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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in courtney love (3)


In Which We Predict The Rest Of Our Dating Lives

Debauched Youth


The 90s were a brutal time to be a pubescent girl. It seemed like every time you got a good celebrity crush going, the object of your obsession up and died on you. The 90s may have been the last era of when non-conformist, non-commercial weirdos could still enjoy mainstream success, but there seemed to be a price for that: the 90s was also a time when being young, talented, famous and male proved an often-fatal cocktail.

What was a twelve-year-old girl to do? Build a shrine and crush out anyway. Because nothing says budding heterosexual co-dependency like a crush on a dead celebrity.

Kurt Cobain

This crush began young. As the most mainstream and well-known tragic 90s celebrity, the pervasiveness of Kurt’s music and persona provided plenty of fodder for your tween obsession. You pretty much tore down your NKOTB shrine to replace it with a Kurt one, in which you displayed a flair for DIY by crafting devotional objects, such as the drugstore votive candles where Kurt’s face was pasted over Jesus’s.

By age 12 you were wearing white plastic sunglasses and puke-green grandpa sweaters (just like the one on Unplugged!). Precocious, you even tried to read Naked Lunch; you gave up after ten pages but kept the book around cause it made you look cool, a fact none of the other middle schoolers seemed to grasp.

As an early bloomer, you were doing drugs and falling in love with strung-out street musicians by 15. Nothing enraptured you like a moody genius with dirty hair and “potential.” You wrote tomes of confessional poetry for these boys, which you self-published in a zine and sold at your local anarchist bookstore.

After a string of unsuccessful relationships that involved a disproportionate level of erectile dysfunction, you’re now either single or married to a dude in recovery. You’re a writer, painter or sous chef. You regularly read The Rumpus and have written a memoir of your debauched youth that you are too scared to show anyone.

River Phoenix

You grew up in California or Florida. Your parents were hippie artists and were in fact the first ones to show you My Own Private Idaho. River’s button nose, wickedly intelligent eyes and lustrous coif overshadowed the fact that he played a gay junkie, and you were smitten. You forced your girlfriends to watch the movie at sleepovers and though none you understood much, you all agreed River was cute. You were greatly relieved to discover he was not in fact gay. (The dead thing was still a bummer.) You became a vegetarian because River had been one. You made your parents buy you leather-free shoes and enroll you in drama classes. In high school you fell in with a crowd of slumming-it trust-funders. You dated at least one ecstasy dealer and were probably sent on Outward Bound.

You’re a crunchy granola type now. You have a weakness for yogis and pretty boys, and are loathe to admit you actually fell for the let-me-give-you-a-Chakra-massage line once. You have probably lived in Ecuador. You don’t care much for Joaquin.

with eliza hutton

Brandon Lee

You were a goth. You wore knee-length TOOL shirts and dog collars, and your neck was permanently stained purple from Punky Color hair dye.

Though Brandon wasn’t a junkie, the sheer spookiness of his death made him crush- worthy. You were attracted to the supernatural element of The Crow, which spurned your tendency to indulge in fantastical departures from reality. You learned to skateboard and liked to pretend you were Sara; you’d mutter her lines to yourself while cruising around your strip-mall suburb, the film’s soundtrack blaring in your Walkman. (“Eric?”) You liked to think that if you’d been born a few years earlier, you’d have been cast in her role.

You developed an affinity for doomed, epic love affairs; you dated boys who lived far away, had burgeoning mental illnesses or were not-so-secretly gay. From them you received tortured love letters, vows shouted at your bedroom window in the middle of the night and at least one case of scabies. More than one of them painted his face like Crow- style (NOT on Halloween) and took you on a date that consisted of drinking vodka at the local cemetery.

You are currently in an open relationship. You still own a pair of black raver pants.

Elliott Smith

Just kidding. There is no way you had a crush – like, an actual crush – on Elliot Smith and survived your adolescence.

Bradley Nowell

Since the only Sublime song you knew when Bradley died was “The Date Rape Song,” this crush didn’t really flourish until 40oz. to Freedom hit the airwaves when you 16 or 17. As such, it had a slightly less demented edge to it. There were no shrines, vegetarianism or role-playing, but there was a lot of singing along to the album as you drove around in your boyfriend’s hotboxed truck delivering bags of weed to local stoners. You were attracted to the way Bradley’s good-time vibe was twinged with addict despair (cause it sure as hell wasn’t the bucket hat that did it). More into partying than fashion, you were a no-frills girl who wore the same hooded sweatshirts as your skater/surfer/ bro boyfriend. Your relationship involved lots of keggers and hacky sac, and one pair of lawn-seat tickets to a Sublime summer concert sans Bradley (total disappointment but you made the most of it).

