I am calling this the first Weetzie Bat post, because knowing myself, I am fairly positive there will be many posts about Weetzie Bat. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block is hands down my favorite novel. Weetzie’s cultural impact has been recognized widely recently; she was name dropped in the last season of Girls, and the staff at Rookie Mag created a “Hanging Out with Weetzie Bat” playlist earlier this year. After being translated into seven different languages and ruling the young adult genre for 25 years it is finally being turned into a movie directed by Elgin James [http://www.mtv.com/news/2128319/weetzie-bat-movie/].
Weetzie Bat is, without a doubt, the novel that had the most personal impact on me. I first read Violet and Claire by Francesca Lia Block in middle school and I was absolutely floored by Block’s way with words; her writing is visceral. It was the first book that made me feel like I could be a character in it; it was set in Los Angeles, the titular characters were both outcasts in their way, and it was one of the first books I ever ready that frankly talked about sex and was still sexy. I bought Weetzie Bat on a whim a few years later, just because it was the same writer. Weetzie changed EVERYTHING.
Weetzie Bat is a 16 year old girl who throughout the course of the novel grows into a young woman in 1980’s Los Angeles, all while living for punk rock, making and naming her own ridiculous outfits, loving everyone she meets, and believing so blindly in love that when darkness enters her life it envelopes her. To say Weetzie taught me everything I know would be a gross exaggeration, but to deny her as a driving force and influence in my life would be the biggest and most blatant lie I could tell. When people say they want to understand me better, I buy them a copy of Weetzie Bat. When my former best friend couldn’t find Weetzie at her library, she read one of the sequels Necklace of Kisses instead; she called me half way through “This Weetzie chick reminds me of you, if you were in your forties”, I smiled ruefully and told her to keep reading.
I re-read Weetzie Bat about once a year, more often if I’m feeling really lost. In under 100 pages, the modern fairy-tale tackles friendship, family, homosexuality, gay marriage, common law marriage, blended families, AIDS, rape, drug abuse, death, interracial relationships, premarital sex, and most of all love. Weetzie taught me so many things, like being fearless in the face of adversity, believing that magic can be around any corner, and sometimes a breakfast burrito is the answer to your problems. After a quick re-read yesterday morning, I want to throw out my favorite lessons from Ms. Bat; from my first read through to today. (Thar be spoilers ahead!)
-It’s okay to hate high school.
The first sentence in the book is “The reason Weetzie hated high school was because no one understood”. I fucking hated high school. I hated it. I think back on it and I still hate it. I felt like no one got it. That no one got me. For a while, I was convinced I was the problem. Then entered Ms. Weetzie to tell me that sometimes people don’t get you, and they don’t get what you’re into, and because that they can be cruel. And it’s o-fucking-kay to dislike high school because of that.
-Do weird shit because it makes you smile.
Weetzie and her best friend Dirk keep a rubber chicken in their car and hang it out the window when they drive down Sunset just because it makes them laugh. Best part of this lesson? A friend actually bought me a mini rubber chicken after I bought my first car.
-Duck hunting is awesome.
Not actual duck hunting. Weetzie and Dirk call attractive boys ducks and they spend more of their time looking for ducks to date. As an introverted, weird, punk rock 15 year old, attraction, affection, and romance were all wild beasts to me. Several different experiences in life have changed my perspective, but re-reading the book this morning made me giggle; as I have a group text with the #nerdgirlgang that has basically degenerated into nothing but Nicki Minaj quotes and pictures of attractive men that we’ve found online. Ladies and gents, do your thing (as long as you’re being respectful!)
-Love is a dangerous angel.
It’s one of the central quotes of the books, and what the series of Weetzie Bat books is called (Dangerous Angels), but I didn’t understand this one for the longest time. Looking back, having had my heart broken and re-made, and broken and re-made, and broken and re-made, I get it now. Love can be a beautiful savior, salvation, happiness, hope… it can also open you up the most excruciating and unbearable pain. In Christian mythology (please do not write me with your offense at my use of that word), angels are protectors, but they also have the ability to kill with a look. Love is not an angel to be fucked around with.
-Your parents are just people.
Weetzie’s parents, Charlie and Brandy-Lynn are divorced, substance abusers, and possibly still in love with each other, but too caught up in their own drama to work things out. Weetzie feels caught in the middle. She does her best to love and be loved by them both, without falling too deep into their problems and without letting their issues rule her life. I love my mom more than anyone in the world, she’s my go-to for everything. We don’t always see eye to eye. I have to remind myself, she’s just a human being, like me.
-Magic is real. Wishes get granted. Sometimes bad shit has to happen for your wishes to come true.
