ARCADE LIAR!

**Reader Beware: this post is Not Safe for Hipsters, or NSFH, as it might shatter the fantasies they’ve constructed about Win Butler of Arcade Fire and what kind of person they think he is.**

Sometimes I can’t believe it, but Win Butler, lead crooner and hack Telecaster strumming bafoon of Arcade Fire, is an ASSHOLE. It’s time to pull the curtain on the Indie blogs as well as the band’s cliquey Twitter fan page, ArcadeFiretube, and reveal the truth.

Two years ago in August of 2014, I flew to Chicago, the hometown of my all-time favorite band since 1994, the Smashing Pumpkins, to see Arcade Fire, a newer band I sort of liked at the time (what a handlebar twist of hipster irony!) play on their Reflektor Tour. Arcade Fire were to play two shows back-to-back at the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and the legendary Michael Jordan, who was a personal hero of mine growing up. Due to my love of the Pumpkins, I’d always felt nostalgic for Chicago and wanted to see the land that inspired that eclectic quartet and their dreamy ballads which painted my youth and still touch my soul very deeply. The Travelocity bundle was cheap, plus I heard Win Butler was hosting dance parties after the shows in each city and spending a lot of time mingling with fans, which I thought was cool, but more on that later.

I had been on Arcade Fire’s bandwagon for a while prior to the shows, not so much because I was blown away by their music, but because I was lonely in a new town and there was a part of me that wanted to fit in with all their cool, beautiful fans we call hipsters. You know, the kids who were popular in high school, who made fun of mopey goth types like me, who now sport the styles the 90s kids popularized in order to live out a rebellion that eluded them in their youth. In Arcade Fire, I was also searching for a musical haven. The music of my and prior generations was just so mind-blowingly good, I wanted to hear new music that made me feel something, too. Based on some of their earlier works, I felt that Arcade Fire had the potential to be that band in the future, which is why I began following them.

That all being said, Arcade Fire know how to put on a good show even if the tickets were overpriced. Also, the band required all their concert attendees to wear formal attire to the shows at the risk of being turned away at the door – kind of a douchey move, if you ask me, especially when they were charging $100 a pop for back of the house seats. By the way, at what other rock show in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll were fans required to dress up to be allowed to attend a concert? That seems like the antithesis of rock to me, but I digress.

On the night after the second show, Win Butler hosted an after party at the Beauty Bar in downtown Chicago. His alias at the parties he hosts is DJ Windows 98, and his definition of DJing means hooking up his iPhone into some speakers and playing shitty 80s dance tunes all night vis-a-vis Wang Chung while slugging down bottles of whiskey and glaring at people from behind the DJ platform. Hella weird, right? You can tell that this dude hasn’t been laid in years!

Most of the people at the afterparty were fans of the band who wanted to chat with Win and get his autograph once the afterparty commenced. The city of Chicago has a noise ordinance, so at 2am on the dot, the club shut off sound without warning in the middle of his DJ set. That’s when things got out of hand. The seemingly humble lead singer of this squeaky clean Indie band flipped the bitch switch. He started screaming at the staff of the club, “What the fuck!? Why did they do that to me??? Who even works here!? Who works here!?” When a fan interrupted his tantrum to ask him a question, he shouted, “Stop talking please!” Another fan asked him to sign the album Funeral on vinyl, to which Win yelled, “NO!” and waved the fan out of his sight. As the club started clearing out, various other fans, including myself, tried to shake Win’s hand but were met with nothing more than a cold stare from the man himself until the club’s security guard escorted him out the back door to his black stretch limo.

From that moment, I went from being somewhat of a fan to absolutely despising Win Butler and Arcade Fire. As someone who was lured in by the nicely-nice familial image of seven-plus band members and their three chord coombaya songs, I felt betrayed. That’s a whole lot of ego for someone whose albums have never sold more than 700,000 copies. I was also embarrassed that I’d ever taken interest in something I was so luke warm about in the hopes of fitting in. As one reviewer of the album Reflektor stated, Arcade Fire are fraud.

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Flaxen Haired Darling

“I’m the blonde! get to be the princess!” the words echo in my mind 25 years later. The year was 1989. The location, Hillsborough, California. I lived across the tracks in the less ostentatious suburb of Burlingame. Preschool was cancelled that day due to the rain and we’d just finished watching the biggest blockbuster since E.T., The Princess Bride. When the movie commenced, we decided to play the characters. “Well, I’m the prettier one! I should be the princess!” I stomped my foot indignantly. The girl’s mother frowned and picked up the phone. I’d insulted her flaxen haired darling. Play time was over.

I don’t remember her name now, but the point is moot. Blondes learn from a young age that they are special. Now that I’m an adult, the argument is less over who’s the princess and more over who gets the guy. Instead of, “I’m the blonde! should be the princess!,” they know they already are. It’s more like, “I’m the blonde! should get the d*ck!,” and they do.

Fast forward to 2011. After just 3 months of lessons, I’m dating the hottest guy in the studio. It’s against the rules, but we are barely discreet about it. A sideways glance across the Ballroom, a giggle at an inappropriate time, a hickey in a visible spot make it glaringly obvious. All the Orange County Stepford Wives at the place change their demeanor toward me. Instead of hello, now I’m paying $900 a month to be snarled at by spoiled brats on the sidelines and disgruntled divorcees. 

