On Her Striking New Album, Lingua Ignota Soars

The first time I saw Kristin Hayter perform as Lingua Ignota, the classically trained experimental musician was presenting her MFA thesis at Brown University. At a white keyboard in a flowing white dress, surrounded by dozens of crumpled-up pieces of paper on the floor, she delivered striking operatic vocals while behind her played black-and-white video footage of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, Pina Bausch choreography to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and burning buildings. When she finished her set, at least three audience members were in tears.

“She’s that sort of magical talent that seems to come from nowhere,” says Steven Vallot of audiovisual electronics project Muslin, who recently completed a West Coast tour with Hayter and doom metal duo the Body. “It seems innate and effortless, yet it’s mixed with work and building a craft.”

The new ALL BITCHES DIE EP, Hayter’s second as Lingua Ignota (Latin for “unknown language”), builds on her first, LET THE EVIL OF HIS OWN LIPS COVER HIM, released on Bandcamp on Valentine’s Day. That debut, which included four songs from Hayter’s graduate thesis, dealt with violence against women, including her own experiences as a survivor of domestic violence and abuse; all proceeds went to the National Network to End Domestic Violence. When writing ALL BITCHES DIE, Hayter, now 31, was inspired by the book When Battered Women Kill by Angela Browne, a study of victim violence. “I was thinking about what it means to be a survivor and the different roles that you have to embody as a victim,” she explains. “ALL BITCHES DIE is about the dichotomy of victim-slash-monster, and using tropes commonly used in harsh noise and metal and subverting them.”

Growing up outside San Diego in 1986, Hayter was not entirely at home in a world in which the norm was hyper-thin, tan, and blonde. At school, the kids taunted her, threw things at her. But when Hayter was eight a teacher took note of her natural vibrato, the recognition leading Hayter to become a soloist and church cantor. She sang weekly at her local church, beginning classical voice training in the sixth grade, around the time she became obsessed with Kurt Cobain.

In high school, she got into grindcore, prog, math-rock, jazz, and noise, picking up influences from the likes of Ornette Coleman, Aaron Dilloway, and John Zorn as well as from San Diego bands the Locust and Cattle Decapitation. She went to shows and played in metal bands with her friends. At the same time, she was training for the conservatory and performing in small opera productions.

That training has had a substantial impact on her work. Hayter specializes in early music from the medieval, Renaissance, and baroque eras, which forms the basis for most of her songs. In performance, she flips the room upside down with punishing, beautiful vocals that oscillate between the venomous and aggressive and the heartbreakingly mournful — between abuser and victim. People have told her she reminds them of the avant-garde vocalist and composer Diamanda Galás. (“An incredible compliment,” Hayter says, “but I consider her a post-human deity/demon and I could never do what she does and I wouldn’t dare to try.”)

It was during her time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned her BFA on a painting scholarship, that Hayter, under the mentorship of Mark Booth, began commingling language, sound, and image. Her undergraduate thesis involved a deconstruction of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier into a series of procedural poems, which were then turned back into music and accompanied by visual material.

She continued the interdisciplinary approach at Brown, where she earned the MFA, in literary arts, in 2016 — and where, after ending an abusive five-year relationship, she started writing about violence against women. Her thesis work there, titled BURN EVERYTHING TRUST NO ONE KILL YOURSELF, included a thirteen-song cycle based on a 10,000-page manuscript composed largely of found material: misogynist lyrics, internet invective, and the like.

“I decided on 10,000 pages because that’s my body weight in standard paper and it’s an impossible book object,” Hayter says. “I wanted to create something vast, unreadable, and terrifying.” In addition to the text, she created an installation of the pages. “So there’s the… written object, the installation, the recorded musical object, and the performance, all of which examine and recontextualize the tropes of violence against women in music.”

Her work brings to mind Tolstoy’s concept of the infectiousness of art — that is, one can’t rightly go on with one’s day after listening to or watching Lingua Ignota perform. Artfully, expertly, Hayter forces us to confront a violence to which we’ve become otherwise inured; in so doing, she creates a visibility for those who have been encouraged to remain silent, who have been dismissed.

