“I make music because the state of the world can feel so dismal,” says Louisa Solomon, singer, songwriter and bass player for the Brooklyn-based, feminist rock band The Shondes. For the past decade her band has been fusing politics into emotional, soaring rock songs. With their recently released fifth album Brighton (Exotic Fever Records), they have created their most successful melding of heart, soul, politics and rock riffs that also lays Solomon’s inner life out for listeners. “The act of creating is a coping mechanism, a survival tool, and I think some of what is most inspiring in political art is not the lyrics, or explicit content, or even the ‘topic,’ but the exposure of process,” she further explains. “We try to in some way be very up front in our music about how it affects us to create it, and how we hope it similarly affects listeners toward survival, toward hard work, toward hope, toward sustainable change.”
We need this reading of Zoe Leonard’s poem “I Want A Dyke For President” more than ever this week:
Editors’ Note: During the second presidential debate, some commenters noted that Melania Trump’s shocking pink, high-necked blouse was a style well known to fashion historians as the “pussy bow.” In fact, as Jezebel pointed out, the $1,100 Gucci top Melania wore was “literally marketed” as a pussy bow shirt. The Internet was abuzz: what could it mean? Was it, as feminist artist and pussy-bow entrepreneur Christen Clifford—whose own PussyBow scarves are printed with an image taken from inside her own vagina—tweeted, a sign that Melania is a feminist “double agent” planning to vote for Hillary? New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd entertained the possibility in yesterday’s column, but ultimately appeared to dismiss it. The Internet relaxed.
This morning, however, everything changed. The WEIRD SISTER editors were awakened from our innocent slumber by aggressive knocking on our clubhouse door. By the time we had crawled out of our sleeping bags, peeled off the cucumber face masks and slices of cold pizza that get stuck to us at the end of every sleepover party, emptied our matching menstrual cups into the toilet, and staggered to the door, there was no one there. Under our doormat, we discovered a flash drive containing incontrovertible evidence of the very Vast Feminist Conspiracy that Clifford had described—and Clifford herself was part of it! Our journalistic integrity prevents us from revealing our sources, so the world may never know if the documents excerpted below are State Department emails liberated by Slovenian hackers or some steamy slash fiction dreamed up by a genius high-school junior during civics class. But now that we have this information, how can we possibly keep it from our readers? Feast your eyes, then, on the most shocking (pink) October surprise of all:
50 SHADES OF PUSSYBOW: EXCERPTS FROM THE SECRET ARCHIVES OF A VAST FEMINIST CONSPIRACY
From the Stacks is a series on Weird Sister wherein we pull a book—old, new, or anything in between—from our bookshelves, and write something about it.
I first encountered Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall (originally published in German as Die Wand) searching for audiobooks to listen to at a Sisyphean temp job, in the second level basement “B2” of the downtown library. I put books on carts and scanned them, I boxed them and stacked the boxes five high. I did this every day for eight hours. I can’t recommend the audiobook version of The Wall because it’s mostly whispered, a reading that does disservice to the confidence of its narrative. There is no word in the text that wavers. It is a near perfect book, a quiet meditation on the end of the world, a thriller that could put you to sleep. Written in 1963, The Wall still feels prescient. It knows the end is near, and also not.
The Wall is a dystopic Walden, written with total control and impassive cool. The style reminds me most of Elena Ferrante, but the “weird family” of The Wall comprises only one woman, one cow, one dog, one cat and her kittens. The title refers to an invisible wall that shows up one evening and separates the narrator from the rest of the world, who appear to be dead anyway. The Wall nearly ignores the most fundamental rule of writing human beings, namely, that there has to be two of them. Emphasis on nearly; it’s hard not to talk about the genius of this book without spoiling the ending, which is swift, elegant, and gemlike in its precision. It happens in a gasp. Continue reading
I always wanted to be a Claudia, but I know deep-down that I’m a Stacey.
