Saturday, March 15, 2008

an update from Jill

I have been very, very bad with writing ever since the Yahoo blog (The Provocateurs) ended. I liked having deadlines. And there has been so much to talk about: My time at the TED conference, Client number 9, and... making my "nextrecord" goal!

I actually can't believe I did it. I thought maybe I would get half that amount. Or, there was the fear that I would embarrass myself, and just my mom, my cousin Steven and my two loyal fans from Germany would donate. I am so, so grateful.

I didn't realize the press I would get (CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, and more). Most people saw it as a good and interesting new model for artists. Of course, there were a couple of naysayers and curmudgeons. I know it's not healthy to google yourself, find nasty blog comments, and then write to defend yourself, but I did. Usually it's best to leave them alone, so they don't think you care, or that they are important enough. I have to say, with the exception of one big asshole, I got back very favorable responses. Especially on the prog rock site, where he did admit to not wanting to offend any girl that would ever visit such a site.

Here were a few of their responses:

"I may have been a bit unfair in my caustic assessment of her career. After she commented, I did some due diligence and checked out some of her post-1995 albums. They're not as Kate Bush or Elliott Smith as I would personally like, but they're fairly interesting and way better than Jewel."

By the way, he did then donate $10.

"Sorry for the way I was on the Birds and Moons thread regarding your album financing... some of us are just a bunch of 'never was beens' and I'm sure there's more than a touch of jealousy on our side.... the more I read it, it was pretty petty."

My favorite comment on my donation site was:

"I am donating, not because of the music (the music is good, but not really my kind of music), but because I think it is a worthy project. The idea of using the Internet to get small donations from a lot of people is great, and once you have a small fan base it is doable. So I am giving a small tip in the hope that you one day make a great album."

Oh, I should add that Perez Hilton, that beacon of grace and light, put up a very unflattering picture of me with dollar signs, insinuating that I was desperate and begging. And all he knew was I Kissed a Girl. I was kinda bummed until the next morning when I saw the tote board had risen big time. So, it's either thank you or fuck you, fatty.

Now that I am off Yahoo, I can say "fuck you fatty."

Just leave it to me to pick out the very few negative things when I received so much love and support. I guess it was to point out that good can come out of something bad, or that I was born Jewish.

Enough about me. On the Provocateurs, we dealt with the election a bunch. In one way, I am glad to have taken a breather from it all. It has become so friggin' ugly – from Geraldine Ferraro to the hoopla about Obama's pastor. I am cringing at the news that there will be two more debates. I just want it over. I bet the Republicans are loving every moment of this.


Every year I go to the TED conference, which is hard to explain, but has really made a huge impact in my life. It is like going to 4 day master class with the smartest and coolest people in the world (cool, in the sense of people doing creative and good things for our planet. In fact, no one dressed very "cool").

Here is a video, just posted on the TED website, of one of my favorite speakers this year. Jill Bolte Taylor. She, as she describes, had the great luck and opportunity, as a brain scientist, to have experienced herself a massive stroke. You have to see this:

Back to me. If you are interested, here is a TED talk from 2 years ago debuting the song Manhattan in January. Notice the ovation from Al Gore at the end?

Anyway, you can comment on my MySpace blog and/or on the transitional Provocateurs site.

Cheers, jill


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Gay Public Bathroom Etiquette: An Interview with Kevin Posey

(This post was supposed to be published around the time of the Larry Craig scandal - around Oct 1, 2007 - but it was too racy. Hmmm, I wonder why?)

At first I was amused. Another Republican Senator caught in a seedy homo act! And one who had voted in a hypocritical and self-hating way on marriage and hate crimes. I was amazed at the press conference where Larry Craig professed that he wasn't gay, over and over again. I laughed at the parodies of the scene from the Minneapolis airport bathroom stalls.

But then I started getting tired of it, and angry. Especially
after reading about all the right-wing pols and commentators foaming at the mouth trying to distance themselves from him--like playing footsie in a public bathroom is way worse than Senators aiding and abetting a corrupt and criminal administration.

Plus, I kind of feel sorry for Sen. Craig, that he had to lead a double and closeted life. How horrible must that be? I know, I know, the Foleys and the Haggards get what they deserve, but still... I think it's tired and cheap to keep poking fun.

The family-values bloggers have been using the Larry Craig incident to confirm their fear and loathing of gay men as sinful sexual predators. Sadly, since the Senator didn't feel like he could carry out his business openly (on, say, the Rosie Cruise) he had to be sneaky and yucky about it. But that doesn't mean he's a predator. He was looking for other gay men who knew the protocol, which includes the foot-tapping undercover cop who arrested him. Shouldn't he have been looking out for terrorists instead of closeted old gay men?

