Dangerous Angels Book Club: Missing Angel Juan

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So my fall semester of grad school started this past Wednesday, about two- three weeks earlier than I expected. When I looked it up a week before, I kind of freaked out and lost track of everything. So I fell behind on reading and making and blogging and writing. I’m still trying to get back into the rhythm of things.

Missing Angel Juan is my favorite story in the Dangerous Angels books. I love the sadness and the longing, I love the ghost story and the photographs and the wandering around NYC. I love the findings and the letting go.

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In the story, Angel Juan leaves Witch Baby to find herself. He goes to NYC and she only hears from him through one postcard but she spends the rest of the story in NYC looking for him. She stays at her late almost grandpa Charlie Bat’s apartment and spends the days with his ghost. She writes post cards she cannot send and buys one from a vendor that turns out to be a postcard from Angel Juan that never made it to Witch Baby. The use of postcards and indent letters inspired me to use this format to share some bits about Missing Angel Juan.

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Dangerous Angels Book Club: Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys

Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys is always a story I mostly forget and one that doesn’t stand out to me, but rereading it this time I finally realized why. Cherokee as a character was never my favorite. There’s nothing wrong with her and she’s as sweet as pie, but I think it’s because she tends to blend in and her struggles are more superficial that I tend to gloss over her. In a way she’s the perfect sister to Witch Baby because they are polar opposites.

I met Miranda aka The Good Groupie on Open Diary many many years ago around the exact same time I was discovering a love for Francesca Lia Block novels and we bonded over our love of Hanson and pretty fiction. Miranda could easily be Cherokee if she braided her hair and ran through Canyons.

Miranda used her love of music to create the perfect playlist for you guys while quoting the text and explaining her choice for each song.

Cherokee Bat & The Goat Guys

When Melanie asked me to join in her Dangerous Angels book club, I was flattered and excited. She and I became friends through not only our mutual love of Francesca Lia Block but also a mutual love of music. Given I write a music blog, it seemed only natural for me to choose the book in Dangerous Angels about a band. Following Melanie’s guide, here’s my take on “Cherokee Bat & The Goat Guys” via playlist!

http://magtotoart.blogspot.com/2009/07/cherokee-bat-and-goat-guys.html

About

“Cherokee Bat & The Goat Guys” was originally published in 1993 as the third book of the Dangerous Angels series. The story is a tried and true tale of rock-n-roll, following Cherokee, Weetzie Bat’s daughter, and her friends as they start a band, find success and deal with the corruption of their spirits.

The story is broken into five sections: four focus on gifts given to each character that transform them from teenagers to rock stars; and the final section, titled “Home”, brings our rock stars back from the brink of destruction to rediscovering themselves. To walk us through each, I’ve highlighted mini-playlists focusing on characters, quotes, plot and a catch-all “other” category. I hope you enjoy listening your way through this fantastic novel as much as you loved reading it.

Cherokee Bat & The Goat Guys Playlist

I sadly could not get the playlist to embed into this page, so please click above and listen while you read!

Wings

Character: “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles

Witch Baby Wigg Bat is a tangle of black hair, purple slanty eyes and full of snarky, surly dialogue most days. She’s one witchy woman.

Plot: “A Song to Sing” by Hanson

Witch Baby locks herself away in the garden shed and buries herself in the mud. She refuses to leave, even for her own birthday party. She’s looking for a song to sing and a friend to borrow.

Food: “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore

Crumbled corn bread, green chilies, artichoke hearts, cheese, red peppers, chips, soda and ice cream cake are all birthday party fare for Witch Baby’s celebration.

Quote: “Do You Believe in Magic?” by The Lovin’ Spoonful

“You are magic.”

