I just posted a post a second ago, but while I’m thinking about LA and riot grrrl and accomplishments, I just want to record something here because one day it will be gone from the interwebs and I’ll totally forget to boot cause I’m goldfish brained, but while in LA, I got to write for LA Music Blog and one of the weird neat side perks of that was I wound up getting a mention on Wikipedia. Totally tripped me out. I mean, really, who cares but me? BUT to me it was rad.
Also, you all out there should be reading LA Music Blog no matter where you are from. The people who started that website are 2 of the most awesome and kind people I have ever worked with. They are true music lovers and put all their heart and soul into that website. It’s not some corporate or major label machine. Its DIY and its the product of true music nerds getting to write about what they love.
Oh and you know what? They started doing a blogcast featuring different bands over there too. Very cool stuff. Check it out on Thursdays live at TradioV from 8-10pm Pacific time here:
So here’s what’s been up with me, for the 1 or 2 people who clicked on this page by accident:
Coleen and I moved home from LA to NJ. Its been almost a year we’ve been home! Hard to believe! We had some hard times in LA and some great times. I thought I’d be more like regretful coming home, like wishing I did this or that, but really I am the happiest I have been in a while. LA was great though. My favorite part of the experience was that I gained a lot of perspective on life. I also feel better about myself. I feel accomplished and strong because I did something that scared me and I survived. I’m happy to be home because I missed my family far too much. I kept thinking about all the birthdays and holidays I was missing with my parents, niece and nephews, brother and sister, aunt and uncle, and all my other relatives plus Coleen’s family and our friends. I started to feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, getting to live this technicolor dream, but ready to go home where I could be all with my loved ones.
I got to do some cool things in LA, but my favorite accomplishment was starting classes at Upright Citizens Brigade. I have wanted to take classes since the early 2000’s when we used to go to see Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, and Ian Roberts do ASSSSCAT in NYC, but I always had an excuse why I couldn’t. Either no money or work got in the way. But in LA I was able to use some money I got for school and get involved. Plus being so anonymous in LA, I felt like it was safe to try and if I failed, well, no one would really be paying attention. But it turned out to be great! It was a ton of fun!! My classmates were always very awesome and supportive and interesting and creative. The teachers at UCB are super hilarious and exciting to learn from. I got to study under Julie Brister (AMAZING!!) and Jill Donnelly (AWESOME!!). Both graduation shows were terrifying, but I think they turned out great and even if that’s just my imagination, they were definitely, at the least, really fun to perform.
Then when I got back to NJ I was really panicked I would go back to finding excuses why I couldn’t do UCB. And it did take me a while to get back on my feet about it. I had to find and train for a new job and get our apartment in order. Then we wound up having to move again because our apartment was a shithole. So that was hella stressful. But finally a couple months ago I got back to UCB and enrolled in 301. I was so scared sitting there waiting for class to start on the first day that i actually almost started crying. I don’t know why I was so panicked. I guess because I didn’t have my old LA class friends there and I figured everyone probably knew each other already and would be crazy awesome and I would be terrible. However, our teacher got us up and playing games and then all the fear and self-doubt started to melt away and I found myself just having fun again.
Now I have graduated 301 and hopefully I can take 401 by summer’s end. Also I was one of many lucky people to receive the diversity scholarship which means I have a credit for one free class, which is damn awesome and helpful to my thin wallet!
If you are BORED, you can watch my 101 and 201 grad shows here (as well as some choppy video of my cat as a wee kitten)
My other comedy goal is to do stand up. I don’t know if I’m cut out for it, but I bought Greg Dean’s “Guide to Stand Up Comedy” book and I’m seeing what I can do with that. I would take a proper class, but I think I already mentioned my thin wallet.
In other news, I got an awesome book called The Riot Grrrl Collection in the mail. I bought it early so I it came signed by the author Lisa Darms as well as MOTHERTRUCKIN Kathleen Hanna, and the outstanding Johanna Fateman. So cool. Riot grrrl and bands like Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, and Bikini Kill saved my life in high school as a young gay gal so I am geeking out over this. I started reading the book over the weekend. Its a collection of zines, lyrics, and whatnot from the riot grrrls and reading it is like going back in time to my headspace as a teenager. It’s also really inspiring me to get back in touch with my creative side. Before moving to LA, Coleen and i were doing a lot of our own projects like blogging, drawing, writing, crafting, etc…and the stress and aspirations of LA kind of forced all that out the window. Now that we are back home, we both want to rekindle that spirit. For me, it means getting back into blogging and drawing comics. I had originally intended to even write a graphic novel. I still would love to realize that goal. For now, I’ll probably just do some short little strips like I had started doing 4 years ago before the move. You can find them on here if you feel like taking a looksee.
Apparently, The Gossip love Glendale’s Moonlight Rollerway rollerskating rink as much as Coleen and I do! I wonder if they got a bag of the 10cent popcorn at the concession stand?
Here’s them performing “Standing in the Way of Control” at the Knitting Factory in NYC. Coleen and I went to this show of course (we rarely miss them when they play). The Gossip were AMAZING as always…
Here’s a sound check/interview with them at a show in D.C. I think we may have gone to this show too. Or at least we’ve seen them at this venue, the Black Cat, before. Its a really awesome bar/dance club and sometimes concert venue there. If you are even in DC, check it out….
Recently I read the book, “Girl Power” by Marisa Meltzer. She basically analyzes all of the most relevant (to her) female artists of the past 2 decades in respect to feminism and how they may, or may not, have been directly or indirectly influenced by riot grrrl having existed.
