Friday, June 17, 2011

Got meat?

Photo courtesy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Lady Gaga's meat dress arrived in Cleveland yesterday for display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Despite getting media attention from points across the globe, Todd Mesek, Rock Hall Vice President of Marketing and Communications, took the time to chat with me and make this insider story for Fresh Water possible.

I LOVED Todd's take on the dress, with the Rock Hall using it as bait--just like Gaga did. And he nailed it, everyone was a-buzz about this silly dress including me. The story consumed the better part of my afternoon.

Human beings are weird. I love my job.

*  *  *


Ashton said...

I saw that last night while looking for stories for my newscast. All I could think was 'How does that thing not reek by now?!' But then I thought, people line up to see a flower that smells like decomposing flesh, so why not a meat dress.

You're right. People are weird.

Erin O'Brien said...

Hi Ashton. They've preserved the dress and Todd told me that it has no odor.

I should say that I didn't care much about the whole thing and was talking to Todd for another story, but of course the dress came up. What he said was fascinating, hence the story.

The dubious status of my Gaga fanship notwithstanding, it was fun to ride a tiny swell on that great big media wave.

Leslie Morgan said...

I can't stop fixating on how that meat would feel against bare skin. If one worked up some body heat, would the smell of outdoor grilling begin to permeate?

Erin O'Brien said...

I know, Leslie, I thought the same thing. Google pix of the original dress and you can tell that meat was dripping fresh. Lordie!

Leslie Morgan said...

Be very careful, please. You're hitting on some of my phobias. Like dripping bloody dresses and, and, and . . jeez. I wonder how I'd fare here in that dress at the July 4th picnic at 110+ degrees. Think all the men would follow me around?

Kirk said...

"When you make music or write or create, it's really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you're writing about at the time."

—- Lady Gaga

The world could probably use a lot more Lady Gagas. I just wished I liked her music better. I'm sorry, but I can't tell one song of hers from the other. But that may just be my age showing.

By the way, I don't think rotting meat smells until the end of time. At some point it stops.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

It's too bad someone didn't do us all a favor and grill Lady Caca while she was wearing it. If that had been done, we wouldn't be subjected to the absolutely horrid noises Caca is capable of making.

Nice article, Erin.


Sausage said...

Reminds me of the time I made a pair of underpants out of sausage casings,
the results were not as expected given the fact I prepared my experiment in August in Florida. Buy me a drink and I'll tell you my tales.

Harry Finch said...

I may be old and out of the loop. Can you explain how wearing a meat dress convey[s] a message about standing up for your rights?

Probably anyone needing an explanation is too dumb to appreciate it, but I'd like to try.

Jon Moore said...

Not sure it's a good idea. While I won't speculate on whether men will follow you, I'm damn well sure every stray dog in town will be nipping at your hem.

DogsDontPurr said...

I don't think it's so much about the meat, but more about drawing attention to the message. Gaga is an advocate for gay rights, and is also very vocal about accepting people for who they are, no matter their size, shape, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation...or what they wear. Yes, she takes this message to the extreme, but it does get your attention and gets you talking.

This message is especially important for her fan base (the little monsters) who are teenagers going through teen angst. They all want to be accepted. But remember high school? There's a lot of peer pressure and bullying and cliques.

Basically, her message is "can't we all just get along?" And she is getting the attention of her target audience perfectly. And she is hopefully causing some of us adults to think about these things too.

DogsDontPurr said...

Oh!...I should also add: I loved your article, Erin. You are truly one of the "women who rock"!

Bill said...

Dogs: God help us if adults are taking our cues for living from Lady Gaga. Besides, Rodney King already tried that one.

DogsDontPurr said...

@Bill: *rolls eyes* *shakes head*

Some people just don't get it, I guess. But if you are a thinking person, I hope you'll take the time to re~read my comment and Erin's article...and give both some thought.

I'd rather hang with someone like Gaga, than some closed minded curmudgeon (not that you are one). Just sayin'.

(Sorry Erin, I know I shouldn't be playing into comments like that, but I couldn't resist.)

Al the Retired Army Guy said...

I don't really care what Lady Caca has to say about rights, gays, etc. I just think her "music" sucks moose balls.


Leslie Morgan said...

@ Alphadog ~ Damn! Sometimes I get so caught up in the freak-out, I lose track of practical things. Imagine me scooting along, ditching chihuahuas and Newfoundlands! Yow.

Imagine, as has been suggested, Lady DooDoo's message in her blue wig. I liked Rodney King (as spokesman) better!

Leslie Morgan said...

@ AlphaDog - I just popped you an email that was immediately returned. So how would I get an actual (personal) message to you?

Erin O'Brien said...

Good lord. A person goes to the Duct Tape Festival for a night and all hell breaks loose around here.

Leslie, although there's plenty of reasons for men to follow you sans meat dress, Alph's sure right about the dogs. I wonder what a Twizzler dress might attract, or one fashioned from ten thousand Marlboros dangling like fringe.

