Trouble With Boys

One October night I was sitting on my porch with Dave Bazan and a few close friends drinking wine and cheering up a friend who was in deep despair over his personal life. This didn’t look very fancy. We drank, we made deeply inappropriate jokes, we cooked dinner.

Dave pulled out his phone at one point later in the evening and asked if he could show us something. It was a video, shot by award winning documentarian Brandon Vedder (LA Source, In Pursuit Of Silence), that was going to be used as a promo on Kickstarter for their upcoming documentary about Dave’s career and life.

Dave hasn’t appeared in a video before. But there on the porch, with eight of us gathered around a screen, I watched his daughter run in slow motion as his face looked directly into the screen, and cried as he sang over and to her as she bolted down an empty street.

Either way
You are worthy of love.

It was beautiful. I wept even though it was a phone screen.

I wept because even back in the halcyon days before the results of this election, as a woman (a white, privileged woman) I have been told my value lies in my relationship to men. I am a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend. Never a human. Never allowed to sever the umbilical cord that I was taught to wrap around the wrists of the men who love me. Never pushed out the door and told to run.

Never told that just because I am, that is why I am worthy of love.

And just because I am, means I am worthy of my humanity.

I woke up on Wednesday morning empty and numb. I reached out to friends, especially friends who were LGBTQ, POC, immigrants or children of immigrants, and parents. I reached out and didn’t say much. We just wept. Not because of something beautiful, but because we had just been told by a wide margin that we were not worthy. That because we are, we are less.

Dave woke up that morning, unclear how he would explain to his own daughter and son about what had just happened in our democratic republic, and realized he needed to put that video out out now.

Because art speaks. Art is important. Art is personal, and it is binding. It is for when words fail. It is for when we fall down and need to crawl with our elbows through the mud toward a shrouded destination because we cannot stand.

He called me and told me he didn’t want to sell records from this or raise money for the film. He wanted this to be what it was – art that meant something different a month ago, and suddenly shifted overnight to take on a new purpose. Because that’s what art does when we allow it to speak – it moves and changes and grows.

I watched that video again, as a woman now decisively told that my value is diminished. I watched that video as everything I am – a person, a daughter, a writer, a friend. And I wept. But it had changed. I watched Dave cry, staring down the lens like the barrel of a gun. I watched a white man tear himself open and let his daughter be a person while knowing that the world may be cruel to her because of who she is. I watched him let her run away, and give her love because she is, not because of what she is.

And I walked out the door and started my own long journey into whatever comes next – untying the cords and breaking into a run.

-Kathleen Tarrant

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“Trouble With Boys” From the album “Blanco” on Barsuk Records.
Directed, Shot & Edited by Brandon Vedder
Colored by J Michael Neal
Production assistance by Andy Fitts