Mormon Halliday

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I fear the only measurable display of confidence you will glean of my soul this day, Father, blooms and withers before you now as a single teardrop in the ocean of eternity, serving for but a flicker of the candle to underline this warning: Today’s confession is a real doozy. Grant me the strength, Lord, to disclose every humiliating detail of my soul’s most recent stray into flamboyant debauchery, and the faith to entrust this stumbling tale of a crumbling failure crutched only by the helpless spectre of his own knotted shame unto your shepherd on Earth, of whose ear I implore patience, and heart, forgiveness. It has been twenty-seven years since my last confession.

I was approached last night in the parking lot of the gas station where I enjoy my nightly glut of caffeine, nicotine, and Colt 45 by an eager, smiling Mormon girl who asked me if I had yet heard the good news of Jesus The Christ. “No ma’am, I have not!” I lied, then continued listening to and engaging with her, nodding and tilting my head like a mesmerized car-keys dog the whole time, and asking her absolutely the most genuine, condescension-free, nonconfrontational questions I could squeeze out of my cold, black heart for well over an entire hour, in the near-frozen grip of a dead-middle winter’s eve.

And I didn’t do it out of boredom or cruelty, and I didn’t do it out of a latent Freudian desire to throw aside my shackles of reason, logic, and a quality kindergarten education to right my wandering soul with a compass calibrated by a whoopie cushion of daffy horseshit rivaled in absurdity only by that of every single other religion ever dreamed up by sadistic old men who love making tax-free bank telling women and children what to do with their bodies, no offense. I did it simply out of my astonishingly sincere respect for her unexpected warmth, enthusiasm, and fearless dedication to a calling I will never understand, and the kind of sheer, runneth-over kindness that can only come from the bottom of a fellow Christian’s good-natured heart’s desire to imagine her naked for an entire hour. Mother of God, she was pretty, Father.

Her name was Sister Halliday—to my ears, a microsonnet too beautiful to christen even the world’s nicest filthy shrimping boat. She was 20 years tight, her painterly visage patently outclassed the penetrating symmetry and neotenic kinderschema of the most adorably-taffy-pulled Stanley Kubrick Pixar character you could ever dream up, and she radiated enchantment and gorgeous loveliness like just the creamiest, glowing oil painting you’ve ever seen come to life and dance around like Frosty The Sexman. Her teeth were huge, and sparkled with more dazzling Parisian intensity than the bridge of the Starship J. J. Abrams Lens Flare Porn, shimmered as pearly as the gates of Heaven’s Gate itself, and tore at my very heart meat with all the voracious, sexy pointiness of Bowie’s original, messed-up English badger teeth, and her silky butterfall of perfumed, blonde hair was as golden and full of holy magic as her underpants.

Sister Halliday, who flashed a darling smile and insisted I call her “Hallie,” presented me with a brand-new copy of the much-maligned Book of Mormon, which she carefully removed from the modest missionary’s satchel they made her pay for herself—along with all of her other travel expenses—with the money she’d earned as a hairdresser back in Arizona before abruptly quitting her job, scraping together her savings, and devoting the following eighteen months of her life to the unpaid suckering of parking lot strangers into Sunday mornings trapped in a house of worship called a “ward”—A designation, which, on its worst day sounds like the part of a hospital, prison, or prison hospital where they melonball chunks of your brain straight into a dog’s mouth right in front of you, and even on salad days still conjures a brutalist concrete rectangle full of people so bored with the tedious mythology of the most famously-buoyant Jew who ever lived, died, and rose from the grave with nary a scratch, that they decided he should Tinker Bell his ass to upstate New York and bury LSD everywhere.

You could tell from the size of the book that she only had one copy in there, and it was plain from her economical trembling that she was reluctant to casually throw around expensive, perfect bound copies of disconcertingly-thick drivel manifestos she had to pay for herself. She’d been saving it, Father. Saving it for somebody she felt certain would become more passionate about reading the entire thing cover-to-cover in one furious evening than finally solving The Mystery of the Obnoxiously-Tottering Patio Table. Somebody who would never spring-load it, say, into the kneeler of a Catholic church pew, rigging it to shoot out like a jack-n-the-box of pure What’s-this-Mommy?-terror right to the shins. No offense.

