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I had a birthday two days ago, the “let’s just say this is an ordinary Thursday like any other Thursday” variety. This particular birthday wasn’t remarkable, not auspicious, not even very ominous as such things go, and yet, I’ve spent the past two months in a peculiar state of dread over – that Thursday.

That Thursday, that April 23rd, that otherwise very unremarkable day that meant I was one year closer to my imminent mortality. That Thursday, that to me seemed suspiciously like a “best before” day, which was a day that happened a long time ago.

My one consolation was that at least I wasn’t the only one. My all-time favorite writer, a long-dead certain Stratford-upon-Avon playwright of untarnished reputation, had probably been feeling rather weighed down by the floor stones of Holy Trinity Church himself for almost 400 years, and so far as we know, the poor man died on his – our – birthday.

It was the “best before” thing that got me. The idea that now – it was almost over. I have almost managed to cross the finish line in the mad, bad, estrogen-fuelled race called sex toward the twilight limbo of menopause and into that Bright New Day of rebirth beyond, where I shall be elevated above such tawdry, pathetic matters and live out the remains of my days in an ethereal glow of self-sufficient bliss. Secure in the knowledge that I’ve Been There, Done Them, Done That and now, thank God – no more.

Oh, no. I shall not go gentle into that good night.

I got the basics out of the way. I have propagated. My immortality is insured. If my chick-magnet four-year-old is anything to go by, a proud line of Viking and Celt heritage will continue down through the ages, perpetuating the red-haired gene he inherited from both sides of the gene pool. He returned from playing yesterday surrounded by a gaggle of very pretty girls aged from about six to twelve, who all cooed good night and waved as I closed the door. As he took off his shoes and dumped his cars on the floor, he looked up at me and said nonchalantly; “Those are my girls.” Sexual charisma starts early, and he’s had that effect since he was a baby of seven months, charming diamond-hard Copenhagen cafĂ© society ladies from his baby carriage.

So in a sense, I have, by now, fulfilled my purpose. I should just retire.

What I should retire, since you ask, is the notion that it’s all over, that the fun lies behind me, that I can never be wild and wanton again. And apparently, that is a concept that is unique to the last two generations of women, the generation of my own mother, the feminists of the Sixties, and my own generation, which gave us the greatest trailblazer of them all – Madonna.

We shall not age and wither, so long as we can do anything at all to stop the clock. So long as the ultimate sexual currency is youth, so goes the thinking, then we shall forever – or at least as long as we can – remain frozen in some perpetual “woman in her prime” time warp – and to hell and back with convention.

I wonder, though. I wonder whether the problem with women growing older and refusing to give it all up has more to do with male performance anxiety and the unsettling idea that we rapacious, female sexual predators simply know too much – about the masculine mindset, about the tricks and illusions and smoke-and-mirrors they like to hoodwink susceptible twenty-somethings with. We see the bullshit, and refuse to call it roses.

Been there. Done that. You can eradicate crow’s feet, but not experience.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I do not look my age, because I have good bones, I rarely drink alcohol (blame an alcoholic mother), and as a former Goth, I’ve kept out of the sun for well over twenty years, 19 of those buried beneath a very high SPF factor. I agree with Catherine Deneuve who once said that past a certain age, one can have a nice face or a nice ass, but not both, and just as she did, I’ve chosen to go with the face.

The Buttkicker, meanwhile, has no complaints about the other end.

And it’s the other end that’s the problem. Because now, my generation has been dubbed a generation of “cougars” – a particular species of untameable mountain lion. If the media meant it as an insult, then yet again, they’ve failed miserably. Wild, untameable, voracious – and ferocious – predators, on the hunt for man flesh – what’s NOT to love about that description?

Is it because that after all these years of ubiquitous – and often gratuitous – female sexuality in the media, men (who still, by and large, control the media) are now realizing with a start that women can be sexual threats?

C’mon, guys. really. Lesbians have known this for decades. Not only that, men are hard hit that women are gravitating towards – oh, the horror! – younger!!! – men.

It sucks, getting a dose of your own medicine. Really, it does. Pity the forty-something male. Browbeaten by wives to become fully participating dads to a degree and extent that was never demanded by their fathers, and then – unceremoniously dumped in favor of younger flesh.

The bottom line is – we won’t give it up – that bill and coo of sex. It’s been the most – legal – fun we’ve ever had, and we refuse to give it up, because we ladies know that if you don’t give up on sex, it rarely gives up on you.

I lived a split-level existence all my life. My mother was one of the last true courtesans of an age – a courtesan to the marrow of her bones, and her eldest daughter, who never did understand that until Mom was well into her very early grave, stubbornly rejected that particular path, because it wasn’t her own.

“Pretty is good”, as my idolized stepfather used to say, “but smarter is better”. Pretty was my mother’s prerogative, I thought, so it was up to me to prove I had brains.

So I spent a good portion of my life buried in books of many stripes and colors, and then I went out and made my way into the world to apply practice to theory, and some of that included sex. I have done my experiments. I’ve dabbled in many fringes in order to define myself – political, personal and sexual. Some of those fringes have turned into the flypaper of my life and I got stuck by choice and inclination.

And when I finally decided that it was time to roost, and nest, and plant myself somewhere I could truly bloom, I found and married a younger man in the millenium year, because I’ve always been immature for my age.

The Buttkicker knows he married a cougar. He knows – and he appreciates it.

Which might be the reason, after all, why I’m blooming now.

Best not to forget – even after a birthday.

Because I’m not dead yet.

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Picture this: All your miserable, sorry life, you’ve been a city bus driver. As jobs go, it could be worse. You go to the bus depot every morning, you start on your route, and you ferry thousands of people a week from point A to point B. To work, toward home, to any number of nameless errands you, being the bus driver, will never know. They get on the bus, they pay their fare or flash their cards, and eventually, they get off somewhere along the way. All you do is drive the bus. Whatever mischief your passengers get into – or out of – is their business, and nothing to do with you.

You just drive the bus.

One day, a bunch of guys in suspiciously cheap rain coats show up during your lunch hour. There you are, munching down on a PBJ and halfway through the sports pages, when these bozos show up and flatly state you are under arrest as being an accessory to a crime, because one afternoon, some nameless faceless passengers got on your bus, got off somewhere, and then proceeded to murder some hapless homebody who had the bad idea to open the door. However, since you took them to where they went to do their evil deed, you are, in effect, as guilty as they are.

True story.

Or how about another scenario.

