Monday, December 31, 2012

Em's Best of 2012 mixtape

It's that special time of year again! Time for zillions of best of lists, oh yes, but the only one that really matters is my own year-end mixtape. In these highly polarized times, I hope we can all agree on that, at least.

Basically, the mix is a compilation of some of my favorite songs from some of my favorite albums/releases of the past year. It's always an interesting look back at my own musical moods from the previous 12 months (I have these mixes going back to 2008 at this point - sonic time capsules!), but I also really just enjoy giving these out to friends and family and maybe hopefully even just introducing them to one or two new artists they might enjoy. When someone likes the whole mix, I'm in heaven.

So what made it this year? Check the track listing below, and please do give these songs/artists a listen and consider purchasing their work:

"At home at the end of the world: Emily's best of 2012"
  1. "Do It With a Rockstar" - Amanda Palmer ft. Grand Theft Orchestra, Theatre Is Evil
  2. "5678!" - Butterfly Boucher, Butterfly Boucher
  3. "Runaway Love" - Diamond Rings, Free Dimensional
  4. "Closer" - Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob
  5. "The Gravedigger's Song" - Mark Lanegan Band, Blues Funeral
  6. "Disparate Youth" - Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe
  7. "Genesis" - Grimes, Visions
  8. "It's Not My Fault, I'm Happy" - Passion Pit, Gossamer
  9. "Moves" - Gold Fields, Treehouse EP
  10. "Fierce" - Azealia Banks, Fantasea
  11. "QueenS" - THEESatisfaction, awE naturalE
  12. "Sunset" - the xx, Coexist
  13. "Make Them Laugh" - Clare and the Reasons, KR-51
  14. "Promiscuity" - Ani DiFranco, Which Side Are You On?
  15. "Unashamed Desire" - Missy Higgins, The Ol' Razzle Dazzle
  16. "Wicked Game" - Gemma Hayes, Wicked Game - Single
  17. "You Are Forgiven" - Anais Mitchell, Young Man In America
I admit that I cheated a little - the new Tegan and Sara record doesn't actually come out until 2013, but the "Closer" single was released last August so I'm counting it. Plus it's an insanely great indie pop song, so there.

This represents a pretty decent cross-section of what I was listening to this year, though certainly not everything. The more hard rap, industrial, and punk sides of my tastes just didn't fit into this mix (maybe some day I'll make two different discs, but right now that smacks of more effort than I have time for).

My hope, as always, is that maybe even just one of these artists is new and interesting enough to you that you'll go out and buy the full record directly from them. It's as important as ever to support creative efforts and creative people by putting our money where our mouths are. I know for a fact, too, that several of these artists offer their work at pay-what-you-choose prices. So get on it! And, above all, enjoy.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The end is the beginning: Winter (2013) is coming

2012. Well damn. This is traditionally the time to reflect on the year that was, and make plans / resolutions / angry faces at the one that's about to barrel drunkenly through your door.

All I'll say about 2012, though, for the sake of brevity (you have better things to do, right? like make those snacks for the party tomorrow night) is that it was a big one for me - full of invaluable learning experiences, frustrating setbacks, and incredible transitions.

I've just started my ridiculously cool new job as the editor of Our Lives magazine, for instance, and my thumbprint will be fully on the March/April issue (god willing and the creek don't rise).

That combines with another major change, in that my longtime collaborator/partner-in-crime Jesse Russell, one of the founders of and an all-around stand-up gent, is heading off to the West Coast for greener pastures come February.

Fire Ball V, then, will likely be the last big event I help produce for some time, as well as Jesse's going away party. There are still some really sweet VIP hotel/ticket package deals available for sale, by the way, and regular ol' tickets, too. It's going to be a ridiculously fun weekend and you should come for one night at least, if not both. Seriously, I mean it. You'll be so sad if you miss it. So sad.

I'm not giving up on entertainment entirely, of course: I'll be throwing a monthly queer dance party starting January 19 at the Inferno, called REAL QUEER (natch). This is a project I've been mulling for several years and I am ridiculously excited to see it finally come to fruition (ehehe, "fruit"). You don't have to be queer to come check it out, but it helps.

