BY LINDSAY HERKO
Editor's Note: this was previously published in our old Luna Luna site.
It’s been thirty nights since a blood red moon rose late over Atlantic City, at an hour where all AC’s hotel TVs shift from running monotonous screenings of The Help to Mean Girls, to accommodate youth perspiring to be the future grandparents of America via post-Applebee’s and casinos getaway sex; their early sleeps in tandem retirement from a world that cares that the tide is irrevocably tied to desire and pop music. The moon rose at midnight, waiting turn for Lana Del Rey to exit the city to become a legend of teen boy twitter posts, for being the angel that would instead be staying at their NYC hotel in anticipation for the Governor’s Ball. The moon rose to the school bell gongs of loneliness of Lana’s "Video Games," perhaps in tribute to all she’s accomplished, becoming someone more perfectly paired to date an essence of a city than a person. The blood red color replaced the red dress that congealed over Lana’s body on stage at the Borgata; a Mamas and Papas-like sheath gown, matching the aesthetics of shrubby bangs to conceal a tired face, the dress binding a chasm of biology her parents once fucked to create--a breath cabin, a sternum, a tableau of areola color and lactation ducts--that not one of us could know if they’d ever work.
But perhaps the overweight, uber-fan in the khaki dress suit, who yelled out he wanted to have Lana’s babies, may have shilled the five dollars to ask one of the boardwalk psychics, who were burning their late lights with no company because of the cool weather. Blame it on Mumford and Sons, who I heard from a second cousin, were changing the New Jersey weather patterns by not leaving Island Beach State park for the weekend.
Two nights ago and six hours away, in the paradise that is Irondequoit Bay in western New York, a blood red moon rose again by ten to follow the Fourth of July fireworks; the sky’s equivalent of simulating a cathartic mass suicide if you close your eyes and only listen to the gun powder rebel. Fitting the moon would only wait to not outshine Lana Del Rey; concert vessel to embody our American longing sagas and for her holiday; isn’t the entire treatment for the "Ride" video a disembodied constitution for American life based on the democracy of desire?
Thirty nights since the concert and I still haven’t been able to bring myself to wash the ocean out of my yellow dress and when I find evidence of my Stub Hub struggle against the futility to be in the Borgata’s almost-Atlantian-feeling inner sanctum (tickets sold out in three minutes and were available at the cost of one month’s health insurance payment; inspiring a week of my life pre-concert called LAMENTATIONS DEL REY, where "Burning Desire" was played at the ATM for sympathetic magic) I periodically ask, what do we fill ourselves with now, after this big blood pressure bugaboo?
It IS a victory to play Lana Del Rey’s "Ride" at a low volume on Fourth of July turning down a neighborhood street and not go crazy singing the climax--it shows some control of the secret.
To be a pilgrim is to take your chance at being both human and apparition, appearing in a location where you will not likely be witnessed, to donate your energy and be an able body for someone to tap on the shoulder, to ask you if you’ve cried yet because of Lana, in the middle of "Blue Jeans." It is to be among Capricorns and Cancers and even zygotes flying under psychic register, within the opacity of a golden hotel, not knowing where anyone is going to bed later, just knowing someone who has no sexual orientation towards Lana, is ejaculating cries of "Marry me" and "I love your pussy" with no shame of being in front of his teen siblings. And it is your prerogative as a pilgrim to eat Peter Rabbit packaged baby food and popcorn from the casino’s Starbucks and haul a pricey tank top with a bee being blamed for the visual Botox of Lana’s lips, out of a sea of tramplers, once the show starts without a crust of Grimes as an opener or Lana as an encore.
The audience consists of enough flower crowns to make the escalators to and from the performance space look like a perpetual waterfall, Bruce Springsteen pouts on the abs of older women, older men use GoPro cameras on sticks to get shots of the butts of younger girls in American flag onesies, there are age-disparate art couples emulating Frida and Diego, every teen type of Instagram, bikers and hopefully some of the divorcee parents who posted on online forums desperately wanting to procure tickets for their child’s 21st, 16th, 9th birthday or else be rejected forever. Any one of these figures was willing to walk through impermeable human parts if it meant getting a flower crown as big as a toilet seat to Lana by the end of the night, whether they had one or not.