It was really good. It basically echoed a lot of my thoughts on the state of feminism in music. She talks about riot grrrl a lot of course, but she critiques it too. She doesn’t just praise them. Even though their message was strong and amazing, they had big flaws and they need to be examined. Hopefully, there will be something like it again, but even better.
She wrote a chapter about the Michigan Womyns Festival that was really funny. It poked fun at it but she does also give it props. She also talks about Camp Trans that trans women hold next door. They started Camp Trans when the Michigan Womyn’s festival discovered a tranny in the midst (*gasp!*) and made it decreed that only women born women could attend. So Camp Trans was started as a reaction. Her experience at the camp made me totally wanna go! It may not have huge bands and 1,000 spotless Port-o-johns like Michigan, but it sounds so cute and welcoming of EVERYONE.
On a side note, I love when she talks about Sleater-Kinney, describing their breakup as making her feel like her childhood was officially over. Which is exactly how I felt. It felt like the end of an era to me. Like the 17 year old girl I was, going to see SK in small venues in NYC, wide eyed and in awe of the message and feeling of inclusion, was now officially grown up. It was a weird feeling. And interesting to me to read about someone feeling that very same thing.
She doesn’t just examine underground bands either. She takes a look at bands like Hole, L7, Babes in Toyland, Liz Phair, Alanis Morrissette, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Pussycat Dolls, and even Mandy Moore and Miley Cyrus to name a few. And she doesn’t just lambast them all for not being riot grrrl enough. She gives credit where credit is due as well as pointing out flaws and showing how each artist helped further women. Or how maybe Miley Cyrus is ridiculous to us older women, but is a decent role model for younger girls.
She also talks about trends like raunch culture. Like how women will wear stuff like Playboy tee shirts and take pole dancing classes. These things always irked me but I didn’t know how to verbalize it or couldn’t figure out exactly why it bothered me. However, I realized in reading this, that it looks more like women are being duped by that shit rather than women are *owning* something that normally stands for their objectification.
Anyway, I liked that it was a balanced look at many different female artists. Plus she wasn’t all serious either. Spice Girls may be bullshit, but they are a good time for what they are. So long as you don’t take them seriously and just draw the positive from them. All in all, a very good read. It made me feel nostalgic 🙂
As a bonus, here’s 2 clips I found on Youtube of Sleater-Kinney’s last show ever. :*)
I love me some Bikini Kill! When I was in high school this was one of the bands that inspired me. And still does. Here are the lyrics to the song Kathleen Hanna is singing in the video (cos i know you couldn’t understand a damn word she was saying):
I can sell my body if I wanna
God knows you already sold your mind
I may sell my body for money sometimes
But you can’t stop the fire that burns
inside of me
You think I don’t know
I’m here to tell you
You think I don’t know
I know the truth
Jigsaw, jigsaw youth
We go with the kids
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Jigsaw, jigsaw youth
We know there’s not
one way, one light, one stupid truth
Don’t fit your definitions
Don’t need your demands
win lose reality
Won’t fit in with
So where have all the riot grrrls gone? I know they are out there somewhere… I know I have friends who still consider themselves riot grrrls (and actually I know more boy riot grrrls than girls… Cheers to Coleen, Aleix, and Ray!) But really, the time of riot grrrl is pretty much over. And that is fine, I can totally accept that, things come and go, but I’m just curious about when we are going to have a strong musical movement to take its place?
I mean, we have The Gossip fronted by Beth Ditto, who are a band that is queer and fat positive, and they are awesome, but we don’t have any other girls or guys out there who are taking the mic and challenging people to think and question the status quo. I think we’ve become complacent.
And there’s really no rocking women right now. What we have is a lot of Miley Ciruses and Taylor Swifts. And you know, I like some mainstream female pop artists too. Lady Gaga…Britney…I am all about it. I’m not a hater. Not every song has to be a battle cry, but I think its time for some new girls to rise up and challenge people to think about where we are as far as women’s rights.
So yeah, I know riot grrrl is over and has been gone so long now that I’m sure most people out there dont even know what I’m talking about. I probably sound like one of those 50 year old women that still say “groovy” and “far out” and think naughty thoughts about Mick Jagger. Yet, I do know that people are inspired by history and past fads. (Otherwise, bad 80’s fashions wouldn’t have come back so hardcore this decade.) So I guess I’m just hoping that some young whippersnappers out there will read this and be inspired to start their own riot. Cause someone out there needs to start singing some lyrics that force us to think about the fact that we are still not all seen as equals. Gays still can’t get married, women still dont make the same amount of money as men, gays still cant fight openly in the military, women still have to work harder to get up in this life, etc etc ad nauseum right? So lets get people talking and thinking politically and encourage conversations, new ideas, and not rhetoric. Let’s help those that are held down or feel alienated realize that they are not alone and there is a source of power and understanding out there. Because I know thats what this music did for me. I would do it, but no one wants to hear me sing. I’d make Kathleen Hanna sound like Celine Dion.
Riot grrrl was an underground feminist punk movement that started in the early 1990’s, and it is often associated with third-wave feminism …Riot grrrl bands often address issues such as rape, domestic abuse, sexuality, and female empowerment…In addition to a music scene, riot grrrl is also a subculture; zines, the DIY ethic, art, political action, and activism are part of the movement. Riot grrrls hold meetings, start chapters, and support and organize women in music. – Wikipedia
Queercore…may be distinguished by lyrics exploring themes of prejudice and dealing with issues such as sexual identity, gender identity and the rights of the individual; more generally bands offer a critique of society endemic to their position within it, sometimes in a light-hearted way, sometimes seriously. – Wikipedia
Um, that first song is called “Suck My Left One”…what’s not to like?? Its followed by “Rebel Girl” (1992)