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Little Annie’s diary part 4: Message To Michael

Another page torn from the diary of our dear Little Annie.

Trying to remember the rest of that Burt Bacharach song. It’s not important but seemed a nice way to open. In a few days time it will be a year since Michael Jackson’s passing and I’m still so bewildered by two things,

1) What happened to the last year, if had gone past any faster it be backwards.
2) Why am I still unable to hear one of his songs, or even a mention of his name without getting teary eyed.

I am perplexed. The day after we lost Michael Jackson (and I say we lost because what he didn’t give us we took), my first crush (well not my first – Bernardo from West Side Story was my first – but as that was movie love it don’t count) but anyway… , the first man I ever had those narcotic-like, distracting thoughts about, a boy from the neighbourhood, who went to school with me, was killed along with two other men in a horrendous accident when some woman with a car full of kids drove the wrong way down the throughway and hit the car he was in, head on. It was absolutely awful, so tragic and pointless that it made the news for a number of weeks. Carnage and loss.  It wasn’t until a few days later when they read the names of the deceased from both cars, that I heard his last name, my head whipping around from my work to see his face on the screen.  Though 30 odd years older he had the same face. I had not seen this now-grown man since I we were fourteen years old. He had not been a great love of mine. I have vague memories of a clumsy attempt at a kiss, his leather jacket, and that though he “ran with a bad crowd”, was nice. Nothing came of it, he was more knowing in the ways of the world, and besides it would have gotten my ass kicked even more than it already had been. We were from different demographics which I guess was kinda West Side Story-ish.  I hid that little piece of my young heart next to my secret cigarettes in the back of my underwear drawer.

I said a prayer for him and the rest of the victims and did so every time they were mentioned which was till the press had squeezed the last ounce of despair out of the story. I felt a rock in my throat but even though this person had been very important in my adolescent brain (at least for as long as anything remains important in a teenie’s brain) I couldn’t take it at all personal. It was an phantom loss, a tragedy like this one was is always depressing and this had been more hideous than most, and though a shock, in a “what are the chances?” way.  I am even, now, as I write this unable to summon up a sense memory to mourn. I mourn for his family, I mourn for the things of this world he never got to experience, I mourn our youth. This person had, whether they knew it or not, been part of a rites of passage.  It was he who had been my first pre-occupation, the first thing that I remember looking to – outside myself – for an imagined happiness. You would think there would be a tear somewhere in all that.

It added more humid weight to what had turned out to be a vaguely bleak summer.

Maybe I was tearless as they had all been used for Michael Jackson. I never knew Michael, never obsessed in any which way, except for the fact I could not help but stop and listen whenever I heard that magical voice of his. A voice that, like for many of us, had grown and aged as I did. Except Michael never really aged, he just got more versatile. Sure I had cut out his heart-shaped picture out of Tiger Beat and all similar magazines, and I chose him over Donny Osmond (who even at when I was age nine I found to be milk toast), but it wasn’t until much later as an adult when I was able to fully appreciate the genius of the harmonies I had spent my youth harmonizing with.

I had been always been a passive fan – except for those few years he was lost to Disco (which I loved, but at the time I too was lost – to more sophisticated tastes and anything that came in a tiny paper wrap). I now realize what I had missed on all fronts. Like how many other billions of people I was thrilled with Thriller, it was so fresh, that record along with The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the track Herbie Hancock dropped around the same time were fresh cool air in a for the most part otherwise vapid musical landscape. I won’t list the songs of his – the ones that I couldn’t help but get hooked on over the years, but there was always a cut or three that grabbed me off each of his albums since.

