Selected Confessions of a Supposed Former Poser

Selected Confessions of a Supposed Former Poser

When I see a baby with a mohawk or toddler wearing a Motörhead onesie, I bristle. That baby isn’t punk or into metal - yet.  I imagine that the kid’s father is proud that he liked Green Day many years before Dookie was released and he wants to express this through his child’s haircut. I can relate because I want people to know how cool I am, too.  

But I can’t help but roll my eyes when I see these kids being branded with a band logo, endorsing music that they would probably shut off if given the chance to listen to the Wiggles instead. It irritates me because it hits an old wound inside of me that I am ashamed of: I used to be a huge poser to impress guys I had the hots for. I don’t even know if it worked. Furthermore, it wasn’t even necessary - I liked a lot of pretty cool music and movies on my own without faking it. I probably would have been more attractive to these guys (all musicians and/or artist types) had I stood confident with my own tastes, but the concept of honesty didn’t enter my mind when the mix of hormones and a guy, probably in some band, was my obsession.

Here’s a short list of some the bands and movies I pretend to like to impress a boy:

Corrosion of Conformity

I walked into 7th grade with a confidence that didn’t exist in previous school years. I’d just spent a half of my summer with my cousin and her friends on Long Island, where I believed I became cool: I had my first real kiss, nursed a few beers at parties, and went to my first concert: Morrissey, the Kill Uncle Tour in 1992 at Jones Beach. I mean, enough said right there. I also liked the Pixies and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. I was out-cooling these other 7th graders and they wouldn’t even know it for many years because they were still all listening to Boyz II Men.

I can relate because I want people to know how cool I am, too.

Ian was a skater who also played the drums. We became friends because he had an unrequited crush on a girl in my friend circle, and I would basically use any excuse to talk to him because he was so damn attractive. His dirty blond hair was styled in a shaggy bowl cut, and he wore oversized jeans with Stüssy t-shirts. Ian was mostly into heavy metal and he worshipped Metallica. He also liked music he referred to as “skater music”: Beastie Boys and Dinosaur Jr to name a couple bands. The previous summer, the self-titled Metallica album was released and it was fairly commercial and I liked it also. Ian started inviting me over after school and on the weekends to listen to metal albums I basically loathed but pretended to be into because this allowed me to spend hours in his bedroom.

Ian played the album “Blind” by Corrosion of Conformity on repeat. He also played it at top volume and from what I remember it was a very long, thrashing, heavy metal record. Every single song had piercing, unrelenting guitar chords and the music was a horror show to my ears. Not once did I ask him to turn it down. Not once did I ask him to put on something else instead. Ian loved Corrosion of Conformity and he would blast it nearly every time I came over while sitting behind his drum kit, trying very poorly to learn how to play the songs himself.

I did what any normal girl would do in this situation, hoping to keep a false connection strong: I asked him to make me a mix tape of Corrosion of Conformity songs. I played them in my bedroom, and on my walkman, hoping I’d start to appreciate them.  When that didn’t work, I upped the ante. With “Blind” on as our soundtrack, I sat in Ian’s bathroom one Friday night, allowed him to pile the top half of my long brown hair on the crown of my head in a bun, and shave all of the remaining hair underneath off, Anthony Keidis style. I wish I was joking, but I’m not!

From what I remember it was a very long, thrashing, heavy metal record. Every single song had piercing, unrelenting guitar chords and the music was a horror show to my ears. Not once did I ask him to turn it down.

A few years later while thinking for myself, the truth is:

I never really softened to this band, and after I started going to catholic school in 9th grade Ian and I stopped hanging out. It took until almost 10th grade for my hair to grow out, and in 11th grade Corrosion of Conformity had a single called “Clean My Wounds.” Oddly enough, I like that song to this day. It was a commercial hit, so I guess they sold out, whatever that means.

Joy Division

Joy Division

Brian was a guitar player I initially met on LiveJournal. In 2001 he wore the original hipster uniform years before that word came back into the lexicon: faded ironic t-shirts, brown dickies, Buddy Holly style glasses. He also had a radio show on Princeton University’s WPRB and he worked behind the counter at the Princeton Record Exchange, which is like the East Coast version of the New York Yankees when it comes to record stores. Brian and I are friends to this day and I don’t want to say anything disparaging about him, but man, he was a total snob when it came to not only bands, but films, recording equipment/gear or whatever that stuff is called, as well as where one should order their take out, what thrift store someone shopped in, and what was aesthetically pleasing to him when it came to girls he found attractive. Brian liked the cookie cutter pin up style of girl but if you were a chick with dark hair and bangs cut into a short bob, you’d do. Picture Rose McGowan in The Doom Generation:

Rose McGowan

I looked like the exact opposite of Rose McGowan in any movie, so what I thought I lacked in looks I overcompensated with my own musical snobbery.

