Monthly Archives: January 2014

Touching Relics at the Rock Hall

Queens of Noise

Evelyn McDonnell, Lauren Onkey, and Shelby Morrison. Photo courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives

Sam Cooke used to carry a small wooden ukulele with him on tour. As countless YouTube troubadours and Amanda Palmer have recently discovered, the four-stringed downsized guitars are sweet-sounding instruments that are easy to play and even easier to transport. I love the idea of the soul singer crooning “You Send Me” gently over plucked nylon strings, on a bus, in a hotel room, backstage before a show.

Sam Cooke's ukulele

Sam Cooke’s ukulele

It’s an intimate image, an imagined moment of a deceased artist’s life that became partially real for me last weekend when I saw Cooke’s uke in the vault at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. It was one of many pieces of cultural history I got to witness, even touch, as exhibitions coordinator Shelby Morrison gave me a VIP tour of the climate-controlled room: Chrissie Hynde’s bicycle-club (not biker club) jacket, postcards from Patti Smith, the hat from Lady Gaga’s meat dress. On January 25, I spoke about the Runaways at the Hall of Fame’s Library and Archives (which is housed in a separate building from the museum). Yes, the boys club let the stone thrower in – more on that later. Continue reading

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New York, New York!





“They had something that cannot be manufactured, no matter how cunning your maverick manager is: a spark of explosive creative chemistry, the primal energy that Iggy Pop calls ‘raw power.’ The Runaways could play like the boys, but without once pretending they weren’t girls.”  – Evelyn McDonnell/ Queens of Noise


Evelyn McDonnell, author of Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock ‘n’ Roll, former pop music critic for the Miami Herald and Village Voice senior editor, and journalism professor at Loyola Marymount University, will be joined by The Stay-At-Homes, the much- celebrated Runaways replicant band, for a multi-tiered evening of performance events at New York’s Cutting Room. The renowned journalist will bring Queens of Noise, her critically acclaimed biography of The Runaways, the legendary ’70’s SoCal all-girl band, to glam-rock life at the Cutting Room on Thursday, March 6th at 10pm.


Bask in the California paradise that was the ’70s Sunset Strip with the author as she reads excerpts from her groundbreaking book and rock out with the premiere Runaways tribute band, The Stay-At-Homes.  Their take-no-prisoners lineup includes downtown performance chanteuse/provacateuse Tammy Faye Starlite (just named by Time Out New York as one of the top ten cabaret artists of 2013 for her role as Nico in Chelsea Mädchen) in the role of Cherie Currie; Jill Richmond (the Aquanettas) as Joan Jett; Linda Pitmon (the Baseball Project, Steve Wynn’s Miracle 3) as Sandy West; Heidi Lieb (Sit ‘N’ Spin) as Lita Ford, and Monica Falcone (Sit ‘N’ Spin) as Jackie Fox. With special guests Miss Guy (Toilet Boys) and Karyn Kuhl (Gutbank) on vocals and Theo Kogan (Lunachicks) on Armour Beauty lip gloss.


Relive the sunshine-and-neon era of Lurex, leather and jailbait juvies! Be sure to wear your feather earrings and satin shorts, wing your hair and climb into those platform boots! ‘Ludes optional but recommended.


The Cutting Room is at 44 East 32nd Street, New York. Tickets will be $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Show time is 10 p.m.


>>Part of the proceeds will benefit the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls<<


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The Best Little Dog

On our last trip with him

Otis on our last trip with him

Otis was a bribe. On the day they moved to New York City, Bud and his daughters showed up on my East 5th Street doorstep with the Yorkie puppy. To convince the girls to leave their Michigan home, my future husband had promised them a dog. It’s the same bribe President Obama made when he moved his daughters to Washington, when Malika and Sasha were about the same age as Karlie and Kenda. It’s apparently the going rate for a Midwest to East Coast move: one puppy.

Honestly I was pissed at first. It was hard enough to imagine how four of us and my two cats were going to squeeze into my one-bedroom railroad apartment. But Mister Otis, or Odie as we called him for short, quickly won me over. He was an incredible dog: faithful, smart, generous, independent, loving, adventurous. We very rarely used a leash with Otis: He could walk with us anywhere, through crowded Saint Mark’s Place or the Michigan woods. “Let a dog use his brain and he’ll have one,” Bud always said. And to all those nags who told us he was going to get hurt, or lost, or cost us a fine – Odie walked with his head held high for almost 15 years and never caused us any trouble.

