MRR COLUMN

On Rihanna & Guy Debord / RIP Powerlunches

In honour of my slow stomp towards grande dame / gran damned status (thirty years old this month) I’ve given myself a blue rinse and am gonna retreat to listicle indulgence, hammering out these frayed thoughts with the retreating vigour, piss, spit and vinegar of an officially old gal (no apologies and all respects to the real-ass wrinkly set.) What gives? Still not over punk, still not loving police, still a bit sorry to those who must edit this. Grammar was always a cage, Grandma is still full of rage.

0. Feeling ungrateful for music and my waning ability to construct even slightly amusing metaphors around sound. Waiting on a new story to live. Hey now. Punk here in London is better than ever, the endless mutation and new combinations of people cramming into small rooms to play instruments over each other swells my heart. still too many boys. Making some powermoves, making some choices about new cities and different lives, wherever we are we’re living, as ever, in desperate times.

1. 2015 was one for big projects and realising dreams. There were downsides though. POWERLUNCHES, London venue, dear basement, dearest queers, dear broken toilet, punk venue for most of the most alive gigs of the last four years, closed in a flurry as all London things do. Some, who didn’t seem to quite feel that warm glow of what happens when a building becomes more, chortled over the autopsy, asserting smugly that it was a shithole anyway (Anyway? By design, dear nonbeliever) while others got sad, got angry, and saw the place out in a hail of glory. Blaze of rage. Balloon gas. Morgue gigglers this way come, we will squish your faces into the concrete you seem to applaud. Whichever. The grumbling got me thinking, you know. This was a space that didn’t necessarily really ever have its shit together, didn’t organise itself particularly efficiently, was a source of frustration as much as joy for the people who worked there. But it was still a dream home. All the most beautiful things are held together with tape. Someone told me a story about someone they know using some new app to get food delivered and having the guy who was getting paid minimum wage (plus British “tips”) to strap an outsize box to their bike and cycle through the pissing rain with their organic pizza order also turn out to be drummer of their favourite band. Which leads me neatly on… . I’m not a ‘old days’ nostalgia tripper, and god knows Paypal is convenient, but we must grip tightly to the happy accidents, the failures, the useless forgetfull-ers of punk rock and not flatten our landscape into one of smooth, shiny and neatly designed service provision. I think about what it means to provide a service as I usher peers out of DIY space after a gig and silently note down who acts up because they’ve had a few beers, and who is chill about the fact that we need to keep our precarious license. When they expect me to smile after a volunteer shift when I’m mopping up their vomit, we think about affective labour, like last night when I heard a woman complaining that I was sweeping aggressively, one gets to thinking about who’s servicing who, how universal the ideas are of what money allows us to do. Service provision is the attitude that states, I’m paying so I expect a standard, customer is always reich, it is a concept which surrounds us, byproduct of capitalism of course what isn’t etc but we gotta resist the snide leading the blind, embrace failure and disrupt the idea that even in spaces, mediums or arenas where shit is meant to be different, the idea that a service, whatever it might be, is provided to the entitled by the beleaguered, seems hard to resist. We have to.

400. A recent reunion with an old school friend was both enlightening and confusing. She was interviewing me for a podcast. We found ourselves peeling back the layers of early teens. I drank some mulled wine left over from Christmas and it could have been the sugar or the booze in it but I saw my teenage face clearly for a second. I remember me then. I was not a generous girl. I resented this woman then as deeply as I am spellbound by the idea, with hindsight, of her teenage self now, like why I wasn’t best friends with this cool nerd girl who had tippexed THE FALL and LE TIGRE on her backpack while I was careering through 56k downloads of California pop punk acting like I was better than her in order to try and snare the boy I was obsessed with, who would, after so many years of friendzoning me to the point of near extinction, then flipped and tried to get me to coerce me into taking a picture of my boobs with a 0.2 megapixel webcam. I had located cool as by definition a distant concept. I quizzed her on if she remembered my fourteenth birthday party where she bought an At The Drive In CD and then some boys I didn’t know showed up with a bong and I freaked out, overstimulated, terrified of the thing I wanted most (skateboarding boys and their shoulders, the mythic thereof, not the weed, so much, which while I part took of once or twice, my asthma pump hidden in the pocket of my oversized jumbo cord JNCOs.) Terror / desire / dick / let me down easy.

69. I also remembered, although did not share with her, that around this time, a little earlier, in order to get some particularly mean girls off my back, I created a pretend boyfriend, or rather, an email address for him. I called him Vincent. He was east asian with blue eyes and navy hair. Why I thought anyone would believe a manga character was hanging out at a skatepark in South Wales I don’t know. I set myself up for a hard fall. Why would flesh ever compete? Oh Vincent. He used to email my friends and tell them what a good kisser I was, and how he was moving to America so he could never ever meet them. I had literally never kissed anyone at this point, and could have probably worked a little hard to make him seem real. All boyfriends are imaginary. We get the intimacy we deserve, even the everyday thud of an ordinary love. Apple bottom jeans boots with the fur.

$. Girls screaming along to the new Rihanna in the cafe where I sit. Work work work work. Last week I put a poster up at our DIY space that says ‘Never Work’ (after a Mr. G Debord, natch.) An angry individual scrawled over it in black sharpie ‘WHAT AND WHAT LIVE OFF YOUR TRUST FUND JOIN A UNION GET ORGANISED.’ Polarising discourse for the po-faced. The line that says the girl who doesn’t want to work is a lazy trust funder is tied up in the myth of the dignified worker, who presumably (relatedly, see above) ‘lives to serve.’ We are all tired. I’m forever caught up believing you can hate work, want to see beyond it, but still want to not get totally shafted while you work there. LIVE YOUR PASSIONS / NEVER WORK / LIVE WITHOUT DEAD TIME. Rihanna and Guy / sitting in a tree. Incantations, suggestions, demands. Ne travaillez jamais. 1963 is still close. I’ve found a place, grey haired crone, me, where (mostly) I’m able to pick when and how I get my paid work done, and it’s a reality I gaze at with a deep wonder every time a trickle of cash hits my account because it is beyond fortunate, as hard, stressful and confusing at is it, to dictate the terms. Maybe there’s too much easy romance in imagining a world without work, politicising the sofa struggle, while the slow graft, paper based people wrangling of the union politics and mobilising the workforce is as gruelling as it can be cold. Both need so badly to be done and one begets the other, silly. Step one: Demand universal basic income now so we can all be luxury bitches.

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