Monday, March 31, 2008
that way we can fuck and watch tv:
The prudery of Moe Tkacik revealed: titling a song "Hot White Cum" is just ewww, she says. Bitch please.

I'm fronting. Let's talk about Liz Phair. Being 14 in 1994 and not wanting to think of myself as someone attracted to pornography -- the prudery of Spencer Ackerman revealed -- my outlet was "Exile in Guyville." Oh my God. I had the cassette, with a precious J-card containing every joyful explicit lyric, to say nothing of that sublimely suggestive cover photo. If you were a male alternapubescent it was a transcendent experience. Until the subway intervened.

I attended the Bronx High School of Science. It required a commute that boggles the minds of non-New Yorkers to this day: a 90-minute gauntlet from Newkirk Avenue in Brooklyn to the Bronx's Beford Park Boulevard. One day in late 1994, the D train had some sort of problem and I was forced to catch the 4 at Union Square via the intermediary N/R. As everyone familiar with Union Square knows, you've got a ways to walk between the N/R and IRT platforms. I had 'Guyville' on my Sanyo Auto-Reverse walkman with the blown right headphone. It salved the dull pain of the half-awake trod to another day wasted in school.

As the 4 barreled its way to 42nd Street, I decided to check my lyric sheet to clear some confusion about what Liz had to say about something or other. And then -- oh God. The J-card: it was gone. Panic! A double-check of my coat pockets, pants pockets and backpack reconfirmed my sense of loss and accompanying dread. What should I do? Split-second choice: I hopped off the train, caught the downtown-bound 4 and retraced my steps back to the N/R. Only no luck. I was very late to school and with nothing to show for it.

The horror. This was before the age of Google and lyrics databases. Wasn't adolescence confusing enough? I needed to know where Liz Phair wanted to put that thing you weren't supposed to talk about. Maimonides, I'm fucking perplexed. Anyhow, this story's gone on long enough: I ended up buying an entirely new 'Guyville' tape, but, to mix references, confusion has ever-more been sex.

Moe's post asked when you stopped listening to Liz Phair, and the answer is sort of Who Fucking Cares.
--Spencer Ackerman
I never got into Liz Phair, but I do love Pansy Division's cover of "Flower" like nobody's business (I didn't even realize it was a Liz Phair song until I looked at the lyrics). Also, Newkirk Avenue?? That's where a bunch of my in-laws live! WORLDS COLLIDE.
Blogger Liz Baillie | 1:20 PM

There's a Boston comparison here: an astonishingly brilliant debut, great lead single from the follow-up album, then...meh.

But really, she had me when she offered to fuck my minions.
Blogger M. Duss | 3:19 PM

Great post, Spencer! Increasingly I'm noticing that you're not only an excellent reporter, but you're a really good writer.

I haven't listened to Exile in Guyville in ages, but for a long time it was totally the soundtrack to my life. If you were a single female of a certain age in NYC in the mid-90s, that was *the* album. Very few women had ever written with that level of sexual and emotional honesty about what it's like to be a woman on your own, making your way in an often hostile and confusing world. I thought that album got at certain feelings and experiences that no other music, or book, or film, or anything, had ever really explored before.

Like you, Spencer, I had it in my walkman and would listen to it on the subway all the time. Back then I was a social worker working with people with developmental disabilities. The office was in Manhattan but I had to make a lot of home visits, and sometimes I would leave my house in the morning and just go straight to a client's home.

The one family I worked with which was in crisis more than any other, and where I ended up having to make the most home visits *of course* was the one who lived farthest away, in deepest Bronx. I would leave my home in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn (on the F line) and ride all the way to the last stop on the #5 train, Dyre Avenue in the Bronx. And *then* to get to their house I'd still have to take a bus! That was one longass commute -- but I did listen to a lot of Liz Phair along the way. And got a lot of reading done as well.

I never did care for much of Liz's stuff that came after, though. I gave up on her some time after Whitechocolatespaceegg. But Exile in Guyville still stands as a pretty fucking awesome achievement.

And p.s. -- Spencer, thanks so much for linking to my blog. I do appreciate the traffic!
Blogger Kathy G. | 12:39 AM

That line is from 'Chopsticks' which was on her second, less-heralded-but-still-OK album, Whip-Smart.
Blogger Jonathan | 4:13 AM

Awwww Kathy. I'm blushing.
Blogger Spencer Ackerman | 7:33 AM

Holy shit, dude. You're totally my musical-taste doppelganger. I had the same fetishistic attachment to my tape-treed cassette copy of Girlysounds. As an insanely confused and screwed-up 18-year-old mother, I scrutinized and contemplated the shit out of that thing -- like, seriously, we're talking Talmudic textual interpretation here -- listening to it on my Walkman between classes.

P.S. Alas, everything went south for me after whitechocolatespaceegg.
Blogger Michelle | 8:31 AM

I was in an all-male educational environment when I first fell in love with EiG. "I hear you, Liz," a friend said, entranced. "I'm exiled in guyville too."
Blogger W | 3:14 PM