Though I never read Peter Pan so had no reference of Neverland, I like that Michael loved animals. I had a dream one night that Michael and I were married and walked hand in hand in innocent bliss among giraffes, elephants, and of course Bubbles. It was a happy dream. I never really thought about Michael’s sexuality, or lack of it. There was an asexuality about him I found attractive. It was none of my business anyway. I was also never one of these ‘oh but he was such a cute kid‘ people. He was stunning in all in incarnations, and was continually re-creating himself. If he was trying to look like Diana Ross then I was trying to look like him, looking like Diana Ross.  He was brave and courage is a beautiful thing.  Michael had been with us for a long time – so long that it’s easy to forget that he had broken through the wall of racism, he had quite a few  ‘firsts’ under his belt, no small feat.  It was inevitable that the tides would turn ugly against him. It was more than the build em up knock em down mentality, some weird sense of ownership. When the allegations started I remember thinking – they’re gonna kill this man. We’re gonna kill this man. One thing Michael didn’t have was guile. It was like shooting a fish in a barrel.

His childlike trust made him the perfect punchline, and as one who finds it hard to pass up an easy punchline, I should know. When my sister (who too has now too passed on) was going through chemo, me, desperate to get a laugh out of her, made some wise-crack that she had to get better or the Make A Wish Foundation will send her to Neverland. She didn’t laugh, nor should she have, it was a cheap shot and not funny and I regret ever saying it.

And if I’m one of your supporters then just imagine your enemies.

There was nothing funny about the hounding of Michael Jackson. The next thing the media choir sang out about was how sad and lonely he seemed. Who wouldn’t be miserable when a caress from the masses turn into a uppercut to the chin?

The first time that the allegations against him were dropped, I happened to find myself a holding cell, packed to capacity in the Tombs. The news that Michael had been vindicated brought forth a huge cheer. For one minute we were all free. It was just one minute but a great minute. I don’t know if I’d have the strength to be around people at all if I had gone through such a public crucifixion. Or do as he did, more less continue working and hence putting myself in the sights of the same rifles. If something gets said often enough it becomes fact and whether that fact is true or not falls by the wayside. There was no way to come back from that and again the fact that he allowed that hit squad of a film crew into his trust once again showed his lack of guile. When he made some comment about sharing a bed with children being loving, I knew what he meant. I had no doubt that I was watching an innocent man, and I also knew I was looking at a dead man walking. From then on it was only a matter of time.

But that voice, could not be killed. I hope he had garnered some happiness in those following years. When I heard the news of his death, like most I was shocked but not surprised, only surprised at my overwhelming sadness. I am wondering if it’s due to the fact that he lived as a place to put our pleasure. If so, then his passing gives us a place to put our grief. Who knows why this loss is such a huge  shared gnashing of teeth. We understand for all that was, what could have been and what we’ve lost.  It’s scary times.

Things that aren’t suppose to happen are happening. And things that are suppose to be forever – gorgeous summers, crushes, sisters, brothers, children, parents, friends, skyscrapers, youth and Michael Jackson – are no longer with us. I hope they are all in bliss, in joy, and that we can take comfort in knowing to our bones that we shall all be together again in Forever-land.

If that makes me a corny broad, then screw  it. It’s our Michael and I’ll cry if I can. I’ve more shame over the tears I haven’t shed than the ones I have.

xx Annie

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Little Annie Tour Diary part 3: Stranger On A Train

We are happy to welcome the divine Little Annie on board at our blog.  She has be regaling us with pages torn from her diary during her recent European tour-ette.  As in mini-tour, not syndrome.

Lady On A Bus by Diane Arbus

18th June

I’ve done most of my travelling alone. I was fearless, too dumb and too  broke to afford trepidation of any kind. My wanderlust outweighed my common sense. Many a time I returned home, where ever that be at the time, with 4 cents in my pocket (once even devoid of shoes). I just didn’t worry about much as I had a basic belief it would all work out. Somehow. God protects fools and precocious little girls, most  of the time anyway.

Ignorance is bliss til it isn’t bliss no more and you’re forced to wise up, which as always is a sliver of paradise lost. These days, though I don’t travel as emotionally light as I once did, I still believe that seeing as much as possible of this amazing creation that God made for us to live in is not a luxury but a basic human right. Or rather it should be. Since the age of 14 my only schooling has been experience and if I had not (thanks to Greyhound buses and the onset of cheap airfares due to the visionary that was the late Sir Freddy Laker) wandered some of this planet, I’d be most certainly as dumb as a bag of hair.  There is an innocent joy in motion – that funnily enough is only matched by my desire to be a hermit in my apartment. Go figure.

