Monday, March 28, 2005

March Goes Out Like A Lion

As I write this entry on a cold and windy evening at the end of March, I can hear the gusts of winter air threatening to knock down the power lines on the hill where I live. The lights periodically fizzle and dim and I'm typing really fast so that I can post before the power goes out for the night.

Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately. I went back to work a couple of weeks ago and it's always busy for teachers at the beginning and end of a school year. For teachers at year round schools that busy time happens when we return to or leave from an on-track period. I have to crack the whip on the kids for the first couple of weeks to get them back into line, otherwise they will take over the class and make it difficult for me to teach. That's where my latent aggression comes in handy; with the right combination of facial expression and vocal tone, I can convey the message "be very afraid." Kind of like Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver. Well that's how I see myself anyway. Every now and then a kid will say "Mrs. Velasquez, you're nice"...urgh, it cuts me to the quick.

The little bit of spare time I have has been used for rehearsal with the band formerly known as Las Tres, but which is now known as (drum roll...)Punkoustica. You can expect to see us performing live very soon. The other musical project I have been rehearsing with is still under wraps (or should I say a shroud?) for now. We just had our first full rehearsal on Easter Sunday (coincidence? - perhaps not) and are working on a mix of new and old songs. We hope to be fully resurrected by May. Stay tuned. I don't want to jinx it by spilling the beans prematurely.

Now where are those damn candles...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Agony Shorthand Interview

Jay Hinman writes an extremely informative and well-read music blog called "Agony Shorthand," which specializes in overlooked bands, records and genres from the past. He's been a big supporter of the Bags and early L.A. punk over the years and he recently got in touch with me for an interview. He took the time to research his questions and the resulting interview was thought provoking (for me).


Jay posts new entries on a regular basis, so you might want to scroll down his page if you don't see the interview right away, but do take the time to read his other entries and go back often. He also allows his readers to post comments, which can lead to some "spirited" exchanges...I learned that from my own blog a few posts ago!

I've taken the liberty of posting an excerpt from the interview below (hoping Jay doesn't mind). This also saves me from writing a new blog entry! I'm rehearsing with a couple of bands this week and hope to have some exciting shows to announce very soon...

Agony Shorthand: You're now, through your web site, one of the true keepers of the original LA punk flame. Did you feel that it wasn't being portrayed correctly in books & in articles, or did you just have a lot of cool ephemera to share?

Alice Bag: Both. Everyone has their perspective and their own reasons for trying to document the early L.A. scene. I certainly have my own agenda, one of the items being to shed light on the overlooked contributions of women. I once heard history described as "the distillation of rumor," and I saw that happening with some of the accounts of the early L.A. punk scene, many written by people who weren't even there at the time. The L.A. punk scene did not begin and end with Darby Crash, though one might think so by reading some of the accounts out there - not to take anything away from Darby and the Germs; they inspired me to get onstage and I considered Darby a friend. I still think the Weirdos have not been given their due - the scene really coalesced around that particular band. More than anything, I'm hoping that the website will spark people's imagination and inspire them to start their own movements. That would make me very happy.

If it had been left entirely up to me, the website would not exist. It was my husband's insistence that we build a web archive and make available to punk fans the considerable collection of photos, flyers and newspaper clippings that my mother had secretly kept after I had tossed them in the trash twenty five years ago. After my mother passed away, we discovered boxes and boxes of things she had squirreled away in a shed and in the garage. She was a pack rat and never threw anything away. I'm very grateful for that, now.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Class of '77

I'm very proud to announce that the Bags are the first band to be featured on the brand new "Class of '77" line of apparel, the creation of Zeroxed and JohnQ of Anti-market. If you haven't been down to their store in Echo Park, you should make a trip. It's a good alternative to the mall punk stores. They feature work by local artists, including many one of a kind items. My favorite new items include a giant "luchador" mask bean bag chair, colorful necktie purses, and John Q's x-ray earrings.

My husband/webmaster and I went out to celebrate last night with JohnQ and Spring (of American Apparel) and we had a great time.

The Class of '77 line was originally conceived as a way to bring exposure to some of the unheralded Los Angeles punk bands who were performing at that time. Zeroxed and JohnQ share a certain aesthetic with the early punk scene, which I think is evident in their tee shirt design.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Seal Interview

My latest Women In L.A. Punk interview came about in the most unusual way. I was having dinner at a cafe near my home when the waitress informed me that the chef had offered to buy me dessert. A short while later, Seal came out to introduce herself and ask if I remembered that she had once been a roadie for the Bags. It turned out that she had seen me perform with Stay At Home Bomb in 2004. We started talking and I quickly realized that I had to interview her for my website.

Joan Jett and Seal

I think everyone will find something of interest in Seal's interview. She also graciously agreed to share some very cool items from her personal collection. You'll find them posted on her page.

