Dirty Beaches “No Fun” (Stooges cover)
Sadder than a Single Star that Sets at Twilight in a Land of Reeds, 1899
Parquet Courts - “What Color is Blood” (Live on KEXP)
What Martin Douglas Says to People Who Scoff at the Idea of Wrestling Being a Real Art Form Instead of a Fake Sport
"You don’t watch Friday Night Lights and say, ‘Man, fuck this fake football game.’”
Cassie Ramone - “I’m a Freak”
The Time Has Come [Loglady, 2014]
If you are a woman or nonbinary person who plays music, your appearance will always be scrutinized and reviewed to the nth degree and torn apart to examine your fuckability or lack thereof (of course if you are a trans woman there are extra layers of bigotry to deal with, and nonbinary people who present in particular ways often get similar treatment, and race also intersects here in predictably shitty ways - the misogynoir in reviews of Black female artists is often staggering, for instance).
You can’t win. If you happen into a body that conforms to social beauty standards, you’re A Pretty Girl first and a musician far down the list, and that’s all anyone will talk to you about. If you happen into a body that doesn’t conform, you are so ugly you don’t deserve to be on stage (if I had a penny for every time some dude said this about me I wouldn’t be so stressed about money; I also get ‘I’d fuck her’ sometimes, which, like, nobody asked you. It’s interesting to watch dudes negotiate when they’re attracted to people who aren’t conventionally attractive, and by interesting I mean it’s like watching a fly dying in a glass of water you wanted to drink).
We play music because we love doing it, because we are creative and brave and because there is catharsis and joy in it - just like anyone else. Comment on our music, not on the ways in which we are not dudes and/or not white and/or not cis. Tear that apart if you want, or love it, or both. But I am so tired about reading about my appearance and the appearances of other musicians, be they friends of mine (this was actually inspired by reading an insipid sexist piece of shit review of Perfect Pussy at the Rock n Roll Hotel, which I will not link because it is vile) or not. Talk about our music on its own merits or yr review goes in the toilet.
Whew, talk about something that was emotionally exhausting to write, though.
Martin Douglas is a freelance music writer and veteran grocery store clerk living somewhere in the south suburbs of Seattle, WA. He is a senior writer and columnist for Passion of the Weiss and has written for a variety of publications, including Pitchfork and MTV Hive. Although he has been pushing back the deadline for completion of his debut novel for the past two years, he is still currently hard at work on it. You can follow him on Twitter (@douglasmartini), but you’re not obligated to, because he tweets way too much about professional wrestling. Martin’s go-to karaoke song is “Money (That’s What I Want).”
1. LL Cool J “I’m Bad”
To say I have had two mothers over the course of my life would be an oversimplification. There is my biological mother, and then there’s the woman to whom I refer to as “my mom”: the woman who was married to my father when I exited the womb, and the woman who was married to my father for 25 years before she passed away. A boy’s relationship with his mother is more often than not very complicated, and by virtue of me being a generally difficult person, I can say I didn’t make it easy for either of them— for completely different reasons, of course.
I’ve always had a pretty strained relationship with my biological mother, and recently contacted her (through handwritten letter) for the first time in almost twenty years. Sure, it would be a cakewalk for me to blame these issues on her abuse of drugs and alcohol, not to mention her proclivity to throw her fists at me regarding even the most trivial of grievances— not to mention the heaps of emotional abuse, turning my introverted, decidedly non-macho tendencies into a hand tremor every time I hear a homophobic epithet. However, it’s safe to say that relationship has layers that would take longer to uncover than this space can afford.
There are details I still remember about my biological mother, even after the long layoff from communicating with her: Her favorite cartoon was The Flintstones, she was a big fan of football, and her favorite rapper was LL Cool J. I remember years later, getting into rock music and talking to friends about how they got into the medium, listening to their recollections of hearing Springsteen for the first time or being taken to a Grateful Dead show by their parents, and discovering rap because it “wasn’t their parents’ music.” Being a black kid and growing up in the low-income part of town— you know, “the projects,” “the ‘hood”— my experience was different.
I remember being a small kid and being shuffled to my room while my biological mother smoked joints and blared LL boasting about turning bodybuilders into ostriches with one forceful gesture. I remember going to the bathroom and peeking at my mom while she danced in the living room by herself, along with the bassline that practically rattled the living room walls. It’s difficult to tell if my biological mother was happy during those days, because we never really had to have those conversations later on in life. But I remember the times I noticed her having fun.
I participated in my close friend Sarah’s wonderful project 10 to Life, where I delve deeply into my life through the prism of ten songs I’ve encountered over the years. Having a rough childhood, trying to do something about having identity issues, living with depression, being an uncle, what I listened to the day my mom died. It’s all here. There are things I’ve been completely open about on Tumblr in this piece, and things I’ve never really talked to anyone about. I hope you get as much out of reading this piece as I got out of writing it.