PJ Harvey in LA: 50 Ft Queenie and Rising

Photo by: Solvej Schou

Photo by: Solvej Schou

“Tell you my name/ F U and CK/ 50 foot queenie/ Force ten hurricane!!”

I first heard Polly Jean Harvey belt those words–from her fuzz-soaked mantra “50 Ft Queenie” off her second album “Rid of Me”– live in 1993, at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. I was 14 then, a combat boots wearing Hollywood teen with anger over the death of my mom, who died when I was a kid, just brimming on the surface, ready to explode.

PJ Harvey embodied that anger. She harnessed it. She made it acceptable, accepted, real and true. Words steeped in sexuality, revenge, art and the blues surged through her. She was wiry, stylish and beautifully British. She was the main headlining act, the star, only a year after her 1992 debut “Dry” hit all of us with an onslaught of grinding, raw Telecaster rock ‘n’ roll and songs referencing the bible, desire and rejection, and filled with gut-clenching moans. Distinctly female moans. Radiohead opened for HER, not the other way around.

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The Strongest Girls in the World: A Review of Wigs

Still image from WIGS

Writer/performer/director/artist/professor, Lindsay Beamish thinks about rooms a lot. Some of her earliest art projects show a fascination with women in abandoned rooms. Ms. Beamish likes to make jokes while alone in her bedroom, and she once locked herself in a motel room in the middle of nowhere Wyoming to write her Master’s thesis, which garnered her the Iron Horse Discovered Voices Award in 2011.

Beamish describes her current project, Wigs as being about “two captured preteen girls locked in a room.” Wigs is a two-woman theatrical piece written, directed and starring Lindsay Beamish and Amanda Vitiello, and is currently showing at the New York International Fringe Festival. The origins of Wigs began with Beamish and Vitiello, in an empty room. According to the Wigs Artist’s Note, with “the impetus of challenging ourselves to work in ways that we hadn’t before; ways that were uncomfortably outside of our typical modes of creating original theater.” Rehearsal for Wigs began with Beamish shouting commands at Vitiello who only brought with her to that initial rehearsal space, The Flo Rida featuring Sia song, “Wild Ones” which is prominently featured in the final piece.

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Cure for the End of Summer Blues: A Review of Mall Brat

Mall Brat Laura Marie Marciano
I met Laura Marie Marciano at a reading in an eminently Instagrammable and chic bookshop in Chicago. My partner noticed how taken I was with her work, and encouraged me to introduce myself. Marciano’s work has a clarity of voice and vision to which we can all aspire to.

She read from her book, Mall Brat (Civil Coping Mechanisms Press, 2016), a collection of poems defined by its unflinching approach to sexuality and memory. Mall Brat’s forward (framed as “From the author at fifteen”) sets up the book brilliantly with details of a summer romance between the speaker at fifteen and a man six years her senior. The facts are excruciating to a reader aware of the power imbalance, begging for someone—anyone—to step in and save this child. Instead, Marciano forces the reader to inhabit the speaker’s thought process at that age, and to remind us that our own was equally short-sighted and precarious:

“I was the type of girl who might be featured in some virgin porn, just a little bit plump, with a second day tan, and extreme insecurity—but, also, smart, because I had read a lot and I had an older brother.”

As I read these poems, I find myself returning to a line from Dorothy Allison’s book of essays, Skin: “I can write about years in a paragraph, but the years took years to pass.” There is often a human desire, and a tendency in some poetry, to simplify the past and obscure it with language—to decide on a narrative that is easy to repeat with a few totemic details for emphasis.  Marciano refuses a smooth rendition of the past and honors those years, reaching into their layers and maintaining eye contact “as i sink my hand deeper/into the barrel of stones.”
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Rah! Rah! Roundup

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“No powerful Black narrative should come at the expense of the violation of a woman’s body.” – Michael Arceneaux on why he won’t support Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation.

Read an interview with Courtney Bryan, a classical music composer whose recent songs address Black Lives Matter.

Madison Young writes about how she became a feminist pornographer.

The Affrilachian Poets rejects Kentucky’s Governor’s Award in the Arts.

Breaking news: Olympic athletes get their periodsContinue reading

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I Feminist <3 Harley Quinn: An Apologia. Kinda.


