I miss watching Female Trouble a few times a week.
It was the first movie I had ever seen that completely acknowledged how I felt about life, that made perfect sense to me. It was reassuring in all the right ways and it influenced my speech, my life in fact. It made me feel all right about being a xenophile, and being unable to fit in. We were strange people and the world shit on us regularly- and somehow this movie made it all ok, because it meant there was a whole world of other strange people out there, and they all had been through it and survived.
And yes, it came out in 1974- around when I was born(ish). But I saw it in 1989 and that for me is the era I associate it with, being that I was only a toddler when it was made.
It was my introduction to the genius of John Waters, and the beginning of my appreciation for eroticism. Up until then, being sexy had seemed like something that was reserved for only the normal-looking, average “pretty” people. Beauty, in the movie, wasn’t suffering. It was something else altogether.
Not only was it ok, even desirable to be fat, or crazy, or gay, or criminal, or have bad teeth…it was also okay to just be plain old weird looking. You didn’t have to fit into some category to be appreciated; there was room in this universe for anyone that was traditionally on the outside, looking in. The tribe had room for everyone; even the occasional uptight WASP could make their way into that world and be subsumed by it, be accepted into it. You didn’t have to be gay; but it was assumed that if you were, that was a slightly better thing due to the obvious disadvantages of being straight. Rich people were perverse, and unpleasant, and enjoyed the degradation of those around them- unlike in every other movie I’d seen up until then. Other movies, rich people were heroes, or captains of industry, or something good, and I had never met a good rich person in my life. This movie had accuracy. It had truth.
As someone who was in fact weird-looking with bad teeth and strange ideas, it was immensely reassuring to see that you could build your own world, your own life, and not have to smooth over your flaws. In that universe, bad things happened, but they didn’t happen to you specifically because you were poor or fat or ugly. No, they happened because shit happens to everyone, or because you were an asshole, or because you had a mortal enemy. Good things happened to bad people, and vice versa, and “good” didn’t mean “obeying the rules”, either. It meant “being exactly who you are and not being ashamed about it”. The Fun Police existed, the assholes. Snitches existed. But they were disliked! They weren’t encouraged or rewarded.
Also, being an artist and being a criminal were tied together. You couldn’t be one without a little of the other. And both of those things made you beautiful.
Not only that, but the regular world, the one on the TV, in other movies- it just plain didn’t even exist in this movie. Even the forces of normalcy and social pressure were off, from the teacher harassing the characters in class, to the parents, giving their daughter gifts that showed they didn’t even know her- or care to. Even these characters, meant to represent straight culture, were parodies, caricatures, and very weird in their own right. In this movie, all the inauthentic crap of sitcoms and of mainstream films were simply dismissed without even a nod or an explanation. It was wonderful.
If I had seen things like this instead of goddamn Disney’s tripe as a young teen, I’d have been a lot less self-loathing during those years. And yeah- we watched it a few times a week on VHS. I could have watched it every day.
It was and still is one of the best movies ever made, and also began my love of movies in general.
I miss trading cassette tapes with strangers through ads in MRR.
(I know, their archive doesn’t even go back that far.)
I think missing MRR tape exchanges goes hand-in-hand with missing really good zines. I used to look through the back pages and send a tape or some drawings or write a letter to a bunch of people and then the mail would be filled with glorious treasures.
Mix tapes with extensively detailed liner notes. Zines. Poetry. Comics and artwork. Seven inches! Fucking free 7″s from all kinds of bands I hadn’t heard before. I discovered the Happy Flowers this way, and almost every other band I loved then. I also had pen pals in Argentina, Germany, Naples, and New Mexico. I wrote to all kinds of people and all kinds of people wrote back. I didn’t need money, just enough to cover postage.
And did I say I missed zines? I really, really, really miss good zines.
It’s nice to have access to thousands of them online in the form of blogs/sites, but I still do miss the feeling of holding a pile of stapled paper in my hands and just reading it at leisure. Or holding it up in front of my face on the bus, like some suit with his wall street journal.
I also miss baby sue comics, and I know that lmnop is still around and doing things but that format, the occasional find of a single comic in a pile of zines was just thrilling. I didn’t even have to like or agree with the authors, even the most infuriating writers were astounding, well-spoken, enthralling. And when I did agree or have interest in the subject, I collected every issue avidly. And there were new, great zines coming out all the time.
I even put out a zine for a year or two, although it was never that great. But the idea that everyone could speak up and get heard was huge then. I mean, there was no internet. It was mass-media or…nothing, it seemed. And then this awesome explosion of intense and varied writing and art. Sometimes free, always cheap. I used to spend hours reading zines. I still would if I could find any offline ones. Most of this kind of creativity is digital now though, often posted to a social network site. The big business found a way to profit from zines, by creating sites that would earn money by advertising while all the creative people provide the content for free. Shit, some of the sites even want you to pay them to get your work seen, when YOUR WORK is the reason their site is worth anything to begin with!
What’s the world coming to…
I also miss Loompanics. A whole lot. My book collection suffers for their absence, every day. And the RE/search books. I had all of them, and still have most. Modern Primitives changed my life, for the better. Again, realizing that my body was not my self, and that I did not have to be religious to know that- huge shift in my life.
I miss being able to remember shit.
I wrote all that and I forgot the third thing I miss. I also kept having to stop and try hard to think of the specific word I wanted to use, or changing my sentences because I couldn’t remember where I was going with the thought.
And that really sucks.
I also hate writing in ‘list format’. I don’t want to have to make a fucking list, I just want to say what I have to say and be done with it. I’ve been coached by people who would know, though, that “list format makes people click and read through the whole post!!!MAKE LISTS OMG” so I figured I would write one or two of these and then lay it aside with all the other selling/ad/marketing/weaselly/bullshit gimmicks that have been suggested to me over the years. I dislike that stuff. I hate ‘selling’. Now go buy my shit.