. What does that say about God?

I’ve always felt that David’s behavior is used by the church to excuse men’s actions. Men are lustful and can’t control themselves. There is this whole other narrative that historically isn’t being told. There is also an insinuation that women are seductresses and will use their beauty to manipulate men. To quote Lakutis, “Just like, pretend you know what I’m talking about, you know.

Guns N’ Roses Vs. Crowded House: A Feminist Awakening

MTV showed me somewhat that women could rock with videos from the Bangles and Go-Gos. The flip side was there were plenty of music videos in the 80s and 90s that objectified women from Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love and a lot of hair metal bands.

The video that had the most negative effect on my psyche is Don’t Cry by Guns N’ Roses. There is a scene where Stephanie Seymore strikes Axl Rose’s blonde companion as she’s sitting next to him at the piano. The males all watch and don’t intervene. The message conveyed to my adolescent mind was that women are competing with each other for men. I resent the message in Don’t Cry that women have to have to fight over garbage men and men are excited and entertained by this. Fuck that.

MTV’s counterpart VH1 had a more adult contemporary vibe between the two channels, I discovered New Zealand’s Crowded House who openly denounced degrading women in music videos on those channels. Never heard men in bands speak about treating women like people. I KNOW!!! What a revelation. Women are people too, not just tits and ass with actual working brains.

Guns N’ Roses was a big deal and my sister’s boyfriend offered to take my buddy and the boy for whom I religiously recorded Headbanger’s Ball to witness one of the most epic rock shows of all time I could not decline.

I was thirteen at the time and I wore my uniform of Jane’s Addiction tee, leggings with shorts and chucks. GN’R had a reputation for showing up really late. As with most concerts, people were getting wasted and a few ladies in the audience decided it would be a good idea to take off their tops for the cameras for the jumbo screens to entertain the masses.

Yeah, it was what you’d expect. My teenage homies freakin’ lost their shit. All I could think in my little head, “Is that what’s expected to get attention from guys? Because that’s not me.”

It’s not so much that I cared about the women taking off their tops; it was the reaction by the guys. A comment made in passing after the night was over was that one of the women was a “slut.” What makes a woman a slut for being confident in their skin and owning their sexuality?

There was something about seeing Nirvana’s Smell Teen Like Spirit made me realize the cultural zeitgeist had shifted for the better because the women of the time seemed like they were not props but part of the music.

A Vision for Male-Dominated Industries

During the many bands, I’ve joined I’ve been the “girl in the band” that “of course” plays bass. What a cliché. Yeah, it’s tiresome for me too. I have this awful memory of playing bass with Astralis in L.A and getting heckled by some old douchey mod. He kept yelling, “Play the big butt song.” *Real talk: I’m Panjabi and Panjabi women have curves. M’kay.

Secondly, at that point in my life…my bass chops were solid as fuck and although I was no Jaco Pastorius, I could hold it down. The disappointing thing wasn’t being heckled by a random dumb fuck, it was that my band mates didn’t say anything or acknowledge it or shut. it. down.

If your female friends are getting bothered, heckled or harassed, speak up. It’s not that we need men to save us because we’re weak but it tends to shut down that sexist bullshit. We need allies simply because when we as women speak up for ourselves we tend to get harassed even more. See #Gamergate

At times, my anger and passion get the best of me at times and I tend to lose people along the way when I’m trying to make a point. As an example, in grad school. We were reading a book for Consumer Behavior class called Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being. It had problematic language in that it was sexist, homophobic and transphobic but it was subtle.

I walked into class one day and announced to my professor, “Have you read this book? It’s fucked up.” The conversation went down hill from there. My tone was too aggressive. He thought I was personally attacking him. Rather than my professor listening to my point, he went on the defensive. My professor made the point that not everyone had a feminist point of view and that the book was based on researched psychological principles.

The expectation for the class was to read the material and bring discussions to class. I asked, “Is this not a safe space to discuss these things?” I further explained that he was teaching future business leaders and he was using a book that whose language had subtle underpinnings that were sexist, homophobic and transphobic.

One male classmate thanked me and said that he wouldn’t have recognized this if I hadn’t pointed it out. His comment made me tear up and I had to boo-hoo in the bathroom because at least one person acknowledged my point.