I was shocked the first time that I travelled with another person. Though it was enjoyable enough I didn’t meet anyone as I didn’t have too. So though I have memories of the place, I do not  have memories of being there, and if there’s no interchange, no taking part, then one becomes a voyeur. When I travelled alone I devoured the places I went. And they in turn devoured me. Of late my journeys are primarily for work, so thankfully there is no shortage of interchange. Even though flying becomes increasingly a pain in the carry-on, I still relish the blessing.  Nothing beats barrelling off into  the night.

Maybe it’s the vulnerability that one needs to be open to the adventure, that also makes us so damn over-sensitive. It’s hard to have a thick skin when you forgot to pack it.

This week, I was travelling from Torino to meet Paul in Basel where we had a gig at The Satisfactory. Bue took me to the station where we had a coffee and cigarette together before he put me on a train to Milan, where I would then catch another to Switzerland. We said our goodbyes on the platform. I boarded and pulled out my Diane Arbus biography, which was appropriate as some big guy right out of one of her photos of came to life  a few seats away from me. No one had warned me it was a pop-up book.

Arbus Guy said something in Italian. I didn’t say anything as I couldn’t imagine he was talking to me, but as he got louder and angrier sounding I couldn’t help but look up. He was round and red with rage, and wore an expensive and very ugly looking denim shell suit kind thing. Something that Elvis might have worn if he had lived.   Again he repeated whatever it was, so I replied in Italian that I don’t speak Italian. He then said fuck you in Italian which I absolutely understood. I buried my face in my book even deeper. He spent the next 20 minutes screaming over and over again

speak Italian, whore!
speak Italian, whore!
speak Italian, whore!

In my mind it synced with the whisper of the wheels on the rail. A madman’s mantra. The insane Buddha. His lullaby from hell was peppered with a bunch of words I didn’t understand (and was probably better off). A middle aged man caught my eye and gave me the international sign for sorry I’m not getting involved’. It would have been nothing in NYC , but with such a little grasp on the language I had no cultural context.  Much less know what was making him so angry and what would happen next. He got off the stop before Milan, and I made some motions to clown the whole thing away, after all I couldn’t let a car of strangers who not only would I ever see again, but who had one set balls between them think I was pussy.

It was all a big nothing – still, I pulled down my Garbo glasses over my eyes and felt very alone, so raw raw with insomnia that I feared I might cry. When in that half-lit state, every sadness that ever touched your life since that first sense-memory of that wrenching awareness of self becomes one big timeless ball of Vague Hurt. It was not the actions of some (most likely) lone nut-case on the grassy knoll of ugly irritations that bugged me as much as the looks  I drew from my fellow passengers. The Look. There is something about a person travelling alone that brings out the provincial lynch mob in the locals. And that is not just an Italian thing, it’s an everywhere thing. It’s universal. If you climbed the ragged and treacherous mountains way up into the clouds to learn the meaning of life in a remote monastery, I’ll put even money that on the path enlightenment there be some shady monks with a ‘who the fuck are you’ smirk on their otherwise holy faces.

My lovely pal Joel Diamond, a genius composer and fellow refugee from Yonkers told me about a year ago, how he had lived in Jersey for a little while and didn’t meet one soul the whole time there. He is single and doesn’t drive – which in the Weird Outsider Scale puts you pretty high up there on the lock-your- doors-there-goes-the-neighborhood kinda way. (Something akin to the way a head  injury, childhood abuse and torturing small animals are markers for FBI  in establishing a profile for a serial killer.)  But Joel, who is most definitely not a serial killer, terminally ignored by the natives of the Garden State, he took pictures of himself daily and posted them on the internet as proof to himself that he in fact existed.

I remember that as I sat in this car full of strangers three thousand miles away. I put Ms. Arbus’s depression away in my carry-on and concentrated on my own. I didn’t have much time nor cause to brood, as while climbing aboard the Swiss bound train I was quickly surrounded by a wonderful Muslim family from Malaysia who insisted carrying my bags and spent the next four hours restoring my faith in humanity. God had given me compassionate traveling companions in order to lift my spirit out of its persecution complex. By the time we parted company, me on to showbiz and they onto Paris, I wanted them to adopt me. Gosh we are all just scarred bumbling children, traveling this planet confused as to which zone we are meant to be in.

