BLOG

Telling the world more about the world.

BEING DAVID BOWIE

Warning: this blog will be by far the least organized in thought or expression. Emotion being the better part of human nature, it is also sure to override all attempts to keep things logical.

Over a decade ago, Joan Jett was a guest columnist on an MSN blog about music. In one of these blogs she evoked evocative (I can do that, can't I?)  images of Mick Jagger and David Bowie in an attempt to understand what it was like to be, not fantasize, but to be a living rock and roll star. Just as you woke up in the morning and went about your day, Jett argued, so to do the living gods of rock. Humans being equal by natural rights, the only difference between you and David Bowie would be about 130 million screaming fans. Imagine what that does to a person. Bowie and Jagger, Jett explained, could not possibly know how else to behave other than how a rock star behaves. People may see the snake skin jacket Keith Richards wears or Jagger’s continuously matching purple suits or Bowie’s long list of fashion flops and think “how can they not know that it’s ridiculous?” it might be ridiculous. But it is them. David Bowie didn’t know how not to be David Bowie, Jett informed us, just like you wouldn’t know how not to be you.

So who was David Bowie?

I don’t know. Read a few dozen books, listen to all of his music. That will tell you more than I ever can. But I can tell you what he meant to me. Yes, there is that corny ‘artist’ sense: wow he was so different, made great music and all the rest of it. I was what seemed to me an abnormal kid growing up in a horribly normal suburban environment that had all the trappings of the rat race training. I’m not saying because of Bowie I escaped it, but because of Bowie I had a sense that you could, that he could, that we could all do different things without loafing off our parents, without being that joke that sits in the corner of the not-Starkbucks with a fucking beret on writing poetry about flowers and shit. It took me longer to get around to the idea that I could contribute more, that I could express myself better without being a cliché, and I’m not going to say that it was ONLY because of Bowie that I was able to do it. 

But when he died, seemingly all of a sudden, I felt that pang. That, ‘oh, shit, no, really? FUCK!’ that a lot of people get who don’t know what they got ‘till it’s gone, to quote Cinderella (if you don’t know who Cinderella is stop reading and fuck off). I’m not going to write a paragraph about how his Goblin King in Labyrinth changed my life, or how The Man to Fell to Earth stuck a chord on the two A.M. Million Dollar Movie when I was ten. I’m not gay, or bisexual, so I can’t relate that way other than to say like a lot of people may have thought that if Bowie was doing it, maybe it wasn’t okay for me but maybe it also meant it wasn’t evil as well. The most profound thing I’ve seen him do in theatre was playing Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, a presentation of that character so thoughtful was amazed at how sparing he dealt out his acting talent. But what did it mean to me? Not much. But if that was the case, why did I feel robbed, why did I feel horrible for his family when he passed?

The only thing I can pin it to is the realization that he was a large part of an increasing public mindset in ‘80’s culture that promoted being different not for the sake of being different but simply to say it’s okay if you are different regardless of how you are different (Yes, these were the Eighties in which now I'm being told were so violent, intolerant and fascist). Bowie himself would probably put obvious limits on that – don’t go around killing people for example – but as an Earthling who expresses himself those limits are so far gone they fit everyone who need not commit a capital crime. I’m not going to go into a self-indulgent and rambling bullshit paragraph about how I felt different when I was a child, only that it was extremely apparent to me that I was different and that other people noticed because they told me (Heathen!). In fact, many people felt it so important to tell me that they had to beat it into me. I’d love to say that perhaps if they were Bowie fans and found more self-expression they possibly would not feel the need to up my parent’s medical bills. I’d love to say that if they were Bowie fans maybe they would tolerate the rest of the world. That’s how I saw Bowie then, and see Bowie now. A guy who sings some strange songs and not through the music but through his outrageous fashion and lifestyle exemplifies the ideal that it’s cool to be cool, and cool to be whatever you want, so why would you care what anyone else wants to be? In this collective space in pop culture, Bowie was perhaps a front man of change and toleration. Millions of people may have looked at him and thought ‘why?’ I’d would look at them and ask ‘why do you care?’ Being a Bowie fan meant that you were okay with all his weird shit, and if you were okay with that then you were okay with your friend’s weird shit. And if you were okay with that then your friends were okay with your weird shit. And pretty soon, no one’s weird shit mattered any more. Like a bumper sticker my wife used to have on her Jeep: Harm None, Do What Ye Will. From Bowie’s stand point it might be Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane or sleeping with Mick Jagger or the indescribably beautiful Somali supermodel Iman. For someone else it might be bucking primogeniture by not going to  the family alma mater, or not getting that job the parentals want you to get, or to take it to the next level working a more meaningful job that has more psychological awards than the square footage of a house or another zero in the bank. You can take this all the way to candle wax and butt plugs if you want. Harm none, do what ye will. And I will listen to Seven Years in Tibet really, really loud. 

On a completely different note I think it’s important to emphasize Bowie’s constant, incessant smile. Every footage I have ever seen of him off stage, on the streets of New York or in interviews dating back four decades or anything offhand: look at his smile. Not only is it glowing and effervescent, but it is never ending. Bowie smiled continuously. A beaming, wide grin. Yes, it must be cool to be a billionaire, yes I’m sure it doesn’t suck to have his life, to be David Bowie, but as you go back through the struggling years you’ll see that smile regardless of the downs he had to endure. Bowie was a happy person during a couple of decades that were really rough, especially to many people about my age.  Want to be moody? Put on some Seattle alternative. Wanna shit bats? Go goth, girl. Wanna be a complete pussy? I hear Emos like Type O Negative. I wanna be happy when I rock. I want devil horns. I wanna dance. I wanna smile. I want David Bowie playing The Man Who Sold the World, with my windows down and my system up. 

