Sex Stains at OCMA

Sex Stains

Sex Stains

One of the originators of the Riot Grrrl movement celebrated by the Alien She group art exhibit showed just what girl revolution is all about at the Orange County Museum of Art Saturday night. Allison Wolfe, former singer for Bratmobile and editor of Girl Germs ‘zine, led her great band Sex Stains through a fast and furious set of punk and reggae songs.

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Theo and the Created

Burger Records act Kim and the Created opened, performing an equally thrashing set, with lead singer Kim House looking like a freaked-out glam doll in a red sparkling jumpsuit. Visually and sonically, House reminded me of Theo Kogan of the Lunachicks — always a good thing. Both Wolfe and House were coincidentally dressed to match the art work hanging behind the make-shift “stage” in the museum’s lobby. They also both wound up on the floor, an easy thing to do on the slippery concrete, though in their cases, covering a range of human motion was all part of the act, the riot act, so to speak.

“Thanks for being part of the commemoration and validation of women’s cultural activism,” Wolfe said at the end. If you haven’t seen Alien She, it’s up through May, and well worth the slog through the suburban Southland.

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Punk Feminism Panel at Stanford

Attention Bay Areans! On May 12, come hear me and two icons of punk rock feminism dreams come true, Alice Bag and Allison Wolfe, speak/read/perform at Stanford University. Free lunch! The next day, Alice and I will be at Studio Grand in Oakland with the phenomenal feminists of Frightwig.

PUNK FEMINISM: Girl Bands, Violence Girls, Riot Grrrls

A Panel Discussion & Performance

Presented by Rubén Martínez, Visiting Artist, Institute for Diversity in the Arts

Featuring:

Allison Wolfe (Sex Stains, Bratmobile)

Alicia Velasquez (a.k.a. Alice Bag of The Bags)

Evelyn McDonnell (author, Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways)

May 12, 2015, 11:30am – 1:30pm

The event is free and open to the public, and a catered lunch will be served.

CCRMA Stage

The Knoll, 660 Lomita Court
Stanford, California 94305-8180

***

A trio of punk feminist pioneers – a musician/songwriter, a musician/author and an award-winning journalist and author – visit Stanford for a performance panel of music, spoken word and commentary revealing the roots of the punk feminist movement and asserting its relevance today.

The “Riot Grrrl” movement took off in the Seattle/Olympia Washington area in the early 1990s and Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile was there. A decade and a half earlier, Alicia Velasquez, a.k.a. Alice Bag, fronted the seminal East L.A. punk band The Bags. Veteran journalist and author Evelyn McDonnell has witnessed all the important alternative and underground scenes in which women have played key roles during the last three decades.

Between the three of them there is deep knowledge of Chicana punk, the Los Angeles “new music” scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the trials and tribulations of women in the music industry (McDonnell’s recent book tells the story of the 1970s “girl band” The Runaways), and a generation’s worth of feminist cultural production.


 

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Bag Wig McDonnell Poster!

Web Version Bag-Wig-McDonnell 5.13.2015 Jon KropCheck out the fabulous flyer for The F Word in Oakland May 13.

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Cycle of Life

Thing I’m glad I saw this morning while kayaking in the Port of Los Angeles: herons nesting in a tree, one bringing food to the other.

Thing I’m sorry I saw: Dead whale washed up next to the Cabrillo Youth Center, being cut into pieces.

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Frightwig, Alice Bag, and Me!

I am beyond honored to announce the first-ever show of two legendary California punk bands: Alice Bag and Frightwig. What’s more, I’m on the bill too! I am the luckiest grrrl alive. This will be an unplugged event of words and music. Stay tuned for announcement of another great event with Alice, myself, and one other punk feminist icon.

Alice Bag

Alice Bag

Studio Grand Presents

The F Word: A Punk Feminist Party with Alice Bag,

Frightwig, and Evelyn McDonnell

May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Studio Grand, Oakland

The psych-thrash band Frightwig said it years ago: Wild Women Never Die. Two pioneering feminist punk acts – L.A.’s Alice Bag and the Bay Area’s Frightwig — will perform together for the first time ever at Oakland’s Studio Grand May 13. They will be joined by writer Evelyn McDonnell, biographer of another legendary all-girl Californian band, the Runaways, for a night of literature and music celebrating “The F Word.”

The F Word: A Punk Feminist Party with Alice Bag, Frightwig, and Evelyn McDonnell will celebrate the fact that women have been a driving force in California punk, and punks have pushed for new waves of female power up and down the West Coast, since the 1970s. Alice Bag was the lead singer of the Bags during the punk revolution of 1977. Her book, Violence Girl, From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, is the story of her upbringing in East LA, her eventual migration to Hollywood and the euphoria and aftermath of the first punk wave. Violence Girl reveals how domestic abuse fueled her desire for female empowerment and sheds a new perspective on the origin of hardcore, a style most often associated with white suburban males. Alice is a blogger turned author and a former bilingual elementary school teacher. An outspoken activist, feminist and self-proclaimed troublemaker, Alice brings her Chicana punk attitude to the printed page. Alice will read from her memoir and her forthcoming book, The Inside Out Revolution, and sing songs.

