11.25.06 Crank it up, junior
Two huge events in the rejuvenile music world, or at least in the small but burgeoning ‘burgh of kids music that aims to be as exciting and inventive as music made for adults…
Firstly, a gang of smart and dedicated kiddie music connoisseurs has tabulated the first annual Fids and Kamily Music Poll, a critical survey of kid music that aims to do for the genre what the Pazz and Jop poll does for more mainstream adult music. Topping the list this year is Justin Roberts’ rightfully acclaimed “Meltdown” with appearances by Dan Zanes, the Sippy Cups and Captain Bogg & Salty. The lovely and amazing Amy Davis (keeper of the indispensable The Lovely Mrs Davis Tells You What to Think) asked me to write a little essay-cum-rant to accompany the poll; I got all contrarian and took the opportunity to sound a note of cynicism. Hope I didn’t stink up the party.
As the sort of pop geek who pores over annual critic polls to find out what the cool kids are listening to as I replay the same few Wilco and Sufjan records over and over, Fids and Kamily represents a milestone, methinks, the announcement of a bonafide genre, one worth taking seriously and one ready for the attention of a much wider audience…
Which makes it all the timelier that the New York Times has swooped in this Sunday with a smart and funny feature about the ascendance of quality kids music and the tension between hipster parents using music to extend their own adolescence and those make and listen to music that excites adults as much as the sippy cup set. Freelancer Tammy LaGorce did a very nice job capturing the scene at this perilous point, quoting a number of bigwigs in the kid music world, including a Woodstock, NY record producer who cited this very blog, repeating my suggestion that the surest way to turn your kid Republican is to dress him up in a Sex Pistols T-shirt.
All in all, a good day to be a fan of music about sharing and bugs. Don’t bogart the earplugs; this is gonna get loud.
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11.08.06 Snackage (formerly Party favors)
We hear that rumbly in your tumbly; may we recommend a tasty sample plate of briefs and shorts and such? Dig in:
• First of two big events on the rejuvenile calendar this weekend: the World Adult Kickball Association holds its Leader’s Cup in San Diego, CA. This will be the first big kickball competition ever held on the West Coast; looking forward to seeing how our teams fare against Kick Asphalt, the badass D.C. crew that has been basically unbeatable in East Coast tournament play. I’ll be on hand Friday night to sign books, soak up the kickball glory and cheer on the locals…
• Meanwhile in Toronto, the World Rock Paper Scissors Society hosts its annual championship tournament on Saturday. I’m told by WRPS honcho Graham Walker that a record number of players signed up this year. They’ll employ RPS stratagems like the Crecendo and the Scissor Sandwich in their quest to bag the $7,000 first prize. Remember: tense players throw rock.
Balls, not bombs. That’s the slogan appearing on a fetching new line of apparel featuring a cartoon of George W. holding a red playground ball.
The Rejuvenile book group on the Weeds message boards is sharing some great stories about play in the workplace, favorite kidgames and other examples of rejuvenile behavior. (One member shared this amazing site for superhero supplies.) It’s not to late to join the discussion…
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11.01.06 Plushies, Furries and Adult Babies
Unphased by grown women in Hello Hitty hoodies? Bored by news of $50,000 rock paper scissor championships? Are you, in short, utterly unshocked by the rejuvenile phenom?
Then step aboard this Wonka steamship and keep your hands and feet inside as we travel into a dark and forbidding tunnel, toward a rejuvenile outpost populated by adults who assume the identities of giant stuffed animals, men who have torrid affairs with stuffed animals and grownups who derive exquisite sexual pleasure lolling around in jumbo sized diapers.
The following passage was written to be included in the final pages of the last chapter of Rejuvenile. I cut it at the last minute, partly because it didn’t adequately capture the complexity of these people and communities, but mostly because this stuff is so reflexively icky that I didn’t want to send half my readers running for the showers just before I attempted a sober-minded summing up and celebration of the rejuvenile phenomenon.