“I want to keep going. This is what I want to do,” she says. “I have survivors who approach me and say that the work touched them somehow, or that it spoke to them. And that’s who I’m making it for.”


Dance-Punkers Rule Dancefloors Via Nonsense Syllables

Rapture frontman Luke Jenner flings chants and whines as though they were calls to prayer on Pieces of the People We Love, oft backed by equally yearning guitars. Responding to the rapturous Internet hype whipped up by 2003’s Echoes, the dance-punk quartet unleashes propulsive, addictive, ego-driven bursts on the follow-up, with lyrics at once introspective (“I been searching so long”) and chastising (“Words that cut, slash, rip, and hypnotize/Why’d you say those things?/Why did you lie?”). The Pieces tracklist also boasts slightly less articulate language like “Don Gon Do It” and “Whoo! Alright—Yeah . . . Uh Huh,” punctuating the music’s guttural insistence with equally percussive nonsense syllables. And though their new one is produced by Danger Mouse, Paul Epworth, and Ewan Pearso—rather than Echoes overlord James Murphy—the band won’t let go of the dancefloor, castrating hipster immobility with japes like “People don’t dance no more/They just stand there like this/They cross their arms and stare you down and drink and moan and piss.” Let go and get into it. “Whoo! Alright,” indeed.


Ahab is Rad

MC Lars is here to announce what everyone already knows: The kids like their MySpace, MP3s are free like water, Ahab is rad, and Internet chats are sketchy. It sounds like he’s lampooning à la whitey rap predecessors Paul Barman or Weird Al, but Lars bleeds righteousness.

“Hot Topic Is Not Punk Rock” is naive to the point of baffling. Can’t we all agree that nothing is punk anymore? And isn’t picking on the most obvious store of not-punk-rockness and then repeating the chain’s name no less than 18 times as not-punk-rock as you can get? Doesn’t that make the song more viral marketing than gutter angst? And in “Generic Crunk Rap,” Lars essentially dismisses the entire genre as a scheme to market gin to eight-year-olds. Apparently he hates dancing, soulful shouting, bejeweled goblets, and the very dirty south.

Lars’s earnestness seems out of touch—he refuses to soil himself in earthly dysfunctions like sex, gold, or beats that go boom. Full of poise, gumption, and useless Latin phrases, he’s still riding high on his Stanford degree and cute RApple laptop. Maybe it’s time for grad school, or at least some tutoring from your favorite college dropout.


Monkey Island

By now, two multiplatinum albums on, explaining Gorillaz is exasperating. Even the puppet in the balcony (the same one that later simulated fellatio) said, “We’re a puppet version of a cartoon from a band called Gorillaz.”

Of course. Undulated and humming just below a jumbo screen featuring Jamie Hewlitt’s illustrated visual counterpart to Damon Albarn’s orchestration, their Demon Days performance was equal parts talent show, laserium, prophesy, and revival.

The visuals extend the already haunting vocals of Albarn, animating his distant post-apocalyptic and muted distress: Whether it’s a floating island populated and captained by one tortured girl or a pile of trash propping up a stately crow with tangled barbed wire, the imagery is dark, not disturbing. On stage the 20 to 30 musicians (Harlem gospel choir, children’s choir, Julliard strings) were silhouetted and operated en masse, like a Rube Goldberg machine. Albarn hid behind layers of musicians, attacking a baby grand with jazzman tenacity. The only faces acknowledged were guest vocalists, resurrected from forgotten places: Neneh Cherry, De La Soul. And Ike Turner, in silk pajamas, punctuating his piano solo by sitting on the keys. Clearly Albarn recruited lost souls; how else do you explain Happy Monday Shaun Ryder sucking on a lollipop and his mic?

Albarn emerged for the encore “Hong Kong” backed by a Chinese zither. All of a sudden, when their puppet master appeared forlorn and premonitory, the Gorillaz got less animated. But the swelling violins, stomping feet, and reaching limbs still made apocalypse feel good.


