Saturday, January 14, 2012

The boys wanna fight, but the girls are happy to rock all night.*

Connecticut used to have this independent rock radio station that played classic, alternative, rap-metal, etc.  I'd listen to it now and again when the local modern rock station wasn't playing anything good.  One night as I zoomed down the highway in my car, the DJ started a rant.  His thesis?  Women can't rock.  Every "great" rock act ever has been fronted by men, and he defied his audience to prove him wrong and then spent the next hour taking calls and shooting down every retort he was given. 

Joan Jett, circa the Mullet Years.
Fuck you, buddy, I thought as my brain quickly rattled off the names:  Chrissy Hynde.  Shirley Manson.  Lita Ford.  Joan motherfucking Jett.  Ann and Nancy Wilson.  Debbie Harry.

I hate the idea that only men can be rock stars.  Not-so-secretly, I have always sort of dreamed of being the lead singer in a band.  (Nevermind that I haven't been able to sing very well since I quit chorus in junior high...)  I'd be somewhere in between Shirley, Tori Amos, Florence Welch, and Lita.  It would be amazing.  (Trust me on this because I almost never sing in public unless someone puts Rock Band in front of me.  That game is like my kryptonite.)

But I digress.  There has always been a soft spot in my heart for chicks who rock.  Maybe it's because I'm a child of the 90s and there were so many great girl bands then:  Elastica, Veruca Salt, Garbage, Letters to Cleo, Shakepear's Sister, Joydrop (whose record label has sadly taken most of their music off YouTube save a few live performances), and who knows how many others I'm forgetting now.  Everywhere you looked there were girls in babydoll Ts and clunky shoes with guitars. 

Shirley Manson,
my personal rock goddess.

Not that it started there.  I already mentioned Joan Jett and Heart and Blondie.  So the idea to me that "rock" is somehow exclusive to the Y chromosome is just stupid and sad.  Do men hold the patent on rage, or on pent up frustration, or on sexuality, or any of the things that create a rock song?  They certainly don't hold any sort of ownership over leather pants, and I defy you to show me the man who can rock a satin mini dress and combat boots like my girl Shirley over here.  (Why did that look have to go out of style, anyway?) 

To be fair, my definition of "rock' is probably wider than that idiot DJ's was.  I happily include Tori Amos in that definition, for instance.  While most people associate her with tinkly piano and sad girl songs, she's actually done a lot of work with electrical bands and you just haven't lived until you've seen her hump a piano stool.  

Debbie Harry of Blondie.
Because let's be honest:  the sex plays a big part in rock and roll.  but to tell me that women can't possess a brutal, feral, vicious sexuality is like telling me that flan isn't the best dessert ever invented.  (Do not tell me this.  Ever.)  Look at Debbie Harry, or even the sometimes absurd and terrifying sexiness of PJ Harvey.  Or the way Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde can sound gravelly, then smooth as silk, then terrifying, sometimes all in the same song. 

Really what brought this wave of chick rock adoration on was the fact that I randomly cued up my Joydrop albums on iTunes tonight.  One of those, "hey, haven't listened to this in an ice age or two..." moments.  And I got to thinking how much I miss hearing a lot of that music more often. 

And so in that spirit, I made a little something for myself and maybe for you.  It's a loooooooong Spotify playlist (sorry, foreigners) filled to the brim with women who are sexy, angry, loud, angsty, peppy, riot grrls, disco queens, wailers, and everything in between.  None of it is in any particular order, so I recommend you fire it up, hit "shuffle," and see what the Spotify gods give you.  Maybe you'll hear a song you forgot you loved or find something new.  Either way I hope you like it. 

*Title is a bastardized paraphrasing of a Garbage song.  Viva La Shirley.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In the wee small hours of the mourning...

I hate these hours of the night sometimes.  It's when I'm awake, because my circadian rhythms were apparently installed upside down, and I've pretty much adjusted to that and made my peace with the fact that most of the world thinks I'm some kind of psychotic.  I just can't be an "early to bed, early to rise" type.  I've tried.  If I go to bed before 1am I just lay and stare into space while my brain does acrobatics of anxiety and dread.  But that's not what I tell people – I tell people it's because I'm a genius

It's not new.  In high school and college I used to stay up all night listening to the local alternative/new wave station on my little pink boom box and reading until I heard my dad flip the kitchen light on at 5:30am.  The overnight DJ always played the best music anyway. 

But it's lonely some nights.  The AIM Buddy List dwindles down to nobody, and Twitter and Facebook stop updating, and suddenly I'm very aware that it's just me and iTunes and whatever web pages I haven't already read or a book or whatever.  And my brain. 

I really can't be left alone with my brain.  Too long without something to distract it and it turns on me.  Little voices filled with doubt and self-loathing creep in at the edges and start to whisper the kind of thoughts I try to keep buried under constant noise.  Nightmares get remembered, anxieties and paranoias analyzed into madness, and little nighttime noises turn into horror movie scenarios waiting to be played out. 

When I'm alone I rarely bother trying to sleep until I'm utterly exhausted.  The longer I lay there without something to do, the more I start tying myself in knots.  Half the time I don't even bother with my bed anymore; I just sit at the computer until I'm literally nodding off and stumble over to the couch.  It beats letting myself think. 

Are other people like this?  Are there other people who need some kind of external chaperone to keep their own mind from hacking them to bits?  Who have to constantly find ways to compensate for the fact that they can't just sit the fuck still and think without it all going sideways? 

This is sort of a downer post, I know.  Sorry about that.  But I'm somewhat fervent about being open about my depression because I feel like mental illness still gets such a stigma that any little tiny bit of light I can shed might help somehow.   Plus sometimes all that really helps is exorcising the stupid thoughts from my head into some external format – it's a temporary purge because they always come back, but when all you've got is a Band-Aid, that's what you put on the bullet hole. 

Anyway.  Sometimes I miss that little pink boom box and the assurance it offered me that someone else out there was awake too and that I could think about something else for a while.  But one way or another, the mind always catches up. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome, 2012.

Happy New Year, everyone!  I know, I'm a little late.  My internet was down for a few days so please forgive the tardiness of my sentiments.

I hope you all had a fun New Year's Eve, wherever you were.  I always view NYE as an excuse to wear as much glitter and sparkly stuff as I can possibly fit onto my person.  A night to let loose and guide the old year out the door with enough fanfare that you won't remember it all when the next year begins.  A night where the mayor of a major city can begin peace talks with the queen of our new alien overlords.  
Bloomberg later stated that the denizens of Planet Gaga presented him with
a tome entitled "To Serve Man," leaving him optimistic about future relations.