Bald Britney bashing a car with an umbrella. Pregnant Anna Nicole with face paint. Frightening images, yes, but very punk rock too. Our culture created these women, held them up as idols because of their facility with peroxide and silicone and cameras, and now we’re tearing them down. It’s sad to watch. And yet I feel these extreme gestures of theirs are the screams of objects trapped, of pregnant and postpartum women with hormones raging and society crashing down on their ill-prepared psyches. Goddess knows I’ve never had much use for Britney, but maybe this is precisely when rad women should be reaching out to her: She’s revolting, yes, but in revolt perhaps as well. Swing that ‘brella grrrl, you go!
Monthly Archives: February 2007
I just finished reading Rob Sheffield’s Love Is a Mix-Tape, the Rolling Stone critic’s memoir about his love affair with rock crit Renee Crist, who died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage just a few years into their young marriage. It’s a very sad, well-written story, told through a unique, somewhat gimmicky literary device: each chapter starts with the song list of a mix-tape Rob or Renee made.
I’ve only met Rob once, I think, but I’ve always related to his taste and admired his writing, which I don’t always do with my peers. I didn’t know Renee either, though I loved her L7 Spin story back in the day. Reading Rob’s book, I wish I had known them both — and feel like I do.
Rob has tremendous insights about music, like the one about Biggie Smalls’ music being about being a husband. I did find Rob’s tendency to see everything through a musical spectrum irritating at points — classic rockcrit nerdboy character flaw. Maybe what was on the radio on the way home from Renee’s funeral isn’t so important.
But I recommend Love Is a Mix-Tape. I found it interesting that Rob rhapsodizes about the ’90s as a vibrant period for music and politics, particularly for women, since I do the same in Mamarama. Clinton era nostalgia, here we come!
I didn’t read the memoir without a tinge of irony, and jealousy, though. In the middle of that supposedly vibrant period, women writers like myself and, I believe, Renee, were explicitly blacklisted by Spin publisher Bob Guccione for saying those kinds of things. Rob didn’t suffer from that blacklist, has built a solid and deserved career, and can get a job at that bastion of sexism Stone, and a cushy book deal, and pretend that blacklist never happened. We’ll never know if Renee would have succeeded likewise, sadly.
In a message board in which I participate, some women recently complained about the Hollywood baby boom. While I agree with the context in which the pressure to breed was introduced – Helen Mirren being grilled about why she hasn’t had children, as if she were somehow defective – I don’t like the way Tinseltown’s new moms have become the latest targets of snide snarkism.
It seems to me it’s the classic divide and conquer tactic against women: We’re damned if we do have babies, damned if we don’t. I hate it when feminists turn against moms and hold up childless women as the ultimate icons. I fell for that for years, only to discover late in life how empowering reproduction can be. I think we need to respect both decisions: To have babies and not to. Joan Jett once told me she was perfectly happy just being an aunt. Aunts definitely should stand shoulder to shoulder in the moshpits/frontlines with moms, and visa versa. Some of my best friends are aunts.
Granted, the thought of Britney Spears reproducing is revolting – the thought of Britney Spears doing anything is revolting. I’m repeating Mamarama here, but the generation of teen pop stars have been bulwarks of antifeminism since they proudly declared themselves virgins. That now they’re boosting breederism – and being bad breeders – is just par for the course.
And don’t get me started on the autamoton nightmare that is Katie Holmes.
But I really admire Angelina Jolie, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gwyneth Paltrow. I think they’ve made their stands as artists and businesswomen and now they’re including maternity as part of their lives and identities. What’s wrong with that?
To everyone who showed up for the party/reading Friday night at Books and Books. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces in one place, and several unfamiliar ones.
David Gutowski gives Mamarama a smart, warm reading on his blog, www.largeheartedboy.com. I gave him an annotated playlist of songs from the book for his Book Notes features. That’s the short version. When I sat down to create a list of tracks that reflect the book, I came up with more than 100. Vickie Starr will be spinning a number of them at the launch party tomorrow night. Here’s the whole list:
Mecca Normal, “Narrow”
Jackson 5, “The LoveYou Save”:
Dave Brubeck, “Take 5”
Squeeze, “Black Coffee in Bed”
X-Ray Spex, “Oh Bondage Up Yours”
Fleetwood Mac, “Dreams”
Shaun Cassidy, “Da Doo Ron Ron”
The Eagles, “Take It Easy”
Frank Zappa, “Valley Girl”
Julie Ruin, “V.G.I.”