The Real Second Trilogy

We are immersed in the meaning of the death of Han Solo. As we ponder how the man who skeptically called the Force a bunch of “simple tricks and nonsense” who then four decades later admitted “It’s real. All of it,” we stand in awe of the attempt to recreate that which the Spirit of ’77 gave us. But as we gather into the house of worship in which we try to relive our childhood vicariously through a demoralized storm trooper and a determined girl on a desert planet who does not know how to quit, we are forgetting that this trilogy truly is not the second trilogy. Writer-Director Kevin Smith got it right in one of his endless Q & A’s in which someone referred to Episodes I, II, and III as ‘the Trilogy’ or even to Tolkien’s dramatic crash onto the screen about the same time: “there is only one trilogy,” Smith angrily declared. There can be only one. But…you can have a second place and that place does not belong to the second set of Star Wars films in the late Ninties/early Otts. The second best trilogy ever made off this world is the one in which Captain James T. Kirk faces death in the face, loses and becomes so inconsolable with grief that he resurrects the only person in the universe with whom he had a human connection…the irony being of course that Mr. Spock is only half human. 
          Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a catastrophe produced by the finest minds in Hollywood and directed by one of the greatest directors who ever lived. After he edited Citizen Kane for Orson Welles, Robert Wise directed The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story,  and a multitude of others that formulate a long list that makes you say ‘oh, yeah…” But the film itself, despite its jaw dropping special effects, is only a response to the insane space opera money maker at Fox Studios down the street. Every studio looked at their inventory and brushed off whatever they had in an attempt to cash in on Star Wars. In many cases, sets and models made for one sci-fi film were simply reused with a different case and script. My favorite is a ludicrous romp in a strange ET-like spacecraft with Jon Boy from Little House on the Prairie. We can expect Paramount to stumble facing the all mighty George Lucas who had greats like Brian DePalma giving him editing notes and Steven Spielberg recommending story changes on Laurence Kasdan’s already fantastic script. How was Herve Bennett going to compete? Easy. He scaled back the production cost and let the actors have a say on the characters they were portraying. 
          Resurrecting Khan was no small feat. Who but the most ardent fans of the TV show would remember fifteen years later the Space Seed that brought the genetically superior being with the fatal flaw of having arrogance as Hubris? Ricardo Maltoban didn’t flinch. Next was the how to get Kirk into space if he was promoted as Admiral and the excuse of an emergency had already been used in the first film. Answer: training exercise to test the Enterprises’ new overhaul. This was all fine and dandy to go catch the villain but Kirk had met villains before and his wits had already proven him to be not smarter by any means but definitely willing to do something his adversaries could not in order to win: the special ability to defeat a no-win scenario: Kirk had a lifetime of Kobayashi Marus…the Carbomite Maneuver being one of the TV show’s most famous. But down to the wire, The Wrath of Khan had gone where no man had gone before when finally Kirk over reached himself and though he outwitted Khan in his attempt to hold hostage the federation he failed to save his crew in the nick of time. It was Spock who recognized the danger the ship faced…the hundreds of innocents on board…could be bought with a life. His life. To Spock, it was worth it: “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” but to Kirk it was never acceptable to lose anyone…despite convenient red shirts left all over the galaxy…and this loss of his was most bitter. Had Kirk been quick enough in thought he would have beat Spock to the punch and sacrificed himself, as against his nature that would be, but he wasn’t. And he was ashamed. The dialogue through the speaker is one of the hardest, most emotional scenes filmed between two men on screen, and it defines the platonic love that binds men together as Spock straightens his uniform lest he appear less than an officer to his Captain.
Kirk:    Spock!
Spock:   The ship…out of danger?
Kirk:    Yes.
Spock:   Do not grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The

         needs of the many outweigh-
Kirk:    The needs of the few…
Spock:   Or the one. I never took the Kobayashi Maru

         test until now. What do you think of my                  solution?
 Kirk:   Spock…
 Spock:  I have been, and always shall be, your

         friend. Live long…and prosper.
 Kirk:   No...
When Kirk’s voice breaks we see a man defeated in one of the most powerful deliveries in cinema. Defeated by Khan. Defeated by himself. Defeated by a career built around the notion that defeat was implausible. But all of this changed. Afraid of growing old at the beginning of the film, Kirk was now feeling younger with his older Vulcan friend gone, buried on a planet that unbeknownst to him was regenerating his body.  
          With Spock gone it gave what some producers at Paramount jokes was the reality of a MAD Magazine title Star Trek: In Search of Plot. Leonard Nimoy, an actor with great stage experience and who had written numerous plays threw his weight behind getting the directing role and showing the human commitment one can have to reverse the collective thought of the rational mind that justifies so many evils in favor of the triumph of the individual. The Search for Spock is a powerful rebuttal to those who assume that a majority always rules, that human rights are negotiable, that everything must be balanced and no thought given to the idea that a sometimes the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. Spock’s friends and Starfleet colleagues cared so much about him they violated a dozen laws that could land them in jail, hijacked a starship and disabled another in their effort to retrieve Spock’s body. The purpose of the effort was only possible because of a last minute thought Nimoy had at the end of Khan that was thrown in as a ‘just in case.’ It worked brilliantly. Before dying, Spock copied his memory into McCoy’s brain, hoping that Kirk could find an answer from Sarek, Spock’s father, on how to release it. McCoy/Spock in contrast brought humor to a dark situation when Klingons, desperate to take control of the genesis device, lay waste to all before them, including a young scientist trying to keep the device out of the hands of the Klingons. David was Kirk’s son, and he died a hero, believing that the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few. 
          In another powerful moment that rivals most Shakespearean plays (which makes sense because Shatner is a Shakespearean actor), Kirk collapses in absolute grief and anger, repeating to the bridge: “Those Klingon bastards have killed my son.” McCoy tries to intervene but he doesn’t have to. Kirk used his moment of grief to escape another Kobayashi Maru. Luring the multitude of Klingons onto the Enterprise, Kirk detonates it as they escape to the genesis planet hoping to lure the Klingons to the surface in a trap to take control. The Klingons know it is a trap, but like Khan they are arrogant and cruel, misplacing the belief that clever equates smarts. They took his son, they took his ship. But they couldn’t take Kirk. Retrieving Spock’s body, the crew has an ancient Vulcan ceremony performed to take Spock’s imprint out of McCoy’s head and back to his own. It works, but it is not perfect, and it is right that it should not be. Nothing can be the same again after sacrificing so much. 
          The new Spock parallels his colleagues in The Voyage Home – Earth is not his home but they are his home and he must find his way. The 25th Century being what it is, the crew must use the intense gravity of the sun to slingshot around to a speed that will take them back five centuries in time to find a water mammal that can answer a foreign probe that threatens to destroy the future Earth. The crew is beset with problems, not the least of which is they stand out like a sore thumb. It is no wonder. These actors are in their 50’s by The Voyage Home. One has to remember that Scotty doesn’t have a full index finger on his right hand because the actor, James Doohan, had it shot off on D-Day. 
            Environmentalism has always been controversial and it has been hard for Hollywood to tackle the subject with a clear morality not spoiled by numbers and figures that muddle the mind or power point programs that seem way too obvious to believe. But The Voyage Home works like most films with causes work: because they are subtle and don’t preach to a people who want the message but not at the cost of entertainment. This is why The Voyage Home is such a successful film and Michael Crighton’s State of Fear has never been made into a movie. Punctuating this message is a tense schedule to get the crew home and laughs, laughs, laughs and lots of laughs that Trekkies never forget, always repeat from a masterful script and an overall cheap production. The film is so good that Kirk sitting in his chair giving directions to his crew as they fly back to the sun should be a model for all future films dealing with military rank and protocol execution. It’s quick, not overbearing, and gets you to the next scene without sacrificing screen time which would confuse the audience that such cut would treat as too stupid to follow. And…in the end Kirk got to win his Kobayashi Maru. The crew put themselves at risk in order to save the ‘many’ at the expense of the ‘few’ but they knew their captain would never let them down. He didn’t even let Spock down. The kicker is that nothing less but saving the world would save Kirk and his crew from all of their violations in The Search for Spock but lucky enough for them they’ve done it – twice now in the movies – and are relegated back to where they should be, as Kirk says at the end: “second star to the right, and on ‘till morning.”
            This trilogy is amazing. It has everything you could possibly want in a dramatic space opera without involving light sabers or princesses. The heavy themes of life, death how not to live one (gallivanting around the universe doing what exactly?) and how to cheat them both in order to preserve them for all mankind. Star Wars is fun. It’s exciting. It’s Flash Gordon on steroids, but it is not Shakespeare. Trek is Shakespeare. You can hear it in the lonely trumpet that wails a long trail of notes in the main theme of the film. It is the individual shouting out the need to save the many but recognizing that sometimes sacrifice doesn’t pay off. Such themes are why The 80’s Stark Trek films are the real ‘Second Trilogy.”

