Riot Grrrl Weekend

Sara Marcus reading from her book "Girls to the Front" at Qumby's, Chicago.

I had a really amazing Saturday doing much-needed catching up/girl hang-time in Wicker Park with my ladies, which included feeling the riot grrrl love at the Chicago book tour stop of “Girls to the Front”. Author Sara Marcus (her new book is the definitive history of Riot Grrrl) read from the first chapter, and did a Q&A with music journo Jessica Hopper, then the attendees. Sunday kicked off grubbing at the local family restaurant with my boys and BFF followed by serious pumpkin carving, acorn squash roasting and pizza making.

“Girls to the Front”

Being in that room full of riot grrrls pushing 40, a few teens and 20-somethings carrying the torch and even one proud riot grrrl mom who looked to be about my mom’s age – it was comforting to know riot grrrl did not just fizzle out when the zines ceased or Bikini Kill broke up. As long as we’re alive, it’s alive. And I’m glad someone – particularly someone who remembers it, cares about it and spent five years doing it right – documented it in this way. Being in the company of these women had me realizing, too, that at least some of those women are also moms now. And that is rad as hell.

This whole idea of teenagers and 20-somethings fed up with the patriarchal punk scene where they’re just decoration at the shows; politicians telling them what they can and can’t do with their OWN bodies; and the ominous feeling of alienation at school/home and then doing something grass-roots/creative/peaceful (albeit often loud) about it – it’s MIND-BLOWING to me. Girls with NO resources who have NO networks and NO Internet,  found each other based on a mutual need to make life better for themselves and their friends – and it spread underground like wildfire.

My sailor tattoo-inspired swallow jack-o-lantern.

Gay Teens – the New Riot Grrrls?

All of this reminiscing led me to draw a parallel to the current gay rights movement, particularly in the teen community. Gay rights has SO much in common with riot grrl (and RG has always been nothing if not LGBT-friendly and outspoken about gender/queer equality issues to boot). You have a bunch of people who are largely being treated like shit by their peers, misunderstood by their families and churches and being completely infringed upon by the government. It’s like everyone is against them, but there is so much power, strength and ambition in their numbers and their allies – it’s just a matter of finding them. I know there’s always been a strong gay scene for artists, musicians and zinesters – I’d love to see them organize more on the gay rights platform like riot grrrl organized on the feminist platform. I’d like to see it start with young gay people who are tired of feeling alone and defeated. I think the timing is great. Gay teens NEED this right now. It could save lives.

“2011: The Revenge of Print”

The whole riot grrrl discussion and zine-lined walls/ambiance at the bookstore got me super amped to participate in this zine challenge in 2011 where former zinesters cut, paste and photocopy “the next issue” they never got to make for whatever reason. If it works out, the third issue of my college zine “Hush Kitty” will have been 13 years in the  making. Ha! The best part of this project will be reconnecting with my contributors – all who have gone on to do great things from pursuing a Ph.D. in France to coming out and moving to Portland. I can’t wait to see what everybody submits!

Acorn squash, halved, rubbed and ready to bake. Or "flowers" as Ollie called them.

Fall Flavas!

On a lighter note, I found a good recipe for what has always been a super-easy/delicious fall dish: Acorn Squash with brown sugar and butter. My only note to this recipe is that I was running out of maple syrup, so I substituted one of the two tablespoons with honey, which turned out great.

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