The Organist, Episode 13: High-Heeled Boys

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Episode Thirteen of the Believer’s podcast, the Organist, is now available online.

Annie Clark, better known by her stage name, St. Vincent, gives the listener a tour through her personal musical history. She talks about the music that raised and influenced her from age two (Ritchie Valens) through high school (Sonic Youth, Solex, Fiona Apple, Big Black). She also made a mix tape for the Organist featuring some of her current favorites. 

Listen to the episode here.

DISCOVER KYMAERICA

To celebrate the upcoming collected stories concert series curated by David Lang at Carnegie Hall (April 22-29), we’ll be posting pieces from past issues of the Believer that tie into with the themes of each show. The third concert in collected stories is (post)folk, featuring Alarm Will Sound, Alan Pierson, and Jennifer Zetland, for which we’re posting Michael A. Elliott’s essay on the Kcymaerxthaere, the fictional universe created by Eames Demetrios (from the November/December 2009 issue of the Believer).

THE GRANDSON OF THE DESIGNERS OF THE MOST FAMOUS PIECE OF MODERN FURNITURE MEMORIALIZES THE SLOW DEATH OF MAIN STREET BY BUILDING AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE.

DISCUSSED: Non-Native Elvish Speakers, The Kcymaerxthaere, Three-Dimensional Storytelling, The Battle of Some Times, The Limits of the Assembly Line, The Parisian Diaspora, Teri’s Threads, The Conditions of an Ideal Spot for Reverie

The brick courtyard was adjacent to the railroad tracks on Atlanta’s industrial west side—and part of a structure that had been transformed from its industrial roots to become the home of a five-star restaurant. I must have taken a wrong turn, because instead of finding the bathroom, I ended up staring at a bronze plaque that had been welded into the concrete abutting the building’s electrical boards. It looked just like one of the historical markers scattered throughout the South to mark every scrape and scuffle of the Civil War.

But this one wasn’t like that. “When the Tehachapi incised the Adalanta Desert with the two great sphaltways,” it began, “a settlement at their junction was inevitable.” On this spot, the plaque explained, a woman named Martha Pelaski built her trading post, the location for a series of historic meetings between people with names I didn’t recognize: Nobunaga-gaisen, Iglesia Guitierrez, Síawm Chd. For a second I thought that the local historical society must have been infiltrated by one of those people who prefer to read The Lord of the Rings in Elvish. I looked around to see if this was a joke, and if there was something else nearby that could let me in on it. There wasn’t.

I had stumbled onto the Kcymaerxthaere.

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Front Range Flannel

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Tara Jepsen and Bob Lake, photo by Taylor DeHart. 

Tara Jepsen is a comedian, writer, and actor living in Los Angeles. She’s been performing with the queer cabaret, Sister Spit, alongside Michelle Tea and Ali Liebegott since 1998. At the age of 36, Jepsen began skateboarding and in what follows, she discusses her experience, shitty meth motels, and a gentle giant longshoreman named Glenn.

I think a lot about what kind of person I want to be. At forty-one, I am haunted by the idea of turning eighty years old, remembering the people or events that led to pain and obsessive thinking, and wondering what the big deal was. I want that presence of mind now. Things go up and down and there I am, the string from the loose tooth of birth tied to the doorknob of death, perpetually wincing in anticipation of the invisible hand slamming the door. Best to give in and know some things will feel great, some like garbage, and that most of my feelings will (sadly) be captured by baby animals in the photo attachments of a sentimental email forwarded by my dad.

I don’t admire how some people age. I see a lot of fear and conservatism trickling into formerly risk-taking, open-minded friends. I want to see more resilient spirits who never lose interest in life outside their minds, homes and families. But most of all, I want to feel alive. I want experiences largely untouched by precedent, as well as some that are highly curated (snorkeling in Fiji whilst staying in a beach bungalow someday sounds good).

So at 36, I started skating with a group of women in San Francisco. We cruised along the Embarcadero, learning to balance on our boards and foot-push. Two months in, a friend brought me to the Novato skatepark, and I found that skating bowls was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Before, I would say I was happy thirty-five percent of the time. Now that I skate, I would say it’s a solid ninety percent. You don’t have to be a Shaklee vitamin sales supervisor to know that those are some solid numbers.

I hated being the least skilled skater at a park, so I pushed myself to keep learning and trying things I was scared of. I fell all the time and bruised my limbs to an astonishing degree. Oddly, this did not distress me. I felt overjoyed.

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