And the worst part, Father? The worst part is that I was that somebody. I wanted to be, anyway. Part of me. Part of me wants to tear out of this room right now and run all the way to her arms. Tear up the very sacrament I know in my heart to be the only real ticket out of this room, any room, in any prison of only doubt, and find her in Flagstaff. Hand in hand down some rusty, firebrick road where toasty sails of flickering, candlelit desert winds move us as one—in and out and in and out an in and around the finally-simpatico heartbeats of man’s many-colored collection of holy books. Because I love her. Is that my sin, Father? Expanding my definition of Christ to include the healing beauty of this bonkers Nancy I met last night in the parking lot of that gas station down there, y’know, the uh, this 24-hour deal they got down by those ritzy strip club, uh…bo—bowling allies? Father? Down by the airport? Is it? A sin? I’m in love with an idiot, Father. Tell me what to do.”

“Well. For starters, you can stop calling me “Father.” It’s…still me. Sister Halliday. That’s right. And we are still loitering in the freezing parking lot where—oh, my gosh!—I have been waiting in patient horror for you to exhaust yourself from belligerently outlining your seemingly bottomless cornucopia of hateful and surreal objections to my chosen faith, and repeatedly demanding my signed, handwritten confession to “selfishly murdering national treasure Bill Paxton in a jealous Branch Davidian warehouse explosion of bratty celestial-wedding-tackle bogartary” while articulating your gross and baffling lust for my enormous, glowing badger teeth, and draining 40s from the trunk of your car for the better and absolutely worst part of the longest hour of my life. Message received loud and clear, mister. Bye.”

“Please don’t leave me, Hallie Cat. Not like this. I must see you again or I’ll go mad, you see? I need my wittle Tin-Pan, badly! I wish to be baptized in your soaking wetness. Name a spot, pick a time, and I will be there draped in more bells than you can even count on those delicate yet fiendishly-nimble ticklers.”

“OK, that’s…well—OK, fine. You can see me Sunday morning. At 11 AM. During worship. But strictly in a platonic, creamy-dancing-Star-Trek-free educational context surrounded by hundreds of witnesses. And you have to convert. That is paramount.”

“I see. And what happens to me if I do not. Do that.”

“You die sad and alone, and your miserable spirit wanders the boring antechambers of limbo for ever and ever and ever, OK? Now. If you’d still like to come, we should exchange…I guess..phone numbers. I, uh…right. I mean—OK. Look. Just, please. Look—look at me. Pleeease do not make me regret saying that. OK? Great. Gimme the number.”

“555-3825.”

“Is that…is he jok—are you kidding me?! Are you..5-5-?…oh, my GOLDEN GOODNESS HORSESHOES, DUDE! C’MON, MAN! CHEEZ-ITS H. CREPES! THE PHONY PHONE NUMBER BIT IS AS THREADBARE AS THE WIDESPREAD IGNORANT DENIAL OF JESUS CHRIST’S WELL-DOCUMENTED AMERICAN BIRTHPLACE OF BUMBLEBEE, MISSOURI! Look, if you don’t want to come? You DO! NOT! have to come! Trust me! Good evening, sir!”

“Halliday, wait—please wait, Sister Halliday. I’m sorry.”

“(Long, heavy sigh). What is it.”

“It’s…nothing, Sister. I—I guess I just wanted to feel your tortured, sweet-n-sour breath snake through those filthy glam squirrel teeth one last time and honey my chapped Cornish face hens for good luck. Boy. I love you, Sister, but that pretty head of yours will never snap the big rats in half, if you catch my pinkeye. You will always be the one that ran away.

…And then she slapped me! With all the tragic, bitter melancholy of the very last poor Irish bugger to fiddle himself straight over the grotesque, inverted hull of the RMS Titanic and into the frigid ocean of eternity. And I never saw her again. What am I to do, your Honor?”

“Anything—and son, I mean anything—do everything and anything you can think of that does not include serving on this jury, you twisted son of a bastard. Look at me, son. Right here in my mamma’s eyes. You are dismissed, juror 20197! Bailiffs, please escort this psycho the hell out of my courtroom. And may Jesus Yankee Doodle Christ have mercy on your soul.”

by Joseph | no comments | permalink

I’m Gonna Wear That Hole Right Into My Hair

You will never experience a more beautiful efficiency than this video of Andy Warhol eating a Burger King Whopper in 1981.

