yooooo my profile of CHAI for Flood Magazine is now online. cool if you like art rock or punk or new wave or riot grrrl or feminism or just, uh, me? you can read it here.
I wrote about Bikini Kill, Kathleen Hanna, female anger and this album that has been a necessary cathartic release these past few enraging months where I’ve just wanted to scream 24/7 for FLOOD Magazine.
Let’s 🥖 get 🥖 this 🥖 bread 🥖
Did you know the federal minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers is $2.13? How about the fact that 70% of restaurant workers are women? What about the alarming rate of sexual harassment charges filed by women restaurant workers — the EEOC has targeted the restaurant industry as the single largest source of sexual harassment charges, with a rate FIVE TIMES higher than any other industry.
It was such an invigorating experience to hear Jane Fonda (one of my heroes, and the person who inspired my own political & feminist awakening at 14), ROC United founder Saru Jayaraman, and more speak about #OneFairWage today, particularly because this isn’t JUST an economic issue. It’s a WOMEN’S RIGHTS issue. As Ms. Jayaraman said: “When you pay a sub minimum wage to an industry that is primarily made up of women, it indicates the value you place on women.”
Seven states have passed one fair wage (and saw a direct correlation between fair wages and a drop in sexual harassment charges); New York could be next. Seriously urge you to visit onefairwage.com for more info, because we all deserve a fair shot at securing the bag. ✊
A friend of mine recently told me the story of his one and only encounter with Kim Gordon. A few summers ago, he was playing with a band on a small European tour; their dates dovetailed around ones Gordon was playing with her then-new band Body/Head. The experimental noise guitar duo had yet to release a full album, but their EP and few shows — combined with the curiosity of seeing what Kim Gordon would do post-Sonic Youth — had people talking. One hot night on a rooftop in Germany, he and his bandmates finally got a chance to see what all the fuss was about.
He watched Gordon drone intermittently over the dissonance coming from the guitars she and bandmate Bill Nace played. It was slow, but built to a furor, Gordon desperately choking out random words and phrases like “the last mistress” as she wailed away on her guitar. When all was said and done, she was spent, barely able to leave the stage without some assistance.
“Wow,” my friend said, slightly confused by what he just watched. “Was she on drugs?”
“No,” one of his bandmates — a woman not much older than Gordon herself — shushed him. “She’s just very, very sad.”
I think about this story a lot. I think about how our anguish can be unleashed in music, and how an emotional release is easily expressed in a melody or a verse, but harder to comprehend in abstract noise.
I think about how Gordon’s feelings were so much easier for a woman to see and understand, while my friend later dismissed it as “college shit.” Of course Gordon was expressing pain, an intricate sort of pain and anger that many women, particularly as they age, could empathize with deeply in their bones. Gordon and her husband of more than 25 years, Thurston Moore, had officially divorced just months earlier. Their split had been messy, humiliating, and disappointing for many who had seen their lasting union as a beacon of hope, leaving them instead with a feeling that their idols had failed them. Her identity had morphed into one half of a couple, and here she was figuring out who she was on her own again.
Of course she was sad. Of course she was angry. And of course her complex grief continued to pour out in a furious manner on stage over the following years.
Read the rest on bed crumbs.
In case you missed it: A fantastic new episode of the ’77 Music Club podcast is now live. It’s a special one — we interviewed iconic punk baddie Viv Albertine about an album that’s influenced her (Dionne Warwick’s Golden Hits Pt 1) and learned so, so much in the process. It’s a great one. Tune in here.
It feels like we’re living through the ‘90s all over again right now. Everywhere you look, reboots of shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files, slip dresses and Dr. Martens in Urban Outfitters, and reunions of bands like the Breeders and Smashing Pumpkins dot the current pop culture landscape. This is not unusual; we’ve found ourselves in these throwback eras before (think the ‘70s obsession with the wholesome ‘50s, or the ‘90s homages to the swinging ‘60s). Pop culture is cyclical, and when faced with uncertainty and turbulence (which we have in abundance), recalling “simpler times” of decades past provides some sort of semblance of familiarity and comfort.
And so, in the midst of this ‘90s resurgence, Liz Phair’s explosive and divisive 18-song debut Exile in Guyville turns 25 years old. The album came at the right time and place: in the midst of the (mostly male) rise of indie rock and trailing on the riot grrrl movement. Nearly three years in the making, it emerged as a fully-formed articulate, confident, and cutting concept — a track-by-track response to the Rolling Stones’ 1972 tome Exile on Main St. — paired with unpolished and imperfect vocals and instrumentation. It was an enormous “fuck you,” as Phair once recalled in an oral history on its making, to “people say[ing] ‘you can’t do this, you aren’t good enough to do this, you don’t know what you are doing’” giving Phair “enough rage in me to say, ‘I have as much of a voice as anyone.’”
Guyville topped the Village Voice’s esteemed Pazz and Jop poll the year of its release and thrust Phair into the role of an artistic wunderkind, even though she never thought of herself as a one, much less as a serious musician. “I was just a neighborhood kid who wanted to show the boys I could do it, too,” she told Mojo in 1994. In the decades since its release, the album has served as both a boon and a ball and chain: a critically-lauded record most artists dream of making, but one all of her subsequent work would be unfairly measured against.
Marking its anniversary is a new, expanded box set and short U.S. tour that will revisit the series of demo tapes that informed the album’s sound and concept. Revisiting emblems of pop culture from years past, and celebrating their milestone anniversaries, often drips with rose-colored nostalgia. But Exile in Guyville’s anniversary is different. To revisit Exile in Guyville in 2018 is to reckon with something that is not nostalgic, but something that strangely still feels current and all too relevant.
Read the rest on bed crumbs.
I wrote about Buckingham Nicks and Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac and nerdy songwriting analytical stuff and all that “you two hos feed your own melodramatic narrative” bullshit for NPR Music’s Turning the Tables series. Read it here.