A Brief, Strange, and Semi-Erotic History of David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”

The original horror movie about cat people that’s not the CATS remake.

EDIT: Happy 73rd Birthday, David Bowie!

In 1942, French director Jacques Tourneur directed a film using by DeWitt Boden with the eponymous name Cat People.

Would you believe me if I told you that a movie made in 1942 called Cat People had some deleterious portrayals of women and human sexuality?: “The plot focuses on a Serbian fashion illustrator in New York City who believes herself to be descended from a race of people who shape shift into panthers when sexually aroused or angered.” Oh dear.

Nonetheless, the film is considered pioneer of the horror genre and cinematography.

40 years later, legendary American film writer and director Paul Schrader directed an early 80s update of Cat People with some huge 70s and 80s players: Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, and John Heard. The 1982 version of Cat People is described as an “erotic horror” on Wikipedia (if the appearance of Malcolm McDowell didn’t tip you off to the kind of party this is).
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Are You There?: Nick Cave’s The Red Hand Files

Nick Cave soothes the masses with a cosmic wisdom and tenderness in The Red Hand Files.

“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal.” -Nick Cave

Grief is an isolating experience. Even if one has experienced grief, it is a state that is challenging to wholly fathom unless you are in the midst of it. The pull of grief is hypnotic and suffocating. So much that even when experience grief collectively, we are like an archipelago: we see each other and share a similar existence, but we are, until the passage of time and acceptance, our own island.

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Felix Gonzales-Torres, Untitled. 1991. Source: https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/art/exhibitions/1576

While grief and isolation are a part of the human experience at times, we are not meant to live in isolation or permanent grief.  This is one reason why John Donne’s “No Man is an Island” is still so relevant over 400 years later:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

As we continue our hurtle towards singularity and secularism, it can be difficult to remain anchored, let alone find an anchor that supports us in our grief or times of isolation. No wonder we are, at times, so hungry for some type of opiate.

We seek out anchors in our family, friends, community, religion, activities, and idols. Myself, I find great solace in physical activity and sage wisdom (a la Mr. Roger’s “helpers” but for adults). I find much respite from isolation and grief in someone who has publicly wrestled with their own grief: Nick Cave.

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Intersectionality in Country Music

2020 is here, and country and honky tonk music is queer and colorful.

As I mentioned in my Raw Yee-Haw post, country and honky-tonk has always had a variety of rebels. I use the term “variety” because the type of rebellion is really up-for-grabs. For example:

  •  David Allan Coe: He really deserves his own post: spent a large part of his life in prison, lived in a hearse, says the “n-word” quite a bit (yikes), and made a country-metal album with Pantera. Many of his songs cover issues of class-consciousness.
  • Dixie Chicks: America’s sweethearts until they pissed off much of the conservative country fandom when they were critical– rightfully so– of George W. Bush and the Iraq War. The Dixie Chicks held their ground, never apologized, and, honestly, it was awesome. “Not Ready to Make Nice” was a song that was a result of the incident. It’s also a song that has gotten me through some of my most pissed off times.

These are two different presentations of rebellion with quite different motivations. I could discuss so many other examples, but these are two that come to my mind more immediately.

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Uncle Nef: Love Songs

New Orleans blues artists Uncle Nef get you through your “I-am-heartbroken-and-betrayed-and-want-drink-so-I-don’t-feel” state.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I did it again. I wrote a lot. See the review of Uncle Nef’s Love Songs album far after the jump. Catch the whole album here.

It’s been over 13 years since I first moved from Alabama to New Orleans to attend college. Most people ask “Loyola?” No. “Tulane?” Helllllll no. I landed in New Orleans at the University of New Orleans (UNO) one week before the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

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Yours truly, wearing low rise jeans. Probably making bad decisions. Mardi Gras, 2009

It would be remiss for me to not mention that New Orleans was, as many of you who weren’t there have forgotten or didn’t know, very much still a mess a year after Katrina (and several years following that). Military Police regularly patrolled the campus and the city. There was still a curfew. The piles of debris stood 15+ feet high on the neutral grounds. Groves of trees stood, bent at disturbing angles (imagine an entire forest that’s been mowed down by a Godzilla-size monster truck). Many of my friends lost their homes, schools, churches, cars, contents of their homes, and general memories. Many friends lost family members, pets, and friends. Many lived in FEMA trailers for months. Many got sick from the chemicals in the FEMA trailers. A guy got murdered in our dorm building the first semester, and, I believe, his murder was never solved. New Orleans was ranked #1 on the FBI’s list of cities with the most murders per capita in the U.S. for 3/4 of the years I lived there. Beyond these very real problems, I was a general wreck– homesick, in a doomed long-distance relationship, a bit rudderless, and having many, what I now call, “youthful indiscretions”.

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New Orleans (August 30, 2005) – U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Beaty of Long Island, N.Y., looks for survivors in the path of Hurricane Katrina as he flies in an HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter over New Orleans. Petty Officer Beaty is a member of an HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter rescue crew sent from Clearwater, Florida, to assist in search and rescue efforts. Katrina, a Category 4 hurricane, came ashore at approximately 6:10 a.m. CDT near the Louisiana bayou town of Buras. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nyxo Lyno Cangemi (Source: https://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=27531)

It was a Very Bad Time™, but is there a more poetic city and time to be a wreck in? Absolutely not in the U.S., but I think Detroit was a close second. If you would like to more fully understand the events leading up to and occurring after Hurricane Katrina, I highly recommend Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke .

While home on my first winter break from college, I remember finding a Word document that was a letter my mother wrote and presumably sent to my grandma with words I’ll never forget: “I still don’t understand why she wanted to go down there.” It was a fair question that she never ended up asking me aloud.

And why did I want to go “down there”?

Continue reading “Uncle Nef: Love Songs”

The Raw Yee-Haw Collection

I swear I’ve never used this many fried chicken analogies in my life.

EDIT: Oops…I rambled again, but I promise I talk about music towards the end. The full Raw Yee-Haw playlist featuring more songs is available here.

Being born and raised in the Southern U.S. (for simplicity’s sake, Texas is included in this post; although, I do agree Texas is “its own thing” that I cannot begin to cover in one post; y’all sit tight for that) comes with an interesting set of characteristics. You can leave them, but they never truly leave you. A gremlin. While largely undetectable (when sober and calm) to Midwestern ears, my gremlin shows itself in my pin-pen merger.

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Spotify Wrapped 2019 + Decade

While I’ve avoided the crippling seasonal depression of 2018 thus far, I have experienced crippling writer’s block at the end of 2019. I will hopefully be back at it mid to late month.

My Spotify Wrapped 2019 + Decade is after the jump.

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