Friday, December 23, 2011

Jerky Christmas

ME (Turning on overhead light while Drew is sleeping): HEY!

DREW (squinting): What?? Turn that off, it's too bright.

ME: Are we going to have a good Christmas?

DREW: You tell me. Are we?

ME: We are if you can stop being a jerk. That's why I'm asking.

DREW: Well I'm asking too. I'm not being a jerk. Are you going to stop being a jerk?

ME: I'M not being a jerk. You're being a jerk. 

DREW: You're the jerk. Turn the light off.

ME: Not until you say you're going to stop being a jerk.

DREW: Okay, you're going to stop being a jerk.


ME: Light's still on.

DREW: All right. I'll stop being a jerk! Turn it off!

ME: Okay, then we're going to have a good Christmas.

(light goes off)

DREW (quiet voice from the dark bedroom): You know, some people might say that only a JERK would turn the light on like that.

ME: I can't hear you! But since you're up, wanna watch Scrooge?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

More Unicorns and Rainbows

I have a friend who is a member of a certain well known motorcycle club and I'm constantly trying to incorporate him into my writing world somehow because he's always angry but in the most hilarious kind of way that I find completely entertaining. He, of course, will have nothing to do with my shenanigans, which have included trying to steal his overseas bike trip itineraries (to scan and post because they look so cool) and grilling him about his sex life. 

I want to make him an internet star, but as he is a one percenter in the traditional sense of the term, and living a truly interesting rebel life, he wants nothing to do with my nonsense. So I figure I'll just post our text and email rounds here once in a while, as those are pretty funny on their own:

Just drunkenly fell on my knee outside BE. That guy JT is the bomb. Love you!
December 9 1:15am

December 9 1:21am

Totally, and FUCK YOU!
December 9 1:22am

December 9 1:41am

Whatevs! Awesome to see you. xoxoxoxo
December 9 1:42am
[Ed note: Yes, I did text "whatevs". And yes, I hate myself for it.]

December 9 10:29am

Goddamnit, I was going to leave that part out.
December 9 10:35am

December 9 10:45am


December 13 11:23am

How dare you interrupt my regal slumber as I sit upon a royal vinyl throne in the New York City jury pool? Now I must sit here semi-awake and pray for swift release. Her number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.
December 13 11:25am

December 13 11:44am

I thought about that! You are always full of good ideas and now maybe you'll get me out of jury duty.
December 13 11:47am

December 13 12:09pm

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I See You

Me: I saw one of my former generals on the street today.

Drew: What are you talking about?

Me: From that other lifetime when I was a queen.

Drew: Really. So who was this person?

Me: Somebody's mom on the street. I didn't know her, but I recognized her. We had a moment. (Pointing two fingers to eyes and back out again).

Drew: Really?

Me: Yes. It was nice to see her again.

Drew: You do realize that you are 100% batshit crazy, right?

Me: I don't know what you're talking about, Andrew.

Drew:  It's terrifying. Your lips move and I feel actual fear. (waves hands in the air) Gaaahhh!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Me n' Popeye on the Bowery

I had one of those New York moments this morning that could be construed as depressing or funny, depending on where one's head is at, I suppose. It sort of warmed my heart a bit to the city that sometimes seems like a shell of its former glory to me.

On Saturday night I had to explain to yet another overprivileged trio of children fresh out of Westchester that in public areas in the city, space is tight, so slamming into the person sitting next to you at the bar (me) repeatedly is unwanted, and in some circles, considered a bit rude. 

I asked the girl doing the slamming to stop (nicely) and of course she continued. Because they always continue. 
I'm guessing in this case it's probably because she's a spoiled asshole whose parents have been telling her she's awesome and everything she does or thinks or says is awesome and she's never been told no throughout the length of her pointless, useless existence. But again, I'm guessing.

Anyhoo, this is the new me in which there is a concerted effort to resolve issues peacefully, so 
I sat through about ten more minutes of the irritation as patiently as I could, then turned and attempted to explain it all to her again, in a calm voice with a smile on my face. 

The boyfriend cut me off with my least favorite one word sentence on the planet: "Relax!" The sidekick said, in the most resentful and petulant tone imaginable, "It was an accident!" And the culprit in question merely pressed her face into the boyfriend's chest to signify, "I honestly believe that I am too cute to deal with the problems I have created around me so I'm just going to behave like a five year old until the moment passes." New York, New York on a Saturday night. 

I will always look back somewhat wistfully upon the days when the occasional bar brawl was par for the course and not a big enough reason to call the police. A trio like this would have lasted five minutes in our old world, and that's maybe how some people have to learn how to behave. And 
I am somewhat sad, and occasionally resentful and petulant myself about the evil population tide that has washed over the bars and clubs of my neighborhood. So I welcome any encounter that resembles the East Village of my past, no matter what form it takes.

