The 5 Stages of an R. Kelly Song


This man is disgusting.

The other day I was driving to work with the Spotify app playing 90’s era tunes through my car stereo. I only have the free version of the app, so sometimes I have to listen to songs I don’t really like. This is what happens when “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly comes on.

Stage 1: Denial

I don’t want to listen to an R. Kelly song, damn it. I was having a pretty good run with this 1990’s playlist I’m following: Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, that sort of stuff. Oh well, I’ll just skip it. I don’t have to listen to this.

Stage 2: Anger

R. Kelly is such a scumbag. Didn’t he pee on some underage girl or something? Nasty-ass pedophile. How is he not in prison? Fuck him.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I don’t have any skips left. Why can’t Spotify just let me skip whenever I want? What do they care? I still have to listen to their commercials either way. I’d switch to another playlist, but seeing as how I’m driving 70 mph over a bridge, I should probably keep my eyes on the road.

Stage 4: Depression

Well, I guess I’m listening to this song. At least that bastard isn’t making any money off of it, right? I remember this song from…high school? College? It was a big hit. I think that was before Kelly started getting into trouble and we couldn’t listen to his music anymore without feeling guilty.

Stage 5: Acceptance

At the top of my lungs while driving: “I BELIEVE I CAN FLYYYYYYYYYYY!!!”


Justin Bieber Peeing in Jail


BiebsOkay, I’ll just break the news to you right off the bat: this page does not contain footage of Justin Bieber peeing in jail. Also, shame on you. You are disgusting for wanting to see that. And? The video doesn’t show anything anyway. Um, so I heard.

Can we talk for a moment about the fact that a video of Justin Bieber peeing, in jail, actually exists? Some of you may remember a post I wrote last year called, “What’s That’s Noise?” about the sad state of music today and how lame Justin Bieber is. I lamented his saccharin pop songs and how he was going to have to do better than smoke a little weed if he wanted me to take him seriously. I have to say, he’s apparently been taking my comments to heart.

Justin has been a bit of a bad boy lately: drinking the sizzurp, visiting hookers, and drag racing, Also, when he was arrested, he reportedly said the F word a bunch of times without putting any money in the swear jar. (Allegedly? Am I supposed to say “allegedly” so that Bieb’s attorney doesn’t shut me down? ALLEGEDLY.) In fact, he’s been such an asshole, a petition to deport him to Canada garnered over 250,000 signatures. (White House response pending.)

I don’t know – I’m still not impressed. Justin Bieber is an entitled little shithead and even with the drugs, he’s still not writing decent songs. I’m not buying his fake swagger either. I’m willing to bet that once Bieb’s team found out that they couldn’t block the release of the video of Bieber pissing in his jail cell, his attorneys paid the video editor a tidy sum to make the “black bar” covering his maple syrup dispenser a lot bigger than it actually had to be. I’m actually amazed he didn’t sit down to pee. Not that I’ve watched the video or anything.

And yes I used a picture of Justin from five years ago. I figure it’s kind of like those time-lapse photos of crystal meth users that circulated a while back to show you the dangers of using. Parents: don’t let your kids upload videos of themselves to YouTube. Before you know it, they’re pushing their bangs up off of their forehead and peeing in mop buckets and jail cells. A cautionary tale, indeed.

Wild Side


concert_crowd_smallMy husband Bryan and his friend Larry go to concerts together. They have pretty similar tastes in music, so they alternate paying for the tickets. Recently, my husband treated Larry to a Megadeth concert, so now it’s Larry’s turn to pay. (They’ve also seen Rush together and probably someone else I can’t remember.)

So, we’re in the car today, on our way home from the Farmer’s Market, when “Wild Side” by Mötley Crüe comes on the radio. Bryan says, “Oh yeah, Larry’s buying us tickets to this concert at the Amphitheatre.” (That would be the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, formerly known as the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre. You see why we just call it “the Amphitheatre”? And by “us” he meant Larry and himself.)

“What? Seriously? I want to see Mötley Crüe!”

Okay, maybe not really. I hate concerts. There are only ever a few, old songs I want to hear but inevitably bands play all their new, drug-free boring shit first and if you’re lucky, you get to hear “Pour Some Sugar on Me” at the end before you book for the exits to beat the crowd out of the parking lot. (That’s right – the last concert I went to was Def Leppard, opened by Joan Jett. Shut up, I’m old.)

Bryan knew I didn’t really want to go to the concert, so it was cool. Then he said he’ll probably owe Larry for this one since these Mötley Crüe tickets were more expensive than the Megadeth show. (Concert ticket prices are ridiculous. I thought Eddie Vedder was supposed to fix that. What, nobody remembers Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam duking it out with Ticketmaster? Is Ticketmaster even still around? Fuck, I’m so old.)