It just so happens you are a fiendish, fabulous cook. You know everything there is to know about cooking with liquid nitrogen. Friends beg for invitations to your dinner parties, because they just know they’ll be scraping their tastebuds off your dining room table, and it will take them weeks to rearrange their mental furniture afterward. So – you put your money where your mouth is. The KitchenAid mixer, the Le Cornet custom-built six-burner stove, the cabinets full of Le Creuset pots and pans. The Alessi zester. The state of the art Zwilling knives, lovingly stored in a drawer wrapped in individual suede bags. There’s no sense in turning your friends into slavering, drooling dogs unless you have the stuff to do it with, right?

Some dreary, rain-soaked Wednesday afternoon. while you’re slaving away at the salt mines that finance your kitchen, and everyone else in your neighborhood were away at their salt mines, someone breaks into your house, absconds with your beloved kitchen cutlery, and then butchers his way through another part of town. Somehow, those knives are traced back to you. And somehow, you, too, have been charged with murder – for owning the knives that someone stole and murdered someone else with, someone in no way connected to you, which makes it all the more likely, right?

Another true story.

Today, a Swedish court sentenced the four founding members of The Pirate Bay (henceforth referred to as TPB) to one year in prison and a collective fine of 3.54 million US dollars to be paid to the music and recording industries. Organizations such as IFPI are claiming a victory, and John Kennedy, the chairman, is claiming that it sends a “strong” message to potential illegal file sharers, as well as a message of hope to the poor musicians, film makers et alia who create the creative content those file sharers download.

That’s right. Those poor musicians, whose only source of sustenance is those iffy CD sales and iTunes downloads. The starving directors and producers of all those blockbuster movies, who only have DVD sales to pay their ex-wives’ alimony with.

Yep. And I am Queen Marie of Roumania.

Now, the guys at TPB, I’ll have you know, do nothing at all illegal. There’s no copy-righted material on their servers at all. That’s right. Nothing. The Pirate Bay is a server stuffed with links to where you can find, on any given day, a gargantuan cornucopia of basically whatever digital material you want. Software. Songs. Entire discographies. Movies. TV-shows. E-books and pdf-files of real books. Much of what you can find available is in a handy, DRM-free format you can put into your iPod, your computer, or you can burn it onto a DVD and watch it on your TV.

Presuming of course, that, say, that version of “The Dark Knight” really IS what Christopher Nolan hit the jackpot with last year, and not some spurious remake of “Debbie Does Dallas”. Because with TPB, you never know. They just put up the links, man. What people do with them is their business.

But IFPI needed a scapegoat or four. They needed to make an example. They needed to state their case, that downloading and file-sharing copyrighted material is ILLEGAL, that is intellectual theft, that all those file sharers and BitTorrent users do is make it that much harder for musicians, say, to create music the rest of the world would want to listen to.

But they blithely forget one thing. No matter how successful a musician you are, the record company makes at least ten times as much off you. CDs are not how you get rich anymore. Musicians make their money off touring and merchandising, and in order to do that, they need a calling card – the CD. The Myspace and Facebook pages. The YouTube videos and online exposure in e-zines and fan sites and their own web sites. All to pull in the paying customers at live venues who get to hear the Real McCoy, courtesy of the CD they’re promoting.

Ah. Yes. Movies. I read somewhere that last year’s most illegally downloaded movie was “Dark Knight”. At one point, it was being downloaded at the rate of 15000 downloads – a day. Mind you, it also managed to make a good 1.5 billion dollars at the box office – that is, good. old-fashioned people who paid to see it at the movie theater.

Obviously, the movie business is in deep, deep trouble if they can only manage a measly 1.5 billion at the box office. It’s all TPB’s fault, anyway.

Actually, no. It’s the fault of the music and movie industries for not paying attention when their boat came in. They thought, back in 2001, that they had dealt a crushing blow to file sharing when they managed to close Napster.

They didn’t. They just made more people aware of it, what it was, how to do it, and what to use. The general populace is not stupid. They figured it out. Since then, file sharing has grown exponentially. However, we still have blockbuster movies that rake in the profits with a pitchfork. We still have the Billboard 100. People still have accounts with iTunes.

We just have file sharing, too.

I am a strong believer in supporting the creative community. There are many, many bands whose CDs I will happily buy, whose concerts I will be delighted to frequent, whose cheesy t-shirts I will be thrilled to wear – and pay through the nose for. There are. likewise, many more bands I would never ever have known about if not for a friend who made himself a criminal so I could enjoy Viking war songs sung in Old Norse. That does not make it right, but it paves the way for more discoveries – and concert tickets, because my curiosity is killing me.

If TPB closes – unlikely, even given the circumstances, it will not mean the death of file sharing. It might mean the birth of any number of “private”, membership only sites – and there are already quite a few – that do the exact same thing as TPB – you just have to be a member to enjoy the benefits. This means, too, that you usually have an obligation to share what you get.

In December last year, a Danish court ordered all Danish ISPs to block access to TPB. It’s back to the bus driver analogy again. If you’re the bus driver, you can’t – and shouldn’t – be held accountable for what your passengers do once they get off the bus. And once again, that court had decided without taking the techies into account. Because even with a limited knowledge of your operating system and about five minutes of your time, you can still bypass your ISP – and head for TPB, or anywhere else.

If IFPI really wanted to combat the problem of illegal file sharing, then they should consider, just as Apple did with iTunes, giving their users an experience they will not get on TPB, or Mininova, or all those other torrent search engines. Interviews, backstage access contests, special-edition whatever it takes.

Instead, they chose to persecute the messengers. What about Google? Google technology can be used to search for torrent files, too. Why aren’t they suing Google? Because Google can afford better lawyers?

All in all, the case against The Pirate Bay has done one thing, more than anything. If you happened to live under a rock in the outer reaches of the Gobi desert these past eight years, and you have now managed to emerge behind a computer at an internet cafe in downtown Ulan Baator, you now know all about the Pirate Bay. And now you’re morbidly curious as to what you can find.

As for the musicians – they now have many outlets, and a lot of them do not involve a record company at all. They can put up their songs on their MySpace page, they can record a video and put it up on YouTube, they can create an online fan base all on their own – and they can reap the rewards for themselves.

In the bad old days, before Usenet, before anything worth having, in other words, there were bootleg albums. LPs made live, off the audience audio or the soundboards, in some cases, that were circulated among the cognoscenti as a dirty lille secret. Some of those bootlegs are highly collectible today. In effect, however, it was every bit as much theft of intellectual property as any mp3 you can find on TPB.