I walk to work every day and as I was nearing Bowery (the street on which I work) I saw a man ahead of me slumped over in a wheelchair. As I got closer I could see he was missing half a leg, and he was so far over that his hands were touching the sidewalk. His clothes looked clean. He didn't appear to be breathing. 

Numerous people passed and I was a little shocked that no one even looked at him. There was a moving truck parked in front of where he sat and the guys doing the moving (giant flat screens into overpriced new condos, she says in a bitter tone) merely walked around him and into the building, without pause.

Now, it's Bowery, which features a very expensive new hotel, the afore-mentioned overpriced bullshit condos, a homeless shelter and the White Hotel, which is the last oldschool flophouse left in that area. So anything is possible. It's a melange, if you will, of the high and the low, the tourist and the bum, which can be very entertaining if you're in the right mood. 

I passed the man, thinking, agh, he's just in the middle of a goodly sized dope moment. But I wavered and thought, what if he's not? It would be so typical of the new regime in this city to let a man die on the street without notice. He wasn't moving after all, so things were questionable. Usually with heroin, or whatever opiates people can get their hands on now, you'll get a little amount of snapping to and then going back down again. What if he overdosed? Or what if it's a heart attack and everyone is assuming he's fucked up? 

I turned around and went back. 
I put my hand on his shoulder and asked, "Sir? Are you okay?"

He sat up slowly and blinked a pair of very blue eyes. He looked like Popeye, which immediately endeared him to me.

He said, 
"Oh, yeah. I'm just very sleepy. Very sleepy."

I said, "So you're just high, right? You don't need any help?"

He said, "I took a couple of aspirin, but I'm fine. I'm so tired. Thank you, sweetheart. Do you know what time it is?"

I looked at my phone and said, "10: 58."

He replied, "Oh thank you dear! I'm late!" And he started up the wheels of his chair like there was going to be some hustling.

I turned, took a few steps to the corner and looked over my shoulder to wave back at him. He was already in full frontal slump, face between his knees (or one knee and stump) fingers on the ground. He'd probably moved three feet from the original resting spot.

I wanted to run back and give him a quick hug, but I didn't want to ruin the nod. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rebirthing for Nerds

I have a boss (not Pat) who is completely psychotic, but to his credit is always working to get less so through spiritual practice. He has tried a few different methodologies and found he really likes rebirthing. He feels that it helps to clear the substantial amount of rage and pain he carries with him, and over the summer he was so convinced of rebirthing's value that he handed me an envelope with a rebirther's number and the price of a session.

I would have preferred to keep the cash and put it towards something like botox or hair extensions, but I dutifully called the man and set up an appointment. My boss warned me that the guy was a bit of an oddball, and to roll with it. I took a train uptown and from my experience of the neighborhood and the mission at hand, anticipated a clean, new agey white apartment with plants and a massage table in the middle. There's almost always a massage table involved with this sort of activity.

I was greeted by a bearded man of small build wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He was probably a couple of years younger than me, and he welcomed me into a one room hippie pad, which could only be described as grubby and clearly the home of a bachelor. It did have plants, but messy plants. It had that kind of organization of a man who doesn't know fully how to clean properly but knows that he must make things presentable.

I recognized the signs immediately: The bed was made. There was a pile of quilts on the floor which were folded neatly into a sort of pallet, which I assumed that I would be laying on. They looked washed and I was grateful for that. The floor was clean-ish. But the kitchen looked dubious from a distance, and the bathroom, which I used upon entering, was pretty crusty. I am a fussy girl when it comes to the settings of my new age brain clearing activities, so I immediately felt edgy and judgy. What is it with some guys that they can't scrub out a tub? What germ life is my bare ass touching right now on this toilet?

But, in for a penny, in for a pound. I squared my shoulders, re-entered the room, sat down on the pallet in a protected yoga crossleg and listened to what he had to say. And he had to say A LOT. I think my tattooed appearance and guarded demeanor made him feel the need to explain that he too was hip and knew the streets of New York, and he outlined every detail about his former life as a drug addict and how he had come to the process of rebirthing and how much happier he is as a result.

He leaned back on pillows in comfortable hippie bachelor dude mode, while I sat stiffly, semi-smile pasted on my face. I felt deeply uncomfortable, which in fairness is more a statement about my mental state than his own. It was like one of those times where you find yourself waiting for a friend at a bar and end up sitting next to a too-interested guy who really wants to get to know you while you continue to glance at the door hopefully for your rescue. I am uncomfortable meeting new people in an ideal setting so this was nowhere near a relaxed zone for me.