 

FOR THE LOVE OF TEGAN AND SARA, PART II

As a free people in a western world we stand on the precipice of finally being able to comprehend all before us except death. We live our lives with more information on demand now than ever before, understanding the intricate roles of genetics and psychology, the hard facts of physical nature, and we can even funnel most human decisions down to a series of drop-down menus to give us the remaining options that might determine our lives. And at the same time we obsess over this technology to the point where it has controlled us, dumbed us down, made us it’s slave instead of the other way around. Instead of understanding human behavior more, we understand it less because we are interacting with our iPhones more than with other people.  More people are sexting than having sex, and those who are having sex are doing it at great risk despite the open and ready knowledge of the gamble they take on when they take off their clothes. Much of this has led us to make even more absurd assumptions of the nature of humans, their make-up, what they are supposed to be and what we judge by some irresponsible hereditary tribal knowledge to be morally right or wrong as if there was ever such a thing. 
          People argue on Facebook whether or not it is morally right for a woman to put her tongue into another woman’s vagina. They argue if it is really ‘gay’ or if is really ‘sex’ or if it really ‘counts’ as opposed to the overt act of penetration males experience. How this conveys to the meaning of life for someone not involved in the act itself is quite beyond my reasoning. Who gives a shit, who is losing sleep, who cares so much about what other people do that they get angry and, after watching Fox News for three hours straight, write homophobic rampaging bullshit on Twitter on what they think is really wrong with the world – in one case, gay sex. In another case, gay marriage. In a third, the weird and bizarre relation they coordinate with bestiality. In this sad reflection of their own mindset, a heterosexual voter with a conservative, even religious, rural background is more likely to have sex with farm animals than a non-voting liberal, secular, urban bohemian lesbian. In this twisted, fucked up world, it becomes acceptable for a straight man to tell a gay woman that if she needs hot dick, to hit him up on Twitter. 
          During their So Jealous Tour in 2005, Tegan and Sara Quin, twin sister musicians from Canada, were touring radio stations all over the States in a huge commercial push to make their album go gold. Since their introduction on the scene in 1999 their band, Tegan and Sara, faced the huge media machine that labels as a function of its existence in order to fulfill the innate human desire to categorize everything in an attempt to gain an understanding of the chaos around them. What is this band, exactly? Canadian. Check. Siblings. Check. Twins. Check. Sisters. Check. Attractive women. Check. Lesbians. Check. Got enough things to call them?
          You could, if you cared to, download every single song the duo has recorded and listen to it back to back for the ten or so hours it would take you and not once, not fucking once, would you find in all that erotica and well written heart pulling mindfuck of music one instance, one god damned hint, that the Quins were gay. And yet, at this particular radio interview the DJ, whom I am sure had no specific agenda but will hang in the court of public opinion purely because he is a fucking idiot, skips the forgone conclusion of genes splitting off must be so similar as to spark kind replications in DNA instructions and instead asks the Quins, sisters first, musicians second, lesbians probably last, if they have had sexual relations with one another. 
          There were three sets of twins in my high school. All six were boys. Two of them were skater trash, another two were heavy metal drug users, and the last were so conformingly boring I don’t even remember their mullet-with-a-rat tail names. When you grow up knowing twins for a decade or so you’ll understand that the likeness is the only thing they share. That in fact, despite online pornography showcasing the Simpson Twins and the Hilton Sisters strongly suggesting or perhaps even coyly hiding a same sex interest in their siblings in a bizarre circus act freak show the fact is, and most obviously, the DNA pretty much stops with the personality, and sexuality is not a character trait. Asking a lesbian twin girl if she would like to have sex with her lesbian twin sister is just as gross and personally upsetting as asking any sibling if they would like to have sex with their sibling, regardless of gender or sexuality. The idea that incest pervades homosexual practice only because it is homosexual is ignorant, insulting and exposes in the questioner a huge gap in knowledge about other human beings – especially if they have siblings. This absurd question is not a lesbian question, it is an incest question, and the only way to show any objectivity is if this moronic DJ then asked every sibling musical act such as The Beach Boys, Oasis, Paramour, Hansen or any other extended list the same question. I’m willing to bet the answer is no. I’ve gone through a lengthy amount of interviews during the White Stripes’ first two tours. Jack and Meg White are a particularly strange scenario as they were divorced, but to keep the media from hounding them about who they were dating and whether they were dating each other again, blatantly lied in junkets and told press they were brother and sister. This went on for years, and not once – not fucking once – did I read in any interview any query that asked this uncomfortable question:
          “So, Jack, you’re a guy. And handsome. And Meg…you’re a girl…and attractive. Have you two ever…you know… or have thought about maybe the possibility, even though you two are brother and sister, just once, if you get my meaning… ever had incest?”
          I don’t want to seem like Denzel Washington standing in the middle of a court room screaming to the jury “this is really about our fear of homosexuals” most notably because this has nothing to do with fear. This is about one jackass proving to the world just how fucking stupid he or she really is. In a recent poll done by the Canadian government, about ten percent of boys in between the age of 15 and 25 have experienced a same sex experience. This is HUGE, considering for a moment that the homosexual makeup of about any population continues to hover around four percent. More boys are experiencing same sex relationships than are actually gay. On the female side of the poll, the result in the same age group was about half. HALF. So we’re not talking about a few thousand people here in same sex scenarios. We’re talking about a huge percentage of our young population, mostly women, experimenting in lesbian sex to discover if they are lesbian or bisexual or just want to have a good time on Friday night without thinking about labels. As we have experienced a great invasion of technology that I previously mentioned that is driving a lot of this behavior and though it may taper off as a result of being “so second decade to do it with another chick” the fact is the future is not going to see a decrease in sexual activity as young people decide who they are and who they want to be. The nunnery has taken a huge hit the past two centuries and though some may think me crazy, I think it’s only a matter of time before other countries start banning Honor Killings, Sutees, “female circumcision” (which is in reality gender based torture) and some countries might start letting women drive cars, not wear hijabs as a requirement to not burn in hell for eternity and…just maybe…if we wait a few centuries…might even allow them to vote.
          Tegan and Sara are just musicians. They play good music. They’re awesome at it. They know how to arrange, how to trust producers, and are pretty good live. These issues in some ways are quite beyond them. They have nothing to do with gender discrimination, same sex hate and these deep issues that affect so many people’s lives. That’s what I thought. Until I went to a concert and I saw a sixteen year old girl standing next to me. It was her first Tegan and Sara concert, she told me, and she started crying. She hadn’t come out to her parents yet, I could tell. But to her, this concert was her coming out party. She could be gay, be herself, for two hours and no one would care – certainly not me. And that’s what a lot of lesbians want. It’s not that they make this entire ruckus for equal rights and as Canadians say “all the rest of it” to make you recognize that they are gay. In a real sense, they want those rights so that you’ll see them like everybody else. You’ll see them and in a sense, you won’t care that they’re gay. It’ll cease to be a thing, a label, a categorization – like them not caring that you’re straight and you not caring that you’re straight yourself - and it’ll only be a world in which people choose to be with other people based on their personal preferences. 
          And that’s what Tegan and Sara mean to me.