Check it out by clicking the thumbnail below.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Nostalgia (For An Age Yet To Come)

As my website, gets more traffic, I've been receiving many more emails giving me feedback on the site and its contents. Most visitors seem to be happy that we've put together these L.A. punk archives, such as they are. I'm glad you enjoy them; I have plenty to share and will get around to adding even more as soon as I can.

I've also been asked to donate my collection to a local University for archiving and preservation and I'll seriously consider that offer, but for now I'm content to post digital copies on the web so that anyone who is interested, not just musicologists or sociologists, can access them.

Aside from documenting the early L.A. punk scene, I do have a separate agenda which you (no doubt) will gather if you spend time looking around and especially, if you read my Diary of A Bad Housewife on a regular basis. I'll admit that there is an element of punk nostalgia involved; some people want to remember the good old days and others who weren't even born yet are curious about what those times were like. And though I may on occasion sing along to an old punk song, I'm not into nostalgia; by posting my photos and memories, I hope to give a broader perspective of what was happening in Los Angeles in 1977-1980. There were many bands who never recorded and were not lucky enough to be filmed for a movie, and there were many more people involved in the punk scene who were not musicians, but whose contributions were considerable. For example, there is no way the scene could have developed so quickly without fanzines like Lobotomy, Generation X, Slash and Flipside to spread the word. I especially want to make sure that the contributions of women do not become lost through the omissions or distortions of historians, whose accounts, though perhaps not incorrect, may be incomplete.

On the subject of nostalgia, I'd like to say a few things. I never want to be seen as "an oldies act" or just punk nostalgia. I've turned down almost all opportunities to perform Bags songs for the past 20 years. The few exceptions to this usually involved a sense of humor and large quantities of alcohol. Since the deaths of Craig Lee and Rob Ritter, I've always felt it would be disrespectful and dishonest to perform as The Bags or Alice Bag Band. And even though I'm not in communication with Patricia, the Bags was really only the Bags when she was playing bass, though I didn't realize it at the time. I only recently had a change of heart about using the name of Alice Bag and for years I tried to put that behind me, but I realized that my little bit of name recognition could enable me to do other things musically and hopefully inspire people to do something of their own.

I was standing with Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Black Flag) the other night at the Mint Chicks show when I was bemoaning the fact that L.A. audiences don't get into dancing at shows anymore and seem to have so little energy and enthusiasm. Keith made a good point when he said that L.A. is spoiled because we have the luxury of seeing bands every night of the week and so the audiences have become jaded. But then he said, "what you and I were a part of will never happen again." I disagree. While it's true that the early punk scene will never replay itself in quite the same way, history is cyclical and we are due for another revolution.

When kids (and I say kids because they are usually the ones who are at the forefront) get sick and tired of being bored to tears or fed up with the way things are, then something will happen. It's inevitable. It won't be punk, but it will be something just as exciting and meaningful for those involved. It might even be happening right now.

It's my sincere hope that young people who visit my website will come away with an understanding of the burning desire for change that was behind the early punk scene. So, please enjoy what we have to offer here. Consider it a specialized course in punk rock history. But let's not spend so much time looking back that we forget to move forward.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Mint Chicks

Where was everybody on Monday night? Because if you weren't at Spaceland, you missed the highest energy live show I've seen since, well, since the last time the Mint Chicks rolled through L.A., when they opened for The Avengers in 2004. The Mint Chicks, from New Zealand, capture the frenzied energy of the early L.A. punk scene bands and take it in their own surprising, jazz-influenced direction. They are now absolutely one of my favorite live bands and I danced and screamed through their entire ferocious set, occasionally looking around in disbelief at the Silver Lake audience which stubbornly refused to fucking MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!

The singer and guitarist are wild men, leaping off the amps and drums, launching themselves off the stage monitors, jumping into the audience, rolling on the floor and generally risking bodily injury (to themselves and the audience) throughout the set, all the while pounding out the kind of herky-jerky, lightning fast punk that I love. When was the last time you worried about being stabbed by a guitar or knocked on the head by a swung microphone? That kind of audience confrontation hasn't been around for sometime now and the Mint Chicks pull it off beautifully. It might sound like chaos, but it's focused and purposeful.

I chatted briefly with some of the Mint Chicks outside the club and they revealed that they were fans of early L.A. punk bands like the Germs and Black Flag and tried to bring that kind of energy to their live shows. I reassured them that they had succeeded, admirably.

Here's a streaming MP3 by the Mint Chicks from the South by S/W website. It's MUCH mellower sounding than they are live, but it was the only MP3 I could find:
The Mint Chicks - Opium Of The People
They have a new CD out and are currently on tour, so please check them out if you have the opportunity. And don't forget to MOVE!