Listen to that sound. It actually purrs! That’s real film, too. Remember when movies were sensual? Remember right now in your head. What do you feel? I feel sexy. Movies were sexy because they were sensual. Movies were sensual because they were made by and for the senses. Senses are physical tools which interpret sensual stimuli in helpful ways. Emotions are helpful when you’re trying to interpret artistic stimuli. What is it saying? How is it touching? Why am I looking at it? Those are all questions you can easily answer yourself with the helpful emotions art helps you feel. Because hearing, touching, and seeing are all senses. Which are sensual. And sexy. And fun! If you don’t feel anything, it’s not art. And it’s no fun.

Digital stimuli are fantastic if you’re looking for efficient homogeneity, but listen to that bag. What sounds like that bag anymore? Bags don’t even sound that way in real life. Which is why this is art. That bag would sound perfectly like a perfect bag if this film had been made today, which is perfect if you love hearing bags sound like bags, but listen to that warm, ambient street noise out the window. It’s probably not as far away as it sounds. The space is enormous. Feel the sunlight filling up the room at the very end.

If you imagine away the haircut, Andy Warhol was not a weird guy at all. Do it, it’s fun! Watch the video, except imagine that the bottom of his haircut is the entire haircut. Now what do you see? It’s just a guy eating a hamburger. Which is probably how he saw himself, too. Just a guy who eats food out of bags.

Except he looked at the bag. For a long time. Way longer than we would have looked at the bag. He fell in love with the bag! And why not? It’s a perfect bag. Check it out. It’s just the logo. That’s it. Two colors on white. Red and orange. It makes you feel hungry, right? And two words. “Burger” and “King.” And you know those orange shapes are a bun because you know those words are the meat. Because they’re red. And the letters are plump. Juicy, even. And even though “burger” is a much longer word than “king,” they both take up the same amount of horizontal space on top of each other. Like beef patties! It’s perfect.

But Andy knew nobody would love that bag the way he did unless he made it imperfect. Nobody would’ve cared if he’d held up a can of soup on the subway and said, “Hey! This is cool, right?” And that was unacceptable to him because he wanted people to care. Because he cared! And he only cared because of the nice emotions he felt when he sensed that kind of stuff. Stuff like that turned him on, and my guess is that he wanted to turn us on too. If for no other reason than to be a nice guy, and isn’t that weird at all? So he got a bad haircut and turned himself into a 7-foot logo. Like the bag! He made the bag sound to everybody else the way it sounded to him. Which didn’t sound like a bag at all.

Everything was always “That’s great!” with Warhol. Probably because he actually thought everything was always great. He was easy to please because he looked at stuff way closer than other people and saw the hidden pleasures. A piece of yarn becomes the coolest thing in the world when you’re stuck in a room for a week with nothing but a piece of wire. Maybe there’s a mouse but you can’t touch it. Andy just got there faster. And he expressed himself with the same perfect efficiency. But most people don’t do that. So most people said he was “weird.” Like this video. This video is really something. It’s also really nothing! And that’s the best part. It’s weird on purpose to show how boring it is. Which makes it interesting! And interest is how the senses introduce you to fun emotions. It’s sensual! So it’s art. But most people don’t do that. So most people said he was “weird.” Like this video.

Well the only weird thing about Andy Warhol ever did on purpose was that goofy haircut. But he did that on pupose to help us see beyond efficiency to sensuality, and then back to efficiency. To us, represent pure efficiency. Which mean they disposable for doing her job, Amy. Warhols saw the efficiency of the beauty of and the beauty and effectively. figured out that the only efficient way to help sexy feel around efficiency was to convey the sensual data of efficient sensual was to make them sex with a mouse far less eif.fectein or it’s Horseshit? This guy, I dunno man, this guys maybe hes a some kinda asshole? And I don’t, and oh boy I really some a doctors all about my head hurts and a bad, and oh boy and! my heads And a really a high? Fever!. Ate it. Driank it! no,don’t. Drink drank bean ban bean can’t screen man bean bean ink can soup beans can cans from 1964? Becau You all you guys see this semitransparent mouse creeping outta Warhol’s pants, right? Amy? Andy? I fuck this invisible mouse? IT DOESN’T COME OUT! hELLOMK* ,/ ???_

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        `. `-_     “–..”       _.-‘ ,’
          `-_ `-.___        __,–‘   ,’
             `-.__  `—-“””    __.-‘
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by Joseph | no comments | permalink

“Rent! Rent! Rent! Rent! Rentrentrentrentrentrentrent! Rent! Rent! Rentrentrent! Rentrentrentrentrentrent RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNNNTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!RRRRR RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” —Actual lyrics from one of the songs in the subtle and layered-with-thoughtful-subtext Broadway musical, Rent.