You now work at a microbrewery and play in an Ultimate Frisbee League. You are still together with the same boyfriend; you are often heard saying, “We don’t have kids; we have a dog.” You have a blown-out tribal sun tattoo on your lower back.

Shannon Hoon

You grew up in Indiana or Ohio. You had long hair and hand-sewn patches on your jeans. You spent a lot of time in the woods. You. Ate. A. Lot. Of. Mushrooms.

As the Weird Kid, you were attracted to Shannon’s peculiar inflections and out-to- lunch gaze. Having always felt you were born in the wrong era, you listened mostly to the Grateful Dead and Led Zepplin, so Blind Melon afforded you a slightly more contemporary connection with your peers. You enjoyed a few months of marginal coolness after he died. But then you dressed as The Bee Girl for Halloween and performed a twenty-minute tap routine in the lunchroom and were swiftly relegated back to Untouchable status.

As such, you didn’t date much as a teenager. You went to a small liberal arts college, where you met a kindred spirit in a Kafka course. Your honeymoon involved an Ayahuasca ceremony.

You are now a preschool teacher. You get really stoked every year when you get to play “Three Is The Magic Number.”

Lauren Quinn is a contributor to This Recording. This is her first appearance in these pages. She is a writer living in Hanoi. She twitters here and blogs here.

"Open the Door" - Magnapop (mp3)

"Waterfalls" - TLC (mp3)


In Which We Discard A Heart-Shaped Box

Description of Kurt Cobain


At the age of eleven, Kurt Cobain was the subject of a description to be published in his school's newspaper, the Puppy Press, under the headline, "Meatball of the Month":

Kurt is a seventh grader at our school. He has blonde hair and blue eyes. He thinks school is alright. Kurt's favorite class is band and his favorite teacher is Mr. Hepp. His favorite food and drink are pizza and coke. His favorite saying is, "excuse you." His favorite song is "Don't Bring Me Down" by E.L.O. and his favorite rock group is Meatloaf. His favorite TV show is "Taxi" and his favorite actor is Burt Reynolds.

Kurt's biographer Charles R. Cross writes, "his doodles mostly were of cars, trucks, and guitars, but he also began to craft his own crude pornography." He had many pets. He loved animals, taking care of strays.

When he was eight his grandparents took him to Disneyland for the first time. His mother drove him from Aberdeen to Seattle where he took a plane to Arizona. It was a whirlwind, stretching his experience of the world.

In the second grade, Red Dye Number Two was removed from his diet. He could not concentrate on any one thing for long, and this was thought to be the culprit. A doctor prescribed Ritalin to remedy the problem. Kurt possessed an overactive mind.

The Cobains

Almost every time someone writes about Kurt's childhood, they invent a different way from the last person who tried it. One biography of Kurt describes him "a kind of menace," another paints him as a sensitive artist. It is as if the person talking about Kurt was never themselves young. He was without doubt his family's horcrux: he simply was not very interested in being anything they were.

at age fourteen

He was artistically gifted from the first, but he could not inure himself from cricitism. When a peer could not understand one of his paintings, he lashed out at the willfully obtuse fourteen-year-old girl. His mother divorced Kurt's father when he was nine. She later said, "Everybody was telling him how much they loved his art and he was never satisfied with it."

Later, his worried parents would decide to finally send him to a child psychiatrist. He told Kurt to fit in more.

As soon as his parents got divorced, Kurt stopped eating. At the age of ten, he transferred to a new elementary school in Montesano closer to his father. Girls began noticing him for the first time, his blue eyes. He loved television, never found himself without something fascinating to absorb in silence. His favorite shows were Taxi and Saturday Night Live.

He was not happy in his town, and wanted to live with his mother again. She had moved on to an even worse relationship. Later, when Kurt confronted his mother about why she'd forced him to stay with his father, she told him, "Kurt, you don't even know what it was like. You would have ended up in juvie or jail."

His sketches became more advanced. He once showed a sketch of a vagina to a friend, and when his friend asked him what it was, he laughed.


He was probably not ADHD, but he was still on a pill regimen: not just Ritalin, but sedatives, too. When something was wrong he knew where to go. He felt he could not really depend on anyone else. In junior high, he called his teachers racist and got high whenever he could. He avoided school to be alone, not to hang out with friends.

LSD, marijuana, mushrooms and amyl nitrate. Plus whatever he was taking on script.