Rebirthing, according to what information I ingested and retained, has to do with breathing. The theory is that the birth process is one in which we are thrust upon the world in a manner that is traumatizing. Breathing is painful in those first minutes and so we learn to never breathe fully and properly, and we hold energy from traumas throughout our birth and life in our muscles and body. Rebirthing is the act of breathing deeply and quickly, which causes a buildup of oxygen in the blood and helps to cleanse the suppressed emotions we are holding down by a lifetime of holding our breath. Here's the wikipedia page:

I grasped that I would soon be laying on the floor and panting heavily while this strange man stared down at me. Fabulous. I am not thrilled, and not convinced, and grateful that I wore a big t-shirt rather than something breast-ey and low cut. But he seems harmless enough and very confident that this will be a life-altering experience, so I get on with it, thinking the faster we get it going, the faster I'm out of there.

I start panting, and within seconds it's excruciating. I want to be anywhere else in the world except laying there huffing. It's too much work. I don't feel good. I question the cleanliness of the blankets underneath me. Thoughts are racing through my head and I want to run. I'm unhappy physically and mentally. He tells me this resistance is normal and you have to ride it out until you come out the other end, which, God-willing, is the clearing side. I curse my boss. Isn't it enough that he tortures me at work? Why am I here?

But after what seemed like an hour of agony something did happen, and it's interesting enough that I put it in a corner of my brain to blog about at a later date, in case the information is of any use to anyone else:

I do a thing with my hand when I get defensive or angry, which is sort of cock it up in a "halt" position. A friend noticed it years ago when I was an angrier person than now, and she would shout, "The hand! The hand!" when she thought we were nearing a danger zone. My dog, who was viciously abused in his early years, does a unique thing with his paws whenever he's afraid, which is to tense them up and cross them over each other very tightly, almost as if he's wringing them. It's the saddest, most pathetic thing you've ever seen: as you dip him into a bath he just gives up and rolls in like a furry pill bug.

So I'm laying there panting like an idiot and my hand goes up, my feet tighten, bend, and cross just like my dog's, and memories of a night that I was molested as a very young child flood my brain. And I start crying. It was instantaneous and very emotional, and at the same time there is another part of me thinking, great, this is absolutely mortifying and the last thing I wanted to do was give this guy the satisfaction of weeping five minutes into this crap while he is probably looking at my boobs or wondering what he's going to have for lunch. But he's still talking and telling me to go with it, and it was either go on or make a scene and drag it out even longer.

The next thing that rolled into my head almost as instantaneously was a cinematic action version of this, which is an image from a video game called Bioshock II:

Last year I got completely obsessed with playing Bioshock and Bioshock II. It's a great game, visually it is right up my alley with beautifully detailed art deco settings, music from the 30's, interesting opponents and a very creative and fun weaponry system. Dork, dork, dork. Your character is a man in a nearly invincible suit of armor which looks like an old-fashioned diving suit, and the game offers you a choice to be either a protector/rescuer or a harvester of of these little girls who have been turned into sort of energy collecting zombies. It's all very complicated and awesome and creepy, and I spent months and months stomping around as one of these big daddies, protecting and restoring little girls. I just could not get enough, I would finish and start right over again, until I reluctantly loaned the games to my brother to get them out of the house for a little while.

So I'm laying there sniffling and I think, this is weird, how did Big Daddy get in here? So random...And then OOOOHHHHHH. What we ladies like to call an Oprah "aha!" moment. Of course he's here while I'm crunching up physically over something that happened to me when I was 8. And THAT'S why this game crawled so deeply into my psyche. I get to be a giant, armored monster who protects the little girl.

Well duh.

So without getting all sappy and drawing this out, I do feel that I cleared some of that particular energy out and got a better understanding of how much that incident hurt me. I have always felt that it was a minor infraction in my life compared to the pain that other people have suffered at the hands of abusers. It probably lasted 15 minutes, after a couple of days of painfully uncomfortable interaction in which I sensed it was coming, and then I never saw the person again. But clearly, if this is what came up, it was still sitting in there, and is maybe emblematic for other hurts that were too easily dismissed without the proper respect. 

Sometimes it's hard to know what to pay attention to, and what to let go. I am very cautious about fetishizing pain, and have a hard time with people who can't move forward in their lives. But at the same time, you have to deal with your crap.