Anyway, this whole thing has got me wondering: What exactly is the protocol for sex in a public bathroom? I decided to ask fellow musician and makeup artist to the rock stars, Kevin Posey. I somehow thought he would know.

Jill: Kevin, if I was a closeted gay Republican who wanted sex in the Minneapolis airport bathroom, how would I get to it?

Kevin: Well, Jill, if you happened to be a closeted gay Republican looking to get your rocks off in a public forum, you would just need to decide a couple of things. First: shopping mall, or any type of mass transit venue? I'm not certain what it is about these specific places that brings out the gay in guys but I have a few theories. Shopping with their girlfriends or wives leaves them bored, as they've suppressed the "gay" gene so hardcore over the years they can't relate to shopping and therefore must go to their most base animal instinct: f***ing. Traveling tends to make everyone anxious, and the need to go to the loo occurs more often due to anxiety. And nothing relieves tension like busting a nut.

Jill: Let's move forward and say you've chosen your bathroom locale, as I don't want to lose sight of the objective here--which is getting your faux closeted Republican ass some action!

Kevin: If you want to engage in more than a simple stroke fest with a buddy, I suggest that when you enter the restroom, you walk past the urinals when you and pick a stall--any stall will do. If you aren't a germ-phobic closeted 'mo, sit your horny ass down. If you are, put down one of those weird toilet-seat-shaped covers and then sit your ass down....and wait. Eventually someone will sit down in the stall beside you. Once that occurs, it will soon obvious by scent and sound whether they are there for the real reason the restroom was invented, or for a little man-on-man action.

Jill: Are their certain signs or codes one would give to indicate his preferences?

Kevin: The signs that "it's on" are so varied -- but let's focus on the basics. The one that got our dear old friend in trouble is a tried and true method of gettin' some in a restroom: the foot tap. The foot tap should occur with the tapper's foot slightly invading the other stall... then you wait... then, if the other person taps his foot, proceed. The next action depends on whether you are a top or bottom.

If you choose to reach a hand under or roll a finger along the bottom of the stall divider, you'll be offering up your hand (or mouth and I've even heard ass! though I'm unsure of how this actually occurs by constraints of space). This would put you in the submissive position. If you prefer being serviced, then you sit and wait it out till someone offers up said hand or finger... then give that bitch what he wants!

This will absolutely assure you some action and possibly an arrest if the police are feeling like a little entrapment that day, as there is absolutely no way that anyone following these steps --especially if they have so much to lose--would ever engage in anything without the go-ahead from the other side. Well, unless they happen to be high on meth and then that's a completely different subject altogether and a far more destructive element in our culture than someone trying to get off!

Jill: So, would you say most the men cruising, in these public places, are sad closeted married men, or out gay men who just find that kind of pickup sexy?

Kevin: I have to say that the peeps looking for "love" in the restroom setting are a varied mix of older closeted Republican fart knockers who have voted against the core of who they are, gay boys out and proud but looking for a little kink, jock straight (or str8) guys who want to re-live a bit of the old locker room stroke fest they had in high school or college, and everything in between, really... dudes are horny retards when it comes to their wieners and honestly will nut whenever the need arises... pun intended!

Jill: Have you ever engaged?

Kevin: Yes, and I have a ton of reasons why... I am a kinky weirdo that gets off on the thought of some stud blowing me and then leaving the bathroom to finish shopping with his wife or girlfriend... it makes me feel sexy. I am more of a rub one out with a bud at the urinal though as that was something I did as a young guy in school first realizing I liked guys.

I would like to say that just because this sort of thing occurs it absolutely does not mean that I, Mr. Craig, or (most) any other person engaging in this particular past time is out to f*** some infant up the butt! I mean... give me a break, already. My being a proud gay man with a perverted streak does not mean that I am a lecherous turd or a blight on society. If being supportive of a corrupt government makes me an upright citizen then I prefer to be on the fringe please... and thank you.

Jill: Thanks Kevin. This has been a swell time and educational too.

So Long For Now, The Provacateurs

(Final post by Jill and Michelle on Feb 25, 2008)

Well, we kind of knew it was coming. We didn't quite fit. We were a square peg in a round hole (or is it the other way around). But it was a good idea --to mix music with politics and social issues. I knew we could never compete with the popularity of posts on, say American Idol or Britney (although I did do one semi-pandering one on her--and had to quote NPR, so as to not appear that…desperate), but we were happy to stay as long as we did.

