Dispatch 11/11/22: THE 197FIONIZED
Hosting the 197FIONIZED party featuring the Ion Pack guys and encounters with Adam Friedland, the Brown siblings, and an unexpected Situationist ally
At the Caveh Zahedi MARATHIONIZED screening the Ion Pack guys Curtis and KJ told me about the party with The 1975, it was going to be hype, I should mark my calendar, and then Curtis reminded me about it at the Perfectly Imperfect party, it was going to be the biggest one yet, that was right after he told me about Vincent Gallo’s strange no-phones-allowed catharsis that he had just witnessed, standing in almost the same spot at Baby’s All Right, mark the calendar for Monday November 7, and then as the date got closer Curtis asked if I wanted to be a “host” of the event and I said sure, they were making the flier, I wouldn’t have to do anything for it, and the next day I saw on Instagram the messages from people who wanted to get on the list, the list, the list, and then the signifier of my own celebrity, my half-pseudonym “M.CRUMPS” in the top corner among the rest, just a few others this time, but always in that signature style for all the Ion Pack events, like the Caveh marathon, and the ones from before my time, HALLOWIONIZED, MIAMIONIZED, and then in my era, PETER VACK’S CINEMATIC UNIVERSIONIZED, each one the event of the century, the stupid wordplay, the centered all-caps: THE 197FIONIZED.
The line outside the Cutting Room stretched almost the whole block by the time I got there a little after 10PM, and the people at the front of it had been there since 8:30. There was some other event going on inside and it was going to have to clear out before our crowd could go in. In front of the venue but outside that line, an earlybird gaggle of familiar and semifamiliar faces that included the photographers Matt Weinberger and The Cobrasnake and actress-playwright Cassidy Grady. I saw Cassidy’s debut play Fire Wars the other week and enjoyed it, this was at Beckett’s in the West Village, now closed, they were trying to do as many events there as they could before the landlord kicked old Beckett out, and that night Matt Gasda told me he and Cassidy had broken up, although they were still cordial to each other, relationships unraveled and met ambiguous endings in that play, a breakup play, there’s no ambiguous ending for Beckett’s, they’ll be gutting that cute little hive of boho reaction, giving away all the books with their pages browned from the cigarette smoke, no ambiguity about that ending at all, although I did see Cassidy and Gasda smooching at the Forever mag party the next week. Cassidy had a VIP wristband and told me to get one too, from the guy with the chiseled jaw and curly hair that was giving them out, I should get one because I’m a “host,” but I was too passive and indifferent, soon another line formed out of this VIP crew, this line would be for the people on “the list,” the nobility, going the opposite direction as the peasant line, soon it was just as long, crowded with all the impatient clout fiends, and now it was far too late to get a VIP wristband. There were now thousands of people here packed onto the sidewalk in line for a venue with a capacity of around six hundred, and bouncers were saying that no one who wasn’t on the list would be getting in, everyone go home, and so the VIP line swelled with bourgeois commoners hoping to pass themselves off as titled aristocrats. That was when powderman Michael “Saltypickles” showed up, and he was going to be my +1 because I wasn’t sure if I had gotten him on the list in time. He asked me why on earth I’d be waiting in this line if I was hosting the event, he said it pretty loud, and instantly these little TikTok-makeup rock n’ roll girls appeared, asking to be my +1, asking if I could get them on the list, they looked too young to buy alcohol, one said she ought to get in because she works in the music industry or something, and I just ignored them, I don’t know what that guy’s talking about I’m just a nobody like you... I was already dreading the prospect of having to sweettalk the 8-foot-tall bouncer about getting Michael in, and hell, I didn’t even know for sure if I was on the list, I just knew I was on the flier. For two hours or so we stood in the line as it got ever more packed and chaotic and the nobles got more visibly restless and irritated. A car pulled up and Ion Pack Curtis and KJ stepped out with Matty Healy of The 1975 and Julia Cummings and Harrison Patrick Smith aka The Dare and some others. The crowd started cheering, but the wait continued. The bouncers weren’t letting anyone in until Matt Weinberger made a big speech telling the amorphous mass of people that had formed a sort of spontaneous third line in the middle of everything to stop blocking the entrance and go to the back of the other lines, which got some cheers from the listed nobles. And then finally they started letting some people in from the front of the noble line, in small spurts. People with VIP wristbands had priority, wherever they were in the line—this is the class of people are the true characters in the Substack, people who are somebodies in Dimes Square, like the eminently-connected Dagsen, photographers Weinberger and Cobrasnake whose grotesque indie sleaze images are essential for the scene’s visual mythology, Cassidy, that guy Ezra Marcus who I stood next to the whole time but didn’t talk to because I suspect he kinda hates my writing even though I’ve never talked to him, these people all disappeared right as they started letting the first people into the venue. That left me with the lesser nobility of the people who were on the list but not of any grand privilege, and some of them were asking me why I was still with them, why I hadn’t gotten in already. I said that I wasn’t really trying to push my way through and make a big fuss or anything, and that I was actually enjoying this spectacle of class distinction, even if it was a bit cramped. This was the real show. Besides, I was still very close to the front anyway, and I’d get in soon enough just by going with the flow. I also saw that the little TikTok makeup rock n’ roll girls had hustled their way to the front and were getting in before me. Some time after midnight Michael and I got to the door and encountered the final arbiter of the infamous list, a young blonde trans girl in a yellow high-visibility security jacket. I said that I was Mike Crumplar but that I might be on the list as “M. Crumps,” and she said she knew who I was and waved us in immediately. She told me to come find her afterwards because she had a lot to tell me about, and I said ok.