That didn’t deter anyone back then. It won’t deter them now.

And if I have a CD of a band I love so much I want to hear them in my car, I can make a copy of the CD I already bought once. A criminal act. I can also download the album – well, I did buy it once, ya know! – from a torrent site, transfer it to my iPod, and play it till the cows come home. That’s still criminal.

If I have a legal version of a software program, all is well until I try to install it on a newer computer, in which case, all copyright protection hell breaks loose and I am required to buy – for an utterly outrageous sum of money – another copy. Or – again – I can simply download a cracked version, install it and hey presto! And on two computers! Wowee!

What do those copyright hounds think people are going to do?

What do you think they should do?

(Image courtesy of : http://www.tonyynot.com/)

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One of the comments I received on Part One elsewhere stated categorically: “I found almost nothing on this list to agree with.”

You know, I’m glad. It shows yet again that there’s no accounting for taste. We’re all products of our time as well as our place. It says something that once upon a time at the tender age of 15, I thought the Bee Gees were the epitome of sophistication. It was 1978 and the world was in the grip pf Saturday Night Fever. In my defence, I lived on a rural island that emphatically was not the center of the universe, or even an interesting place on the perifery.

It all changed some two years later. There was, of course, a a guy to blame, my first boyfriend. He had the brilliant idea to take me to the Roskilde Festival, and on a late Saturday afternoon, standing on a stacked beer crate, my disco days died a painless death, never to return. It was summer, the sun was shining, he was my first -if thankfully not my last – love, and that live band phenomenon known as Santana were about to take the Canopy Stage.

Back in the day, being a product of her times, my mother was an AM radio fan, a sometime hippie (at least so long it was fashionable), and a former attendee of Woodstock. So I knew Santana. What I did not know was that I was about to experience a 20th century version of the mass religious epiphany – over 50000 people in one location and with one goal in mind – to throw themselves into that great mindless cauldron called musical surrender, no questions asked. There was no past, no future and no thought except one – to give yourself over to the beat and to the moment and let yourself be taken as well as being taken over.

Santana delivered. A fine thing to say for someone who later evolved into a black-wearing Goth, but there you have it – to this day, I will gladly fork over money to hear them live, because I know I’ll not only get my money’s worth, I’ll leave in a state of pure joy that will persist for weeks.

Santana led to other things, like jazz, like fusion, like punk, like metal, like grunge, like the whole rest of my musical journey that sadly, these days, hasn’t found a helluva lot of “new” music to get excited about, except certain outer reaches of metal that really do push boundaries, if not always the boundaries I want to push.

Rap leaves me – ice cold. The whole emo thing has it all backwards. Coldplay – puleeeeeeze. That’s not rock’n’roll, that’s the voice of some poor emasculated bastard who had his balls surgically removed at birth and has been searching for them ever since.

That’s OK. I no longer have any obligation whatsoever to be screamingly up-to-the-minute hip to anyone besides myself.

And if that’s not the ultimate exercise in maladjusted middle-finger-extended rock’n’roll attitude, what is? It doesn’t matter. I know what I like. Gene Simmons once said that rock’n’roll was about getting down to that part of you that’s hairy and stinks. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s more of the same, and none of it stinks!

Best 80’s Musicology Lesson In A Song:
Joy Division, “Disorder” (Unknown Pleasures, 1979)
You wonder, if you were around in 1979, if you ever would have heard the sound of clanking jawbones dropping in awe to the floor when this was put on record players. Joy Division’s first album – and “Closer”, the one that followed, was a harbinger of an entire decade, and even, by extension, a harbinger of some elements of grunge a decade later. Everything in the Eighties that made you go “wow” back then, you will hear here for the first time, but boiled down and distilled to the bare-bones bleak and bleached essentials. I still listen to Joy Division, and I still think they were towering geniuses miles and lightyears ahead of their time.

Best Two Reasons For Perpetual Indecision Albums:
Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon” and Pink Floyd, “Wish You Were Here” (1973/1975)
I can’t choose between these two. I can’t. I can’t. I’ve spent far too many hours on the floor in front of my dark-blue 1982 Technics stereo contemplating the anguish of the human condition to the sound of these two albums. They’ve paved the road for so many bands since. They are, both of them, stupendous. It is entirely possible that Pink Floyd is one of the top five rock bands ever to grace this miserable rock in space we call Earth, but don’t take my word for it. You might think it’s so much hippie-dippie tie-dyed British ballyhoo. You would be, I am delighted to say, dead wrong. Both of these albums have made me realize what a privilege it has been to live in a time when I got to listen to this – as often as I wanted. Shine on!

Best Series of Rock Albums That Could Have Been A Novel:
Frank Zappa, “Joe’s Garage” (1979)
There are legions of people who simply can’t get their heads around Frank Zappa. He applied classical and avant-garde musical techniques to the standard rock framework, and came up with a long laundry list of music that quite simply is some of the most technically advanced and challenging rock music ever written. And the entire 3-LP/2 CD set of “Joe’s Garage” is, in my anything but humble opinion, his finest hour. In Europe, Zappa was a rock god, far more so than in the US, and worshipped as one. In “Joe’s Garage”, we follow the rise and fall of an average Joe thoughout his rise and fall in the music business, with all that entails – groupies, STD, cults, prison and all-out musical mayhem. His lyrics are anything but politically correct and often hysterically funny, but the music, man – is astonishing. This is – a great story, a collection of amazing songs with some likewise amazing musicians, and if you happen to think Zappa never could play a straight guitar without going all Varese, then I dare you to listen to “Watermelon in Easter Hay”. Back in the day, when I got stewed enough, I would often give a stand-up performance of “Wet T-shirt Contest”. “So, whaddaya say, fellas? Nice set of jugs?” It got me banned from several Copenhagen bars at the time. To this day, I know the entire lyrics of all three albums by heart, to be recalled at the drop of a hat, a wet t-shirt or halfway through the tequila bottle, whichever comes first.