Herewith then, a deleted scene:
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time casually glossing over mention of a subculture of people who enjoy having sex dressed as cartoon animals. I know I’m opening a can of worms – because once I’ve mentioned Furries, I’m pretty much obligated to move on to the topic of Plushies, people whose intense-bordering-on-impure attachment to stuffed animals sometimes results in the creation of “strategically-placed-holes” or “strategically-placed-appendages” (known in Plushies circles by the helpful acronyms SPH’s and SPA’s). And once I’ve covered Plushies, it’s only natural to discuss Adult Babies, those grownups who derive sexual pleasure from on being swaddled in jumbo-sized diapers.
Here we’ve reached the furthest reaches of the rejuvenile universe, a place so far removed from a traditional understanding of adulthood that it is hard to know how any of it relates to the larger rejuvenile phenomenon. First of all, it’s probably unfair to lump these proclivities together, or even to define them as essentially kid-centric or sexual. Many Furries, for instance, believe that they are in fact animals trapped in the bodies of humans. Dressing up becomes a way to reconnect with their anthropomorphic selves. “A Furry typically thinks of himself (and let’s face it, he’s typically male) as though his ‘real’ self is an ocelot-centaur, or a silver-furred wolf, or what have you,” says a software designer from Oregon who keeps tabs on the Furry community. “Some Furries talk about totem animals, or animal spirit guides, or being gazelles in previous lives. Some just sit around and wish with all their might that they had paws and a tail.”
The Fur-friendly fan who provided this quick primer answered a message I’d posted on an Internet newsgroup looking for adult fans of Hello Kitty. He calls himself Honi, and he certainly qualified. In an e-mail, here’s how he describes his room:
Honi is quick to point out that sex is only a peripheral part of his obsession. There was a time when he, as he puts it, “indulged in Plushie sex,” back when he was spending 18-plus hours a day on the Internet role-playing the part of Dot Warner, a character from a television cartoon called “The Animaniacs.” But these days his love of Hello Kitty is more aspirational than kinky: “It’s not that I’m driven by lust for Hello Kitty herself – it’s that I love the pink dreamy haze that being surrounded by Hello Kitty puts me in. I’d rather be her than have sex with her.”
The same sort of distinction is made by many Adult Babies, more formally known as infantilists but also known as Diaper Lovers. These are adults (again, mostly men – go figure) who enjoy wearing Pampers and Huggies, sucking pacifiers, getting spanked, eating baby food or otherwise being treated like infants. A 20-year-old support group known as Diaper Pail Friends claims some 15,000 members. On the DPF Website you can find advice on such topics as how to lock diaper pins and find adult-sized cribs alongside a manual for would-be mommies (“You may have to discipline his naughty bottom,” the manual advises, “but your firmness must be tempered by warmth and care”). There’s also an online store that stocks hypnosis tapes that will “reduce you to any age of your choice,” and books and videos with titles like “Baby Pants Prisoner” and “Come Home to Mommy” (advertised with this come-hither tagline: “Mommy greets you at the door. She lays you down on the softest, thickest diaper you have ever seen.”)
Adult babies stress that they are not aroused by children – rather, they get off on being treated as children. “I want to be the baby,” says a 28-year-old attorney we’ll call Jim. “I get a thrill out of the sensations of being treated as a child – that’s entirely different than loving a child.”
None of Jim’s friends or family know about his secret stash of baby gear, and he prides himself on living a by-all-appearances normal adult life – he enjoys skiing, reading the Economist and talking politics. But inside, he says, “I have the sexuality of a two year old.” The only person he’s been able to share these feelings with was a woman from college, who on the day they met was dressed in a Disney T-shirt and drank milk from a sippy cup. “We were in diapers together within four weeks,” he says happily.
Jim thinks premature potty training may have had something to do with his sexuality—that, and an unusually close relationship with his mother. (“I was always super coddled and sheltered and protected,” he says. “I cried my eyes out when I left for college.”) But whatever the root cause, he has come to accept his babyish sexuality as a “basic part of me.” And while he’s intensely private about his sexuality, he feels no particular shame about it. “It’s completely harmless,” he says. “It’s just cute. It’s nothing. I’m much less harmful than the average guy. I just get more pleasure out of pooping than most people do.”
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