The venue inside seemed to be at just the right capacity, with all the most recognizably clouted niche internet microcelebrities. The Dare was doing a DJ set. Beamed onto large projectors overlooking the audience inside was a high-contrast black and white video playing on repeat of Curtis and KJ hanging out with Matty Healy—just hanging out like homies, walking around, smoking, the intimacy of hetero bros. It was only after talking to people inside that I had made sense of the rest of the flier: this was “an MSG afterparty” because The 1975 had just done a show at Madison Square Garden, that’s also why this was so late and in midtown, and why The 1975 was just doing a DJ set rather than a whole band performance, apparently a ton of the people in the peasant line just came straight from Madison Square Garden, total normies, no idea about Dimes Square or who any of these people are. It’s the people on “the list” who are there for the Ion Pack and the courtly intrigues of the scene, they’re invested in it, the music is important but as a background, this might be an intensely controversial take, I don’t mean it as an insult because it holds the experience together, it’s something I think that The Dare has cornered very well and very quickly, the electroclash backdrop for the immanent self-mythologizing autofictional drama of internet characters, “a novel we all write together, in love and in hate, in fondness and pure, absolute contempt” as Dean Kissick put it the other day… Interestingly, Curtis sort of straddles both this discursive world of podcaster-substacker drama and the ideal of music as the purest art, the scene as something grounded in the sublime spirit of music, with his musical project The Life predating the Ion Podcast by a few years, and if I recall correctly he told me he considers music his true, original dream. For me it was almost a little uncanny seeing him on stage singing and playing guitar, occupying the role of the rockstar, like it was an unexpected disruption of his proper social function, as a podcaster, with the profession of indie pop musicmaking itself far too vulgar or something, even though I thought he did quite well—it was actually this uncanniness that I found fascinating, it commanded my attention more than the other music acts… There’s no “Crumpsian” music in the downtown scene, not yet at least, and maybe not ever, but when there is people will know it, it’ll attack the audience directly and people won’t be sure what to think of it at first, they’ll hate it in fact, it’ll be against everything that characterizes the existing music of the scene, whatever that means, it’ll take you to an entirely different feeling, evoke a different time period, whatever that is, maybe whatever a George Grosz painting sounds like, that’s what I’m going for in prose, I don’t know, I’m not a musician or a music critic, I’m not even philosophically sure if it would be a different “scene backdrop” or if it would reject the notion of the backdrop entirely, I don’t know, I wrote a review for TinyMixTapes once and they rejected it…
I met Adam Friedland when I was hanging out with Dagsen sometime around 2AM. There’s not too much to report about that, it wasn’t a really long conversation, he seems like a nice funny guy IRL, but I know that the former Cumtown podcast guys all command an intense collective parasocial libindal attachment online, especially among cis men. My male readers are very interested in the question of whether Adam and Nick and Stav would be their friends, and they’d be crushed if the Cumtown boys were to be totally wack or evil or uninterested in riffing with them. Several weeks ago Dagsen invited me to some party at Adam’s penthouse with all the usual suspects but I couldn’t make it. Adam left and Peter Vack appeared and started talking to me, he was very cordial, talking about how he liked my writing and didn’t mean all the hostility during the Rachel Ormont movie filming in a malicious way, that he hopes we can respect each other as performers and artists, no hurt feelings, even though we both play the “heel” in each other’s work. This is all stuff I’m more than happy to agree on, though he came on with a certain intense lucidity that contrasted with my internal state of sudden absolute psychedelic dumbfoundedness during our conversation, he asked if I was K-holing at the time, which alluded to the Substack post I had just published a few hours earlier, and I said no, but I almost felt like I was, and through this deep dreamy haze I tried to tell him as articulately as possible that I genuinely appreciated his olive branch and that I expected no apology or anything like that. Dagsen asked Peter if what I wrote in my Substack was true, and Peter turned to me for a moment and I shrugged, I can’t answer that, it’s an account of my experience that’s as “factual” as I can remember, perhaps even toning down some of the details that I’m not even sure I actually experienced, I knew that people would read it very closely and skeptically, there was a lot happening all at once. It’s all completely embedded in my hallucinatory perspective, the details I highlight are mobilized to express an absolute eeriness, casting the whole thing as a weird journey through hell. What does it mean to be “true” when we’re all artists making fictions? When our “true” experiences have the structure of fiction? Peter asked Dagsen what part he meant, and Dagsen thought about it for a moment, and then said “all the things the people were saying,” and Peter said that was all true, it was pretty wild. Peter clarified that what he objects to is my ultimate interpretation, the opinion that bookends the piece. Fair enough. Betsey showed up too, and she said something about how we were alike, Peter and I, in our ruthless pursuit of artistic excellence that explores the cruelty inherent in our respective art forms. And then Michael suggested we do some ketamine as his own peace offering, entering that K-hole if we weren’t in it already, and as he lifted his key to Betsey’s nose she said it was the first time she’d done the stuff.
Later on I encountered the young trans girl who was working the door. Her name is Charlie and she told me that she didn’t actually work at the venue, she just had the security jacket on her when she was waiting in the peasant line and finessed her way into a position of authority when she heard that they were turning away anyone that wasn’t on the list. She let in all her friends and turned down people she thought were obnoxious or too influencerlike. She said she was a communist and that she wanted to take down Dimes Square with these spontaneous acts of Situationist terrorism. I said that’s cool and that I hope she succeeds.