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20 Questions: Laurie Lindeen

Photo by ©Ann Marsden

"It's A Wonderful Life", aint' it? Author and musician Laurie Lindeen (Zuzu's Petals), like George Bailey, would know, as she shares some insights with PopMatters 20 Questions.

Petal Pusher

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Subtitle: A Rock and Roll Cinderella Story
Author: Laurie Lindeen
Price: $13.00
Length: 336
Formats: Paperback
ISBN: 9780743292344
US publication date: 2008-09

Zuzu's Petals

Kicking Our Own Asses: The Best of Zuzu's Petals

Label: Rhino
US Release Date: 2008

Life never lives up to the Cinderella story standards found in the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals that Lindeen loves, but no matter how one's life goes, there's always a great soundtrack to go along with it. Her recent memoir, Petal Pusher, like the lyrics in the songs from her former all-girl indie rock band, Zuzu's Petals, is laced with hopeful melancholy, dry, biting wit and jagged rhythms.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. Even though I entered the deal knowing that the main character was doomed, I wasn't ready for Patchett's tight, beautiful prose to be over.

I prefer beautiful non-fiction writing to too- sad or depressing fiction no matter how lovely. There's nothing worse than a book hangover or being "between books". It's like being between boyfriends, that period when you'll go out with just about anybody whether they're "your type" or not until you're ready to get serious, again.

Oh, I notice about three-quarters of the way through a good book that I'm nearing the end, and I try to slow down. I know there's an end in sight, and I'm very interested in how authors work themselves out of their stories - that part where the narrative arc is on its descent is usually the best place to see authors tap dancing for their lives.

I heard somewhere that most readers don't actually finish books, which would explain the myriad of books that seem to stop giving a hoot by that 3/4 mark. Between real books, I'll happily settle for biographies (unauthorized are A-okay in cases where I dislike the subject and I want affirmation), popular fiction, hot books that people are talking about, and gossip magazines - not that there's anything wrong with any of 'em having one foot firmly planted in the school of low brow.

Wonderful Tonight by Patty Boyd and Codependent No More by Melody Beattie both made me cry because they made me painfully aware of the fact that I'm screwed. The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup is getting me down now, too.

Most movies make me cry. I cry at sentimental "look who's waiting downstairs to surprise you on your birthday" or "reasons to quit smoking" commercials, as well.

I cried when I had to explain erectile dysfunction to my son at age seven while watching a baseball game. Last weekend while resting between water parks in the Wisconsin Dells, I watched College Road Trip with three boys and I silently wept because Martin Lawrence is a really fine actor, and because my own son will be ready for college (I presume) in a few short years.

Either that or I may have been crying because I was resting between water parks in the Dells. I suspect it was because Lawrence's character, faced with his oldest child in the process of choosing a college, spends sleepless nights fretting and watching home videos of said daughter as a little girl. I am exactly the type of sappy sucker that Disney had in mind when making this film.

I also cried at Mark Wahlberg's football movie, Invincible. Another Disney. Why are they so bent on making you cry?

My son glared at me during the first scene of Finding Nemo -- where Nemo's mother and siblings are taken out -- and demanded we leave. I'm not really much of a crier, though.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Probably a mixture of Erica Jong's Isadora, Rebecca from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Jo in Little Women with a little Madame Bovary, Eloise, and Ado Annie from Oklahoma! thrown in for laughs.

3. The greatest album, ever?

I Often Dream of Trains by Robyn Hitchcock; I have absolutely no idea why this album is so embedded in my heart, but it's weirdness, intelligence, humor and tunesmithery entered my psyche at the very impressionable age of 22 (16 on most people's time table).

The piano is haunting and gorgeous and I've heard Hitchcock has little recollection of actually making this record. This is par for the course with me; I tend to love the record that the musician has little memory of or attachment to (Bob Dylan's Desire, The Stones Exile on Main Street, etc.).

That first Roxy Music record is pretty special too. So is the original London cast production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Oh ya, the greatest album ever is Kicking Our Own Asses by Zuzu's Petals (available on Rhino Handmade). Duh.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

That's like asking Renaissance Festival or Science Museum, or Lego's or Bionicles. I dislike - with a passion - the fantasy space genre. This may explain my son being the only child on the planet who openly dislikes Harry Potter - clearly he inherited my anti-space/weird historical periods inhabited by creatures gene. Though William Shatner certainly is intriguing.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Coffee and eggs and the writings of Patricia Hampl, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gay Talese and Judy Blume. Today, anyway.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Following Kenny Rogers (pre-face lift) words of wisdom and "knowing when to hold 'em, and knowing when to fold 'em."

7. You want to be remembered for...?

(See above) Or, she loved a good challenge.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Isn't everyone that comes before you inspirational is some way, either positive or negative? I admire survivors and thinkers and introspective types.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

The soundtrack and score for Oklahoma!

10. Your hidden talents...?

Back in my wilder days I could smoke a cigarette while holding it with my toes.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Eat, drink, and be merry? Always wash your hands? Stay cool is still the main rule?

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

The best thing I ever bought is a Ped-Egg and the NBA Season Pass on cable (instead of Timberwolves season tickets). I prefer to be ignorant of the mass of intellectual property I have probably subconsciously stolen.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

I feel best in a beautiful frock. I just love a good dress.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

How sad is this: my family. Or how about Amy and David Sedaris? Mary Karr? Joanne Woodward? Marianne Faithfull? Barack Obama? Kevin Garnett? Do they have to be alive? If not, I'd like to have a few words with Sigmund Freud and Dr. Benjamin Spock.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

As stated above in the Trekkie/nerd question; I don't do time travel. Though I guess I would like to be able to buy dresses in a department store circa the '40s and '50s.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Lunesta, Lunesta, Lunesta and a 90-minute massage by a strong and gifted masseuse. And pedicures. Walking, yoga, pale ale. Community. Good old Midwestern passive aggressiveness.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

Coffee, music, books, somebody to love, a cool body of water nearby. Chocolate is always good, as is Advil.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

I almost became a year-round islander on Martha's Vineyard as a young hash slinger. It is the place I feel the most at home, the most relaxed, the happiest (the most white trash) - but that doesn't mean I want any more people checking it out.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

I think those Keebler elves running the windmills of your mind have up and quit.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

A novel. Two collections of narrative essays. More than anything in the world I would like to pull a "how to talk to your hairdresser" type book out of my butt to support my prose habit. Cleaning my office, it looks like a crazy hoarder inhabits it, which is probably the case.

Zuzu's Petals Coleen Elwood, Laurie Lindeen and Linda Pitmon, circa 1992

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