Category Archives: Spitboy

Spitboy Rule Book Tour Diary: Day 1

MG.RosevilleMN

LM having an okay time after all.

LM having an okay time after all.

Roseville, Minneapolis

June 20, 2016

After feeling like I was in a holding pattern all last week, a holding pattern of doing laundry, packing bags, getting subs for my spin classes, sending work e-mails, and listening to my son complain about how he didn’t want to go on a stupid book tour, and not writing, I am finally on the Spitboy Rule book tour.

The three of us my husband, son (14), and I took a red-eye from SFO to Minneapolis. Our friend Evan (who happens to be a lawyer and business instructor who I used to work at the college where I teach) picked us up at the airport at 6:00 AM, took us to his house, where I took nap to sleep off the 1/4 xanax I took on the plane to sleep, and got up at 8:00 to do a phone interview for Madison, WI’s WORT, 8 O’Clock Buzz radio show. The host, Brian Standing, was a real pro and totally did his homework, reading up about Spitboy, and asking all the right kinds of questions, not shying away from race or class at all. They lead the interview with the Spitboy song “What Are Little Girls Made Of” which I’m sure woke up a lot of people half asleep in their cars real fast. When that interview was over, I had an e-mail from Tessa, from the Daily Iowan, who interviewed me Friday. She wanted more photos for the piece. Tessa asked great questions, and I’m really excited to get Mid-West press, to maybe have a chance to reach midwestern latinx/punx. After all that I went for a walk around Evan’s neighborhood while my son slept — it sure is lush here, flowers blooming everywhere, and very mild. 

Tonight I read at Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis with local writer Venessa Fuentes who was recently published in the anthology, A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. Moon Palace is owned by Jamie Applebutter, or at least that’s what I call him. Applebutter is the punk name that I gave him. I think it’s because he really loved applebutter. I do too, and it will be really great to reunite with him after about fifteen years! 

 

My Very Own Midlife Mixtape

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Me & Ivy of Kamala and The Karnivores

My friend, Nancy Davis Kho, writer, blogger, and other mother extraordinaire invited me to be a guest on her blog Midlife Mixtape, and she’s giving away a free copy of my book The Spitboy Rule Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band.

Nancy and I met when we both earned spots on the San Francisco Listen To Your Mother cast in 2013. I loved the name of her blog Midlife Mixtape the moment she told to me; little did I know that I’d be going into perimenopause within a year or so of meeting her. 

Now a proud perimenopunk, I’ve made a guest post on Midlife Mixtape, and I got to make my own mixtape — check it out here! The Spitboy Rule Mixtape  and enter the free drawing for my book!

The Spitboy Rule Book Release Countdown

When PM Press said, yes, they would like to publish my book, the first thing that I thought was, now I just have to not die before it comes out. Writers are always writing against the clock, but now I only need to hang in here for about a week because there’s  word that the books have shipped from the printers. I have written two memoirs, and this is the first one to be published, and the whole process, getting this book published, has been really fun and collaborative. I was assigned an editor, then a cover designer, a copy editor, and an events planner. Everyone at PM Press has been super cool to work with, and they see me, the individual, and that is, wow, really nice.

At the end of March, I will begin doing readings for The Spitboy Rule with the book in hand; in the meantime, there are a few things you can do to lend your support:

  • Watch the book trailer created by my old friend Owen Peer and Martin Salazar. Spitboy and Owen’s band, Good Grief, used to share a practice space in Oakland, and Owen came to the hospital the day my son was born. It was fun working on the book trailer with him, and given that we go way back, there was very little that I had to explain. 
  • Read the Remezcla profile piece written by my new camarada, Michelle Threadgould.
  • Plan to come see me read in the East Bay or in LA on April 2 with Alice Bag and Keith Morris (Circle Jerks)
    • March 15, 2016, Get Lit, 7-9 PM,  Ale Industries 3096 East 10th Street, Oakland CA
    • March 29, 2016, 6:30,  Oakland Crossroads 3234 Grand Avenue, Oakland CA
    • April 2, 2016, Reading with Alice Bag (the Bags) and Keith Morris, (Circle Jerks), Pehrspace, 325 Glendale Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90026
    • April 17, 2016, Gilman Zine Fest, 924 Gilman, Berkeley CA, 10 – 6PM2349 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
  • Pre-order the book from PM Press or Amazon (if you have to)
  • Like my Spitboy Rule Facebook page.
  • Follow me on Twitter @xicanabrava

The Spitboy Rule Book: Fall 2015 Update

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A lot has happened since I wrote the June Spitboy Rule book update.