Hugged By Fog

New York’s own stepsister band (they’ve toured with the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, the Thrills, and Stellastarr*), Ambulance LTD took the Bowery stage March 7 with their instrumental “Yoga Means Union,” coaxing layers of chords out of simple repetition, ambling into a seductive lull. Each breath of twang built up like a soft hovering kiss threatening to land. And in that airy, dreamy state of lingering promise, the band remained frozen, purging riffs we’ve already heard and skirting the edge of a sound that’s their own. Could be a Beatles song, could be a hipster jam band, but what Ambulance LTD are remains as foggy as the phantasmagoric, meandering melodies they deliver.

After the first number, the power on one side of the stage blew out. Backed by staccato strumming, lead bassist Matt Dublin explained, “All the rock ‘n’ roll just sucked the electricity out of the room.” With the plugs back in the right places, the band launched into “Primitive,” an anthem for emotional distance. Lead singer Marcus Congleton droned, “Relax, don’t think about the way I treat you,” in a controlled and deliberate Lou Reed drawl, taking courtship to a risk-free netherworld, a place where timing and willingness are factored in before the crush. Such insecurity is emblematic: The band, in the same stunted emotional boat, isn’t weathered enough to get granular and isn’t slick enough to put on a polished show. They do deliver sweet, comforting songs that wrap around tight like a hug, but only if the audience is willing to hug back. At their worst, Ambulance LTD are like one of those dorm room psychedelic posters with unending neon staircases morphing into beams lifted from swirly heavens. The band’s music—like the poster art—is limited by scope and scale but still fascinating when steeped in stony moments.

Louisville’s VHS or BETA, who are co-headlining the tour, closed out the evening with their audio-mullet arena rock circa 1982. These guys have practically mimeographed early Cure, but they do it in homage and out of love. In the end, they rescued an otherwise pageantry-free evening with clap-alongs, strobe lights, harder-faster-flashier guitars, and a rave-inducing set that outdistanced their deliberately derivative nature.


Digging in the Dirt

Russell Jones (Ol’ Dirty Bastard) died November 13 as a result of “intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine and [the pain-killer] Tramadol.” He had nine days left on parole, and was alone in the recording studio past curfew. He had just missed performing in the first East Coast Wu-Tang show in nearly five years. And this spring, Roc-A-Fella is releasing his last official record.

In October ’03 at three in the morning, ODB, at his first official show post-jail, had followed metallists the Dillinger Escape Plan, of all unlikely bands. He took the stage looking like he was fresh from a coma, tears trailing down his cheeks. ODB didn’t even seem to notice he was crying. The crowd chanted, begging for the hallucinatory diatribes from his drunk days. Buddha Monk and his Brooklyn Zoo posse filled in words when Dirt’s jaw was slack and his mouth open in exasperation. One dancer stripped. ODB didn’t even notice. He was paralyzed, lost onstage in a shell of what used to be. His eyes were quiet too, not even responding to the mostly white, hipped-out crowd shouting, begging him to dance—it wasn’t much more than a minstrel show. But that was what people will remember—his cracked-out fuckups with the law and blissed-out lady-loving, a life of ghetto celebrity.

Two months later, in January, ODB and I met for what turned out to be his last interview, at his Kensington apartment on a cold, sun-blistered Friday. His manager, Jarred Weisfeld, spoke in a whisper and ushered me through a dark entryway. “Dirt’s sleeping,” he hushed as he sat me on a leather sofa. “I’ll get him up.”

It was one in the afternoon. ODB (now Dirt McGirt) hovered in the hallway, awake but groggy. He turned on the bathroom light, pausing to check out who was in the living room. He turned off the light and shuffled into the room in his slippers and a striped terry cloth robe with the tags still attached. There was a stale medicinal smell hovering. He looked like a tranquilized bear; eyes darting up and down till they mellowed and hid behind suspiciously hooded lids.

ODB was never a big fan of talking, never a fan of the press. “Ain’t nothing to talk about, I was just a bad boy,” he said. There was a time when ODB did enough damage for 20 crash-and-burn superstars, all chronicled neatly in his obits this past November. There was a time when he had plenty to say. Not much of it made sense, but he was happy to rush a stage and warble. Beneath the antics, he was begging for help. Back then there was a shred of hope that ODB’s time in jail had calmed him.

