Saturday, April 18, 2015

It Just Has To Be Good Enough For You

“I often say that I don’t consider myself a writer, because when I read authors that I like, I think ‘oh, I could never do that,’ you know... they’re artists. They do something that I feel I can’t do. But at the same time, I realize that what I’m doing is something that’s important for a lot of people. People need to understand that they don’t have to be the best writer to write, and it’s the same sort of attitude that I had when I decided to be in a punk band. Like, I don’t have to be the best musician to get up there and sing or play the guitar. I’ve always felt that I don’t have to master a particular instrument to make it say what I want it to say. It’s the same with writing. It doesn’t have to meet any superior standard, it just has to be good enough for you. If I let perfectionism stymie me, I would never do anything.”

Alice Bag, interview with PUNK GLOBE MAGAZINE​. Photo by Gregg Segal

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Nica Diaries - Excerpt

We’re still in Managua, the charla with the economist fell through, so a bunch of us just went out for frescos instead. Vick, one of the guys in our group, started feeling sick. I’m one of the more fluent members of our group so I and another NICA student who is studying medicine but doesn’t speak much Spanish took him to the hospital. Turns out Vick was suffering from acute dehydration and was having some medical complications because of it. The service at the hospital was ridiculously fast and efficient, despite the obvious lack of medical equipment or adequate facilities, not to mention medication which is also scarce here. Vick had to stay at the hospital for observation so we left him there and we’ll send someone else from the school to pick him up in a few hours.

Last night at Lobo Jacks I talked to a lot of people. Many of us have reached a point in this journey where we are understanding that it’s time to move past learning the truth, it’s time to start acting on it. I believe that truth compels us to act.
I’m so much more in tune with human beings down here. Talking to the internationalists, hearing about their work, I realize that I spend a lot of time in my head exploring ideas, looking for black and white truths instead of acting. Just communicating with other people can teach us as much about life as great philosophy books - not to diminish those great works but ideas should be utilized, they shouldn’t just rot in your head like uneaten fruit on a vine. I need to find a way to actualize my beliefs and I feel an urgency to do it now. I have to stop being stupid, thinking that planting tomatoes on an agricultural cooperative is going to make any great change in people’s lives. It probably only made a difference in mine.
I’ve been offered a teaching job in the mountains just north of Esteli. It’s dangerous territory because the closer you get to Honduras, the closer you get to the fighting but the children there have been in desperate need of a teacher for a while; there is a shortage of teachers, too. I’m considering it. I could be happy here. I’ve fallen in love with this country and these people despite the poverty and the hardship.

I still remember my first night, scooping newspaper out of a filthy toilet with my hand for fear of clogging up the whole neighborhood’s plumbing. Hearing the roosters crow in the middle of the night, being exposed to third world living conditions for the first time in my life, finding out that it wasn’t uncommon for people to live in shacks poorly boarded up with little or no plumbing. I remember my first week, getting used to the unexpected water shortages, seeing people riding horses down the streets right next to cars, getting used to not having a refrigerator or washing machine, learning to use a scrub board, learning to take cold water bucket baths, learning to tuck mosquito netting so the little suckers couldn’t sneak in under the net, learning what it means to be Nicaraguan. God, I love this place.
I love my own country too, and I miss home - my mom and dad, Bruce, my friends, my band… and there are things to be done there, too. I could also make a difference there, it’s just not as easy to see what needs to be done. There are children who need a bilingual teacher like me in Los Angeles and there is a shortage of them, but I can’t abandon Nicaragua. I don’t know what to do…

Monday, January 05, 2015

Bionic Legs

When it comes to New Year's resolutions, I'm a procrastinator. Every year, come January, I go through the reasons why making a list of resolutions is a big waste of time but this year, I'm going to try it.

So far the only things on my list are to make time to write at least once a week and to eat more fruits and vegetables. I might add a light workout to my list but I want to wait until after I get my new knee.

Oh yeah, I'm getting a new knee! I am so excited about it. I've had problems with both of my knees for several years and despite physical therapy and cortisone shots and insanely painful aspirations of the fluid that collects around my inflamed joints, I've had little relief. So I'm happy about the upcoming surgery. In my imagination, I'll be getting a bionic knee. I fantasize about all the special features it could have. Like a James Bond or Inspector Gadget gizmo, I picture myself pushing a button and a flask of whisky emerging from my robotic patella which doubles as a bar, or a tool kit, or whatever I happen to need at the moment.

I wish I could have both knees done at once but my doctor is suggesting one at a time. I will have them both done eventually and maybe when I finally have both my knees replaced, I'll be able to run as fast as a cheetah or at least as fast as the Bionic Woman. I'll be happy if I'm able to walk my dog up and down these hills and enjoy the scenery, pain free.

Last night I watched a crazy video of a surveillance robot that can run and gallop and bounce, all while taking photos of its surroundings. They are designed for policing and military use, if only we could use that technology to help old arthritic viejitas like me.

The other day I was driving with Greg and the Rambo's taco truck was next to us. I love the artwork on the side of the truck. It shows a bare breasted Rambo holding a fistful of tacos in his hand while a Viet Cong helicopter shoots a hole right through his soda cup.

I was telling my husband about how fun it would be to make a little home movie based on Rambo but featuring a homicidal, renegade grandmother in the lead role. We could call it Grambo. I know that's a pretty cool idea all by itself, but now imagine how much better it would be if granny had those robot drone legs. I can picture her, literally kicking butt with those cool robotic limbs! Of course Grambo would be reacting to completely different situations than Rambo and she might not wear camouflage or the trademark head band, but I digress...

Anyway, yeah, I'm going to write more about whatever dumb things pop into my head because that's what I've been preaching. Don't censor yourself - just write if you want to write.

Now let me at that bowl of apples.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Stripping It Down to Creativity

Q: Did being a woman of color impact you when you were younger? I mean, people focus on it a lot now.
Alice: I think it matters to me now, but not so much then. I was just me getting on stage! We interacted at a level of creativity - race, gender and your (economic) background didn’t matter. What happened was that years later, people would say to me, “I saw you and I had never seen a Chicana on stage and it inspired me” or “You were a strong woman and it affected me”, you know? There was meaning (to my presence) that I was not aware of. Now I am aware of it. It’s so easy for women and people of color for our histories not to be told. It’s important for me to tell my story because it’s a first hand account of punk rock in L.A. in 1977 and it happens to be told by a woman of color and our histories are generally not there.


I did Ladyfest this year and it was such a pleasant shock to me. Group after group of women or that have strong women in them. People of color, people of all communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer people are represented. For me, that was what the early L.A. punk scene was like, a sampling from everybody. My guitarist Craig Lee, his family was pretty much rich. His mother was a producer and they lived in Beverly Hills. How he got into a band with a Mexican girl from East L.A., you know?! It was the music! It was just creativity that we had in common. You were stripped down to your ideas and it’s not about the other stuff. We bring that other stuff with us, but it’s not what we are exchanging.”

From my interview with Mish Way, read the full interview here: