Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Love You, Dan Savage.

Despite the fact that he's gay, American, married, a father, and lives 3000 miles away, Dan Savage is totally my type. He's got deliciousness that comes from being one of the most successful and influential sex columnists in the Western world. (Brief aside: does the Eastern world have a corollary position? I would guess yes, but I doubt it's the same.) His advice to the lovelorn and lustful is usually spot on, and Savage presents the kinky and questionable as just another sign post along that long highway we call Sex. Or, if you're feeling punny, Route 69.

Dan didn't blaze this trail - Dr. Ruth was first on the sexual-advice scene, and she's a great old bird. But Savage does it better than anyone else. His take on sexuality and modern love doesn't fit into any one morality or ideology. Kinks, polyamory, alternate living arrangements - all fair game, all equally as valid as the white picket fence and the wedding ring. But Dan is also renowned for his ability to cut through the bullshit. He regularly points out to the people who want his advice that they themselves might be the problem. Dan responds to this week's lead question with the blunt statement, "You are an asshole," and you know what? He's right. The guy, who describes himself as both "very attractive" and "very intense" - watch out, ladies! He's a whole lotta man! - does seem like he would be a chore to date.

That's not to say that Dan Savage isn't political: obviously, gay rights are near the top of his list. More importantly, he takes a clear-eyed view on hypocrisy, especially when it comes to American leaders who have some skeletons in their own sexual closets. One only has to google "Santorum" to find out how far Savage's reach extends. It's the thrill of seeing him call someone out, in print, coast to coast, that really gets the juices flowing. The sex advice is great - reading his diatribes about Ted Haggard is gold.

As a bonus for us Canucks (I have never used that word before...weird), Savage Love often praises Canada for both its laissez-faire attitute towards regulating sexuality (gay marriage, for example), and for not thinking our laissez-faire attitute is unusual. It's only really unusual when compared to places like Arkansas, where dildos are illegal. Seriously. That can't be healthy.

But getting back to the sexy business - which is, after all, Savage Love's bread and butter. My respect for Dan Savage is largely due to his attempts to bring normality to a wider range of sex than we usually get. Like it or not, America is a sexually nervous place. Someone once pointed out that America was founded by Puritans, people who were looking for a society more repressive that, you know, 15th Century England. What they created was a nation that collectively freaks out about any number of sexual basics (abortion, birth control for teenagers, sexual education) and still finds time to invent Hugh Hefner. Conflicted? Confused? You bet. So Dan Savage, which isn't coming from a place of "should" and "mustn't" and "secret" is a total revolutionary.

When Dan Savage tells his readers that they can, indeed, enjoy a finger in their ass and not be gay, it carries a certain amount of currency. When he advises someone to DTMFA, he's being both a blunt friend and a relationship expert. When thousands of people read his column (online and in print), and listen to his podcasts, and talk about his responses in their daily lives, how can this guy not be swinging a serious pair? For that, Mr. Savage, I would gladly marry your gay, married, American, persnickety ass. You've made the world safer for queers and kinksters, even only a little bit, and that deserves a salute and a around of applause from the orgy room.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From Supergroups to Prettyokaygroups

I have a bone to pick with supergroups. Under my very unscientific definition, a "supergoup" is comprised of a number of high-profile musicians, notable for their involvement in other, already established bands. This isn't a simple case of someone going solo, or leaving their original band to make a new one - and I realize that the example of Dave Grohl is a little facetious, but he was the first guy that came into my head. I guess Nirvana kind of broke up with the death of Saint Cobain, but whatever: jumping ship is jumping ship, Grohl.

The Travelling Wilburys are, in my under-informed opinion, the first and best of the supergroups. The fictional sons of Charles Truscott Wilbury, Sr., the original lineup included Geore Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne. (I hadn't heard of him either - apparently, Mr. Lynne fronted the Electric Light ORchestra. As in, "Hello? Is it me you're looking for?," which was one of the strangest parts of the movie The Virgin Suicides. I digress.) These superstars got together for ten days and made some seriously awesome music. Music so good, in fact, that my sister knew all the lyrics when she was two years old. She would bounce around in her car seat, babbling the words to Last Night, to the amusement and slight horror of my parents. For the uninitiated, it's a song about a murderous hooker.