And then there's roller derby. The new/old love of my life. I hope to be doing a lot of that in the coming year. Strange to be starting a brand new sport at 31, but goddamn is it fun.

So I hope the year has been, overall, good to you - and if it hasn't, fuck it - 2013 is still entirely unwritten. Shoulders back, chin up, and make it happen.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

TONIGHT: Panel discussion on the state of modern media

TONIGHT at 7 p.m.: Come hang out with me and several distinguished journalists to discuss "The State of the Fourth Estate in American Politics." Relevant, right?

With just two days to go before Election Day, and in the midst of a quickly changing media landscape, I believe that discussions like this are ones we should absolutely be having, and often.

The forum will feature four panelists, including Paul Fanlund, editor of the Capital Times, John Powell, former reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio, Bill Lueders, former News Editor for Isthmus and now at, and Dane101 editor Emily Mills (that would be me).

As part of this moderated discussion, panelists will comment on the changing role of the electronic and print media in covering political developments and election and address these questions:
  • Is the Fourth Estate doing a credible job of political and electoral analysis?
  • Has the whole notion of “balance” in reporting gone too far when opposing positions are routinely treated as being equally credible?
  • Have the major media become too corporatized to be an independent, objective voice?
  • Are contemporary consumers of political news too wedded to sources that simply reinforce their positions & prejudices?
  • What, in your estimation, can we expect of the media in the future?

This event is free and open to the public. Anyone concerned about how the media shapes opinion and sets the terms for political dialogue and policy making will find this discussion illuminating. Watch the FUS website for updated information.

The discussion will be held at First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Dr. in the historic Frank Lloyd Wright Meeting House.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween weekend shenanigans with yours truly!


I'm not even going to pretend to mention the myriad options you have outside of stuff I'm involved in, though, because it would take forever and who are we kidding, this post is all about self -promotion.

But I'm not lying when I say that Dane101's annual FREAKIN' HALLOWEEKEND shows at the High Noon Saloon both Friday and Saturday night are always always always an absolute blast, regardless of my own involvement in them.

Basically, we get a bunch of local bands/super groups to "dress up" as other bands to perform tributes to them for one night. This year we have everyone from David Bowie to Boston, and it's going to be bananas. That's right, I said it: BANANAS. Yours truly will be drumming for a Hole tribute band on Friday night, and then pretending to be a lead singer for a Bikini Kill/Le Tigre tribute band on Saturday. To wit:

FRIDAY: Show at 8 p.m. - $8 and 21+
8:15-9:00pm Sons of Atom as Minute Men
9:15-10:00pm The Heroins as Hole
10:15-11:00pm The God Damns as The Stooges
11:00-11:30pm Costume Contest Giveaway ($200 cash prize for winner)
11:30-12:15 Bexorcist (The Usual Things) as Beck
12:30-1:15 The Violators as Depeche Mode

(Facebook event | Tickets

SATURDAY: Show at 8 p.m. - $8 and 21+
8:15-9:00pm The Acony Bells as Gillian Welch
9:15-10:00pm Mauston as Boston
10-15-11:00pm Le Swimsuit Manslaughter as Le Tigre/Bikini Kill
11:00-11:30pm Costume Contest Giveaway
($200 cash prize for winner) 
11:30-12:15pm Hung Americans as David Bowie
12:30-1:15am Gimmie the Car as Violent Femmes

(Facebook event | Tickets)

AND THEN I'm going to be spinning an opening DJ set for the DIAMOND RINGS show at the Frequency on Sunday night (which I am insanely excited about), and if you're at all into danceable electro, you should probably come. Dance like there's ass in your pants. That show starts at 8 p.m. (10/28) and is just $10. Also performing is Gold Fields. You can stream the brand new Diamond Rings album here, and I highly recommend it. (Facebook event)
So get on it!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On paying artists for their work, and the Amanda Palmer kerfuffle

I am a musician, a photographer, a writer, an actor. I have been paid to do all of these things, and I have also done all of these things for free. First and foremost, I do them because I have a passion for each and every skill and creative expression.

But a lady gots to get paid, too. I have bills. I need to eat.

And, you know what? I also don't think there's any shame in an artist saying that compensation for their work is also a way to feel legitimized and appreciated.