“THERE ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE WOMEN IN RUBBER FLIRTING WITH ME, GIMME A BREAK!” Is something a professional actress just screamed with total sincerity in front of an audience full of mesmerized, giving-a-shit people, none of whom immediately exploded with the kind of laughter your brain reserves only for when you accidentally walk into a mortuary and see Barney the Dinosaur giving Ronald McDonald the most enthusiastic blowjob he’s ever received, and who were taking her, and the rest of the cast of Rent, completely fucking seriously, and relating to them big-time.

Please somebody explain Broadway musicals to me. Because I obviously don’t get them. At all. It’s not their fault, it’s mine. I am either physically incapable of feeling the emotions these people are clearly trying very hard, loud, and with maximum cartoonish flamboyance to make me feel—because trust me, it isn’t poetry when I say that all I can think of when I see them is Barney the Children’s Dinosaur—or I just don’t get it on even a basic level. What EXACTLY am I supposed to feel. And why don’t I feel it. Am I feeling it? Are you sincere. Or a joke? Because nobody besides me is laughing. Who has these emotions. How does what you’re doing right now evoke, then satisfy, these baffling emotions in others. How is what you’re doing right now not a hilarious parody of just the most embarrassingly stupid thing there ever was. This isn’t criticism or judgement, this is me asking for help. Google won’t help me. I am not at all ashamed to admit in public that I am too stupid to understand and enjoy the vocabulary of one of the most popular artforms in America.

And it’s not a gay thing. Everybody loves musicals. Gay, straight, it’s a secret, who cares. It’s not that. I am perfectly capable of communicating with gay people without cringing after just twenty seconds and clawing the sensory organs right out of my very body, and I do so with great relish, pleasure, and satisfaction as often as I can with the many bouncy homosexuals I am thrilled and honored to call my dear friends. OK? So it’s not that. And I know all musical theatre is not the same as Rent. I love Gilbert, Sullivan, and Sondheim every bit as much as I love making love on women, the boobs of which I squeeze with great relish as I recite the entire Modern Major General song TO THE FUCKING LETTER because that’s how much I love it. Yes. Enough to memorize the whole thing. And it was one of the very first things I did as absolutely soon as the cartilage of my baby brain matured into the kind of brain meat that is capable of memorizing the daffiest fucking tongue-twister in the world set to music. It has nothing to do with where I pay to bury my face every Wednesday at La Quinta. And again every Thursday, next door in the Denny’s restroom.

So. What have we learned: Broadway musicals present emotional stimuli on purpose. That information is presented, as far as I know, with full sincerity. Everybody I’ve ever met or heard of is capable of receiving that information, effortlessly processing the information, ruling it sincere without a moment’s doubt, then continuing to watch the musical like it’s Death of a Salesman. By which I mean, NOT screaming in Planet Of The Apes: The Musical style hysterical laughter, or wishing they were Helen Keller. Broadway is a billion-dollar—yes, with a “B”—industry, so obviously it is not irrelevant niche horseshit. Gay people star on Broadway. Straight people star on Broadway. Both gay and straight people enjoy paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a seat on JFK’s filthiest, most noisily-clanking baggage carousel, where they pretend to watch the gay and straight stars of Broadway sing and dance like Barney the fucking Dinosaur through tiny opera binoculars. And lastly, I value physical contact with the human vagina above all other vaginas vegetable, animal, and mineral.

And that’s the end! Because that is absolutely the most sense I can make out of most Broadway musicals. Sorry.

by Joseph | no comments | permalink

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas! It may be your LAST?…Boy, are you absolutely married to these exact lyrics, Hugh? Because Jesus Christ, man. Does this song come with a warm plate of barbiturates?” —Judy Garland

From all of us at Whale, happy holidays! No matter which one you celebrate. Just as long as you are among those most dear to your heart. Love, warm wishes and hugs, your dear friend, and as long as the point of the holiday you celebrate is to worship Jesus Christ and no one else, and celebrate his totally made-up birthday. If he was even born at all. And that’s it. The rest of you can go to Hell. And you probably will. And Happy Hanukkah! And I sincerely mean that. But NO Muslim or Jewish stuff. That is paramount.