Moving from musician to breaking into music marketing and promoting has been challenging to say the least. It’s hard to find mentors, especially female mentors. It’s often a boy’s club. It’s not that guys are trying to intentionally create a hostile environment, but there is a certain amount of machismo that comes with the territory. More often than not, the men I’ve met have been my biggest champions. This is refreshing and provides hope

Sexist tropes are hard to break. I’d like to believe that we’re moving away from shit like that but every now and again misogyny raises its ugly head. I’d like to see us do better. It would be nice if criticisms about sexism or misogyny were heard and not reacted to. It doesn’t just diminish us as women but as a whole community. In the era of Tr*mp, we need allies. We need our male colleagues to take the initiative to speak out too.

My Butt Does Not Define Me

I am fat. This is a fact. I have been fat my whole adult life. I aspired to be less fat at points and became less fat in college. I lost about 30lbs or more over the course of a year by eating a more balanced diet and working out about 3–5 times a week; doing cardio and weight lifting.

What I did like about losing weight was that it gave me the confidence to try new things like snowboarding (which I only tried once). I enjoyed have more variety in wardrobe and having more energy.

The challenging thing about losing weight is that it didn’t necessarily make me a happier person. It didn’t change the way I perceived myself. People started treating me differently, but it didn’t change the core person that I was and it didn’t change my personality.

It took a year to lose that weight and I was spent emotionally. When I went back to Texas for the summer, all I wanted to do was sleep. Depression crept upon like a demon. I cried a lot and felt isolated. My family and the people around me just didn’t understand and just wanted me to “get over it.” How do you do that? I didn’t know at the time.

In the summer and fall, I was deciding whether or not to return to California for school. My mother blamed the environment for me being depressed and thought the school was too expensive. Then she was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. I was 21 at the time and not ready for this news. I sobbed for two weeks straight with the thought of losing my mother. She was and is my everything.

I stayed in Texas and in the fall started at the University of Houston. I was the sole caretaker of my mother during this time. My step-father took a job abroad during this time and my sister was emotionally not able to handle the stress of our mother being sick. Predominately taking her to doctor’s appointments at M.D. Anderson, cleaning her pic line and cooking for her when she was able to actually eat.

It was too much at the time and I really didn’t know how to talk about it. I’ve never felt so angry as I did when my mom got sick. I felt angry at the people that just wanted to gossip about her being sick and calling our house. I felt angry at my father who I just got re-acquainted with in the fall who was NEVER in my life. I felt ENRAGED at the doctors who saw my mother as an opportunity to experiment with dangerous cancer treatments at my mother’s expense. I felt heartbroken because I left behind so many friends in California.

I really got into school at the time and set a goal to study hard and graduate from college so my mother could see me march. It was too much for me at the time. As my mother lost weight from her inability to eat from chemo, I couldn’t stop eating. There was just too much to deal with so I ended up just filling my pain with food. I could eat a whole large pizza without feeling full. I could just eat and eat and never stop. So the weight that I fought so hard to lose came back and then some.

A lot of time has passed since that moment in time. My father passed away in 2006 and my dear mother survived cancer. Not only did she just survive cancer, she kicked its ass. Despite that the anger I felt stayed as did the weight.

As I’ve gotten older, I have struggled to capture that motivation to lose weight and keep it off as I had when I was in college. What I know is that I can’t eat like other people. I can’t eat like my husband or friends and I can’t be sedentary. I also can’t make the argument that I am healthy at this size because I would be lying to myself.

In my 20s, I felt like an idiot — too young to have life experience that I felt was relevant. In my 30s, I’ve barely started feeling like an adult but starting pushing back against other’s expectations of how I should be living. As I’m approaching 40, I want to believe that I have a better perspective on life and maybe I care less about others perceptions of who I am and what they want me to be and more about being authentic.

Authenticity means embracing the fact that I’m a weirdo. I’m still defining what weirdo is to me but it means…that’s the journey I suppose. It’s taken a good look at where I’m at with a good therapist to examine my shit. I’ve got a lot of shit to work through too. I’m a sensitive person and society generally doesn’t hold space for sensitive people.

This is where my weirdness and self-care come in to play. I unapologetically LOVE music. Music has been my pain-reliever throughout my whole life. I love listening, playing and dancing to music. And it’s my greatest passion to be able to work in this field that I love. What makes it a little weird, is that I have three children and it’s a fairly male-dominated industry with folks that like to party.

Also, despite being married with children, I’ve learned to do things by myself. Like travelling and going to concerts. I’ve learned to visit a city and explore it on my own terms and sometimes getting blistered, soaked and lost. But fuck it, I live and die by my own rules. I’d like to believe I’m setting an example for my kids to be true to themselves too.

