the true life tale of an ex-rory gilmore

AR is a queer person living in Rhode Island who is trying to figure it all out. A self-professed pop culture junkie, they once cried over Ryan Atwood at the local Applebee's. It was not their shining moment.

What I’ve been up to:

I have a really terrible habit of not being on this corner of the internet enough. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing things! Here’s what I’ve forgotten to update you guys on

  • Earlier this month (okay, technically the last week of December), I had the extremely awesome opportunity to interview one of my favorite musicians of all time, Frank Iero. We chatted via email about DIY and his new projects for Velociriot. You can read it here – it’s a bit long, but it’s so worth it.
  • I got around to reading The Umbrella Academy, finally. I liked the second volume, Dallas, much more than Apocalypse Suite. Which doesn’t mean the first wasn’t incredible – the writing was just stronger in Dallas. You can read my reviews of them on Goodreads here and here.
  • I’ve also made a few purchases for when Sam moves in in March, which is kind of weird to include on this list – but they feel Important, so. We got some nice plates from Target on clearance and even snagged an awesome set of T-fal pots and pans. (I feel like a grown-up, it’s weird.)
  • And I started school! School kind of messed up for me, in the fall – I was slated to go to Rutgers, but due to some really messy financial stuff, I couldn’t go. I was crushed, to be honest, and was set on going to a four year school next year. But after a lot of thinking, a lot of listening to music, and a lot of being bummed the fuck out, I decided to try my hand at CCRI. It’s fun so far and I like my classes, so here’s to hoping.

I think that’s about it…. Been listening to a lot of Fall Out Boy and Paramore lately in preparation for the MONUMENTOUR – which I’m excited to be seeing with some of my best friends. (But, to be honest, I’m not gonna even be remotely prepared for that.) Also, the new Against Me! record is the most important record of the decade.

So long for now.

Concert Recap: Transit at The Met (Trophy Wives, Misser, Long Lost)

Transit playing at The Met in Pawtucket, RI last night, December 30th.

Transit playing at The Met in Pawtucket, RI last night, December 30th.

For Christmas, I got my kid brother tickets to his first show. Back in November, I saw that one of my favorite bands, Transit, was playing at The Met. Sam, my go-to concert buddy, wasn’t available to go, so I figured I’d take my brother and make a good time of it.

I’d never been to The Met, so it was a first time experience for me as well. And let me say – The Met is tiny. I’ve been to a lot of venues in New England and The Met is hands down the smallest and most intimate. I snagged tickets to see The Front Bottoms there in February and I can’t wait. I was pretty thankful that the show wasn’t packed, though. I’ve been working a lot because of the holiday and just got a pretty substantial tattoo, so I’ve been sore. (Not to mention I was not in the mood to have to keep my brother from doing something stupid in the pit.)

But so since it was the kid’s first show, I got a fair amount of questions throughout the night. (My favorite was “What’s a mosh pit?”, oh you sweet summer child.) One of them, however, was “What’s an opener?”

I have a love/hate relationship with opening bands. Some nights, I just don’t care. Either I’m too hyped up for the headliner or am ambivlent or sometimes, rarely, I’m more excited for the opener than I am for the headliner. I’ve seen openers of varying musical ability, stage presence, or combination thereof. But sometimes, you get an opener that just works.

Last night I started off in a bit of a bad mood – I was sore and (as much as I love him) I was a little bored of answering my brother’s questions. The Met has tables on a platform on the far wall, so I was stationed there with my brother when the first opener of the night, Trophy Wives took the stage. We remained seated during the first few songs – the pit was already pretty lively and I didn’t feel like getting tangled up in that, but I really liked their music. I have a thing for really enthusiastic pop punk bands and that’s what Trophy Wives is. Their music is solid, punch-life-in-the-face-while-wearing-a-crewneck pop punk – I described them to my friend “like Pencey Prep and The Wonder Years had a baby”, high praise coming from me.

Then, at risk of sounding overdramatic, the set changed. After filming the crowd for a live music video, the band dove into a rousing cover of Sum 41’s “Fat Lip”. Like an self-respecting devotee of early 2000s pop punk, I dragged my brother onto the floor and started screaming along. It’s definitely a weird experience being in a crowd where the people next to you only kind of  know the lyrics to “Fat Lip”, but Trophy Wives killed it. (I also have to give a lot of credit to the boys of Trophy Wives for maintaining their energy for the entire set. It’s hard to do, especially when the crowd isn’t the most energetic. My hat’s off to you boys.)

