We’re releasing half the songs from T Cooper’s musical album, a collection of (mostly) original songs by (entirely) original artists–all inspired by specific chapters in his new book, REAL MAN ADVENTURES.
Today’s release is by Rocco Katastrophe.
T Cooper’s new book REAL MAN ADVENTURES (McSweeney’s) is not exactly a memoir.
It’s more of a literary scrapbook, a meditation on the topic of masculinity, with some autobiographical elements. It’s also sort of a love story. With interviews, essays, journalism, artwork, a poem, a few six-word memoirs, some lists and letters–and a lot of other stuff: a chorus of voices sounding off on the subject at hand–becoming a husband, a father, a man. In other words: who you are meant to be.
And speaking of sounding off, Cooper also produced a musical album which is being released alongside the book, a collection of (mostly) original songs by (entirely) original artists–all inspired by specific chapters in the book. The album is not for sale, and it exists in a very limited edition of CDs (available only at book tour stops through February ’13, as well as from a single location in New York City  –see below for details).
Here at the Rumpus, we are releasing half of the songs from the REAL MAN ADVENTURES album. Starting today, and for the next seven days, you can download free tracks from the likes of: Kathleen Hanna and The Julie Ruin, Scott McCloud of Girls Against Boys, Rick Moody, Thunderegg, Dynasty Handbag, Rocco Katastrophe, Soce the Elemental Wizard, and Scott Miller and the Commonwealth.
by Rocco Katastrophe
For the chapter entitled “Ten Friends’ Fears” (p. 249), which came out of a survey in which I asked ten FTM friends “What, as a transman, is your biggest fear?” and contains responses like “That I’m going to go bald because my mother’s father is,” and “Dying alone or being unlovable, or for people to see me as a monster in nursing home care.”
Katastrophe captures the self-pity and anger and fear involved in being guys like us just right, with a generous serving of humor, in lyrics like, “A real boy, but a Pinocchio type of liar/ With the desire to aspire to greatness/ While all the while screaming that I fucking hate this,” and a chorus that goes in part, “Woe is me, is plain to see, I’m supposed to be this man you see.” I feel like he just gets it, and why wouldn’t he?
For more about Rocco Katastrophe (including music videos like “Eat Everything” featuring Margaret Cho, and lots of tour dates): www.roccokatastrophe.com/
“On My Darker Days”
by Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud wrote and recorded this song for the chapter called “My Wife’s Job,” in which I talk about all the people I’m jealous of when my wife spends intimate time with them for her work as a journalist (Harrison Ford, David Beckham, Reggie Bush, Jay-Z, D-Wade, Mark Wahlberg, Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, Viggo Mortensen, Jude Law, Matthew McConaughey, and so on, you get the idea).
The publisher of two of my books and close friend, Johnny Temple of Akashic Books, in his other life is the bassist for the band Girls Against Boys. Through him I met lead singer and guitarist Scott McCloud years ago, I can’t remember when, but I do remember one night in Los Angeles after one of their shows, when we all ended up–somehow–at Winona Ryder’s house. I recall as I was leaving that I hugged Winona good-bye like we were old friends or something (we’re not), and while I was hugging her, I was looking at Scott over her shoulder, and thinking to myself, Wow, she has kind of big titties. I know, it’s sexist (among other things), but it surprised me for some reason, and she squeezed so tightly… I don’t know. Anyway, since this Hollywoody image is yoked to that night with Scott, I thought he’d respond to this chapter when I sent it to him–and I was right; it was something he said he appreciates on a lot of levels. And then he growled out into his computer this lo-fi song that he wrote in response to the chapter. You can actually hear the mechanics of the track coming together, the microphone, the spaceship like reverb, and it all builds sort of frenetically until a lyrical release of sorts toward the end. That’s not doing it justice–I don’t know what to say, he rocks.