A few hours later, the whole journey felt like a lifetime ago. Was met at the station by a gorgeous woman named Miriam. When she would turn her face to a certain angle she looked like some art house movie star from the 50’s. I needed a light and asked this insanely good looking Dane who obliged me. Within 30 seconds we were talking about the semantics of the word God. So he was stunning and smart. As a matter of fact I cant think of one un-stunning person I met in the 48 hours I was in Basel.

Miriam took me to the club where we were given an apartment to use during our stay. Showered and soothed, drinking organic vodka (what will they think of next!) and eating a wonderfully rugged bread soaked in home made olive oil made somewhere just south of heaven and brought to Basel by Marco, who is an expat from Torino (actually there were two Marcos from Torino who worked at the venue we played at, one did lights, one did sound and both were delightful). Paul turned up as the hot sun was setting over the courtyard that was part of this arts center. A gorgeous breeze caressing us, there were by now at least 10 of people sat around a huge wooden table, a miniature United Nations. It takes so little to ruin a day and so little to restore it. It’s bizarre when you think about it, how many thousands upon thousands of miles we rake up in order to sing for and hour and 15 minutes. That hokey old cliche is it’s the journey, not the destination that counts, or something like that, but you get my drift..Hokey but true.

I left Paul deep in  conversation with yet another attractive Swiss couple. The conversation was something about the morality of economics. My brain was grinding to a halt.

It had been a long-assed day.

I slept blissfully and dreamless.

xx Annie

Eve Libertine premieres new collaboration with Mark Webber

June 25th sees the world premier of Listen, Little Man!, a new work by legendary punk/jazz chanteuse Eve Libertine and maverick electronic artist Mark Webber. Drawing on the writings and research of Wilhelm Reich this is a semi-improvised performance for voice and signal generators with back-projected, scrolling graphic score.

Libertine was one of the two female vocalists in Crass. Her works with the band include the controversial single “Reality Asylum”, as well as performing most of the vocals on the group’s third album, Penis Envy (1981), the lyrics of which have a heavy feminist content.

After the dissolution of Crass in 1984, Libertine has worked with her guitarist son Nemo Jones, performance artist A-Soma, trained as a classical singer, performed as part of Crass Agenda/Last Amendment with Penny Rimbaud, Matt Black (of Coldcut), Christine Tobin, Julian Siegel, Ingrid Laubrock, Nabil Shaban, Kate Shortt and others. In 2004 Crass Agenda released a recording of Penny Rimbaud’s Savage Utopia, a jazz and breakbeats based composition intended as a critique of consumerism and post-9/11 American culture, on which she performs vocals along with A-Soma and Christine Tobin.

Libertine held her first exhibition of artwork, entitled Head On, at the 96 Gillespie gallery in London in September 2005. She has designed album sleeves for releases by Christine Tobin and Partisans.

Mark Webber (b1965) is an electronic artist who has worked in experimental music, performance and film for the past 25 years. His eclectic back catalogue includes works such as the video portrait Sunayani (Sonic Arts Network), the live tape work Concrète Jungle (Henry Moore Institute) and Four White Walls (Opera North) a chamber opera for five singers and electronics.

Listen, Little Man! is a performance for voice, signal generators and video. Drawing directly on the writings and research of Dr. Wilhelm Reich it represents a new creative partnership between Mark and Eve. The pair are already working on an operatic adaptation of Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ The Yellow Wallpaper for voices, electronics and animation, to be staged late 2011.

LISTEN, LITTLE MAN!
25th June at Les Atelier Claus, Brussels, Belgium
http://www.lesateliersclaus.com/
Based on “Listen Little Man” a book written by Wilhelm Reich in 1945.
Electronics…….. Mark Webber
Voice…………… Eve Libertine

“ONLY YOU YOURSELF CAN BE YOUR LIBERATOR.” W.R.