 

SCHADENFREUDE AND THE SHOAH

In my time in graduate school I was assigned an essay by Susan Sontag titled “Fascinating Fascism” which addressed the dangers of being nostalgic for or having a predilection for anything related to NAZI ideology. This included memorabilia, trophies, even books and films. After bashing Leni Riefenstahl, Sontag turned to Liliana Caviani’s film The Night Porter about a former camp prisoner who falls in love with her guard in a sado-masochistic relationship. Already overloaded with German words like Vergangenheitsbewaltigung – the working through of your past – our professor hit us with a new term to struggle to pronounce: Schadenfreude
     Like many words in German there is no direct translation to English. The best one can do is describe Schadenfreude as the taking of pleasure in seeing the misfortune of others. It is used to describe many things about the Third Reich that we as removed generations can never understand. A friend of mine commented in class that he didn’t know what was worse: the fact that Schadenfreude existed or the fact that the Germans had a word for it. 
     I recently watched a wonderful film on Netflix called Hannah Arendt about the famous, or as others might think, infamous political scientist (others saw her as a philosopher, she did not). The film follows Arendt’s trip to Jerusalem to cover the 1961 trial of SS Officer Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker Magazine. Eichmann ran the notorious Gestapo department 4BIV (Four-B-Four) which negotiated the settlements and scheduled the trains that rounded up Jews and sent them to their deaths. Arendt, a Jew that escaped a camp in France to immigrate to the United States before the execution of Operation Reinhardt – the named plan for the Holocaust – foresaw what many survivors saw: A monster responsible for unspeakable crimes.
     But in Jerusalem Arendt was instead faced with an average looking man in an average suit struggling with a cold on the first day of his trial – held in Israel after he was kidnapped from hiding in Argentina. As the trial went on Arendt saw a pattern of almost non-behavior. Eichmann used clichés in his speech, spoke very unexceptional German, and seemed wordy even in his written confession which he agreed and signed off on. How was it, Arendt asked herself, that this non-entity, this boring bureaucrat, could amass the murder of millions – a crime he admitted in taped confession and freely written statement before pleading “Not Guilty – in the sense of the indictment?” Her answer was controversial and much more complex than laying out in a blog, or making a 15 minute video for Yad Vashem or even covering it for an entire class on the Holocaust. Eichmann exhibited what Arendt called the Banality of Evil – the terrible normalness of being. Someone so completely conformed to the society around them populated by bureaucrats, rules, paperclips, rubber bands and telegrammed orders in triplicate – that he lost the ability to simply think. 
     The SS was the most feared organ of terror in the Third Reich, and was responsible for the great majority of the worst crimes of the regime. Led by wackos like Heichrich Himmler, the “Riechsfuhrer SS” and the psychopath General Reinhardt Heydrich; populated by paranoid murderers like Rudolf Diels and Heinrich Mueller – Eichmann’s superior – we find it hard to contemplate that underneath such thriving personas deserving of their own biography telling their twisted and demented point of view, are simpleton bureaucrats ‘just following orders.’ Arendt was aware of the uselessness of this defense and she made no excuses for him. In fact, she recognized (contrary to popular belief) that he was an anti-semite who deserved to be hanged (in his own words “as an example to other anti-semites”). 
     Below Eichmann was a horrible structure of concentration camps guarded by some of the most evil people the world had ever produced. Fifty years after the war, German prosecutors never really eager to bring NAZIs to trial, were forced by public opinion to extradite and charge the lowest ranking offenders who had committed the most terrible atrocities of the 20th Century. They had horrible nick names: SS Captain Klaus Barbie was the Butcher of Lyon; SS Doctor Josef Mengele was the Angel of Death; Camp Guard Ilse Koch was The Bitch of Buchenwald; SS Captain Josef Kramer was The Beast of Belsen. In actuality these executioners and masochists reported to Mueller in a different chain of command and Eichmann’s 4BIV with only an office staff had no pool of enforcers to draw from. Their weapon was the telephone, the typewriter, the Fuhrer Order. 
     In between these two levels of unparalleled evil lay an almost undisturbed office tasked with the ‘unpleasantness’ of arranging deportations. Here, the office environment was no different than a bank or any other company. Removed from the camps and the roundups, Eichmann and others like him operated almost in a vacuum aware of what they were doing but not saddled with the character traits or nicknames of the executioners. With the hurricane of the war and the holocaust they were arranging raging all around them, Eichmann and his ilk looked and seemed to many people, including Arendt, as horribly and terribly normal – banal. This didn’t make them any less guilty, especially in Arendt’s eyes, but it did convey the danger of wanting to fit in, of conforming, of not wanting to experience ‘unpleasantness’ which in NAZI propaganda describes their process of ‘Othering’ the Jews. 
     The trial was a forgone conclusion, for everyone, even before it started. Though Arendt noted in her eventual book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil that the prosecution tried to ascribe war crimes to Eichmann that were clearly not his doing (the Einsatzgruppen Squads for example, predated the gas chambers and had no connection to his deportations), Arendt was under no illusion that he was guilty as hell. Damning him forever were tons of documents introduced at the trial in which he ‘cooperated’ with local authorities and reached settlements with Judenrats (the ‘self-governing’ Jewish Councils) and negotiated with ministers and diplomats of the highest level in countries allied with the NAZIs or occupied by them with the single purpose of murdering their Jews. Eichmann claimed many truths – he never ‘killed a Jew, or a non-Jew’ for that matter; he never knew which train was marked for immediate extermination as this was done at the receiving end – but he knew the purpose of what he was doing and admitted verbally and in written form that he assisted in the murder of millions. The fact that he could talk about it in court openly without the reality of what he had done emotionally affecting him like others in the court – the judges, the witnesses, the prosecution, even the defense attorney Dr. Servatius – only underlines Arendt’s point. In the amazing documentary film about the trial, The Specialist, Eichmann can be seen in his glass booth watching film reels of the Holocaust with the most gut wrenching footage. He folds his hands. He plays with his pen. He sniffs. He never thinks. It is easier for him to not think. He doesn’t ever think. He just follows orders. 
     Following orders was always the go-to argument for those who could not talk themselves out of a tight spot, but legally they never had a leg to stand on. Eichmann and others confirmed what many historians pose and believe in which is that a ‘Fuhrer Order’ which is verbal directive from Hitler himself “had the force of law” with nothing else needed. This is why Hitler’s signature has never been found on any document ordering the Final Solution like it has on the controversial Commissar Order or other damning evidence. But regardless of this fact is the long standing German legal tradition of “Unrichtiges Recht” or ‘Unjust Law.’ Germany had like many other western “civilized” nations a clause that protected the morality of the person receiving an order they judged to be wrong: At any time any German military personnel could openly reject an Unjust Law under the legal protection of “Unrichtiges Recht.” Christopher Browning, in his seminal account of regular enlisted men participating in the Holocaust Reserve Police Battalion 101, documents time and again ordinary German soldiers, in this case civilian policemen, refusing to take part in the mass execution of Jews in the East. None of them faced court martial. In the American military this is taught as an “Illegal Order” and troops are instructed never to follow one. 