Francesca Lia Block’s stories are all about magic – not fairy dust and spells, but the magic inside you that you don’t even realize you possess. Cherokee shares her magic when she enlists their pseudo-guardian Coyote’s help and creates the wings for Witch Baby – believe in the magic in a young girl’s soul.

http://beetlejuiced.deviantart.com/art/Cherokee-Bat-and-Witch-Baby-42579378

Haunches

Character: “Magic Man” by Heart

Raphael Jah-Love is Cherokee’s everything. No one can weave magic without someone to stand by and witness its creation. But that magic can change quickly, as it does between Raphael and Cherokee, into just the physical. After giving Raphael his haunches to make him a Goat Guy, he looks right through her and says, in so many words, “You don’t have to love me.”

Plot: “Los Angeles” by X

As Cherokee and Raphael race through the streets of Los Angeles one night, Cherokee convinces Raphael they must share their music with the world. This song is what I imagine the Goat Guys demo tape sounded like as they shopped it around the clubs.

Quote: “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass

“…they were a rockin’ slink-chunk, slam-dunk band…”

The Goat Guys make their own kind of music and sing their own special song.

Style: “Lust For Life” by Iggy Pop

I imagine Raphael’s goat guy pants to make him look something like Iggy Pop, strutting around the stage in just his jeans, bare chested and absolutely commanding his audience.

Horns

Character: “Johnny Angel” by Shelley Farabares

Angel Juan Perez returns to his friends after too many years away in Mexico with his family. Witch Baby dreams of belonging to him but is terrified to admit it. During all the time he’s gone, she sits and waits, concentrates on him returning someday.

Plot: “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon

Witch Baby has her wings. Raphael has his goat pants. But Angel Juan has nothing and fades away on stage until he lashes out at the rest of the band one night. Witch Baby reveals he’s jealous of Raphael’s goat pants and how he struts around like he’s the only one in the band. He’s so vain, he probably thinks every song is about him…

Quote: “Broken Angel” by Hanson

“You must grow at a slow pace in a dark cocoon of loneliness so you can fly away like wind, like wings, when you awaken.”

This is the sage advice Coyote gives Cherokee when she returns to him asking for a gift for Angel Juan. The band is growing, everything is happening quickly and no one wants to wait for things to come naturally. Everyone is missing the lesson.

Word: “Rock N Roll Outlaw” by Clutch

Witch Baby uses the word clutch when she’s angry – and that’s often in this section. This song, by a band whose name is her favorite insult, sounds like what I’d guess is playing inside Witch Baby’s head as she’s getting angry at Cherokee for not giving Angel Juan a gift and decides to steal Coyote’s horns for herself.

Hooves

http://crunchingsandmunchings.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/an-extravaganza-of-ya-lit-awesomeness/

Character: “Golly Sandra” by Eisley

Cherokee Bat has grown up really crazy. She has a Secret Agent Lover Man for a father, a beautiful punk rock goddess for a mother and an extended family that’s a gigantic cast of colorful characters. She could easily double as Sandra in this dream pop/rock tune.

Plot: “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service

Cherokee’s section is the climax, the culmination of everything. The band plays a super exclusive show at their house – this is their big chance. And instead of seizing the moment, they fall apart. Except Cherokee. She collects everyone’s special gifts, puts them all on herself and climbs to the roof of their house – so everyone can see her waving from such great heights.

Quote: “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele

“They were fire. She was fire. She was thunderbird. Red hawk. Yellow dandelion. Storming the stage on long legs on the feet of a horse child, wild deer, goat girl…”
I imagine this song is one Cherokee would have sung after receiving her hooves. They empower her. This song is empowering. All she needs is the hooves, and she thinks everything will be fine.

Pop Culture: “Devil in Disguise” by Elvis Presley

“We’re so much hotter now. Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Elvis.”

I love all the music mentioned throughout not just this book, but the whole Dangerous Angels series. It is classic and perfect and beautiful. But the thing about music – and the way The Goat Guys relate to it – is that it can be a deadly devil…something our characters finalize realize.

Home

“If Work Permits” by The Format & “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (Bonus tracks)

“Cherokee & The Goat Guys” ends with the four band members being rescued by Coyote. He helps them burn their Goat Guy masks, returning them from rock star goat gods to ordinary teenagers who simply play good music. Both of these are fantastic songs about the concept of home – a place you really can go again.

