Posts Tagged ‘Cat Power’

Deborah has for many years wielded a white feather boa that she named White Fang. She wore it at dances. She wore it for New Year’s. She wore it to see Lady Gaga. She wore it with Esmerelda and Maybelline, two of her killer party dresses.

In the company of White Fang
I won’t say when this photo was taken. However, I
can confirm that we posed after the last man walked on the Moon but before the first rover drove on Mars. The dark lighting here altered reality: Deborah’s hair is red, her dress is purple, and I am 7’ tall.

But there comes a time in a woman’s life when she knows that, though it’s been a long time coming, a change is gonna come. Oh yes it will.

Deborah and I rarely go to Fangable events these days. Society is less formal, and people don’t like me. For these reasons, and because she understood that White Fang should now be warming the bare shoulders of a younger woman, Deborah decided to give the boa to our friend Kristin. The effervescent, ever-youthful Kristin is approaching a milestone birthday, so what better time than now?

Last Friday night, at a gathering of friends, Deborah made the presentation. I was standing in the backyard under the stars – this was a gathering of women, and though I hadn’t been banished, I wouldn’t have added much to the conversation. I was playing tug of war with our lucky dog Lucky. I could see through the large picture window at the back of the house as Deborah, deploying White Fang one last time, demonstrated the poise, confidence, and good posture a boa demands (along with various show-stopping moves).

While I watched I noticed that Lucky, who is not yet six months old, was also watching. You could see the exclamation point over his head. A huge white bird was loose in the house, flapping its wings all over Mom! The fight-or-flight circuit closed in the little corgi’s brain and without a thought for his own safety he thundered through the dog door like a 20-pound cannon ball and burst into the party.

Kristin was serenely sitting with White Fang arrayed around her. Now that he was face to face, or face to feathers, with this unknown, shape-shifting creature, the avenging Lucky threw on the brakes. He remembered that he was a puppy. This was obviously a superior being. His ears melted against the sides of his head, his belly hit the carpet, and he awaited orders. Note to Kristin: Adult men will do this, too.

I admire my wife for making this decision, and I will admire her just as much without the boa as I admired her within the boa. As for Kristin, when I drove her home that night, she expressed some anxiety about being the new Bearer. I thought about that later and realized she has nothing to worry about. She already has everything she needs. All that was missing was something to wrap it in.

Random Pick of the Day
Cat Power, The Greatest (2006)
The closest comparison to Ms. Power is Tom Waits, but only their vocal delivery is similar. Cat Power is more introspective and not at all funny. She never approaches anything resembling the structure of a pop tune. None of her songs sound finished, either. I find her interesting and even cathartic (“Living Proof” is stunning in its quiet, waltz-time way), but it’s taken me a while to appreciate her.

Random Pan of the Day
Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band, Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band (1978)
This is the one with “Boogie ’Til You Puke” and that solemn study of forbidden love, “I’m Not Too Old for You” (“Step on my love and it’s like dropping an egg into the carpet”). “I Used to Be a Radical” rocks relatively hard and includes a funny line about trying to assassinate Spiro Agnew with an ice cream truck. “Mood Ring” sounds like ZZ Top at band practice. The whole thing sounds like ZZ Top, but lowercase. The occasional humor in the lyrics makes Root Boy (who was born Foster MacKenzie III) a distant ancestor of Flight of the Conchords.


My learned colleague Clark Hays raises an excellent question about Cat Power and her cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Why didn’t I mention it in my round-up of Stones covers?

Power released this song on The Covers Record (2000). On this disc she planes 12 mostly obscure tunes into sawdust. The results are interesting and strange but at times so spare and desolate they border on the nihilistic. The Big Lebowski taught us that nihilism is nothing to be afraid of, but I find that nihilism is nothing much to listen to, either. So I didn’t include her cover of “Satisfaction” in my list even though I think it’s good and certainly one-of-a-kind. I just I can’t recommend more than an annual listen without your doctor’s consent.

While I’m on the topic of multiple covers from the perspective of one artist or band, you might like Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs’ two Under the Covers records, which are happy and Beatles-like. (You older teenagers will remember Ms. Hoffs from The Bangles.) Phil Collins has a new collection of soul covers, Going Back, but it burned my fingers just to type “Phil Collins,” so you’ll have to listen to him on your own.

Portland’s cuddliest, happy-go-luckiest writer
And while I’m on the topic of nihilism, Clark and I had an email exchange at work after I helpfully observed that the lunkhead had refused to smile at a local book-signing event:

Clark: Writers never smile, dude. We’re too “tortured.”
Run-DMSteve: Not when they’re “inebriated”!
Clark: Shut up, I’m a famous author!
Run-DMSteve: Are you inebriated?
Clark: What if I am!!!! What’s it to you? You wouldn’t understand the pressures I’m under…I’m too good for this place. I coulda been writing greeting cards…I coulda been something…
Run-DMSteve: Introducing the Clark Hays line of greeting cards:

  • White card, no picture, black type: Happy Birthday. Inside: Blood stain, probably yours.
  • Card that hasn’t even been dyed white, no picture, rubber-stamped: Happy Anniversary. Inside: Stain.
  • Card from Hallmark, Hallmark logo crossed out with magic marker, big black X on front, inside message crossed out. Card looks like somebody cried in it.

“You get me,” sobbed Clark. “You really get me!!”