Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reading Between The Lines Of JD Samson's Posting At The Huffington Post

AKA, Navel Gazing From A Self-Described "99%er".

JD Samson, who is the East Coast's version of Sam Ronson, has an exercise in sophistry up at the Huffington Post where she wines about having fame and money from making music and losing it all because of poor decisions.

And if you don't know and don't care who Samson and Ronson are, don't worry about it. You'll be better off not knowing.

I am so lucky that I have been able to create art and music and fulfill my passions through my job for the past 11 years. But I'm stupid enough to have put all my eggs in one basket. It is now the only thing I can do to make money. I'm 33 years old and I can't make coffee. I don't know how to use Excel, or bartend, or wait tables, and I'm officially too old to join the police force. I've lost the confidence to go back to school and feel stressed out about impending debt when I think about further education for even one second.

There is really one person to blame for her situation: JD Samson.

By the way, restaurants are always hiring for positions where no experience is needed. Hosting, busing tables and washing dishes can be done with little to no training. And from there it's a short jump to to waiting tables for cash tips.

Seriously? She can't make coffee? I made my first cup over 12 years ago, first try. It was easy. This is more of a case of 'Not Bothering' rather than 'Tried Then Failed'.

I have several jobs within the music industry as of now: bands, DJing, remixing and even writing music for other artists. I'm a workaholic and have my hands in a bunch of different places. But, all these jobs have unstable incomes. I don't get a salary; I don't know how much money I will make next month, next year or five years from now. I don't have health insurance. And I live with the stress of not knowing, not planning and not understanding whether or not I will ever be able to reach my goals of having a family and feeling safe financially. When I say "safe," I mean safe. I mean basics. I mean health insurance that is good enough for me to take care of myself, not just if I need a $10,000-dollar, life-threatening procedure. I mean dental care. I mean saving money in a retirement fund so that I can take care of myself when I'm 80 years old. Clearly, there is a difference between survival and luxury.

If all of this is true, she's made some very bad business decisions about her musical career. If she's signed all of her rights away, she's has no one else to blame for that.

Also, she should have known that the music industry is very unstable. She's right in the fact she needs to be working all the time but she also answered her own question to this later on.

Like so many teenagers, I believed in the "American Dream," that I could move to New York from the Midwest and become an artist. I would achieve both fame and success, and I would never have to think about money. The first half was true. I made art and lived activism, and I achieved amazing amounts of success that I feel incredibly proud of. The second half, not so much. I have been able to live well, eat well, invest in my arts and make my own schedule, but I forgot to save money and think about my future.

Bingo. One would think that she would have ended it right here with an epiphany of being responsible for yourself and self determination. But then liberalism is a mental disorder so it would be dangerous to assume that her comprehension skills are normal.

Plus, she lives in New York City. More on that later.

This summer I tried to rent an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The process sent me into an emotional crisis and awakened me into a whole new realization of our economy, the music industry at large and, more specifically, what it means to be a queer artist in 2011.

I spent days trolling around Williamsburg, looking at shitty apartments with cockroaches lining the doorways, fighting neighbors, rats in the ceiling, bedbugs infesting the linoleum floors, fifth-floor walk-ups and cat-pee-soaked carpets. The rent was exorbitant, availability was scarce, and I was turned down by two different landlords for being "freelance." To be honest, I don't blame them. Not only am I freelance, but I'm lesbian freelance. Double whammy. What was the reason they turned me down? Because it was easier to rent to a rich, trust-fund, straight-guy banker who wants to live in the coolest borough in the world? Because when he met me he saw a tattooed gender outlaw who makes "queer electronic punk music" and isn't sure when the next check is going to come in? Yeah, I don't blame him. He doesn't give a shit about how kids email me all the time thanking me for keeping them from committing suicide. It's not part of his capitalist business practice.

So what is a 'Gender Outlaw' anyway? If she filled that out in the application process, no wonder she was turned down.

Here is the New York City angle again. She wanted to live in the 'Coolest borough in the world'. Those usually cost a bit more than the 'Plain Jane apartment in the average borough'.

I surround myself with amazing and talented people, people who have made it in every sense of those words. They buy apartments, invest in their futures successfully, have children, save money. How do they do it? How can I keep up with them?

Chances are, they aren't as well off as you think they are. But it's still more whining and that epiphany that should have kicked in yet, hasn't.

So I have to ask myself: where did I go wrong? And I can only guess that the answer lies in a combinations of three things: 1) my family is not rich, 2) I am a queer woman, and 3) I am trying so desperately to keep up with my peers that I am living beyond my means.

