There Are the Lights That Never Go Out
by Betsey Morgenstern
CD Opening Intern, Pitchfork
There's nothing like a concert in the East Village, the home of American punk music, CBGBs, the Pyramid Club, and all those other gritty venues that up-and-coming musicians are dying to play (or at least they were in the '80s). That's why I was so excited when my friend Lights (yes, that's not a cat, it's a real person) was coming to town to play in the East Village. I met Lights back in 2007 at the final night of MisShapes at Don Hills. She was this skinny little Canadian who was trying to get in and she was standing out by the curb shivering in a torn up rock 'n' roll T-shirt and dying, just dying, to get in with the cool kids. I took pity on the young thing, who reminded me of a less popular (and by "less popular" I mean less slutty) version of myself at 20. I walked up to her and said "Hey, kid. What's wrong?"
"It's the last party and no one will let me in. I came all the way from Canada in my best, rockingest outfit and they don't understand that I'm an awesome tortured artist just like them. What's that aboot?"
"Oh, little girl, I'll get you in."
"Really? You'd do that for me?"
"Sure thing, sister, but you gotta buy me a bag of blow," I said and sauntered up to Thomas the doorman. We exchanged air kisses and he let me past and just as he was about to close the velvet rope on my new stray dog friend Lights, I said, "Oh no, Thomas. She's with me." And we've been besties ever since.
So, she came to town and everyone was like, "She's playing the East Village. She's playing the East Village," and I was wondering around the neighborhood trying to find the concert when I got a call from Lights.
"Hey, Bets, where are you? I'm at Terminal 5."
"Terminal 5! You mean the place with all the balconies that's in Midtown?"
"Yeah, that one."
"Well, then why is everyone saying it's in the East Village?"
"Probably because it sounds cooler."
So I hopped in a cab and trucked over. As I'm headed backstage, I see Roxy Carmichael Olin leaving her dressing room.
"Hey Lights, what the fuck was Roxy Olin doing in here?"
"Oh god. I needed some cute new clothes and my manager called up Kelly Cutrone to get me some designer duds and now her and that Roxy character are really trying to get me to wear Whitney Eve's Ready to Wear Collection for Kohl's. But they're all these like bright, girly clothes that look like furniture from my grandmother's cottage in Nova Scotia and I do not want to wear them. Instead I took this T-shirt that is all ripped up and black. I'm so punk rock, you know."
"Well, what's that leathery looking jacket over it?"
"Oh, that's from the Whitney's Eve Designer Duds for Christmas Tree Shop collection and they're forcing me to wear it, at least at the beginning, to make up for getting the rest of the clothes."
"Whitney made that?" I ask.
"Yeah. Ugh. Isn't it so—um, girly?"
"It's horrible! Know what would be awesome. If you go out on stage, get behind your keyboard and then take off the jacket and just throw it on the floor."
"Ha! That's what they deserve. I bet that Whitney character will be really pissed."
"And then she'll get in a big fight with Roxy and maybe then she'll make Roxy move out of the house."
"Wait," Lights yelled. "You mean their roommates? That's why she's been pushing her crappy clothes on me?"
"You didn't know?"
"No! It makes sense because Roxy was like, 'But what about this Whitney Eve's Summer Breeze Collection for Marshalls,' and kept pointing me toward it. She was just pimping for her roommate. Oh, that's it. I'm so going to throw this jacket on the ground."
"Awesome. That's going to rule."
"Oh, Bets. I'm so glad you're here. Remember when you got me in to MisShapes and then we went into the bathroom with Gordon and we were doing some bumps off a key and you kept trying to make out with him over and over and then he was like, 'Bitch, I'm geigh! Cut it out!' That was hysterical."
"Yeah, that was really funny. What are we doing after the show?"
"Well, I was watching Martha Stewart the other day and I saw these blue pants on some up-and-coming designers segment and I called up my manager and I said, 'Those blue pants would go great with my new T-shirt I stole from Kelly Cutrone. Get them.' So he got them and it turns out they were picked out by this Olivia Palermo girl. She has really great taste. Well, we're going to go to some cancer benefit with her."
"I know Olivia. Are you sure she picked out the pants for the show because she's really bad at her job."
"No, for real. Some guy named Jay-Z is really happy with her for picking them out."
"Jay-Z? The rapper?"
"No, the Asian fashion guy. From Elle? Is that what it's called? The only fashion magazine we have in Canada is Fur Hats and Muffs."
"That's Joe Zee. God, Lights, you may get famous, but you really are just that little girl standing out front of MisShapes scared and alone."