For more about Scott McCloud (including latest project Paramount Styles): http://us.myspace.com/paramountstylesnyc
“Girls Like Us” (Vag Vocal Version)
by The Julie Ruin (Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox, Kenny Mellman, Sara Landeau & Carmine Covelli) with Vaginal Creme Davis
This song was recorded for the chapter “When I Knew” (p. 229), which is about buying boxer briefs at Century 21 in New York City, and Marky Mark in his Calvin Kleins, before he was Mark Wahlberg and nominated for an Oscar–among other personal things I don’t really feel like going into here because it’s too intimate for the interwebs. Mostly it’s a send-up of that scene in “Silence of the Lambs” where the serial killer Buffalo Bill is mincing around his house in a silk kimono while his latest female (plus-sized) victim screams in a dungeon below, where he is fattening her up and conditioning her skin so that he can finish sewing the lady suit he is fashioning out of his victims’ hides.
I came to be a fan of the talented Kenny Mellman because of his work as one-half (with Justin Bond) of Kiki and Herb, the long-running, legendary NYC-based cabaret act. When I asked Claudia Gonson (Magnetic Fields) if she and Stephin Merritt might be able to contribute something to the RMA CD, Claudia said they were too busy touring, but told me about Kenny’s new outfit, The Julie Ruin, which is comprised of former Bikini Kill members Kathleen Hanna and Kathi Wilcox, in addition to Sara Landau and Carmine Covelli. So I e-mailed Kenny, and miraculously, he said they were working on a song that would be perfect for the project (and that he liked my last novel and would love to be a part of the new project). And even better: that they had time to do it. I was overjoyed when Vaginal Davis laid down the vocals for the song–all the way from Berlin, I believe. Anyway, Vaginal’s performance of the song is so insanely wonderful and captures the beautiful, perfect mess of femininity as captured in the song–in lyrics like “Girls like us sneak breaks at Wendy’s/ and girls like us invented jazz./ Girls like us have no foundations; creation myths are so passé!… Girls like us might flock to scandals/ but girls like us don’t give a shite./ Girls like us pick up the hot handles and burn our hands and get over it.”
For more info on The Julie Ruin (an upcoming album, and the band members’ past projects like Bikini Kill, Kiki and Herb, etc): http://thejulieruin.com/
For the chapter entitled “Man Club” (p. 187), which begins, “The first rule of Man Club is you do not talk about Man Club…” and then ends up in a strip club.
Jibz Cameron, aka Dynasty Handbag, has been called “a crack-pot genius” by The Village Voice, and “one of the most insanely funny, tone-perfect pieces of performance art” ever by the New York Times. I evoke these publications because I don’t know how else to describe the brilliance that comes out of this human on stage, in video, song, wherever. It’s hard to be this funny and this intelligently incisive at the same time, and her song “One Man” is such a wise indictment of masculinity on the whole: “We can’t do what we want to do/ You’re always in the way./ We can’t say what we want to say./ That day hasn’t come yet. Even though we think it has, it hasn’t” she practically vomits out, with laser-fire in the background, before the whole song implodes in a riot of Yellow Wallpaper crazy laughter. Just listen to it, and try to catch a live performance of Dynasty Handbag any chance you get.
For more Dynasty Handbag (for chrissake, please watch the videos for “I Can’t Wait” and “Break Up Day”): www.dynastyhandbag.com
Scott Miller & The Commonwealth
This song goes with the chapter called “My Number” (p. 163), which concerns high school football in the south, and my never getting to play on a team as a kid, and also taking my daughters to our local school’s game one Friday night not too long ago.
Scott Miller’s songs almost always make me tear up, which I resent, since sometimes one will come up on shuffle when I don’t necessarily feel like crying like a little bitch, but then the writing and stories are just so good that I’ll usually just give in. Miller let me use this song for the CD; it is one of the few that weren’t written and recorded specifically for the project, but when I sent him the football chapter–because I knew he’s all about the pigskin–this song of his was perfect for the spirit of the “My Number” chapter. “12th Man” is a beautiful ballad about being the runt of the litter–the benchwarmer in every sense, from the football field to the ladies, and this song could’ve (should’ve?) been on a soundtrack for “Friday Night Lights,” because I know Coach Taylor would be rocking it while driving his American-made SUV by gently swaying fields on his way down to interview for a bigger and better coaching job than the Dillon Panthers or East Dillon Lions.