     In the face of the Unrichtiges Recht and the structure of legal protection afforded to a German citizen the common excuse of following orders falls apart, the excuse that it was policy and had to be done collapses. In the face of increasingly hostile ‘allies’ that see protecting their Jews as the only leverage with the Western Democracies, this becomes indefensible. As the AXIS waned, so did Eichmann’s ability to cut more deals to kill more Jews. But this never meant those organizations had to participate. In France for example, French cops round up the Jews into camps and later departed them to Auschwitz. Victims never saw a German until they reached Poland, and even then they were few and far between – the Poles and the Jews themselves acting as the exterminators. In fact it becomes apparent that almost anyone could have said no. The soldier shooting Jews at Babi Yar, the Kapos bribed into beating their own people, the diplomats communicating with 4BIV, the list is endless. Very rarely were ‘special actions’ or ‘special treatments’ truly carried out by force because of Unrichtiges Recht. High profile examples remain: the Jewish Sondercommando crews who loaded the chambers of Auschwitz and cleared the bodies afterward knew they were next if they did not kill their fellow man. The crews of Sobibor, Treblinka, Mauthausen all faced this certainty. 
     But for a German citizen who didn’t suffer the Statelessness created for the regime’s enemies, this simply was not the case. Finding a Wehrmacht soldier tried for not following orders in the common actions the regular army took against civilians and partisans is very few and far between. In fact, every German General could have said no. Every diplomat, every bureaucrat, every single person in the chain of command regardless of wielding a pen or a Lugar could have said no. The fact that very few did, so few that collecting their names on a few pages is not a problem, condemns all of them, Eichmann included, in Arendt’s eyes and the eyes of history. This predilection to do your duty, a Kantian kind of rule which Eichmann admitted that he adhered to is best summed up by another hard to pronounce or define German word: Kadavergehorsam. Like Schadenfruende it takes a sentence to describe Kadavergehorsam, and the best example is Eichmann himself who on 6 June 1960 told Captain Avner Less, his Israeli interrogator, the following jaw-dropping admission: “Throughout all the days of my life, I was accustomed to obey, from the nursery till 8 May 1945 – an obedience which developed in the years when I belonged to the SS – to a blind obedience, an unconditional obedience.” 
     The trouble for Arendt was two-fold. The first was her assertion of the Banality of Evil, which became immediately contested by other Jews who called her a self-hater, put words in her mouth that she never said, and searched her book for inconsistencies (and found only typos).  Her banality argument, though embraced by political scientists and philosophers as entirely plausible, came under great scrutiny by other Jews and some historians who cited Eichmann’s ‘business trips’ to the Death Camps to witness the exterminations as proof the banality argument was invalid. How could Eichmann be banal if he witnessed the Einstatzgruppen in action, the gassings in action, and still carried on with his job? Wouldn’t this affect him in some way? On top of this is the incredible job Eichmann performed when he was put in charge of deportations in Vienna before the war. Ostensibly he was only supposed to aid the process along but what Eichmann saw was an impossible situation. Jews were shuffled back and forth between dozens of departments that took months to get slips of paper just to go to another building in another part of town to get another piece of paper at a different office in a seemingly endless process to sacrifice their property for a passport out of the country. If the point of the policy was to get as many Jews as possible to leave the Reich (for at this time, after the Anschluss, the Riech included what used to be Austria) then the structure of the bureaucracy did not permit it. Eichmann and his colleagues innovated a streamlined organization on the spot, creating one place where a Jew could practically start in the morning, get all the paperwork he needed, give up all his property and obtain his permission to leave the country in the same day. ‘Deportations’ or ‘forced immigration’ went through the roof and Eichmann shined to his superiors. Does someone who can spur such a bureaucratic revolution really deserve to be called banal? This point has the most credibility and is completely passed over in her work, the film that carries her name, and most criticism of her theory. The other point, that she was trying to use the Banality of Evil to describe all responsible for atrocities is simply not only false, but a stretch of the imagination bordering on a deliberate lying campaign to discredit her. Of course she wasn’t calling sadistic camp guards or trigger happy executioners banal. She restricted it to the bureaucrats and used Eichmann as a model. It is a legitimate criticism to say, given Eichmann’s resume, that he doesn’t fit the model. 
     The second and main reason why Arendt was in trouble was her mentioning the complicity of the Judenrats. The NAZIs organized everything to help them in their quest to make Europe Judenrein – Jew Free. And this included protecting a small group of community leaders to keep order in the midst of the chaos – the Ghettos for example. During the trial, members of the Judenraten testified against Eichmann, undeniably tying his communications with them to the horror of the Shoah. The Judges, who Arendt praises in her first paragraphs as the only good human beings above it all in the trial, were forced several times to remove members of the public due to their angry outbursts directed not at Eichmann, but at those Jews who survived as a result of their dealings with Eichmann. Many of the Judenraten knew of the Holocaust but continued to ‘negotiate’ with Eichmann in an attempt to win favor by trying to mitigate disorder and chaos in the ghettos and, critically, saving themselves in the process. Arendt poses the valid question: What would have happened if the Judenraten, or if all the Jews simply said no? What if they did cause trouble? Most threw her assertion aside as absurd – it was obvious after all, the SS would just destroy all of them. 
     But Arendt’s argument was they were being destroyed anyway so why not fight? Look at the Warsaw Uprising, which most Jews point to as a proud part of their history. The rebellion of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz, the revolt in Sobibor: All indications point to Jews of all brands being more than capable of taking up arms and causing what was in every case for the NAZI’s – a distraction that temporarily stopped the exterminations and deportations and drew resources away from the war effort. Arendt only brought up the Judenraten because of their introduction in the trial and how their testimony further condemned Eichmann. But she was castigated for it. This happened despite the fact that during the trial the aggressive Attorney General Gideon Hausner prodded each survivor standing as a witness with “why did you not revolt?” He did this implicitly to show how the system Eichmann was a part of was a vast plan, designed to tear down the protective barriers of the Jews over time and in such a way as to strip them of their ability to resist. Arendt’s point of view was easily attacked because it seemed she was attacking the victim – never good in any situation but magnificently worse when there are six million victims. But though their conclusions from the questions were different Arendt and Hausner’s questions was essentially the same. Arendt was singled out for attack because some Jews didn’t like the way she was asking the question as opposed to Hausner. 
     Arendt is often ranked very high in the list of intellectuals of the 20th Century. Mostly this is because her book, On Totalitarianism, spelled out the how the evils of such systems work. There were many rebuttals to her theory of banality that she didn’t consider and some that hold quite a bit of credit. However, these views are often overlooked because of the excellent prose she employs to convey her point. She also had her own issues with banality which she never solved. These issues are hardly ever raised by her enemies when they speak her name in the same vitriolic breath as the contempt she held Eichmann. Instead they focused on phrases she never said, conclusions she never drew and mis-characterized her theory as an outgrowth of her subconscious thoughts regarding her identity as a Jew. These are all unfortunate developments of a people still hurting from an experience so painful it is hard to comprehend. The true tragedy of the controversy were those critics who in their attempt to discredit and silence her, exercised schadenfreunde in a pattern similar to their own persecutors. This is not what scholarship on the Holocaust is supposed to be about. Not even Denialism in its bankrupt ideology should be subjected to such a twisted and sick concept. Shoah scholarship is supposed to be about Never Forgetting, not trying to silence people who just want to ask the question: Why?