Yes, we do this because we love to do it. But it takes countless hours of toil to be any good at it, and the public at large benefits greatly from what we do. And being that we live in a society that forces us to pay our utility bills with actual cash and not through the barter system (or hugs, alas), we need to bring in money for what we do.

This is a discussion (and sometimes argument) I've been having with my fellow artists and art consumers for years. Here in Madison, Wisconsin we are constantly grappling with the too-pervasive perception that artists should always be happy for gigs regardless of if they're paid or not, like someone is doing us a favor simply by asking us to do our thing in a public forum. Sometimes it's even the artists themselves making that argument.

Which is bull shit, I'd say.

Sometimes we are happy to lend our services on a volunteer basis. Lots of people volunteer their various talents for a wide variety of reasons - not all of them artists. We should encourage more people to volunteer for good causes.

But we also should be doing a heckuva lot more as a society to grow our appreciation for the incredible amount of work that goes into the various arts, and the great value the arts have in our communities. Having a thriving art scene builds the mental/spiritual life of a people, and it bolsters economies.

So yes, I'm happy to lend my time and talents to causes I believe in, especially if they're not-for-profit situations.

I almost always draw the line at doing free work on behalf of for-profit enterprises, though.

Which brings us to the recent and on-going dust-up over Amanda (Fucking) Palmer's solicitation of volunteer horn and string players for her upcoming tour. AFP is an artist I admire a great deal, formerly a street performer, one half of the Dresden Dolls, married to Neil Fucking Gaiman, a pioneer of DIY music and all-around creative juggernaut.

If you're not up on the current hubbub surrounding her, go read this open letter to her about the issue here, and then read AFP's response here. There are plenty of other posts and tweets about it, too, and I'm glad to see such a robust discussion unfolding about an issue I hold near and dear.

Palmer's argument is generally that she has made sure that many, if not most of the musicians on tour with her are appropriately compensated - but that she wanted to try an experiment that involved including different people, some perfect strangers, with varying levels of musicianship to join them on each stop of the tour, to bring more people into the artistic fold, try something new, have fun, etc.

I like that, it's a cool idea.

Palmer also argues that we should allow space for each artist to find their own paths, try new things, try weird things - she talks about finding ways to support artists that have come on tour with her in the past when they couldn't pay them money, like guaranteeing free lodging and good food and sleeping spots on the tour bus. All of that is actually above and beyond what too many tour managers and promoters ever even attempt to do for opening/supporting acts.

I have little doubt that Amanda Palmer is trying to do right by her fellow artists, and I'm more than a little in awe of the new ground she's been breaking in terms of her incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the new album and tour, and all the work she's done in general to promote the idea of independent musicians making a living and doing incredible things along the way.

I also don't disagree with the people who were hurt to discover that several professional musicians were not paid to join her backing band, and in some cases, apparently weren't even mentioned by name from stage. Because that sucks. These folks had to audition, learn a ton of material, show up on time to a high pressure gig, and then perform in a high pressure setting. That's a lot of time spent not working on something that might help you pay your rent.

But it was their choice, right? They knew the gig would be unpaid.

If they weren't even acknowledged by name from stage, though, if that's what happened - that was one little thing AFP could have done to help make up for the lack of monetary compensation. Doing something for free in order to gain exposure only works if you're, y'know, exposed. I figured that would be something AFP, especially, could get behind.