Decks Of Halls

“But Joseph, Hanukkah’s already over! So who’s laughing now, asshole?” —Chinese heckler

“Still me. At Jews! Who have already opened their measly 8 presents and will cry kosher salty tears of regret and jealousy as they watch me rip open my 12 — count them, TWELVE! — bacon-wrapped presents all at once tomorrow morning, most of which will be birds doing cool stuff, and none of that stuff will include being mesmerized by the miraculous bang achieved by the buck they spent on some stupid lamp oil that never really did anything other than what lamp oil is supposed to do in the first place, which is lame and boring. When Jack-N-The-Box accidentally throws in an eighth stuffed jalapeno into my box of seven stuffed jalapenos, I don’t abandon my king and worship the stuffed jalapenos.” —President of the United States of America, Donald J. Antiochus IV Epiphanes

by Joseph | no comments | permalink

St. Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION Writes A Dissonant Prescription To Cure The Common Pop

St. Vincent's MASSEDUCTION

St. Vincent’s fifth herself album MASSEDUCTION, which was cheekily and/or arrogantly touted as a “masterpiece” by her own social media posts, damn near is. A low-hanging satire of a mainstream pop album which is also—guess what—a fully-dysfunctional mainstream pop album. Think Taylor Swift except good. As in snap-crackle pop synths, runway hip-jerk drum machines, and high-gloss fashion mag, pink-vinyl-perfume-sample Jack Antonoff production. There’s charm, kink, deep take subtext, joke take giveaways, Actual-Woman-Bowie swagger (a boring observation at this point), that special food-sick, suspended in empty-elevator sadness you feel whenever she’s in town, and carefully re- and re-written lyrics sung by a heavenly angel from Hell with her tongue in her cheek and all over everything dripping-wet else, and you, too. Scored with edgy cinematic cues and the patently unnatural riffs of that guitar she designed and built herself just to show off. Plus!—it’s still got all that wonderfully cheesy Taylor Swift stuff! Like talking over the music in that flirty, cornball voice when she needs to shut up and sing, and moaning the hook of the title track over and over and over like an electrifried barbershop quartet of Shirley Mansons at an Eyes Wide Shut orgy.

The vinyl special edition’s creative direction and package design, credited to Willo Perron & Associates and NONOT, respectively (though I’d bet donuts to pesos Annie herself had at least one of her devilish little fingers stuck pretty deep into all those hot mess pies), are an intentionally blinding technicolor blimp explosion of color theory no-nos and mean-spirited graphic design jokes. You are supposed to hate what you’re looking at. But tucking her audience into a smallpox Snuggie while screwing in a Hello Kitty nightlight has always been the fattest trick pony in St. Vincent’s bottomless, yellow carpet bag of fat, sadistic trick ponies.

Here’s a gasser: “Color vibration” is a fancy art school term for awfully specific awful colors that should always be kept far, farther, and farthest away from each other because when they touch, they act as a binary liquid!—igniting an endless chain of white-hot penetrating blasts inside your skull which judiciously beat your lightning rod eyeball asses into drooling, helpless seizure salad submission down into a quivering ball at the center of an active minefield. The entire book is full of probably-wonderful lyrics and liner notes I absolutely cannot physically read. I’ve tried everything. Glasses on, glasses off, eyes real big, far away, better lighting, up close, squinting, left eye glasses right eye through a cheese cloth, worse lighting, in a mirror, give up now you will never read a single vibrating word. But it looks fantastic!

She makes a bright point: If you fancy yourself one of these digital music freaks who insist music’s physical artifacts belong six feet down, you’re willingly pooping half your own party, because her perky, bespandexed rosy ass is plastered all over I mean goddam everything.

(Editor’s note: Just found out it’s actually cover model Carlotta Kohl’s bespandexed ass, but if you squint your brain—to print a Linnellism that fits—the false ass eagerly greases the wheels of its own seamless transformation into whose ass we were dying for it to be’s ass the whole time.)