“It’s all about myself now. It ain’t about mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers,” he said. “When I get off parole, if I get off parole, I’m gonna try and relocate. I’m going to sit down, relax, and play music. I want to go to Hawaii.” Even then, he knew his chances for survival were slim. He talked about escape like the Fort Greene boy he was 20 years ago, rhyming the streets, getting lost in a world of Wu, grasping for that imagined somewhere else. “I miss how it used to be. But I don’t want that. It’s cool how it is and that’s it.” He had hoped for a near impossible transition from jail to life. He’d pleaded with his parole board in February 2003 that he could stay straight. ODB explained that he was just offered a job to make another record. “They offered me $500,000,” he said. The board expressed some concern—that kind of money can’t be good for someone with a taste for crack—but let him go on the promise that he’d clean up his act.

“Dirty went through a lot of trauma and nobody knows how much because we weren’t in the cells with him. . . . When he first came out he was pretty stiff, he wasn’t ODB,” his cousin and fellow Wu founder RZA said. RZA said Dirt was numb to the rest of the world when he first got out.

“It was a tough adjustment being cooped up like that. . . . It just wasn’t my scene. I didn’t like it in there. I don’t like jails. Thousands of threats were made against me because I was famous, because of my walk, whatever, whoever, just because,” ODB said.

Starting in 1997 his public disintegration overshadowed his enigmatic voice. First he was arrested for failing to pay child support. Then he was shot in the back by a burglar. A few weeks later he walked out of a store without paying for a pair of Nikes. He got into a fight with a security guard at the House of Blues in L.A. and was charged with “terrorist threats.” He was accused of firing a gun at a cop. Then a couple months later traffic police found 20 vials of crack in his Mercedes-Benz. Instead of going to jail, he went to rehab in Pasadena and walked out two months before his court-ordered year was up. He toured the country on the lam, popping up at various Wu-Tang shows until he was caught with a mob of admirers at a McDonald’s in Philly. He was a train wreck, no doubt, but he never committed a violent crime. “He was quieter after he got out of prison,” his mom, Cherry Jones, said. “He grew up.”


A year before his death Dirt moved out of his mom’s Park Slope house to his own apartment for the first time. His digs were sparsely furnished except for the fairy-tale canopy bed shrouded in cascading yellow chiffon. The rest of the apartment was showroom generic. This was improbably the home to the stream-of-consciousness MC with gridlocked gold teeth and cornrows that defied gravity. “People don’t see me being myself. I can’t describe it. . . . Life is boring. My life is boring,” he said. But in reality and in his head, ODB had a lot of lives—and now, they’ve been reduced to a dozen or so names chronicled on the backs of hipster tees.

When talking about the Knitting Factory night, ODB chalked it up to drug use, which is odd for someone who was still under the scrutiny of parole. “At the Neon factory? That’s when I was nice like that? I don’t know man, I don’t know, I was in another world. I wasn’t myself that night because I had some Ecstasy.”

His manager, Weisfeld, was quick to respond: “Naw, he’s just playing. When Dirt went onstage at the Knitting Factory that night, it was a pre-rehearsed thing. Dirt got up there and just decided to say he was on Ecstasy.” Why? ” ‘Cause I was on Ecstasy. That’s why,” Dirt said, standing up, now as lively as I’d seen him all day. “You weren’t on Ecstasy,” Weisfeld said. “Dirt, what’s wrong with you?” “I just do what I gots to do. Period,” ODB said. How come it doesn’t show up on urine tests? I asked. “It just doesn’t.”

“Dirt, why don’t you tell her the truth, you don’t do Ecstasy,” Weisfeld pleaded. “Yeah. OK. I don’t do Ecstasy. We don’t do Ecstasy and all that stuff,” ODB said reluctantly.

Back then, it almost seemed like he wished his problem was drugs. But clearly there were other factors. It was reported in the New York Daily News that ODB was diagnosed schizophrenic at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center (MPC) when he was released from prison. For a while, according to RZA, he took court-mandated medications.

“He’s a true expresser,” said RZA. “He don’t give a fuck, and to our society that might be dysfunctional. It’s like that movie A Beautiful Mind. In a way that guy had an alternate reality, like most hip-hop artists, like ODB. You get this idea about life that is different from the average person. We create these worlds, and we get stuck in them.”