One day on the phone Brian mentioned he was playing an acoustic set at an open mic night at some coffee shop. He told me he was going to play “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Yes it will, won’t it, my sweet? I thought but aloud I said, “What’s that?”

Brian guffawed, “Um hello you don’t know Joy Division?” I’d never actually heard anything by Joy Division that I could recall. I tried to play off my blunder and act like I hadn’t heard him correctly. I immediately started to download everything I could by them. I began playing “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on repeat in my bedroom. My roommates asked me what band I had on the first time they heard that song in my car, and my response was, “Um hello…. Joy Division??” I even drove over an hour to Philadelphia when 24 Hour Party People came out, a movie about the record label Joy Division was signed to in the late 70’s/early 80’s. During the scene where the singer of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, hung himself, I felt like I should be crying or something but …. nope.

A few years later while thinking for myself, the truth is:

I have claimed to love Joy Division for years but the truth is, I don’t. I adore “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” it’s one of my favorite songs to this day, but the band as a whole just doesn’t do it for me. I do love Joy Division’s story: they became a band after a couple of the members saw a Sex Pistols show and Joy Division started an entire genre of music in the post punk scene that I worship… but Joy Division, not so much. However, when the band reformed after Ian Curtis died and they became New Order? I fucking LOVE New Order.

I looked like the exact opposite of Rose McGowan in any movie, so what I thought I lacked in looks I overcompensated with my own musical snobbery.

Lars Von Trier films

Dogville

During the summer of 2007, I developed a friendship with multiple New York Times Bestselling author Neil Strauss. I’d been a fan of his writing for a few years because he wrote the greatest rock n’ roll book ever, The Dirt, which is about Mötley Crüe. After reading another bestselling book of his about pick up artists in 2005, The Game (which is also fascinating, and holds a spot close to my heart because it’s nonfiction and Courtney Love has a prominent role throughout the book) I emailed him wanting to see if he would interview me about an upcoming book project he mentioned in The Game. My actions aren’t as delusional as they sound, because he specifically listed his email address in The Game for that very reason. I was sure since a few years had passed since The Game had been published I’d never hear from him, but sure enough, he emailed me back. We exchanged a few notes and realized quickly we liked a lot of the same music: Leonard Cohen, The Zombies, and some other psychedelic rock bands from the 60’s. We started talking on the phone and exchanging texts, comparing our mutual taste in music and films.

As an egomaniac, what impressed me so much about Neil was how impressed he was with me. I don’t know what kind of people he was used to hanging out with in L.A. but I assumed that since he wrote books about Jenna Jameson and Marilyn Manson he was used to being around cool celebs that had unique taste, but he just couldn’t get enough of how awesome I was. Every time I mentioned something I was into, we marveled about how we both liked it. You like the movie Wings Of Desire? So do I! You used to hang out at 9C in the East Village when you lived in New York?  Me too!

Then he mentioned, over a text, Lars Von Trier. I can’t recall the exact context, but he was comparing something to a film by Lars Von Trier and I didn’t know who he was.  Naturally, I did a quick Google search and saw he is a Danish filmmaker who directed the movie Dogville with Nicole Kidman. I remembered seeing the DVD cover in a Blockbuster once so I responded with “I love the movie Dogville.” Neil hadn’t seen that one, and he was blissfully unaware that I hadn’t either. I didn’t want to spoil the momentum we’d been building. He responded by saying something about his favorite movie by Lars, Breaking The Waves with Emily Watson. A second Google search taught me that in this movie Emily Watson becomes a prostitute to somehow save her sick husband so I responded with something like, “Yeah that movie is fucked up.” I’m pretty sure Neil agreed.

As an egomaniac, what impressed me so much about Neil was how impressed he was with me.

In 2011 when Melancholia came out, I couldn’t wait to see it. I was, after all, a huge Lars Von Trier fan, and it was about time I actually saw one of his movies. Melancholia is 2 hours and 15 minutes of absolute torture about a woman named Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, who is suffering from suicidal depression about having to marry Alexander Skarsgård, the poor thing! Her wedding is overshadowed quite literally by a large planet looming toward the Earth on a direct path to smash right into it. Justine spends many hours grimacing and forcing smiles during the wedding, and I’ll give it to Lars here—aesthetically this film is gorgeous—it’s visually mind blowing. The acting is also pretty great. Dunst is incredible to watch especially since most of her emotions are expressed nonverbally. But watching the slow, drawn out, painful movie, scene after scene, was agony. I was becoming suicidal in the theater, totally empathetic with Justine. She becomes a tad excited when she realizes that the Earth is about to be eviscerated the morning after her wedding, and I couldn’t get out of the theatre fast enough during the collision scene at the finale. I vaguely remember telling people afterwards that’d I’d loved it.