I had a great time. Yahoo pretty much allowed us to write whatever we wanted--except for the dirty post by my friend Kevin, after the Larry Craig incident, on the etiquette and joys of gay public restroom sex. Admittedly it was a stretch.

I got to hear and converse with people that I would never, on my own blog, encounter. What's the point of preaching to the converted? On our last post on Evangelicals and gays, we did encounter some nut jobs, but we also heard from intelligent and thoughtful Christians. We actually had peaceful dialogue, which is so rare in these black and white days. And that's what I hoped to do. I learned so much from the commenters (by the way, is commenters a word? Spell check gets me anytime I type it).

So, I want to thank Yahoo (especially Bob), and all of you for these last six months. I learned; I had fun, and actually became sort of disciplined.

Don’t fret, for one day soon we shall rise like the Phoenix, rise like Lazarus, and rise like John Travolta did after he did Pulp Fiction. You have not heard the last of The Provocateurs. Or as a Martin Mull lyric goes:

“It's so hard to say Au Revoir

So Let's just say Hors D'ouerves."

In the meantime you can go to my myspace or (on there is no place to comment, but that will soon change). And don't forget (I might add a place to talk there too). I think I need to consolidate-–does anyone out there have any suggestions?

I will end with this song sung by Tom Waits:"somewhere "

And now, I will have Michelle Lewis, the other Provocateur, bid you a Yahoo Music goodbye.


Hi... I have the odd sensation of speaking at one's own funeral right now. Must shake that off ...

One of the many great things about being friends with Jill Sobule is that, when you're with her, you often end up someplace you never imagined being. My short list of random, unimaginable places includes an activist poetry reading, Norman Lear's private jet and a recording studio with Arianna Huffington. You get the picture...

So when Jill was over at my house last summer and was telling me about this music and politics blog she might be doing on Yahoo Music, I readily volunteered to help (did she even ask for help? my memory is fuzzy on this). I had no real blogging experience, but I did have a laptop and an opinion... about music...AND politics. Also, since I was on a kind of maternity leave from my "day job" as a pop songwriter, I knew I wasn't going a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e soon. Therefore, I could hold the fort and keep things rolling whenever Jill was on tour or something.

Looking back on the early Provocateurs' planning meetings with Yahoo, I realize now what we were thinking--we thought that getting a blog was like getting your own TV chat show or variety show. We thought ours would be like The Daily Show meets Donnie And Marie. We had big plans for regular segments, guest stars, video interludes and of course, a theme song. We are still the only blog on Yahoo Music with its own theme song--which I will post here one last time for posterity:

Jill Sobule & The Provocateurs: "The Provocateurs Theme Song " (MP3, 1:07)

I also remember our friends at Yahoo looking at us as the meetings progressed with somewhat concerned looks on their faces... as in... "You guys still don't really know what you're doing here? Do you?" Well, um, no. But we were having fun--making up songs about topical events and picking friendly fights with some of our more conservative readers (aaah, good times).We also were having some truly memorable conversations and meeting some truly wonderful folks.

Now that the Provocateurs, Part One is ending, I'm realizing that maybe Part Two SHOULD be a TV show!!! What do you think, Jill? Should we start pitching it?

OK, so while we're taking meetings at CAA, we'll also be archiving our 6 months of posts (and maybe posting some new ones) here.

Rock on....xoxo - Michelle

Evangelicals less tweaked about Homosexuals?

(Originally posted by Jill on Feb 18, 2008)

It used to be that gay marriage was the big scary thing that the Republicans (Bush and Rove) could use to galvanize the reborn or evangelical vote. The fear of, for example, two men saying I do, promising to love each other forever and having a kick ass yet tasteful wedding party, might just have cost Gore and Kerry the elections.

Now there are signs that this Christian community has become more diverse and maybe less focused on the traditional hot button issues (abortion and gay marriage). There are growing concerns about the war, torture, the environment and social justice – not very Pat Robertson or Dr. Dobson like.

A recent poll by Beliefnet showed that 80-percent of respondents saw reducing poverty as "very important", where as only 49- percent chose stopping gay marriage.

It seems also that the younger generation is not as judgmental, threatened. They probably all have seen old episodes of Will and Grace or the Ellen show; they probably all have a friend who bought a Rufus Wainwright or a Scissor Sisters CD.

Jim Wallis, an influential progressive evangelical stated "The religious right, their dominance is finished, their monologue is over. They have a voice, but they're not the only voice now."

