Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fanzines by Teal Triggs

This came in the mail today:

I got this email from the author back in August:

I wanted to let you know that I have included covers of your zine Jigsaw 5 and 5 1/2 in FANZINES (Thames & Hudson) which talk about the history of riot grrrl fanzines. The book in general covers a history of zines from science-fiction to present day. The book is due out in September an I hope it will help celebrate the work of self-publishers.

I do hope this is okay -

Usually people contact you ahead of time, you know to get your permission and stuff! This put me off a little, but I thanked her for writing and asked for a free copy. People always say "I didn't know how to get ahold of you" when they fail to ask permission for something, but really all you have to do is turn on a computer and type in my name and you can find me in about two seconds so I have a hard time believing that.

Anyhow, reading through the section on grrl zines, I immediately noticed a few blatant factual errors and thought the contextual framing was bizarrely off. Again, it seems like if the author (or editors or publisher) had just bothered to use the internet, they would have been able to clear a lot of this up. Example: Bruce Pavitt had something to do with organizing The International Pop Underground Festival? And of course Calvin Johnson is named too. But actually it was Candice Pederson from K Records who organized IPU. You can ask Calvin himself! Or anyone else who lived in Olympia or went to the convention. It made me not want to go back and read the writing on early fanzines. But I will.

I think there should be a way for people to contest "false information" in published works. Because once it's in a book, it's a "fact". People will use this book as a source for further writing on the subject matter. Maggie had an idea for a website called Interview Regrets dot com, where bands can go in and clarify what they actually really said when they are misquoted, or even what they meant to say. Maybe we need something like that for history books too. Because once something is in print, it becomes an authority.

Fanzines is mostly full of primary documents-scans of fanzine covers and pages. So it seems like the author might have had a lot of time to research and fact check, since there's not too much original text in the book. It has a nice paper-back cover, but it's kind of flimsy and doesn't ship well--mine arrived with a severely dented corner so I guess I won't be selling it on eBay. The printing is a little color xerox-y in tone, but it kind of works for the subject matter. I will put it on the shelf to be reconsidered at a later date. Hopefully by then I won't have forgotten what actually happened and read it and think that Sub Pop had something to do with IPU!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Girl Power by Marisa Metzler

I expected this book to have more of a focus on just punk but it was much more an overview of women in nineties music in general. It was also a slightly bizarre read because not only is this ladies name marissa too (though spelled differently) she grew up in the Bay Area and then attended Evergreen, which eerily sounds a lot like my life story. The book kind of chronicles the rise of riot grrrl and the subsequent mainstream appropriation of it covering everything from Bikini Kill to Taylor Swift. It was interesting, but at the same time it kind of felt like review to me, like the book is more for casual music listeners than for feminist punks. She also included a lot about her own feelings toward all these things, which tended to be feelings I didn't relate to. I liked how she showed the connections between the watered down corporate versions of underground things, like Alanis Morisette to riot grrl and Lilith Fair to Michigan Womyns Fest. She fucking GUSHES over the Spice Girls like crazy, basically saying that the conversion of girl power from an idea to a brand actually did empower young girls, her attempts at showing that their message of girl power translated to actual girls as the importance of friendship and being yourself above all things rather than buying stuff to show your girl power seemed kind of whatever and anecdotal. Not gonna lie, in between reading my moms old copies of MS. magazine and playing bass along to Helium records I totally did stay up all night with my friends choreographing dance moves to the first Spice Girls album, but really - reading MS. led to me going to the library to find books on feminist theory, grrl punk music led to me playing music, and the Spice Girls led me to buying lollipops emblazoned with their image at the 7-eleven. I realize that's my own anecdotal evidence. Also, her talk of Taylor Swift being a positive female role model in music made me balk. I mean, really? She puts Miley Cyrus and Taylor into the same basket- while I find Miley annoying for the most part she is accessible to tweens and spends her time with that crowd singing songs about becoming president and what we see of her "personal" life tends to consist of her goofing off with her friends, which overall is pretty cool - but Taylor Swift? All we hear about her is how innocent she is and who broke her heart this week and songs about falling in love with prince charming. And fuck that. Overall it was an ok book, but I really hate playing the "watered down feminism is better than nothing, right?" game.