Let me explain. I think of Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill—two characters from Ann M Martin’s The Baby-sitters Club book series, for those of you living sad, BSC-free lives—as two sides of the same very beautiful, exquisitely complex coin. Claudia and Stacey are BFFs, of course. They met in seventh grade when they literally ran into each other in the hallway. As Stacey put it, “We realized we were dressed alike — in very trendy clothes — and somehow we hit it off.” Stacey and Claudia are by far the most fashionable members of the Baby-sitters Club. But Claudia is a “wild dresser” while Stacey is “sophisticated.” Claudia is a spangle of braided belts and homemade earrings, while Stacey is Benetton and black ballet flats. Claudia hides candy all over her room—there are literally chocolate bars and Lifesavers spilling out of her pillowcases—while Stacey is diabetic and daydreams about rivers of chocolate that she cannot drink from.
Looking back at the Baby-sitter’s Club series, which turned 30 this past summer, I started thinking about how Stacey and Claudia each approach art, style, creativity, and, yes, sugar—and what they’ve come to represent for me along the way. I think of Claudia as joy and creativity topped with even more creativity; Stacey is joy and creativity restrained. Religiously reading the BSC books when I was younger, I related most to Stacey’s struggles, but I aspired most to be like Claudia. I think that combination of inspiration and identification was what made the series so important for so many of us. Each book helped us to navigate our struggles and goals while figuring out our places in the world—and, of course, what we wanted to wear along the way. Continue reading
Michelle Tea’s new novel Black Wave is “a Gen-X queer girl’s version of the bohemian counter-canon.”
On the radical raunch of Ali Wong’s comedy.
Six debut novels by trans women to add to your reading list immediately.
Tori Amos talks about sexual assault and her songwriting for the new documentary Audrie & Daisy.
Lizzy Acker on rape culture in Portland’s music scene.
MUTHA on raising a feminist on fairy tales.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee‘s Ashley Nicole Black writes about leaving academia to pursue comedy.
I was introduced to Kimberly Alidio at Effie Street in Silverlake, Los Angeles, at a quaint reading in the backyard of a professor’s house. I was intrigued by the book Alidio held in her hands—a sky blue volume with a longhaired figure on all fours, seemingly ingesting or expelling pink and orange confetti. Soon I was even more jarred and enthralled by the pieces she read aloud, poems speaking, stuttering, and singing about empire, migration, diaspora, and queerness—subjects I had become familiar with as a queer Filipina American and budding academic. After projects the resound (Black Radish) does not only interrogate these concepts, but transforms them, remakes them, and melds them through reverberating word play, experiments with sound, and even through the strategic use of white space. The final stanza in “All the Pinays are straight, all the queers are Pinoy, but some of us” demonstrates this:
I will never not
want to be violent with you (dare you to say
this isn’t love, queen)
her resurrection every easter
“I’m just so bored and so pretty and not white” (66)
Although you may need to take a second to comprehend what is occurring, the sleek alliteration of the “w” and “n” sounds in the first two lines allows the poem to roll off your tongue, a slow, accentuated, but nevertheless pleasurable foray into the complexities and obscurities of Pinxy queerness. The enjambments, line breaks, and spaces in between help anchor and pace the reader, allowing us to appreciate the various intonations of sound. These rhetorical, sonic, and spatial devices showed me that I did not need the convenience of clarity to enjoy and appreciate Alidio’s work. Her delightfully playful and musical words and sounds, for me, emulate the witty banter between Pinxys as we process the intersections of Catholicism, queerness, and brownness together in conversation. Continue reading
“Learning from Trans Poets” is starting soon at The Poetry Project.
A Queer Historical Tour of San Francisco’s Mission district.
On how women created book clubs.
Submit to Monstering, a new literary and cultural arts magazine, written by and for disabled women and nonbinary people.
The new issue of Neplanta is here, featuring work by June Jordan, Tommy Pico, Erika L Sanchez, and more.
“[T]here’s a chance that when you are writing about personal vulnerabilities, you are not alone.” – Read an interview with Rios de la Luz.
What did we miss this week? Let us know in the comments.