Blogging Post Seriously Vacated 7/14/08

Bubbles & Cheesecake existed from Sept., 2006 until February, 2008. We had an illustrious start – the only video we released in that time, “It’s A Woman Thang”, exploded on YouTube and was named an Official Honoree in the viral category of the 2008 Webbys. But Holly and Cheesecake had vastly different dreams from Allee and Bubbles and each/all four of us went our separate ways. Allee & Bubbles remain a stalwart team with their last homemade Bubbles & Cheesecake video, “Editing Is Cool”,

about to pop (as well as “I Confess”,
directed by Prudence Fenton) and their first time ever painting collaboration about to be feted in Los Angeles on August 8th.

To enter the more current kingdom of blogdom, click here.

Blogging post vacated

ok. ok. I know. We haven’t been blogging. But I wake up before my cells are ready to start the day and I go to bed when my head can no longer see straight from what’s been stuffed into it over the previous 16 hours. When the youtube thing hit – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo_VXWO5SKo – we were totally unprepared with enough videos to keep the wheels greased. And you need songs to go with the videos. We had it all timed out to complete new ones but the close to 900,000 views threw it into high gear and all this stuff we thought we had months to prepare we all of a sudden only had weeks. And if you were really smart you only had days. Up til now we’ve been coasting on all our own juice and had no real team together. So weve been writing and shooting and painting and interviewing and crying and sometimes laughing around the clock. But we haven’t been blogging. Sometimes, when you do something that makes you discover as much about yourself as the work you’re doing you need to keep thoughts simmering inside. If you expose them too quickly you stick a pin in the gestation balloon and you lose air too fast to complete your thought. So the blogging is happening but it’s in the confines of our heads and the blisters on our hands from constant pounding of keyboards spitting out words, musical notes and video effects. Two new videos are almost here.

let’s get a burger!


today we laid our instruments down and went to Pie ‘n Burger in pasadena and enjoyed the simple gorgeous pleasure of the best burger in the world. i’ve had enough of complexity for the moment, i have many conflicting feelings right now, as a week later, we are up to over 700,000 views on youtube. the debate that has bubbled up (no pun intended) is a healthy albeit troubling one rife with opinions from all points on the gender spectrum. also i am coming to terms with the fact that as much as i would like to only sing and write songs all day, it’s not enough communication to make a dent in the consciousness of our times. i love communicating in conversation (especially over burgers) and in song. i understand that to make connections between my world and others’ out there, i need to show up on other blogs and communicate. that is what i should i be doing now instead of chewing.

Moving on…

This youtube explosion over the past four days has been a serious eye opener. I love that we got featured because there are now half a million people that know we exist. This has been a huge help flow to Allee and I which we truly appreciate. The disconcerting part of all of this is twofold. One: Youtube takes negligible responsibility for the content/communications of its users. In talking about it with Allee, she says that in the early nineties when the idea of social networking and these types of sites came into being, the aspect of a moral conscience is part what held back their development especially as per willisville, her prototype for such a network. In other words, it was not knowing how to handle/take responsibility for user content that slowed the progress of this type of site. Fast forward to the present: my experience this week points to the fact that that question still has not been answered and is actually being largely ignored as far as I can see. Free speech and self-expression are vital to the mental health of any society, right? But when it comes to comments of a hateful and violent nature, could we have some attempts to handle that? With the amount of traffic and money being generated by youtube, I think the resources exist to find a way to take some care and responsibility for what is going on. I don’t mind if someone doesn’t like what i do! But is it really okay for death threats to come through with no recourse? The second major thing I’m trying to wrap my head around is the anger out there between the sexes that I was blissfully unaware of as an American woman in the year 2007. Who knew that there were this many people who feel like sex and cooking are the only things that a woman is good for?

What Hath Thou Unleashed? 510,617 and counting

The youtube experience that’s happening to us now blows every brain cell in my in my head. For this to make any sense, please check out the plethora of moronic anti-female stay-in-the-kitchen-bitch-but-not-before-you- spread-your-legs comments at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo_VXWO5SKo.

The very founding premise of Bubbles & Cheesecake was to inspire people to build up their self esteem by learning to express themselves creatively – in words, lifestyle, dress, lawn ornaments, whatever canvas Life shoots your way. It never dawned on Holly or I that that one little song and video could unleash such a firestorm of self expression, if that’s what you can call the diatribes, many of them incredulously illiterate, that have polarized men and women on our page. Hear me loud and clear: THIS SONG HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MALE VERSUS FEMALE ANYTHING. How on earth anyone even deducts that from this song or video is flabergasting to me. If that’s what we were saying do you honestly think the best visual approach would have been 60 cartoon ladies and us cavorting in a pool? We have been told a thousand times over the past 48 hours that youtube comments are a breeding ground for unhappy, largely unsuccessful, angry at the world kind of people (who are probably 15 years old) who are pissed that no one has noticed and featured the video of them burning ants or singing “September” or “I’m Here” from Color Purple or the zillion other videos up there of people singing my songs in their bedroom. So, to be clear, here’s a line by line analysis of what “It’s A Woman Thang” means from our perspective. And, fyi, you can actually hear us writing the song,often line by line, at http://www.bubblesandcheesecake.com/iawt/writingaudio.html.

“It’s A Woman Thang”

When you think that you don’t know what you know
when you know that you really do know (everyone has had trouble expressing themselves at times, even when they have an instinct that what they are feeling is right.)
It’s a dirty ol shame in a dirty ol game
that you let your power go. (this isn’t the first time you’ve been weak when you know you have the goods to be strong.)
That’s a woman thang. oh yeah
That’s a woman thang. (this type of behavior is historically more typical in women than men.)

Now when I say it’s a woman thang
my mama did it,
your mama did it,
My mama before her mama did it. (it’s been going on since Adam and Eve)
But what I mean’s you got the strength inside
to speak your mind and turn the tide. (stand up for yourself. walk out of abusive relationsips, bad jobs and the like whether you’re male or female. only you can clear the air around you.)

The first time hard,
the second time easier,
the third time easier still. (practice makes perfect.)

When you think that you don’t know what you know
when you know that you really do know. (oh God, here I go again making the same stupid mistakes in not standing up for myself.)
It’s a dirty ol shame in a dirty ol game
that you let your power go. (why am I so weak?)
That’s a woman thang.
That’s a woman thang. (not speaking up is usually attributed more to females than males.)
you gotta fight that girl (speak up!)

Now ask yourself this very thing,
am I a woman?
Am I a waif? (are you strong or are you powerless?)
Am I the one that I forsake? (why do I always sell myself down the river?)
And if someone come and try and mess with me
can I count on the love and the blessings in me? (can I count on myself to stick up for myself, to express my feelings, to demand I be treated with respect, regardless of whether I’m female or male.)

The first time hard,
the second time easier,
the third time easier still (demanding respect gets easier everytime you stand up for yourself.)

When you think that you don’t know what you know
when you know that you really do know.
It’s a dirty ol shame in a dirty ol game
that you let your power go. (oh boy, here I go again acting like a wimp because I really have an opinion here I’m not expressing.)
That’s a woman thang. (that’s an everybody thang.)
That’s a woman thang.
That’s a woman thang.
You gotta fight that, girl. (do something about it!)

1, 2, 3, let’s go/ we’s at the door ( get ready, here I come.)

Na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na (felt better singing na na na than to write lyrics here.)

Give a woman what she want
Give a woman what she need
Give that woman her due
so her heart don’t bleed. (I AM somebody! If you can’t see that why am I still here?)

Give a woman what she want
Give a woman what she need
Give that woman her due
so her heart don’t bleed. (I’m saying it loud and clear. respect me as I respect you or I’m outta here.)

If anyone with even half a brain cell left in their head can’t see that this is not an anti-male call to war but, rather, a universal song about respecting and expressing oneself – It’s An Everybody Thang – I don’t know what to say. It makes Holly, Bubbles, Cheesecake and I very proud that we have exposed the predjudice lurking behind so many dull eyes and lazy brains that only have the courage to express themselves when hiding in the glow of their computer screens.

trolls

Ok. Despite that fact that I am elated “It’s A Woman Thang” is at almost a half million views on youtube, we have three ever present trolls – Mariafem24, tinazboobz4u, and lacie21fem – all of whom emanate out of the same porn site – who are “watching now” literally 95% of the time and instantly put thumbs down on any positive comments that are made. We tracked and documented this for the last 24 hours and then reported it to youtube. Here’s the response we got back:
“This is an automated response to let you know that your message has been caught by our spam filter and won’t be read. Either the submit button was pressed more than once and this is in response to a duplicate message (which it wasn’t), or you didn’t check out any of our Help Center content (yes, unsuccessfully for about 3 hours.) Please don’t reply to this message — we won’t get your response.”