Otis and Cole sleeping under the Christmas tree, 2013.

Otis and Cole sleeping under the Christmas tree, 2013.

He wasn’t a father himself (that we know of), but Otis had incredible paternal instincts. He would always protect the youngest person around. For the first years of his life, that was Kenda. We’d be throwing a football around, and he would chase her across the field, barking. When we brought Cole home from the midwife, Otis promptly crawled under the bassinet. For a month he wouldn’t leave the house unless we brought our son with us. And pretty much for the rest of his life, he mostly slept in Cole’s bed or room. Lately, it was Kenda’s son Shine that he clung to whenever they visited. He was amazing with kittens. Every feral litter we rescued, he took care of their personal hygiene, licking their butts for them just like their mother would have, when they were too young to do it themselves. He never really took to any of the cats that were raised with him, but he had a special bond with one of those abandoned kittens, which our neighbors adopted.

Otis and our cat Paleface

Otis and our cat Paleface

Otis loved to romp and play. Our favorite early memory of him is Odie chasing Bud and I on bikes down a dirt road in Michigan: That sweet little pure-bred barreled straight through the puddles in the tire tracks, delighting in getting soaked. He would jump right off the deck of our sailboat into the ocean. He could follow Cole around in our Miami pool for hours. You could lift him out of the water and he wouldn’t stop the swimming motion as you held him in the air. Sometimes, he would actually nip Cole as he jumped into the pool, apparently trying to save him.

No one appreciated a gift like Otis. He would tear open the package himself then parade around with the toy all day, like it was just what he always wanted.

IMG_7425Though he was very active, Otis was a bit of a metrosexual. Like many Yorkies, he had skin allergies, and was particularly sensitive to fleas. So especially as he got older, he would insist on walking on pavement, not dirt or grass. In New York, we performed a marriage ceremony for him and a little Chihuahua, darling Carlos. In Miami, Otis once disappeared for a week. After we flyered the neighborhood, someone two blocks away reported that he was shacking up with a neighbor’s dog, who was old, disheveled, and blind, but in heat. She was ugly, but she was his. That’s when we got Odie fixed.

I can think of only two other times Otis seriously misbehaved. Once, when he was a puppy, he got into a box of chocolates then got sick around our entire Manhattan apartment. Bud cleaned that up. Another time, Bud accidentally left him in the backyard with Kenda’s bunny, and he chased the poor thing into a state of collapse and eventual death.

Otis was a big dog in a little dog’s body. That’s what people said about him.

We had to have our baby put down January 18. What had started as seemingly minor breathing problems became suddenly acute – collapsing trachea, or maybe a tumor. By that time he was mostly blind and deaf. But whenever I walked him, he still insisted on climbing the fifty stairs next to our house. He had his routine, his path of familiar odors – sniffing the same old spots was like reading the morning newspaper for him, a log telling him what dogs had been out already that morning. There’s a huge hole in our hearts, and our beds, where Otis used to reside. We miss you little guy.


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Unraveling Etsy

Etsy’s devolution from homespun, homemade people-powered site to neoliberal postcapitalist suckwad is detailed from the inside out by the incredible writer, and my sister Fictionaire, Jana Martin in The Weeklings. Read it and weep.

I Can See Clearly Now: Life on Etsy | The Weeklings.

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Rock Hall Tomorrow!

Our presentation tomorrow at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives in Cleveland is officially “sold out” — my second sold-out show in a row! If you want to come, please shoot me an email and I’ll put you on the list.

Author Series with Evelyn McDonnell, author of Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.


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Pussy Riot Coming to Brooklyn — I Wanna Go!

Please Virgin Mary, Mother of God, let me see Pussy Riot.


Pussy Riot Coming to Brooklyn –


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Great Article About Aloud Queens Event

Larry Wilson of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune wrote a nice article about the Aloud Queens of Noise event.


Exene changes the world without her underwear on the outside: Larry Wilson.


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