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Lunch tonight was: Carnitas, carnne asada and pollo tacos from the place by the Harley Davidson store. Washed down with a half litre Mexican coke!

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Alex V. Cook is an author, journalist and music critic living Baton Rouge, LA. His work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns and The Wire, and his first collection of essays Darkness, Racket and Twang: Essential Listening from the Fringes of Popular and Unpopular Culture was published by Side Cartel in 2006.

He is the music editor for outsideleft.com, editor for Sweet Tooth, and a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads.

He is a founding contributor to the Badasses of Contemporary Composition blog.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Flame On!


I've never been one to shy away from the latent homo sexuality that lies in the heart of every straight man. And this isn't any "But - I aint' gay OK???" admission, but an honest acknowledgement and celebration of what's inside. To deny it's existence a disservice to yourself, why would you shy away from the parade that marches down your internal street? And my inner gay child is a torchy motherfucker. My manly-man music journo tastes ususally incline toward more distilled forms of expression, where a lot of the humanity is squeezed out and titrated into a laser beam, but then I hear some sweaty, fleshy soul rock workouts like "Fistful of Love" from Antony and the Johnsons, and I want to rise up and charge the establishment like Don Quixote on poppers, with a markedly penile lance, a flaming rainbow flag hanging thereupon.

I'm well aware too that dumping this baggage is playing the game. Its like when they asked Basquiat what its like to be a Black painter. Its insulting, taking away from your talent, and I apolgize, Antony, but its also my gut reaction to this music, and its not often that something gets my undies in a bundle like "Fistful of Love" does.

Johnson is just about worth the hype foisted upon him, and defintiely more deserving than most that get that much spotlight. He manages to do the torch thing without descending too far into self-parody or crossing into Streisand-ville. His voice is a battering ram, and his arrangements are thick and electric, and leave it to this songbird to suss out Lou Reed's best performance since the mid 90's on the spoken into.

So fellas, I'm not suggesting that you go full-tilt and get some denim short-shorts and grow a bushy moustache. I'm saying, we - as men - have done plenty in this life to justify hating ourselves. Don't hate this particular volcano raging inside you. This is one of the good ones. Next time you are tempted to push your chair back in a "what you lookin at, faggot" moment we babboons have all the time, maybe you should reach into your psychic fanny pack, and gaze into the mirror in the compact of your male plumage. You know very well what they are lookin at.

And for real, is Antony any "gayer" than Kenny Chesney or pro-wrestlers or fucking boring ass NASCAR or whatever heterosexuality blanket you wrap your cold little tootsies in? I think not.

Antony and the Johnsons - "Fistful of Love"

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