Pursuing what I love has also given me insight into pursuing other things that are important to me. I keep asking myself who do I want to be? What does that look like? How do I achieve this goal?

I’ve had to address my health issues and depression. This has not been pleasant. generally speaking, I don’t like the healthcare system simply because it’s not focussed on patient care. Finding the right people and right meds have been a key to unlocking a door to better well-being. Because really if I can’t get out of bed because I’m crying, I’m not really living.

This past Spring, I’ve taken steps to improve my life. I starting with water-aerobics but hated it. Then I started going to a barre class. I love barre. Now, I’m walking with the goal of running in the Fall. I starting examining the food I eat. Now, I’m taking at look at why I eat and what hunger really is for me. Food being pleasure and a way to satiate my feelings.

I realize that my extra weight has also been kinda punk. A fuck you to all the beauty standards out there and a way to keep people at arm’s length. And it’s a bit a of a revelation.

There is a lot of bullshit about losing weight out there, and I know it now more clearly. I was at my highest weight this spring. I’ve lost at least 30 lbs. I look and feel a little different. Although, I would love to be a size 2 and look like Salma Hayek or any person that’s consider conventionally beautiful that’s not gonna happen. It’s the inner-beauty that I’m seeking. I want to be recognized for being a good, loving person and strive for that. I want to fight a good fight against bullshit and hate and depression that whispers that I’m worthless.

Despite my appearance and weight I have to say this, my butt does not define me. This has been my mantra for the past three years when at times when I’ve felt less than human. I repeat in in defiance of what society expects me to be as a woman. Your butt does not define you either.

The Mohawk Houston: An Opportunity

The Mohawk in Austin posed a playful question via Twitter. Houston’s very own Adam Bricks posted it enthusiastically to his Facebook page which is how I came across it. The thought is intriguing and in my opinion not a terrible idea.

The Mohawk is a cool venue in Austin, TX which hosts all of the very best music that comes through the city. It’s a necessary venue to Austin’s economy. The folks who run the venue are invested in creating a welcoming place for artists and music lovers. Their motto is “All Are Welcome.”  All appearances suggest that they’re invested in the music and culture. So I say yes to this because Houston needs venues with people invested in live music more than ever.

Having a Mohawk franchise doesn’t diminish the work that Houston folks are already doing; it supports it. Austin folks aren’t gonna “Austin-up” Houston…come on. Good competition is healthy. It makes everyone work harder, better and smarter. It gives Houston an opportunity to thrive by creating more infrastructure and opportunities for the whole music community such as having higher profiled artists play the city and allowing locals to open for those shows.

Venue owners need also be invested in the shows at their venue, not just for the profits. It takes a lot of love to put together all the components to create a great show. It’s a delicate balance of business and art. And I believe whoever came up with this idea is doing it because there is a problem to be solved.

 

I follow the music scene closely in Texas. I came across a post on Facebook by Roosh Williams about Fitzgerald’s responding to a local producer’s booking inquiry in an unprofessional and hostile manner. It was disheartening to me that someone would respond that way. Day & A Dream covered it more throughly here. The very fastidious Elizabeth Rhodes reported it on it here.

This controversy is very disappointing to say the least. I’ve been a fan of the venue in the past. It’s a great place to catch a band in Houston. I take issue with the way Ms. Fitzgerald responded to the inquiry. It was hostile and yes – it was racist. This is what informs my decision.

  • She wrote out the n-word.
  • She describes the in derogatory and stereotypical ways the audience she perceives will attend the show.
    • “fans that wear their pants 18 inches below their pants”
    • “fans that buy little, tip little”

It is the underpinnings of what people write that show their prejudices. If you don’t understand that perhaps you have some work to do.

Ms. Fitzgerald does have the right to call out misogyny. In fact as a business owner, she can decline to work with anyone she chooses. I believe she handled it in a way that was that was unprofessional. That is my observation.

It’s important to have women that own venues and work in the music industry. Yet it’s important for a city as diverse as Houston to embrace all different types of music and people.

This controversy is disappointing to say the least. Honestly more people lose when this occurs. I sincerely hope it is possible to start a dialogue from this for the city for the sake of music, artists, and businesses and less for Facebook arguments.

Call A Friend

Yesterday, I felt awful. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone or be around anyone. One person popped into my head. My dear friend. So I called her and talked and vented and shared.

I don’t even really feel like writing today. I’m working on other posts but I they felt a bit false.

Keep your head up.