Songs for the Struggling Artist


Invite Me to Your Party
September 20, 2019, 12:16 am
Filed under: community, space | Tags: , , , , ,

Are you having a party? Invite me. I would like to come. Can I guarantee that I will make it? No. Stuff happens and sometimes migraines happen to me. So I am unfortunately not a terribly reliable guest anymore. Also if it’s super late and the trains aren’t running again on the weekends, it can get a little sticky but please invite me anyway.

I can make no guarantees but I am watching my social net develop a lot of holes so I need to get out more and I’d like to do it at your party.

I don’t always love parties. Since it became cool to be an introvert, I think a lot of us have become more comfortable confessing that sometimes a night in is more pleasurable than a party. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to go to parties at all. It certainly doesn’t mean we don’t want to be invited to them. If your introvert friend confessed that they don’t love a party, it doesn’t mean they won’t go and maybe even enjoy themselves! Invite them anyway!

I don’t know if it’s my age or where I live but no one seems to have parties anymore. My Gen X peers used to throw some real good ones – but maybe everyone’s too busy with their kids and/or parents to throw a party anymore?

One of the factors here in NYC is that it is tricky to find a space big enough to throw a party in. Those lofts in Williamsburg where eight artists used to live together and throw parties are now owned by a hedge fund manager – and he’s not inviting us to his parties. I used to know people with lofts. No more.

I mean, I’d invite you all over but my apartment is so small – just one extra person in it makes the place an obstacle course. No one likes a sardine party. Unless we’re playing sardines in a big old house in the country with lots of space and fun nooks and crannies. People like those parties.

I understand why people have fewer parties than they used to. It’s often expensive to throw a party and these days it’s really hard to get people to show up for anything – even free food and booze. To go to all that expense and trouble for nothing?

I mean. I have had gatherings wherein no one showed up. Not one person. For my most recent birthday I invited 40 people to come out with me and only one of them made it. (I didn’t really want a 40 person party but this isn’t my first birthday rodeo. Previous ratios suggested that if I invited 40, I’d get 4.) I have put on shows that I have had to cancel because no one came. I know many other theatre makers who have struggled to get people to show up for them. I heard about a party wherein the hosts had offered to pay for housing and flights to Europe for their weekend birthday and most of the guests cancelled at the last minute. I mean, if you can’t even get people to show up for an all expense paid trip to Europe, we’re in a bit of social crisis.

I think, with all the social media at our disposal, we have come to feel as if our social needs are taken care of – because we have a thousand Facebook friends, or followers on Twitter. It’s CLOSE to being with people – but it’s not close enough. We need to have times where we are face to face. We need to go to parties even when we’d rather stay home and watch GLOW on Netflix. I know I need to be more social. I need to get out and start knitting up the holes in my social fabric. The holes are nobody’s fault – it’s just shifting norms, living in a migratory city and the traffic patterns of urban life.

So if you’re having a party. Please invite me. I am usually pretty fun at a party. If you need someone to start the dancing, I’m your girl. If you stopped inviting me because I never came, try me again. I’m trying to be better. I think a lot of us are. I can count at least three friends who have said that they are trying to be more social these days, too. Invite us all! We’ll have a good time! And hey, if you’d just rather watch GLOW on Netflix, invite us over for that. Let’s watch it together. A quiet TV watching party is fun, too! Just – if you have the space and you were wondering if you should have a party, you should. And you should invite me.

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The Cafe Wall of Fame

On the wall at Café La Habana in Mexico City is a plaque that proclaims the previous presence of Octavio Paz, Ché Guevara, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and more. The rumor is that the Cuban Revolution was planned there. It is an inspiring place. The conversations of these public intellectuals soaked into the very walls.

Also, not a single woman is listed in its storied history.

It was founded in 1952. That means Frida Kahlo could have gone there in the last two years of her life. Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington could have gone there. I know they didn’t live nearby but still, they could have. Laura Esquivel was two years old when the place was founded but I imagine she’s been there at some point in her life.

I mean – did no women come and plan there? Or they just haven’t done it yet? What if we planned the feminist revolution there? The Cuban one worked out reasonably well for the guys who started it.

I have a lot of questions about this particular place because it feels like a kind of magic to write in so potent a place. But I wonder if that magic has only ever applied to men. Did women not go there? Were they somehow unwelcome to the public intellectual’s realm? Or was it unsafe for women? Or were they there and then forgotten about? Or did they just have their coffee, conversations and revolutions at home?

As a woman who has spent time in coffee shops in many countries, I can confirm that public spaces like cafes are more male space than female. In some places I’ve been, I’ve been the only woman. On holidays I am almost always the only woman in the last open café.

It does feel as though despite our many advancements, public space like coffee shops still belongs to men. Soraya Chemaly gave one of my favorite TED talks on the subject of public spaces. The gist of it is, almost all public space is male space, in that it was designed by and for men. I can’t stop thinking about this. I’m fascinated by the architectural projects that are JUST beginning to address it. There is a movement coming, I think. But without the history, it’s very difficult. Show me the café that brags of all the women who frequented the place. (Seriously please show me – I’ll go there.) Show me the city that was planned with women in mind. (Vienna comes closest in that they made adjustments based on a survey of women’s needs back in the 90s.) All space is men’s space that others find our way through. All cafes are for men, for men’s ideas, men’s revolutions. The women’s revolution is in the house, I guess? Which maybe explains why we haven’t really had a revolution.

If women have no public space in which to gather, if we aren’t seen in public together (except for once a year at our march) then we have no public power. We try and claim space when we march. We chant. Whose streets? Our streets.
Now maybe it’s time for:
Whose café? Our café.

I’m not here to call out Café La Habana. Honestly, I can’t think of a single café in the USA that honors literary greats or revolutionaries of any gender on its walls. Café la Habana is way ahead of us in honoring writers, artists and intellectuals and I respect and admire them for it. I’m a fan.

One day in the future, I hope to make it back to that cafe, where I’ll drink another delicious lechera and on their updated plaque I hope to see many women’s names. Or maybe one of you will start a café with women in mind and we’ll all turn up to hang out and plan our revolution and someone will hang a plaque up decades later. I’d like to be on that wall with the rest of you.

Photo by Donna Shaunesey

 

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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