Best Singalong Song To Entirely Take Over a Party With:
Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night At The Opera, 1975)
Here comes another ground-breaker and head exploder. I grew up in a household where opera was not at all a dirty word, not even “The Ring of the Nibelungen”. So when this came along to blow up my brain a long time after it actually debuted, the territory was as familiar as my mother’s opera collection. We’ve all been to parties that tried ever so hard to be pretentious, grown-up affairs, wannabe salon soirees in a living room full of drunk, post-punk anarchists. You can see on their faces that the guests are thinking about that other party down the street, where the music is better and the guests at least know how to party. I snuck this one on the record player, and instantly, 12 people got to their feet in various stages of intoxication to give it their all, me among them. It became, we all agreed later, A Night To Remember. “Mamma Mia, let me go!” This is a song that never will.

Best Reason To Remain A Perpetual Teenager Song:
KISS, “Rock’n’Roll All Nite” (Dressed To Kill, 1975)
Some things, you never outgrow. Never, ever. KISS is another band I shouldn’t like, but I do. They were never the greatest, the most ground-breaking, boundary-pushing band on the planet. Innovation was not part of their musical vocabulary. But getting down to the hairy, stinking, id essentials of rock and roll was, and millions of fans agree. This is stupid, loud, obnoxious, teenaged and – fun. Thousands of forty-something teens agree. May we never grow up! Ever!

Best Housecleaning Album Of All Time:
Sex Pistols, “Never Mind The Bullocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols” (1977)
A world without punk music is a world I have a hard time imagining, since both the music and the mindset to a large extent defined my entire “No Future” generation. Never mind that we all later devolved, just like our despised hippie parents, to become quite well-behaved pillars of our communities, much to our own dismay. Never mind that punk gave us: thrash metal, doom, goth rock, grunge and a whole slew of other genres, some of which are better left unnamed. The Sex Pistols defined the quintessence of punk. Period. The whole album is fabulously not bad, but as motivational mood music for housecleaning, this has no peers. My toilet bowls have never recovered. So long as I own this, they never will. So long as I own this, my neighbors never will, either. They’ve been eyeing me askance ever since.

Best What It Feels Like For A Guy Song:
Nine Inch Nails, “Closer” (The Downward Spiral, 1994)
Trent Reznor, to all intents and purposes, is a modern Marvel Man – and a marvel. I dare you to find anyone who not only singlehandedly has turned himself into a genre, all by himself, but also a one-man industry. Arguably one of the most influential musicians of the last two decades, and arguably, one of the few who have totally keyed into where music will be going not in a year, but ten years from now. As a dedicated and devoutly questioning heterosexual female, I’ve always wondered, you know, what it feels like for a guy. Nine Inch Nails spilled the beans. Now I know. Since I first heard this, my world has never quite been the same. On that note-

Best What It Feels Like For A Girl Song:
Kate Bush, “The Sensual World” (The Sensual World, 1989)
Forget Madonna’s lame, tame, radio-friendly song, and get thee to Kate Bush, another musical envelope pusher with one of the best voices in modern music. She does only what she pleases, and still manages to please. Very, very few females make my personal list, not because I’m a male-centric slut, but because I’m demanding. I want some bang for my musical buck, and so few ladies deliver. Kate Bush does, and still does. I dare you to find a better or a classier definition of a woman caught in that first delicious flush of lust and sensual anticipation. Mmmm, yes!

Best Revealing Insight Into The Ultimate Male Fantasy Song:
Type O Negative, “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” (October Rust, 1996)
This is so cheesy, so tacky, so unapologetically infectious and catchy, you might as well give in. The ultimate male fantasy scenario, obviously written – and sung – by someone who got lucky, and wasn’t afraid to brag about it. Thousands of guys have been envious ever since. Then, they saw the video, and were even more envious. Unless, of course, they’d been there too, in which case, they’d try to smirk as well as Peter Steele. They wish. You can find that video here.

Best Timewarp I’m Fifteen With No Cellulite Again Song:
Boston, “More Than A Feeling”(Boston, 1978)
Oh, boy, I can feel the howls of derision coming my way. As Johnny Rotten would say, “Sod off!” Boston deteriorated badly after their third album was released, and I’ll be the first to admit it. In 1978, when I first heard it, their eponymous first album blew everyone away, at least in my overlooked corner of the world. But man, oh, man. I listen to this and suddenly, I’m fifteen and only just managed to be rid of my virginity, and the entire world is an open road that goes ever on and on, and where it goes, I can’t even begin to guess. If only I knew then what else I would lose. My illusions, for starters.

Best Reason To Become a Metalhead For Life:
Black Sabbath, “Paranoid”(Paranoid, 1970)
It’s kind of hard to realize that this album came out in 1970, about the time the post-Sixties hangover was settling in, and music was desperately trying to find some kind of foothold, since even the Beatles were about to go their separate ways. It’s even harder to imagine what sort of shock to the musical status quo Black Sabbath was. Nothing, and I do mean, nothing was even remotely close to sounding like this. That’s it. Enter dystopia. Descend into darkness. Clue in catharsis. A tremendous work of edifying and stupefying splendor not one metal band ever since has not been indebted to. And speaking of debt-

Best “We’re Not Worthy! We’re Not!” Album:
Alice Cooper, “Welcome To My Nightmare” (1975)
It was sometime around 1973 or so when prepubescent kids everywhere suddenly discovered the joys of really pissing off their parents. This was when Alice Cooper (who did everything in shock rock before anyone else had even thought about it) was ubiquitous with “School’s Out”, and suddenly, the idea of striking terror into the hearts of hippie-liberal parents became a reality. At some point around that time, Alice Cooper toured the US and I pitched such a stinking fit that finally, after days of endless pestering my otherwise pretty laid-back Dad, I got to go. With my Dad. Five years later, that would have been the epitome of embarrassment, but then, it was – OK. It was more than OK when he liked it even more than I did, and promptly bought the albums. Chicken blood fazed him not at all. The sheer theatricality and sensory overload blew him away just like everyone else. If I were to name every performer who owes Alice Cooper at least something to his career in rock’n’roll, we’d be here till doomsday. But really – there’s a reason everyone who’s anyone loves Alice Cooper, even the Waynes of this world. Alice, dear, we really aren’t worthy. But we thank you anyway!

Best Ever Reason To Boogie Song:
ZZ Top, “Sharp Dressed Man'” (Eliminator, 1983)
In my time in New Mexico, there was an ancient joke trotted out whenever a wetlander newbie came across a native. “Why is New Mexico so dry?” “Because Texas sucks!”. There was, in fact, an entire genre of of lame jokes along the concept that Texas – sucks. Well, people, I*ve been there, and I hate to say it, but it’s true. Texas does – suck. The one place in Texas that everyone who is not a religious nutcase can agree upon does NOT suck – Austin – also furthered another reason why Texas boogie, among other things, also most emphatically does not suck. This is another party kickstarter, no question. ZZ Top is deceptively simple, unapologetically fun, and unabashedly down and dirty. Loved the car. Love the beards. Love this song. Boogie down! ‘Cuz every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man!