The whirlwind ends and another gets him. She gets him the same way I did. She’s older; crow’s feet show the wear of her ravaged mind. She’s like them. A golden haired mold of homogeny and silicone. She broke the rules but they don’t care. They flock to the golden one. Instead of hello, they get to know her name, inquire about the kids, invite her out for drinks. She broke the rules but it’s OK because she’s sameness and I’m different. He, too, adores the golden one, and not just because of her gold. He speaks to her in soft tones. He strokes her arm like the mane of a timid puppy. He stays with her for years, buys her petty things. He becomes a live in lover, masseuse, and nanny. He does all this because the light of this golden trophy enshrouds him in the glow. Society approves of this match!

Like the raven black of my hair, I fade like a shadow on the wall, a shadow in his mind, and then I’m not at all.

Developing Self Worth

Everyone will face a bully at some point in their life. I believe it’s how we are raised that determines our reaction to bullying behavior, however. Depending on whether we were nurtured or neglected as a child, perceived bullying can be taken by the “victim” in two ways. The child who is raised in a supportive household might interpret it as lighthearted joking around. Or, at the very least, while the nurtured child might not like the experience, he or she will not take it personally because that child knows they are inherently good and loved.

When a child grows up in an unstable environment, they are vulnerable to abuse and will be much more defensive to a bully’s advances. Because this child is laden with self doubt, they will believe the bully’s words about them to be true. A child who hears negative things at home will believe what their peers say because hostility is their reality. 

As important as it is for parents to speak positively to their children, it is equally important for parents to protect their children from bullies. If a child tells you about an experience with a classmate, investigate it. Speak with that child’s parent or talk to a school administrator about nipping it in the bud. If the problem isn’t resolved, consider transferring your child to another school or homeschooling them. Your reaction to the bully will give your child a sense of their worth, good or bad. If you take the issue seriously, the child will know that they don’t have to put up with harassment and will not allow people to treat them badly as an adult. If you ignore the issue, the child will accept the bully’s behavior as the norm and will experience a life of mistreatment from others.

How many scenarios have we seen of broken adults who are continually berated by co-workers in each job setting no matter where they transfer? These are the same people who attract romantic partners who verbally abuse and abandon them. These people are prone to a life of victimhood because they’re constantly reliving the unresolved realities of their childhood. What they learned to tolerate as children was abuse, so they experience a tortured reality as adults because that’s what they’ve learned to accept from others.

Nobody’s childhood can be perfect, but life can become a lot more productive and navigable with a supportive guardian from childhood.

 

Speak Up About It!

I’ve always wondered why people turn a blind eye to injustice. I’ve rejected the theory that it’s because most people are too self involved to care. I think everyone is capable of empathy and I like to give others the benefit of the doubt. But all too often, as I’ve seen throughout my own life and from the perspective of a bystander, people will witness a cruelty and simply say or do nothing to the perpetrator. This is a problem because it reinforces the bully’s behavior. Are people operating out of fear when they ignore such things? Like, they’re worried they could become the next target if they were to speak up? Or is it the overtly hopeful yet unrealistic “ignore it and it will stop” syndrome?

Sadly, bullying is overlooked from the time kids begin shoving dirt in each other’s face in the sandbox and because of this, it eventually works its way up to boardrooms and corporate settings. And while bullies on the school yard may break hearts, adult bullies can ruin lives, which is why this epidemic must be nipped in the bud ASAP through better discipline of our children and legislation in schools and workplaces.

Workplace bullying, or mobbing, as it is often referred to, can bring emotional and financial ruin on someone. It can cause financial hardship and in extreme cases, bankruptcy, causing a person to lose their home and other valuable assets. Bullying also contributes to severe emotional distress and can leave a lasting impression when someone who has been mobbed out of a former position is looking for new employment, resulting in performance anxiety and PTSD.

The sad thing is, the person who is bullied at work is often fired for speaking up or is forced to resign because management does nothing to stop the bully, when in fact the opposite should take place. Are we really so masochistic of a society that we allow this to continually happen? Are we so desensitized from the onslaught of violent movies and TV programs that we garner some kind of sadistic joy at seeing someone tortured in their place of work where they’re trying to do the best they can and make an honest living?

I say it’s time to start speaking up and documenting instances of workplace bullying, even if we are merely a witness to it. Let’s make it a goal in 2014 to put an end to this unneeded emotional torture and help each other rise to be our best selves.

Music is a transcendent experience. We gravitate toward

Music is a transcendent experience. We gravitate toward a band or artist because we like their sound, but more than that, we identify with them in some way. I have never agreed with worshipping the 3 minute, 3 chord pop songs of a poster boy for a musical movement just because it’s the sexy, trendy thing to do. Organic artistry often gets passed over for the one who sells the most records, but that kind of listening experience is so empty to me. It’s the Britney vs. Christina scenario. It’s the Kurt vs. Billy argument. I’m willing to take the brunt. I’ll choose the music that transports me to vast emotional landscapes over the hollow echoes of sold out arenas any day.

Never be ashamed for reacting to something in

Never be ashamed for reacting to something in an emotional way. Art, music, dance, people, and circumstance can evoke passionate responses in us, both positive and negative. Whichever way you’re feeling is correct. Feeling emotional doesn’t make you moody or unstable, it makes you human. Give thanks for your emotional capacity. It means you’re not numbed out or desensitized to the beauty, pain, and pleasures of the world.