If I look at my life from the outside, objectively, the Big Daddy/Little Sister relationship has been a primary theme throughout. Protecting the inner, easily wounded part with armor and ferocity. I am attracted to people who behave similarly and love breaking down the scariest person in the room. But then, isn't this how most of us protect ourselves anyway? It manifests outwardly with different armors, but the essence is there. Some people use anger, some addiction, some people-pleasing, some sex, some plain old asshole-ism. Peeling off those layers is, in my mind, the whole point of being here.

As far as rebirthing goes, I was told that it is recommended that people go for numerous sessions, as different things come up to clear every time. I am sure that's true. He pushed me to make another appointment and I declined, stating that I would at a later time, but knowing that I wouldn't be back. I gleaned some information out of the experience that was valuable to me, but I don't feel a burning desire to go back. I I just want to lay the experience out here for those of you who are curious about the process or seeking new methods of healing.

And happily,
Skyrim was released this week, can't wait to see what the dragons have to teach me about my deep inner life. This is the excuse that will now be used for the hours spent nerdgaming. Oh happy day!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Birthday Poem Part 1

This is total ego-braying now, but my lovely friend Chloe Valentine posted this on my Facebook wall today, and I feel the need to share...

With no further delay, I present your birthday poem Part 1

Homage to Mary Raffaele

Ivory skin, silky so fine

An infectious smile
She is divine

A Scorpio Birthday

A delightful lass

Cats, high heels, pasta, glamorous dresses

Patron, jewels, and Lemmy...

Monday, October 17, 2011


ME: I hate the way the bottom half of my face is looking in photos lately. It looks old. I need a facelift.

DREW: Why don't you do face yoga? (Pulls his chin out and up) There are exercises.

ME: That's a good idea. I'll research it online.

DREW: Or maybe just shut up. You're probably loosening the skin by flapping your jaw so much.

ME: I am living my authentic self, like Oprah says I should. I am speaking my truth.

DREW: Well, your truth is very noisy. It's a noisome truth.

ME: Well, my truth for today is that you are an asshole.

DREW: I don't think making that face is good for your skin either.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bebe Buell, Babes, and Bathroom Brawls

So, my longtime and dear friend Bebe Buell asked me to do a spoken word opener for her record release party last night. She said, "You're so funny, Raffer. I am envisioning you with a new spoken word career!" Which is very kind, and I gladly accepted and wrote something specially for her night.

My mom is in town for a visit, and staying with me, so I've been on the go nonstop all week, and I worked all day. I ran home, curled my hair, threw some eyelashes on, printed the piece out quickly, then ran to the venue without checking. the pages.

True to Raff minor chaos form, I got onstage, read the first three pages happily, and then realized as I stood in a spotlight, with 350 people listening, that I had left the last page at home. Le sigh. Le panic. Le FREAKOUT. I had to wing it. I am SO not into winging it. But I had a great time, and I think the crowd did too, and I'm so grateful to Bebe for her incredibly generous spirit and her awesome audience. Please pick up her new album "Hard Love". You won't be disappointed, I think it might be her best yet.

All my best girls showed up for support, and in another typical Raff situation, two of them almost got in a major brawl in the ladies room when a zaftig goth girl complained loudly to the bathroom attendant that I had stolen her material. I have killer friends, and I do mean killer in both senses of the word. They do me proud.

And happily, more than a couple of people I met asked if they could find the piece online, so I am posting it here. And then I'm going back to bed, because my vodka-soaked head is killing me. 

As per usual, namaste, my bitches.


When Bebe asked me to get up here and say something, I thought about a number of stories that I’ve written, but decided that since it’s her record release, it makes sense to begin by speaking about Bebe, and how we met.

When I was a teenager I was a nerd. I wore thick glasses and lived in a small town in Michigan. And I was insane about Todd Rundgren. Like devoted, rabid fan. His nerdiness spoke to my nerdiness in a way that I felt no one else could understand. I knew we were meant to be together. One day we would be madly in love. I would stand at his side wearing the coolest clothes and we would use big words like “onomatopoeia” and “ubiquitous” in our everyday conversation.

Because it was the 70’s I had pictures of him up in my locker at school, cut out from Creem and Rolling Stone Magazines, where I got all of my most important news. There was no internet. You couldn’t google your idols, you just had to wait for these magazines to come out each month, and listen to flat, vinyl records over and over again while you looked at the jacket cover and fantasized about another life. A life that involved fitting in and rock stars and skyscrapers and fancy backstage parties. A life that did not include shoveling snow in moon boots and waiting for your birthday so you could get contact lens and stop being abused for being a four-eyed nerd at your Todd-festooned locker.

One day I opened a magazine, most likely the aforementioned Creem, and there was that famous photo of Todd and Bebe sitting at a small table looking up at the camera. I stopped breathing for a minute. Bebe looked so beautiful, and not much older than me. Her big blue eyes were wide and sweet, she wore a flower in her long, light, full hair and her mouth was parted slightly open, as if she were waiting to be kissed. She was so beautiful.