Best How To Get Stoned Without Actually Smoking Anything Illegal Song:
Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, “Some Velvet Morning When I’m Straight”(1967)
I have been listening to this since the early Nineties, right before some hipsters decided to make Lee Hazlewood happening again. Well, the fact is, Lee Hazlewood was happening waaaaay before the rest of us were even born. That he could persuade a good Catholic girl like Nancy Sinatra to sing his songs, knowing full well she did not get it at all, only makes them better. I still haven’t figured out this song. But the title gets me, man, “Some velvet morning, when I’m straight” – how genius a title is that? You think it would have stood a chance if the title had been “Some burlap evening when I’m baked?” Fat chance.

Best Ultimate Showoff One Hit Wonder Worm:
Iron Butterfly, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”(1968)
I distinctly remember the first time I heard this. I had just completed a creative marathon – 19 hours in a stretch, lost into the rabbit hole of creativity. I suspect I had been abducted by aliens that looked a lot like my cat. When I came to, it was 3 AM, and my radio – which had been playing unnoticed for 19 hours, suddenly began to play something that clanked my disbelieving jaw to the floor with a thud. I could not, for the life of me, stop listening. I could not, ever, forget I had heard this. I still can’t. This is pure, distilled, listen and die with envy embryonic heavy metal. Iron Butterfly never had another hit. They couldn’t top this. I dare someone else to try.

Best Zeppelin Of The Nineties Album, Part One:
Jane’s Addiction, Ritual De Lo Habitual(1990)
Perry Farrell annoys the shit out of me. He’s got just the kind of whiny, nasal, high-pitched voice and obnoxious opinions that set my teeth on edge. Unless you lived in Ulan Baator back in 1990, you would have heard “Been Caught Stealing”. Or seen the video. And you would likely have left it at that. You would have missed out on an album that pointed north – toward Seattle and grunge, bubbling beneath the radar in those days, backward in time – toward some of the seamier elements of psychedelic rock, and firmly towards the LA scene that gave us grateful music sluts bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers. Jane’s Addiction never quite repeated the promise they showed here. Success – and rehab – got in the way.

Best Zeppelin Of The Nineties Album, Part Two:
Soundgarden, “Superunknown” (1994)
Some albums, we unworthies really don’t deserve. Likewise, some frontmen, we don’t deserve. Chris Cornell, we definitely don’t deserve. This is arguably some of the most intelligent music ever to come out of the Nineties, and it still sounds as fresh today. Either that, or else, I’ve got calluses on my auricles. Can’t live without it. Wouldn’t want to try.

Well, folks, I could go on. I could continue this into a Part Three, and even a Part Thirty-Three, but what’s the fun of that? You go with what resonates, what strikes chords in your own life, what makes you stop in your tracks and think that maybe, baby, magic happens and you transcend the petty limitations of your pathetic, miserable existence into a plane of existence where it’s all good, all the time. or all bad, depending on your mood.

When it comes to music, we’re all of us looking for that moment when magic happens. When we have lost ourselves, and our selves, our egos even, and all that remains is a pulse – pelvic or otherwise, that proves one thing only.

We’re never too old for rock and roll, but we’re certainly too young to die! We’re alive. And we like it!

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And now, as Monty Python used to say, for something completely different. It’s gotten far too serious of late. Dissociation. pissed-off females, long-dead Lotharios – this is all fine and worthy, lofty subject matter. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do, and sometimes, that means – worthy, lofty subject matter. Better out than in.

But every so often, there’s a limit to how much loftiness and worthiness I can stand. It’s spring. Spring always makes my id start itching, and it’s not just the pollen, either. It’s not the aconites carpeting the forest floor in my local neck of the woods. It’s not the wild garlic spreading like an odiferous emerald rash beneath the beech trees, which – even for trees – are looking rather restless themselves. It’s not the birds beginning their morning concert at 3 AM. It’s not even the enormous bumblebee, trapped in my bedroom, that woke me up this morning by sounding like a very frustrated chain saw. It was of course let out and flew off to do bumblebee business. I took it as a good omen.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about music. The kind that floats your boat, the kind that gets your motor revving, the kind that inspires you and makes you happy, elated, the kind that elevates your miserable, pathetic existence to an altogether higher plane of consciousness. The kind, dare I write it, that makes you feel – young again, and with an upcoming birthday of the “let’s just forget about it, OK?”-variety, the importance of feeling young can never be underestimated.

I do lots of things to music. Housecleaning, cooking, baking, and last, but never least, writing. Writing to music shuts up the right side of my brain, so the other half can focus on the task at hand – cracking the metaphorical whip at my characters in order to get them to behave themselves, for a change. And every once in a blue moon, I can be found playing air guitar on my hairbrush, if only to let out frustration – any flavor. I may or may not be in my underwear. Needless to say, I’d kill for a PS3 and “Guitar Hero”. Not for any Hendrix aspirations I might have (I don’t), but just because it appeals to my inner teenager.

I also happen to live in a household with widely disagreeing musical tastes. The Resident Buttkicker has a shady past as a Deadhead, and man, I can’t stand ’em. Phish are even worse. I keep wanting to slap them across the backside and say “start playing a TUNE for a change!” We can agree on a lot of things – grunge, Beatles, quite a few classic buttrock bands. Even classical music, for that matter, a big part of my own culture-vultured childhood. I have not. however, introduced him to Wagner. I left that to Chuck Jones. Certain composers you have to work up to, in metal as in opera. Or even opera.

My son, on the other hand, thinks Peanuts TV cartoons are the epitome of musical sophistication. He loves all music, except Mom’s favorite guilty pleasure, because they scare him. Fair enough. He’s four. I am a good deal older than four, and sometimes, they scare me.

Me? I am nothing if not eclectic. I love folk metal and blues and Celtic music, I love classic jazz and Mozart, I love the Beatles and Beethoven and Van Halen and AC/DC, Nirvana and Pearl Jam and U2 and The Gossip and White Zombie and Rob Zombie and My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins and the Cure and the Cult and Soundgarden and My Dying Bride and a whole bunch of Danish bands no one knows about outside of Schleswig-Holstein and, and – oh, yeah. The guilty pleasure. The band I shouldn’t love so much, but heaven help me, I do. I apologize. Really.