More on Scott Miller (and his former band The V-Roys, and his new collaboration with Rayna Gellert): http://thescottmiller.com.
“The Guest Star of the Rest Stop”
This song was written for the chapter “Truck Driver and Hooker” (p. 67), which explicates a childhood game I used to play with a friend of mine, wherein I played the part of a truck driver and she a prostitute, whom I’d cruise and pick up at an imaginary truck stop–after first haggling with her over her fee of course. (We were in the 5th grade.)
Will Georgantas, aka Thunderegg, is an old friend of mine from grad school, where we were both fairly reluctant MFA candidates. We have been in and out of touch over the years, and recently we got back in touch because he ended up copyediting this book, on a freelance basis for the publisher. Total coincidence, but also totally excellent, since he is a whiz in a variety of mediums, including with his recording project Thunderegg, which has been recording excellent little songs for almost twenty years on Will’s ancient four-track cassette deck, for which it is getting increasingly hard to find blank tapes. One year Thunderegg recorded a song a day–all 365 of them available for free download. The song he wrote and recorded based on my “Truck Driver and Hooker” chapter is quite entrancing, almost an old-fashioned country waltz, and one of the lines gives me a little chill of hopelessness and recognition every time I hear it: “In a red dress, former Miss Festus has fallen on tougher times/ He said he knew it, south of St. Louis, just on the other side of Crystal City/ Which sounds so pretty, but has long since lost its shine.”
More on Thunderegg (including a new album): www.thunderegg.org.
by Soce, the Elemental Wizard
This song was written for the chapter “Why They’re Called Passports” (p. 29), which contains the transcript of a telephone conversation I had with the U.S. Department of State regarding changing the gender marker on my passport. At one point in the conversation I ask the gentleman on the other end of the line whether he had to tell the government what was in his pants in order for him to get a passport.
Andrew Singer, aka Soce the Elemental Wizard, is one crazy homo-hip-hopper, a classically-trained musician who often puts complex, beautiful violin licks into his songs (including this one which essentially reenacts my conversation in rhyme). “He Will” is a bit of a parody of “She Will” by Lil Wayne featuring Drake, with a really catchy (not to mention hysterical) chorus, and some fast bullet flow in parts. I’ve been lucky enough to have Soce perform at various book events of mine over the years, and I knew the project would not be complete without his take. If you put him with ninety-nine other folks in a room and announced that a rapper was about to get up on stage and perform, he’d probably be the 100th person you’d guess was coming up.
More info about Soce (check out some favorite singles including, “I Am So Gay,” “Sad and Lonely,” and “H but H (Hot but Heterosexual)”): www.socetew.com.
“The Closest I Ever Came to Writing a Poem”
by Rick Moody
For the chapter called “The Closest I’ve Ever Come to Writing a Poem, Not Counting When You are Forced to Do So in Grade School” (p. 27), in which I attempt to write a love poem(ish) for my wife, entitled “Fear,” which probably isn’t very good.
Rick Moody is one of those dudes who’s a triple-threat, what with the fiction, nonfiction, and the poetry of his music. He performed this song live at my book release event at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC recently, and as he was up there at the piano, I realized I probably need to learn to do something useful, like play the piano or banjo–or perhaps even build a motorcycle engine. The song is brutal and haunting and honest, his voice faltering (in the good way) in all the right spots. It is a lovely song you will find yourself wanting to listen to over and over.
One place only, in the East Village of New York City:
217 Avenue A (bet 13th & 14th)
$25 gets you a SIGNED BOOK and CD (rare and not for sale)
Or, get a $16 haircut–and you’ll get all of the above for just $20 (plus a fly cut).
*Ask for Ben, in the shop Tuesdays through Saturdays*