Long Lost is a side project of Transit’s Joe Boynton, which started as an acoustic gig that has now fleshed out into a full-band with a mature sound. Their set was fun and shared the same elements of what I love about Transit – it’s loyal to its New England routes. My favorite of the set had to be “You Can Always Come Home”. As someone who spends a lot of time waxing poetic about the New England winters I hate, I feel like it’s quickly going to become a favorite song of mine. Joe Boynton’s stage presence is wonderful, full of energy and honesty in his performance.

The night’s third opener, Misser is a project between members of Transit and This Time Next Year. If there’s one thing that I took away from this show – it’s that these are people who love to play music. You could feel that with Misser’s set. I love when you can tell that the musicians are just happy to be playing – The Menzinger’s set at the Sinclair last January had a similar energy and it maintains to be one of the best show I have ever seen. This show is definitely one for the memory books as well.

One downside to a show with so many openers is that you can feel like you’ve been there for approximately a million years. I was definitely starting to feel it by the time Transit took the stage, but as soon as they started playing I was able to forget about that. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – when a band is just so happy to be playing, their set improves. Transit definitely proved that theory last night. Despite family emergencies, the band played a killer set and even came back to play two more songs.

The highlights of the set for me where definitely hearing Joe Boynton talk about his mom before playing an emotionally charged “Weathered Souls”. Coming from a working class New England family myself, I’d already loved the song, but hearing Boynton talk about his mom working multiple jobs to keep their family afloat, the song has a whole new layer of meaning for me. My second favorite moment of the set was the live version of “Young New England”, which is my favorite track on their new record of the same name. It was also the song that introduced me to the band.

All in all? A great show that not only introduced me to a new venue I’m excited to frequent, but also introduced me to a local band I’m excited to introduce all my friends to. (Did this post end up just being about Trophy Wives? Sorry.)

AR’s Mixtape: Christmas edition

I’m not really one for Christmas – I like the concepts behind the holiday season, the idea of everyone getting together to celebrate each other and be together. In theory, I love the concept of decorating the house for any upcoming holiday. I love the idea of baking and making warm, homey meals. All of that sounds wonderful to me, it really does.

Here’s the catch – Christmas is never like it is on TV. As dramatic as all Christmas specials are, they never end with everyone reunited and smiling under strings of lights or around a menorah (or both, if you’re the Cohens). This especially does not happen in my family. Which is fine – I’m okay with that; I love my family for who they are and for our haphazard holidays. But when I start to see Christmas nostalgia all over the place – on the television, on my Tumblr dash – I get a bit… well, grumpy.

So in true signature Moody Teen™ fashion, I made a “Christmas Survival Mix”:

xmas

xmas tracklist

You can listen to this mix on 8tracks.

“I hate the ending myself…”

I’ve let this blog sit for a while – that’s my bad. I’ve had some mental health struggles in the last few months and as I always do when my mental illness raises its ugly head, I turn to music.

One of the bands I’ve always gravitated towards things get bad is My Chemical Romance. MCR is a band that has been through a lot with me and the announcement of their break-up in March hit me hard and I wasn’t ready to deal with the loss of the band that had saved my life many times over.

But now, after hitting rock bottom (again), I think I’m ready to talk about My Chemical Romance: Read the rest of this entry »

And so it goes

Hey! I kind of dropped off the radar for a solid month on this blog, but I promise I’ve been busy! Graduation went well and now I’m in the summer post-school funk of trying to find a job. Which is proving to be difficult–it probably does not help that I’ve moved to New Hampshire, which is decidedly less urban than back home in Rhode Island (and therefore, has less employment opportunities). I can’t say the stress has been good for me, but I’ve been having a good time hanging out with some friends.

dmb moving

(From left to right) Hiya, NH!; tailgating at the Dave Matthews Band show at the Mansfield Comcast Center; DMB

(From left to right. Antiquing; Movie theatre bathroom selfies.)

(From left to right) Antiquing; Movie theatre bathroom selfies.

Tomorrow Sam and I are celebrating the 4th with a visit to one of our friends in Nashua and hanging out with her parents. Friday, we’re getting up at the crack of dawn so I can go home and visit my mom before jetting off to Rutgers for freshman orientation. I’m wicked nervous about it, to be honest. Not only am I nervous about meeting people/sleeping in strange spaces/afraid of getting triggered in front of people I don’t know, but I’ve never traveled in NYC by myself, which I will have to do to get home.