So it follows that in my personal little monarchy, I would have knighted the inventors of the iPod. What I did before the days of the iPod and iTunes. I can tell you. I once spilled coffee all over my Sony Discman. It died, not quietly. I suffered, also not quietly.

Bummer, dude!

Therefore, furthering my own unique brand of solipcism and ego-tripping in the blogosphere (an honored occupation), I hencewith offer my Rock’n’roll Redemption Infinite Playlist. The songs I would want played at my funeral, the ones I wish were played at my wedding, the ones that can take any mood I may be in and turn the volume control to “happy” or “ecstatic”. The ones I misspent my wanton youth to. The ones I had one-knight stands to. The ones that make the big, bad wolf of the world go far, far away – or come closer still, depending on my mood. (See “guilty pleasures”).

Some are entire albums, simply because I’m a wimp and also because the whole enchilada is a work of towering genius without one misplaced note or drumbeat. Musical Mikado – take out one note, one riff, one wet, lascivious, luscious lick, and the whole towering edifice would crumble into dust. All of them are in no particular order of pre-eminence, except for the guilty pleasure.

You will likely disagree. So? It’s my blog and I can make noise if I want to.

Best “1983” song:
Van Halen, “Jump” (1984, 1983)
When it comes to impersonating a 16-year-old teenaged male, David Lee Roth wins, no contest. He’s practically turned it into his entire career. Love him or loathe him. I surrendered a long time ago. This song brings me back in an eyeblink and a keyboard riff to 1983, when every weekend was a party and life was an ice-cream cone and all you had to do was lap it up like soft-serve. So I did. And I still do, whenever I hear this song.

Best “Life is A Flawless Work of Infinite Beauty” Song:
Cocteau Twins, “Iceblink Luck” (Heaven or Las Vegas, 1989)
There are few words for how much I love this. Rumor has it that several mental institutions are filled with those poor hapless souls who tried to figure out precisely what Elizabeth Frazier was singing, but me – I don’t care. It’s beautiful. Perfect, and purrfect. I wish I had this played at my wedding. Unfortunately, my Republican mother-in-law would never have approved. Too bad. This is musical nirvana, and always makes me float away on little fluffy pink-tinged clouds of bliss.

Best “One Knight Stand In a Dark Inner-City Courtyard at 5 AM” Song:
AC/DC, “Thunderstruck”(The Razor’s Edge, 1990)
AC/DC is one of the very best bands in the world for pure, undiluted, unadulterated and utterly unapologetic rock and roll. No excuses. No pretensions. All id, all the time. So, this is a song best enjoyed without underwear. But with an available and utterly unsuitable knight who just happened by a nice set of jugs fuelled by slightly too much tequila and free condoms in a dark bar. Lust is a many-splendored thing. This is what mine sounded like in my Wild Woman days.

Best “Now And Then And Hopefully Many years From Now” Song:
Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters” (Metallica, 1991)
In my part of the world, and in my generation, Metallica is considered a national treasure. Well, even after all those years in the US, Lars Ulrich is still a Dane. All hail the beast! If the Buttkicker and I have a song we’ve claimed as our own – no easy task when we disagree on so much music, I’ll have you know – this would be it. Because no matter what happens, no matter what the completely clueless, careless rest of the planet thinks, nothing else does matter. He’s here. So am I. Basta! Fuck what they think!

Best “Let’s Make a Baby” Song:
Tears for Fears, “Sowing the Seeds of Love” (The Seeds of Love, 1989)
A cheap shot, I will admit. But Tears for Fears, one of the better pop-rock bands of the Eighties, did Great, Big and Bombastic beautifully. This fits the bill as the ultimate reason for procreating, as opposed to by accident. So it’s Eighties. So what. Somewhere on my internal FM station, this was playing that early spring day the Buttkicker and I made Damien, the Sequel.

Best “So Jazzed And Hip It Almost Hurts” Song:
Donald Fagen, “Springtime” (Kamakiriad, 1993)
Donald Fagen, whatever else anyone might say about him, makes albums that are, quite literally, technically flawless. The hip and happening jazzy, boozy, smoky bebopping and harmonics might be someone else’s idea of a nightmare. There’s a thick undertone of irony and more than a touch of the sardonic in his voice that you either hate or love. Me – I love it. Yowee! It’s Connie Lee, at the wheel of her Shark de Ville! We’re cruising about a thousand miles an hour, but the car is standing still! It’s cool. It’s jazzin, man. It’s terminally and fatally hip! It – swings, man! Get off at Laughing Pines and drive into springtime! Are we there yet? Who cares? Jazz it, baby!

Best “2009 Anthem Theme Mantra” Song:
Ozzy Osbourne, “No More Tears” (No More Tears, 1991)
All hail the mighty Ozzman. For that matter, what would metal be without Black Sabbath? Whenever I need to feel righteous, or just righteously indignated and need to bite the world in the tail, this is what I listen to. The lyrics are not the point. It rocks. It rolls. It moves me. It’s my mantra for this year. That’s right. No more tears. Enough of the bs!

Best Underrated Hairbrush Solo Song:
The Cult, “She Sells Sanctuary” (Love, 1985)
Billy Duffy, guitarist of the Cult, back in the day when they were really, really, really great, gives his all here, and cooks up a devilish riff I dare you to get out of your head without chemical help. I am the worst dancer on the planet, with the possible exception of the Buttkicker, not that that ever stopped us. But I can’t stop moving to this one – with or without a hairbrush.

Best “Whatever Reason And No Reason At All” album:
Beatles, “Rubber Soul” (1965)
Now, an album. I can’t pick. I’ve tried. On countless occasions. Ain’t happening. I take one song, and I want them all. Not one bad song on the album. Not one bad note, even. And this one album influenced not one, but several generations of songwriters, some of whom weren’t even born when it came out. *Nuff said! Listen, or die trying!

Best “To Be Taken At Face Value – Never, Never, Ever” Song:
Carnivore, “Male Supremacy” (Carnivore, 1986)
Uuuuuh, this is where things get dangerous, where the wild things are, where – well, you really, truly do not want to know. Certain things should not be mentioned in daylight. Thrash metal is an acquired taste I must have acquired back in the very early Eighties when I hung out in a now non-existent high temple of punk rock known as the Salt Warehouse. This is not a song I play for anyone I haven’t known for at least twenty years, with the Buttkicker as the exception in our courting days. (litmus test!). Raw meat is flung around at Carnivore concerts, and sometimes livers, too. Musical metaphor, artistical statement, or just a bunch of now forty-something benighted teenagers seeing what outrageousness they can get away with? My money is on the latter. Lyrics, as a rule, don’t make me laugh until I cry, but these did. Testosterone as satire. And irony. And a thick dose of sarcasm. Wowee!

