Sunday, August 28, 2005

subtle sister


A friend made me a mix-tape a few weeks ago, a friend I only know through the internet. I think the mix-tape, and its descendant, the mix CD, is one of the greatest developments ever. It's a musical form of the zine; totally punk in spirit, a home-made anthology of a person's character, an underground distribution of indie music and culture, stuff you might never hear on the radio or see on tv. Borrow a CD from the library, download an MP3 off the internet, burn it, stick it in the mail, you've got a grassroots culture thriving. My friend put all sorts of cool crap I'd never been able to hear, Bitch and Animal, Dressy Bessy, April March, Gina Young, Laura Nyro. And four tracks of Alix Olsen, hell-raising dyke and folk poet extraordinaire. I've been quietly going out of my mind over her ever since.

that night i learned
that skin is where this revolution gonna begin,
touching one woman at a time, showing there’s no crime
in feeling this good
God would be a dyke if She could find someone to hold her
--"Cute for a Girl"
She's a slam-poet-spoken-word-artist-activist; and slam poetry is so exciting because it's all about performance, interaction, in a way that traditional poetry isn't. It blurs the distinctions between literature, acting, hip-hop, folk music, politics and protest songs. If Walt Whitman and Woody Guthrie had been born later they'd be slam poets.

i believe misogyny and patriarchy are closet homo lovers
and they screw over their sisters cause they’re scared to screw each other.

She's confrontational and in-your-face, adamantly political and erotic at once.
i believe you should learn more than one language
you should learn to talk in tongues and lips
i believe in nipples and skin and toes and hips.
i believe in noise from teeth and throats
and cunts
the noise of poetry, music, laughter, after screaming cunnilingus.
i believe women are sexy
without makeup or clothes
i believe women are sexy
when they’re reciting prose
--"i believe"
Some of her stuff is pure politics ("America's On Sale"), some of it mixes critique of national policy with confessional lyrics, some of it is political by being entirely personal. "Cunt Cuntry" is just magnificent. "Checking My Pulse" is every crush, date, and relationship I've ever had:

and I’m sorry if you’re thinking that I knew
what I was doing
I guess what I do best is look like I am in control
but tonight, tonight, I am a soft and untamed thing
and I will wrap my breath around you til your exhale comes clean.
I am checking my pulse
I am checking my pulse.

you are the buried penny at the bottom of the pool
so I guess that makes me the fool diving deep for you
I’ll stick you in my pocket
all shiny, all precious, and all not mine
Somehow she manages to avoid coming off as didactic or preachy. It's her humor and her word-play, because while the radical politics are great, it's not worth shit if your words can't handle the weight of it. Sometimes there's nothing worse than Bad Feminist Poetry.

So, in the "F" or "M" boxes they give,
I forgive myself for not fitting in
And blame the world for lack of clarity.
I deliberate.
Penis? I got one y’know. I write down "d" for dildo,
I write down "D" for "Don’t know,"
I fill in "F" for
fi-fie-foe male!
Yes, I’m a giant Vagina!
--"Gender Game"
She's got an ode to armpit hair that's fucking hilarious.

See, sometimes anger’s subtle, stocked in metaphor
full of finesse and dressed in allure
yes, sometimes anger’s subtle, less rage than sad
leaking slow through spigots you didn’t know you had.
and sometimes it’s just

fuck you.
fuck you.
you see, and to me,

That’s poetry too.
--"Subtle Sister"
Okay. I admit it. There really isn't any substance to this post other than to post quotes and say "See? Isn't she great? She's so fucking amazing! I would so totally make out with her!"

well, I don’t desire your superstar badge of bravery
for enduring modern-day slavery
in your maniacally economically-driven death trap.
anyway, I’d give the U.S a bad rap,
I’d kiss every fine iraqi dyke on the front line,
fuck national pride,
I’d go to their side--
i prefer crossnational desire to crossfire anyway
--"Dear Mr. President"
See? Isn't she great?? Plus, she's really, really fucking cute too:


Sigh...I would so totally make out with her. To say the least. It's clear that I will not survive in Europe without her album Built Like That; fortunately I've got a friend burning it for me. Go to "Written" on the Gallery page, you'll find all the lyrics/words/poems on the album.
I am checking my pulse, making sure it hasn’t quit on me yet...

5 Comments:

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Winter said...

Mix tapes are great. We were talking the other day about having a group discussion on Riot Grrrl feminism and one grrrl suggested that instead of doing some reading we make mix CDs, listen, and discuss the music.

On a more personal note, towards the end of a rather desperate and tragic friendship, a friend and I ended up communicating largely through CDs. I never sent her the last one I made her, and looking at the tracklisting now, thank goodness I didn't! It says a lot more about the way I was feeling than I'd ever like her to know about.

 
At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hudgens! What the heck is your email address?
~Kinney

 
At 3:03 AM, Blogger TP said...

I love mix tapes. There's a great function through Riot Grrl Europe to swap mix tapes with other people, and you can take a look through their record collection first.

I also love bitch and animal! I heard feminist housewives playing on a blog a while ago and had to buy their cd straight away. It is pure genius!

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

Oh god, I laughed my ass off at Feminist Housewives. "I'm cooking the veggies and valuing myself!"
I can't wait to get into the Euro Riot Grrl scene and start sharing stuff.

 
At 5:25 AM, Anonymous xoxi said...

Um let me get this straight. You found an artist you admire and support and rather than show your own support by buying her cd you decide to burn it.

That's really rude.

 

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