Are these people serious?! I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth as they did make us a featured video but that’s as offensive as the trolls are. I spent most of the 1990′s developing a prototype for the first visual social network in cyberspace. One of the main things preventing us from going any further was we couldn’t figure out how to prevent people from sabotaging other people’s efforts online. Yes, youtube has a “block user” function. Have you ever tried to use it?! It blocks for about 5 minutes and then the trolls come crawling back. BTW, I’m as outraged by ebay not taking any moral responsibility when people get screwed in their transactions.

what we’re really saying…

We’re up to almost 350,000 views on youtube. Go look at the comments. There is so much insanity there, it’s really shocking! Allee and i were having a laugh making a video with a sound message which is basically, “Don’t second guess yourself. Trust that you know what you know!” And yes, women historically HAVE been challenged in this area and we’re singing about it. Period. The wrath that we’ve incurred is absolutely amazing to me. How do people have so much time to sit around and hate? We don’t say ANYTHING in the song about men, or hating men, or it BLAMING men. Rather the idea that we’re putting out there is, “You, woman, are responsible for what happens to you, and how you think and what you create.” Period. Responsibility is a beautiful thing. Blame is not.

youtube

Youtube…. We were going along building an audience slowly but surely and then yesterday BOOM!, we were the featured video – not paid for, not solicited, it just happened – and all of a sudden there are a quarter of a million views in just 24 hours and this little innocent video we made ourselves is causing an absolute gender war online. “It’s A Woman Thang” was just written as a fun song and video. Bubbles & Cheesecake is about discovering your true self through creative expression. It’s as much a DIY arts and crafts project as it is anything. The hook line of the song is “When you think that you don’t know what you know when you know that you really do know/ It’s a dirty ol shame in a dirty ol game that you let your power go. That’s a woman thang.” Yes, that IS particularly a woman thang but the real message here is self expression is a human thang – so discover yourself, be proud of who you are and figure out some positive way of showing it. Simple, no grand political grandstanding going on here. Well…… check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo_VXWO5SKo if you really want to get scared by the state of female equality in 2007. It’s the dream of every artist to create work that inspires coversations that expose prejudice and bring issues left smoldering in a corner to the center of the room. I’ve been there before, most recently with the musical version of The Color Purple. But this one’s a real trip because “It’s A Woman Thang” is just a happy hooky song about standing up. Well, I guess it’s going to be a very interesting ride…

exploding on youtube!

unexpectedly and without any solicitation from us, our “it’s a woman thang” video was featured on youtube yesterday. we went up a quarter of a million views OVERNIGHT and it’s still up! the crazy thing about it is that the song/video have sparked a gender war on-line in the comments. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo_VXWO5SKo check it out. it’s unbelievable! i’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

More bang for the buck

Me and one of my best friends, Nancye Ferguson, took Holly and Cheesecake clothes shopping. Nancye and I are both known for our eccentric (and fabulous I might add) mode of dress, albeit at opposite ends of the size scale. As Bubbles & Cheesecake encourages maximum thrust when it comes to self expression we thought Cheesecake especially could kick it up a few notches. I hate malls, crowds, lines, parking structures and all things trips like this entail but this was in service of Cheesecake so off we went. This is my video diary of the evening.

shopping trip

about two years ago, i chucked 98% of my clothes. many had been given to me by stylists, many of them i bought and a few of them i think my mom got from costco. every time i got dressed at that time, i felt like an unwilling participant in a travelogue into my past. i didn’t like the feeling so i got rid of EVERYTHING. some things i gave away, some i sold, and i did it in layers, peeling back each disposable aspect of myself. i then started wearing chucks, (or vans), jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. when cheesecake showed up i went out and bought a couple things. she likes to look hot and flash her legs around, so i’ve had to find things for her to wear. over the few months, as we’ve been stepping out more, i’ve gotten a little more and more stressed every time we went out. i was verging on running out of things that she likes and found additionally that i have in fact become a reluctant shopper. i actually LOVE great clothes, i just don’t love to go digging around to find them. bubbles, allee and their friend nancye took cheesecake and i shopping and i think they rehabilitated me…. check the video above.

