Holiday Music Quarterly: Santa's Crack
Meanwhile, Alex, the Razorbabe's guitarist, is fretting over what to buy her nine-year-old son for Christmas. "I get him all this stuff, but he never uses it," she tells me. "I got him this electric globe--it just sits on his desk. He never touches it." She shakes her Pippi Longstocking hair. "This year he wants some kind of weird robot dog. I'm sure it costs a fortune. I just broke up with my boyfriend of five years, I'm on unemployment..." Alex says, in her fantastic, raspy voice. "This is going to be the worst Christmas ever."
It is somehow important to remember that Christmas spares no one. Even the hardcore have to celebrate Christmas, and the Razorbabes are somewhat shameless about being classical punks: hair and clothing occupy at least as much of the band's energy as instrumentation; most of their songs clock in at an efficient three minutes or less; and one would be hard-pressed to count more than five chords played at any given show. Their music is basic and large, like a big table you stand on top of in order to make lewd gestures and yell shit.
But the mission at hand is not musical. Christmas has transformed these Razorbabes, and they now stand at the threshold of a sweet temple of giving: Indeed, they have already drawn each other's names from a hat. "I don't know who will be my secret Santa," Majenta tells me, "But they'll know what to get me--sex toys." In the meantime, she is buying Julia Razorbabe, the drummer, her first ever vibrator. "It's almost like it's my duty to buy her this," she says, selecting a hard, polished plastic model in a fetching leopard print. "I just wish they had it in red glitter." As Majenta pays for her booty, I wonder what it must be like to work in a dildo factory; then we leave and pile into her lovely pink Barracuda, headed for the butcher shop.
Cars are important to this band. Certainly, Majenta's hot pink Barracuda--complete with fire stencils curling up the hood, and leopard-print upholstery on the ceiling--is the mother of them all, but guitarist Alex's Dodge Rambler is nothing to sneeze at, either. "Actually, I met Julia the drummer at a Barracuda show," Alex explains, "so that's how she got in the band. 'Cause of her car."
"And Bambi [the lead guitarist] is in 'cause of her tits," Majenta laughs. "Actually, I'm hoping my secret Santa will get me a Cherry Bomb for my mufflers," Majenta says. I summon the courage to ask what a Cherry Bomb is, and am informed that it is essentially a noise box for the muffler system.
Majenta maintains she has never had a bad Christmas in her life--that her mother spoiled her rotten, and that she still believes in Santa Claus. Alex, on the other hand, can't seem to recall a single good Christmas. "Ever since I left home at 13, I've pretty much been on my own for Christmas, and it's pretty much sucked," she rasps. "One time, when I was a speed freak, like, 12 years ago or something, we shot up these barbiturates called Christmas Trees on Christmas Day. That was pretty festive."
The butcher shop is a kingdom of absurdity. First, there is no meat visible anywhere. There is simply a large, empty room that smells vaguely of formaldehyde. By the window is an inexplicable drill press; in the corner sits a mid-century freezer of some kind, propped up on cinder blocks. An intense-looking man and a willowy Asian woman are crouched in the corner next to a table covered with various mustards. The woman holds a large knife.
Majenta explains that she needs some meat for tomorrow's Thanksgiving. "We're all going to the drummer's house in Ballard," she tells me. The pop-eyed man stares at us for a second. "You do sell meat here, don't you?" I ask. The man begins bouncing softly up and down.
"Sure, sure, we sell meat. Mostly corned beef, but also other things."
A sign on the wall advertises the availability of cow tongue. Alex asks to see it, and we are led over to the freezer. The man opens the freezer, and extracts a large bag with a huge tongue in it. As he shuts the lid, I notice a magenta-colored box wedged under some other meats. "What's in the box?" I ask.
"Oh, that's just some cake," the butcher tells me, shutting the freezer door swiftly.
"So, do you sell any, like, steaks or hamburger here?" Majenta asks.
"We do mostly corned beef, but we do have a few other cuts. Would you like a roast?"
He returns the tongue and fetches us a roast, depositing it on a card table in the middle of the room. My eyes meet with the oriental woman's eyes for just a moment, during which I feel I can almost hear her screaming in pain.
Majenta pays for the roast, and we all share a much-hyped corned beef sandwich before returning to Capitol Hill. Majenta has to be at work at her tattoo parlor ("A lot of people I know are getting tattoos for Christmas," she says) and, before that, has to drop off dress material at her seamstress' house. "I'm having this great pink-glitter ball gown made for our show at Phó Bang," she tells me, showing me the reams of sparkling fabric before shooing me and Alex from the car and speeding off.
I wander up to Alex's apartment for a glass of water. The interior is layered in leopard patterns, and car posters cover the walls. I notice a pair of glittering shoes; she explains that you have to use a dastardly resin with powerful fumes to get the glitter on. "I was going to make them for the whole band, but I got too dizzy," she says. I wander into her son's room and look at the profusion of disrespected gifts: Star Wars dolls and talking maps and cars and robots.
Alex offers me some water, and shows me a photograph of a squirrel that she used to let hang out in her living room. It is very cute, and we laugh, but then she grows morose, and reiterates her dread at the upcoming Christmas, her misery at her recent breakup with her boyfriend, her painful poverty. "Since I have no money--since I was laid-off--I'll probably just make everyone in the band something like this," she tells me, showing me a beautifully hand-decorated picture frame around a snapshot of the band, all goofy and posing and crowded together in front of the camera, like teenagers: happy, spontaneous, youthful, carefree. I can't help thinking what a treasure for life such a gift would make. I can't help loving Christmas.