Sunday, July 26, 2009

Southern Culture. A Term I Use Loosely.

This week's episode of How Weird is the Life of Macaronimaniac features someone named Sister. 

Who is not my sibling. 

Nor is she a nun.

She's from that kind of Southern family a mutual friend explained to me in which the eldest daughter is called "Sister" and the eldest son is called "Brother."

Is that the same kind of Southern family I asked in which Sister and Brother end up marrying each other?

I know that's a tasteless joke. Nothing but a narrow-minded, carpet-bagging, Northern aggressioning stereotype of fine Southern culture.
Except that Sister did marry a brother.

Although not her own.  

Nor a monk.

She married the brother of my friends Little Joey Smallwood and Susie Sustainability.  In other words, Sister is their sister-in-law.

In addition to not being from the type of Southern family in which siblings marry, Sister is apparently not from the kind of Southern family in which every knows how to line dance.  And lucky for me she isn't, because that's how I met Sister . . . when Sister and her sister-in-law Susan decided to invite several dozen of their closest lady friends, including Sister's mother-in-law, over to learn line dancing.

Among other things.

Where can we go line dancing? one of the ladies excitedly asked, as we threw back some lemonade mojitos in between Boot Scootin' Boogies.

Michelle, our fearless teacher of all things line danceable, quickly gave us a rundown of local venues, clueing us in on which had the best dance floor, and which is better known for a certain mating ritual called . . . well, let's just say it shares the second two initials of certain Southern president, although it references an activity more recently associated with a different Southern president.

And here I do not mean Jimmy Carter and the WB.
Suffice it to say, it is the sort of alcohol-fueled activity you don't want to have to hear described in mixed company.  

And by mixed I mean, in the presence of Sister's seventy-something mother-in-law.

This is not one of my usual photoshop mash-ups.

It happens that the only picture of have of Sister's mother-in-law is one in which she is wearing a clown nose.

Needless to say, given the clown nose, this picture was not taken while we were line dancing.  

It was taken while we were at a Korean banquet in Elmhurst, New York.  But surely you could have guess that, right?

Anyway, we did learn some line dancing.  I can now Electric Slide.  And Cotton-Eyed Joe. Not to mention Watermelon Slide.  And of course, as aforementioned, Boot Scootin' Boogie

Or at least I could, as of last Tuesday.  I think I might have forgotten entirely by now.  Good thing I have this footage.  Or bootage, I guess it is.

Tthat was so much fun, let's see another!

Who gets to make up the moves for each song-dance combination? I wondered.

It's done by a committee of Southern ladies my friend Rachel surmised when they aren't otherwise occupied planning toddler pageants.

It's a weird way to spend your time.  But I guess it beats marrying your own brother.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I Yam What I Yam

Once upon a time, back before the Republicans had important things to do, like prevent Americans from getting health care, they had to while away their days with more frivolous matters like preventing Americans from seeing art.

I, for one, was grateful to the Republicans for banning controversial art.  After all, I was raised in a suburban shopping mall. How would I have known what culture was if it weren't for some crusty old senator railing on about how I better not lay eyes on it?

Of course, it's easy to be nostalgic for those good old days when the government still funded art and thus could censor it.  

Back then, we young irate feminists would rant about how empowering it was that Karen Finley advocated peeing  in art museums that didn't display enough work by women artists or artist of color, or peeing in polling booths when only white males are on the ticket.

Now, alas, I live in mail-only ballot Oregon, so if I pee in my polling place, it also means I'm mopping my floor and trying to blame it on my cat.  

And most of my sisterhood-was-powerful feminista comrades have turned breeder.  They still talk about peeing all over the place, of course.

It's just that now they're talking about it because they're swapping stories about pregnancy-related loss of bladder control.

(Note to Republicans: if you really don't want teens to have sex, don't bother telling them about the merits of abstinence.  Tell them that sex leads to peeing in your pants.  And your car.  And in at least a few cases I've heard of, the grocery store.  Trust me, that will be more persuasive.

Or you could just teach them to use condoms.  That way we won't need nearly as many clean-ups on Aisle Seven).

All of this might explain why I never became a Karen Finley-level performance artist.  It's not that I don't admire her for shoving a yam you-know-where.  It's just that when given a yam myself, my inclination is to shove it into a nice sweet potato pecan pie.

Because that is my level of subversive behavior, really:  substituting yams for sweet potatoes.  