What is happening when even a former Republican sports star ( a profile not known for pro-gay pronouncements) is calling for a change in the guard? My new hero, Charles Barkley, in an interview last week, on reasons why he is supporting Obama:

"I've got great respect for Sen. McCain, great respect, but I don't like the way Republicans have taken this country," said Barkley. "Every time I hear the word 'conservative,' it makes me sick to my stomach, because they're really just fake Christians, as I call them. That's all they are."
"I think they want to be judge and jury," Barkley said. "Like, I'm for gay marriage. It's none of my business if gay people want to get married. I'm pro-choice. And I think these Christians; first of all, they're not supposed to judge other people. But they're the most hypocritical judge of people we have in the country. And it bugs the hell out of me. They act like they're Christians. They're not forgiving at all."

We here on Yahoo Music have a very diverse crowd. I wonder what our Christian readers think.

Vibrator Laws Suck. Free The Rabbit!

(Originally posted by Jill on Feb 19, 2008)

On one of my last Yahoo blogs, I posted about the insanity of our drug laws - specifically mandatory minimums and three strikes. Many of the commentors had no sympathy and disagreed - "if you know its illegal, don't f**king do it. You do the crime, you do the time."

Well, what about this law?

"Alabama's Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act prohibits, among other things, the commercial distribution of 'any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for any thing of pecuniary value.'"

Alabama is a vibrator – free state! That's settles it. That is where I am going to raise my family.

So, you can sell a semiautomatic rifle to a depressed teen, but if they catch you (under the table at the gun store) also peddling the latest Hello Kitty pocket rocket or dildo, you are going to the slammer, buddy!
That's right, folks, " You do the crime, you do the time."
Seriously, you could actually get a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

There is one loophole through:

"The law contains an exception for sexual devices sold for medical and scientific purposes, and many adult stores have continued sales after posting signs saying their merchandise falls within the exceptions."

I want to know what “medical and scientific purposes” they came up with for peddling the "Daring Dolphin", the "Turbo Stroker", and of course…"the bend-over beginning kit".

I also bring up this unjust law as, last week, a federal appeals court overturned a statute outlawing sex toy sales in Texas. So now it's just Mississippi and Alabama.
So, I say instead of all this anti-war and campaign nonsense, we do something for our oppressed brothers in the Cotton State.
Let's all go down to Huntsville and do a "rabbit" freedom march.
Are you all with me???


(for those that don't know - the Rabbit is a best selling vibrator that, I just saw, has it's own Wikipedia entry)

Pro-Anorexia songs? "Lucy at the Gym" and "Supermodel"

(Originally posted by Jill on Feb 13, 2008)

A couple of months ago, I Googled myself (not the coolest thing to do). It's surprising and strange what comes up, especially when checking out the blogs. Some of the more interesting, or rather disturbing hits I get, are on "pro-ana" sites. Now, for the unaware - and I was until I found two of my songs listed as "thinspiration" - pro-ana sites are forums for mostly young girls who have anorexia or bulimia... and see it as a good thing.

They are pretty stunning and...very twisted. They have adoring pictures of rail-thin celebrities like the Olsen Twins and Posh Spice. There are recipes (?) and tips on suppressing hunger pains: "You can train yourself to forget hunger by gently punching your stomach every time you get hungry because you'll hurt too bad to eat."

I think now I should tell you that I, Jill of Provocateur semi-fame, suffered with an eating disorder in the 80s. It was miserable, and a waste of six years. However, it has, as well as other youthful troubles, made me who I am today. My art and song-writing, I am sure, has also been marked by those years. "Lucy at the gym", and "Supermodel"(from the movie, Clueless), would not have been born, if not for it.

So, Lucy, the star of my song, is a girl who won't eat and can't stop exercising. I have great empathy for her, but this is no "pro-ana" song - in fact, quite the opposite. I was curious why some saw it as such, so I emailed Terra Atril, who writes, on why she added the song to her top 10 list of "pro-ana" songs. Here's what she said:

"Well, I could put some real thought into this, or I could go with instinct basically just blame it on a cross between the lyrics and young-eating-disordered minds being fickle. People truly in the thick of an eating disorder have a combination of suicidal tendencies and god complex. "Lucy" is a character who can be seen as a deity, an example of how to live, and maybe die."

