Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Breaking Up in Public

Sometimes, the day after an event, I wake up and am
sorta surprised
that the world is still the same. It's a happy (and disorienting)
side effect of participating in some of the amazing goings-on in this
amazing city. Sunday night I went to a show & party thrown by two friends to officially end their relationship. Can you believe that I still had to work the next day!?

As you may know m.i. (aka michael) blue and katy bell have been an item (couple, pair, duo, horizontal jogging partners) for about 5 years. They produce the outlandish dadaFEST every year and have been very active in the arts in the Bay Area individually and in collaboration. On Sunday, September 24, 2002, they officially dumped each other.

SPLITTSVILLE was the way that blue & katy wanted to go out. I mean wanted their going out to go out. I mean that they decided to break up and it followed directly that they would do it as an... "event". These things that we do when we are happy. And when we are sad. These social gatherings of artists and strange ones. Loud and brightly garbed, fiery, tatooed, shouting, drinking, friends and family that you can barely call an audience, because half the time they end up on stage, too. Anyway, Splittsville. And what happened weren't quite like no other event never. Heart touch & wrench side-by-side.

The crowd, as alluded, consisted largely of friends,
but also of others responding to the publicity--fireflies drawn by the glow of
the big relationshipal bug zapper, noting the similarity of the
magnanimous bzzzapp and explosion of the breakup of blue &
bell to the controlled burn & glow of their own asses, perhaps from
some long ago or some recent romantic shipwreck. And a woman who is
making, I think, a documentary on breakups. She filmed the whole
thing, as well as doing interviews with each of them. She heard
about it on the
or somewhere and called them up and asked to film.
They of course said yes. It was a pretty packed night at Spanganga.

There we were. Gathered not exactly sure for what.
For love of blue
and katy. For some weird kind of roast of their relationship? For
the shadow and echo of our own lost loves, trysts gone awry, and
amorous mistakes of the past? Were we supposed to laugh? Or

Some (like me) have only known them since they've
been dating. So, of
course, on some level we want a miracle to happen. We all shout at
the tv screen, wanting to change the ending of a story that has
already been written. We do this in our own lives, why not when
we're looking at others. But they are breaking up. And that's okay.
Because it has to be. Because it is. Because they go on living, and
each of our animal brains ultimately wants to live and is equipped to
do so as long as our anatomy functions to serve as pipeline. It
doesn't matter if your mating and nesting instincts or your superego
or your libido gets twisted to shit and wants to go back THAT way,
respiration drives, keeps the wheels on the road. target="ubu">One man drives while the other man screams.

But hey, wait a second! I've never known them when
they weren't dating. I might not LIKE them as individuals!! I
demand a recount!

blue & katy started off by reading emails from the
very beginning of
their relationship and then over the course of the last five years.
Mostly happy, pet-namey, odd & creative, passionate & playful, very
sexually explicit (which is what they are all about), a few problems
show through here and there. Rumbles of thunder, minor chords in the
background. Foreshadowing. Then they read emails from the last
week. You've been through it, I'm sure. "These are the same
people?" you ask yourself, and one of them has the same name as you
and seems so amiable and care free.

The one and only Hal Robins
conducted a breaking-up ceremony, an un-wedding, like only Hal could
have scripted it. ("You may now kiss anyone but each other."). They
answered audience questions; blue kept asking for hard ones, and
someone finally asked them what the most painful thing the other had
said was. That was a tough one, for all of us. But really
incredible to play by the rules they'd laid out for themselves. Do
it in public. See it through. No one would have complained if they
had refused to answer that one, but they did answer it anyway.

After intermission, other people performed upon the
theme. I got drafted at that point to take over as MC. Which, like
everything else that night was a weird bittersweet honor. That's
what it felt like to be there and witness it. It was really fucking
brave it was. I mean to let me MC and all.

Carol Queen
writer, activist, educator, offered up a tale of herself as a
burgeoning young lesbian working in a smalltown diner, with an
ungrateful lover chowing down on vienna sausages back at home. The
Hand Shakes (Pete and Buffy) got into one of their usual embarassing
arguments on stage, god bless 'em. Mark Growden sang a very
appropriate inappropriate song in the fine dramatic fashion for which
he is known. Then a musical number by Aaron & Cherry, and for the
finale "Faith" put a real, formerly live, heart on my head to put an
end to the night. Also I did this little thing where I channeled
(and plagiarized) Henry Rollins, but you wouldn't want to hear about

Anyway. So it turned to mayhem, these things
happen. Just ask Rod Serling. But in the first part, what katy &
michael did was incredible. I hope you get a sense of that.
It's going to ruin their careers, mind you. They'll be the poster
children for breaking up forever now. Just wait til the movie comes
out! The but seriously in the next paragraph....

The fear of pretension, I believe, often keeps us
from dicussing real (by which I only mean "serious") social or
political issues in an art scene which is so fundamentally centered
on social interactions. That is that a lot of our art is conducted or
celebrated at parties. In fact, I believe that Burning Man era San
Francisco will be remembered as the birthplace of the party as art
form (aka "event"). [There. I finally said it in (web) print. I
owe you a long treatise on this issue. Just try and collect.]

And fearing pretension is admirable. But we also
yearn for depth, which is, in a poorly constructed metaphor, the
precipice on which we dangle over the abyss of pretension. See?
JUST LIKE THAT! God that was awful.

The result is that we can often only get toward
depth in an exaggerated or absurd form. And this event had just a
couple absurd elements. Okay, quite a few. But there was no makeup,
and no fake blood. Okay, there was, but not on stage. Two real
people feeling real pain, and other emotions and confusions. And
real relief I'm sure is in there somewhere, too. I guess that really
we're at the heart of the absurd here, right? My pain. My pain?!
How funny! And everyone in the audience could relate to it. We've
all been through it, or something like it better or worse. And we
love you. And we love ourselves. And we all ultimately make it
through the shit, no matter what. Unless we do something really
stupid. We land on our feet and proceed. Oh, occasionally we write
long drawn out webposts about it but... we are frail creatures.

Anyway, I had a GOOD TIME at Splittsville. I want
to thank the individual michael blue and also thank the individual
katy bell each separately very much for doing it, together and alone.
I can't believe you're still reading this. target="new">Go somewhere else now,

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