His parents became even more concerned when, at the age of fifteen, Kurt composed his first short film, Kurt Commits Bloody Suicide, which featured fake blood pouring out of his wrists. He had thought Jimi Hendrix killed himself and wanted to evade the world in a similar fashion.

He stayed with his uncle for awhile, but the man and his wife had an infant daughter and for space reasons, they made Kurt move out. He was shuttled around between other relatives for a time. No one seemed to take much of an interest in the boy. Back in Aberdeen for high school, he was picked on more than he was admired. His still beautiful mother started dating younger men before she married a longshoreman who regarded Kurt as a kind of pestilence or plague.

In his new art class, one assignment encouraged the students to show an object as it developed. Kurt drew sperm. A classmate said, "It was such a different mental attitude. People began to talk about him, wondering, 'What does he think of?'"

When he moved back in with his father, the man made Kurt pawn his only guitar. Kurt left after he had redeemed the instrument, and turned down the Navy. Out of desperation his mother put down a $100 deposit on an abandoned house for her son. One of Kurt's first ideas was to install a tank full of turtles. One of his other ideas was to change music forever.

Ellen Copperfield is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in San Francisco. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about Madonna's adolescence.

"On a Plain" - Telekinesis (mp3)

"Stay Away" - Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band (mp3)

"Lounge Act" - Jessica Lea Mayfield (mp3)

"Drain You" - Foxy Shazam (mp3)

Kurt as Barney for a Halloween concert


In Which Your Ballroom Days Are Over Baby They Got The Guns But We Got The Numbers Gonna Win Yeah We're Taking Over Come On!

Speak Now


We want for Taylor Swift what we want for Betty Draper, which is for her to realize that the thing she has based her life around thus far is a fucked up lie. And that when she figures out it is a lie, her life will not end, she will just get to live in Sanctuary with the rest of us. Taylor Swift believes that heterosexual men bestow all value on people, and that for women this value is based only around marriageability, but she clearly also knows how good it feels to have a number one hit (a number one heeeeeeet). Swift won't claim her own aggression because it doesn't fit with her idea of what girls are like or should be like (pretty, docile, quiet) but she is already neither docile nor quiet. 

Swift's friend breakup with Miley Cyrus reminded me of nothing so much as Sharon Cherski and Angela Chase in its snotty prudishness. Taylor also slut-shamed Camilla Belle (who "stole" her boyfriend Joe Jonas) in a song, hilariously. "She's not a saint and she's not what you think, she's an actress. But she's better known for the things that she does on the mattress." In her own mind, there is no way that Swift could or ever will be be called a slut. But the longer she is single and the more guys she dates (especially in Hollywood) Well, girl. Why does she think being a slut is so horrible? Because slut-shaming was invented and is propagated in order to stop women from claiming their sexual power. To make them think that it is men who do all the choosing, all the hunting, and that if girls have any interest in sex it is only as deer.

But Taylor is obsessive bordering on scary. She writes vengeful anthems about romantic scorn and infatuated love songs about guys she emailed and met once in real life. What is she if not a hunter? She hunts exactly as hard as John Mayer. It is just that the system is set up for him and not her, to praise his success and laugh at her failure. The system doesn't work, so fuck it. You can't win by doing it correctly. You win by breaking the system, by transforming it, by building a better one in its place. 


Gwyneth Paltrow reminds me of Taylor in her prissiness and privilege and certainty that her privilege will never run out, although it obviously always does as you get older, particularly for women. I enjoy GOOP's midlife crisis because it humanizes her. Because Paltrow is realizing that being a wife and mother is something, but it is not enough to make you happy if you don't also have some things for just yourself.

I also bring this up for dudes who have the now extremely common househusband fantasy. I usually tell them to read The Feminine Mystique. The problem that has no name is not just a women's problem. It is a problem for anyone who defines their identity primarily through their relationships, which is also an issue for a lot of men. 

That to define yourself primarily through taking care of others is to lose track of yourself. That the desire to take care of others can sometimes get in the way of taking appropriate care of yourself. That when you diss Dre, you really do diss yourself. 

Anyone can be a sponge (BRAD PITT). That borderline is considered female and narcissism is considered male just reflects societal expectations based around gendered stereotypes. Anyone who's seen an episode of any Real Housewives can vouch for the existence of female narcissists, and everyone has had a dude friend or ten that disappears into relationships. People aren't their gender. They're individuals.