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BEATLES AUGUST 2015

Early in the morning of December 9th, 1980, thirty-eight year old Paul McCartney received a phone call at his home outside of London that his lifelong friend of twenty-three years, John Lennon, had been shot and killed in New York City. When his wife, Linda McCartney, got home after taking their kids to school, she noticed he was in complete shock. Thinking he should continue a routine to keep his mind busy, McCartney went to a studio in London to work on an album. Denny Laine, his guitarist, recalled that the work was tough, and everyone in the studio was on edge. McCartney had met the press that morning, and later on that afternoon. That night, still in shock, a reporter asked him about the murder. Horrified, deeply depressed, and going in and out of being scared for his life, McCartney answered ‘It’s a drag, isn’t it?’ while trying to quickly get away from the crowd of lights.  Once inside his house, unable to control his emotions, he broke down crying for hours, completely inconsolable. His wife Linda was unable to get McCartney to go anywhere, do anything, so terrible was his grief. The next day he did not go to the studio, and Linda traversed their rural property to stop neighbors from bird hunting such was her fear of what the sound of gunshots would do to her husband. McCartney emerged from sobs with pure anger, and had plenty to say about Lennon’s murderer, Mark David Chapman. Fighting this anger and his fear, he managed to fly to New York City to see Lennon’s wife Yoko Ono, with whom he broke down again in front of a small entourage of family and friends. 
    McCartney was never the same again. After spending the first ten years of his solo career running away from the biggest band in history, McCartney spent the next ten years kicking out mild but distracting and sometime mediocre hits with the single purpose of healing. Having emerged from the Eighties intact, he then started to go back to his youth, back to the ‘60’s and yes, back to the Beatles. His music, which he had structured to be most decidedly not like The Beatles, slowly traversed back over this ground. Perhaps his album Flaming Pie is the best example of this, but so is Chaos and Creation in the Backyard and even Flowers in the Dirt. In his old age, McCartney’s wall of silence about John abated, and he slowly and sometimes controversially shared details of his relationship with John. Some of this became the basis of the films Backbeat and Two of Us. Some like myself laughed when McCartney suggested that his solo music was more ‘advant garde’ than Lennon’s. But he brought the songs out of the closet and starting in the early ‘90’s he even played many songs that traditionally John recorded or sang. In this public healing, he was healing us, too. Though the pain was long ago for many of us, and many of us were too young to experience the shock, the feeling of loss never goes away. Pontificating on Lennon’s career today is equivalent to wondering what Kurt Cobain would have done. As McCartney went on, we went on. 
Hearing his friend George Harrison was sick, McCartney went to his bedside where Harrison, perturbed at how sad his friend was, tried to cheer him up. They held hands. They didn’t talk about the past. Learning from his past mistake about speaking to the press in the midst of shock, McCartney waited until his grief had subsided before speaking to the press outside his house. He called him a great lad and said “I am devastated and very, very sad. He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor.” McCartney has gone on, as the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr has. They continue to record and tour, while the media obsesses over 6 July 1957.
    “I met Paul the first time I did Be-Bop-a-Lula live,” Lennon remembered during his interviews with David Sheff shortly before his murder, “and I think he said yes the next day.” In doing so, McCartney changed the face not only of pop music, but of history. Last week, taking my kids to see the Minion Movie, I watched four animated characters, one of them barefoot, cross Abbey Road in London in a weird homage to the Fab Four. While my kids didn’t get the reference, all the adults did, and looking around the theatre I noticed all the adults were my age, not my mother’s age. 
    We all had Abbey Road.
    At my vinyl rack at home I looked at my used copy of Abbey Road. I bought it when the music stores were dumping vinyl like no there was no tomorrow. It still had the three dollar sticker price on it. I didn’t get it from my parents. My parents listened to country and western music, not rock and roll. Though my father was heavy into ‘50’s rock like Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, he knew next to nothing about the Beatles. My father-in-law bought Sgt. Pepper on CD and literally laughed with joy as he played it in his PC, altering the scales as if he were a sound engineer. He said it didn’t sound right, and had to fix several things he found ‘wrong’ with the stereo, as if he were George Martin. My first experience with the Beatles was watching A Hard Day’s Night on the Encore Network in the ‘80’s and laughing hysterically at Lennon arguing with a stage girl on whether or not he was actually himself. And of course, who didn’t laugh when a reporter asked George Harrison how he ‘found’ America?
    “Turn left at Greenland.”
    The phenomenon of Beatlemania left such an indelible mark on history as to change the future. The dry, wry wit not only of the Liverpudlians themselves but their handlers, their publicists creating their image, the Hollywood producers approving the script and everyone who interviewed them from Ed Sullivan to Cameron Crowe egged them on this route to perpetuate the image. This is ongoing, long after the Beatles broke up, long after Lennon’s murder and Harrison’s passing. It will continue as long as people born after them buy Abbey Road and instead of focusing on the horror of whatever moment is dragging down them and the world instead sing along:
    “Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say, ‘it’s alright.’”
    McCartney always focused on this trend, the trend of the Beatles to stay upbeat and positive. During the Anthology he took pride in saying the band emphasized love. Love Me Do, She Loves You, A Little Help From My Friends, Come Together, etc. Sgt. Pepper has been beaten down in the four decades since its release, deemed by some to be not as good as the Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds and many notate that it was in fact released months after the Doors’ debut album that featured Break on Through and The End. As a tome of psychedelia it does seem a bit late in the game except that the Beach Boys were singing about trying to get laid and being turned down and the Doors were openly singing about death. But while Pet Sounds and even the Romones have slowly replaced the Beatles on the top charts of art rock the fact remains this is fourth quarter football. Shit, this is calling the game the other way after the game is over. Sgt Pepper was, in the view of Rolling Stone, “The closest Western Civilization has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.”
    Yes, I’m going to play Blitzkrieg Bop to my kids when they get old enough, and I’m going to play it loud. I am also going to console them with Wouldn’t it be Nice and Breaking up is Hard to Do after their first flame out. When they get pissed that their vote didn’t go their way I’m going to play Gimmie Shelter and the next time we’re on the highway doing a hundred and ten klicks it’s time for A Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress. All that notwithstanding, I don’t have to do anything to get them into the Beatles. It’s ingrained in them already. My boy is singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and my daughter is singing Yellow Submarine. Add ten years and it’s going to be Revolution and Hey Jude. The Beatles will live on because their message and their meaning in pop culture transcends the changes in history. 