every day…

every day we remain in the ongoing search for the best ways and tools of promoting what we are doing. as we get further along in time, i feel more and more certainty AND i must add, enjoyment of what allee and i are doing. we started out writing songs together. then we decided to make a whole album together, writing, recording and producing it ourselves. then THAT basic relationship and concept deepened to include our alter-egos and the many other facets of B&C that we have created and are continuing to expand upon now. as we have now launched and i am seeing the effects we are creating out in the world, i am buoyed by the love and excitement we are meeting. we have been working for over a year now, 14 months to be exact, and in some ways, it feels like we have just started!

Who U?

Lying in bed exhausted, recovering from the ‘Who U?’ Portrait Party Cheesecake and I threw over the weekend. Guests had to craft a portrait of themselves and write a matching essay.

Go here for complete coverage.

Trying to write

A couple days ago we tried to write a lyric to the as yet untitled song we’re working on now called at various times in the writing process ‘The Na Na Song’, ‘Evil Devil Thoughts’, ‘The Law Of Attraction’ and ‘Bottom Feeder’. It remains untitled and without a second verse, bridge or fade. Here’s what much of the day was like:
And then there were these moments:

So the trick of remaining sane when engaging in the profession of songwriting is to remain calm when the inevitable cocoon of nothingness chokes your brain to a halt. I love collaborating because at least I don’t have to endure the torture alone. Something always comes, even if it’s tossing the song out. It’s such a relief at that point that it feels like an acheivment of some sort. You have to know yourself in a Pavlovian way and recognize how to interpret things as little treats even on your worst day.

this is us not getting in somewhere tonight…

here’s us on the phone looking for our publicist…

here we found him and he’s trying to get us in…

here’s allee. this is self-explanatory, no?

this is the cool ass bike of very nice dude that we met there. it’s a fixy…meaning it has no gears and no brakes. it’s HARDCORE! it’s the kind of bike that b&c would ride, if someone else could man the controls.

Numbing the digits

So my brain is spinning and I’m in that ‘my body and mind are cement’ mood that happens when too many things are going on at once, no one event more pressing than the other, so they all smush into a ball of goo and muddle your brain so all you can do is sit and arrange pencils or watch tv – which I love doing so it’s not that painful. We have many songs to start building visual universes around. The site is meant to be a series of snap on modules, each song having it’s own visual identity as well as palette of associated games, activities and diaries of how that song was created, how the video evolved, etc. That all sounds easy after the trauma of figuring out our first prototype, the Woman Thangs chunk you’re in now. But everything needs to be designed and all at once. Not to mention writing the actual song/s, conceiving the actual video/s, and figuring out how to constantly up the ante on the website. Yesterday we designed business cards, postcards, appeared on Hunnypot Radio, filled store orders – one for LA Eyeworks, which will carry Bubbles & Cheesecake products for Christmas – started the I Confess and Song We Have No Title For Yet But Are Actively Searching For chunks. The latter means writing the song, recording the song, storyboarding the video, starting to build the video sets, figuring out the web component, all at the same time as trying to figure out how to move the merchandise in the store, how to publicize ourselves, how to redefine the record business… we’re totally indie so the challenge is immense. Horrifying at times and at other times incredibly liberating. Yesterday we just numbed our digits attempting to figure this all out.

I see Holly posted photos of our storyboard meeting on Sunday with Prudence on I Confess. Here’s what it looked like from my perspective:

november 6th..

on sunday we met with prudence fenton, the fantastic video producer/director who is making the video for our song, “i confess”. here’s a couple pics of what we were up to…

Christmas Cards

One of the 400 to dos today re Bubbles & Cheesecake is turning this fine Bubbles painting called “Who Has To Go More” into a Christmas card.

She’s going to put little Santa hats on all the dogs. As Bubbles has such an astounding sense of perspective this ought to be interesting as the hats need to look like they’re actually resting on heads.