Little Annie tour diary part 2: Musings Of The Perpetual Stranger

Little Annie's Angel
One of my paintings

Ok as promised I will start by relating the tale of the Miracle of Bue’s Washing Machine.

When I am in Torino, which I am it seems quite a chunk of times these days, I stay at the crib of Bue my Italian gay husband from the band Larsen. Though it’s not a legal union it’s just like a real marriage except without all the fighting. We have much in common, we both share a love for Latin American and religious imagery, Mexico and tv series such as the Sopranos. He likes good movies, I like good movies. He smokes and I smoke. He likes men and I like men. He looks like a more manly and more Italian version of George Clooney. I love Bue’s company and I love staying in his apartment, but I am sure even heaven has idiosyncrasies and Bue’s lovely home is no exception.

Laundry is a real concern while touring.  It take stratigising, forethought and imagination. Access to a washing machine is like winning the lottery. A washing machine qualifies as a victory of the day (see tour diary part one). Bue’s washing machine though, has a habit of flooding the place at a certain point in the wash cycle. You can hear when it’s getting ready to gush like the Geyser at Yellowstone – it makes a clunking noise. So anyway the other day, I gave myself three hours for chores so that after showering and dressing so this precious gift of the promise of clean clothes could be fully exploited.  I stood by, unlit Marlboro in mouth and mop in hand, and awaited for the death rattle. Sure enough, the clunking started and a pool of laundry water spread like blood around the victim in a bad detective movie. So I mop and wrung and mop and  eco-nomically recycle the soapy puddle to scrub Bue’s marble floor. How green is my valley and small my carbon footprint? I lit my post aquatic cigarette, a bit sweaty-browed but satiated, and got on with packing, tidying up and enjoying the good feeling of instant gratification that housework chores evoke.

That whole day prior to this, due to my sleepless nights I had been in major klutz mode – banging my hipbone at least five times on the desk, taking a lunge across the room as a result of tripping over one of Bue’s bar bells, poking myself in the eye with a mascara wand, burning my fingers with a mini lighter and finally drenching myself with cream after stupidly squeezing those single serving foil containers while rinsing it so it could be put in the trash without making the kitchen smell of sour calcium. So was truly enjoying this me-and-my-mop time. I mean was this not a sign that I had regained my equilibrium? But despite my smugness, it started to dawn on me that the washing machine was still rhythmically chugging away for an awful long time.  The problem here being that I couldn’t leave the two foot area of floor next to the machine, as I reasoned that if It was in fact repeating the whole cycle without any prompting, then the possibility of another deluge was Very Real.  It occurred to me that maybe it was indeed already flooding and I just couldn’t see it yet, so I ran the rag mop under and over and around and then wasn’t sure if it was moist from earlier or if the was in fact new water I didn’t dare risk it so kept mopping.

Fabrizio also from Larsen, and also my Euro agent, was due to pick me up soon and take me back his place to prepare a cocktail gathering to celebrate his boyfriend’s Paul’s birthday. I could just about reach the phone from my two foot square raft on my sea of chaos…debating to call Farbrizio and cancel. What would be worse? Dissing my friend on his birthday (I mean that’s cold), or leaving my post on flood watch (pictures of Bue returning from Milan to find apartment now a debris filled swimming pool or maybe even the weight of the water causing the seven stories below to have collapsed, the international Red Cross parked outside the destroyed apartment house passing out lousy coffee and wrapping red blankets around hundreds of homeless residents, barefoot, sooty faces striped with tears and a lone much loved teddy bear looking up lost eyed staring from a pile of mud).

I’m by this point soaked with sweat, breathless. down on my knees trying  to turn the damn thing off. Sweet Jesus, dear God so merciful and good. PLEASE MAKE THE WASHING MACHINE STOP!!! This is how the world ends – not with a bang but with a spin cycle.

But then it stopped.  A minute or so later the little round window door opened clothes spotless and damp. Not only had I had my victory of the day, but I prayed and God answered my prayers. I never doubted he would.

What’s on my turn table today: Odetta, and Bessie Smith

xo Little Annie