“Best Song Ever To Be Ruined By A Commercial”:
The Cure, “Pictures of You” (Disintegration, 1989)
Ah, dear old The Cure. They have a special place in my heart. They always have, and they always will. Robert Smith, the man I wanted to marry when I grew up and thankfully, didn’t, does deceptively simple and elegantly catchy tunes that still hold water many, many years later. He’s one of the few gsuys my sister and I can always agree upon. We can even, to this day, turn another song from “Disintegration” into an instant duet – “Kyoto Song”. His lyrics satisfy your intellect, his tunes satisfy your soul. Unfortunately, HP hijacked it for a printer/digital camera commercial, and for that, I shall perpetually boycott all HP products forever. But this is – beautiful. No wonder they hijacked it.

Best “Hairbrush Air Guitar Solo” Song:
Pantera, “I’m broken” (Far Beyond Driven, 1994)
This one takes no prisoners, except middle-aged teenaged women vainly trying to recapture their misspent youth by playing air guitar on their hairbrush in their underwear, the not-for-public-display variety. Dimebag, I’m not worthy! Really, I’m not!
Then again, I strongly suspect you wouldn’t mind, and might even approve. You were – that kind of guy!

Best “Despair Never Sounded So Beautiful Before Or Since” Song:
Type O Negative, “Anesthesia” (Life Is Killing Me, 2003)
OK, OK. True confessions. My very, very, very guilty pleasure. I really, truly should not like this band. They have, on occasion, spooked me senseless and scared me shiteless. They have, on other occasions – well, you don’t want to know. But Type O Negative, for all their Black Sabbath meets the Beatles aspirations, sound not quite like anything else out there. They didn’t in the beginning, back in 1991, and they don’t today. They dole out albums with eyedroppers at long intervals, and they never, ever repeat themselves, or do what you expect. In this day and age of rampant commercialism, that’s quite refreshing, if only for a change. They could fill stadiums with their armies of diehard fans. They’re so hip, they don’t want to! Here, they’ve outdone their gloom-and-doom. Peter Steele looks into the abyss, and just as it did for Nietzsche, the abyss looks back. If you ever wanted to know what a primal scream sounds like, search no further. The hairs on your neck will take hours to lie down.

To be continued…

Agree? Disagree? Let me know. Or die trying!

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The word “seducer” has a rather bad ring to it these days, when seduction is generally considered a euphemism for “bent over and involuntarily buggered”, not necessarily in any sexual sense. Bernie Madoff comes to mind, but really, in spite of all those pilfered billions, where it matters most, Bernie Madoff is small fry. Compared with today’s birthday boy, he pales into obscurity. Bamboozling people out of their pensions, defrauding banks – how vulgar!

Today’s birthday boy, had he been around to witness it, would have have laughed old Bernie out of Wall Street.

Today is the birthday of Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt, the man whose very name has become a byword all by dint of a very dirty and not undeserved reputation. “He’s such a Casanova”. “Discount Casanova”. All of them have slipped into general usage as one and two-word descriptions of slimy disco balls so slick they slide up walls.

Which does the original no favors. Because dear old Giacomo packed such an extraordinary amount of life into 73 years that you begin to wonder what sort of writer cooked up this kind of diabolical plot.

Con man, spy, huckster, compulsive gambler, dueller, actor, musician, physician, clergyman, philosopher, nobleman, librarian – he was, at various points in his life, all of these things. At a time in history when it was still possible to reinvent yourself from scratch, he mastered all the differing roles in his life with aplomb, finesse and loads and loads of – style, quite often financed with someone else’s money.

But his main frame of reference, and one he encouraged and enhanced all his life, was as a world-class seducer of women. They fell, like so many drugged fruit flies, victim to the kind of charm that would have been lethal, if only it could have been bottled.

In today’s world of sex-as-commodity, where sexualised images are everywhere you look and there’s no end to self-proclaimed experts on “sexy”, seduction has sort of fallen by the wayside. It implies that you have been had – literally and figuratively. Which is a shame, because this real life Don Juan – and even that title is rather misleading for reasons I shall explain in a bit – knew a thing or two about those ladies he loved – and he loved, by his own account and the accounts of most of his contemporaries – hundreds, if not thousands of not at all unwilling females.

I used to joke that any guy who liked historical costume had to also like extended foreplay. The crinolines and petticoats, the powdered wigs and flowered phrases that consisted civilized concourse 250 years ago were all just the starting point. These were the obstacles a seducer had to work around. Think of the stiff conventionality of a movie such as “Dangerous Liaisons”. There is John Malkovich, so cold we could call him Monsieur Frigidaire, except they hadn’t been invented yet. That was the sort of convention Casanova was up against and had to play to. But Casanova had an edge on Malkovich’s Vicomte de Valmont. It was the same edge he held over that fictional construct of Lorenzo di Ponti’s Don Giovanni, and Byrons’s later Don Juan.

For neither Don Giovanni, Don Juan or the Vicomte de Valmont really, truly loved women. Women as a gender, woman as a concept, that great soft and rounded creation no man can create – or exist – without. All of these esteemed gentlemen knew how to use the fair sex, they knew how to play into their insecurities and vanities, but they most emphatically did not love Woman. They all railed against feminine wiles and female treachery, they all struggled against their own desire and need, but they did not love Woman.

Casanova, for all his stupendous life, did. Woman as a concept, women in general, women in particular, he loved it all and he loved them all in all their moods and follies and from the tops of their violet-scented perukes to the tips of their rosy silk-clad toes, even as he exploited them for his own nefarious ends. He knew that in order to seduce a woman, you had to make her believe to the marrow of her bones that she was, for the duration at least, the most fascinating, scintillating creature ever to walk the earth.

He knew, too, that seduction is not merely sex, and that looks mean less than you think. Flattery will get you part of the way, but only part of it. Flattery and significant looks, a sense of humor, but not too much, and some very good pheromones will get you – everywhere, horizontal, vertical or on Louis XV armchairs. He gave himself totally, in the space of a few days, what most men were content to dole out with teaspoons or eyedroppers over a lifetime.

