Monday, April 30, 2007

What It Is

I've been getting lots of email about my upcoming appearance on Cinco de Mayo at the Silver Lake Film Festival event in L.A. I'd like to answer some of the questions and perhaps clear up some misconceptions about what this show is and what it isn't.

  • I am supposed to receive an award of some sort for my dubious contribution to music. It's called a "Pioneer Award," which means I'm old.
  • The show features the following bands/musicians: Dios Malos, The Revolts, Lysa Flores and Ollin.
  • I was asked to do a few songs of my choice. I selected songs from bands I've been in, including the Bags, Cholita, Stay at Home Bomb, etc., but this is not a Bags reunion show.
  • The set is a short set, which means 4-5 songs.
  • The show is at the Jensen Rec Center in Echo Park, an all ages venue.
  • Lysa Flores was kind enough to volunteer her band's services to back me up. I'm looking forward to being onstage with her again, along with her talented band.
  • I don't have access to advance tickets or discount tickets.
  • I don't know what time I'm performing, but I believe it's after the De La Hoya fight.
  • I have been informed that tickets for this show are selling well and that people who are interested should buy in advance, online at the following link:
Cinco de Mayo Show

That's pretty much it. I hope to see you there on Saturday night.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

The George W. Bush pinata - I wonder what it's full of?


Friday, April 27, 2007

France Travelogue

I’m back in the U.S... yey! It feels great to be back home, even if I am floating somewhere between jet lag and euphoria. Paris was better than ever, crisp, clear and unseasonably dry (probably due to global warming). My husband and I turned this trip into the honeymoon we never had. It’s the first time we’ve been away from our family for more than one night in twelve years. It was especially nice because Greg’s company incentive trip covered many of the things we wouldn’t have done on our own, so we ended up doing a wider variety of things. We did fancy things like a dinner cruise on the Seine, a tour of the Loire Valley castles and dinner at the Eiffel Tower along with the Boho stuff that we like to do, like picnic on a park bench with wine, baguettes, and Camembert, ride the Metro to less touristy areas and visit the catacombs under Montparnasse.

Because most of our nights were spent in a luxury hotel near Les Jardin de Tuilleries, for the final night of our trip we chose to stay on our own in Montparnasse at an inexpensive, small but very cool little hotel called Lenox Montparnasse. We rode the metro to the Latin Quarter, walked around the Sorbonne and when we were both tired of walking, we caught a screening of a classic American film, “People Will Talk” featuring Cary Grant. The French prefer their foreign films in the original language with subtitles, so it worked out perfectly. Afterwards, we strolled down the boulevard and into a fast food outlet where the clerk tried to sell us on the new “Spiderman” burger, which he pronounced “speederman.” I’m sure you’ll be seeing these in the U.S. pretty soon.

So without further ado, I’ll give you some of the highlights in pictures.

Here's what you get when you ask some other tourists to take a picture of you at night in Paris:

Me at the Louvre. It looks like the Pyramide needs some Windex.

One of my favorite paintings at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Double Portrait with Glass of Wine by Marc Chagall.

Le Chateau Cenonceau in the Loire Valley, which features the Black Room of the White Queen, a goth boudoir for a mourning queen.

In the Chateau D'Amboise, the walls have ears:

The Chateau D'Amboise in the Loire Valley, final resting place of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Just a few of the millions of bones in the Catacombs at Montparnasse. Although the Catacombs are creepy and claustrophobic (in a good way), they have been a tourist attraction since Victorian times, when ladies and gentlemen would tour the subterranean crypts by candlelight.

It's not to everyone's taste, so it's relatively uncrowded and inexpensive. For the first 15 minutes, I thought my husband and I were the only ones in there.

Cinema le Champo in the Latin Quarter (near the Sorbonne), where we saw People Will Talk. Good atmosphere and comfy seats - no popcorn, though.

We did so many things that can't be captured in photos, like listening to the Mass sung in French at Notre Dame, or watching the lights go on at the Arc de Triomphe while having dinner at a small sidewalk cafe or hearing a choir of nuns sing at Sacre Coeur, or walking through Montparnasse and seeing the beautiful or grotesque manniquins in the window move and discovering that they are human statues. Springtime in Paris... I finally get it.