20 minutes later: Hats have been applied.

Bubbles did a much more accurate job than I was prepared for. With all the drawing and painting Bubbles had to do for the website and our It’s A Woman Thang video, I’m afraid she’s getting too good. Re another aspect of the painting, I just noticed the fire hydrant.

It’s stuff like this that I honestly don’t notice when Bubbles first paints them that kills me. I know there’s some altered state of mind I enter when she walks into the room. How could I not have noticed the genetalia protruding from the snow? Or is it the dog’s?

november 1

we are starting to get a good amount of online press rolling in. it feels good for B&C&A and I to read the posts by some of the bloggers out there. check this one out: http://zxlcreative.blogs.com/electroqueer/2007/10/if-gnarls-barkl.html

To B Or Not To B

Having trouble motivating myself to blog. I think because, as opposed to most people’s blog which is the heart of their web presence, it’s only a sliver of the planet known as Bubbles & Cheesecake and we express ourselves through music and art and things we make that decorate our words and add to the ambiance just as the right lamp can completely change the effect of light in a room.

It’s only in a particular creative mood that I feel this way – don’t do it til you feel it – but it’s coming at a time when not blogging isn’t an option. Anyway, this morning started off with an ichat with Holly & Cheesecake discussing Bubbles’ and my resistance and possible solutions:

halloween…

today is halloween. for my costume i have chosen, NOTHING! i love halloween and have been thinking about who i was going to be for the last month or so. then, i caught a damn cold and though a good friend is having a BIG party tonight, i will probably stay at home as myself in pajamas…. allee and i had a nice long ichat today, as i am home with said halloween cold. normally when we have those discussions i am at over at willisville and we are working on a million things. as a result, it can be a bit of a challenge for us to stay focused and get our planning and brainstorming on for the full amount of time we desire/require. so today, we were turning over allee’s realization that the B&C site as packed with color and music and fun as it is, has one slightly dead spot: the blog! we vowed to give it some love every day. stand by…

new song is on..

allee and i started working on another song the other day. it was great to be back in that space. we set up a video camera and went to work. we have a good time writing songs together cause we always end up in some impassioned discussion about something or other. we circle around the idea we want to communicate and there are a lot of, “but what really are we saying? are we saying, ‘THIS’ or are we saying, ‘THAT’? …cause, i thought we were saying ‘this’, but it sounds like you are saying, ‘that’, and i want to say, ‘this’. then the other one says, “well, how would you say THAT then”?

1450 +

okay, so we’re passed the 1450 mark on youtube! when i’m away from the computer, i find myself thinking, “hmmm…..i wonder what we’re up to now.” it’s great to see the number jump every day, when we are just in the very beginning stages of publicizing B&C.

non blog

I’m going insane from all the party follow-up and trying to get finishing touches on the website, which, of course, are only beginning touches now that we’re live. I usually have no trouble talking about what I’m doing but this is a very intricate little web of music/art/video/lifestyle/parties/trips/technology we’ve woven and it’s choking me at the moment so I’m leaving the blogging to Holly who free flows with the best of them. I will be back soon. I have much to say. Ask me anything you want. It may jog my brain.

day 2

the party last night was a blast! it was so good to be out of the lab and into the world! we screened the video several times throughout the night and seeing the effect it made on people was BRILLIANT! allee and i both got lots of props from lots of people. maurice white, brenda russel, jennifer coolige and tons of other great guests were buzzing about B & C! today was a bit weird however, as YOU TUBE stopped counting our plays for most of the day for some reason. this morning our plays were at a hundred and something and then almost three hundred an hour later and then for hours, NOTHING more, while we knew people were watching it. allee was heartbroken, as in her mind, many people watch the number of plays as an index of how “good” or popular something is. i, on the otherhand, didn’t think it was that crucial. my feeling is, something that’s interesting will be just as interesting on days 2, 3, 50 and 100. so, if YOU TUBE is glitching, not to worry. if we’re gonna catch fire, we’re gonna catch fire, no matter what!

Blast off!

