an essay from jigsaw #2 (1990)
In my neighborhood the middle school kids didn't get to have their own bus because our school was on the same road as the high school. This was kind of scary and hard to get used to after being the big fifth graders of the elementary school bus and being the girls who always got the back seat. I remember it also really sucked too because on the grade school bus, we were the first stop but on the other bus we were the last stop and the bus was always too full and we never ever got to sit in the back seat and we never even got to sit with our friends because it was so full we had to sit three to a seat and sometimes, when everybody rode, (remember sometimes kids would get kicked off the bus) a few people had to stand up...and so in the morning, me and my friend Heidi would try to get up early so that we could be the first kids at the bus stop to make sure we wouldn't have to stand up...or sit with a gross boy...but this never worked because at the last minute all these big kids would start a new line and our line wouldn't count anymore...it totally sucked and there was nothing we could do about it. And these big kids were stupid. They weren't cool like the big kids from my old school who were nice and would talk to us and would always bring their kiss 8 tracks to play...these other big kids were mean and snotty and they listened to QUEEN and AIR SUPPLY.
Anyways, needless to say, I had some major trouble adjusting to the hierarchy of the big kids. One thing they used to do was yell out the years of the class that they were going to graduate in. One afternoon, me and Heidi, feeling pretty daring, started yelling "87 Rules!" and the whole bus gets totally silent...we were ridiculed, and told that junior high kids didn't count because that was so far off it was just too pathetic...(after all it was only 1980) But then this one big kid goes, "Hey it's 6th Grade Enthusiasm, ain't that cute!" and everybody started laughing. The bus stopped and me and Heidi got off. We were pretty upset. But then we realized something. What was so great about graduating anyways. We would rather be 6th graders than seniors any day. Maybe 6th Grade Enthusiasm could be looked at as something good. The next day instead of yelling "87 Rules" we decided to yell "6th Grade Enthusiasm". It was great. We told all our friends who didn't ride the bus. We wrote it on our peechees. After awhile we got sick of it and wrote band names on our peechees. And you know, when I became a big kid, everyone yelled out band names instead of classes.
So the name of this column is 6th Grade Enthusiasm in honor of this spirit...I don't know...think about it...So in the context of underground music you're supposed to be cool. Like a big kid. You are always supposed to be kind of reserved and act like you know everything. But if everyone always acted like that nothing would ever change. And it would probably be pretty boring. But there are some things that really blow me away and I don't care who knows it. And I'm not going to refrain from saying the obvious because I don't believe in holding back...it just don't seem to make sense....So Here It Goes...
First of all, I would like to inform you that the Go-Go's don't suck so stop putting them down. YES that means you mr/ms rock journalist. I'm so sick of hearing about how this or that girl band AREN'T THE GO GO's--because they rock! I mean come on, the Go-Go's, compared to what's on the radio today, were not wimpy...they were five women who wrote some cool pop songs and got famous on a fluke...and they rock. Check out the first LP if you don't believe me...and they were more than competent musicians too...Secondly that kind of thing is just so typical--of course if there ever was a good girl band--and they were A BAND--in the Top 40, of course it would be likely to get a bad name...because girls + guitars is equal to sex + power...which is something that is not supposed to be associated with women in our culture. It is threatening to the powers that be. Of course we are told that there are never any good girl bands and deprived of our heroines! Like Chrissie Hynde for example. This photo (of Chrissie Hynde) is from the Rocket after they played in Seattle in 1984. I cut it out and taped it on my folder after the concert. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that even if you aren't a big Go Go's or Pretenders fan there is a whole history of Women in Rock that exists that isn't as easily accessible as maybe it should be. I mean maybe there is a whole bunch of you out there who have never heard the Slits or the Avengers or the X Ray Spex. Maybe you don't realize how great the Patti Smith records are. I mean I was lucky, growing up in Olympia, with a cool radio station that played a lot of female artists and I didn't even hear the Rough Trade compilation "Wanna Buy a Bridge" until two years ago (1988). Young Marble Giants, Kleenex, Delta 5, Raincoats, Slits--listen to it. And then there's the Marine Girls and Pylon. And Poly Styrene from X Ray Spex was so fucking cool. All that stuff was so punk rock and revolutionary. It doesn't deserve to be obscure. So what if it was ten years ago. Nothing like that is really happening today anyways. Oh yeah and what about Girlschool or the Pandoras?!!!! And please listen to the Avengers...they're one of the greatest.
Um...there's a book called "Signed, Sealed and Delivered" about Women in Pop...written by two women from England--Sue Steward and Sheryl Garret--1984 South End Press, Boston. It's amazing. Girls rock. Do you wanna trade tapes?
by tobi vail