The other big problem is two-fold: timing and wording. As my friend and fellow musician Eric Oehler from the band Null Device points out in his own blog on the subject: was the way she asked.  She requested, to use her word, “professional-ish” players (specifically, a string quartet and six brass players).  A different choice of phrasing may have been enough to prevent this.  Whether she used it to just mean “really good” or mean “professional, but with enough weasel room that I can walk that back later when you ask for payment” isn’t clear, but the fact remains that she used that word.  That word – specifically the non “ish” part -  pissed off a world of professional musicians.  A lot of full-time players are not of the type that tour their own bands around the country, playing the music they love.  While there are a handful, your average Berlioz-slingin’ violinist or french horn-er is generally making a chunk of their income as a ringer.  It’s a journeyman’s job – playing in pit orchestras and as backup for touring acts they may or may not have any particular interest in.  But that’s a living.  It’s why there are musicians unions dictating pay scales, because otherwise it becomes a nasty race for the bottom where nobody can make enough to put food on the table.
Consequently, asking “professional-ish” players to play for free is telling all those working players “here’s a gig you won’t get if you want to get paid, that under normal circumstances would be next week’s groceries.”  Of course, it’s possible, and probably even likley, that if she couldn’t get the players, Palmer just wouldn’t do the songs, or would do them without the backing ensemble.   It just wasn’t stated outright, so a lot of the professional music world saw it as, at best, a dangerous precedent – touring bands demanding professional-ish volunteers instead of hiring local ringers would decimate an entire class of working musicians.
Eric goes on to highlight the incredibly poor timing of the request, coming, as it did, hot on the heels of her loudly touting the million-dollar success of the Kickstarter campaign. "It’s like showing up for a date in a brand-new Ferrari and saying 'hey, could you cover dinner? I’m a little low on cash,'" he writes. "It’s egregious to show up, hat-in-hand, after you’ve just spent more money than most people with your job will ever see in a lifetime, even if it’s factually true."

I'm not privy to her actual budget. I think a lot of people are looking at the $1.2 million she raised in the Kickstarter and assuming holy cow, that's a shitton of money, clearly she can afford to pay everyone and buy them all caviar and champagne. 

But she laid out exactly where the lion's share of that money is going, and it's not into her own pocket. Putting out a top-notch album, touring the country/world, and running an independent record label is not cheap. So there may be legitimate financial reasons why the AFP crew needs to cut a few corners in terms of who gets paid and how much. People are free to turn them down when asked to volunteer their efforts.

Then again, maybe it wouldn't be make-or-break for AFP to offer, say, $100 to each "volunteer" musician who agrees to help out at one of the shows on the tour. It's probably a lot less than what their time and effort is worth, but at least it acknowledges their talent in a tangible way. That and shouting them out from the stage, of course.

I know this is doable, because I produce a lot of shows. I hire artists and performers, stage managers, photographers, videographers, DJs, etc. to put on serious nights of entertainment for my fellow Madisonians. I love doing it, even if the work loads are enormous.

Rarely do I ask any of these people to do this stuff for free. I have no Kickstarter, no label, no company to back me up financially. All I have is the ability to hustle my ass off--and the incredible luck to rely on many other people to hustle their asses off--to give great show. We use the money we make at the door to pay our performers their guarantees, and so far have never had to dig into our own pockets to make that work. So far.

We do this, even though, more often than not, it means we only break even. That is, for all our efforts in organizing and producing the shows, I'm lucky to personally make a hundred bucks for the whole shebang.

Why keep doing it, then? Because I love it, because I love being able to provide a venue for super talented performers where they are treated with respect and paid appropriately for their time (though I wish we could pay them even more, still), because I love seeing the faces of the people in the audience, clearly having a blast, because I love doing my small part to build alternative, inclusive spaces and communities. Why wouldn't I keep doing it?

I'm still keen to find ways to be better compensated, though, and I have no shame about that.

Neither should you.

You're worth it. More.
AFP seems willing to talk about the issue, and genuinely interested in finding new and better ways of doing things. I hope, at the very least, she learns to always always ALWAYS acknowledge your supporting (especially if they're volunteer) band members from stage, and maybe to never again refer to any musicians as "professional-ish."

But you do it for the exposure!

Here's another tricky thing, though: Playing for free in order to gain exposure and further your career rarely actually works. In my experience, and the experiences of many of my fellow artists with whom I've discussed this, playing for free tends to breed...more invitations to play for free. It rarely leads to paid gigs, or real career growth.

You have to earn it and demand it. Kindly, firmly.

Years ago I realized that a band I was in was getting booked largely for unpaid, charity gigs. Like I wrote earlier, I dig playing on behalf of good causes, and I still do it now. But I made a conscious decision to cut back on how many of those gigs I accepted - because there has to be balance. If my calendar is full of unpaid work, then I don't have time to do things that will help me pay my bills.