“There was another concert Larry wanted to get the tickets for, but they were just too expensive. Who was it…” Bryan says, thinking. He snaps his fingers. “Katy Perry! That’s it. But those are like $100 even for the cheap seats.”

He was totally serious, by the way. I wouldn’t think that Mötley Crüe’s and Katy Perry’s target audiences typically overlap by much, but there you go. In the Venn Diagram of “Shout at the Devil” and “California Girls” there is one person in the middle, overlapping part: My husband. And Larry, I guess.

We Need Another Madonna


Madonna (Photo credit: choupigloupi)

There are several women I can credit with shaping my values and beliefs throughout my life. My mother, who stayed at home to raise me, was obviously the most influential. Just a few years ago, I discovered writer Dorothy Parker and immediately identified with her sharp wit and fragile interior. But in between the first woman I ever loved and the most recent object of my admiration, there was a pop culture icon that fascinated me and whom I desperately wanted to emulate; that woman was Madonna. Madonna was more than just the soundtrack to my adolescence – she was an epiphany. I’m better off for having grown up with her, and these days, when I see young women like Miley Cyrus twerking it up on Mtv, I feel the loss of Madonna more profoundly than ever.

No, Madonna is not dead – don’t start googling in a panic! But let’s be honest – she’s no longer a fixture in pop culture. Now we have, among others, Miley – a former Disney princess doing her damnedest to shed that image, albeit by trading it in for something that looks like it’s straight out of the casting reject pile for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“. I think back to how controversial Madonna was when I was growing up, but considering that she has never gone to rehab or jail, and all the “crotch shots” you’ve ever seen of her were pretty much taken with her consent, she seems downright tame by today’s standards. I’ll go on the record right now in saying that I think every woman – young and old – needs a little bit of this in themselves:

And that’s just for starters.

When Madonna appeared atop a wedding cake to do her lusty “Like a Virgin” performance on Mtv, she was 26 years old. This is important. She wasn’t a teenager and she was not on a teen award show. (See: Miley Cyrus pole dancing at age sixteen on the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.) Madonna was a grown woman using her talent and sexuality, on her own terms, to get people’s attention. And boy, did she.

Madonna was provocative when she wanted your attention, but your attention wasn’t the end game. Once she had your attention – once you were watching and listening – she had something to tell you. She wasn’t afraid of controversy and more often than not, it had little to do with skimpy costumes and scandalous dance moves. Madonna didn’t just want you to buy her records; she wanted you to think – about religion, sexual freedom, equality, freedom to choose, and on and on. All Miley has ever done for me is prompt me to google “twerking”. (That’s right, I didn’t know what it was. We just called it “ass shaking” in my day.)

How many pop singers could have a number one hit singing about unplanned pregnancy? Not surprisingly, “Papa Don’t Preach” stirred up controversy when it came out in 1986. Pope John Paul II even urged fans to boycott her on tour. This is a woman who has never been afraid to make people talk about uncomfortable issues, and is willing to endure the backlash.  Madonna never wavered in her defense of the song and what it meant to her. As told to Rolling Stone in 2009: “There were so many opinions. That’s why I thought it was so great… It just fit right in with my own personal zeitgeist of standing up to male authorities, whether it’s the pope or the Catholic Church or my father and his conservative, patriarchal ways.”

Madonna was teaching me to ask questions and to have opinions. I might have cowered in the corner during my fifth grade sex education class – the one where the boys go in one room and the girls go in the other so we can all talk about our changing bodies – but I had no problem popping in my Madonna cassette and singing “Papa Don’t Preach” at the top of my lungs. And because I had a mother who was open-minded and always let me know she was there to talk with me about everything, we were able to start a dialogue about things that were important.

“Express Yourself” was released in 1989 and when I watch Madonna perform it at the 1989 Mtv Video Music Awards, I still get goosebumps. At age fourteen, when I was entering high school and just beginning to explore my own sexuality, I can’t imagine receiving a better message than:

“You deserve the best in life
So, if the time isn’t right then move on
Second best is never enough
You’ll do much better baby on your own”

And because it’s always worth watching again:

She’s really singing! She has her ladies with her. She is in control. She is 31 years old. Madonna singing that song, in that moment…everything about it makes me proud to be a woman.

I don’t know how much of it was due to having a strong mother, the constant influence of pop music from a woman like Madonna who drilled independence and self-worth into my head, or if I was just born stubborn, but I was never the type of girl to give it up to the first guy who came along. I didn’t lose myself in a man. I valued everything I had to offer and that made me a force to be reckoned with, relationship-wise. I’m not saying that was an easy way to be, but I’m grateful I was raised to be that type of young woman.

