Saturday, January 16, 2010

Every Night, a DJ Saves My Life

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies.

Especially Tonight

Pat's watching infernal football games, so I'm on my own. My friend Lynn made me promise to do something fun for myself today, since she knew I needed to work and study all weekend, so here I am:

Inspired by the "Vanity Fair" article on an oral history of Disco...

I'm reading about how Fran Lebowitz used to dance non-stop for hours on the street, outside of 12 West. Like Pat was obsessed with King Kong -- the original version -- I was obsessed with the picture of Fran Lebowitz on the back of the book-jacket of *Metropolitan Life*, which came out when I was 13.

I won't try to interpret Pat's obsession (though if I were forced to hazard a guess, I'd bet it had to do with animal-cruelty as well as his special relationship with the pretty blond lady), but in my case, I just had never before seen such a cool-looking female person. She looked tough and preppy in parallel, if I recall correctly: cowboy boots, faded jeans, an oxford shirt and blazer plus cigarette. I'd never be that cool.

Now, as she's nearly 60 and I'm nearly 45, I get to read about how she loved the Disco scene. Of course, my version was rollerskating down Hickory Road in suburban Stamford with chunky headphones and yellow-wheeled sneaker-skates from Caldor, a department-store chain owned by the Bennetts, who went to our synagogue.

Catching the Vibe Despite My Age and Life Circumstances

Frankie Crocker is being mentioned in the article by Judy Weinstein. I loved him. As a pre-teen, he made me think romantically in a way that only Minnie Ripperton had achieved before him.

Maybe it's also Teddy Pendergrass' death earlier this week that's got me thinking so sentimentally of the Disco era. Picture a bunch of Bar- and Bat Mitzvah-aged kids shuffling around during ballroom and Disco lessons in a private-home's dance studio in Stamford. Did the Village People know how many of us did the YMCA dance at one another's celebrations of our Jewish manhood and womanhood debuts?

I love Jonathan Lethem's books, as I imagine that he was a Jewish kid like me, entranced by the music that played on WBLS-FM 107.5 and then 98.7 KISS-FM. I was transported by "The Quiet Storm" and even before I had a boyfriend or girlfriend, I was moved by the DJs.

My sisters, who I've written here before, loved Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell, basically thought of me as an alien, but no matter. I was in heaven whenever songs like, "I've Got the Next Dance" or "This Time Baby" came on the radio. In high school, I lost my innocence, as there was a huge, anti-Disco movement by so many boys, who said it was music for [pejorative label for gay men]. I thought they were being racist, and then I learned they were (also) being homophobic. Of course, no one suspected it to be the music of lesbians -- and perhaps Fran Lebowitz and I were the only ones who loved it....Wow, I just got to the part, where the article is quoting Fran Lebowitz:
"Disco Sucks" was a kind of panic on the part of straight white guys. Disco was basically black music, rock'n'roll was basically white: those guys felt displaced.
Seven years ago, I had a huge thrill, i.e., the revenge of the nerdy 13-year-old suburban Disco-rollerskater: In my role in GLBT Business Development for IBM, we gave awards to worthy G, L, B and T Chicago entrepreneurs, among whom was legendary Frankie Knuckles himself! What a delightful evening.

Reading a review of "The Book of Eli" yesterday, there was just one point the critic made that caused me to be remotely interested: He spoke of a scene where the Disco smash-hit, "Ring My Bell," blares.

Disco, like swimming, makes me feel vital.

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