Pop Playground
Guys, T-Shirts, Mixtapes and Break-Ups

hicks! Who on earth can figure them out? Well, other chicks can. Stylus readers, you now have a portal into their world. Lisa Oliver has kindly volunteered to answer your questions on all things girl. While mostly dealing with music related questions, she isn't afraid to tackle other subjects as well. No problem is too small. And if she doesn't have the answer (or some guy has pissed her off about something) she will consult her cool girl posse for advice. So step up to the plate, gentlemen. Don't fear the girl...ask her instead.

I am a female who is tired of dating asshole guys. After reading this site (one of my friends told me about it) and your column where you talk about how nice music guys are, I think I might need to get one in my life. Where can I meet them and, once I do meet them, how do I keep from scaring them off?

Well, amen to that sister! I cannot, under any circumstances, encourage the dating of jerk-wads. Shame they can’t all be shipped to some desert island to think about what they have done and only be allowed back once they realise the error of their ways. I have, mercifully, very little experience with los assholos guyos simply because I tend to gravitate towards the lesser known, but far gentler beast known as the indie-rock geek.

These chaps are usually very sweet, kind and, owing to the geek code of practice (Version 6.0, 2004 forthcoming) tend to be on the shy side. So you are right to worry about scaring them off. Usually if you eye them up, then tend to glance over their own shoulders to see whom you are really eyeing up.

But you are a lucky lassie since I have at my fingertips a group of male muso honeys that were happy to provide some advice and tips to guide you through the musty maze of record store bins, seedy dive bars and sweaty gig venues on your quest for to find the indie-boy grail. Take it away, boys!

“Finding them is easy; overcoming their shyness is not so easy. If a woman is willing to not only make the first move but also follow up on it, things get much easier from that point. It's a matter of breaking down the fear to a certain degree; so many of the music/indie kids with whom I've had contact or observed are crippled with a shyness that probably springs in part from awkward teenage years that have left residual effects. As such, these are not ladykillers. I don't think they will scare off easily once it's obvious the girl is interested, but I also don't think they will initiate contact. Just take it slowly, be modest and easy yourself, and approach with a knowing sense of caution. Always be calm. Always be confident, but not immodest. There's a fine line between the two. You can always sniff out their hangouts; dingy music clubs, independent hipster bars, indie record stores. These guys are all over the place, and most are still looking.”

“Music stores. The whole thing is going to be much tougher for her if she doesn't like music herself, but I think music stores are the way to go, initially. Find one and start going regularly. Sure, you can just randomly chat up cute guys, but if you're looking to do a bit of research first this is a good place to do it. What kind of music does that cute indie fan listen to? How does he treat the staff, his fellow browsers, that poor schmuck who wanders in asking for Britney Spears? Try waiting until all the staff are busy and ask him for some help. You can separate out the snobs and jerks from the nice, (relatively) normal music loving boys pretty easily. Who knows, she might even get lucky and fall in love with some of the music, and then finding a music-loving guy would be that much easier.”

“Having similar tastes to a guy isn't anywhere near as important as being open minded about music. Though, as shallow as I am, I'd be more inclined to go for the girl in a Bomb20 t-shirt as opposed to the same girl in a plain t-shirt. Go to gigs, go to cafes, go to the usual indie bars, record fairs and indie cinema cafes. You'd be surprised how many times the same face pop up. Get yourself to the jukebox and hang around it until your first song comes on, that way the whole bar will know what you love and how cool you are. Try Pixies "Hey" or "I've Been Tired". Just make sure that the last person's have finished first, you don't want to be tarnished with some shite like Big Country or The Farm. Drink cider in pints and don't smoke.”

Of course, you could always opt for my method of tight t-shirts and a notebook in full view at gigs. But I have always been one for the shortcuts. Good luck!

What is your opinion on men over 30 who wear band t-shirts (i.e. PRML SCRM MTHR FCKR or a Brazil Sepultura shirt)?

Age sch-mage. It’s bullshit to think that once someone reaches a certain age, they have to put away such things as band t-shirts or making paper airplanes. I mean, you might want to consider it at like 60 or something, but even then, who really cares? You wanna rock out, be my guest. Although, it is moderately creepy when an adult wears boy band/tweenies gear. But at least they are advertising the fact that they require a wide berth by those of us who are sane.

