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
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
"There's no ideas in TIME magazine..."
About a year ago, I had this idea to do a fanzine. It's been sort of hard...a lot has happened....experiences in bands and in relationships with people and in the work force and in the music scene and in school..and it's becoming more and more clear how limited we are by our world...of capitalism and mass culture and "you're the boy and I'm the girl" mentality...and we accept those limitations and live within them without being aware of the possibilities...and it's becoming more and more clear how fucked up the whole rocknroll thing is and the whole 'alternative' rocknroll thing really is (but it doesn't have to be that way) and it seems like our whole ways of expression--in fanzines or bands or conversations whatever--are totally affected by myth and the corruption of our society...it dominates everything...there is so much illusion and automation and role filling and so little actual real content anywhere...people don't ask questions they don't deal with reality they don't talk about ideas...I've found myself at war with the world and with words and maybe even with the whole idea of expressing myself even--but it makes me feel better so I do it anyways...but I thought if I'm going to do another jigsaw it has to be from the heart...so here it goes....
WORDS. Words are a huge force in the world. They limit our minds and ways of expression and experience. We use the same words in the same patterns over and over again until we are deprived of the true meaning and individual nature of the actual situations or thoughts we are trying to express. WORDS IMPRISON OUR SOULS. Words terrify me. So much can be misunderstood or read into or misstated. There is so much room in a word...how can you even know what I mean. (sometimes that's not important, like when I write a song...I mean what you get out of my songs is just as real, just as valid as what I think they're about. That's the beauty of writing a song. It's bigger than both of us. But maybe fanzines should be different, but maybe what I'm talking about is bigger than that.)
THE WORLD IS A BIG PLACE. We live in the world. The world is about products and exploiting people. Certain things are encouraged that are conducive to that kind of an atmosphere. Other things are discouraged. The world fills our minds with illusions and cliches and images and myths and heroes and villains and rights and wrongs and do's and don'ts. We live within those boundaries. We see ourselves and create our identities in this specific context. We have certain tastes and opinions and morals. We have our own ways of dealing with conflict. We have our own tennis shoes. We look at the clock and see if it is time for the new Star Trek to be on. We make choices. We have morals. We are free. Are we free? We have anxiety, therefore we must be free. To a certain degree. Because everything is totally affected and totally corrupted. Totally.
Everybody lives in their own worlds. WE MAKE OUR WORLDS SO SMALL AND THEN SPEND OUR TIME FREAKING OUT BECAUSE WE CAN'T RELATE. (is this my attempt at breaking out of this cycle?) There are certain expectations of us and certain roles we choose to fill. There are certain things we see and certain things we don't and a million reasons why. Sometimes we choose not to see...oblivion.
WE LIVE IN WALLS. Working for my mom made me realize some things. I was doing inventory for awhile. I spent my time day after day hour after hour week after week counting trophy parts. My mind was always counting, constantly counting. I couldn't really think because I had to count. But after a couple days I started to have these really intense experiences where all these ideas and images would rush through my mind at once. It was sort of like being in a dream state...but not exactly...it seemed like a totally different state of consciousness...and I realized that by filling my mind with numbers I was breaking through this major wall in my head and for the first time I was able to experience my thoughts without words. It was pretty cool. Kinda scary because it was so intense and it happened everyday for the rest of the job. Maybe that's what meditation is all about. But I was so amazed that it was so easy to completely change the whole structure of my thoughts...but that doesn't usually happen...but it could..and we aren't even really aware that these other mind-spaces even exist...something true.
And then there's the whole way people talk to each other at work, the way they relate..small talk..'that's what they say'...it's enough to drive you totally berserk. The other day at work, the ladies were talking and she said "WHY BABIES SURE ARE GETTING BIGGER THESE DAYS. I REMEMBER WHEN MY KIDS WERE THAT AGE, THEY WERE A LOT SMALLER THAN YOURS. THEY SURE DIDN'T GROW AS FAST BACK THEN AS THEY DO NOW." and the other lady seemed to agree?!? this didn't make sense to me. I mean, are babies really bigger now than they were ten, twenty years ago? maybe...I guess. But it doesn't seem like it. But I realized that wasn't the point. They could be talking about anything. The reality of the situation was not as important as the actual ritual of two women at work talking about something in a particular way.