Am I a genius or am I a genius?

Kirk, I don't dig her music either, but I wholly agree with you. I always had a certain respect for Madonna. Pop culture fascinates me and anyone who wields it like a weapon treads on dangerous territory. It either eats you or exalts you. Charlie Sheen and Brittney Spears--losing. Gaga and Madonna--winning.

Al, Thanks for reading. Horrid noises, eh? You. Need. To. Spend. One. Hour. In. A. Room. With. Five. Fourteen. Year. Olds.

Sausage: is said undergarment on display? Send photos please.

Harry, Todd and I talked for a half hour and he said brilliant things about the Rock Hall and how it meshes with the community as well as the world.

He was rushed, but I'm with DDP on the sentiment.

DDP, agreed agreed agreed and agreed.

Hi Bill and thanks for dropping in.

Harry Finch said...

@DogsDontPurr - Thank you for your explanation of how a meat dress is not a meat dress.

I have now spent far more time pondering Lady Gaga than I could have imagined only twenty-four hours ago.

I am not being facetious: your comment was edifying. But I can travel only halfway down that road with you. Which is much farther than I had originally planned (a little exercise is good for a fifty-seven year-old crank).

After viewing a brief 2009 interview with her, I have decided that the girl is no empty vessel.

However, the close of Shelley's A Defence of Poetry sticks in my head:

Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

My point being that only a poet could espouse such an idea.

By which I mean that possibly, quite possibly, sometimes a meat dress is just a meat dress.

Erin O'Brien said...

Harry. It's seven in the morning and you're saying "hierophant." Yes, I had to look it up. Jeez. Next time offer a girl a cup of coffee first.

Sometimes a meat dress is just a meat dress

Perhaps, but it's causing hela noise here in CLE.

And it is a meat dress. It is not the emperor's new clothes.

(you realize of course that I'm using italics just for you)

Poets make a single file line on the left. Pop culture icons, you're on the right. Plenty of room for all of ya 'round here.

Harry Finch said...

I have to look up "hierophant" every time I see it, which is not often.

I've been up since 330am thinking about Lady Gaga.

When I brought up your post yesterday at work, about ten people gathered around my monitor when I shouted, Hey look, its the famous meat dress! So yeah, I'm not surprised that the real thing is a big deal in Athens-on-the-Erie.

Perhaps the message of the meat dress is that it's a meat dress with a message.

(note that I avoided italics)

Contrary Guy said...

It doesn't take much to cause hella noise in Cleveland.

I wonder if they've irradiated it to kill all the potential Gaga buggies from mutating and leaving the display case in some Resident Evil-like rampage.

Am going to visit the Rock Hall and its Women Who Rock exhibit sometime this year, but under protest, as the place does not allow cameras; this pisses me off to no end.

Meat what? Oh that's what this post was about. Meh. I'd rather see what guitars the Women Who Rock are playing.

twinkly sparkles said...

Great post, Erin and congrats on your satisfying interview.

I was appalled when I first saw the meat dress, or rather, when I first saw a photo of her in it and realized it was made of meat.

I have a personal problem with treating flesh in such a manner. What was living and is now dead deserves reverence and I had a problem with it on that level (I AM a meat-eater, mind you, so it's not an animal rights issue--it's about respect).

I do think Gaga has balls of steel, however, and I can sort of sing along to 2 songs (at least the chorus') I suppose because I have teenagers in da hizzouse. I don't think she's talented--she's not really pretty, she's got an ugly-ish voice, and she can't dance. But she is really, really gutsy and she does have something to say. I am not sure I need to hear it, though. Anyone who can stand on a piano bench with 6"stacked heels and still manage to play the instrument with a straight face is a helluva performer. And that's a helluva quote that Kirk posted.

Love the comment thread!


Bill said...

Dogs: No thanks. Don't need to re read or re think. By the way curmudgeons don't hate mankind, just mankind's absurdities. Of course I'm not copping to being one.

Charlie McGowen said...

I thought the dress was a silly stunt when she first wore but now I see that it's still a silly stunt that just won't die (or in this instant won't rot) Maybe she DID hit on something with her wardrobe but I'm not sure what she hit on....... I'll be glad when her 15mn. will be up......

Michael Lawless said...

Shoulda been a BBQ....

Erin O'Brien said...

Twink, I agree with you on all points. One of the reasons I thought the plasticized "Bodies" exhibit was so repugnant was because there was something disrespectful about it, whether those people asked for that end or not.

The O'Brien is old school, people. OLD SCHOOL!

Hi Charlie and thanks for dropping in. As for her 15 mins, look at Madonna. Britney Spears and Paris Hilton had a hell of a lot more staying power than I would ever have predicted.

Only time will tell ...

Mike: Aw hell. I'm fresh outta sriracha

Erin O'Brien said...

Hey Contrary: I heard those "Hot in Cleveland" chicks went to see the meat dress.

Yeah, yeah. At lease CLE has ... um ... me?

Leslie Morgan said...