I thought to myself...“That fucking bitch.”

I was pissed. My hair never looked like that! I had assumed, wrongfully I could see now, that Todd was waiting patiently for me to pull myself together and move to New York so we could start our life together. Bebe was an interloper. She had stolen my man, my future life! I began listening for signs of her in his songs. I practically had a meltdown when she put out a record of her own. That was really taking it too far. I was gonna beat her up one day. As soon as I got the hell out of Dodge and into New York City, she was gonna get it.

Well...I did get the hell out of Dodge, and I stopped wearing glasses and started my own band. Screw you, Todd. I don’t wanna be your goddamn girlfriend anymore. I’m going to get famous and then you and all the hometown haters will be sorry that you didn’t appreciate me when you had a chance! I was officially a Cycle Slut from Hell with an attitude to match the name.

Sometime in the late 80’s Dee Dee Ramone hosted a show that featured a number of bands, including my band, the Cycle Sluts, and Bebe was scheduled to play. I was finally going to get to see my teenage nemesis in person and I was very curious. I assumed that I would hate her. She was blonde, after all. Surely just a spoiled model with nothing to say.

I dressed in my heavy metal gear for sound check and put my guard up. Too cool for school, just hanging here near the stage, smoking a cigarette in my thigh high boots. You know how it is.

Bebe spotted me immediately and got up from her seat and marched directly over to me and introduced herself with a big smile. Liv, who was just a little girl then, smiled and waved from her seat. Bebe’s blue eyes were even more clear in real life. Her hair looked great (of course). She was so friendly and natural. They both shone like the sun and their presence was so warm and friendly that I couldn’t help but warm up a little bit in the light.

I thought...“That fucking bitch.” Now I had to be nice. This did not fit into my master plan.

My brain sort of exploded. And my brain has been exploding ever since. Bebe has taken me to Todd’s house for the weekend, we took a road trip to Wisconsin with Skid Row and Guns and Roses, and another time we went to a strip bar with Gene Simmons, with whom, by the way, I had a very deep and thoughtful conversation about silicone breasts. My teenage nemesis helped make some amazing rock and roll moments possible for me. This is all the proof I need that life is magic.

So today I thought I would hail all the women who have entered my life much as Bebe has: as someone to eye with suspicion as we are raised to do. Who are you? What do you have that people will love you for more than they love me? Are you prettier than me? Skinnier than me? What are you going to take from me?

If you can get past the the butt-sniffing phase, you can occasionally find someone to call sister. Sometimes you gain an archenemy instead. But this can be fun as well, full of catty conversations with friends, dirty looks across the room, and the occasional bar brawl that leads you to review your current life choices. Or maybe that’s just me? Regardless, I get a little smarter with every connection.

So here’s to you, my girls. You bitches, you gossipers, you haters, you nurturers, you lovers. I am so grateful, more grateful than words can say, for the tender hand you extend when I fall. I forgive you for sometimes pushing me off the cliff in the first place.

Here’s to you, girls who weren’t born pretty and made themselves so. I salute you for the effort. You look fabulous. Here’s to the girls who put themselves through college. The ones who get the job done. The ones who can carry half their weight, the ones who can stitch a wound. The ladies who know what it’s like to lug their own suitcase up six flights of tenement stairs. The women who will stop their car on the highway to rescue a stray dog. The ladies of pro-wrestling. You’ve all got great asses.

Here’s to anyone who’s ever sent a cringe-worthy drunk email or left a wasted late night message on the phone. Here’s to the cheaters who just couldn’t help themselves. Here’s to the girls who have figured out all his passwords. You know you’re crazy, but you’re fucking smart. Here’s to anyone who’s ever made an ass out of themselves over love. Here’s to you, who loved so much the bones of your heart had no choice but to crack in a million pieces under the weight. They fused back in new patterns and you were never the same. Harder perhaps, but less of a sap and more compassionate where it counts. You chose the pain; now you don’t need to choose it again.

So here’s to damaged goods. You couldn’t stay away from that bad boy, and now you’re flawed with the occasional std and the constant bad attitude. Here’s to your junkie past that scarred your skin and burned your brain. Who gives a shit. That was yesterday, this is today. Don’t do it again and you’ll be fine. You are fine. You are a stone cold fox.

I laud you, single mothers. I don’t know how you do it, it looks like the hardest job in the world, and I’ve worked some shit jobs in my day. I have a friend who lost her four year old to cancer. She told me some days it was all she could do not to go to the cemetery and dig that baby up just to hold her one more time. Imagine the courage it takes to get through just one of those days. The good mother is superhuman. What it does to your boobs is criminal and it is my God-given right to glare at your stroller that blocks my entrance into the liquor store, but I hail the you just the same.