 

FOR THE LOVE OF TEGAN AND SARA PART I JUNE 2015

   I knew there was something wrong in the world. 
         I was in Newfoundland on business (yes, they have business there), when in my hotel room I saw a video of identical twin sisters singing a very catchy tune. While in the local record shop looking for traditional Newfoundland music I inquired about this dynamic duo, Tegan & Sara, and shown their CDs. I bought the one with the song on it. The L.P. was called So Jealous. It had just been released. These being the days before I had any type of mp3 player I listened to it on my laptop and in my car at home. I was mesmerized by one voice, literally put into a trance, and soothed to sleep with another. For a man who had a stressful job in the Oil Patch it was just what the doctor ordered. When I discovered on the internet they had a release called If It Was You, I went to Best Buy at home to pick it up and they said they didn’t carry it. 
         And that’s when I knew there was something wrong in the world. 
         How was it possible that the largest compact disc retailer in the United States wasn’t carrying Tegan & Sara? I pondered this question as I spoke to other store personnel who looked up the label and said it was only available in Canada. The twins, so they told me, were from Calgary, Alberta, someone happened to know, and thus it was distributed there.
         Canada? What? Since when did the Great White North have the corner on good music? I mean, I love Neil Young, I saw Bryan Adams in the Astrodome in ’94, and in general thought I had an appreciation of Canadian music as evidenced by my huge collection of Newfie CDs, including but not limited to Shanneyganock, Blair Harvey and the Dregs, and every other band that could afford to record on George Street three sheets to the wind. Why these were not available in the States, I understand. 
         But Tegan and Sara? What the fuck is wrong with my country?
         Further proving I lived in the cultural shitter was the impending release of The Con in 2007. Having gotten wind of it on another trip to Newfoundland, I went to an ‘Indie’ record shop in Houston one day well after its release to find it was not available. 
         Who the fuck is not stocking The Con in music stores?
         Now yes, I lived in Texas, and yes, I lived in Houston, but let’s get real. First, it’s not like I live in Pocatello or Ithaca. For Christ’s sakes, it’s the fourth largest city in the United Goddamn States. Second, I’m willing to bet that besides Buffalo, there are more Canadians living in Houston than anywhere else in the world due to the Oil Patch. Thirdly, the inner city of Houston (the part that doesn’t live in racist imposed poverty) is extremely bohemian and would love Tegan & Sara, especially the Montrose Neighborhood for which I will address in a later article. I had to wait until my rotation to Newfoundland again to get The Con, as no website would deliver it to me (I found out later, to my extreme embarrassment, that I was in fact wrong, that teganandsara.com would have made sure I would receive it, but for the purposes of the article, just pretend I’m not an idiot doucebag). Once armed with The Con, I found it was, in my opinion at least, So Jealous Part II, and that was just fine with me. It was like following Revolver with Rubber Soul. The Con enjoyed a healthy rotation in my car and in my office, but my home life prevented me from focusing on anything regarding Tegan & Sara but their music. 
         For instance, though I could distinguish their voices, I did not know who sang what song, and scarce photos and no time for research that did not involve supermodels meant that I could not tell one from the other. In the long view, this was healthy for me, as these two albums never left the ten in circulation for the next five or six years. To listen to those two records was an intimate look into the lives of what appeared to me to be, two very damaged women who clearly had relationship issues but had survived to express themselves to me of all people. How lucky was I?
         On a chance trip to Calgary on business I heard On Directing on the radio and new immediately, that Tegan and Sara had released another L.P. I ran to the nearest independent record shop that google found and purchased it (Sainthood) and spun it forever and ever. It was more stripped down than the previous two, but that made it seem even rawer in emotion. Sainthood bumped No Jealous and when I went back home I found it was available for order but not in stock. Well, my backwater redneck country was just moving right along the progression turnpike. 
         As circumstance would fucking have it, I wound up moving to Calgary shortly after that visit, and threw myself into my new job, which guaranteed 80 hour work weeks during the winter amid minus forty degree weather, BUT it also had Tegan & Sara on the radio as it was their hometown and when I brought them up to people under the age of thirty, they knew who the twins were. I even had a direct report who had gone to high school with the Twins and met them a few times, though he was actually not that big of a fan.
         TWO DEGREES OF SEPARATION (as evidenced by a high school yearbook).
         The collective impact of these experiences, immersing myself into their music, their psychological love problems, memorizing chord and key changes as if my life depended on it, paled in comparison when I discovered via a link of a link of a link to a Rolling Stone website link that they were recording another album. 
         Suddenly, all I could think of for the next four months, was Heartthrob. 
         It was unhealthy. For the first time, I devoured their videos on youtube. I spent an unbelievable amount of money on itunes getting everything available, I scoured the internet for copies of the Plunk! E.P. and color issues. Somehow I had missed Tegan & Sara Get Along (I had this thing constantly in the way called a job and two little people at home that WOULD NOT LEAVE ME ALONE). Well, shit, I ordered that, too. States, a film about the band on tour, struck me as being just as important as Gimmie Shelter, Let it Be, or No Direction Home.
         Within ten minutes on youtube I declared everyone an idiot who could not tell them apart. Within ten more minutes, they looked similar, but had distinguishing differences. A half-hour convinced me the two of them looked nothing alike. They weren’t twins! Were they even sisters? This was the REAL con.