Dangerous Angels Book Club: Witch Baby



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This is a few days late, but no worries! Don’t forget to start on Cherokee Bat and the Goat Girls for the book club that’s set to come out next Friday August 9th.

This post was written by Ashley Lorelle, a girl I’ve known through our mutual love for Francesca Lia Block and the magic of life. She writes at Magick Culture
There is a Witch Baby in All of Us
Witch Baby was originally published in 1991 as a follow up to Francesca Lia Block’s critically acclaimed novella Weetzie Bat. By 1997, Witch Baby had one the School Library Journal Best Book and was an ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Witch Baby fascinated the minds and captured the hearts of many of Francesca Lia Block’s fans because she is so relatable. While the character of Weetzie Bat has been idolized by many of FLB’s readers, Witch Baby is a kindred spirit. Her desire to belong within her family, despite feeling like she is a stranger and her consistent quest to find her identity is a spirit journey that many young women have gone through.

Those of who know that magick is real also understand that our beliefs can make us different from those who love us the most. Sometimes I feel like my family will never understand me and that there will always be a large part of my life that they will not be a part of because I am a black sheep. Witch Baby feels like a black sheep too, because she always recognizes pain and darkness while the other members of her family constantly revel in love and light. One of the most important things that Witch Baby discovers is that though we may be different from the ones we love, it is our differences that can bring us closer together. Our differences are all separate pieces of an entire family unit. As Weetzie Bat explains to Witch Baby at the end of the book, darkness and light need one another.

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Cast of Characters
The characters in Witch Baby are the same as in Weetzie Bat except for a few very important additions:
Angel Juan—A young Mexican boy that Witch Baby meets on the set of her father, My Secret Agent Lover Man’s, movie set. He becomes Witch Baby’s best friend and the boy she falls in love with. She is heartbroken when his family is deported to Mexico.

Vixanne Wigg—Vixanne is Witch Baby’s mother. She is a member of a cult to Jayne Mansfield and practices witch craft. She left Witch Baby on My Secret Agent Lover Man’s doorstep when she was just a baby.

 
Darlene Drake—Duck’s mother. She is initially upset when she learns that Duck is gay but has a change of heart and learns to accept her son.
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Favorite Quotes

“My mother says that pain is hidden in everyone you see. She says try to imagine it like big bunches of flowers that everyone is carrying around with them. Think of your pain like a big bunch of red roses, a beautiful thorn necklace. Everyone has one.”

“Wish on everything. Pink cars are good, especially old ones. And stars, of course, first stars and shooting stars. Planes will do if they are the first light in the sky and look like stars. Wish in tunnels, holding your breath and lifting your feet off the ground. Birthday candles. Baby teeth.”

“She knew how he looked–the angel in her dream–but she didn’t know how to find him. Should she roller-skate through the streets in the evenings when the streetlights flicker on? Should she stow away to Jamaica on a cruise ship and search for him in the rain forests and along the beaches? Would he come to her? Was he waiting, dreaming of her in the same way she waited and dreamed?”

Music

Not as much music is featured in Witch Baby, not like it was in Weetzie Bat, but I put together a playlist of songs that remind me of the story here.
Discuss
How do you relate to Witch Baby?
In what ways did you once feel different from your family?
What was your most memorable moment from the story?
If you’re just tuning in, you can read the Weetzie Bat Book club right here, or read what the book club is all about here.

Don’t forget! August 9th we’ll be recapping Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys!

Dangerous Angels Book Club: Weetzie Bat

WeetzieBat (1)

I’m sorry this is a couple days late, but life calls, my friends! And here we are! I made a few sets on Polyvore inspired my Weetzie Bat but because of the way Polyvore works, I had to post them as separate pages.