It sounds a little more rad if you call it commingling the ol' angiosperms.

But not much.

In fact, I am such a garden-variety goody two shoes, that when I was in a performing arts fest this weekend, it involved 
not yams in the can (and no, I don't mean the kind of can you can find in Aisle Seven, if you step rather gingerly around the all-too-apt Piso Mojado sign), but merely pancakes from a mix.

And even then, when I was having trouble getting my 1 cup measure into the box (I know, getting my 1 cup measure into the box sounds like it could possibly be a euphemism for some really perverse thing one of the NEA Four might have tried and failed to get funding to do, but really, it isn't), I was so goody two shoes that instead of just dumping my Bisquick all over the place (again, dumping my Bisquick all over the place is, alas, not a sexual euphemism), I just fumphered my way through the performance, hoping if I cut back on the milk, all would go well.

It didn't.  

Which meant no steaming stack of pancakes to buy the audience's love.  

But we did win their hearts with the video that played while my batter ran rampant over the sizzling-hot onstage griddle (again, NOT a euphemism).  

Because if you are going to confront an audience with a brilliant director's impenetrable storyline, you might as double your pleasure, double your fun by mashing it up with yet another brilliant director's impenetrable you-know-what.

And no, I am not talking about his yams.

The audience was certainly amused.  Though I don't think any laughed so hard they peed themselves.  Sorry, Karen.  Maybe next year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ten Artistically-Inspired Days that Shook the World, Just As Though the World Was an Itsy Bitsy Snowglobe and Art Was a Curious Toddler

As we all know, in Christianity the biggest holiday of the year involves a kindly man in a fabulous red suit getting loaded on his sleigh. 

 I mean, loading up his sleigh and giving everyone a nice gift.
Judaism being the fun time that it is, our biggest holiday of the year involves a week and a half of begging forgiveness, culminating in swinging poultry around and then beheading it.

Why do we do this?  Because if you behead the poultry and then swing it around, it makes a really big mess.

Oh, you meant, why the swinging chicken in the first place?  It's because we're hoping God will let us live for another year.  Unlike poor Mr. Chicken.

Something is Kosher in the State of Sweden

Thus, the Days of Awe:  ten days to prove your life is worth something. 

Now, I realize we're barely past Bastille Day, talking the run-up between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur may seem a little premature.

Mayhem and Mob Violence:
Storming of the Bastille, 1789, or

I guess the Ten Days of Awe are on my mind because here at Dutchboy, we are heavy into the Ten Days of Are We Really Going to Pull This Off?

Instead of swinging a soon-to-be-headless hen around, we are swinging around the words of a certain glabrous playwright.

Of course, when you are working with Richard Foreman's diaries, you can let fly any which way you want, because no matter how the pages land, they are not going to make any less sense than they did when they were delicately packaged by the genius' own hand.

Oooh, that makes it sound like Foreman has The Thing is taking his dictation.

Thing, take a memo:  it is once again time for the Annual Richard Foreman Festival.

Which means that for the past week, the Cheez and I (and a bunch of other Portland artists/performers) have been madly making art.  Or what we hope is art.  It's a little hard to tell until the bun is out of the oven.

I'd love to tell you all about it, because it's been zany and weird and wonderful.  And because I pretty much tell you whatever the hell else I've been up to.

But I won't.  Because I'm hoping you'll come see the performance.  It's this Sunday, 5 pm, at Imago Theater. Which no, is not the usual venue, but yes, is air conditioned.  So hopefully this year we'll really do some performing, and not just some perspiring.

Although I don't want to give too much about our piece away, I guess I can whet your appetite (HINT!) by sharing this exemplum of a perFOREMANce from the year before last.  Click that full screen icon and turn the volume up.  Because who doesn't want to see a larger-than-life Hello Kitty confront the Golfish King?

Of course, this year's piece is totally different, because the text is totally different.

Well, maybe there are one or two similarities.  Suffice it to say, we found we had a few more random objects around the house that are waiting for their close-up, Mr. Demento.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kicky, Kikey Camp Vamp. And no, I don't mean Samuel Clemens.

Mark Twain.  Dorothy Parker.  Erma Bombeck.  Brilliant and talented all.  

But let's face it, they never really amounted to anything.  

No Oprah Book Club.  No Twitter feed.  And no reading at Powell's City of Books.

How sad and tragic and empty and leopardless their lives must have felt.

Filmed by the devoted Cheez, June 30, 2009.