I put my foot down. I started saying no, even when I liked the folks involved. I also started asking for more money to better compensate the efforts of my band, especially when we were asked to travel for a show. Not just enough money to cover transportation and lodging, but enough to pay us for our time - like you would for any consultant or businessperson.

Because, as much as I love what I do, this shit is work. I've spent almost my whole life becoming a better percussionist, photographer, singer, actor, writer. I've gone to school (and into debt I'll likely never pay off if this societal attitude persists) for it. I've hustled, I'm reliable, I take risks. I've invested. A lot. I expect to be appropriately compensated for that.

And you know what? People starting paying us what we asked for. And we got more and more paid gigs, and many of them had the added bonus of providing great exposure for us as well. I mean, we had to work for it, and we had to be good to work with, and gracious, and people had to actually like what we were doing - but if you don't stand up for yourself, even well-meaning people will happily take advantage of you.

I also understand--and this is where AFP's argument comes in--that this shift in how our communities treat artists has to come from both the public at large and we the artists. We all need to respect the decisions of others, the various paths we all create for ourselves, and the work we do. Sometimes that means doing work for free, as it does in any career.

It means getting to the point, too, where no one ever tells us we should "just be grateful to be asked to play."

That auto worker should be glad just to be asked to work on that super sweet car.


We are already grateful to be part of the amazing arts community, to be given our various talents and dedications and ideas. We also expect to be paid for providing a valuable service.

I don't know what the exact answer is to the AFP situation.

I know I'm glad it's being more and more discussed--because more people thinking about ways to address it means we're more likely to find better solutions for the long-run, and build stronger communities as a result.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How do you solve a problem like a gay bar?

It's Friday night at the local gay club and the dance floor is bumping. A touring DJ throws down beats and revs up the crowd of happy people, who grind groove in the flash of laser lights.

I move onto the dance floor myself, ready to unwind after a long week and get my dance on among my fellow queers, unencumbered by the threat of wayward dudes looking to accost unattended ladies with their arrhythmic gyrations. I want to cut loose to the thumpa thumpa thumpa of Robyn and Gaga, enjoy the sight of ladies with ladies, men with men, and the smattering of straight allies who are happy to blend in and play along.

Something isn't quite right, though. Within a song or two I notice that the dance floor is positively teeming with straight couples in full-on make-out mode, and clutches of bros awkwardly trying to avoid the notice of the few gay boys on the floor while simultaneously cruising for women. A couple of them even try it with me - though I pride myself on being one of the most unapproachable people on the dance floor, simply by dint of my dance style being heavily reliant on contained flailing.

It is, I realize, the first time I've noticed that the number of identifiably straight people clearly outnumbers the identifiably queer people - at a gay club.

It's not the first time I've run into problems at this particular venue - or any of the ostensibly LGBT-specific establishments in this admittedly small city. A certain amount of population overlap is inevitable when there are all of 250,000 people total in your liberal Midwestern berg. That's all right, that's OK, that's even encouraged - but what is up with this total takeover?

Straight bars don't have to advertise themselves as straight bars because the default in our hetero-centric culture is still "straight." You have to call it out when you're labeling yourself as a gay establishment, just as you still have to come out as gay because not-gay is still, for better or worse, the unspoken starting point.

In a perfect world it wouldn't matter what your sexual orientation was, of course, or where you chose to go dance/drink/hang outside of the home - and you could safely hit on someone, fly your freak flag, dress and act how you wanted, regardless of the gender make-up, without fear of verbal or physical harassment.

We do not yet live in that world, however, and so LGBT-friendly and/or specific businesses are still a crucial part of our community. They are supposed to provide a safe space to be yourself, regardless of how flaming or button-up you might be. To connect with other members of your community. To let loose.

And yet...and yet...

Straight bachelorette parties think it's the bees knees to hit up the gay bar and ogle or even grope the male go-go dancers, to take over dance floors with their little penis hats and glittery sashes, essentially proclaiming loud and proud that WE HAVE STRAIGHT PRIVILEGE AND YOU DON'T.

Straight men (or heck, sexually insecure men trying to convince themselves of something that may not be true) think it's the best idea ever to cruise gay bars for women, circling dance floors in hopes of finding that rare unicorn of a woman who goes to a gay club to pick up dudes (then again, the very trend I'm whining about here may be what's emboldening them).