         Likewise in the same amount of time (after Back in Your Head) I knew who was singing what and with glee started arranging playlists on my iTouch in addition to my TEGAN&SARA playlist a TEGAN playlist and a SARA playlist. Over the next few weeks, I discovered I listened to Tegan more, and wondered if I always had, or if I had developed this post-surgical strike. Then I wondered if it was fair, separating the two. After all, they were a BAND. I didn’t separate out my Lennon from my McCartney. 
         These late nights on my Mac were followed during the daytime by an unhealthy jaunt into pre-Heartthrob research. Within the next two weeks, I WOULD KNOW FUCKING EVERYTHING THERE WAS TO KNOW ABOUT TEGAN & SARA. And I wasn’t ashamed. I knew which neighborhood they moved around in (near my work) I learned their personality traits via hundreds of published interviews on the web (though they are both funny, Tegan comes off more of a witty comedian and Sara more of a philosopher) and in a weird way, this made their music which I already knew intimately, even more intimately. Part of this was due directly to the Twins living their lives quite literally in the open and unabashedly, which I find endearing and brave. Part of this is what I came to see as the Tegan & Sara Machine. They were with the WB at this point, but already by that time, they had a brand, they knew how to sell it, and by God they were fucking geniuses at it. 
         The push towards the Heartthrob release left me obsessed with wanting more. More free shit on iTunes. The Newark Folk Fest. A listed but hard to find NPR concert. Road reviews. And among these was an advert they were going to play the Shaw Center in Edmonton in March.
         March? Edmonton? FUCK! It’ll be minus forty up there! FUCK IT! I was saved only by the revelation that even earlier they were playing at the University of Calgary. I just barely got tickets before they sold out. Though in my youth barely a month went by when I did not go to a concert (this went on for ten years or so) by this time I had not been to a concert (drunken forays on George Street did not classify) in at least four years. I think my last one was Rush on their Snakes and Arrows Tour stop at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Now all I had to do was survive the impending wave of pleasure that the Heartthrob release would cause and try not to get committed to an asylum before I could see them in concert. 
         Then, as if the Twins understood my plight, they released the album streaming the weekend before the release. I played it non-stop for three days. I never left earshot of my Mac. Folks, I had a problem. I had it bad. I needed help. This was worse than my constant repetition of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto album. I listened to that everyday sometimes twice a day for six goddamn months. I was, however, able to reign in my interest. Everyone already knew, for example, who Chris Martin was shacking up with. 
         My fascination and investigation into the lives of Tegan & Sara was shameful and I am in fact embarrassed about it. I only repeat it to warn others. You think its okay. You think it’s acceptable, even preferable to say, stalking. To me, it was a repeat of my behavior regarding The Beatles when I discovered them in my youth. Or the Doors. Holy shit, how many books had I read on Zeppelin? Surely my Tegan & Sara obsession didn’t border impropriety?  There was a definite period of a week there when my wife was not too sure who I wanted to be married to because of the articles she found open on my mac, the music running on the earphones on my ipod while I was sleeping, the desktop image at my work, and my humming of Drove Me Wild while doing dishes. Thinking back, perhaps it was overboard, or was I being hard on myself because unlike The Who or Def Leppard, they were women. In this case, I was actually being sexist against myself, and as someone who thinks of themselves as non-gender biased, this upset me. 
         I pulled back. I reconsidered what this meant, for my marriage. For my parental duties. For my job. After all, I was on a work permit and didn’t want the Canadian government to figure out what was going on and toss me out of the country for fear of being an obsessed fan. Calm down, I told myself. It’s okay to put My Number on eleven and rock the fuck out. It’s perfectly fine to mention in passing to someone Not Tonight is a special song to you. It’s all right that you’re only one of a hundred people who can repeat the refrain in The Ocean accurately and clearly. Just…dial it back. Who gives a shit who Tegan is dating but Tegan? Take the bookmark off their youtube page for Christ’s sake. I collected myself. I moved on. I was ready for the post Heartthrob world. 
         THEN I FUCKING DISCOVERED TWITTER!
         It had always been there, on my blackberry, awaiting just a flick of the finger. I had a work blackberry so everything was blocked out. I went through three blackberries due to crap RIM technology and one shameless pawn-up to get a Bold to replace my Torch. All of the icons, the Facebook, the Youtube, had been deactivated as a part of corporate policy. So I was surprised when I tried to turn my BB to silent that I accidentally hit the Twitter preinstalled icon and up came the home page. I previously had an iTouch so I kept up with Joel McHale and Kevin Smith for laughs, but as Closer was playing on my radio while I discovered this, the possibilities were endless!
         So now, I, like an addict, know where they are any given time of day, what they are doing, and what they are thinking, and I don’t have to feel like an obsessed fan because I’m not the one doing the obsessive researching and digital stalking. There’s no need for that now. Why?
         Because they fucking tell me what’s going on now, like I’m their bitch. And let’s face it, hundreds of dollars into my obsession, that’s what I am to the Tegan & Sara Machine. I’m their bitch, and like a submissive little creature I keep up with everything they care to tell me…and they care….they care to tell me a lot. So when I make it to their next gig, it’s all good. I won’t need to stand at the front. I’ll do with just a moderate floor view, I’ll cheer them on, and I’ll quietly check off their setlist against my wishlist. Tegan & Sara are one band that won’t ever have to get back in my head, because they would have never left.