Later on these guys came over to my apartment and started talking about guitars. I got really annoyed first of all because they were saying I had a Mudhoney guitar and then because they were bothering me...so I decided to try an experiment. I started talking about food in the exact same way that they were talking about guitars--things like, "don't you hate tuna fish sandwiches?! man they totally suck. there's always too much mayonnaise or onions. I like hard boiled eggy's, man they're so fucking cool because you can just boil the egg and like it totally changes the whole concept. It's so intense." And sure enough, they started talking about food in the exact same way...not noticing that I'm making absolutely no sense. After a few minutes it got totally ridiculous and I couldn't stop laughing and they were all like "I don't understand your joke".
My point is that there are certain ways people relate to each other where what they are actually saying isn't as important as the role they are filling or the lull in the conversation they are fighting...they could have been talking about anything..guns, horseshoes, politics, tragedy, women, money, ecology, cars. RECORDS. sometimes I think that's all record reviews and most fanzines are about.
AND I RECOGNIZE THE NEED TO RELATE AND IDENTIFY WITH EACH OTHER AND I EVEN RECOGNIZE THE VALUE OF TRADITION BUT I THINK IT'S REALLY DANGEROUS TO LIVE AND BREATH CLICHES. People say the same things in the same ways over and over and over and over and over and over and again. The meaning gets lost. We are bombarded with so much information. so many images...it's scary. And what's happening with these new tv shows like COPS and CURRENT AFFAIR I mean it's just ridiculous and it's totally affecting the mainstream tv news shows...and the whole idea of the drug war...we are being brainwashed into a police state....mind control? Well we can't think twice if we don't think at all. And everybody's a cowboy. Maybe people do need something to believe in like myths and heroes but we need to use our minds. THERE'S NO IDEAS IN TIME MAGAZINE. that's what dylan said to the time magazine guy in don't look back. there's still no ideas in time magazine...there's no ideas anywhere. I want to be able to talk with my own words in my own way...to express real sentiment. But it's so hard to even have a conversation...a real conversation that actually deals with conflict. Everything seems so manufactured, so oppressive. My mind, my thoughts, my aspirations are not my own.
NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD PEOPLE TO COME TO THE AID OF THEIR PLANET. now maybe it's because I'm trying to learn how to type or maybe it's the new 1990's mtv political blurbs about the depletion of the ozone layer/recycling etc...whatever the reason I am being haunted by a flashing neon reader board inside my head: now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their planet...It doesn't actually register that often but it's always there, running on unrecognized and unspoken. It leaves me feeling guilty, with a vague idea that I should be doing something more than making my world even smaller by consuming myself with rock music. We make our worlds so small! we have our own bands and people and views...everybody's so cool, so set, so confident. They know what's what and who's cool and what's up and they know how to spell it out with just the right amount of total indifference and self pity. They don't want to talk about ideas. they could care less. Besides, they like being fucked up, it's part of the whole thing. what about world peace. what about punk rock. what about having a cool scene.
We live in the world. we live in a consumer culture. We are part of the reagan youth me generation let's get someone to put our record out so we can be the next big thing counter culture. And I think it totally sucks and I feel so out of place and lost in this world. Maybe we are in an in between stage. maybe that's why it seems so exciting to read MRR and listen to hardcore again. I don't know. punk rock. love rock. girl rock. these are the things that are happening. I believe in it...but it's fucked up. Jigsaw.
JIGSAW IS NOT A CONSUMER PRODUCT. It is not a product at all. It is more of a process. A method. I'm starting to see that process is the key. read on. feel free to respond to anything that I've written or submit something you think is appropriate. Especially if you are a woman and/or want to write about that whole aspect of things. see ya. tobi
intro to jigsaw #2
written sometime in winter 89-90
i wrote about it here,
Monday, September 28, 2009
Here's a list of what is in Jigsaw #2:
-collage using found text and image
-intro "There's No Ideas In Time Magazine" (a reference to Bob Dylan in Don't Look Back)--this is a short piece that tries to discuss the role culture (even underground culture) plays in disseminating ideology. i am trying to critique everyday life, language, the workplace, and 'common sense' as well as male-bonding rituals and cliches. ultimately this piece asks if we can use 'punk rock' as a place to challenge materialism, capitalism, sexism... it doesn't really go into how to do that, i am trying to make something happen here, though. it's a statement of intent that expresses uncertainty but determination and will.
