I was so excited to be part of The New York Times‘s multimedia package on Bikini Kill and Riot Grrrl, I forgot to blog about it. I co-wrote with Elisabeth Vincentelli the main piece, the essential Riot Grrrl listening guide. And I got to write about my first Bikini Kill show and their first show in years. And I took part in the Popcast! Plus there are historic videos of 1990s Bikini Kill shows by my grrrlfriend Lucretia Tye Jasmine. PRDCT!!!
I’m way late posting this here (it was a hectic fall!) but I reviewed Tina Turner’s and Dorothy Carvello’s memoirs for The New York Times. “There has been a steady stream of accounts of assault, harassment and discrimination in recording studios, at record labels and at music magazines; pick up any autobiography of a female musician and you’ll find at least one anecdote that will turn your stomach. R. Kelly, the Runaways, Kesha — stories of abuse long preceded Harvey Weinstein, and continue to trigger news alerts. The real question should be, why haven’t these stories provoked more outrage against a form of oppression that is clearly systemic, along with a push for change?”
I’d almost forgotten how much I loved Lou Reed’s music. Then I read Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis, a meticulous, thoughtful, and humanistic biography of a difficult, brilliant subject, and suddenly, I was pulling those records off the shelves again. DeCurtis’s was one of six books — including tomes on Gucci Mane, Stevie Nicks, Al Green, and TLC — that I reviewed for The New York Times recently. Story publishes in print Sunday, but you can read it online now.
In The New York Times Magazine on Sunday, Emily Bazelon writes about opposing feminist views of rape culture. Understanding the difference between “dominance feminists” such as Catherine MacKinnon and “pro-sex feminists,” led in “The Sex Wars” by Janet Halley, is crucial to realizing that there is no single ideology for analyzing and overcoming gender oppression. This understanding can be applied to the sex wars raging in rock’n’roll; Chrissie Hynde and Joan Jett could use a little help from feminists such as Halley, while Jackie Fox is setting herself up as pop’s answer to the late Andrea Dworkin. The figure and voice missing from Bazelon’s article is the late Ellen Willis, whose measured, thoughtful critiques of both porn protesters and S&M advocates I’ve been rereading, and missing. If any tabloid tool tries to mansplain feminism to you, hand them this Times piece, and a copy of The Essential Ellen Willis. Then tell him to get a sex change, live as a woman, and get back to you in 50 years.
Since it’s quoted in today’s New York Times review of Jessica Hopper’s book, for today’s Throw-Back Thursday, I’m posting “The Feminine Critique,” the 1992 Village Voice article that became the launching pad for Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Pop and Rap, the collection Ann Powers and I coedited 20 years ago. Back then, the Times paid it no attention whatsoever. Today, Dwight Garner highlights it as “an excellent anthology.” Ah, the life of a pioneer. At least this work is being honored while Ann and I are still alive. Sometimes, survival is the best strategy. I’m posting the slightly rewritten version that was the intro to the book.
Let’s call it what it is: The Old Gray Man. I don’t know Jill Abramson, and I know this is a complicated story, but I loved her appearance in the bromance Page One: Inside the New York Times, and I know several women who have prospered at the paper during her reign. Dean Baquet seems like a standup guy too, but still, between this and presidential politics, it’s clear to me that America is ready to deal with its racism before it will address its sexism.
Fascinating and mostly spot-on article by AO Scott in the New York Times today about “The Paradox of Art as Work,” or what I like to call Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction. I like the film critic’s broad cultural references, especially Gillian Welch. I am particularly mulling over this sentence: “The idea that everyone can be an artist — making stuff that can be shared, traded or sold to a self-selecting audience of fellow creators — sits awkwardly alongside the self-contradictory dream that everyone can be a star.” I think I disagree with the predicate: These may be antagonistic and possibly even revolutionary notions, not complementary ones. This is actually a topic I devoted independent study to at USC, under Henry Jenkins, and may well take up again. What do you think: Is the idea that everyone can be an artist akin to the idea that everyone can be a star?