Sunday, March 9, 2008

So much for Sunday morning...

So, I couldn't access my Internet last night (yes, Internet is capitalized), so I was forced to rely on the phone book to find a church to go to this morning and I really wanted to try somewhere I hadn't been before. So I got out "Lost Lucy" (name of my GPS device) to help me find the address listed under one that looked good and this morning I ventured forth.
I arrived in the dead-ghetto of Mira Mesa, and the church looked genuinely sketchy. So I used the GPS to find some other surrounding churches. It found one that wasn't going to start for another two hours and one that no longer holds services. I know it makes me a quitter, but after driving to my fourth church (ended up being Christian Science) I threw in the towel and did a GPS search for coffee houses nearby. It pulled up "Lestat's" (as in the vampire, named so because they stay open twenty four hours a day), which I'd heard was a cool place from people at work.

(Not the most flattering of photos, but adequately expresses my half-exasperation with the circumstances)

So here I am, sitting in Lestat's coffeeshop, paying homage to the damned (albeit, unwittingly) and--get this--sitting across from an underwear model.
Okay, I don't KNOW that he's actually an underwear model but Seriously the hansomest guy I've seen in a loooooong time, perhaps ever. He seriously looks like he tumbled out of some haute couture ad and landed at the table across from me. His perfect physiognomy is beautifully set off by his strong, square-jawed face complete with manly scruff and a sort of formidable brow with intense hooded eyes...not that I'm looking. Because I would never. Huh-uh.
UGH, what's a girl to do? I wish I could get a picture of him for you to see yourself, but that would be beyond the pale.
Okay, here's my solution. I will move seats in half an hour if he doesn't move before then and I brought "Mere Christianity" in what was apparently a moment of clairvoyance that I might somehow need the spiritual shot in the arm. I will proceed to read it after that half hour passes. Good plan.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Belly Up with Rufus

My mother has an aversion to live performances because she always feels so nervous for the performers themselves. Will the dancer trip? Will the actor forget his lines? Will the singer miss a breathmark? I have a great affinity for live performances but I admit that I've always had a tendency to share in her anxiety for the performer and have some difficulty focusing on the art as I get caught up in putting myself in the person's shoes onstage and imagining the pressure they must be feeling--until Tuesday night. Rufus Wainwright's ease on stage and command of his art was at once refreshing and comforting.
Red and blue spotlights illuminated the Yamaha grand on the stage waiting to come to life. Attendees of most ages, fashion influences, and varying degrees of reverence for the performer crowded "Belly Up," a famous west coast venue with the virtues of an average neighborhood bar. High-top tables, benches, and stair-stepped seating filled up immediately while hardcore groupies pressed themselves against the raised stage.
Cool upon entering, the whole room temperature steadily rose as people poured in from waiting in line at the doors. I found a seat next to a guy of about 30, safe looking, on one of many padded chairs pulled up to a long wooden counter. While the person to my left shifts so we aren't touching overly much, I don't. It would be polite and arguably patriotic (Americans and their personal space, you know) for me to make myself as compact as possible and avoid violating my neighbor's "bubble," but I live alone. I don't touch people. People don't touch me and for some, like myself, being touched is like a quota that needs to be reached for us to feel okay. Besides, I knew that in half an hour, our bodies would relax and we'd end up touching anyway, so cramped were the quarters we occupied.
So I sat my purse down on the sticky wooden counter before me, folded my hands on top of it, and looked around. I listened to the rustling, and even smelled little wafts of cologne coming from the man next to me as he fidgeted. I tried to seem like I didn't notice but was inwardly amused at his efforts. I determined if he seemed truly agitated that I would give in, and indeed he did seem to become somewhat flustered and he finally looked at me with not a little irritation in his face. I turned to look at him, took in his face for half a second and smiled at him with not a thought in my head except that I thought he had a nice nose. He looked puzzled then, but no longer annoyed and looked forward again. I resumed looking around the room. After a minute he sighed and relaxed his body so his height decreased by about an inch and our elbows and thighs touched.
The show opened with a female singer, Julianna Raye, who sang a sensual song about an having an affair in New York, "one by one the zipper's teeth gracefully admit defeat." Soon after, Rufus came out on the stage wearing a red "ugly sweater," the kind that's ugly by definition but fashionable due to its character and credit done by the rest of the person's ensemble. He strode over and sat down at the piano without much ceremony and, commenced with a fantastic rendition of "Grey Gardens."

He looked somewhat slight against the large piano but his voice was more powerful that I thought it would be, much more so, in fact. I am no music expert, so excuse my amateur attempt at classifying Rufus' voice; perfect pitch, nasal almost stringent tonality enveloped in a warm and controlled vibrato, and low. Someone said that he sings almost as if he's between waking and sleeping--slurring some of his gorgeously written lyrics. All in all, it's an accomplished voice that is unapologetically original and beautiful.
It was a one-man show (accompanied by himself on the piano and guitar), he openly discussed how this is a fiscal necessity as he's preparing an opera (!). Additionally, he is taking this low-profile tour along the west coast so his sister, Martha Wainwright, can have the spotlight for a while as she releases her new album. He admitted that he also may or may not have put some of the saved funds toward augmenting his entourage followed by a sheepish laugh. He had the audience in stitches later and throughout the evening. Between comparing his altruistic effort to step aside for Martha to Hilary's fading star versus Obama's success ("I'm like Hilary Wainwright"), forgetting the entire middle verse of "Little Sister" with hilarious effect, and ad-libbing lyrics in the middle of songs he was absolutely charming and singlularly at ease on stage.

After his "final" song, he graciously quit the stage but returned for an encore of "Art Teacher," a piece without which I would've been devastated not to hear, and one that will appear on his next album, "Who are you New York." He prefaced the latter with the fact that he was being terrifically stupid to perform it as he doubted it was "performance ready," but that he'd observed that performing a new song once for a crowd has the same effect as practicing it 33 times on his own, so off he went. It was wonderful, I can't wait to hear the rest of the album. This was a very important event for me because out of all the great performers anywhere, he was the one I most wanted to hear in person (hence the eternal blog post).

Line up of songs he performed:
-Grey Gardens
-Going to a town
-Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk
-April Fool's
-Beauty Mark
-Salty Sea
-Little Sister
-Maker Makes
-The Art Teacher
-I'm Not Ready to Love
-Matinee Idol (which he originally wrote for River Phoenix, but dedicated to Tinsel Town's latest tragic death, the late Heath Ledger, star of Brokeback Mountain for which "Maker Makes" was written as the lovesong for the soundtrack)
-Nobody's Off the Hook
-In My Arms
-Who are you, New York

Hope you enjoy the videos. Thanks for reading!