-documentation of local bands/scene report
-a piece on what it means to be "an all-girl band" -should it matter, why/why not. I end up trying to contextualize the limits of what is now known as 'second wave feminism' as a reaction to a post-war idea of femininity. I get sort of confused, using loaded, unspecific terms like 'equality' and set up a dichotomy of 'sameness vs. oneness', which is somewhat muddled--but what I am struggling with is not wanting to have to throw out 'femininity' in order to be a feminist--I am trying to come up with a way of feeling ok about 'being a girl' or even 'girly' yet I want there to be equality between men and women. so I talk a lot about "difference" being ok-- saying that it's ok that girls and boys are different, but that doesn't mean we aren't equal. it goes too far towards essentialism here. I am also talking in general terms without situating my experience in terms of race, class, nation or sexual orientation--universalizing. this is about a month before I took my first feminist theory class, so I really had no language for what I was trying to discuss and had not yet developed an analysis of how race-class-gender intersect. still, it's pretty interesting! at the end I ask for people to contact me if they want to talk more about this stuff--I made some good female friends as a result of writing this--so I'd say the lesson is--you can get somewhere without having all the answers! asking questions, seeking dialogue is often the way to go.
-a piece called "6th Grade Enthusiasm" where I argue that sharing information, celebrating our history and being fans of music made by other women is more important than being "cool" ...first i claim that this will make things better and then I try to list a bunch of bands/records made by women that girls/women should know about. I conclude by asking if anyone wants to trade tapes-I remember getting making a lot of tapes as a result.
In this article I mention The Go-Go's, The Pretenders, Patti Smith, X Ray Spex, Young Marble Giants, the Pandoras, Girlschool and the Avengers. I also list Rough Trade bands such as Kleenex, The Delta 5, The Raincoats and The Slits that, for the most part, I didn't discover until I was 18.
+Scrawl (all female band from Columbus, OH)
+Calamity Jane (all female band from Olympia)
+Heather Perkins (cassette sound collage artist from Eugene)
-cassette reviews by Al Larsen
-fanzine reviews, including one of Sister Nobody #1 and Chainsaw #2
-Fugazi/Beat Happening tour dates
-tributes I wrote to The Melvins, Rites of Spring and the Ramones.
-informative spiels on Babes in Toyland and the Lunachicks.
-a feature by Louise a.k.a. Zeb (from Viva Kneival, Some Velvet Sidewalk) on Matrimony, her all-girl band from Australia
-record reviews of Fire Party, Sylvia Juncosa, Matrimony, Seaweed, Fugazi, The Shop Assistants, Teraki Asthma Vol 3 7" (featuring frightwig, L-7, dickless & babes in toyland), Cavegurls 7", Shonen Knife covers record, The Brood 7", Mecca Normal 7"
-book reports on Hollywood Lolitas: The Nymphet Syndrome in the Movies, Louise Brooks A Biography, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
-a few ad's
-a letter's section
-a request for tapes for a 'high female input' tape. this sadly never came out officially, though all the tapes I got were played on Jigsaw Radio and I dubbed unofficial copies for friends.
I finished Jigsaw #2 in early 1990. I was 20 years old.
At that time I had been on two U.S. tours, played a bunch of shows around the NW, done at least one West Coast tour, lived in Eugene, OR for a year supporting myself by working at a sandwich place, finished a year of college (at Evergreen) and played in Doris (all-girl band) for two years. I had been going to shows for 6 or 7 years and listening to punk/new wave for about 10 (cool parents). I had also had a radio show for three years on KAOS.
When I finished Jigsaw #2 The Go Team had broken up and I was playing drums with Some Velvet Sidewalk, about to do a West Coast tour with them and record an album, Shipwreck, that later came out on K.
I will probably have more to say about all of this later.