Dinner cruise on the Seine. Tres romantique!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alice's French Lesson - A Podcast

I am packing for a trip to Paris and I leave tonight. I studied French in high school, but since I didn’t have anyone to speak with, I’ve lost most of what I once knew. So I’ve been honing my French skills the Alice way. I picked up some cool French songs courtesy of some great blogs, (the links to which I’ve included below in case you want to check them out). I downloaded them and then I went online and looked for the “paroles,” which I found out is French for “lyrics.” I plan to listen to them and learn all the lyrics on the plane. I just hope someone asks me something that I can answer with “Les filles c’est fait pour faire l’amour.”

So if you’ve ever wanted to learn French, or just enjoy singing in a language you barely understand, join me in singing along!

Au Revoir,


Alice Bag’s French Lesson

Right click HERE and "save file as" to download the podcast so you can play it on your ipod!

Or go to to stream the audio.

Les Filles C’est Fait Pour Faire L’amour - Charlotte Leslie
Le Temps De La Rentree - France Gall
Ecoutez - Elsa
Soyons Sages - France Gall
Je T’aime...Moi Non Plus - Serge Gainsbourg
Bubble Gum - Brigitte Bardot
Irresistiblement - Sylvie Vartan
Sous Le Soleil Exactement - Anna Karina
D’etre a Vous - Marie Laforet
Le Mannequin - Annie Philippe
La Ballade de Clerambard - Marie Laforet
Jeu du Telephone - Natacha Snitkine
Ca Plane Pour Moi - Plastic Bertrand

Merci beaucoup to the following music blogs, without which I could not have assembled this podcast:

Spiked Candy

Filles Sourires

Asi Se Fundo Carnaby Street

Monday, April 16, 2007


I had to share the cover of the latest Razorcake with you all because it features my dear friend Teresa and my pal Rudy from the Brat. Not only that, but the artwork is incredible! I would rush out and buy it just for that cover alone. Awesomeness!!!

It features an interview with the Brat, an interview with Young People With Faces and lots of other fun things. Overall, it just looks like a really good issue so go out and buy one! Send me one too because they don't sell it out here on the outer edge of nowhere.

On another note, I've got a little more info on the May 5th show in Echo Park. The details are still developing but here is what I do know for now. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $10 at this website (click on the text link below to go there) and the venue is all-ages (yey!).

CINCO DE MAYO SHOW On Cinco de Mayo (Saturday, May 5) the Silver Lake Film festival celebrates the rich-history of Chicano rock music in East Los Angeles from Lalo Guerrerro to War to Los Lobos. The evening will feature performances by Dios Malos, Lysa Flores (1997 Independent SPIRIT debut-performance nominee for the film "Star Maps"), Ollin, The Revolts (featuring Jonathan Velasquez, star Larry Clark's "Wassup Rockers"), and culminating with the grand finale of 1970's punk-legend Alice Bag being presented with the MUSIC PIONEER AWARD and her performing a song by The Bags for the first time in decades.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Otra Vez la Burra al Trigo

If you don't speakey the Spanish you may not know the meaning of the idiom I've chosen for this blog title. It literally translates as "once again the donkey's in the wheat," but what it really means is someone is up to their (usually bad) old habits.

I recently learned of some exciting news. I will be receiving a Spirit of Silver Lake Music Pioneer Award at the Silver Lake Film Festival in May. Here's the blurb from the website:

2007 Silver Lake Film Festival Spirit of Silver Lake Music Pioneer Award - Alice Bag
Saturday, May 5, 2007- Jensen Rec Center Studios. In recognition of her continued challenges to the male-dominated worlds of punk and rock, Silver Lake Film Festival is honored to present Alice with the 2007 Music Pioneer Award.

It's amazing how a simple appeal to my vanity could convince me to go against my better judgement. All they had to do was dangle a shiny "award" in front of me and I just started walking towards it, like a burro towards a carrot. Yes, I will be performing a mini-set with Lysa Flores and some guest musicians. The set will include songs from some of my past bands, including one or two Bags' songs. This is the first time that I'll be doing any Bags' songs in over 20 years because they are giving me an award after all and one does not receive awards every day. My only request was that they move my venue from Spaceland (which is 21 and over) to an all-ages venue. If I'm going to break my own rule about not performing Bags songs, I'd rather do it for an audience who might actually enjoy it than a potentially disinterested audience of older club goers who've seen it all before. Not to say Spacelanders are jaded, but no one ever dances there. Not even Keith Morris.