Weetzie Bat 1

Weetzie Bat 2

Love is a Dangerous Angel

 

Weetzie Bat is a tiny book published in 1989 by Francesca Lia Block (Facebook, Twitter, Blog) about a girl with bleach blond hair who makes dresses out of cartoon character sheets and lives in a Los Angeles that is suspended in time and place. Weetzie is struggling to fit in, finding her way and moving through early parts of her adult life in this novella. It’s the story of finding love during a scary time, when AIDs and HIV are just becoming rampant, disease spread my acts of love. It’s a story of magic and wishing from genies in lamps, how nothing is what it seems and one might do unthinkable acts to create babies, intentional or not. It’s about loss and grief but it’s also about love and life and how beautiful everything can be.

Weetzie Bat the novel is about the character with its namesake but it’s also about the other characters in Weetzie’s family, even those without blood ties.

Characters
Weetzie
Dirk
My Secret Agent Lover Man
Skinkster Dog
Grandma Fifi
Brandy-Lynn
Charlie Bat
Duck
Witch Baby
Cherokee Bat
Ping Chong
Valentine Jahlove
Raphael Chong Jahlove
Vixanne Wig

It’s been at least twelve years since I first discovered Weetzie Bat on the shelf of my local library. The language and voice in Weetzie Bat really stands out in contemporary writing, it drew me in because it felt like me. The words and sounds, the people in this world and the way that Los Angeles is practically its own character made me feel like someone else got it. Whatever it is. This is it. Block paints a portrait of LA that only exists in her worlds.  Someday I’ll venture back to LA and visit all of these places, it’s a goal I’ve been wanting to do since I first read her books.

 

How did you feel about Weetzie Bat as whole?
Is Weetzie Bat different from the fiction you normally read?
Do you have any favorite characters or descriptions or quotes?

Quotes and phrases

honey-honey
slinkster cool
lanky lizards
Love is a Dangerous Angel

“He kissed her. A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate, when you haven’t eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the Strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.”

“What sexual preference do you hope she has?” “Happiness.” Isnt that cool?”

“Under the pink Harlequin sunglasses strawberry dangling charms, and sugar-frosted eyeshadow she was really almost beautiful.”

“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.”

 

Style

Shoe polish black Mohawk
Bleach blonde flat top
Pink harlequin sunglasses
Strawberry lip gloss
Levi’s with white suede fringe seen down the legs
Fifties taffeta dresses “covered in poetry and glitter”
Dresses made of sheets printed with pink piglets or Disney characters
Moccasins
Grandma FIFi – two canaries she sings to, music box with monkey on top, white hair with pink or blue tints

Movies/ Celebrities

Jim Morrison
Houdini
Marilyn Monroe
James Dean
Jayne Mansfield
Girl Can’t Help It
Lost Horizon
Casablanca

Mixtape





 

Places to go
Graumanns
Oki dogs (cheese and bean and hotdog pastrami burritos)
Tick Tock Tea Room
New York City
The Tet
Chinatown museum
Empire State Building
San Francisco
Haight st
Polk st
Hamburger Mary’s
Bar called the Stud
Venice Boardwalk

Food
Plantains and black beans
Wonton soup and fortune cookies
Red stripe Jamaican beer
Cheese and avocado on whole wheat

 

Don’t forget to read Witch Baby, the next book in the Dangerous Angels Book Club. Ashley Lorelle is going to tell us the story of Witch Baby on Friday Jul 26th and we hope you’ll join us!

Bonus reads:
Why Weetzie Bat Became Our Idol
Living the Weetzie Way
A Beautiful Party: Weetzie Bat

Watch the Weetzie Bat screen play reading in Los Angeles

Part 2
Part 3

 

Dangerous Angels Book Club – Introduction

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In high school I spent a significant amount of time wandering through the shelves at my local library, taking home books and seeking out something. I wasn’t quite sure what. When I first tried to read Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block, I was attracted to the cover, but I didn’t get very far into it. Something about it turned me off. I gave it another shot, though, starting with Baby Be-Bop and I fell in love.

With California.

With words and poetry.

With ideas and thoughts.