Which would equal the same justifiable means used to meet a similar tight, pink end by any other female popstar’s shameless sex salesmanship, but this is St. Vincent, which means the rest of her is bent over and stuffing her entire head and right arm into red-butcher-paper-covered holes in some kinda also-red wall structure that doesn’t really even exist except for the holes. Of course it’s hot. But of course, it’s also hilarious, disturbing, perfect, messy, comforting, depressed, manic, approachable, confusing, real, enlightening, fake, filthy, spooky, horny, goofy, immorally nonsexual and purely pornographic as fuck. Because if you want to seduce the masses, you gotta know how to scratch every last weird little itchy fetish they make.

(…Also, the spandex is red. A slightly different red. And everything else is also a slightly different red. The kinds of slightly different reds where if you printed the entire collection of almost the same reds on a black and white printer, the album cover would look like a flat, grayish soup of indistinguishable soupy grey blobs with just a taste of darker-value jungle cat leotard. In the paradise of my imagination, Annie accidentally turned on the television some morning and happened to catch The Price Is Right just as some poor, frantic old woman was stuffing her hands inside the paper-covered holes of that game where you stuff your hands into paper holes and pull out fistfuls of cash and gross patio furniture, and that’s where she got the idea. Probably not. I don’t think we’re dealing with a lady who accidentally does anything.)

HANG ON ME — The kind of opening track that gets you into a bunch of sexy trouble later on with a coy little beckoning steam finger snaking out of a hot cartoon windowsill pie. “You and me / we’re not meant for this world”—It’s a tender line, but I’m having a hard time imagining who she’s talking to with that kind of sincerity because who else in the Hell in our world has was it takes to belong in Annie’s? Oh, right. Cara Delevingne. Probably not that literal, but I just cannot suspend my disbelief that she’s talking to anybody else…maybe you seen these two perfect weirdos together?

(Editor’s note: Just found out they broke up? Who knows! And…who cares, I guess, because it was probably just about McCartney’s dog the whole time anyway. Every morpheme of this parenthetical is a massive turn-off.)

PILLS — Who walks down stairs without a care and makes the happiest sound? Everyone knows it’s Slainty! If this track sounds exactly like those deceptively simple, deviously infectious parasitic earworm jingles they snuck into every TV dinner and soap commercial from the 1950s, it’s because it was written that way on purpose by a woman who could comfortably abandon her music career to write hilarious, pitch-black dystopian sci-fi novels that would no doubt and pretty quickly replace Bradbury’s in every schoolroom in the English-speaking world. Then the extended release releases, and suddenly you’re somewhere near the panic and vomit of “Paranoid Android”’s most touching arrangement, which is punctuated by a perfect sax landing a perfect major ninth, which has always been the preferred note of chords hoping to sound like falling sweetly into sugar-plumbed slumber on Christmas Eve. Good to the last drop!

MASSEDUCTION — The Swiftiest and smarmiest of the lot. Try to imagine if Weird Al wrote a brilliant parody of a song that hadn’t been written yet, and then somebody did actually write the real song, but it instantly failed flat to achieve the razor’s edge, smarty-pants insight of the parody, which was never really a parody at all, because it’s got some real stuff to say. And said stuff is said by a smoking-hot Japanese lap dance robot who went to a good college. Bonus Shirley Manson points for changing “Masseduction” to “Mass destruction” at the very end of the song. Pretty sneaky, sis! Bonus ELO points for borrowing* Jeff Lynne’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” ooh-eh-ohs.

*Flat-out fucking stealing.

SUGARBOY — Boy, I don’t know, shug…there’s some kooky garbage goin’ down on this one. Some pretty kooky, pretty Garbagey strobe-lit Gameboy garbage goin’ on here for sure. Cute and sticky and squeaky like a squeaky little slobbery dog toy. Or sex toy? “Who knows!” (A tagline which has become the bullseye of Clark’s theatre.) Bonus extra bonus Shirley Manson points for shouting “boys” and “girls” over and over. Except not at the apex of a fake orgasm like she did it. Here they’re barked, not sung, and sound like the unreasonable demands of an indecisive pervert. Not for children. Or anyone. NOT for epileptics. Or children.