Amazing. But what is also of interest is how thoughtful and smart this "pro-ana" Terra Atril is. She went on to say:

"people read into lyrics BIG TIME and people with mental illnesses, especially, are capable of seeing any meaning possible from literally any combination of words. Another example I didn't include would be Radiohead's 'Creep'. It's obviously not about eating disorders, but the lines, "I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul," just hits people the right way, I suppose.
I was originally planning on the inclusion of "Supermodel," but "Lucy...." just seemed more apt and what the masses (as it were) would be looking for. Plus, "Supermodel" could be construed too easily as tongue-in-cheek and honestly, the last thing people with eating disorders need is to feel mocked."

By the way, other "pro-ana" songs on the list were "Ana's Song" by Silverchair and Fiona Apple's "Paper Bag".

Now before I gross you out with a youtube video of "Lucy at The Gym" posted by some poor sick girl, I should tell you that the song has also been used in a more positive therapeutic way. In February, which by the way is Eating Disorder Awareness Month, a director from an eating disorder clinic asked permission to use the song:

"I think that "Lucy at the Gym" is a very powerful song. I am using it in a slideshow to illustrate to others what it feels like to have an eating disorder. I think it is the perfect song because of the honest depiction of "Lucy". I think the song along with pictures of calorie counts, the word diet in cereal, and the scale show the real torment of eating disorders. I am planning on showing the slideshow in a presentation at the University of Texas at El Paso.
I hope to use the song to assist in raising awareness and promote the prevention of eating disorders."

Phew! Well, at least most people, I hope, get the intention of the song. Anyway, here's the lyric to "Lucy at the Gym", followed by a completely disturbing video. And, no I don't approve of this youtube.

Lucy at the gym. She's there every time I go
and I don't go that often, so she must live at the gym
I stare at her ribs they show through the spandex
Her little legs are working, she's going somewhere
She's climbing up the stairs and when she reaches the top
her dreams will be there

Lucy at the gym. Lucy on the scale for the third time
Thru thick and thin, Lucy's at the gym
She's staring at the clock and like the 2nd hand she never stops
She's Lucy at the gym

When she takes a shower, after all the hours
Does she have a place to go.Is there someone waiting
Or is Lucy all alone

I'm at the gym and Lucy's not there
It's got me kinda worried so I imagine the worst
She's made it up to heaven
And when she met her maker, he said "come right in"
"I'll show you around the gym"
"Everyone's beautiful and thin"
"And here there's no sin, and your life can begin
Lucy at the gym"

Grammy Awards Voter Fatigue

(Originally Posted by Michelle on Feb 10, 2008)

Soooo, the Grammy's are on tonight. Sigh. I'm sitting here trying really hard to care. As a voting member of NARAS, I probably should care. But I didn't vote this year. I tried to. You wanna know why I didn't? It was too boring.

Seriously. It's an on-line voting process where you log on with your NARAS number, which takes you to a secret page of all the nominees and categories and their corresponding numbers, which you then darken in on your ballot as you make your choices.

The first time I logged in, I was bored by page one. I thought, "Well, maybe I just need to take a nap." So I did. A week later I tried again. This time, a spinning rainbow ball on my lap top screen was all it took to get me to decide, "f**k this, I'd rather eat a snack." Figuring the third time was the charm, I grabbed some coffee and a preemptive nosh and sat down at my computer, determined.

The thing is, I like Amy Winehouse

and Kanye and Feist, etc. But whom are we kidding here? This is pop culture we're talking about... and so, even if I don't necessarily find the artists themselves boring, these mind-numbingly banal categories make me want to slip into a boredom coma. Did you know that there is still a Best New Age Album category? New Age has been called "New Age" for almost 30 years. When does it become "Old Age"? And Best Instrumental Pop album? Really? Anyway, I bailed on voting for the third and final time, and while drinking my coffee and eating my snack, scanned the Huffington Post for info about the REAL voting we have coming up instead.

And yet, I'm not one to merely complain without offering some possible alternatives. So here are some of my suggestions for some Grammy categories that might be more fun to vote for next time...

Most Pandering Pop Song -
Best New Artist Under 12 -
Best Song as an iPod commercial -
The "Oops -we-dissed-you-when-you-were-relevant" Grammy -
Best Theme song for Republican Nominee -
Biggest Commercial Success/Critical Flop -
Biggest Critical Success/Commercial Flop -
Best Female vocal (for an actress) -
The "This-is-what the-kids-are-listening-to???" Album of the Year -

Most Cynical Album -
Best Computer Voice Narration -

Oh, wait, that one is real...check it out...

Anyway, feel free to cast your votes!

Jill added: "I will be watching the Wire instead of the Grammys"