In other words, he left them happy, and knowing that it would never happen again.

That, dear reader, is a man. And what a man!

As for you, Giacomo, I salute your ghost as much as I adore your spirit of adventure and possibilities. I admire a man who was honest enough to say that a man who never spoke a bad word about women had never bothered to understand them. For in order to understand them, you have to be made to suffer at their hands. Then, and only then, can you truly love women.

Pay attention, guys. Some day, you will thank me for that information. But don’t thank me.

Thank Giacomom Girolamo Casanova.

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At the risk of running a severe oversimplification, there seem to be two different kinds of people in the world. There are those who are, as the saying goes, all of a piece, fully integrated into the cosmic grid, in tune with their karma and in step with their dharma. You know, the ones who float through life and make it all seem so eminently effortless as they bounce along on their path of life. There’s no split in these psyches, no rifts in these mental wardrobes. Their identities are as whole and as wholesome as homemade pumpernickel bread, perfectly round dowels in their perfectly drilled round holes. They serve a function, I suppose, in keeping the other types from completely discombobulating. Or so they may fondly think, if they stop to think about it at all.

And then, there are – the other ones. The ones who move through their lives feeling like badly fragmented hard drives. The malcontents, the misfits, the resolutely square pegs that never will fit into any kind of round holes, or indeed any kind of context they haven’t defined for themselves. The artists, the crazies, the moonstruck looney tunes who never did integrate properly. The ones you used to whisper about in high school. “Ssshhh – don’t talk to them. They’re weird.”

The ones who never did grow up, not after school, not after college, not after voting and marrying – sometimes more than once – and not even parenthood. These are the people who question everything. These are the people who can value anything for at least ten minutes – or however long it takes before the questions take over.

They live their whole lives as perpetual five-year-olds, in a permanent state of identity-crisis “what if?”. “How come?” “Why not?”

Or the big one – “Why?”

And in that permanent state of inquisitive insecurity, there’s a lot of growth potential. It can be mined for fun and profit. Books can grow, music composed, paintings splashed across a canvas. So long as they keep questioning, and keep questing – for that perfectly pitched tune, that effortless turn of phrase, that metaphorical epic sweep of vermilion paint across a pristine canvas of limitless possibility. Which is what they’re all hoping for, and very likely why they keep trying. It might happen. You never know.

Unfortunately, there’s a flip side. A winter of these malcontents, if you will. The price they pay for their ability to tap into that quantum wellspring of human creativity called uncertainty.

I call it Grand Central Dissociation Disorder.

Grand Central Dissociation Disorder – let’s call it GCDD, for short – can manifest at any time. It often occurs in greater or lesser degrees in adolescence, which in the case of the maladjusted often doesn’t start in earnest until their forties. A medium-sized midlife crisis can also trigger GCDD. It can be found about equally in both genders, although given the male propensity to voicing its opinions to the exclusion of everyone else’s, one might make the erroneous impression that it predominates in the male variety of Homo Sapiens.

This is not the case. It’s just that more often than not, women simply don’t have the time for that much solipcism, except at 3 AM. That can’t be healthy.

It can manifest in many guises, but a prevailing characteristic seems to be an inability to:

a) relate to other people in meaningful ways and establish new and lasting friendships.
b) relate to immediate surroundings, or indeed find any kind of meaning or purpose in current societal trends, or even find some comfortable breathing space in what passes for “society”.
c) An increasing sense of dissociation – in other words, it gets harder and harder to find or establish any social context in which to fit.

I have, in the time it has taken to suffer through one of the worst colds to hit me in recent memory, come to the rather startling conclusion that I’ve likely always been suffering from it. Either I was too strange for other people, or they were waaay too – dare I write it?? – normal for me. As I’ve grown older, it’s only gotten worse. I could relate just fine in my time in the US. More often than not, though – such is the fate of the hardcore rock chick – men were easier to talk to. Or relate to, which in most cases amounted to the same thing.

But since returning to my native country – where I was born, after all, and where I have spent most of my sorry and sordid life – I really have GCDD. Or chronic alienation. Possibly both.

Now, I’ve spent most of my 45 years feeling a vast shade of “different”. In my US childhood, I was different for being Scandinavian-born. Back in Denmark, around the time puberty hit, I was different, all right – I didn’t speak the language. I knew how to handle barracudas in their natural element and how to open coconuts, but I did not know how to handle 12 year-olds hurling rocks at me yelling “Yankee go home!”

Eventually, I tried to come to terms with the category label called “other”. It never felt entirely comfortable, but I learned by necessity to gravitate toward other misfits like myself. They were more fun to be with, anyway. My identity as a Dane, if I thought about it at all, became a given, not least because of those rocks in the schoolyard. If being “other” was that bad, I surmised, then I had to learn the fine art of social camouflage pronto, and that meant learning to speak, read and write a language – and act a culture – that struck me as limited and listless flawlessly.

Years and years later, I met and fell violently in love with a redheaded, blue-eyed, 6’5 1/2″ Viking. That he was, in fact, only a quarter Swedish was beside the point. That he lived in New Mexico was irrelevant. That we ended up in Denmark, a few years and many tribulations later, was the supreme irony. Or else it was that he is in all respects every bit as much a misfit and a malcontent as myself.

I returned from my four-year US sojourn utterly alienated and dissociated and it’s only gotten worse.

I can’t relate to Danish TV. The news is about all I can handle, and only once a week or so. I’ve been excluded from water-cooler conversations of the “American Idol” variety since the beginning. Girlfriends are what other people have. I have admirers in five countries, and old friends four and five thousand miles away. I also happen to live in a town with the greatest density of outright snobs outside of France.

Not so long ago, I thought I had friends, but alas, like most twenty-something dudes, they flaked out. Which nearly broke my heart, not for any ulterior dirty-minded motives, but because I don’t give away my friendship lightly. I am reminded of that old saying – “For true friends,only trust someone your own age or older.”

I’m working on that.

I’m working on coming to terms with my own sense of maladjustment, of blending in in many places and fitting in in none of them. I find no small comfort that I’m not the only one. Edgar Allan Poe was another.

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.

The Viking, I still have. I still have the SS posterchild we made. And last, but not least, I still have enough of my former punk-rocker attitude to think to all those smoothly rounded round pegs in ditto holes:

Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke!

Malcontents and misfits of the world – unite! You have nothing to lose, since you lost your sanity so very long ago.

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