  • The book cover happened! I could barely steady my fingers to open the e-mail when I saw that John Yates, Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band, cover designer, sent files with book cover options. Seeing the book’s cover art for the first time is pretty surreal. Seeing the photo of me on drums, the word Xicana, and my full name on the cover, wow.
  • Spitboy put out a record on John Yates’ old label, and he designed all the art for that release. It’s great to be working with him again because he’s so nice and great at what he does, asking about color palettes, choosing fonts, listening to my layperson suggestions, and laying everything out on some fancy program. We both agreed that Karoline Collins’ live photo of me in Australia captures the blur of my moving head and sticks was the right shot for the cover.

       I initially thought that the whole band should be on the cover, but my husband                    disagreed. At first, I thought it was cute he thought that I should be on the cover.                Then I realized that he was right.

      “You wrote the book,” he said. And it became clear real quick that live band photos              that feature the drummer prominently at all are a hard get. Spitboy was very wise               taking friend and photographer, Karoline Collins, as a roadie on the Pacific Rim tour           because she had full- stage access, and she just got up in there to get the shots she             wanted and thought we should have.

  • I also collected blurbs or endorsements; you know the nice things that people say about the book that are printed on the back of the jacket. It turns out that getting these endorsement can be very tricky. I upset an old friend in the process, but I did get several other great endorsements, including one from Alice Bag — that one was practically required. In spite of what I perceived to be a misunderstanding – the friend would say I was being too businesslike, trying to sell books.

      That part is true. I do want to sell a lot of books. On a small press, selling a lot of                   books will not mean making a bunch of money, but it could mean a bunch of readers.         Writers, including the upset one, love imagining people reading their words.

       It’s also true that I had to get an endorsement from Alice Bag. I know this sounds                strange, but I’ve gotten the sense that this how these things work. Alice Bag wrote              one of the first, if not the first, punk rock Latina memoirs, not having her                                endorsement on my book which follows hers by about five years (at time of release)          would not go unnoticed by people in the business. 

        She could have said no. She could have been too busy, and actually I think she was,             but Alice Bag read, liked, and wrote nice things about my book.

         Pinche me, seriously, pinch me!

  • Another thing I did over the summer was spend a lot of time sorting through my own collection of Spitboy photographs and reaching out to people who photographed us. A bunch of really nice people and great photographers have been kind enough to send photos they took of Spitboy back when we were all still using film. This means photos had to be scanned and organized digitally – thanks to everyone who helped out – Ace Morgan, Chris Boarts Larson, David Sine, Karoline Collins, and Lyn Lentil.
  • I was, along with news of the upcoming book, featured on two websites Paste Magazine and Flavorwire, thanks to Shawna Kenney and Jess Skolnik. I was featured along with Alice Bag in Paste Magazine’s “8 Old-school Punks Doing Cool New Things” and interviewed by Skolnik for Flavorwire as a part of her “Forgotten Women in Punk Rock” series. Jess Skolnik did a lot of homework before she interviewed me, which helped her to write great questions, which made me sound really smart – something I know I am, but I am often credited for other things, things like being articulate, driven, feisty, businesslike, feisty, and exotic, yes, exotic.
  • The official release date for the PM Press publication of The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band is April 2016, but there will be copies available at AWP, which takes place in LA in March, and I will be there all excited and trying not to cry because I’ll be so happy. There will be some readings too, so watch out AWP, here comes one Xicana that you never saw coming. I don’t write about corn, goddesses, the Catholic church, bright colors, or the homeland, unless that homeland is California, and I don’t teach in an MFA program, but I do teach community college.
  • In the meantime, come see me read from the book and play drums in Alice Bag’s band at 111 Mina in San Francisco – Punk Rock Renaissance Show on Friday, September 15. Yes, I get to play music with Alice Bag. Pinch me!

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Fucking Carrie Brownstein

 

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Source: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America)

Fucking Carrie Brownstein! She’s smart, cute, a riot grrl, in a super awesome band that everyone loves, even critics; she has a super funny, edgy TV show, and now she’s publishing a memoir. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl (Riverhead Books) is due out October 27th, just two days before my forty-sixth birthday. My memoir, The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band (PM Press) isn’t due out until Spring 2016. Just what, I ask, will Brownstein’s memoir be about? What has she done?