When my sister asked me why I needed to go to Lana, if I don’t really like her…like that…the questioning seemed invasively romantic, as if I had some sort of zebra mussel hunger to wear American flag body floss, eyelashes longer than a sexpot witch and speak with a Jackie O. tremolo into a TracFone. There is no way to tell her my quixotic mix of my interest. "I want to go and write about the cult-like atmosphere," I said. I extended good faith to hope it proved true, placing prescient bets on the flock of fifty motorcyclists that did in fact materialize around EZ PASS: the Poconos--all going to LANA--that my concert companion, musician Jace Luce and I assaulted with a blast of En Vogue’s "Free Your Mind." On the Thursday night before the show, I splurged for Stub Hub tickets with the world passport that is a GAP credit card; my decision felt like one of my most adult because I freed myself to follow through with a desire.
I am not a typical Lana Del Rey fan. My attraction to Lana was built in the tension between the beauty she achieves creating herself in the music video for "Video Games" versus her uncooperative voice on Saturday Night Live; this based on the intrinsic belief it is the ultimate achievement to win hearts with one voice’s--a lesson from The Little Mermaid that stained the psyche of a generation, that even drove singer Florence Welch to her success. My attraction to Lana is also is in a single memory of poet Carina Finn not seeming vulnerable, choosing to forgo a final assignment in Joyelle McSweeney’s fiction workshop to sing "Born to Die" in front of a Notre Dame crucifix and our class. It is in how "Ultraviolence" and "Brooklyn Baby" were the bookends to my grandfather’s death and funeral; including him in a narrative he would have no understanding of.
Attending the Borgata concert I found myself leaving feeling something was lacking having the crowd requested "Ride" displace the Endless Summer tour expected "Brooklyn Baby," that I was having a significant self-narrative anniversary with. I had not been on any schedule to be Paradise EP interested; I did not buy deluxe editions. I had yet to meet "Ride" and experiencing it for the first time as everyone sang shepherding Lana back to lyrics that had leaked away from her was cacophonous and seemed like a fail for it was a loss of meaning.
My love for Lana was based on going through her catalogue as it moved me--letting "Burning Desire" trickle into my after work ATM narratives the week prior to the pilgrimage or binding myself to the mood of "Florida Kilos," 24 days after Atlantic City when I was finally Lana-matured enough for it. It is the freedom to explore the songs like biological spores and ruminate on how a "Florida Kilos" could appeal to same group of people who thirty years ago would have liked Lionel Richie’s :All Night Long" or how when the Borgata show closed with "Off to the Races" it was the frenetic neighbor to Kimbra’s "Settle Down."
It is being able to coin Lana "our lady of songs about soda and locations" for Florida is a pyscho-geography of chic-a-cherry colas and "Diet Mt. Dew" elopes with the throats of New York City and say this from the same mindset of a 1990s childhood that yearned for these types of songs and began to see hints of them in B-sides by song-sexualists like Sophie B. Hawkins that only made it number 46 on top 40 countdowns and had a quick tenure on late night radio, pool side, on nights children once again were connecting water with The Little Mermaid lessonry and felt like talking about the first outlines of libido.
There are a few things in art that are ceremonious to come to out of order; I imagine this sort of thing could happen for the reader who forgoes ever imbibing Harry Potter, to preserve having the unique perspective to investigate J.K. Rowling virginally through her other novel or to meet Lana segmentally, missing out on a 2012 song that is a major drive of her culture. Whereas I thought my culminating Lana experience was having "Born to Die" as an emotional canopy to drive the causeway to Long Beach Island the following morning in a defeated act of limerance, receiving "Ride" in the aftermath with the trio:
"I’ve been trying too hard, with one pretty song"
"I hear the birds on the summer breeze, I drive fast, I am alone at midnight…"
"I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy, I’m tired of driving til I see stars in my eyes…"
brought around my entire reason for being there and so I could sing to myself:
"You can put the concert in a glass coffin, and eat a cheese steak under the moon, the hot meat can challenge your intestines to digest as you wistfully dream of a love made out of your own blood, in a king sized bed, a queen sized space of uninterrupted terrain between you and your friend"
LANA DEL REY is post-prison, LANA DEL REY is post-death signaling desire should equal euphoria even if created by extreme melancholy and desire should not be impounded by the confines of our world. Desire is an aggressor against age, weight, intact relationships, holding down employment, death, genetic attraction. Desire is a fantasy that is worth replacing life and must be attended to, through creating rituals to verify being within the bubble of desire is in fact living. Attending a Lana Del Rey concert is therefore the perfect pilgrimage for limerants needing outlets for their longing narratives and fans using Lana as a bridge to co-creating their sexual embodiment.