When asked about the detour to MPC, ODB said he went “not even for a minute, just for a second.” And Weisfeld quickly followed with “He doesn’t want to talk about that.”

The next time I saw Dirt was backstage at his B.B. King’s show, a couple months into 2004. He was noticeably different. He was awake and hyper. He walked in and sat close to me on the sofa, answering one or two stray questions. He looked confused, then angry: “I did an interview with you already.”

There were six or seven people crowding the room. After a few minutes and some wild-eyed, one-word answers, he grabbed the tape recorder and held it like a mic to his mouth. “This is Dirt McGirt,” he said, “and you all know me and I don’t like answering no fucking questions. You know what I’m saying. You know how we get down and we’ve been doing this for years so let’s continue doing this.” He clicked off the recorder and got up to talk to his mom, who didn’t want to be caught backstage in the first place. She told me before ODB showed up (hours late) that he didn’t like her being backstage before a show because she babied him. A couple minutes passed, and Dirt sat close to me again and in the most serene, concerned, docile manner looked at me and asked, “You OK?”

I guess I looked baffled or shocked by the grabbing of the tape recorder. He got onstage, and performed four or five songs that Weisfeld was thrilled about. It seemed a miracle that he was onstage at all. But when he got out there, he swore and danced and garbled his every word; the audience was left wanting.


Now ODB is just another urban legend. There’s a story of how he ran out of a recording studio to save a four-year-old girl who was trapped under a car—that he lifted the car and saved the girl’s life. His friends talk about the languages he invented, the philosophies he spewed, and the rhymes that ran rampant. “He’s always been outspoken and outlandish,” RZA said. “He pushed everything right to the edge of the cliff and then he pulled it back. . . . His growl, his voice, and his delivery was one of the most unorthodox voices in hip-hop.”

It’s just too bad that such an unpredictable life ended so predictably.


One-Trick Moles

You know that whack-a-mole game at the boardwalk where you slug the bouncing puppets as hard as you can to send them back into the mechanical habitat they came from? If the whack-a-moles sang—harmoniously and relentlessly—they would be the Futureheads, who played the Bowery Ballroom February 22 to a sold-out crowd. The foursome belted out bruising post-punk doo-wop ditties till they were out of breath and their throats were raw in raspy delight. Singer-guitarist Barry Hyde lost most of his voice by the second stop of their first U.S. headlining tour. But wait, don’t panic, there were three others on hand to sustain the strain.

Hyde introduced their cover of Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” by announcing (in Sunderland, U.K., gibberish) that “this is a song about murder, but we don’t want to bring anyone down,” which proved impossible. They couldn’t even bring themselves down. They raced through their set in frenetic time, pushing out a strident stream of guitar that recalled XTC, Gang of Four, and the Clash. From the minute they marched onstage (to the tune of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which played in its entirety) to their final notes of “Man Ray” (their encore), the Futureheads backed four-part harmony with anxious drums. The well-orchestrated vocal excess is inevitably tiring—not much more than a novelty. If the Futureheads had played one, just one, slow song for some variety, their vocal dalliance would have had a payoff. But they resisted performing the sweetly a cappella “Danger of the Water” from their debut album, which only hints at the band’s potential range. Is it possible to hit the same note while singing many different ones at the same time?

The High Speed Scene opened in spare contrast with Cali optimism and a song about hotties that explained, “Nothing comes easy to the children of heat/We bake in the backyard, we take to the street.” It’s a simple sentiment with lazy implications of hot asphalt days, something the Futureheads may never slow down enough to wallow in.


Bad Fantasy Sex

But yet, and still, you’re trying to be fly I ask you a question, I wanna know why: Why’d you have to make a record ’bout me The R-O-X-A-N-N-E? —Roxanne Shante, Rebuttal to UTFO from ‘Roxanne’s Revenge,’ 1984

This is the second time Dave Itzkoff has written about having sex with me.

