It's been forever since I found a sliver of time to actually post something here. I even failed at the simple tenets of self promotion (no prefatory blast about the LACE Listening Party this March, for example--see flier to the left). What finally pushed me into posting today is a shout out from my Oh! Industry sistah, CBB, about a piece I read at the listening party that actually followed up on some of my previous remarks here at IEmperor about the Riversidian love affair with British pop bands. A girl I knew in high school (who shall remain nameless), spoke in a British accent our entire freshman year to try and convince us she helped choreograph some dance routines for Wham! Riverside has a long history of collective fascination with all things British (i.e. the annual Riverside "Dickens Fest")--which might explain a few things about my twisted career path. But for me it's always been about the music. I never would've memorized Shelley's poetry when I was 14 if I hadn't heard about him in pop songs...
||Excerpted from my SUBURBS listening party at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions||
BRITISH is the other accent I always have in mind, when I think about the music that maps the empires of my familiar. The Inland Empire to me was never a homogeneous conglomeration of little boxes, but truly the crossroads of empire. [Right: the "Riverside Enterprise," 1931 - from UCR's Asian American Riverside Archive]
Despite the region’s much maligned name, I’ve come retrospectively to understand that it is all too fitting: from the defense industries that once resided there "making America strong," to the re-creations of Spanish missionary culture in its downtown revivalisms, to the more genteel, Citrus-era Victorianism affirming, even now, a Brit stranglehold on “Culture” as well as "Anarchy," long after the sun has set beyond the British empire.
My suburban adolescence constantly toggled between the accented stylings of soft rock balladry—the esmooth sounds of Pinoy culture I return to over and over again in my work, and the slinky, synthy sounds of an Imperial New Wave--that much heralded second British Invasion sold to the So. Cal kids by Richard Blade (actually Richard Shepphard of Torquay, England. He changed his name to “Blade” when he moved to L.A. in 1982 as an homage to the film Blade Runner).
In many ways, Richard Blade--on shows like Video One on channel 9, Video Beat on KTLA, and of course as a DJ on KROQ, "Roq of the 80s"-- curated the “remote intimacies” of my youth. "Remote intimacy" is a phrase I’ve borrowed from queer studies legend, Jennifer Terry. While she's used it to describe, literally, some of the circuits of affect generated by certain war games and surveillance technologies, I personally imagine “remote intimacies” describing the fan communities for whom intimacies cohere across virtual networks of desire (through the radio, music and television, on the internet, and now online through social/friendship networks). Remote intimacies account, both technically and affectively, for the symbiosis that can happen between disparate subjects---between Latin@s and Morrissey, for example, or between suburban queers of color and anglophilic ear-candy in general.
For me “remote intimacies” means imagining our own spaces in correspondence with others. It's something akin to, but not as official as “sister cities” or "town twinning" (like Cannes and Beverly Hills). Unlike most urbanites who assume the sub-urban is always oriented towards its closest city, I like to think that these imaginary correspondences sometimes have to happen across greater distances, both conceptually and topographically with other ethnicities, accents, nations... even other empires that feel more benevolent (though they surely aren’t), simply owing to the fact that they aren’t ours.
I loved Duran Duran because nothing seemed more exotic to me than Birmingham, England. Out here where we’re so far West we were almost touching East again, my adolescent mind didn’t quite process the fact that all the locales in their videos had little to do with the Birmingham of my fantasies. Instead, they recaptured the colonial imaginaries of a British empire re-styled by Vivienne Westwood: “some new Romantic looking for the TV sound” on a re-drawn Planet Earth.
Little did I know that that Birmingham in all of its gritty, working class industrial glory might’ve actually been closer to Riverside, CA than I thought.
There's more to say on this subject, but for now I'll leave you with a song that was never a single, yet remains one of my favorites from Duran Duran's watershed RIO album. Maybe then you’ll understand why I didn’t so much let myself get captured by another empire, but made "my own way" towards something else by walking tall and jaunty like John Taylor’s bassline.
Rollin' deep in the heart of the I.E. through the gnarled concrete arteries of 60+10+91 east to neon sunsets and Naugles, Taco Tia, the Mad/Friendly/Happy or Lucky Greek,The Menagerie, Spanky's, Butch's Grinders, The Denny's Cocktail Lounge at Hardman Center (in pace requiescat). We spell Paris P-E-R-R-I-S, bitches!