You jump at the chance to watch an 8-hour Beatles documentary. I avoid watching the biopic about the writer of 90s rock opera Rent* because it's too emotional for me. We are not the same.
I will eventually watch both of those films because who am I kidding. I am the sum of both of those worlds. But I want to say something about Tick, Tick... Boom more than I want to throw my hat into the ring of Beatles commentary. I may have been younger and more impressionable when I first listened to my parents' Beatles singles, but the cultural and personal significance of Rent when I was a teenager is a nostalgic gut punch, even now.
My enthusiasm lies with the story behind a musical that is pretty tame by 2021 standards, rather than the never-before-seen footage of the band that basically everyone likes. When I think about what had a larger impact, the musical that introduced me to Act Up, Pablo Neruda, and hating your landlord wins out. An 8-hour film about a band that broke up 50 years ago, unfortunately, triggers the part of me that was quizzed by shitty men about the bands I loved. It makes me picture the gatekeepers of rock cred who know every bit of trivia and hang it over your head whenever you try to have a differing opinion. I have a few friends who are very genuine, unpretentious Beatles fans but it's difficult for me to not respond with "Really?! We need MORE Beatles?!"
I don't begrudge any earnest music fan the joy of a nice documentary, but I wouldn't be the killjoy I pride myself to be if I didn't get on my tiny public soapbox and say that I would rather watch people write songs who don't already have the largest platform available. I'm fascinated to see what y'all are going on about, but it's not at the top of my list.
My current list looks like this:
The Limitations of the 'Sapphic Anthem' by Emma Madden (NPR.org)
Hanif Abdurraqib on the writer as archivist (The Creative Independent)
Stay-Kashian - Jackie Kashian's new comedy special
Against Forgiveness by Jessica Valenti (All In Her Head)
Tick, Tick... Boom (Netflix)
Now more than ever I try to take care with where I'm putting my attention. My list of things to do before the tour in January, and in the next six months in general, is overwhelming in a good way. But making time for rest, for repotting the plants, for coffee with friends, is just as important if I want to avoid the frequent questioning of every decision I've made so far. This weekend I bought a little haworthia (spikey succulent with white spots) to replace the one that I lost in the move from Philadelphia. I found a buffalo plaid sweater for Lucy. I started a bullet journal. I drew a couple of large plant silhouette drawings that I've been putting off just because I enjoy them. I texted with friends about recording plugins. I helped Cass with mailorder.
I hope you're able to take some time for slow things this week, unsubscribe from all of the random marketing emails you didn't remember signing up for, remind your boss you're not working on New Year's Eve, go through the 80 steps it takes to cancel your Amazon account, call a friend.
Stay safe y'all and see you next week!
* Yes, I know about Sarah Schulman and her book People In Trouble that may have inspired some big plot points in Rent. Rather, I know about it NOW. It leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. I'm not happy about the fact that the writer of Rent, straight cis man Jonathan Larsen, may have ripped off a lesbian who was his contemporary. While I was singing every word to that musical as a teen - the gayest thing I had seen in the mainstream - I would've much rather been singing along to something written by her. I'd like to think that y'all either already know about Rent or are invested in discovering more interesting and accurate accounts of AIDS activism than a Broadway musical from 1996.
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