And I bow to you, wives who make their marriages work, and wives who could not. Either way you are golden and grand and you have done the best you could with what you know. Give yourselves a gold star, a pat on the back, a big glass of wine in a fancy goblet, unless you’re one of my girls in recovery. In that case you can have an ice tea with no sugar. I want you healthy and happy because there’s a lot of work to do out there.

I have so much love for you, you’ve carried me through the best and the worst of times, which are sometimes interchangeable. You loaned me clothes, bought me lunch, called to gently break the news about my cheating man, did coke with me until the sun came up and then called the next day to tell me we had to stop. You shouted and clapped at every show I performed, no matter how off-key it sounded. You forgave me. I’m so grateful that you forgave me.

Here’s to the witches, psychos, crazy bitches, shrews, harpies, cunts, fishwives, hellcats, she-devils, whores, harridans, skanks, nymphos, prudes, dogs. The festerers, the obsessives, the maniacs, the freaks, the drunk dialers, the wallflowers, the fatties. The ones wearing too much makeup. Too thick, too skinny, not pretty enough, too pretty, not the right one. The rock and roll bitches, because you are my favorite bitches of all. You are perfect, my dear. Stop shouting into the wind and and do your best to learn to sit peacefully in your imperfection. It will get better, I promise.

I raise a toast to my girls: Take a look at yourself next time you’re in front of a mirror. This might be the most beautiful you’ll ever be in your life, so enjoy it while you can. Maybe not. Fuck it. Fuck it. You are a champion, you are more lovable than you think you are, you are a muse, you deserve to have songs written about you. You are holy, you are whole. You just have to shut the fuck up and step out of your own way.  

So here’s a salute to you my sisters. I hail you my frenemies. I thank you my enemies. Without you, I am nothing.

Now let’s get on with this show because time is ticking and Bebe and I aren’t getting any younger.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Did I...Did We...?

Whew! What a couple of weeks. As much as I like a good party, it's been much. Ordinarily I can handle one event a week, maximum. Last week we had a simultaneous Patricia Field party at the store and the new Veselka for Fashion's Night Out: There are some good photos here:

Paulina, me, and Luke Vahle in our FNO party gear: 

Two days later Patricia, who is working with Maybelline, had a private party in her home for the Maybelline delegates from China. They were absolutely lovely people and included a celebrity from Shanghai, who one of the girls told me is a huge star on television over there, with a plethora of female fans. He was a super cute little guy in hip gear and porkpie hat, trailed by a 6' tall, incredibly gorgeous asian model. He seemed accustomed to being a big deal, but was very friendly. I thought how funny it is that everything is relative; here none of us have a clue and in another setting some Chinese girl would lose her mind being in such close proximity. Celebrity is so arbitrary.

Cut to this week, my girl Zoe's husband Handsome Dick Manitoba was scheduled to sing two songs at a Road to Recovery event honoring Slash. I was beyond excited to be Zoe's date for the evening, as I love me some Slash and Duff McKagan. I spent a decent amount of time around them back in the day. was backstage at most of their shows in NY, they hung out often in the scene at the Scrap Bar, and one time Bebe Buell and I were flown to Wisconsin by CSFH's lawyer for an action-packed Skid Row/GnR show weekend. We hung out with Skid Row mostly, and it was obvious that Axl was starting to drive his bandmates insane by then. Stephanie Seymour was there and it took hours before Axl would get onstage. I had one glimpse of Slash that night looking very tense outside their dressing room door, and we didn't venture into their realm that night.

And then lastly, in my GnR hang out chronicles, Duff once picked me up at Scrap Bar and took me in his limo to a party in their hotel room. All strictly platonic, he's a very gracious person who would do things like that. We had a great time in the ride, he had a friend with him and they poured me a drink and we watched the city roll by out the limousine window. It was a classic New York rock and roll night and I haven't been up close to him in person since then, so I was very much looking forward to having the opportunity to say hello some 20 years later.

Zoe and I are overgrown teenagers, so she said, "You know, this event is dry. Should we bring a flask?" I didn't have one and neither did she, so she offered to buy a couple of small bottles to hide on our personage (i.e. panties). Keepin' it classy. Of course I said yes, a little airplane bottle would be just right. If we are rocking out and want a little swig, it'll be there. Cue to the cab, Zoe opens her bag and pulls out two giant fifths of the ever-elegant Smirnoff:

I should do commercials for them, right? I laughed and said, "Girl, first of all, there is no way we're fitting these in our pants, and second, if we did drink all this we would end up in the hospital!" Zoe agreed and said she got carried away by the flatness of the bottle, thinking it would be easy enough to hide. We decide that the prudent thing to do is take a few swigs in the cab and leave the bottles outside the venue for some happy bum to find. Which we do. And although we probably could have snuck them in in our bags, something tells me that we were better off leaving this much alcohol behind prior to entering a benefit for substance abuse.