Yeah, I feminist <3 Harley Quinn
. I just saw Suicide Squad. I know little about the other Harley Quinns—the many versions in DC comic books and animated TV shows and video games–so I can’t really speak to those. But I can say what I noticed about the Harley Quinn in the movie.

The movie doesn’t know who it wants Harley Quinn to be. But I don’t care—I still feminist <3 her.

No, that’s a lie. I totally care. I care about the mess of contradictory characterizations and the abusive version of BDSM* that Harley and the Joker’s relationship represents in the movie. I care so fucking much that I want to blast my way through the shitshow of David Ayer’s narrative with Harley’s LOVE/HATE pistol and make it my own, take that text and chew it like gum and blow it back out in a big pink bubble that is sticky sweet and strong and whole. Continue reading

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Rah! Rah! Roundup

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The many ways sexism is showing up in the Olympics.

Survivors of campus sexual assault are demanding that their schools #JustSaySorry.

Bitch looks back at radical cheerleading as a creative form of feminist protest.

“We could drop names all day, and something would still be missing: Where are all the Latinas?” –ReMezcla brings us four rad Latina garage punk bands influenced by 60s girl groups, for your listening pleasure. Continue reading

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Because We Want Control: An Interview with Melanie Finn

The Gloaming centers on an accident – a woman, Pilgrim, swerves her car to avoid hitting a dog that has run into the street and instead strikes and kills three children waiting for the bus. Recently divorced, her life out of her hands and feeling the weight of whispers all around her, Pilgrim runs away to Africa, only to find the accident haunting her even there.

It’s intense, raw, a story less about moving on with ones’ life than learning how to live aware of life’s messy, connective tissues. And of course, it’s a testament to the striking writing of its author, Melanie Finn. I got the chance to ask Finn a few questions, about the story, her connection to Africa, and how a person should deal with the weight of their own actions:

TDR_BookCover_gloaming_2048x2048  Continue reading

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It Could Have Been Me: Korryn Gaines & the Criminalization of Black Women

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In a matter of hours, it is possible for an individual with no prior criminal record to find themselves with a criminal warrant out for their arrest for a minor violation. If you are black and a woman, this is a potentially life-threatening situation. There is, without a doubt, a violent trend in state-sanctioned violence against black women. The way in which we are seeing police officers quickly escalate from stern orders to a violent arrest mirrors the polarity of our judicial system. Small violations such as failure to pay a fine or to transport one’s body to a courtroom to appear before a judge can potentially make one a criminal. We saw how this can carry out in the recent killing of Korryn Gaines in her Baltimore home on August 1st. Gaines did not have a criminal record. She did have traffic violations and a warrant for her arrest. Every bone in my body tells me that I could have been Korryn Gaines.

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Rah! Rah! Roundup

rahrahroundup“Since Friday, there have been stories of three Black women killed by acts of state-sanctioned and intimate partner violence. Those are just the three we lost this weekend, that we know about, but I’m sure there are others.” – Brittney Cooper’s “Connect The Dots: For Korryn Gaines, Skye Mockabee and Joyce Quaweay”

“Korryn’s demeanor and energy reminded me most immediately of Assata’s: boldness in the face of police and the very real threat of physical violence, in the face of imprisonment, or a lethal outcome—and all the while, maintaining the capacity to love. What a feat. To look at the world around you thriving on the death and disposability of you and your kin and still choose to invest in a radical kind of familial love.” – Jacqui Germain’s writes about Korryn Gaines and Black women who dare to be defiant.

“We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs.” Barack Obama says “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” in Glamour.

The National Network of Abortion Funds’ new program We Testify is “dedicated to increasing the spectrum of abortion storytellers in the public sphere.”

The New York Public Library opened its 93rd branch in Rikers Island women’s jail. Continue reading

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So Wet: Crying & Gender on The Bachelor

Artwork exploring female tears, the romance plot, and the fantasy of reality in the Bachelor franchise.

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The Whole Package - The Bachelor artworkThe Whole Package, 2016, Fabric, thread, packing peanuts, 35 x 29 x 6″

 

Please Accept My Rose - The Bachelor artworkPlease Accept My Rose, 2016, Fabric, thread, dye, gesso, polyfil, 19 x 21 x 14″

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