Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Women In L.A. Punk Part XIX - Spock

Backstage Pass was one of the bands who helped to usher in the era of punk rock in L.A. back in the mid to late seventies. They were also one of the few rock bands up until that time to feature female musicians. They rehearsed at and were one of the first bands to play the Masque, which is probably where I saw Spock for the first time.

Backstage Pass live at the Masque, 1977. Photo credit: Donna Santisi

Backstage Pass, as I've mentioned before, was one of the more musically competent acts around at the time. They were also slightly more theatrical in their performances than some of their punk contemporaries. The band's sound was somewhere between power pop and punk and their presence at the Masque proved that the label of "punk rock" in the late 70's had more to do with attitude than musical style. The fact that these women were writing and performing their own songs proficiently in an unabashed, sexually assertive manner made them unique.

Click on the Women In L.A. Punk thumbnail to read her interview.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Shooting From The Lip

Photo Credit: Bob Chamberlin/LAT

Thank you Los Angeles! After my little blog tirade a few days ago, I received a bunch of mail from Angelenos telling me about the incredible demonstration that happened in L.A. this past weekend. Reports vary as to the number of demonstrators, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to over a million, but regardless of the exact number, all reports describe the march as the biggest manifestation in California history. The march was to show solidarity with immigrants. The photos were awe inspiring, as were the reports of walk-outs in L.A. schools, where the students protested a proposed bill that would require students to show proof of citizenship. It’s strange that this march was happening as I was writing my little rant. I didn’t know anything about it and despite the fact that I was miles away from L.A., somehow I was on the same page. I know it sounds kooky, but I think I’m still connected to L.A. somehow.

I found out from some of my new friends here in Arizona that there was a demonstration here in Phoenix too. In fact, there were many marches all over the country, in places like Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Flagstaff, El Paso, and Chicago. I hope that those of you who were there will continue to share your stories and photos not just with me, but with the readers of this blog. Many of you write to me and tell me that I have inspired you at some point. Well, you inspire me too. You remind me that even though each one of us is an individual, we need to work together to make things better. Oh yeah, I know you’re thinking Kumbaya and all that groovy stuff. But even though I’m old enough to be bitter and cynical about the future, I refuse to accept that we can’t take this out of control train of a world and set it back on the right track.

And speaking of being out of control, I want to thank you all for being so tolerant when I get out of control. I think if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you probably have a pretty good idea of who I am. You didn’t call me out when I used the term redneck; you understood the humor in “Hitler Was A Homo”, the silly Oi song I put in my podcast, even though we all know it was in bad taste and slams two of my favorite groups to champion, women and gays. Still, my conscience bothers me.

Recently a friend sent me an email which made fun of African Americans. Not recognizing the sender’s name, I immediately fired back a reply asking that he/she not bother me sending me their racist shit. I received an apologetic reply within minutes from this friend of mine. The odd thing is this girl has always been totally PC. I never thought of her as racist, and I’m sure she doesn’t see herself that way. I guess what I’m saying is you guys let me off easy. Sometimes I need to be called on my own bullshit. My reactionary tendencies sometime get the better of me and I have always been the type to fight first and ask questions later, as Darby Crash found out on many occasions. But I also believe that I’m no better than anybody else and that we all need to help each other see where our ideals and our actions are inconsistent.

Shooting from the hip,


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Immigrant Song

The local Phoenix newspaper published this letter to the editor earlier in the week and it really upset me when I read it. Illegal immigration is a major political issue in this state.

I have to admit that Arizona and I have been going though our honeymoon period. I love the desert at dusk when you can see the wide open spaces and the mountains in the background. I've been pretending that I'm in the old west and it doesn't take much pretending; out here on the northeastern edge of Phoenix some people even ride horses to the supermarket. Anyway, I almost forgot that the old west had one other element which was absent in my fantasy: rednecks. People for whom "Remember the Alamo" means more than remembering where to return your rental car. I'm talking about people like those little men, with little minds. I believe they prefer the term minute instead of little, but they have no relationship at all to the revolutionary war militia who believed in freedom from tyranny. These rednecks are just hate mongers whose minute minds don't understand that their way of life depends on illegal immigration. They don't understand that the riches of this land were built on the backs of slaves, indentured servants, peons and now illegal immigrants. Why else would George W. support amnesty and an immigrant worker program? Because it's good for business. Cheap labor is grist for the mill.