Wish me luck!

find time to mend

i graduate tomorrow.

i graduate high school tomorrow and then again on thursday and monday i’m moving out to live in another state. in the fall i’m gonna be moving again. i’m making adult decisions like going off the family cellphone plan and contributing to the household bills in the place i’ll be living starting next week. one of my cousins, who i’ve always called an uncle because he’s twenty years older than me, from my dad’s side of the family texted me out of the blue yesterday and we haven’t spoken in three years.

three years doesn’t sound like a long time, but it is.

i grew up in a very close knit-family. we’re typical italians, we had the whole family at our grandparents’ every sunday after church, my grandfather lead the bible study group at his local church and made his own wine, grew his own grapes and had fig trees. my grandmother was a master seamstress and often spoke at the italian mass on sundays, was our expert on family genealogy and would make trips all over the east coast and abroad to retrieve originals of immigration documents. my dad and aunt are first generation american citizens and my great-grandmother spent her childhood split between providence and italy. my grandfather’s father and brothers built the now defunct subway and rail systems in providence.

we all fell out when my dad re-married and after a brief period of resumed communication after i moved out of my dad’s and my great-grandmother’s death, fell out again. i don’t quite know how to respond to the text message and with college bills mounting already, i’ve been thinking about them a lot.

both my grandparents had been foreign language teachers–my grandfather taught italian and spanish, my grandmother italian and french. they travelled extensively and have been to more countries in europe than i can count. they took me and my brother to italy when we were ten and eight respectively and those memories are some of the most vivid i have of my childhood. everything they ever did was to the benefit of my brother and i. they set up college funds, bank accounts, taught us about the church and about history and art. they shared their culture with us–i still can recite my grandfather’s favorite nursery rhyme from pulgia, remember all the stories of strega nona, i still remember the excitement of coming to my grandparents’ after school on all saints’ day to see what la befana left us for christmas.

i’m trying to reconcile those memories with the hurt i feel at losing them, trying to expunge the feeling of guilt that taints my memories of my grandparents like a sepia tone. i know in my heart that it’s not my fault–but the blame isn’t easy to place, either.

i’m graduating high school tomorrow and my family has grown exponentially smaller than it was when i graduated kindergarten. my mothers’ parents and i have a difficult relationship, fraught with the pains of being a queer kid closeted not so much by choice, but by necessity to keep my mother’s family from fracturing and shooting off like my dad’s did. i’m growing up and learning that hard decisions aren’t going to go away, in fact they’re coming more and more.

but i’m excited for this summer. i’m going to be living in a new environment and spending time with people i love. i’m going to use the time to find my center and put energy in making things and working on velociriot and breathing. i’m going to cook more and give back more. i’m going to work and learn to stand on my own two feet. i need to get things back in perspective and learn how to go on my own. i’ve spent a lot of time these last few years doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes from people close to me and i’m going to take some much needed space between me and my family and try to work on my relationship with myself.

i think i just needed to write all of this because i feel a lot better. the last few days have been a mess and a rush of emotions coming out all over the place and i’m not any clearer on the source of all my bad vibes but i writing this has been cathartic. i’m just going to try and spend the next few days working through all of these emotions and start my summer on the right foot.

Review: “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had Clockwork Angel on my shelf since the first installment of Cassie Clare’s prequels was released in 2010. However, I could never bring myself to read it–I’ve started it countless times and never managed to finish. But as Sam has gotten into Clare’s work and is now ahead of me in the series, I finally felt the need to read it. And it was worth it.

I’ve been reading Cassandra Clare’s published fiction since I was either 12 or 13 and as my taste in books has evolved, I’ve always still had a soft spot for her particular brand of urban fantasy/YA lit. There’s definitely been some growth in her writing since City of Bones and it shows in Clockwork Angel. The book is a rather quick read and I’m particularly drawn to Will, Jem, and Henry–while the novel’s main protagonist, Tessa is interesting she’s eerily similar to City of Bones‘s Clary. (As Will is to Jace as well, but I’m still fascinated by his relationship with Jem and his lying.)

I’m plunging headfirst into the next novel, as I always find myself doing with Clare’s work.

View all my reviews

Working with teenagers is rewarding!