30 years ago, who would have imagined that John Doe, Keith Morris and Alice Bag would be getting awards for being upstanding citizens and role models? I guess you can add punk rockers to the list of things which get respectable if they last enough, right alongside politicians, ugly buildings and whores.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Virgin Sacrificers Miss Their Mark

A comment/question posted on my last blog entry by an anonymous reader caught my attention.

"I like your observation that punk changed the way women felt about themselves because that attitude certainly seems to be prevalent among females of that generation but I am curious to know your feelings about young women today. Do you feel that punk made a lasting impact on how women view themselves and each other and if not, why?"

That's a tough question to answer because I'm not comfortable speaking for a generation of women, especially a generation to which I don't belong. I'd say that punk did have a lasting impact on women, whether or not they're aware of it. The advances each generation makes contribute to the advancement of future generations, each building upon the work of those who came before.

I think that many young girls today are hesitant to label themselves as female musicians or point out that they are in all girl bands and would rather not use the label of feminist because they are not stepping into a situation where they have to prove that they are equal. Somebody who came before them already proved it.

I think it's great that they don't have to prove themselves, however, not being aware of the fact that there still is a need for a feminist attitude can be detrimental because refusing to acknowledge where you've come from makes it difficult to recognize that you haven't yet reached your destination.

I think for the women who became immersed in the punk culture, it was life changing. Today, it's difficult to tell a mall punk from a person who truly believes in self-determination. There's a difference and the broader culture tends to enforce and reward conformity. Young women today are still modern day virgin sacrifices. They are just grist for the consumerist mill and unfortunately that reality has not changed. In fact, it may be even worse because as mass media has become omnipresent, young women are bombarded by messages that tell them they don't look good enough, are not thin enough, need to buy stuff to help them stop stinking, breaking out, etc. The only way they'll get the coveted boyfriend/husband is to buy more stuff.

I should clarify that I am what used to be called a lipstick feminist, meaning that I believe anyone should look and feel their best when they go out into the world and there is no shame in making the most of what you have. But that is not the same thing as an all-consuming obsession with an ideal image that is created by somebody else so that they can make a profit off the insecurity they've fostered in you.

So the short answer is, some things have gotten better, some things have gotten worse. Still plenty of things to write songs about.

Women In L.A. Punk, Part XXII - Gerber, aka Michelle Bell

This interview was conducted over a year ago and I've been dying to post it ever since it was finished. Well, the long wait is over and it was worth it because Gerber has kindly allowed me to share some photos from her own scrapbooks.

All you people who keep asking me to interview Gerber can stop asking. It's finally here.

If you're at all familiar with the Germs, then you know that Gerber (Michelle Bell) was very close to Darby Crash. She went from being a muse to a musican and figured into several bands in L.A.

Gerber's interview appears exactly as she wrote her responses to me. I felt it was important to keep it just as it came to me - with typos and all - because it shows so much of her personality. I asked her if I should correct it or run it as it was and her response was as follows:

"fuck thr typos
thats me Yes
i chopped many a head
but Dennis from Social D
was the funniest
hrthought he ws gonna get laid like i a car
then he ran around all nite holding onto this one lil long peice I couldnt get off
he jssust held it all nite and tols story of woe
like that girl..... blah blah blah ...
they wwerent even a baand then
but he cmae looking for me next week
with a rod stewart spikey kindda cutt
suuper cutt
haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"

If there was an "It Girl" of the Masque, that would be Gerber. Like a punk Delilah, she claimed hearts as well as manes. Any party with Gerber in attendance was 100% guaranteed not to be dull.

In her interview, Gerber writes that punk "set me free to scream my needed to be screamed." Her interview answers, like Gerber herself, are all in CAPS. She was funny, feisty, unapologetic and in-your-face. And she still is.

Click on the Women In Punk thumbnail to read her interview:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What Are They Teaching In School These Days?

I'm immobilized in bed, recuperating from a back injury and dictating this blog entry. Hopefully I will make a full recovery and not have to use a walker when I perform a few songs on May 5 at the Silver Lake Film Festival. That wouldn't be too much fun.