The only thing regarding band t-shirts that really gets up my nose is when you’re at a show, and someone hits the band’s gift shop, buys a t-shirt and immediately puts it on. They can’t possibly wait until later. Oh no, I must wear this RIGHT NOW! Over my other t-shirt! It’s all stiff with fold lines, smells like a cardboard box and looks totally stupid but I don’t care. Honestly, why do that? We know you are at the show; we are all there too! Stuff it into your bag ready for you to strut your bad ass around in it the day after the show. So provided you don’t do that (particularly if you are over 30, because really, you should know better) sport those band t-shirts well past retirement age. Just don’t forget to work it like it’s the hottest thing ever.

How do girls perceive the mix tape/CD as a romantic gesture? If I were to give a mix of songs I think the girl would like as a birthday present or a Valentine's Day present, would the girl appreciate the thought and effort that went into it, or would she just see it as self-indulgent wankery on my part? Would it make a difference if it were romantically themed?

I think it depends on perspective. I personally love mixed tape/CDs and I am always very flattered whenever I get one. I think it’s because I not only know how much effort it took, but I also know how important they are. Music is a language for guys (especially shy/awkward ones) and that is the realm they are most comfortable working in. They might not be able to say out loud what they think, but they can certainly use the words of John Darnielle, Edwyn Collins or Jamie Stewart to convey it. I guess it is similar to using poetry to convey your feelings.

But some women might not be a clued up about the importance and see it either as a cheap gift or the guy selfishly explaining his devotion with no scope for the girl’s retorts or feelings. And sometimes guys get miffed or hurt if you don’t immediately understand why that song is on there since to them it is obvious, but to the intended? Who knows? So if you are giving a mix to someone, a great idea is to include notes along with the mix, especially if it is a romantically themed one. That way there is a much less chance of being misunderstood. Plus, then it looks like you have put that much more effort into it.

Oh yeah, one thing that is greatly appreciated, make a decent cover for the case. That always goes down a treat.

What’s the best song to help you forget about someone who dumped you?

Oh my. That’s hard since there are so many. But, I am going to go with my gut on this one and pick a little known house music track by Chantelle called “One Man”. Whenever one my friends get trampled on by some guy who wouldn’t know an ace girl if she went up and smacked him in the face (not that any of my friends have done that) we would gather round at one of our houses and blast this tune. Featuring great lines like “There’s no reason to suffer like this, for one set of arms and one set of lips” or “one man is not all that life about” really snaps it into perspective that hey—there are more fish out there. And next time, you’ll get one that you can mount on your wall with pride!

Got it all figured out? Of course you don’t.

By: Lisa Oliver

Log In to Post Comments
Posted 04/02/2004 - 04:35:32 AM by mwalker:
 oh, lisa. you fucking rule.
Posted 04/02/2004 - 10:40:14 AM by clamsy:
 hey, do you guys have to pay nick hornby royalty checks? no, seriously. do you?
Posted 04/02/2004 - 01:07:32 PM by BryanNeil:
 Oh lisa, you do rule. Yet I must assert that music geeks are jerks, so aproach with caution. If by "nice guys" you mean emotionally underdeveloped mammas boys who will be easy to manipulate, then go for it. Breaking it off with one of those guys you'll need a cattle prod. Expect lots of drunken angry pathetic "I just wanted to love you!" late night phone calls. Nick Hornby my arse. I've always enjoyed making mixtapes for friends. Thanks to that guy everytime I make a mixtape for a female (be it long time friend or new acquaintance) they think I'm hitting on them.
Posted 04/02/2004 - 01:08:29 PM by d.a.boyfriend:
 oh, you are a clever one, clam-face. Last I checked, Mr. Hornby doesn't write an advice column. And he also doesn't hold any sort of copyright or intellectual property on talking about music and relationships and gender-related topics and how they work or don't work together. And I'm fairly sure he's not a woman either. So what's your point?
Posted 04/02/2004 - 04:46:19 PM by z.a.mercer:
 Hornby has as much claim to the mixtape as Eno does to ambient...
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