Birthed in 1982 by Deanna Ashley and Mia d’Bruzzi, Frightwig templated the Punk Fem phenomenon that followed over a decade later. Funny, funky and furious, Frightwig produced the full-length albums Cat Farm Faboo (Subterranean Records 1984) and Faster Frightwig Kill Kill (Caroline Records 1986), as well as the EP Phone Sexy (Boner Records 1988). Frightwig has widely been credited as one of the most original, intense and fearless feminist bands by musicians, critics and fans alike. After taking a hiatus from live performance, Frightwig has now returned with a vengeance, presenting an all-star line-up which features founding members Ashley on bass, d’Bruzzi on guitar, Cecilia Kuhn on drums, and keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman (Captain Beefheart, Snakefinger, PJ Harvey). Eric produced and played on Frightwig’s 2013 EP Hit Return and  the “War On Women/Hear What I Say” single. Frightwig is currently in the midst of recording an LP of new material.

Frightwig

Frightwig

Evelyn McDonnell has written or coedited six books, from Rock She Wrote: Women Write about Rock, Pop and Rap to Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways. A longtime journalist, she has been a pop culture writer at The Miami Herald and a senior editor at The Village Voice. Her writing on music, poetry, theater, and culture has appeared in publications and anthologies including the Los Angeles Times, Ms., Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Spin, Travel & Leisure, Billboard, Vibe, Interview, and Option. She teaches students how to write and make some noise at Loyola Marymount University.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on a sliding scale from $5-$15, general admission (no one will be turned for lack of funds). Studio Grand is located at 3234 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610. For more information visit http://www.studiograndoakland.org or call (510) 761-5652.

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Rolling Stone’s Female Trouble

Rolling Stone tragically misreported a rape story at University of Virginia. Even the magazine admits that. But their trouble around women’s issues goes way beyond this one story. It’s a problem as deep as the magazine’s roots in 1960s counterculture. Rather than embracing the feminism of that era, Jann Wenner turned the music magazine into a men’s magazine, focusing on male artists, male critics, male interests. Just peruse the magazine’s mastheads and bylines for the last five decades; except for a brief period in the late ’70s, female writers and editors have been marginalized and tokenized.

Musicians have long complained about the way the magazine has depicted them  — if it depicts them at all. Joni Mitchell refused to talk to Rolling Stone for years because she said the magazine had focused on her romantic relationships, not her groundbreaking music. Heart’s Wilson sisters write disparagingly of the magazine in their memoir.

What’s particularly sad about the UVa story is that it seemed like the magazine was finally making an effort to employ a woman writer writing about a serious, real issue for college students. But it was clear from the first, sensational paragraphs of this story — almost pornographic in their violent and unlikely detail — that the culture at Rolling Stone just doesn’t get it, still.

That said, I hope they keep trying. I hope that rather than backing away from learning to get it right, they hire women top editors and writers, give the guys there some sensitivity training, particularly Wenner. I loved Rolling Stone when I was a teen, and it broke my heart when I banged into its glass ceiling. If the magazine misreads its screwup as caused by being too sensitive to a woman’s voice, instead of culture-blind editorial bungling, this tragedy will just be deepened.

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The Cancer Gene

Angelina Jolie’s announcement today that she had surgery to remove her ovaries hit home for me. I have a family history of cancer much like the actor’s: My grandmother had breast cancer, one of her daughters died of colon cancer, and her other daughter — my mom — has been fighting serous cervical cancer for four years. I had also found out recently that the “cancer markers” in my blood were elevated. This news, as well as Mom’s recent relapse, had me thinking about my own mortality in a way I have been fortunate never to have done before. Jolie’s brave example of prophylactic surgery (she had a double mastectomy two years ago) can not be underestimated; it helped shape my own resolve to get rid of these body parts, should it turn out I have inherited a cancer gene. If Angie doesn’t need boobs, neither do I!

Unlike Jolie, I am lucky: I found out just last week that I have tested negative for the BRCA “cancer” gene. I’m not completely in the clear, but I’m breathing a lot freer. And I’m so grateful that a woman of Jolie’s public stature is stirring public discourse about women’s health. She helped steel my resolve to get tested in the first place, showing me that a positive result is not a death sentence but a piece of information that could save my life. She is totally my Hero of the Week. All hail Angelina Jolie, long live Angelina Jolie!

Mom, you’re my hero for life.

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