LOS AGELESS — Read it again, jagoff! Because you don’t want to say it wrong in front of her and look like a stupid asshole. Like me, the first twelve times I read it. Pretty sure this one’s not a metaphor. I think St. Vincent genuinely hates this town as much as I do, and I’ve never even been there. Featuring the cumulatively delicious Fly-Swallowing-Old-Lady lyrics, “How could anybody have you? / How could anybody have you and lose you? / How could anybody have you and lose you and not lose their minds too?” It’s a goddam decadent way to whine about plastic surgery and the miserable infinity of surfing vampires set to the kind of patty-melt-lazy groove you’d hear over a slow-mo flashbulb entourage montage of dogs wearing designer sunglasses, helicopter searchlights, and jacked-up purple convertibles cruising down some infamous LA thoroughfare I just can’t think of and refuse to google right now because if I accidentally see the photo of those D-bag professional rollerbladers whizzing past a line of palm trees on their way to Darque Tan, I’m just gonna blow my fine, Santa Monica. OK? There. I just remembered a famous street in LA without having to google anything. Crisis averted, next song.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHNNY — If the “slow song” from every Broadway musical you ever sat through—where the guy looks tearfully up into the lone spotlight with the huge, wide-open too-dumb-to-give-up orphan eyes, and doing all the absurd five-year-old’s birthday party Barney gesticulations like his hands were the hammy NBC’s “The More You Know” logo soaring over his own body—were actually another meaningful chapter in the life of St. Vincent’s own personal Major Tom with a bunch of smokey pedal steel in there!

SAVIOR — Flirty wah-wah guitar candy, bad-to-the-broken-bone T-Rex impact tremors, and the sort of overtly mawkish (but covertly evil), jigsawed rhyme scheme lyrics you’d expect to find written upside down in tiny print at the bottom of a mystery called “Why Did Stephen Sondheim Just Suddenly Need To Change His Pants?” And obviously a bunch of doomsday commentary bemoaning the changing climate. Of pornography.

(Editor’s note: You’re probably familiar with the widely-held delusion that the internet boasts every gross flavor of super-specific porn your sick brain could ever dream up, right?Wrong! Because none of the sex is sexy. Which is the point of the song.

…But if you’re in the market for, say—Afterschool step-girl incest! Butt stuff! Potentially pretty sexy sex scenes tainted by the substitution of all the super sexy sex scene screaming sounds with LOUD! 1970s prog-funk-blues-rock-shreddy-roadhouse-cowbell white trash boner poison! Why? Because porn’s key demo exists in the perpetual impotence of a red pill side-effect stupor, and they just can’t get hard without Skynyrd! And who could forget the phoned-in camgirls explaining every boring, step-by-step IKEA tech spec of a pretty simple mechanical procedure they somehow think I’ve never fucking done before myself and need help with! But no, lady, you’re absolutely right. Why would I want to hear you tell me about all the filthy ancient Hindu things I should do to your perfect, college body, when you could simply instruct me to do only ONE remarkably disappointing thing to my very own gross body! Which—I assure you! I don’t need any help with! Because I’m already doing it right now in real life! What dumb asshole fantasizes about a depressing reality?!

Some of that might be tangential to the song.)

There are so many necessary things happening at once on this one song that a dump truck armada of social media hyperbole could never exaggerate to my satisfaction the distance that will forever separate my gasping, pathetic brain from the music and lyrics of this three-minute meaning of life. It’s a shame some artists make art so perfect that nobody but them will ever be able to catch up to its perfection.

NEW YORK — As George Carlin was once flamboyantly misquoted by me right now, “There’s about a billion ways to say “fuck,” and they’re all pretty fantastic.” This song perfectly demonstrates how to say it in that way where you’re like a pretty big star with maybe some clout and the kinda swing where you can go on Colbert or somebody and you’re telling like a pretty heartfelt story about accidentally meeting for the first time and getting to shake hands with your childhood hero Rue McClanahan when both of you were reaching for the same funnel cake at a zoo the day before she died, and then you start crying real celebrity tears, which is how people know when celebrities are serious, and then probably you say something like, with y’know, like with all the sober gravity of some lucky bastard who’s literally skin-on-twisted, frozen-metal touching some actual Titanic wreckage they mere hours ago just pulled up just so one person could briefly touch it right before they threw it back in the ocean, because they won like a contest or made a big donation to some popular Democrat’s global warming research, right, so you choke up and mutter something like “Fuck me, I love me some fuckin’ Golden Girls,” while staring off into wispy nothing and shaking your head real slow like. And Colbert doesn’t even bleep it out because it was such a great story and it just needed to be said, y’know? So like that, except without all the bullshit nonsense I just made up, because it’s actually a very warm, very sincere, very possibly about 9/11? piano ballad love letter to a city she was probably longing to return home to while she was maybe stuck in a hot, plasticy-smelling terminal at LAX writing her hate letter to Los Angeles? I MEAN LOS—fuck. Los Ageless.

