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The Stars at Noon by Kim Gordon

Living on the ceiling

Living on the ceiling

“Lying here under the hot fan with flies swirling around and my shirt sticking to me I just can’t get up and shake it off. But wait, am I dreaming?” In the tenth contribution to our column “Notes from Quarantine,” artist, writer, and musician Kim Gordon meditates on rehearsals during the pandemic, online and mainstream news, light kisses, and the built-in privilege of artists who have space to ruminate.

It’s been a slow process. The sinking in of how quickly the world changed. Although for those paying attention it’s been a long time coming, you know, the abuse of the planet, the greed, the widening gap between those who are in power, want to remain in power, and the working poor. All the existential questions floating round my head are the ones most people have about seeing family or friends who don’t live on the same coast. Or even those who live in the same city.I rehearsed with a band and had so much anxiety about the whole project we only got to do three gigs, which I’m grateful for. Playing with people I didn’t know, memorizing lyrics, playing with in-ear monitors and some sounds from the record. Things I’d never done or not for a very long time. Also, the anxiety of being a front person. I didn’t want to look at other female performers for cues because that would infer a striving for perfection that is not me. I’m not sure in two years I’ll want to start over.

Now live performances, like everything else, take place on zoom. A recent zoom event in western ma was Byron Coley reading poetry in his kitchen, then Chris Corsano, percussionist/drummer, playing an improv set in front of a red curtain with just his drum set isolated somewhere, giving it a Lynchian feel. People can chat in the gallery, so it’s like being at the back of a club. Most zoom events seem like audition tapes, but for the underground experimental scene, slickness has never been a part of it – just the opposite.

I’m not sure when Body/head will play live. Experimental music gigs are smaller, so that’s more realistic. There is also very little money to be had, so then one has to weigh the risks: is it worth getting sick and possibly dying over, flying across the country to play for a 50 people or less, because if there are gigs the capacity will be severely downsized for social distancing. I would love to play but maybe not to die. But to not play is also a sort of death. But I can’t grieve over it because there is real death and there will be more.

So I’ve had these intense dreams lately, not just one vivid dream but multiple stacks of dreams. They all seem silly and speak about the privilege of my life as I watch the hole get deeper that we are digging ourselves into. The Dow had its best April since 1987, while 33 million people are unemployed and people sit in their cars for miles in a food bank line that stretches across the heartland. People who never thought they’d be in a food line. So, the world seems like a dream or rather nitemare. Last nite I was with two friends in NY and I went to my art studio with them but someone else had taken it because I hadn’t been there in a while. So then I wanted to find my old studio and it was in a cavernous ruined factory building with a maze of walkways and rooms that were dissected in half like a weird Gordon Matta-Clark building and I couldn’t find the studio, we kept just wandering around. It was like when I first moved to NY in 1980 and Soho was sort of desolate. Like a pre-economy-on-steroids NY. Just crawling out of bankruptcy.

Wandering around Tribeca at nite was scary. There were only a couple destination spots. A bar crammed with downtowners, an all-nite diner, the Mudd Club, and Tier 3. The Irish bar down near Chambers St. was always kind of empty, just as it was depicted in the Scorsese movie After Hours. I felt a bit lost, as in Paul Hackett’s dream. In my dream my ex bf brutally told me everything I had done wrong. I was not sure what he was referring to but it was as if he was delivering a political analysis on Rising, on Hill TV. I guess I need to stop watching. It was incredible.

I feel a loss of confidence. Lying here under the hot fan with flies swirling around and my shirt sticking to me I just can’t get up and shake it off. But wait, am I dreaming? I don’t live in a climate that hot, at least that humid. I’m worried about the money running out. It’s so abstract. And the Contras are not hunting me down and I have US dollars not córdobas. My poet friend posed the question: “Are people in the creative world workers, poets, artists, musicians?” It’s a petty broad question but it got me thinking. I feel like I sometimes live in a limbo until I’m actually offered an opportunity to make an art project. Otherwise I’m tinkering round the edges rehearsing ideas. The process of making something gives me satisfaction, but if no one experiences it, sees it, what use in society does it have. If you’re a worker and you can’t work, are you still a worker? Or are you just poor? If yr an artist and you don’t sell yr work you’re a poor artist or are you a pure artist? If workers went on strike to get better conditions it could create an impact. If artists or poets go on strike nobody cares, even if there was an artist’s union, but there’s a built-in privilege to have space to ruminate and make things that don’t have a mainstream use value.

