Friday, November 09, 2007

Delayed Gratification

I turned 49 a couple of days ago and I am in my happy place. There's change in the air and even though I can't attend, I'm excited about Brendan Mullen's show in Los Angeles this weekend. Brendan is promoting his latest book, Live At The Masque - Nightmare In Punk Alley and has managed to assemble an old codger contingent that makes me want to run out and grab my Depends. The show is this Veteran's Day at the Echo and Echoplex. Scheduled to appear are The Plugs, The Eyes, The Controllers, The Gears...It promises to be fun. I saw somewhere that Geza X will be joining the Deadbeats onstage. Not only is Geza an ex-Bags member, but he also had a band at the time who were called the Jerrys (after Jerry Lewis). I thought it might be fun if he had a new band called The Geris (after geriatrics). I would love to be in that band! So climb into the wormhole and click on the flyer for a journey back in time.

The many photographers who contributed to the Masque book, along with Brendan Mullen and his co-editor are doing their part to preserve the legacy of punk rock. It's something I get asked about in almost every interview and I typically wrestle a bit with the answer. Truthfully, it's sometimes difficult for me to say which things have changed for the better (or worse) as a result of punk rock. But today, I saw some photos that gave me the answer I was looking for. More on that below.

Earlier this week, L.A. Record asked me to do an interview in conjunction with this event but because it was my birthday and I was out celebrating, I missed the deadline and only half my interview made it in on time. Click on the drawing to read the first part of the interview. I've included the missing second half below the drawing.

Drawing of me by Christine Hale

"When Necessary, Annihilate" interview part II

Q: Being female and Latina, did that present any obstacles for you in the scene or was it an asset to be female and 'exotic' in the scene?
A: I never felt that I was treated as anything other than a human being by the people involved in the punk scene. Being female was not a liability as the large number of women who were involved in the early scene can attest. Neither was being a Latina. At a certain point my band got a bad reputation because of our aggressive behavior and unruly fans, but that was well deserved. I am nobody's victim. I very often confuse people who get in my face with punching bags. You can take a girl out of East LA, but you can't take East LA out of the girl.

Q: Can you recall specific events that, for you, sounded the end of LA Punk and signaled the shape of things to come?
A: Yes, I remember one particular show where I looked into the audience and I realized that it was made up of people who were not connected to me (or connecting with me) in any way. They were there to "make the scene," hang out, act tough, fight with each other, whatever but they were not there to hear The Bags. Up until then my performances were all about interacting with the audience. I never wanted to make background music. I think I knew then that there was a new breed of punk on the horizon and that I had to move on to something else.

Q: What are your thoughts on 'music' today; how it is made, what is being made, and the way we experience and consume our music now as opposed to then?
A: Music today is just as exciting and creative as it was in 1977 - if you know where to look for it. There are lots of young musicians making their own recordings, putting out their own merch, exploring with new sounds and instrumentation, planning their own tours. The internet has made it possible for us to hear small, unsigned bands from all over the world. That's a good thing but I still feel that the best way to experience rock or pretty much any kind of music is live, in a club setting.
Mainstream radio is just as bad or even worse than it was back in the seventies when punk started. The whole music industry has become slick, sophisticated and geared towards image driven pop stars who are as interchangeable and disposable as the products they sell, from sneakers to cell phones.

Q: How did the closing of the Masque affect the scene? I'm wondering if the bands were maturing and growing up and out of the Masque?
A: You know, I hear people talk about how there were other venues for punk rock other than the Masque and it's true that there were clubs who would book punk bands who could draw a drinking age crowd, but the Masque was more than a venue. It was almost a clubhouse. Brendan wasn't selling liquor, he wasn't making big bucks off admission fees. He was just doing what he wanted to do. He opened his doors to a bunch of strangers, welcomed us in and gave us a place to express ourselves and create. I think the fact that the L.A. Scene was so strong was because it was unified and interactive. We were living, working and creating in many of the same places like the Masque and the Canterbury. Those places were like little greenhouses for us. As those circumstances changed the scene changed. I'm not sure if the closing of the Masque affected the scene as much as the natural evolution of the scene itself and the influence of outsiders affected the closing of the Masque. The scene just grew beyond the Masque and the original, tight knit community unraveled around the same time.

Q: How do you want to be remembered at your passing?
A: Truthfully, if you want to remember me do it now. I won't give a shit when I'm dead.

Megan Brown shreds on the Alice Bag skateboard.

Finally, for those of you who asked about the Alice Bag skateboard deck, it's done. Gridlock Skateboards has produced a limited edition of Alice Bag skateboards and the last I heard, they were planning on selling a few at the show this weekend. All proceeds go to supporting a youth skateboarding mentor program organized by Michael Fox. The art for the boards was designed by Zeroxed in conjunction with Gridlock Skateboards. So if you've ever wanted to step on my face here's your chance.

Today, I saw some photos of a young female skater named Megan Brown riding my board on MySpace and I've posted a couple of them above. It's hard to describe the many feelings I get from these photos but I can tell you that I couldn't be more proud. Seeing a young girl riding a board with my face on it really brought home the "legacy of punk rock" idea for me. It's like the whole thing has come full circle. When I was a kid, girls didn't ride skateboards; if they did, they certainly didn't ride them aggressively like the boys did. Seeing this image of a young girl, empowered on a skateboard with my face on it,'s kind of the ultimate delayed gratification for me. It tells me that punk changed something about the way young women feel about themselves and the way society views young women.