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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the link to the interview. It's always nice to get the perspective of someone who was actually present at the time.

TG said...

Ok, well, it isn’t the first time I’ve taken a gander at your web site but Jesus Lord Fuck, it’s one helluva good site, worthy of all praise and eternal preservation. I was perusing your interview with Agony Shorthand and you are right on all accounts regarding LA “punk”. To wit:

-The Hollywood scene most definitely did not revolve around Darby Crash
-The Weirdos were the truest expression of Hollywood punk and remain the best
-Your mother was a far-sighted and intelligent being to whom all music lovers owe gratitude
-Your husband is a far-sighted and intelligent being to whom all music lovers owe gratitude
-You are a far-sighted and intelligent being to whom all music lovers owe gratitude

It’s true; in Hollywood we were the punk underdogs. Our scene was always behind the 8-ball, forever fighting an inferiority complex and weighted down with the “Hollywood” in our backyard. But our strip-shop culture managed to finagle half-assed acceptability due in part, I think, to a perverted mingling of suburban Los Angeles banality with Beverly Hills Hollywood royalty. We were a little of both and a lot of neither. Ergo, we could be anything. Or anybody. We were criticized, naturally, with but a single response – eat our fuck.

While America and the world scratched their bottoms trying to figure us out, we created the last organic, underground music scene and debauched our boy/girl, gay/straight, rich/poor, black/brown/yellow/white selves under a soft canopy of hydrocarbon knowing full well we couldn’t go home again and wouldn’t if we could. We were each unique, formed from the clay of our time and place. Sure, we took a couple cues from New York and London, but we fashioned our own mystery meat from ingredients found only in the shadows of Hollywood Boulevard, the Santa Ana winds, late night food at International Burger and a witches brew of boredom and anger. As such, one hundred Hollywood punks looked and sounded like one hundred different people and no stranger would have recognized the common thread that gave us common cause.


Alice Bag said...

Nice to hear from you, Terry. I'm glad that you like the website, it's coming along a little at a time...What did you think of your postcard in the archives? I had to share it.

Greg "webmaster" Velasquez said...

P.S. - Terry, very well said! You should definitely write a book. I'm sure you have some great stories to share and not just old punk tales.

Greg "webmaster" Velasquez said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jenny Lens said...

Terry BagDad kept me in stitches a last summer when he visited my apt with some pals. I was sorting pix for the Rhino "No Thanks" package and kept laughing all night long, dropping negs and slides and not giving a damn. I had no idea he was/is so funny!

He astutely and poetically expands and compresses what went on and who we were/are. It's amazing Terry is not a songwriter. He'd put Darby's lyrics to shame. Not to throw yet more doubt on Darby's importance, but we all brought more to the scene than any one scene could utilize. I'm glad he's around and he is writing a book! Can't wait to read it!
keep in touch,
jenny lens