My Friday night ended in me leaving the dance floor in a bit of a huff, pissily wondering why the hell straight people felt the need to co-opt all of our safe spaces. There are plenty of options in this city for people looking to don their finest preppy apparel and bump and grind with members of the opposite sex. There are precious few spots where queers can go to do the same, with the same level of comfort.

I can barely begin to imagine how all of this feels for the transgender community, who run into discrimination even among their fellow queers - let alone straight cisgendered people.

I've been having this conversation with friends on der Facebook ever since, and the various reactions have been incredibly interesting. First of all, I am definitely not the lone queer in the wilderness bemoaning the perceived straight takeover of LGBT establishments in Madison. And this venue in particular is not the only one suffering from the problem.

Secondly, the question of whether or not straight people should go to gay establishments - in general, but more specifically to celebrate marriage-related events - is supremely fraught.

I'm all for straight folks coming to gay clubs. Hell, I'm a queer woman in a straight relationship, and benefiting from straight privilege as a result. This is an issue to which I give a considerable amount of thought. It's why I generally prefer to go out to these places without my S.O., and why we keep the PDA to the barest minimum when we do go together.

And I would never, ever go to a gay establishment as part of a straight bachelor/ette or anniversary party, just as I generally don't go to the bear bar downtown at all, unless specifically invited.

Basic respect.

I'm waiting for the day when none of this matters, but until then, it does. It just does. And even our allies need to check themselves when they decide to celebrate straight weddings or go cruising for straight tail at gay clubs. At the barest minimum, it's your turn to keep things on the down-low.

The Abbey, a famous West Coast watering hole for the gays, recently went so far as to place an outright ban on bachelorette parties. It's sad that this is what things have come to, but I don't blame them in the least for making the decision. As the folks over at Unicorn Booty commented:
Ladies, we LOVE you. My foster mother, sister, and mother-in-law are three of the most brilliant, most beautiful women on the planet. The Unicorn Booty team is neither women-phobic or afraid of lady parts. There are far more important women in our lives than men.

But with that said, there is a right way and a wrong way to behave in a gay bar. And celebrating your marital rights while we possess none of our own is lowdown, dirty, mean-spirited and ignorant. Don’t do it. Ever.
I would suggest this extends to the bros who feel it necessary to troll gay bars for ladies. It's one thing for a straight or bi guy to go to the club and casually meet, chat up, and then dance with a woman - it's another thing entirely for you to go for the sole purpose of aggressively seeking action. Especially when the women are making clear indications that you should GTFO.

And yet that's exactly what happened out on the dance floor Friday night: to my straight, femme-looking friend, but also to my super queer soft-butch self.

It must be a tricky thing for the owners of these places to address. It's a business, and turning customers away for whatever reason is generally not preferred. But I would think that, in any establishment, there should be basic standards of respect and decorum enforced. The longer you let this shit go unchecked, the more prevalent it's going to become.

But I don't run a club, so I don't get to tell folks how to run theirs. What I can do--and intend to do--is organize our own queer-centric dance parties with those rules of respect and decorum being politely and strictly enforced by the community.

I can also encourage everyone to do a little something those of us in the non-white-Christian-straight male community like to call "check your privilege" - not just in regards to LGBT people, but when you're trying to relate to any community to which you don't entirely belong. Think about how your attitude and actions impacts them, and ask questions, get an idea for what their experience is like.

That's the start of positive change. Even for something as seemingly small as gay bar etiquette.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Recommending a friend and pantsless man

Pretty sure you don't ever have to actually see the pantslessness, if you're worried about that: Anyway, friend and former bandmate Adam Schabow has been running a blog/vlog called "Shabhead" wherein he pontificates on matters political and cultural, and is generally humorous and thoughtful about it.

So you should check it out:

Or watch the most recent edition here, where Adam talks with WTDY reporter Dylan Brogan about his recent ejection from a Romney/Ryan campaign event in Madison, Ryan's idealogical connection to Todd Akin, criticizes state Dems for "abandoning labor," and more :

Also there's a really cute dog, so.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Homo sex is great!