The Beatles, “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”
The Runaways, “Queens of Noise”
Rick Derringer, “Rock n’ Roll Hoochie Koo”
Cheap Trick, “Surrender”
Ramones, “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker’’
The Jam, “Saturday’s Kids”
X-Ray Spex, “Germ-free Adolescence”
The Clash, “Guns of Brixton”
Patti Smith, “Because the Night” and “Gloria”
The Primitives, “Why Don’t You Smile Now”
Half Japanese, “Her Parents Came Home”
ESG, “You’re No Good”
Yo La Tengo, “The Story of Jazz”
Iggy Pop, “Lust for Life”
Marvin Gaye, “Sexual Healing”
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, “The Message”
Spoonie Gee, “The Big Beat”
Strafe, “Set It Off”
The Minutemen, “Badges”
American Music Club, “Outside This Bar”
The Feelies, “Slipping Into Something”
Throwing Muses, “Stand Up”
Yoko Ono, “New York Woman”
Lou Reed, “Street Hassle”
Big Dipper, “Fetching”
Sonic Youth, “Shadow of a Doubt”
Pussy Galore, “Cunt Tease”
The Stooges, “I Wanna Be Your Dog”
The Clash, “Clash City Rockers”
Frank Sinatra, “New York, New York”
Willie Colon, “Che Che Cole”
Mecca Normal, “I Walk Alone”
Patti Smith, “People Have the Power”
American Music Club, “Mission Rock”
Caroliner Rainbow, anything
Husker Du, “Makes No Sense at All’’
Tribe 8, “Frat Pig”
The Beatles, “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”
Queen Latifah, “Ladies First”
Bikini Kill, “Double Dare Ya” and “Suck My Left One’’
PJ Harvey, “Dry” and “Sheela-Na-Gig”
Tribe 8, “Manipulate”
Joy Division, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
New Order, “Ceremony”
Nirvana, “Heart-Shaped Box”
Tupac, “Dear Mama”
Henry Mancini, “Moon River”
Harry Belafonte, “Turn Around”
Nick Lowe, “I Remember the Bride When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Broadway cast of Rent, “Seasons of Love”
Bruce Springsteen, “The River”
Troggs, “Wild Thing”
Joan Jett, “Bad Reputation”
Neil Young, “Aurora Borealis”
Frank Zappa, “Dynamo Hum”
Missy Elliott, “Sock It 2 Me”
MC5, “Kick Out the Jams”
Will Smith, “Miami”
Basement Jaxx, “Romeo”
Trick Daddy, “In da Wind”
Jacki-O, “Ghetto World”
Yerba Buena, “Bilingual Girl”
Spam Allstars, “Ochimini”
Peaches and Iggy Pop, “Rock Show”
PJ Harvey, “Happy and Bleeding”
Sleater-Kinney, “Call the Doctor”
Andrea Echeverri, “Lactochampeta”
Aretha Franklin, “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman”
LCD Soundsystem, “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House”
Velvet Underground, “After Hours”
Xavier Cugat, “Besame Mucho”
The Pretenders, “I’m a Mother”
Salt N Pepa, “Push It”
Jay-Z, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
Broadway cast of Rent, “No Day But Today”
Patti Smith, “About a Boy”
Destiny’s Child, “Independent Women”
Bratmobile, “Kiss & Ride” and “Queenie”
Bikini Kill, “Rebel Girl”
PJ Harvey, “50 Foot Queenie”
Judy Garland, “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody”
Queen, “We Will Rock You”
Sleater-Kinney, “Modern Girl”
Breeders, “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”
Kristin Hersh, “Gazebo Tree”
They Might Be Giants, “Fake-Believe”
The Faint, “Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat”
M.I.A., “Pull Up the People”
Morning 40 Federation, “God Help Me”
Brazilian Girls, “Pussy”
Elvis Presley, “That’s All Right Mama”
Last night was the Miami launch party for Susie Horgan’s warmhearted photo documentation of hardcore D.C., Punk Love. There was more love than punk in the house, as friends and families of Susie and her husband Harry filled Books and Books in Coral Gables. Susie’s book captures an intimate, personal side of that legendary scene, with pictures of Henry Rollins and Ian Mackaye clowning around at Haagen Dazs, where they all worked.
Susie’s one of my best friends; she took my author photo. I can only hope my Books and Books event next week is half as full and lovely. www.punklovebook.com.
I’m still in the process of getting this website running right and need to update several sections; stay posted. In the meantime, please know that I will be reading in Providence, at the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, March 2 and at BookWoman in Austin March 18 at 2:30 p.m. (yes, during South by Southwest).
Also check out the current Interview for a nice writeup of Mamarama.