Alice's post script: The Mint Chicks are opening for Guitar Wolf at the L.A. Knitting Factory TONIGHT (Tues, March 15) and will do four separate shows in New York (lucky!!!) starting on March 21. So GO!

Thursday, March 10, 2005


It is my sad duty to report that Stay At Home Bomb is no longer together. It was my great pleasure and honor to perform alongside such talented musicians as Judy Cocuzza, Sharon Needles and Lysa Flores for the past couple of years. We had some great times together and it was an extremely difficult decision to let go of the fun and energy that I felt we had onstage.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the other Bombs who have played with us at one time or another: Mia Ferraro and Eva Gardner, both of whom subbed on bass for Ms. Needles while she was recuperating from major surgery. I would be similarly remiss if I did not express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Ian Brennan, who secured Stay At Home Bomb some incredible opening slots that most bands would kill for: The Mr. T. Experience, Fleshies, Shonen Knife, Fannypack, Peaches, Girlschool U.K...Thank you, Ian. Last, but certainly not least, I must thank roadie extraordinaire, Flames Evil, who saved me from my fumbling guitar antics and nasty habit of breaking strings at just about every show. Flames is an honorary Bomb if anyone is.

Ultimately, it was my decision to disband the group due to ongoing scheduling challenges. Each member has full-time responsibilities outside of the group along with other musical commitments and it proved increasingly difficult to find time for this band. It just seemed like the moment had come for me to move on. We part as friends and I wish my former bandmates nothing but success in their future endeavors.

With this being said, I'd like to leave Stay At Home Bomb's fans with one of our songs, written by me for Teresa Covarrubias (ex-Brat), who was originally in SAHB but decided to leave the band early on. The sentiment expressed in this song now applies equally to Judy, Sharon and Lysa, who are each one of a kind.

Stay At Home Bomb - "One Of A Kind"

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Women In L.A. Punk - Part V

I've just posted the latest installment in my ongoing series of interviews with women who were actively involved in the late seventies L.A. punk scene. My subject this time is the noted photographer, Ann Summa, who I've had the pleasure of knowing since my days in the Bags. Here's a fuzzy version of a much clearer shot Ann took of the Bags at the Hong Kong Cafe back in 1979:

Click on the following link to read Ann's interview and see more of her great work.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Inside Deep Throat, MILFs, and Feminism

I went to see Inside Deep Throat yesterday. It's a documentary about the making of the movie Deep Throat and the impact it had on American society and on the people involved in the film.

If you're not familiar with Deep Throat, it was the first (and probably last) big mainstream porno movie. It created a huge uproar when it came out and was shut down by court orders in many states, including New York. Hollywood stars rushed out to defend the movie and their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Those rights didn't apply to "obscene" materials, said the courts.

Anyway, Deep Throat seemed to be the next step in the sexual revolution that had begun in the sixties with the advent of birth control pills. Many Americans flocked to see it, simply because they were being told that they shouldn't be able to. Fellatio, which was illegal (and I believe, still is) in some states came out of the bedroom and onto the big screen.

Then something unusual happened: the feminist movement began boycotting the movie. Gloria Steinem hooked up with the star of the movie, Linda Lovelace (who had experienced a change of heart about her role in the film and claimed she was coerced into making it) and began speaking out against pornography and the objectification of women.

All of this took me back to my college "Philosophy of Feminism" class, when I used to feel like the only pervert who would actually admit to enjoying pornography. You see, my only regret is that there are not enough women writing, directing and producing erotica (or pornography, if you prefer). Of course, pornography that is created by men is going to tell about a man's sexual desires, which includes the objectification of women. How many women have not imagined sex with a faceless stranger? Do you think men would be insulted if we objectified them?

Anyway, this brings me to a term I recently heard in a MySpace group that deals with beauty standards. The term is MILFs and it stands for Mothers I'd Like (to) Fuck. I don't find the term insulting, but I understand why others find it insulting and would never address anyone by a term they found derogatory. Do we really need to protect ourselves against this term? Are mothers not sexy and fuckable objects of desire? Many of us have embraced the term "bitch" as a synonym for a strong woman. Why don't we take these terms, grab them by the balls and make them ours? I didn't pick up on the implication that mothers were somehow less attractive and that a MILF would be an exception to the rule. I simply thought it meant a sexy woman who happened to be a mom. Maybe I'm being naive, but I'm guessing that when people hear the term "mother", they think of more than a woman's physical attributes. There's a whole bunch of other baggage tied up with that word. They probably assume there's a certain amount of stability, maturity, differences in values and priorities. And maybe, just maybe, we've got some experience that makes us better at fucking.

In any case I don't think human sexuality works that way. It's not that analytical. A fuck is mainly about chemistry, and if there's an Oedipal component that makes it more exciting for someone, I say enjoy.

In the words of Peaches, "Are the motherfuckers ready for the fatherfuckers?"