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Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance”
I spent the first minutes of 2011 getting fucked to Lady Gaga. I’d planned to watch the fireworks from the roof of my apartment, but didn’t notice it was midnight until I heard the people in the neighboring building doing the countdown. I was with a girl named Joan, who turned me on in a way that made me oblivious to anything short of people screaming from rooftops. We had both dated Bethesda, whose reasons for breaking up with me included that I don’t understand string theory and have no chest tattoos. Bethesda was a masochist, but claimed to only let men beat her up. Joan and I were both still in love with her.
I think I like Lady Gaga less because of a few indisputably high quality pop songs and more because I associate her music with sex. The first time I heard “Bad Romance” I was with a genocide-obsessed psychology student who put the song on a loop while we did shots of rum out of surgical tools, and then fucked me until her half-inch sky blue nails made me bleed. For that song to be playing at midnight on New Year’s with Joan felt perfect.
David Bowie, “Changes”
I met Joan through my friend Robert, who wore neon reflective sweaters and flew around the world giving lectures about marine biology. He’d buy hundreds of glow sticks or pounds of candy corn and dispense them to everyone at parties. The night I met him, he bought glow-in-the-dark cock rings for everyone. We went with him to a car dealership to pick up his new periwinkle Honda, and then to a restaurant with an indoor stream that had starfish in it.
David Bowie’s “Changes” came on the radio and Robert turned it up, grinning approvingly. Good glam rock is like the best sex, the kind where you lose yourself until the looming fragility of your life and happiness is barely noticeable. After dinner we all went to a hotel downtown. I had never seen straight sex before. While I’m not at all attracted to men, I appreciate the range of things it is possible to do to a woman in collaboration with a man. I’d compare it to being a Transformer. The next morning, I took a picture of the view from the window of the hotel with my phone that I still have. I felt like I’d just been to another dimension, so I went home and listened to Tina Turner.
The Vaselines, “Rory Rides Me Raw”
I went to visit Joan in California, where she worked for a high rise window cleaning company. We did nothing but drink and have sex when she wasn’t rappelling down the sides of office buildings, hundreds of feet above San Francisco. I told her I loved her one night, and she said she wanted to jump in front of a car. When you’re sad sometimes, she told me, it’s like swimming in a lake, where the water is cold in the middle but warm near the bottom, and she was in the warm part.
For the rest of the trip I lay in her bed listening to The Vaselines, or rode around San Francisco on her bike, filled with dread whenever we weren’t fucking. The Vaselines still bring back the smell of that apartment.
Neutral Milk Hotel, “King of Carrot Flowers”
The last day of my trip was Valentines’ Day. When we went to bed I asked her to put on “King of Carrot Flowers” by Neutral Milk Hotel, because it’s the saddest song I know and I can only stand it when I’m content exactly the way I was that night.
GG Allin “Cheri Love Affair”; Sex Pistols, “Satellite”
Around the time she broke up with me, Robert and I started doing a lot of nitrous oxide, and I got really into Girl Talk. I could momentarily obliterate my disappointment with a lung full of nitrous oxide and a “Rebel Rebel”/“Pop That Pussy” mashup. There is something anesthetizing about the best part of one pop song mixed with the best part of another. I can never listen to sad music when I’m sad. For real sadness, I listen to Sex Pistols or GG Allin.
For Robert’s birthday I left a cake full of light-up plastic rats on top of an apartment building as a surprise. When I came over to lead him to it, he was watching cartoons with his girlfriend Nancy, a scientist who was developing some kind of antibiotic. Part way through the movie he took off her shirt, and in a surreally short time we were both fucking her. Robert and his girlfriend said “I love you” to each other afterwards and I said, “I love cake.” I felt far away. Though Nancy was beautiful and I was fond of her, I wished there had been David Bowie on instead of that Pixar movie about the flying house.
GBH, “Heavy Discipline”
A couple of months ago Bethesda visited from Portland. We had dinner with her parents and stayed up talking and drinking after they went to bed. We were talking about Melissa, a girl I’d just started seeing who showed me an intimidating photo of her chest pincushioned with hypodermic needles. I told Bethesda I had yet to determine if I liked inflicting pain. She proposed a game–every time she hi-fived me, I’d slap her. We repeated this exchange a few times, Bethesda smiling ambiguously. She knocked me off my chair, and I pinned her down and smacked her hard. She moaned.
I wasn’t sure if I was turned on because I was hitting her or because she had no underwear on. I put on GBH’s first album and we rolled back onto the floor. Her skirt had slid up around her hips. Her lip was bleeding. At some point, her dad yelled down the stairs at us to be quiet. Appropriately, “Heavy Discipline” came on. We slid around on the floor spitting in each other’s faces until we were exhausted and collapsed on each other in the guest bedroom. I was relieved to realize the desperation of being in love was gone.
Guy Marks, “Loving You Has Made me Bananas”
She asked me recently what my favorite love song is. It is “Loving You Has Made me Bananas” by Guy Marks, because it’s extravagant and full of feeling and makes no damned sense. “I asked the waiter for iodine/but I-o-dined all alone.” Melissa’s decision to keep dating me was motivated partly by pictures I sent her of bruises from that night. Our next date was to an arboretum, where we drank whiskey on an abandoned stretch of freeway as the sun went down. The park filled with gay guys cruising, one of whom apologized casually for approaching us while we fucked under the freeway in the growing darkness.
Jerry's Kids, “Tear It Up”
New Year’s is less than a month away now. This morning I woke up between Melissa and Joan, who recently moved back to town, and we had coffee in bed and talked to Robert on video chat. After they left I drank way more coffee until I felt completely insane and put on Jerry’s Kids, which I’ve been listening to constantly lately. I was incredibly happy and felt like telling both of them.