I ended up seeing Nymphomaniac, his next movie, in 2014. According to Wikipedia, this film is about “a woman’s sexual awakening.” That’s not really what it’s about. This movie’s really about what men seem to think female sexuality is- we just burst into spur-of-the-moment orgasm, isn’t that hot? You don’t even have to touch us! Also, women are to blame if a man cheats. And, in the hope of feeling something, anything, women beg men to fill “all their holes.” Super believable!

A few years later while thinking for myself, the truth is:

I absolutely hate Lars Von Trier films.

Jim Jarmusch films

Jim Jarmusch

Jared* (name changed to protect the innocent, which in this case is me, because I don’t want this dickhead having any reason to contact me in present day. I’m certain he reads The Scold) was another drummer/skateboarder, and frankly he isn’t too different from the other two musicians I have written about in this essay, but I was totally unaware of that at the time. I was always under the impression all of my various crushes were distinct and unique from each other, but as I am typing this out they were all the same guy, it was just a different year. Jared was my obsession around 2003 and we bonded over music and movies. I could write an entire list of bands I pretended to like in order to inch closer into his good graces but these bands are so uninteresting and boring to me I couldn’t write even a few sentences about them, not even if I was being paid to write this, which I’m not [Eds note: sorry, Lauren!] (Hot Water Music, Lifetime- I doubt you’ve heard of any of these bad boys and you’re missing nothing).

Jared had been waiting months for Jim Jarmusch’s movie Cigarettes and Coffee to come out, and since I was also pretending to be a MEGA fan of Jim Jarmusch I also talked about how I couldn’t wait for the film to be released. I would look up the movie on IMDB and scan the “Did You Know?” section and dazzle Jared with “my” factoids about the film: did you know most of the script was improvised? Did you know it was filmed over a span of 17 years?  The truth was I had never seen anything by Jim Jarmusch.  Brian, from the Joy Division paragraphs, loved his movie Stranger Than Paradise, so I used that as my Jarmusch “in” with Jared and I pretended to love Stranger Than Paradise too. Simple, right?

I was always under the impression all of my various crushes were distinct and unique from each other, but as I am typing this out they were all the same guy, it was just a different year.

When Cigarettes and Coffee finally premiered I saw it at the Angelika and was uninterested about ten minutes into it, but I couldn’t even admit that to myself because Jim Jarmusch, from what I’d read, was a brilliant visionary of a filmmaker and I was supposed to like him, I mean, love him. Two years later, long after Jared and I stopped speaking to one another, I dragged my mom to a screening of Broken Flowers, another Jarmusch flick, and I hated that one also. Not because I didn’t get it or anything, I have no issue admitting if I don’t understand something (not that you should believe that, this entire essay is about all the bullshit I spewed in my youth) but I was just bored to pieces by the expository dialogue, the hand-holding for the audience with the overt symbolism, the fact that it felt like the characters had zero chemistry! And when this other guy I crushed on named Adam (guitar player in a shitty noise band) told me he didn’t like Broken Flowers, I mocked him.  

A few years later while thinking for myself, the truth is:

Last week after having dinner with my friend, Kyle, he suggested we go see a movie after we ate. Paterson was playing a few blocks away and I mistakenly thought this was a Richard Linklater movie so we ended up getting tickets for it. As the credits began to roll and Directed by Jim Jarmusch appeared on the screen, my heart sank. It took me suggesting to Kyle three times during the movie that we should leave, and about 45 minutes into the film he agreed, and we left. Thankfully we got our money back too.

In 2009 Jim Jarmusch appeared in an episode of Bored to Death, playing himself, and I thought he was sexy, so good for Jim! His name was pronounced by Jason Schwartzman on the show as Jim “Jar-mush” which is different than how I always said it, “Jar-moosh.” During the episode someone says, “He’s my favorite director of all time, his films are like poems that come to life,” and I liked that dialogue so much it made me think when I watched it Do I really like Jim Jarmusch and I just don’t know it? But the answer is no. Jim Jarmusch’s movies bore me.

I can finally admit it.

The Boys: Where Are They Now?

Ian is married with three kids. We’re friends on Facebook and I have no idea if he still plays drums or is into Metallica.

Brian owns more guitars than I can count on both hands and he now lives in Los Angeles and works at a huge record store there. He has clerked at a record store for over 15 years now and from what I remember, he totally choked on his “Love Will Tear Us Apart” cover that night.

Neil is now married and has a son and he is still a best-selling author living in Los Angeles. We sometimes still email each other and his assistant is kind enough to let me know when the emails come from her or Neil himself.

Jared*: Who knows? Who cares?l

***

 Main image from Instagram account dartness_.

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