LIFE HARVESTER #4: Jellyfish, Network 77, Ex-GF Ex-GF Ex-Wife, The Weakly, Lagusta's Luscious, Sagittarian Matters, The Go-Go's
|Apr 15||Public post|
Last month on the podcast I had Gina Favano, an artist, a freak, and a real rocker who is constantly inspiring me. It was a good convo and we touched on topics ranging from finding ways to make art under capitalism and unpacking childhood trauma to the Misfits and Janice Soprano. This month I should be having Shani Banerjee (I haven't done the interview yet so *fingers crossed* and if it ends up being someone else don't get mad) who is ALSO an artist, a freak, and a real rocker! Very exciting. Also it's going on 8 months since there's been a man on the show! There are def a couple of men I'd like to interview so it won't be forever, but let's see how long I can keep this streak up.
CAPPADONNA’S VERSE ON “JELLYFISH”
Sales tax being what it is in the fine state of Pennsylania, at work I frequently ring up tickets that cost $38.24, which means I intermittently hear Q-Tip’s voice in my head saying “38-24-37, you and me, hun, we’re a match made in heaven,” from “Bonita Applebum.” Realizing I needed an exorcism, I listened to it on repeat for an afternoon and when I was done Tip had left me alone but Trife Da God was echoing in my noggin chanting “Ms. Bonita Applebum bottom / thick as a Roman column.” I’d given up one earworm for another and now had to spend an afternoon with “Jellyfish.”
If you’re unfamiliar with “Jellyfish,” it’s a classic dream girl reverie, wherein the male narrators describe their ideal mates. Appearing about two thirds of the way through Fishscale, Ghost’s much lauded 2006 opus, it’s a fanciful interlude on a record that is otherwise more or less a Nelson Algren short story collection—intimate portraits of despicable characters, tales of abjection and debasement, life on the street. MF Doom’s mesmerizing “Sumac Berries” beat creates a tonal shift from the rest of the album as well. The Dennis Coffey sample is certainly from the same era as the samples on the rest of the record (Sly Stone’s “Family Affair” on Pete Rock produced “Dogs of War” or the Willie Hutch piano loop on Xtreme’s “Back Like That” beat to name a few) but its droning organ feels explicitly hypnotizing in a way those soul struts don’t. It’s a beat to get lost in.
This is the background against which Ghost, Cappadonna, and Trife all describe their romantic ideals, and unlike boring straight people’s OKCUPID profiles, “partner in crime” is an apt descriptor here—she is imagined as both a lover and a literal criminal accomplice. It’s mostly pretty cute and sweet but Cappadonna’s verse has the grossest reference to modest women’s clothing possibly in history when he says “three fourths of her body always covered in clothes / that’s why I’m feedin her candy and suckin her toes.” And if you haven’t heard the song but already think it’s gross, you can’t even imagine how hard he enunciates the S in SUCKIN. Say it don’t spray it, Cappadonna.
Network 77 is a new video variety show that scratches so many itches for me. Written/directed/filmed/produced by Rachel Lichtman, who brought us The Guys Who Wrote ‘Em—the documentary about Boyce & Hart, the songwriting duo who wrote most of the Monkees catalog—and subsequently went on to tour with the Monkees doing video projection.
The comedy of Network 77 is irreverent and the music is great (two unsurprising facts considering Lichtman’s pedigree), with contributions to both from Aimee Mann, Ted Leo, and Juliana Hatfield to name a few. Lichtman has taken the Monkees’ penchant for the ridiculous and repurposed it to poke at the absurdity of women’s every day experiences in the patriarchal hell we all call life. This is a show where sketch after sketch manages to tackle the many ways that women’s experiences are undermined, their voices are diminished or not heard at all, and their ideas are flat out taken and repackaged by men. The laughs land every time, and yet it never comes across as flippant, never seems to diminish the gravity of the subject matter.
To point out the absurdity of marginalization in a way that elicits, from me at least, earnest, full body laughter as well as a sense of intense frustration with the state of things, is a fine line to walk, and Lichtman does it expertly. This is certainly the mark of a deft writer.
There have only been two episodes so far but I can’t wait to see what else this crew pulls together. Also Ted Leo wears a bunch of wigs.
THE EX-GIRLFRIEND OF MY EX-GIRLFRIEND IS MY EX-WIFE
This is the third and final issue of Maddy Court’s fantastic advice zine. If you’re gay and on instagram you may know Maddy’s meme account, @xenaworrierprincess, if you’re one, both, or neither of those things and don’t: check that shit out ASAP, Maddy is a wit for the ages.