Rich is a relative term. The only way for someone to be rich is for someone else to be poor. Here in the U.S. we are rich because we pillage the rest of the world, we buy cheap goods manufactured by people who are made to work in inhumane conditions, we outsource our labor needs to third world countries and we turn a blind eye to illegal immigration in order to provide cheap labor. It's Economics 101, baby. We create situations all over the globe that make people want to leave their destitute nations and come here to the land of milk and honey, and then we feign outrage when a few tenacious souls actually make it here. And what do they get when they get here? You know as well as I do. They take the shittiest jobs, the worst working conditions, and then they get blamed for taking American jobs and welfare. But who else is going to keep the grass trimmed on all the golf courses when it's 100 degrees? Who's going to wash those shiny new Humvees?

In the past few months that I've been in Arizona I've seen so many "help wanted" ads in this ever-expanding city, that I can assure you that nobody who wants a job has anything to worry about. But it's not the jobs that this woman is complaining about. She is complaining about the immigrant children taxing the Arizona school district with their lack of English skills. She tries to sound concerned about their ability to succeed in the U.S. without English skills. Well, guess what, we Hispanics already know that. But let's not kid ourselves, people have been speaking Spanish on this continent for much longer than they've been speaking English. You can't simply erase the history of Arizona. Arizona was part of Spain and then part of Mexico, and as such was Spanish speaking. Having a Spanish background is an undeniable and inextricable part of American heritage, especially in the Southwest. No amount of intolerance will ever completely remove Spanish from our lexicon. We don't need a bully telling our kids that she's not going to tolerate them if they don't learn English. And what exactly does that mean, "we will not continue to put up with them"? What are you going to do, meet them in the playground after school?

Shame on you, Chelsea Taylor. As a veteran teacher, I've taught hundreds of kids to speak English and never once did I have to threaten one. I think the one who is not going to be tolerated is you.

I don't think that this woman represents the majority. Most of the people I've met out here are not racist, hate mongers. But it only takes one to piss me off.

I'd like to close this rant with a little ditty by Cholita which I think pretty much says it all: "Beans Are Not Enough." Here are the lyrics so you can sing along!

Beans Are Not Enough

Here in the USA you eat sushi and pizza
Sprouted grains and whole wheat buns
But in the fifth world, children are starving
They're eating beans and constantly farting

But you don't care, you don't give a damn
You've made them your sacrificial lamb

They can't eat their Wheaties in the morning
Have a croissant or baguette
Cappuccino, latte or espresso
They don't have that kind of shit

But in the fifth world, children are starving
They're eating beans and constantly farting
But you don't care, you don't feel their pain
You fool yourself, you won't take the blame

Beans are not enough...
Oh Jesus, Mary Magdalene
Virgin Guadalupe, Pepe and Lucretia

Dip your finger in the water, come and cool my tongue
Cause I'm tormented in the flame...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Snow In Phoenix?!

Well, not really Phoenix, but Cave Creek and that is close enough. This was the view we woke up to last weekend after a big storm passed through. We drove up to the little fakey Olde Western town near where we live and walked around throwing snowballs at each other. I'll hold onto that memory for summer when the thermometer hits 120.

We missed Bands on Grand last Saturday and unfortunately also missed the Zolar X reunion in L.A., but heard it was fun. I hope they play out here. Hey, if it can snow in Phoenix, then anything is possible, right? Most people write about the exciting things they've done, but I wanted you to experience my boredom vicariously.

Just kidding! I'm never bored. Just depraved. I mean deprived.

Another Women In L.A. Punk Interview is on the way very soon and it's a real treat! Plus, another Bagcast - maybe. We've also added a few new photos to the punk gallery on my website, so check them out if you're interested.

Lots of people writing books these days...keep an eye out for Terry Graham's upcoming book (the working title is "Punk Like Me") and the LONG anticipated collection of photos and stories by JENNY LENS, who was recently 86'd from Whole Foods. What a PUNK!

Not strictly punk related, but another book which promises to be very interesting is Prisoner of X by Class of '77 alumnus Allan MacDonell, all about his sordid life in porn. Sounds like fun!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bagcast # 4 - Alice's MySpace Faves

Bagcast #4
Alice Bag's MySpace Faves

Thanks for listening to my series of podcasts so far. I hope you've enjoyed them. For the first three, I drew mostly from my collection of old records for some of my old influences and favorites. For this week's edition, I'd like to spotlight some current bands that I really like.

I don't get out to see bands as much as I'd like, so I rely on the internet to hear new music. In that respect, we're much better off now than we were when I was a teenager, because back "in the old days" we were stuck with listening to the crap that was on the radio. I'd argue that mainstream radio today is just as bad as or worse than it was back in the mid-seventies. No one listens to the radio to hear exciting new music; they listen to the internet.