Really, the only answer that matters is the last one. And the chances of that epiphany happening just keep getting more and more slim.

And as I am a productive, workaholic, processing lesbian, I am the only one responsible for change and growth and my own future. So I consider:

1. My family will never be rich; in fact, as they get older, they will use up their supply, perhaps even leaving me with their debts. Now, don't get me wrong, I am so lucky to have the incredible health and support of every member of my family. I never forget how blessed I am to have such an incredible group of people in my life. In fact, our mutual understanding about how frustrating it can be to try to support yourself with your art is something we can all relate to as a family. And our own personal class struggles are not insular but truly a family affair. Now I understand why they supported my dreams but continually suggested having other interests or skills. My dad, a wood sculptor, turned sand and gravel miner. And my mother, a silversmith, turned elementary-school art teacher.

Shorter DJ: She should have listened better to her parents.

Also, how can one be left debts? Unless she has cosigned with her folks on something then-- generally speaking-- I don't see how it can be done.

2. I will always be a queer woman, a woman who makes 77 cents to the man's dollar, and a queer who makes 23 percent less than the heterosexual. Does that mean that I make 54 cents to the straight male dollar? Wow.

No, she chose to make her occupation in a very, very niche market. A lesbian techno band instead of a techno band that happens to be lesbian. There's a subtle difference but it's there.

3. OK, so here's the emotional part: I'm trying to keep up with artists who have had a similar amount of success as I have had, buying expensive meals, expensive jeans, expensive drinks, and trying my hardest to appear to be making the same amount of money as they are. I'm not them, for whatever above-mentioned reasons, but I just can't pretend anymore. This is my coming out. I'm done feeling bad about myself. I wish I could afford a personal meeting with Suze Orman. She's a lesbian. Maybe she could help me reestablish my financial security.

Know what Suze would say? Stop spending so much!

This is what frustrates me about this article. She's laid out all the reasons why she's broke and she hasn't figured out how to change that yet? Live in expensive areas of the city. Buy expensive clothes and food. But yet she claims she doesn't have a cent to her name? It's her own damn fault.

I'm so lucky to have gained so much from my life and my amazing career, but I'm ready to feel secure. I'm ready to build my future and save money so that I can have a family, so that I can enjoy making art and not trying to create a product out of it, so that I can spend more time being present and less time being a workaholic, frantically searching for the profitable answer. And if I need to, I'm ready to get a job, go to work in the morning, get a paycheck once a week, go to the dentist, get a check-up, bottom out to a boss and appreciate music without being worried that I can't keep up.

We live in a society where people equate success with money. They see me on the pages of Vogue. They see me playing to an adoring crowd. They see me flying to gigs all across the world. And I'm not sure what people imagine, but I'm struggling, too. Over the past couple of weeks, I have realized how many other artists and musicians are in my position, people who are proud of their success but feel unable to continue, based on financial strain. Artists such as Spank Rock, Das Racist and the Drums have featured lyrics on their new records about struggling financially. My band MEN put out a record in February with similar tones. I know the economy is failing, but I think it is important to remember that it is failing for everyone. Even the people you think might have money. So here we go. Another reason to come together. Another reason to occupy Wall Street. Another reason for change.

She claims all of these brushes with fame for her music and band. Well, if that's true, start touring. Make a few circuits in clubs. Hit some other cities like San Diego or LA or San Fransisco. Self promote via Twitter and Facebook where she will be playing at. Something that would bring in some money while she works on toning down her lifestyle.

But no. No epiphany of self-awareness. Just a sophistic ending to say, "because of all of my piss poor decisions I've made in my life, the system must be broken".

Thanks to Scott 'Big Daddy' Edwards for finding this.

Updated: A fiskful of thanks goes out to Bob at The Camp Of The Saints and Smitty at The Other McCain for linking this.


  1. You're a better man the me, Dave C. I gave up on that whiny wanna-be's pity riff when she said "...and I'm officially too old to join the police force."

    That's complete BS; you can take the NYPD test up until your 35th birthday.

  2. She is also not too old to join the military. I hear they have a pro lesbian policy now and she won't earn $.54 to every straight male privates $1.00
    Of course the whiny bitch also won't make it past day 3 of boot camp. Even if she joins the Air Force.

  3. There is a lot she could do to fix the situation she is in. Doesn't even require her to recognize the solution. Hire a financial adviser. Or good accountant.

  4. edwardroyce said...

    There is a lot she could do to fix the situation she is in. Doesn't even require her to recognize the solution. Hire a financial adviser. Or good accountant.

    Or grow the hell up.


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