Thematically this zine is not super different from Maddy’s memes in that it’s funny, vulnerable, belies an awareness of human behavior and sensitivity to the struggling. Maddy’s advice is always so on point too, stressing kindness to others through empathetic thinking and considerate behavior, but also kindness to oneself through creating and maintaining strong boundaries. If you like the Dolly Parton movie Straight Talk as much as I do, this zine is for you.
My favorite line of the issue: “Crushes are like weed in the sense that they can bring on paranoia and emotional dependency but no one has ever, like, died.”
THE WEAKLY: A MONTHLY
In many respects the Weakly, from Oakland, California, is my sister publication on the sinister coast. It’s also a monthly print magazine made by punk lifers where almost all of the writing is formatted as reviews. Unsurprisingly, the West Coast version created by a cabal of smart, mean women is objectively better than this newsletter, but also much harder to find.
Why is it better? First of all, it’s more than one page. Next, it looks waaay cooler. Finally, the writing is superior to anything I’ve ever printed except for Becca’s bit in last month’s issue, which is obvs the best writing anyone has ever done. My favorite moments in these two issues were E Connor’s archival deep dive into Bubble Lady Julia Vinograd’s poems about punk girls, my former bandmate “Juicy” Jolie Maya-Altshuler’s serialized reviews of ways to clean your ears, and Nich Malone’s review of a rat crossing the street.
They sent me the first two issues (and hopefully will continue to send me more) but I don’t know where to tell you to find them on your own. What I do know is that I’m honored to be in the same cohort as such a fine publication. Having peers who awe and inspire is truly something to be greatful for. If you live in the Bay, keep your eyes peeled for this gem.
LAGUSTA’S LUSCIOUS CHOCOLATE SUBSCRIPTION
I got Becca a subscription to a vegan chocolate delivery service as a Valentine’s gift because there are very few delicious vegan sweets in Pittsburgh, and it’s constantly being advertised on my favorite podcast (see the following review). Somehow in my financially soluble adulthood the notions I’ve internalized from punk about active participation in creative communities have partially transmogrified into a sense of obligation to buy things from podcast advertising. This is definitely flawed logic, but I’ll think more about it later (never).
This subscription was expensive, but also like, so worth it. These are really fancy vegan chocolates, and they’re delicious. Both their quality and knowing that Lagusta’s is a pretty small operation make the cost seem reasonable. This is definitely not the kind of thing I could frivolously pay for all year, but shelling out some coin for a couple months worth of delicious snacks for a hardworking person I love very much feels like I have my priorities in the right place.
SAGITTARIAN MATTERS PODCAST
I first listened to Sagittarian Matters because my bff Caroline Paquita was a guest on the show. I was immediately drawn in by Nicole J Georges’ breezy and fun hosting style. Like me (and I’m sure many of you), Georges cut her teeth in punk and specifically in the zine world. She self-published a personal comic, Invincible Summer, in the late 90s and early 00s, but came to more mainstream prominence with her 2013 graphic novel Calling Dr. Laura, which is the perfect emotional trifecta of sweet, funny, and kinda mean.
Sagittarian Matters treads similar emotional terrain. The content ranges from serious conversations about trauma and artistic practice to snack reviews. Listening to Nicole’s podcast gives me the same feeling of hope I used to get as a teen in the 90s trading zines with slightly older girls from around the country. Peaking into their worlds always filled me with such a sense of wonder and made me feel like maybe life wasn’t completely fucked if there were these thriving communities of cool, smart girls out there somewhere making shit happen.
“OUR LIPS ARE SEALED” BY THE GO-GO’S
Listen every punk knows that Belinda Carlisle was in the Germs and most punks that don’t hate women know that the Go-Go’s (nothing but respect for my Misfits) are cool too.
The other day at work the DJ played “Our Lips Are Sealed” and I started crying while I was bringing people their vegan pierogi cause I was thinking about how beautiful it is that the Go-Gos opened their minor label debut LP with a pop banger that is so clearly a response song to “What We Do Is Secret.” I had to go to the bathroom because there were tears streaming down my face because I was so overwhelmed just thinking about like Belinda Carlisle and Darby Crash being fucking friends.