The show was great. Richard (Handsome Dick) killed it with a cover of Kick Out the Jams, and we were able to watch from backstage at the side of the stage. Seeing Slash and Duff perform in such close proximity flashed me back to a time when I was dating Slam Thunderhide of Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction and they opened for GnR. I stood in a similar spot, side of stage, watching some of the same people. I felt a bit wistful for a moment. It seemed only a minute ago that we were in the thick of it: young and beautiful, vying for and garnering rock star attention. The world was a different place and possibilities were infinite. Now I am just another middle aged woman with a backstage pass. But it was fun while it lasted and I am grateful that I can still wrangle that pass once in a while.

Prior to the show I pounced on Duff in the dressing room, and said, "Hi Duff, it's Raff, from the Cycle Sluts. Do you remember me?" He was very friendly but he paused and cocked his head in confusion. After the show, back in the same room I said, "I'm a little sad that you don't remember me." He replied, "No, I do. It's just that much of my past is a blur. I had to go through my mental rolodex. Did we...did I...?"

I laughed and said, "NO! Not at all, nothing untoward. All friendly and good." We talked a little bit about writing; he has a book coming out and writes a column for the Seattle Weekly, and I felt happy to have made the connection.

Slash seemed uninterested when I introduced myself, but as he was leaving he sort of leaped in and gave me a hug and said, "It's so good to see you! I never see anyone from back then anymore." I was very touched by that and it occurred that he is either somewhat shy or perhaps made the connection after my hello. Either way it made me happy and I remarked that if they gave me a guest list next time I could provide him with an entire busload of New York old timers.

Cut to two days later. Drew comes home at 4 am, wrecked from one of those horrible fashion week rich kid and model parties that his crew likes to attend. He woke me up and asked, "Did you send a threatening letter to Miss X? She says you did." Miss X is a socialite who tends to photograph her own legs quite a bit and orbits around his band on occasion.

I went through my mental rolodex..."Did I...did we...?"

I mean, I never really threaten, per se. There was that pathetic Swedish chick a million years ago that got a little out of hand. I did send her a message through myspace to let her know that I was aware of what she was trying to accomplish...And then there was the hardcore chick who was calling him a little too often, but she and I are friendly and that was an old school communication and we're tighter for it...And then okay, I have to admit that there was that completely uncalled for and bitchy late night missive that I sent to that spoiled moron who fancies herself the new Anita Pallenberg. I am willing to state that this was a little juvenile on my part and I, on occasion, will make an ass of myself. But,, I can definitely say that I have never emailed this particular female and can think of no reason that it would be necessary?

Drew eyed me like Larry David. You have to feel for the guy sometimes.

The next day I wondered, feeling disconcerted and a little icky. Did this girl confuse an email from someone else? Is she simply crazy? Did I do something characteristically dumb and completely blank it out? Or is someone out there pretending to be me? That would be creepy. But then I thought, hmm...maybe it's sort of exciting that someone would find me interesting enough to impersonate? I'll never know for sure. One thing I do know for sure, life is never dull.

So that is my life as a cover girl. Fashion's Night Out, Chinese celebrities, some of my favorite rock stars, and past psychotic behavior coming to bite me in the ass. Up next, tomorrow is a D Generation reunion at Irving Plaza, which will be like a class reunion and will undoubtedly provide more blog fodder. In the meantime, here are some photos from Road to Recovery. I stupidly took everyone else's and forgot to take any of my own:

Richard and Slash:

Zoe and Slash:

Zoe and Richard:

Richard's photo from soundcheck. Duff, Slash, and Wayne Kramer. I think it's a cool shot.

And lastly, me and Zoe. The outfit I'm wearing looked way better in person, I'm so upset that it makes me look dumpy here and the bra is showing through, but it's the only snap of the two of us from the night.

Namaste, bitches!

Friday, September 2, 2011

No Capes!

Whew! Hurricane Irene! Most of my cynical New York friends complained that they were duped when we didn't get destroyed. But parts of the city went without power, a friend in New Jersey had a brand new car submerged in water, another friend in Brooklyn had to pull up his basement carpet because of flooding. I wasn't affected much, my Direct tv dish on the roof didn't even flicker. Finally, crappy walk-up tenement living works in a person's favor, too high up for flooding, windows don't face anything pretty that can break off and fly in.