This time he includes me in Lads: A Memoir of Manhood (just out from Villard), his lugubrious account of being an entry-level editorial assistant at Details and an editor at Maxim. It’s the second time I’ve ripped through pages to get to the part about me, curious about the details he remembered that I didn’t and curious about how he describes the sex, especially since we never had it. Three years ago, he told me he had written an article for Marie Claire but he never said it was about me, about us. I found out at the Dennis Publishing Christmas party. (I was freelancing at Stuff; he was at Maxim.) The Stuff boys talked behind Dave’s back and directly in front of him about how emasculated, how pathetic, how downright sad Dave must have been to write down and sell a sentence to a hot-pink girlie rag that included the words “I just went home and quietly cried myself to sleep.” The Stuff edit staff, always up for a razzing, ganged up on li’l Dave. At first the boys spoke loudly and liberally, insulting each other and then insulting each other’s magazines—a thorough Stuff vs. Maxim chest-thumping.

Whoa, lads. Settle down.

The exchange ended with Dave stammering some insult and marching his angry frame full of angry bones away to fume in a corner. I later read the column and recognized the source of the tears as a night he had spent at my house, in my bed. Every detail mine and me except for the sex he said we had, which we hadn’t.

I wrote him a note, practically apologizing on this precious red-and-gold Chinese stationery: “I really liked your article. I suspect it meant more to me than your average Marie Claire reader.” Because it did. It was the first time I actually understood how much he wanted to date, to have sex, to continue this fantasy of who I might be to him.

I was flattered and starstruck. My own experience was worthy enough to warrant a column—someone else’s column! My bed, my door, my kiss were words renting space in a monthly. I didn’t even care that our night was reduced to a plot point. I worked for and obsessed over magazines too—I knew that something had to happen to warrant a column. And if that column happens to be under the “sex” rubric, well, it’s generally expected to actually include sex. So fine, whatever.

Dave was one of my first New York friends—one that I met post-college. He was the only person at Condé Nast who wasn’t intimidating, largely because he didn’t wear stilettos. He writes a lot in Lads about how he looks, his fading bleach-blond streaks, his surprisingly out-of-place tattoo, his height, his nose. He looked like someone I could be friends with. I’d call him on Sundays while he was watching cartoons; we’d meet at delis and eat fatty pastrami and drink Cel-Ray sodas, go to blockbusters, stand next to each other at concerts, drink through our respective office parties. We were surrogate dates.

Dave was always my therapist’s favorite. Dr. Schwartz would mention him first when I complained about boys and their badness and their badness toward me. He still talks about Dave because Dave was the only boy in my stable of self-obsessed flakes who actually stood me on a corner and said unequivocally, “I have a crush on you.”

And with that I feel something bitter toward Dave for turning the rubble of our friendship into something so clichéd and trite as a failed fuck. A version that has me stomping around as some free-spirit army-boot-wearing loon who says things that only would appear in my nightmares, like “You think you have feelings for me, but you don’t. That’s just the city talking. It makes people lonely.” God help me if those words ever passed my lips.

It’s an out-of-body experience to see yourself and your choices and who you might be reflected in someone else’s mirror. Modigliani rarely named his female subjects. Those portraits all had this blank, vague, pupil-less stare, a fixed state of emotions—just shells of flesh draped into walls of dense color. I can only assume that the three female peripheral characters in Lads that are given such cloying names as Orphan, Cow Girl, and Baby Doll are a combination of Dave’s fervid imagination and a splash of sincere friendship, because they come off as flat and lifeless as a Modigliani muse.

I can’t help but wonder if Dave wondered who would read this and how they would react. And if he was secretly hoping old friends might emerge. When did it become OK to pass off friends, family, and co-workers as characters, and conversations as dialogue? How much of a memoir is accountable to reality or to the people who serve as sideshows? And how much of it is tweaked for the sake of the story and flow of what just might sound better if you flip that and reverse and maybe sex it up a little—you know, something a Maxim editor might have some experience with?

Maybe I’m cross because I’m left wondering what else in a book that is so rubbed raw might be stretched truths. Lads is so brutally revealing of a pathetic, difficult, and self-obsessed man-child and his relationship to a world that constantly shits on him. He’s got this destroyed father in a permanent-robe shuffle, a petty magazine industry that just feeds his misogynistic predisposition, and a world half populated by those Martian women with their erratic tempers and low-cut blouses tempting and pawing but never actually allowing him in.

