I’ve been getting a feeling lately I haven’t had in ages, that girl-power feeling. Yesterday it was as if a cherry bomb exploded all over LMU, my place of
enslaveemployment. Women were running the show all over the Queens of Noise Faculty Pub Night, from librarians bringing the noise — not shushing — to the girl DJs of KXLU, “hackers” of the event. And then there was me, spreading the gospel of the Runaways one more time — my last scheduled appearance promoting Queens of Noise. The nine-month tour ended with a shebang, with all-female supergroup Upset performing live on the bluff outside the library, as the sun set behind them. As one of those radio divas, McAllister of the great ginecore show She Rocks, said in a Twitter hashtag: #ladiesrulethistown.
Azalia Snail and Evelyn McDonnell
The whole amazing night was put together by the library’s Jamie Hazlitt, one of the many super-rad book workers there. LMU’s own blue-haired punk poet Gail Wronsky gave me a lovely introduction. Then, I said a few words. It was awesome and intimidating to have skin-pounder Patty Schemel in the audience as I talked about Sandy West’s biceps, reassuring to see the friendly faces of loveydoveryrocker Azalia Snail, colleagues, and students. McAllister — who told me Gail had been one of her favorite teachers at LMU — asked me some whip-smart questions. Then, sadly leaving our booze behind, everyone went outside to hear another KXLU queen — Harmony, half of the soon-to-be-superstar band Girlpool and a former student of mine — play some classic girl punk rock tunes.
Dean of the Library Kristine Brancolini made the whole thing possible, as did KXLU’s Lydia Ammasova and Mukta Mohan and the library’s Carol Raby and Ray Andrade.
Increasingly I admire Vice’s ballsy reporting; sadly, being detained by Putin’s henchmen is a sign of being on the side of right these days.
As a preview to my Faculty Pub Night April 22 at the William Hannon Library, Michael Aushenker interviewed me about the Runaways and Queens of Noise for Los Angeles newspaper The Argonaut. He also talked to the seminal punk photographer Jenny Lens.
A Runaways success | The Argonaut Newspaper.
via A Runaways success | The Argonaut Newspaper.
I finished reading Masha Gessen’s fascinating, intelligent, and well-written book about Pussy Riot, Words Will Break Cement, yesterday. A Russian-American who has previously written about Vladimir Putin and had tremendous access to the band, Gessen explains much about how these women came together; their context within Russian literature, politics, and dissidents; their actions and trial; and the horrors they experienced in prison. The more I find out about Masha, Nadya, Kat, and the rest of these artist/activists, the more impressed I am with their foresight and bravery in trying to stop an autocratic nightmare. The New York Times ran an article yesterday about the emergent xenophobia in Russia that reported in part:
“At Mr. Putin’s direction, a committee led by his chief of staff is developing a new ‘state policy in culture.’ Widely expected to be enacted into law, the proposed cultural policy emphasizes that ‘Russia is not Europe’ and urges ‘a rejection of the principles of multiculturalism and tolerance’ in favor of emphasizing Russia’s ‘unique state-government civilization,’ according to Russian news accounts that quoted a presidential adviser on culture, Vladimir Tolstoy.”
As evidence of this emerging monocultural supremacy, the article cites a banner hung in Moscow that decried the “fifth column” of dissenting bloggers, politicians, and musicians. Putin used this loaded phrase himself in a speech, setting the stage for the potential purging of difference. Chilling stuff, as the Times says. Interestingly, Fifth Column was the name of an amazing queer-punk Canadian band in the early ’90s, associated with the Riot Grrrl movement from which Pussy Riot gets their name. They were dissidents against the homophobia of the era of the Defense of Marriage Act, just as Pussy Riot oppress the anti-gay politics of Putin’s Russia.
Somewhat amusingly, Masha and Nadya questioned Putin’s own sexual orientation on Real Time With Bill Maher.
I still love Debbie Harry; still bored by Arcade Fire.
Thanks to Mukta and everyone else at KXLU for this incredible flyer for the Queens of Noise Pub Night April 22. And for this one:
Pussy pioneers Alice Bag, Allison Wolfe, and Azalia Snail (from left to right)
Pussymania is everywhere. Nadya and Masha were on Charlie Rose last night. They’ll be on Bill Maher Friday. And I saw them again Monday at the Voice Project panel. I wound up writing about their LA debut for Los Angeles magazine’s website. It was a cool night — MC5′s Wayne Kramer kicked out the jams — but I wish the Project had found a better representative of American women than Anne Litt. They could have chosen anyone from my pedigreed punk feminist cohort: I was honored to be hanging out with three pioneering musicians who paved the way for Pussy Riot: Alice Bag, whose 1970s punk band hid their visages with bags, balaclava-style; Allison Wolfe, who, as a OG Riot Grrrl, led the movement that gave Pussy Riot their name; and Azalia Snail, long-time lady of lo-fi. I worry that these Russian heroes are abandoning their girl-power roots for the limelight. But I was also stoked as hell to see their laser-sharp intelligence and cool on stage — and to see them hanging out afterwards. Support girl love!
Photo by Tyler Curtis for The Voice Project