This past year I’ve been really lucky. Thanks to the education the Met School offers me, I was able to secure an internship at the Women’s Resource Center in Newport this year–there I have been able to develop my skills as an activist and educator. My mom has always called me “the person with the soapbox”: I’ve always had a cause and an opinion, ever since I was little. My opinions on causes and activism and oppression are ever-changing and always evolving, but something that wasn’t changing was how I talked about them. I’ve always been the type to yell and attack, instead of starting small and building dialogue/awareness to foster true understanding. Being at the Women’s Resource Center though, changed that.

My senior year has been all about self-awareness. It’s been about how to get people caring about what I care about and how to do it nicely. (Remember that old adage about getting more flies with honey? It works guys.) Me, the self-identified punk trans* activist, was working on being nice to people. And let me tell you, it’s hard.

One of the first things I was given was a selection from the HIPP workbook. HIPP, also known as the Help Increase the Peace Program, is a program created by the American Friends Service Committee that’s described as “a youth-led, interactive transformation program that empowers participants to reduce violence, strengthen cross-cultural understanding.” At the WRC, I had access to the HIPP facilitator’s guide throughout the year. And it changed my life. I learnt that asking questions and learning through workshops was just as important (and possibly more effective) then yelling at privileged folk. I still yell at privileged folk, but I’ve learnt there’s a difference between protest/protest art/rebellion then when you are trying to get people interested in your social justice causes. 

I have been able to work with a spectacular group of kids this year through my internship and my school. All of them are passionate about social justice for different reasons, but they’ve all come together to learn about social issues and be able to bring what they’ve learnt back to their community. We started from the group up with them–they had ideas about homophobia, about sexism and poverty and more, but we have been able to provide a space where they can explore their ideas and learn in a way the works for them. Instead of giving them a reading and saying “understand this”, we’ve been able to have fulfilling discussions on every topic we chose to cover–and that’s really awesome.

My senior year is now drawing to a close and a couple weeks ago, I had my last “big” event. I designed and co-lead a series of workshops for high school students that broke down gender roles. I was blessed to have the support of Child & Family and the Women’s Resource Center’s prevention staff. I also had my kids–the one’s I’ve been working with since October. They gave a great workshop and we’ve spent so much time this year trying to give these kids facilitation skills and those skills came out. It is so, so incredibly rewarding to see something so big come together and to see your impact on people, teenagers even. Here are some photos from the event:

IMG_0202 IMG_0219 IMG_0237 IMG_0234 IMG_0226

 

I spoke to the Met Recruitment Team about my internship a few months ago, detailing my duties at the Women’s Resource Center. You can view the video here.

Album Review: Save Rock and Roll

Save Rock and Roll album art

Save Rock and Roll album art features one of my favorite photographs of all time.

For those of you out of the loop–I’m obsessed with Fall Out Boy. Their return to music was a very happy day for me. Fall Out Boy is one of those bands that I can always connect with, wither I’m happy, sad or somewhere in between Fall Out Boy has always been there for me. I’ve listened to the band on and off since I was thirteen–I’m seventeen now and the band has grown on me tenfold. In the last year, according to my last.fm I’ve listened to them over 800 times. (Which is pretty crazy.) Fall Out Boy is one of those amazing, genre-blending bands. In the successful era of alt-rock/pop punk of 2006/7, no band was like Fall Out Boy–with their singles like “Dance Dance” or “Thnks fr th Mmrs”, FOB brought together the Warped Tour crowd and pop fans like no other.

The band’s first single since their hiatus in 2009, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” is a power anthem complete with screaming guitar licks. With the announcement of a new single, came a new album: Save Rock and Roll. Fall Out Boy was back, as talented and pragmatic as ever.

The second single from Save Rock and Roll is “The Phoenix”, which is the most like Fall Out Boy’s previous hits, but still completely new and unique. Yet another anthem, “The Phoenix” is a song about vengeance. The video acts as a prequel to the video for “My Songs”. In it, the band rallies to save their imprisoned vocalist, Patrick Stump, only to find themselves captured as well. As the album’s release date drew closer, Fall Out Boy upped the ante. The released another track from the album on their Soundcloud page–this one a slower track, complete with acoustic guitars called “Young Volcanoes”. “Young Volcanoes” is FOB’s answer to songs like “We Are Young” and “Young, Wild & Free”; it’s an ode to youth without the hazy, nostalgic tones that have become so popular thanks to artists like Lana Del Rey.