My small spotlight (nine pages of glory) comes early in the book, in the chapter entitled “At Last, Some Fucking.” If I haven’t made it clear, that fucking is completely fucking fictional. But worse, the fantasy sex he writes about having with me is fantasy bad sex. He describes me lying still while he’s thrusting and struggling with a condom. Then the passage gets weird and uncomfortable because Dave goes on to describe an imaginary rape scene of what would happen if he just kept going. I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t know what this means, but I’m not surprised we’re not friends anymore.

I’m glad Dave got the description of my bathroom right on. He obsesses over the cleanliness factor—there’s a “fetid toilet” and a “cesspool” and it’s full of “dirt and hair clumps.” It’s not so dirty that he can’t masturbate. I got the feeling he was pissed to spend more time in there than in my bed. (He writes, in a later passage, “I don’t mean to brag, but I can masturbate to anything.”)

Maybe I deserved a phone call, a warning, or or a simple e-mail asking how I felt about his rendition of our time together. The few close moments we shared were between us until they were arbitrarily fair game for his fodder. In most of the book Dave is critical of Maxim and his fellow lads for being so easily distracted and manipulated by a pair of airbrushed tits and spread thighs, but all he can do is chronicle his mostly failed conquests in the same backslapping locker-room jock talk.

The rest of Lads revels in episodic loneliness, heartbreaking and angry diatribes, and hysterical scenes of family dysfunction. When Dave writes about his family—at home and at the office—he’s writing what he knows about and it’s reflected in the cadence and ease of his voice. The women though, well, they’re always at a distance. Even though I’ve read my nine pages a bazillion times, I think the 268 other pages are better.

Jaime Lowe writes for Sports Illustrated and has written for Talk, Variety, and other publications.


California Emo Kids Burrow Their Drama Deep

The Jealous Sound ache with lush pain, driving deep into an emo-pop chamber of fleeting beat imagery and Central Valley barrenness. Love festers; bodies blister; a tear-drenched Kleenex sticks to a night table. “Did you find something deeper?/something profound?/The sun’s coming up as we’re coming down.” On Kill Them With Kindness, Blair Shehan highlights his poetry like a 13-year-old’s diary. He baldly breathes words that make you hoarse without speaking, bleed without cutting, broken without breaking up. Drums and guitar burrow metronome infectiousness into belly range, resonating in your rib. Shehan rolls out details—how her eyes flutter like an addict. He tells you “you’re in crisis with a backbeat.”

Shehan anxiously toasts feelings you can’t fight, comfort you find, and sleeping through the night, but the catch-22 is that sometimes those feelings make it harder to sleep. “Please lie still,” he whispers, like Jean Rhys medicated and searching for stability in quicksand. Then, even softer, but in a loud, urgent way: “Won’t you be my answer?”


I Got To Cultivate The Rite of Passage That Be Captivating Me

Snoop will be a surprise guest at your friend or loved one’s special day . . . Note: We are especially looking for children who are going to have a bar mitzvah in the next two months. —from

Fashizzle! Imagine Snoop on the bima, laid-back drawl and all, rapping an Aliyah. What better way to become a man than to hang with the Doggfather? And if Snoop’s latest hit “It Blows My Mind” off the The Neptunes Present . . . the Clones is any indication, your surprise present is probably a big phat doob.

The track bluntly begins with Pharrell Williams’s falsetto stating dedication and worship: “You should smoke some weed.” A crescendo of kingly horns announces his (reputedly rehabbed) highness, and escalates into a funk gurgle. Snoop arrives riding the baritone beat kissed with xylophone chimes. “Blowing chronic is like a tradition to me,” he chants.

Snoop’s reverence for pot is biblical. He lazily raps, “The greener the tree, the stronger the bud,” one of his commandments of weed. It’s been 10 years since Doggystyle, and Snoop’s on his second round of kids. In a heated tangent, Snoop describes himself as “Bob Marley reincarnated, pupils dilated, emancipated, concentrated, invaded, raided many times, you surprised I made it?” Um, a little.