Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Against Me! -- "Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists" (2003)

And your house is made of wood
Central air, central heat

Which of the following statements is false?

1.  The lead singer on the Against Me! song, "Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists," was Thomas Gabel.

2.  The group's current lead singer is Laura Jane Grace.

3.  Against Me! has always had the same lead singer.

Answer: NONE of those statements is false.

Thomas Gabel
Against Me! was formed in Naples, Florida in 1997 by singer/guitarist Thomas Gabel.  Gabel "came out" last year, changing his name to Laura Jane Grace and beginning to live as a woman.  (The band is currently working on an album that will be titled Transgender Dysphoria Blues.)

Gabel has begun to take hormones and undergo electrolysis treatments.   He will remain married to his wife, Heather, who has been "super-amazing and understanding."  (The couple has a young daughter.)

Laura Jane Grace (left) and family
Click here to watch a House of Style interview with Laura Jane Grace.

The drummer on "Turn Those Clapping Hands" is Warren Oakes, who subsequently left the band to open the Boca Fiesta restaurant in Gainesville, Florida, which features a southern-Mexican food fusion menu.

Warren Oakes
Oakes is a leader in the "freeganism" movement, which encourages people to eat free food.  Oakes wrote a pro-freegan pamphlet in 1999 that describes alternatives to going to the grocery store for food, including "dumpster diving," foraging, gardening, barter, and outright theft as alternative ways to obtain food.

Let's hope Oakes doesn't use freegan techniques to get the food he serves at his restaurant.  Click here if you'd like to learn more about Boca Fiesta.  

Against Me! is one of those groups that I stumbled across during one of my occasional online searches for new music.  

I type in searches like "100 best albums 2003," or "top punk groups nineties," and see what pops up.  And then I go on to my public library's website to see if they have anything on the list.  

I don't do this very often.  It's very tedious to spend time typing the names of groups or albums in the library website's "search" box when at least nine times out of ten I don't get a match.  But I obviously got a match when I searched for Against Me! or we wouldn't be talking about this song today.

When I went to Youtube to find "Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists," I noticed that the song sounded subtly different from the version on my iPod.

The versions of the song that are on Youtube all came from the 2003 album Against Me! as the Eternal Cowboy.  But the album I have on my computer is titled The Original Cowboy.  It contains demo versions of most of songs on the Eternal Cowboy album, which were also recorded in 2003.  But Original Cowboy wasn't released until 2009.  (Given the similarity between the different versions of the songs that are on these two albums, some have questioned why the group bothered to release the demos.)

The singer of "Turn Those Clapping Hands" woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  (That's an expression my late grandmother used to describe someone who was in a bad mood.)  He's so pissed at the world that it disgusts him that the house he is staying in has central heat and central air.  

I'm guessing that the singer is addressing his girlfriend or POSSLQ.  (That's a Census Bureau acronym for "persons of opposite sex sharing living quarters.")  He's not very happy with her:

And you drink all night long
And you sleep through the morning
And if something doesn't break
I'm just gonna go f*cking insane

His girlfriend/POSSLQ's housekeeping skills leave a lot to be desired:

And you sweep up the floor when it's dirty
You do the dishes when the sink's full
And when the refrigerator's empty
Well, it's time to go the store

Her taste in music also leaves a lot to be desired:

I hate these songs
I hate the words
That the singer is singin' to me
I hate this melody
I hate this stupid f*cking drum beat!

The singer of this song reminds me a little of "The Cursing Mommy," who is the fictional narrator of a series of columns written by Ian Frazier for the New Yorker.

Ian Frazier, who created "The Cursing Mommy"
Every column features The Cursing Mommy flipping out due to some minor domestic setback, drinking too much, and then cursing everyone and everything around her.  The columns usually end with The Cursing Mommy uttering this statement: "Oh, what a f*cking terrible day this has been."

Here's "Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists":

Click here if you'd like to buy the song from Amazon:

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