I was recently reading online commentary on a psychological paper discussing limerance; a long term state of being enamored, that usually fondles one’s sanity while coaxing a drug like high of euphoria and a commentator from the Philippines whispered to America, we are the only culture that seems to enjoy the longing more than the achieved relationship itself. Thinking about it, it seems true Americans create complicated afterlives with their exes unable to successfully sever and Americans like to curate "American Longing Sagas" sometimes sustaining whole best friendships, trading war stories about unavailable, yet desired targets, they are secret devotees to, for years.
Friends speak a secret language of a reality that doesn’t exist. Their deepest satisfaction being the idea how you could win said person, often with imagination’s accessories like a certain playlist at the right moment OR the revelation you created the most cathartic, show yourself off as a beauty song. Perhaps this tendency comes from a childhood steeped in music videos. Perhaps it is perpetuated when we see someone like Lana self-create, knowing now she can attract legions of people who would now do anything for her but there she is too in the video for "Ride"--a transient by a gas pump at a rest stop, in the dark that sits on us all, syncing audio Aurora Borealises of cinematic music to the moments of anonymity where our experience of joy and desire soars most manic. When Lana sings she hears those birds on the summer breeze, it is easy to believe she feels the stab of each of their beaks as she rides and they are the only fleeting resistance she will allow herself to feel for the journey of her soul.
"Dark Paradise" was not played at the concert (attending a Lana Del Rey concert one can ask about the concert that was and the latent concert of Lana songs that could have been). With its opening wordless vocal run, lyrical attachment to being inert in the ocean over dead love--it strikes me that Lana too recognizes the lesson of The Little Mermaid--the voice itself is the most vulnerable expression of sexuality. Put Ariel’s voice in the body of a shell and somebody would have still wanted to run motorcycle laps on the coast to show how far they would go for it. Put Lana’s voice in an iPhone a girl in New York will still use it as a talisman, emptying it into the summer night on the holiest of moon lit overpasses, to make a psychic appeal to a man in New Jersey.
American Longing Sagas are not solely what the Filipino pining-critic of a Psychology Today message board accused us of--instead they are equally wed to the yearning to be disembodied, to be a voice that travels everywhere, unimpeded, charging the hearts of anyone. Making it okay, to stand momentarily more comfortably with the strangers who sing "My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola" than the friend from home, who is looking around the crowd skeptically but will admit the show had great production values. Where will we be in the aftermath of the show? In time, in a car alone, able to sing the word pussy without flinching, recognizing the larger cultural latch of Lana Del Rey--a siren, both the singing and ambulance kind--editing people to rash, revelatory action, calling forward life, even calling blood to the face of the moon.
Lindsay Herko migrates between writing and visual art; liking to operate her video camera in fruit trafficked bath tubs, Icelandic blue lagoons and pollen-addled Great Lakes to produce still frames that are often mated with dead Russian royals, the false Napoleons of the Thousand Islands, beauties of the family tree and the unreachable nooks of midnight mass. MFA’ed at the University of Notre Dame, she is sometimes prouder to have taken a self portrait at Mount Rushmore while wearing a witch hat. Read her prose in magazines with pretty names – Caketrain 11,Sundog 3, and The Rain, Party & Disaster Society or look for her art pic amalgamations of waterslides, planets and pop stars in the forthcoming POP SOPPINScolumn at The Union Forever starting in October.