This set is comprised of some of my favorite bands from MySpace. All of these songs were ripped from their profiles and are low-fi, so if you hear a song you like, be sure to sign up as that band's friend, write to them, go see them play live and support them. Speaking from experience, I can tell you public support can often mean the difference between a young band breaking up when the going gets rough or sticking it out in the face of adversity, and there is a lot of adversity out there. I've provided links to each of the bands and you can go to their pages by clicking on their names.

I know that this is not even scratching the surface of the many good bands out there today. I hope you enjoy this set as much as I enjoyed making it for you!

1. Gracias Mama - Las Ultrasonicas, Mexico City, D.F. If you've never been to a punk show in Mexico, this song sort of captures the manic, out of control atmosphere that can take place.

2. That's Great/That Sucks - The Shemps, NYC, NY. More insane energy.

3. Hitler Was An 'Omo - The Gonads, London, England. My guilty pleasure of this set. I'm not a big fan of Oi style, but this song cracks me up.

4. The Outward Song - The Horribles, L.A., CA. It appears that this band has recently broken up, but I still like the song.

5. Their Cell - Girl In A Coma, San Antonio, TX - I love the guitar hook and I love the singer's voice.

6. Everything Falls Apart - The Ergs, South Amboy, NJ. I know it's only dork rock, but I like it.

7. Not Hot To Trot - Von Iva, S.F., CA. A bluesy voice that suggests experience.

8. Speak Japanese Or Die - Megababe, Tokyo, Japan. Multilingual and proud of it.

9. On A Friday - Babyshakes, NYC, NY. Punky chicks ahoy, indeed!

10. Multiply & Divide - The Soviettes, Minneapolis, MN. This song brings out the math teacher in me.

11. The Search - Overnight Lows, L.A., CA. I love the clean sound and expressive vocals.

12. Running Out Of Things To Say - McQueen, Brighton, U.K. I'd love to see this band live, they sound like they know how to rock.

13. State of Affairs - Bobot Adrenaline, L.A., CA. I saw this band play at a skate park in L.A. and they did a tight, high energy set. I think the guitarist, Pepper, was also in one of all time favorite bands, Buck.

14. Barracuda -'s, Tokyo, Japan. They look as cool as they sound.

15. You Got It - The Okmoniks, Tucson, AZ. A cool band from my new home state.

16. Modern Swinger - The Pink Spiders, Nashville, TN. That chorus is so damn catchy!

17. Poor and Weird - The Briefs, Seattle,WA. One of my fave bands from Seattle, I saw them live in L.A. and ended up in the pit - scary for an old lady. Please come to AZ boys.

18. Something I Said - Thee Invention, L.A., CA. I like the vocals on this one.

19. Alice Bag - The Rogue Nations, Charlotte, NC. A song about yours truly. How could I resist? Thanks, guys!

20. Kill Her Off - The Ropes, NYC, NY. Probably what people are saying about me right now...

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Friday, March 03, 2006

First Fridays

Since our relocation to Phoenix, my family and I have been scouting around town, looking for free or inexpensive things to do where we might run into kindred spirits. There aren't many middle-aged punk rockers with dyed hair running around in my neighborhood. Last weekend (thanks to Karl Wentzel, who tipped us off) we found the annual Matsuri Festival downtown, which was great fun since we are big fans of Japanese street fashion and we got to see some folks dressed up for the occasion. We suggested that they add a mini-Shibuya District for next year's event so people can really go all out!

Another event we've become fans of is called "First Fridays," a free monthly art walk of over one hundred galleries. It takes place after dark throughout Phoenix, but we have grown attached to a strip on galleries on Grand Ave, some of which feature live music. Naturally, it brings out a younger, artsier crowd who just seem to be having a good time, meeting friends and going from place to place. Here's a pic of me and my daughter enjoying an installation entitled "Peeptown."

And speaking of art walks, you can take your own free art walk down by the L.A. River in Boyle Heights. While you're there, be sure to check out this nifty dumpster which features my mug! Thanks to Jessee Zeroxed for trashing me so beautifully.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Unladylike Behavior - Bagcast #3

Bagcast #3 – 3/1/06

Unladylike Behavior

Bessie SmithI Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl
Aretha FranklinIt Won't Be Long
Candye Kane Masturbation Blues
Loretta LynnFist City
Koko TaylorWang Dang Doodle
Patti SmithPissing In A River
Teenage Jesus & The Jerks (Lydia Lunch)Orphans
X Ray SpexOh Bondage, Up Yours!
The SlitsShoplifting
PenetrationDon't Dictate
L7Off The Wagon
The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black Water Coffin
Punkoustica - Modern Day Virgin Sacrifice
Peaches - Shake Yer Dix

Some of my favorite females speak their minds in unconventional ways. From Bessie Smith to Peaches, I run the gamut of some of my musically outspoken sisters. I hope you enjoy it!

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