And then last week, Fall Out Boy put the whole album up on their Soundcloud. The album dropped yesterday and I decided to keep my review until after Save Rock and Roll had been “officially out”. The album features cameos from famous names across musical genres–the album’s title track even features Sir Elton John. There’s not a weak track on Save Rock and Roll. Every song is powerful, music to get things done to, music to kick ass to. That’s what Fall Out Boy is good at and on Save Rock and Roll they show their master skillset.

I don’t have a favorite song on the album (I love them all too much to pick), but I’ll talk about two of the tracks here. First is “Rat A Tat” which features none other than Courtney Love, who opens the song in true from, singing about angry girls. I love it, despite not being too sure if I’m into Courtney dropping an, “It’s Courtney, bitch” into the song. (It’s almost a little too much like will.i.am and Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout”. Despite that, I still love the song and it’s quickly worked its’ way onto my “Get Shit Done” playlist.

The second song is the album’s title track. When I first heard “Save Rock and Roll” I sent Sam a text, something to the effect of “AHH AKAKDD S ITSS LIKE WAHTC A CTHC”, which is to say “Save Rock and Roll” listens  like a sequel to the band’s last single before their hiatus, “What a Catch, Donnie.” The tune is similar and even features lyrics echoing the band’s past hits. Sir Elton John lends his legendary pipes to “Save Rock and Roll”, adding a new layer to the song–Fall Out Boy has turned over a new leaf and this song is harbinger of it.

Save Rock and Roll blew its expectations out of the park. If there was a scale of “good ppp punk”, Fall Out Boy reinvented it. I can’t wait to see these boys play at the House of Blues Boston next month.

Concert Recap: Local Natives at Fête

Local Natives at the Fete Ballroom

Local Natives at the Fete Ballroom

Yesterday I went with a few of my friends to see a favorite band of ours play at Fête, a new -to-us venue located in historic Providence. The band? Local Natives, supported by the Superhumanoids. It was a great place to be with our friends, all people I hadn’t seen in ages. The lounge area is intimate and I’d love to see a show there sometime. The ballroom area was much larger and a great space–we spent the show on the balcony, something I was definitely glad for because as the venue filled it got hot. I probably would have been miserable in the pit. (Also, I’m short–I can see on the balcony.)

The Superhumanoids’ set definitely didn’t strike well with me or the crowd. While musically, I feel like I’d enjoy the band on recorded tracks–they have a very distinct David Lynch/Twin Peaks vibe–they lacked general stage presence. Each of the band members seemed very involved in what they were playing rather than balancing out focus on the music and focus on the crowd. While the band’s sole lady, Sarah has an incredible voice and the group seemed talented, I felt they were hiding behind their instruments. (In fairness to the band, it was pretty easy to tell the venue was having issues with their soundboard–the treble was off.)

The Superhumanoids’ sound check issues delayed Local Natives’ set and you could definitely feel the crowd grow restless. My friends and I were also starting to get uncomfortable. (We’d made the mistake of not bringing enough cash to get drinks–huge thank you shoutout to the Fête bartender who gave us a cup of ice to munch on.) After a long wait, Local Natives finally took the stage.

The first few tracks of the set were great, the band seamlessly performed tracks off their new album, Hummingbird–“Breakers” is by far my favorite song on the album to listen to and see live–but the crowd wasn’t as cohesive as a lot of the other shows I have been to. The band wanted to play a lot of new stuff, which the crowd wasn’t connecting with (I wasn’t either). Hummingbird dropped in January and the mood of the album is very different then Local Natives’ debut LP, Gorilla Manor. While their debut is full of California summer and upbeat breakdowns, Hummingbird is romantic and darker than Local Natives’ debut. The band has definitely grown since 2010’s Gorilla Manor; after parting ways with their bassist (which the band described to Pitchfork as “heartbreaking“), the group’s lead vocalist Kelcey Ayer’s mother passed away last summer. In short? Hummingbird is gorgeous–just not old enough to make an impact live.

One thing I love in a band is when they listen to their crowd when performing–and Local Natives did just that. After expressing an interest in playing the new stuff, they changed tactic when the crowd wasn’t responding. The band slid seamlessly into older music and played their strongest hits from 2010’s Gorilla Manor–“Shape Shifter”, “Wide Eyes” and “Sun Hands” stand out to me as their strongest songs live–and the crowd exploded. They are a band I’ve love to see in a festival setting–there was lots of dancing at the Fête show but I think an outdoor space would provide for even more, which is something about shows: the dancing; the crowd connecting to music in a truly spiritual way.

And man, did Local Natives deliver.