WITH you, EOB! I took a call for cleaning the carpets at that Bodies exhibit here. I didn't want to send my technicians in that den of depravity. They laughed at me and offered to bring a souvenir.

philbilly said...

Where the hell is PETA when you need them?

"There's no odor," assures Mesek. "It's actually very clean and it will last for a long, long time."

If I had nickel...

Anonymous said...

Having a recently out teenage daughter, I have only the utmost respect for Lady Gaga's loud and proud, mainstream, highly popular persona/music. When 90% of you peers are walking around belting out
"Whether you're broke or evergreen
You're black, white, beige, chola descent
You're lebanese, you're orient
Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby you were born this way
No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life
I'm on the right track baby
I was born to survive"
it helps to change the often negative/painful environment that many LGBT teens are going to school in.
If it takes an effing meat dress to get the acceptance message across I'm all for it!

philbilly said...

I give GaGa a lot of credit for slogging through bars and nightclubs on her way up, it's a hellish life only those driven to perform can handle, some of them succumb. Same for the anti-bullying message, no problem there.

But c'mon, I gotta make fun of the meat dress. Art imitates Life

Never been to the Rock Hall. I was there when Rock happened, good enough for me.

philbilly said...

Jimmie Dale Gilmore
& The Wronglers
Beachland Ballroom June 21st

Erin O'Brien said...

Amen, anon.

Phil, you know what they say, If you're hungry enough, you'll eat anything.

Bill said...

GaGa has to be laughing her ass off that adults actually care what she's talking about. Meat dress, penis shoes. Let's all seriously consider her latest admonitions.

philbilly said...

Soylent Green is Poople!

Sean Craven said...

Oh, boy. I should probably keep my mouth shut, but it isn't often one gets an opening like this...

Erin, I was actually surprised that you didn't place the dress in a historical context in your piece, and then I thought, "Yeah, right, me and all the other meat art fans in the world."

There actually, really-o truly-o is a tradition of meat art. It's transgressive performance art, the earliest performer I'm familiar with would be Herman Nitsch (the Wikipedia article on him has no pictures, for the benefit of the sensitive), and he got things going in the early sixties.

So what would be cooler -- if Gaga knew about this, and regarded it as part of a tradition, or if she just came up with it on her own?

Lemme be clear. I'm not personally interested in Lady Gaga's work, but it's interesting to see the themes of fine art played out in pop art. And while I don't care for what she does, I do regard Lady Gaga as an artist.

Regardless, I'd be interested in the context of the presentation. Speaking as a blood-guzzling carnivore, it's bad art and bad (manners? karma?) juju to use meat that way without in some way acknowledging that it was the flesh of a living, feeling fellow creature with a face and a family.

In other words, this isn't just grotesque because of the ick-factor. There is also a real quality of moral taint to the use of living creatures for such purposes.

What does the dress actually mean? Can it convey a message worthy enough to legitimize the suffering involved in its production?

I'm not saying I'm against it, I'm just saying if the statement and intent don't balance the actual cost of technique, you're a creep. The only way out then is to push creep to the point where it gets compelling, the way Micheal Jackson did, and to help Lady Gaga down that road, and to speculate on what a meat dress means, I'll remind you all of the vulgarity 'beef curtains.'

I wonder if I'll get curious enough about this to actually check out her performance.

Erin O'Brien said...

Sean, You comment reminded me of this painting, which hangs in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

How cool is that? It definitely has respect for its subject--even profuse respect.

It's in one of the classic galleries, adjacent to the massive oil portraits and European classics. I think it's a celebration of the hunt, but I'm not sure. I know it must be more than 100 years old.

In any event, it was the first time I ever saw meat depicted in art and it knocked me on my ass.

Now maybe someone else can say something smart. I am dumb today.

Ms Amanda said...

"Regardless, I'd be interested in the context of the presentation. Speaking as a blood-guzzling carnivore, it's bad art and bad (manners? karma?) juju to use meat that way without in some way acknowledging that it was the flesh of a living, feeling fellow creature with a face and a family."

I'm guessing more bad juju is gained by the way beef is treated and processed into a 99 cent burger.
Am I fan of the meat dress & Lady Gaga? Eh. I do love the song Born This Way, the rest of her music? Over it!

Erin O'Brien said...

Ms. A--on behalf of the Elsie contingent: "moo!"

philbilly said...

Well, it seems obvious to me her intent was to draw attention to the objectification and consumption of individuals in a larger consumer culture. Bars were once called "meat markets".

We're dying from diabesity in large part because food is not regarded as a gift from the land, but a commodity that approaches a cheap high, the 99 cent burger fix.

I don't attach too much gravitas to GaGa's music or persona, she's a pop star in a genre paved by Elton John, Madonna, etc.
In that realm, I find Pink more interesting.

Hmmm, yaknow, I like my steak a little pink,too. And grass fed.

Cows can't eat corn, they have to be jacked full of antibiotics. That makes as much sense as Bristol Palin being paid $262,000 to lecture kids on the virtue ofabstinence.