The reason I was so intriqued was that Holly had been my (Allee’s) protege in real life – as close to one as I ever had in that she loved spontaneity and flying wild as much as I did and our writing and demos reflected it – so it was totally organic to think that my alter-ego, Bubbles the artist, would also have a protégé in Cheesecake. But it wasn’t until Holly said “And let’s do a CD called The Soul Of Bubbles & Cheesecake” that I said YES!!!. That’s it! I had finished co-writing the Broadway version of The Color Purple in Dec. 05. It was now Sept. 06 and I had been looking for a way to be Bubbles again ever since. She (Bubbles) was bored painting. I/we was/were always a multi-media artist and painting alone wasn’t dimensional enough. Just like music alone was never enough for Allee. I had retired Bubbles three years into the five years it took to write The Color Purple. I was her manager and the time it took to develop her career stole too much brain power when I needed every milli-inch of it to become Celie in the deep south from 1909-1949 and write this musical. But I always thought that once it was done Bubbles would turn back to painting and document “The Making Of …” as she was the only other person in the room with me and my collaborators, Brenda Russell, Stephen Bray and Marsha Norman. But when I stayed in NY to begin the process I hated what Bubbles came up with. After 5 days and 12 jars of purple paint I realized it wasn’t working and I decided for the first time in my career to just sit and wait to see what inspiration shook loose and either be Bubbles or not. I didn’t expect it to take 9 months but when Holly said “The SOUL Of Bubbles & Cheesecake” every nerve, bone, capillary in my body tingled. It was SOUL! It was multi-media! It was a chance to combine my music, art, technology, writing, party hostess skills and pick up what I had started 15 years earlier in developing willisville, a new form of entertainment with the internet as the hub. I had no idea what to do or how to start but that day last September (my lucky month and name of my first hit song) we were writing a song called “It’s A Woman Thang” and I looked around the studio at all the Bubbles paintings and all these funny little women were staring back, begging me to put them in the video. I never care much about finished products. I’m waaaaayyyy more interested in process. And THAT’S what I realized B&C was more than anything – an evolving process that allows us, because we’re independent, to FINALLY make the art we want. And that grows as a result of people participating in it. I like to build the ball park and field the balls. My mitt is poised.

today is the day!

okay, at this moment the time is 12:09 PST on wednesday, october 17th and all here at willisville are in full on party preparation mode! tonight at 6:00 PST, we will launch our art/music/web/soul extravaganza: bubblesandcheesecake.com. allee, bubbles, cheesecake, murray the engineer and i have been working on this for over a year. so, needless to say, all are a flutter with last minute tweaks, inspirations, fixes and excitement. sometimes it felt like this day would never come. it’s been a wild ride.

allee and i got together to write a year ago september, 2006 for what would be my 5th solo album. her stipulation in working together had been that we make the final recordings here at willisville. her feeling was that the other songs that we had written and recorded had not been done justice when re-recorded for my albums, “i confess” and “songs for tuesday”. she thought the records were good but had lost the funky-kooky-distinctive-soulful flavor that she and i had conjured up when producing the demos together.

midway through that first day, i had the thought that if we were going to make the records together, that they should not have only my name on them. allee’s musical parts and signature background vocals are so unique that i felt that someone listening to the records, should know the name of this musical force called allee willis. so i turned to her and said, “you know, allee…if we are going to make this album together, it shouldn’t just be a holly p album, it should be a holly and allee album.” she was slightly intrigued, but only slightly…

about an hour later i said to her, “you know…i have an alter-ego now”. she said, “oh?’. i said, “yeah, MC CHEESECAKE. that’s my alter-ego. she just got born the other day, when i was driving down the street with my husband joe. i was desperately hungry and started rhyming about all the food i wanted to eat. when i got to the desserts, joe shouted, LOOK OUT NOW! IT’S MC CHEESECAKE!”

allee looked slightly more intrigued.

i said, ” yeah, so uh…..cheesecake feels very strongly that she is bubbles’ protege, the same way that i have been your songwriting protege.” for those new to willisville, allee has an alter-ego called bubbles the artist, who is a very serious, very fantastic painter. anyhow, here’s where the story turns.. i said, “allee, this album should not be just a holly and allee album, it should be a bubbles and cheesecake album and i know what we’re gonna call it.”

“what?”, she said.

“THE SOUL OF BUBBLES & CHEESECAKE”.



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