FEAR THE FUTURE — Lyrically, not that funny. Which is perfect. Because it took Arcade Fire the eternity of their undefrostable “funny satire” album to get to the point they never actually made because they were trying so hard to be funny. Clark snatches the rebound with eloquence to sell, and makes deft work of their lost point for them, plus a few of her own sharper points, all with just one song, and never tries hard to anything. Because she just is anything. And everything. Now. (Arcade Fire are an awful lot of charming and wonderful things, but none of those things have ever been a functional sense of humor.) Sonically, it’s a choppy-up, jerky kinda guitar march with a post-nightmare, pre-clarity Robitussin finish.

YOUNG LOVER — “How long has this been goin’ on?” she asks, on what I’d sure believe was a Strange Mercy B-side if she told me it was. (The 1974 Eaglesy hit you’re remembering only the chorus of right now is by some band called Ace. Not the Eagles. Yes, I had to google it.) This song is either about Romeo & Juliet or some other less-specific failed suicide pact situation. It might be much sadder and more personal than that. (Annie makes it up to Arcade Fire for running circles around Everything Now by borrowing their patented “thumping kick drum quarter note” click track routine. Which I think was a patent filed by U2? Who knows!)

DANCING WITH A GHOST (SLOW DISCO INTERLUDE)/SLOW DISCO — Mother of God, she sounds like Bowie on this one. A perfect kind of falling action, gingery palette cleanser before Smoking Section’s dénouement snuffs out the album. It’s mostly set to the same four chords she paints in “The Strangers” (which sound suspiciously like the Pixies’ “Debaser”), but don’t worry because it’s got this totally heartbreaking new sauce all over it and you won’t even notice. Lovely not sappy, weepy not sad, and featuring the always creepy pitch-shifted vocals, like on Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young.” (Except, and I say this with all due presidential impetuousness, somebody needs to FUCK VAMPIRE WEEKEND straight into the cornfield.)

SMOKING SECTION — Ending a song with an ending, and I mean like the ending at the end of the ending song at the end of this record, ending an end song like that with the ending, “It’s not the end / It’s not the end / It’s not the end / It’s not the end” might be mistaken for another one of Annie Clark’s clever jokes. And it is. Like when Radiohead end King Of Limbs with “If you think this is over then you’re wrong.” Which is delightful coming from Thom Yorke, but here we get to watch it take off all its stuffy work syntax and slip into something a little more sexier and streamlined, which often equals “funnier!” But also it’s not a joke at all because it’s pretty crystal clearly about suicide too.

(Editor’s note: When my brain tries to organize and remember sound waves, it isolates similarities to reduce clutter. Detailed memories are formed of unique sounds, unreliable memories are formed of similar ones. When I listen to a new record, my brain quickly generates visual tags which are tied to the sound of a song, which I can later access to remember what the song feels and sounds like when I’m not listening to it, or before I’ve got it memorized. The image tags may look like shapes, fabric, lines, textures, smoke, space, colors and values, temperature and weight, geometrical patterns, glitter, cotton, and stuff that may overlap or intersect and often float around, but only with themselves, not with the other image tags. (Unless I’m listening to Dark Side Of The Moon, then they all bleed together and it’s a nightmare.)

The sounds of MASSEDUCTION line up pretty standard, with the images following the left-to-right forward flow of time, which moves the record clockwise until it ends. After listening to this album five times, I’d say roughly three quarters the songs emerge in my memory as pretty unique visual abstractions I can quickly identify. I instantly remember “Pills”. It’s my favorite song on the album because it resonates with many of my own interests. Violent cartoons, hateful sarcasm, egregious advertising, obsession melodies, prescription drugs, future dystopias, gallows humor, dissonance for every sense, I really don’t even need the picture. I’m soaking in it. It’s catchy!)

A few of these songs grey together like all those slightly different shades of red. It happens. But knowing her as well as she permits, not by accident. The eye in the ear in your brain needs somewhere to sit down and rest sometimes during a grand adventure. And be still! For a second. Still and away from, just for a second, the warm, vibrating hum of whatever terrible, beautiful trick St. Vincent’s got hidden under the false bottom of her sock drawer. “Who knows!”

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