So, here’s the part where Weetzie gets a little too weird for some people. She literally meets a genie who grants her three wishes. The wishes aren’t granted in a poof! here’s what you want way. There’s a series of coincidences, weird happenings, and Weetzie looks up and realizes the genie did his work. While I’ve personally never met a genie, I do know from experience, if there’s something you want, and you think, pray, and manifest the right energy, things will happen for you. They just may not happen the way you want them to.
-This book has the the most amazing kiss description ever and I’m not going to quote it here, just read the dang book.
This book made me really bitter that I hadn’t had my first real kiss yet, and the first one wasn’t that magical…though it did happen under a blacklight. However, I’ve had a few Weetzie Bat-esque kisses in my life.
-What does happily ever after mean?
Weetzie asks this question half way through the book, and by the end chooses just to live happily. Not everything is sunshine and roses. Not everything feels good forever. But, there are moments. There are ways to find the light and embrace it. There’s the journey to be experienced.
-LA always changes, but it’s magic
Los Angeles is as much a character in this book as Weetzie and Dirk are. Weetzie also notes how much of Los Angeles changed between the 70’s and 80’s. Where there were once theme parks there are malls. Music venues get turned into restaurants…things change. I am so in love with Los Angeles, I can’t even articulate it. It’s my home, my most magical lover, the best friend I’ve ever known. But, nothing here is permanent. The LA I remember from my childhood is not the same LA as when I was teen, which is different from today, and who knows what it will be like in ten years, besides still the most magical amazing place to live. You can see the mountains, the beach, and a free punk show all in the same day. What is there not to love?
-Romantic love isn’t everything; your friends love and provide.
Okay, so a big part of the book is about Weetzie and Dirk longing to meet the men of their dreams. Dirk meets a duck actually named Duck. Weetzie meets a man name My Secret Agent Lover Man (don’t ask). That’s not enough for Weetzie and she wants a child as well. My Secret Agent Lover Man does not. So, Weetzie, Dirk and Duck engage in a drunken sushi fueled threesome while My Secret Agent Lover Man is in the mountains camping and Weetzie gets pregnant. It’s crazy, and I could deconstruct why this is “wrong”, but what I choose to take from it, is that while having a love in your life is important and great and totally all that jazz; having a love isn’t everything. There will be times when your person can’t person in the way that you want/need them to, and you have to have other deep relationships to ensure that your bowl remains full of love.
-Your feelings will manifest in your body.
When My Secret Agent Lover Man finds out about Weetzie’s pregnancy/infidelity he’s pissed (and rightfully so). So then he bails on Weetzie and cheats on her while he’s gone (totally wrong). When he finally comes home, he’s sick as a dog because the woman he cheated with is a witch who cursed him. She comes over the house My Secret Agent Lover Man, Weetzie, Dirk, and Duck share and threatens to curse Weetzie, and Weetzie basically squares her shoulders and tells her to get the fuck out of her house. Then she tells My Secret Agent Lover Man that the curse wouldn’t have worked on her and that, “you got sick because you feel guilty and afraid”. And she was right about that part. Your feelings will turn into bad energy and affect everything you have going on. I am way more likely to catch colds when I’m stressed out and depressed. Anxiety makes my stomach a rollercoaster. Pay attention to your body, check your feelings.
-Make art about your sadness and turn it into something beautiful.
My Secret Agent Lover Man is a film maker. He makes movies starring Weetzie, Dirk, Duck, their other friends, Ping, Valentine, Coyote, and their children, Cherokee (the threesome baby) and Witch Baby (My Secret Agent Lover Man’s baby with the witch woman). Their movies are topical, beautiful, poignant, and help them grieve for friends not only lost to AIDS, but overdoses. This is a lesson that I learned from the book, but didn’t realize until I re-read it yesterday. The majority of the work I do comes from the worst things in my life. To me it’s about the dichotomy of beauty and ugliness, happiness and sadness, love and pain. It’s why this website is called Asphalt and Glitter. Ugly and pretty. Bad things happens, art makes it beautiful.
-Plug into the love current
My favorite quote from the book, right at the ending, and what I’m going to end this with. I don’t think it needs any explaining. “She knew they were all afraid. But love and disease are both like electricity, Weetzie thought. They are always there -- you can't see or smell or hear, touch or taste them, but you know they are there like a current in the air. We can choose, Weetzie thought, we can choose to plug into the love current instead.”
Check out more FLB books here; http://francescaliablock.com I can’t talk about her enough, I’ve read nearly all of her books and they all knock me out. She’s also quite lovely in person, I was fortunate enough to attend a book signing when Necklace of Kisses was released and she was so kind and supportive of my dreams of being a writer/film maker.
Plug into the love current. Until next post. <3