As I matured, so did Madonna. In the 1990’s, she was in her thirties and still pushing people’s buttons. There was her infamous “Sex” book, which was deliciously scandalous and attention-grabbing. She released her “Erotica” album, among others. There were movies like the documentary “Truth or Dare” which offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse at her Blonde Ambition tour. I think what impressed me the most about Madonna at that point in time was not the overly sexual nature of her pursuits. (I probably wouldn’t fully grasp that until I was in my thirties, myself. Now, I totally get it.) No, what I realized was what a shrewd business woman she was. Madonna didn’t limit herself to music; she pursued all of her interests and didn’t balk when someone told her she wasn’t good at something. She controlled her own destiny and didn’t give up. If she had quit acting after her performance in “Shanghai Surprise” was universally panned, she never would have won a Golden Globe for her performance in “Evita”.

Madonna went on to eventually have three children: two biological and one adopted. She’s been married and divorced. She still makes music and still tours. She stirs up controversy here and there, although now it’s mostly in more conservative countries that aren’t used to women who writhe on the floor in white wedding dresses and sing, “Like a Virgin”. We have teenage pole dancers on Nickelodeon now; Madonna can’t do much to shock us. And although it pains me to acknowledge this, she turned 55 years old this month.

So, what now? Somehow, in the last couple of decades, the message of empowerment and individuality for which Madonna became known has been removed from the current pop equation, and today we are left with entertainers who are just shaking their asses for the sake of shaking their asses. Is that it?

I’m saddened to know that if I ever have a daughter, she won’t have Madonna in her ear. Sure, I can show her old videos and try to explain why this woman was revolutionary, but it won’t be the same. None of it will be happening in real time and I doubt it will have the same impact. You can’t recreate those moments that have long ago passed.

Of course I’d like to think that I will have some influence over my future children, but I’m a realist. I’d like a flashy pop star on my side to help drive the message home. Who is going to remind my daughter not to “settle for second best”? Right now, I’m still holding out hope for Lady Gaga, but we’ll see. Gaga is only 27 years old, about the same age Madonna was when she debuted. I’ll be interested to see where she goes with this. When Gaga’s song “Born This Way” came out and critics were complaining that it sounded awfully derivative of Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” I thought, thank goodness. Finally, somebody has the right idea:

A little odd, but odd is good. It sure beats the hell out of twerking.


What’s That Noise?


records1I know I’m officially getting old because I don’t understand this fucking music that kids listen to today. I realize that every generation says this about the following generation’s music; it’s practically a rite of passage into adulthood to hate your children’s music. (I don’t have children, but I’ve seen kids around, or whatever. And I have a radio.)

Here’s the thing: I’m not disgusted with these kids’ musical idols because they’re too vulgar or too loud – quite the opposite. Saccharine pop stars like Justin Bieber and One Direction are so flaccid and cheerfully nonthreatening they make me want to…well, I’d like to say they make me want to scream, but I can’t work up the energy to care that much. I guess they make me want to take a nap. When I heard that “The Biebs” was caught smoking pot, I thought with a yawn, “Well, that’s a start, but call me when you find him passed out with a needle buried in his arm a la Nikki Sixx.” Maybe then he’ll make a decent record. Nikki used to chase the dragon in a backstage bathroom and then light his leather pants on fire. That’s a rock star. I don’t know what Justin Bieber and his hair are doing before a show. Reading the bible? Finger-banging Selena Gomez? Annoying the fuck out of me just by existing? I’ll tell you one thing though: His dad is kind of hot.

I started getting into music in sixth grade. My first few albums were: Licensed to Ill (Beastie Boys), BAD (LL Cool J), Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi), and What the Cat Dragged In (Poison). That was back in the cassette days of course, but I still have the first two on CD and they’re in my car right now. I remember when Appetite for Destruction came out in seventh grade. It was exciting. Guns N’ Roses felt like something new and different and…dangerous. (Speaking of dangerous, if you want to see something truly frightening, look at a current picture of Axl Rose. Plastic surgery is hazardous to your rock cred, dude.)

My parents hated my music because it was rude, I played it too loud, and my dad thought that Poison, based on the album cover, were a bunch of “ugly women”. (Maybe Poison and Bieber have something in common after all.) The point is, bubblegum popstars don’t scare anyone. (Unless we’re talking about Britney Spears during her bald, umbrella-wielding period.) If you turn this Millennial dreck up too loud it just makes the autotune that much more obvious.

Come on, kids. Give me something worthy of my disapproval. Is that too much to ask?