Madison is a bubble of hyper-liberalism, this is true, so it's always surprising when, for instance, protesters show up at our cute little gay pride parade. There were about a half dozen of them out for the festivities on Sunday, holding their bizarre signs railing against homosexuality and encouraging everyone to fear God (what a strange take on spirituality).

Remembering a delightful photo I'd seen circulating the internet over the years, I immediately asked a nearby woman who was happily counter-protesting if she could quickly whip up a sign that simply said "GREAT" on it, and then would she be so kind as to hold it up directly under/over the "HOMO SEX IS SIN" sign?

Much to her credit, the woman smiled and hurried off to make it happen. This is the resulting picture.

It's always deeply tempting to negatively engage with people espousing such hurtful bigotry - but, in my experience, nothing is ever really accomplished by that save making the other person feel more righteously justified in their cause. Crazy queer is attacking me! I'm right, they're all dangerous anger bears! Which isn't really what we should be aiming for, right?

Better to go for the good-hearted laugh, I say, and then focus on more long-term, educational, compassionate campaigns to change public opinion overall. Expose these folks to real live gay people - people from all walks of life, regular folk just trying to be themselves - and kill 'em with kindness (and humor), as they say.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On Air: Talking frac sand mining and Wisconsin politics on the People's Mic

I made my first in-studio appearance on the People's Mic last night - it's a progressive talk radio program that runs daily out of Madison from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on 92.1FM (and online here).

There's a good chance this will become a semi-regular gig for me, going on the show to talk local and state politics and other related issues, which I'm completely excited about. Simply put: I love radio. I loved playing music on the student station while I was in college, and I love my guest appearances on the ridiculously fun Fundamental Pete's Ass Jammery, and goodness knows I enjoy running my mouth off about current events.

In the installment of the People's Mic from last night we talked about the recent Wisconsin primary elections, how female politicians are treated differently than their male counterparts, and then lots about the controversial frac sand mining that's cropping up in many parts of the state. I was happy to note that people started calling in during that discussion, which I take to mean that folks actually give a crap about the issue. Which is good. You can read an article about sand mining that I contributed to recently here.

Anyway, take a listen, let me know what you think, and be sure to tune in to the People's Mic every weekday evening - you can call in and sound off about whatever is on your mind, too!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Millbot's "Fast & Loose" Mix

Another day, another DJ set - this one is a bit more on the hardcore side, but includes some (sped up) deep house and one random dubstep track, as well. Y'know, for fun. The mix is set at 140 bpm so makes a pretty good workout soundtrack as well. Feel free to listen and/or download!

Track list:
1. "Lose It (Mark Pistel vocal remix)" - Austra
2. "Fuck Me" - Omega Drive
3. "Barbra" - Blue Alpha DJs
4. "Mpire" - Moguai
5. "Tahiti" - Ben Rourke
6. "Top of the World" - Schoolboy
7. "Log In" - Omega Drive
8. "Blade" - Blue Alpha DJs
9. "Mississippi Steam" - Jun Akimoto, Mabaan Soul
10. "Breakneck Bastard (Hardcore mix)" - Gammer, Cally Gage
11. "Party Boy" - Instigator
12. "Crowd Control" - Excision & Downlink
13. "Bad" - Instigator
14. "Melody" - Aaren San
15. "Synth Mode" - Stylus, Audiojunkie
16. "In My Mind ft. Georgi Kay (Axwell mix)" - Ivan Gough, Feenixpawl

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Millbot's "Women Be Clubbin' Mix" - free download

Well I finally got my act together and put together the gear I need to start DJing in a more serious fashion. My first proper club gig happened this January, for the fourth annual Fire Ball masquerade party at the High Noon Saloon here in Madison (pics or it didn't happen).

It was a blast, and a real trip to at last at last hear my mixing over a big ol' sound system.

Anyhoo, I've just put together a mix based on what I played at Fire Ball (very electro-house heavy), for the purposes of listening and sharing - and also for soliciting future gigs. Check it out:

If you're in the Madison/Milwaukee area and looking for a very decent, versatile, and non-top-40-playing lady DJ, drop me a line: lostalbatross at

Otherwise, just enjoy!
The Lost Albatross