Here's an email interview I just completed. Thanks for allowing me to share this on my blog, Leah, and good luck with your work!

"Dear Alice Bag,

My name is Leah and I am a senior at Brookline High School in Massachusetts. I've been extremely passionate about early L.A. punk for as long as I can remember and have read about, listened to, and watched most of what I have been able to get my hands on. I decided to write my final senior thesis paper about the role of women in the early L.A. punk scene. Unfortunately (and obviously), I was not there. Because of this I have been doing endless reading and research in hope of depicting my opinions with well-supported information.
I have read all of the interviews with Women in L.A. Punk on your website and they have been endlessly helpful. You will be well-cited and I wanted to thank you for taking on the task of making those interviews public. I was also wondering if there is a chance I could convince you to do an email interview with me concerning the topic of my paper...."

I am always happy to answer questions, although it sometimes takes me months to respond. Here are Leah's questions and my answers:

Do you feel early L.A. punk changed the way women were thought of in society?

I think it changed the way women felt about themselves, which eventually changed the way society felt about them.

How do you feel the punk scene allowed you to escape from female gender roles?

I was too busy creating something new to worry about what my role as a female should be.

How did women in early L.A. punk redefine what it meant to be tough?

I don’t know that anyone was trying to be tough. I think they were just trying to be themselves, which requires strength of conviction and the will to act. If that is considered tough, then a woman’s toughness is measured by the same standard as a man’s.

Why do you think women felt so comfortable breaking out of their gender role and really letting loose?
Perhaps because the punk aesthetic didn’t require women to fit into a role. It was something new that had yet to be defined or stereotyped.

How did people think of females fronting early L.A. punk bands back then?

I’m not sure because I personally didn’t care much about how people were perceiving me as a female. Even though I thought of myself as an performer, it wasn’t like I went on stage to entertain. I went on stage to engage the audience. If people were not engaged by my performance, then they could leave. If they stayed and got engaged, that’s what I was after. But I didn’t think about what they thought of me personally.

What did you think of the Plunger Pit? Did you have any note-worthy experiences there?

It looked like a fun place to hang out but my impression was that it could have been overwhelming at times. I’m not sure, but I suspect they might have been around before the Canterbury. I didn’t go there that often. It was fun and chaotic.

In We Got the Neutron Bomb I read about an argument you got into with Darby Crash about the fundamentals of stage performers. You reportedly felt that musicians and audience members should all be on the same level (which I think is amazing by the way), while Darby felt singers should hold an almost God-like position. I read that this argument lead to a physical fight in which you kicked Darby’s ass. What’s the truth behind this and how do you justify your actions?

I didn’t really kick his ass and it wasn’t a very long fight. Darby enjoyed irritating me and he liked to see how far he could push people. He figured out that he couldn’t push me very far. We disagreed about a lot of things on a very fundamental level. Our differences went much deeper than just the proper role of audiences versus performers. But the arguments we had also left us with food for thought and we would both go home after an argument and then come back to the subject later to pick up the thread again.

Early on in the punk scene both Darby and I wanted to be leaders. I think Darby held onto that desire until the end and I reached a point where I wanted to form relationships where there was a give and take. This concept is discussed at length in a book called Pedagogy Of The Oppressed by Paolo Freire. Basically, it states that a leader’s thinking is authenticated only by the authenticity of the followers’ thinking. The leader cannot think for her followers.

I think too many people don’t understand that logical argument can be a healthy thing and arguments don’t always involve threats or conflict. It’s just that on this occasion, Darby pissed me off and I resorted to violence.

In early L.A. punk, it seems as though women started to get comfortable exerting their physical selves. Often this meant fighting each other or males. From what I’ve read, women were physically kicking a lot of ass. Why do you feel they suddenly felt so comfortable fighting?

I’m not sure that this assumption is correct. I can’t say that I saw an extraordinary amount of female violence in the punk scene, but I grew up in East L.A. and I certainly saw a lot more of it at Stevenson Jr. High. I think I was an anomaly because I was violent and I grew up around violence, so it was what I knew. Plus, punk music was aggressive and it may have fueled those emotions a bit more than, say, Donovan and the Beatles.