It’s silly to say that book changed my life. But there are so many aspects of my life right now that I know wouldn’t exist without it.

And I’m still in love with California and pretty words and the dark and light balanced in the books. I’m in love with the magic and the characters and the uniqueness in Block’s writing that I’ve never seen in any other book before.

So I often miss the days in high school and college when I would string beads into words around my wrist and write on myself with glitter and express myself by the way of making my own t-shirts and doing things that are more like characters in books. I longed to make a cookbook from dishes mentioned in novels and at one point I did put together a mix CD as a soundtrack to Dangerous Angels. Maybe I’m more aware of myself now, or just a little more grown up, but I always want to dress up like Witch Baby for Halloween but I don’t because I know no one will get it. And that fact makes me sad.

I recently re-read the most recent book with the Dangerous Angels cast, Pink Smog. It’s a prequel to the whole series, a becoming of Weetzie Bat if you will. I had the idea to do a series on Weetzie and her loved ones. I plan on dissecting what stands out most to me in these books – quotes, food, magic and pop culture.

I think it would be really fun to do a little book club, going through all of the Dangerous Angels books one at a time and picking out style and songs, etc. for you guys. They’re quick reads and I think two weeks between each one would be great. You can purchase the books at your local bookstore, on Amazon or find them at your library. Dangerous Angels consists of five books: Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan and Baby Be-Bop, or you can find them separately. The two books after that are Necklace of Kisses and Pink Smog. So we’ll be reading in that order, starting first with the cult novella that started it all WEETZIE BAT.

Weetziebat

We will reconvene here in two weeks on Friday, June 12th.
I hope you’ll join me!

xoxo. Melanie

Love is a Dangerous Angel

I need to start taking better pictures for this blog...

“A kiss about apple pie a la mode with the vanilla creaminess melting in the pie heat. A kiss about chocolate when you haven’t eaten chocolate in a year. A kiss about palm trees speeding by, trailing pink clouds when you drive down the strip sizzling with champagne. A kiss about spotlights fanning the sky and the swollen sea spilling like tears all over your legs.” – Francesca Lia Block

In high school I discovered Francesca Lia Block. I fell in love with her prose, drinking in all of her words. I made soundtracks and tried to make up recipes from all of the delicious sounding meals that are mentioned in her novels. I took on the identity of Lady Ivory as part of a delicate duo who set out to conquer with words. I bought all of her books and I read them. I reread them. I met so many people through her words, and I am grateful to every single novel she has published.

I’ve given away so many copies of Violet & Claire that one time when I wanted to replace a copy I gave away, I bought two so I had one just for myself.

Now Francesca Lia Block is more active in online communities. You can friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and read her http://loveinthetimeofglobalwarming.blogspot.com/. She offers online classes and workshops in person. She’s still the goddess she seemed to be eight years ago, weaving magic with words and sprinkling it everywhere.

Ms. Block’s words appear as short stories in collections as well as her own novels and the occasional essay. I know I mentioned her quite recently because of the Weetzie Bat screen play reading. And I’m going to mention her again quite soon, as I plan on reviewing her newest novel as soon as I have my hands on it. I saw it in Borders yesterday and thought about buying that copy (though I talked myself out of it. I should have it by tomorrow…). I did, however, buy a new copy of Dangerous Angels.

As soon as I saw the new cover to this edition to Dangerous Angels I knew I had to have it. The picture has been the background on my phone for the past couple months. It’s a white face with piercing blue eyes. I don’t know what about it made me need it. I don’t buy second copies of hardly anything, especially if I already have it and know where the original is. (The exception to this would be to give away a copy. I bought The Perks of Being A Wallflower because I couldn’t find my copy. But I lent it to my neighbour and found my original days later. She got to keep the copy. I am overly willing to give out amazing books when I know that someone else will love them.)

Dangerous Angels is a collection of five novellas about Weetzie Bat and her family and friends. It’s a book about love, friendship, relationships and life. It’s about freedom and doing what you want, appreciating what you have and making do with what you don’t have.