This summer I am working toward publication of The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Female Punk Band (PM Press — spring 2016), and there’s lots to do. In addition to having to ask my very a busy writer friends and friends in bands to read the book on a deadline and blurb it — write a sentence or two praising its strong points — I was asked to write a 300 word and a 150 word description of the book itself. Writing a description of your own book is hard, especially at first. In the end, I had a great time doing it, mainly because I secretly love summarizing. There really is something very satisfying about it.
The 150 word version was much easier to write after writing and condensing the longer version, which you can read below.
Michelle Cruz Gonzales played drums and wrote lyrics in the influential 1990s female hardcore band, Spitboy, and now she’s written a book — a punk rock herstory. Though not a riot grrrl band, Spitboy blazed trails for women in the Bay Area, Gilman Street punk scene and beyond, but it wasn’t easy. Misogyny, sexism, abusive fans, class and color blindness, and all-out racism were foes, especially for Gonzales, a Chicana, the only person of color in the band.
The Spitboy Rule is a collection of stand-alone memoir pieces that detail the early and final days of the band, touring the US and overseas, what a group of women did on tour when they all happened to be menstruating at the same time, and how Gonzales really felt about the punk rock identity that eclipsed her Chicanisma.
Spitboy were as central to punk rock in the 1990s considering they were a female hardcore band in a scene dominated by men. They had allies in bands like Econochrist, Paxston Quiggly, Neurosis, Los Crudos, and Gag Order. Other notable figures in the memoir include Aaron Cometbus, Pete the Roadie, Green Day, Fugazi, and Kamala and the Karnivores.
Unlike touring rock bands before them, the unapologetically feminist Spitboy preferred Scrabble games between shows rather than sex, drugs, and alcohol, but they were not the angry man-haters that everyone expected them to be. Serious about women’s issues and being the band that they themselves wanted to hear, a band that rocked as hard as men but that sounded like women, Spitboy released several records and toured extensively overseas. The memoir details these travels and Spitboy’s successes and failures in navigating sophisticated artistic relationships in their twenties, and for Gonzales, discovering who she was with or without the band along the way.