What was more interesting to me was the shopping frenzy the two days before. Drew and I were not immune to the mob panic, we assembled a packed fridge, a pile of new flashlight batteries, candles and a few jugs of water. Plus ice cream, boxes of pasta, tuna fish, peanut butter, bread, fruit, salad stuff, fake meat patties, hot sauce, more bread, veggies, extra bottles of wine, cans of cat food, etc. etc. Classic Raff panic over the wine. I bought everything on Friday and then freaked out on Saturday morning. We're gonna need booze if we're sitting in the house for days! Luckily many people think the way I do, and the liquor store was open on Saturday afternoon and doing a brisk business. You'd think vodka was a staple the way people were snatching it off the shelves. I bought 2 reds and a white and called it a day. And then we ate to bursting with a nice cabernet while the rain came down.

On to another subject that I've been thinking about...I caught part of the movie "Superheroes" on cable last week. I haven't seen the entire film, it's on my dvr list and I'll probably watch it tonight. But the parts I did catch were very interesting.

The movie is a documentary about people across the U.S. who are creating new superhero characters for themselves by dressing up and going out into the streets to fight crime. Clearly, to the rational mind, there are all kinds of things that can go wrong with this scenario. First, none of them have actual superpowers and can easily get shot or damaged. This is the primary issue that I take with the idea. Second, things like masks and capes can really slow a person down if they do get into a battle with the criminal element. In real life, capes don't blow back out of the way when you're doing physical work. They fall in your face and get caught on table corners and door knobs, which is undignified at best. And a mask is going to be a hindrance if you're, say, trying to keep your eye out for gang guys who are going to cap your ass for getting up in their business with your costumed bad self. These outfits just don't seem practical. How are you going to chase or run away in all that plastic?

The man in the green, Mr. Xtreme, is a slightly pudgy guy who appeared to be consistently losing the wrestling matches he was fighting in the gym. His parents, Asian immigrants to the U.S., had more traditional aspirations for their son and seem genuinely confused by his lifestyle choice. But they also seem very sweet and are trying very hard to find acceptance. His father worries that he'll get hurt roaming the streets at night, a legitimate concern. They're probably praying it's a phase.

But in fairness, he is out there trying to make a difference in the world, and that's kind of lovely. And there were some in very good shape and well equipped, both physically and mentally, to do damage to criminals they might find in their travels:

I find the phenomenon fascinating. At first it seems merely laughable, especially when the more ridiculous of the people were on screen. It's not the most reasonable or lucrative of career paths. But I do get the desire to be larger than life, to be special, to make a difference in the world, to be magical. These are not bad things to aspire toward.

I said to Drew, "I always wanted to be a superhero too, I just didn't know it was an option." And he responded, "You already are. Take a look at the shit you wore in the Cycle Sluts. And you scare the crap out of everyone." Jerk. But he's right. It's obvious when looking at old photos that my lifelong catwoman adoration has guided many choices in my own life.

Favorite outfit ever, but I could only wear it for photos because it was made out of sweat-inducing pvc and the whole thing rode up my ass if I so much as took a step:

PS. Check out Gini's awesome studded viking codpiece. Great minds think superhero alike.

I happened to get lucky and was able to create a larger than life character for myself. It has sustained and educated me over the years as I strive to understand and heal the quiet and wounded person underneath that original desire to expand into something more powerful and better defended. And I have a great life: I live in New York, I get attention and singled out, I have excitement and love and cool friends and backstage passes. I never take any of that for granted because I wasn't born into it.

So who am I to judge a pudgy Asian dude who wants to be something other than an ordinary working stiff? We ALL want to be more than an ordinary working stiff, and we all are, in reality. Even people with the most outwardly boring of lives have an inner world that could be fascinating if it were expressed properly. We are all children of the same Universe with hearts and minds and desires.

Some of us get an easier run towards the prizes, some of us don't. One of the people filmed is an obvious alcoholic. He was raised by a father who put him in a ring on the weekends to fight other kids, often his friends, and if he lost would get beaten and sent to his room with no food or medical treatment. Can you imagine? The man is ridiculous in his silver suit, moving from bar to bar. But isn't it so much more wonderful to at least aspire to be something magical than to lay down and die or continue to perpetuate the damage by fighting dogs or something equally abusive and hereditary? I love the spirit of the act, even if the act itself isn't as effective as it reads in comic books.

So that's my thought for today. Let's all be superheroes. Let's allow ourselves to be grander and a little more crazy than what is considered normal.

Just don't wear a cape.