These days, supergroups are so lame. What, am I really supposed to be impressed with Velvet Revolver? Can it. Scott Weiland freaks me out - a dude that into his own hair needs a serious dressing down. Plus, heroin is boring. I dig the Perceptionists, but they can barely be called a supergroup, and besides, hip-hop is mostly about cameos and guest verses anyway.

Tinted Windows marks the official passing of the supergoup. This little line-up has the drummer from Cheap Trick, James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins fame , the guy who wrote That Thing You Do!, and - wait for it - Taylor Hanson! From Hanson! Aieee! When I read about them in Spin, I had to wonder how this foursome met. Wife swapping party? All-nigh poker game? Church? Mineral water convention at Lake Tahoe? Seriously....wife swapping party?

Sigh. We devolved from Blood on the Tracks to Appetite for Destruction to...MmmBop? If we're really talking about supergroups, let's bring back some "Handle Me With Care." Lenny Lewis did a great cover on her debut solo album, and had a little help from her indie rock friends: Conner "Bright Eyes" Oberst, Ben "Death Cab for Cutie" Gibbard and M. "She & Him" Ward. That's what I'm talking about. That's a supergroup. A supergroup made up of former child actresses and whiny pop geniuses, sure, but it beats out the Hansons by a country mile.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Run In My NYLONs.

It's hard to believe that NYLON, that most boring of fashion bibles, is ten years old. Back in the day, when it was a lush and gauzy love letter to people like Liv Tyler and places like Berlin, it was a treat to read. Now, its cover models look they're being photographed while being held for ransom. Nylon no longer holds that same delicious wonder as when it first arrived on the scene, especially back when Helena Christensen was running the show. The inagural issue allowed readers to peer into her Indian travel diary; by 2009, the magazine was strictly for the underfed and overdone.

Besides the fact that Nylon went transformed from pretty and mellow into a harshly-lit attempted knock-off of European magazines, it feels like it's trying too hard. Nylon is supposed to be a mash-up between New York and LONdon (I guess because NYPAR sounds like an antihistamine), but its "big names" on the cover are never quite A-list. Sure, it snagged La Lohan recently; but when was the last time she worked? Instead of pretty models, it tries to create It-Girls out of people like Camille Belle and those trollopes from the new 90210. Who? What? Wake me when it's over.

I have a complicated relationship with fashion magazines. I read Teen Vogue way longer than was appropriate (well into my 20s), but never really got into Woman Vogue. Can you blame me? Those fashions aren't even really escapist half the time - its like they were imported from the planet Equestrian Countess and have no bearing to things shaped like clothes. I can't afford $3000 leather leggings. I would look like a fool in $3000 leather leggings. I have nowhere to wear $3000 leather leggings. And yet: the cursed leather leggings, taunting me from the pages of Vogue. Also, Vogue once espoused a shape, like the hourglass or the inverted triangle, they dubbed "The Popsicle," which apparently means you're to wear a tunic over your (you guessed it!) leather leggings.

I wish fashion magazines had more fun with what they're doing. I see no reason to wear a frock made of, like, peacock feathers and pony skin, but this is the kind of bonafide craziness that shows up in these rags. But it shows up seriously: there's no wink to the fact that 90% of the clothes that grace the pages are totally nuts. They're either way too expensive, or so not appropriate for the temp job you just picked up at Scotiabank. In either case, these ultra-serious clothes are not going to be coming near my frivolous self any time soon. They're gorgeous! But without a sense of humour, to adore fashion is to adore the superficial; fun for a while, but ultimately dull.

A few years ago, I was really into the whole fashion thing. I still love really well-designed and well-made clothes, but wrapping a Marc Jacobs scarf around one's neck and feeling all proud of your fashion (or money-spending) skills is weak sauce. I fall prey to labels sometimes - hell, just last week I was all "Are those Campers?" to a bemused stranger. Fashion magazines, because of their national readership, are hard-pressed to pimp out awesome indie designers or local heroes. Instead, they have to rely on cachet as created by cash money. That is, if I can't afford it, it must be special.

Fuck that.

I stopped reading Nylon a few years ago, when the cover girls morphed from anonymous models into all-too-recognizable faces: Paris Hilton and Avril Lavigne? I think not. When Li'l Kim showed up wearing a skirt made of stuffed animals, I was done. I can't work with that, you know? Am I supposed to go places wearing a jacket made of Muppets? I' Given a choice between that and the cursed leather leggings, I would be genuinely flummoxed. If these are my style bibles, maybe fashion atheism is the way I roll.