The best part about it is that I made the whole thing up! Belinda Carlisle didn’t even write “Our Lips Are Sealed,” Jane Wiedlin wrote it with Terry Hall from the Specials while the Go-Gos were opening for them on tour. It’s allegedly about an affair the two of them were having. I don’t care though! I like my version better because I like friendship and I like crying. Fuckin sue me.
ASK A SHMUCK
New monthly segment! I’m adding an advice/etiquette section called Ask A Shmuck, because I need a dumping ground for all the platitudes and aphorisms I learn in AA. JK I also think I am very qualified to give advice for the following reasons: I spent years doing community accountability activism, I've had a lot of dumb jobs, I've made tons of mistakes but also some really good and smart decisions. Do you believe me? Do you wanna write in? Email me with the subject “DEAR SHABBY.” Here’s the inaugural letter:
Do you have any advice on how to gently correct ignorance in others?
-Smart Kid Dumb City
I used to have a job where I worked with only cis dudes doing mostly physical labor and the culture of the workplace was, to paraphrase Spike Lee, “not my cuppa tea.” Most of them seemed like sweet men who professed revulsion towards racism, sexism, homophobia, etc that I fundamentally agreed with, but due to the strictures of masculinity, they leaned heavily on butts as a subject of small talk. Specifically, talking about other people’s butts. Other people who were right there but not participating in the conversation.
I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with appreciating a butt in the wild. Many people passively appreciate butts and are able to do so respectfully even when out in public. My issue is that when more than one person begins to actively appreciate a butt, out loud, in a space shared with strangers, it creates what some might consider a hostile environment for the person who’s butt is being appreciated, as well as other butt havers who may overhear and begin to fear that their butt might also end up being appreciated in a similar way. I don’t know why I’m being so coy with my language here, but what I’m discussing is exclusively men talking about women’s butts. And lets be real, oftentimes that kind of objectification is a prelude to direct, unpleasant interaction or outright violence.
I didn’t know how best to deal with the disjuncture between these men’s stated beliefs and their behaviors, and it was mostly something I witnessed in passing, conversations between coworkers that took place in my vicinity but which I was not part of. Finally, one day someone appreciated a butt to me and invited me to appreciate it with him and I said something like, “look, I like a juicy butt as much as the next person, but I never want to talk about it with you.” My coworker looked kinda confused for a second then asked me about the book I was reading. I had similar interactions with a couple of the other guys on staff. Some involved longer, deeper conversations about why I think talking about butts is a wack behavior. Eventually, it seemed like butt talk among these dudes had diminished overall. At least one person privately thanked me for saying something because that kind of attempted bonding had always made him uncomfortable but he hadn’t known how to intervene.
I think my intercession was successful primarily because it was not deeply confrontational. When I was younger, I would have seethed about these dudes until I finally burst and confronted one of them in a way that would’ve made me feel good about myself and possibly involved me dunking on them in some way, but wouldn’t have really worked in connecting or productively addressing his actions. Now that I’m an old crone, I’m less concerned with feeling like the most righteous person in the room and more concerned with minimizing whatever behavior I think sucks. The thing here is that I didn’t have the kind of intimacy or trust with most of these men where I could question their intentions off the rip, but what I could do was set a boundary for their behavior around me and be open to discussing why that boundary existed. I may not have stopped all of them from ever leaning over to another dude and remarking on a butt, but I did tangibly cut down on the number of those conversations in my workplace/in the world, and caused at least a few dudes to think. I also think my nervous decision to use the phrase “juicy butt” in talking to these dudes was disarming in it’s absurdity and also made it clear that I was not judging them just for liking a butt.
I think I would be lax not to acknowledge that some forms of ignorance need to be dealt with more expediently and directly, but I gathered from the word “gently” in your original question that you weren’t talking about that kind. Hope this helped.
GET IN TOUCH
Please please please send in your advice questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "DEAR SHABBY". I'm @colinhagendorf on all social media if you wanna harass me about one of my dumb opinions. Also I have a P.O. Box now, so if you'd like to see something you made reviewed on the hallowed page of Life Harvester the print mag, send it my way. LIFE HARVESTER / PO BOX 82551 / PITTSBURGH, PA 15218. My review policy is that I'll only print reviews of submitted stuff I love unless it's something completely odious in which case I'll talk mad shit about you and hope we never meet. If you send something and I don't end up reviewing it, it's because I couldn't think of anything nice to say and don't wanna spend my meager time on this terrible Earth actively bashing other people's benign DIY endeavors that just aren't my cup of tea.
OKAY THAT'S IT BYE
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