Party with the Red desert

Party with the Red desert

A nostalgia for social interactions that may not be possible for a very long time turns dreams into a machine. Like a child playing make-believe is how the day goes. We’re supposed to close our eyes and imagine that this isn’t happening, or that it’s normal that our president wants people to die for his better economy and reelection bid. Can we just now admit we’re living in a third-world country and yes, we have a dictator? And our answer to him is an old white man in his basement denying sexual abuse charges. New obstacles every day as the government announces random advice and new rules but then changes its mind. The USDA let millions of tons of food go to waste while food banks are desperate feeding the poor and unemployed. A young black man out jogging was gunned down by two white men, a father and son, in Georgia, just like a sport and this is 2020 in America. As someone who doesn’t have to go out and has the luxury of enjoying the more relaxed time to ponder and write this, my memories from the quarantine will be when my dog died in the natural way, the cycle of life in contrast to the shock and devastation of random death from the Rona, also the zoom classes, how I learned to move the fascia around my body with my brain without having to listen to loud blasting music, or drive 20 minutes, interviews as a form of social interactions. Unless, of course, there’s a general strike and a revolution of sorts by next year.

I’m not sure why I’m excited to get up every day. It doesn’t take much for me to get excited if the sun is slanting thru the curtain onto the floor. The birds seem to chirp louder than in normal times. It’s eerily like Westworld, where the robots have dreams or inklings of memories that jut in from a sequence of events that don’t fit the everyday smoothness of their day and what they believe is their reality.

He’s there again… grabbing the back of my head and pushing it to his mouth. It’s not forcing, just firmly guiding like he’s done this a million times.

Where do you go when you disappear?

I have spent so much of my life worrying about the dudes in it, are they happy, what did I do, what are they doing, why haven’t they texted or called? Why are women the ones who so often think about disappearing men, now I don’t care.

It’s raining out, and melancholy. There’s a backdoor with a stoop where we sit and watch the sky fall red. I was sleeping last nite and thought I felt yr presence like a leg that has been taken off but still feels movement. Oh yes that’s the dog… There is a warm body there, just not you.

My eyes are oozing with liquid. I’m not crying it’s allergies. In the small slit of light coming thru the heavy curtains in the dark room I feel the sudden rush of anxiety coming over me, a sudden panic about what I will do today. Will I be able to make something or will I just be spinning in a whirlpool of inattention? First a cup of delicious tea. Then the coffee. The online mainstream news with headlines that I just skim now are the NYT, Politico, Washington Post. But Rising on Hill TV I’m obsessed with, and Krystal Ball, the leftist co-host. Skimming thru the emails… so many political emails, almost all of them, everyone wanting a donation. Just last year I saw fluffy designer slides blowin in the wind down Hillhurst. They are burned into my mind like the baking sun flip flopping over the broken earthquake pavement, slippers seem normal on pavement in LA.

Cuddled in the morning cold of Malibu under the comforter which is too hot always and I battle with it all night. Yr bed is so large I feel like I’m on a slab, material floating along bouncing on its mushy softness. Yr light kisses on my shoulder announcing that yr getting up and going to make me coffee. You make me feel like a teenager and I’m wondering again who am I and when is this going to end?

It comes on, that feeling that maybe we shouldn’t be together. I should stand back not lift a finger to make it work. Should I just stand and watch it fall apart? This is a relationship… Lately I’ve had an orgasm in my sleep just before I wake up just surfacing from a dream.

I can hear sirens in the distance, they don’t have to do with the political unrest, but they could if I’m dreaming people are marching with pitchforks and signs that say “democrats and republicans sold us out to corporate capitalist bailouts.”

Last nite I dreamt that you suddenly came back into my life. You acted like nothing had happened. Like okay, that’s over now where was I? You had somehow a pile of my records that you had put out and you would only give me one. My whole day quickly changed and I felt my life starting to revolve around you without wanting it to. Antonioni from Red Desert. “Like she was sliding down a slope…” We went out to the beach and were in a house like the one that E and I had gotten on Airbnb for labor day weekend. And E was there, very confused and saying like, “This can’t be happening.” I said: “I’m going to fix this.” And then I woke up.

Kim Gordon is an artist, writer and musician based in Los Angeles.

Image credit: Kim Gordon