Watching Valentine's Day (shut up/it was horrible) I was struck by two things about Taylor Swift's performance: that she delivers lines exactly like Jonah Hill, and that her physicality is just like Nomi Malone's. She is tall and gawky and she flings her long blonde limbs around with all the aggression of Nomi on the floor of the Crave Club.

Taylor Swift doesn't understand yet that her constant intense desire to fall in love is mostly just the desire to fuck everything, and that she can fuck everything without automatically falling in love. And that she can fuck everything AND fall in love. 

Why do some people cling so rigidly to gender roles? Ernest Hemingway grew up wearing a pink gingham dress and a bonnet until he was six. Charles Bronson likewise had to wear his sister's hand me down dress as a child, because he was so poor. Those are two of the all time totems of classical outlaw masculinity. I'm not trying to play classical outlaw psychiatrist but there's not NOT a connection there. Ernest Hemingway's mother was the breadwinner in his family, a talented opera singer who then gave up her career to raise children. His father committed suicide. Hmmm...

So many liberal dudes consider themselves political revolutionaries but then ignore or devalue gender politics as less important than other causes. Or they talk a good game about gender politics but then do the complete opposite in their personal lives. There was a great Mad Men episode touching on this. You think subcultures are going to have better more equal power dynamics, but then they usually reproduce the same fucked up power dynamics of mainstream institutions. It happened in the civil rights movement. It happened with hippies. It happens in indie and punk. It happens in everything when men are the only ones in recognized leadership positions. I wish that it never happened, but it does. Rather than bury our heads in the sand we must choose to engage with it, to figure out why it happens and how we can work on it.

That's why it was so cool when Kurt Cobain wore a dress on Headbanger's Ball. It was genuinely radical and revolutionary. He challenged the world to call him a fag, to ask themselves why they would be threatened by a beautiful man in a dress and why he was supposed to care. A hirsute or ugly man in a dress can be dismissed as comedic, but feminine male beauty is especially threatening to traditional masculinity because it offers the question of what exactly "maleness" is, if there is really anything particular to having a dick besides just having a dick. He forced questions on an audience that didn't want to touch those questions with a ten foot pole lest it end up in their ass. 

Likewise Courtney Love took femininity to its farthest possible outcrop and exposed how horrifying all the most desirable/accepted tropes of girlhood are. How fake and impossible it is to be pretty or quiet and how much the world requires and demands it of women. That's why Kurt was so horrified when Nirvana's audiences started to be full of the same kinds of bros he hated so much when they were still Guns 'n Roses fans. And why people who grew up Hole fans inspired by these ideas were all so horrified when Courtney started fucking with her face and body. No one here gets out alive

Women aren't afraid of becoming men, but the undertone of misogyny is that men are afraid they'll become like women. It assumes that to feel like a woman is to feel weak, powerless, degraded. But that's not what women feel like! That's just how society treats us. Men feel weak, powerless, and/or degraded every goddamn day. Misogyny allows men to separate themselves from negative emotions and ideas by attaching them to women, to a thing that they get to think they are not and could never be. 

You have to speak up. You have to call people out. It doesn't make you are a horrible shrill fun-averse harpy bitch. It doesn't mean you hate men. You LOVE men. You just also want to be taken as seriously as they automatically are. Not taken seriously for a woman. Taken seriously as a person. A person. Not as a woman. As a human being.  

There is a belief that some people have, historically men but occasionally also Ayn Rand and Angelina Jolie, that they have a divine right to power. A lifelong pass to fuck anyone they want and fuck over anyone they feel like and never have to face real consequences. It is the thing that is scariest and most fascist about the bulk of politicians and politics in general, and why Obama is genuinely revolutionary in his feminism and aversion to macho bullshit, but also why he gets called a pussy (sigh). 

It is to pretend like you are on the board of the imaginary but universal organization that tacitly endorses male dominance and ran ENRON. To side with them because it is to side with history's winners, because it is easy and requires no inquisition of the self, no possibility that you might have to change anything or give up any perks. It is to agree with Hitler because everyone else is. If you really want to renounce fascism and oppressive institutions then you have to renounce patriarchy. There is no other way.

You are never really a liberal if you treat women differently. If you hold them to different more difficult standards than you hold men to, than you hold yourself to. You are something else. You are an emosogynist. It is nothing to be proud of. This is what is so horrible and insidious about Bill Clinton and John Edwards. It's why I hate Bill Maher so much. If you deny women the same personhood you give yourself, you are not a liberal. You are not a revolutionary. You are not an outlaw or a gangster or anything cool. You are just a misogynist in a sweater and fuck you, seriously, for real. 

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She twitters here and tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, and YouTube.

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