There should be some kind of law that you can’t write a memoir until you’re forty-five, until you’ve lived at least half your life like I have. I was already forty-five when I got word my memoir would be published.

When I got the news from PM Press, I didn’t run straight to my family to tell them the good news, hug them, or cry. No, I thought this instead: Okay, now, I just have to not die before it’s in print.

So imagine my shock last night, squinting at a Riverhead Books Instagram post on my phone announcing Brownstein’s book, my dismay at always having to be in the shadow of those sexpot riot grrls.

I should have known this would happen when I read her blurb on the back of Kim Gordon’s book A Girl in a Band, which credits her as —Carrie Brownstein, writer, actor, musician. I know she writes. However, to declare her a writer in that way, on that book is a bit like product placement.

Alice Bag, the most famous and legendary Chicana punk, Viv Albertine, of the Slits, and Kim Gordon, Sonic Youth, all did the decent thing and waited until they were in their fifties to publish their memoirs. The four of us will have to think very carefully about whether we’ll let the youthful, fancy pants Brownstein into our edgy female writer/musician’s club.

There is consolation in the fact that while Brownstein’s book will be published before mine, people will read my book too, because Alice Bag, Viv Albertine, Kim Gordon, and now, Carrie Brownstein have laid the groundwork, and because everyone wants to be a rock star, even if it’s only as long as it takes to read three hundred pages. It just isn’t fair always having to live in the shadow of those damn riot grrrls, who are and always have been younger and more pop-culture than I am.

In conclusion, I must ask the obvious question. Who are they going to let write a memoir next? It seems that there should be some sort of cap, some sort of quota. We can’t just let any literate woman who can play an instrument write a memoir. What would people think? What kind of message would that send? Americans might actually start to really believe at younger and younger ages that women can and should be heard, that women should have a voice, be musicians, writers, artists, great thinkers and creators worthy of solid place in history.

The Spitboy Rule Book: An Update

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Spitboy in Sydney Australia 1995: Karoline Collins

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.

Spitboy Rule Review of Green Day’s Return to 924 Gilman

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We used to call it the pest list, the list bands put names on to get their friends into the show for free. You can’t put everyone on the pest list.

If I remember correctly, when Spitboy was playing Gilman we were only allowed a few people on our guest list, a couple more if could make a particularly good case. The reason bands are only allowed a few people on their guest list at small clubs has everything to do with the size of the club, fire code, and of course money.

My son, Luis Manuel, and I weren’t on the guest list of last night’s Gilman show at which Green Day played (a benefit for the AK Press and 1984 Printing damage in a fire that claimed two lives) for the first time in twenty-one years, but we got in anyway. I won’t say how because it was a little dodgy and because I don’t want to implicate anyone (I did make a donation to the cause). A friend in one of the other bands that played offered to get my son and I in once we got to the door, so I guess we did have a real in after all.

My son who is thirteen and becoming mildly embarrassed of me (as is the order of things) is not the Green Day fan that he once was, but I am, so I made him come with me to see what all the fuss was about.

“We’re not even going to get in,” he said in his snide thirteen year old way on our way there.

As the parent of teen, I tend to ignore such behavior because it’s not worth the power struggle.

 “I bet some of my friends from school will be there,” he said later as we walked from the car.

I had my own doubts about getting into a show that sold out online in a reported ten seconds , but it was worth a try, plus I was meeting my friend Juliette from out of town at Pyramid Brewery across the street, a friend who did get on the guest list, someone I hadn’t seen in twenty years.

My son tried to play it cool when Juliette asked him if he was excited about the show once we got access to the wrist bands. He  just shrugged his shoulders. In addition to being a surly thirteen year-old, he can be shy around people he doesn’t know. I explained to Juliette that my son is a jazz musician, a piano player, and that he doesn’t listen to Green Day or any of the other alternative music that he was listening to two years ago. However, like Green Day, my son hopes to one day make money playing music because like Green Day, he is all about the music, playing it, thinking about, listening to it, and he hopes, one day composing it and playing for an audience other than his parents or other parents of his peers at recitals for the performing arts school that he attends in Oakland.

I understand the sellout argument, but I won’t bother rehashing it here. I was in a band that would not have been pursued by a major label. We were too loud, too angry, too feminist, but that was never a reason for me to turn my back on bands that have, to shame people I sort of grew up with. I, famously, went to see Nirvana play in 1993 at the Oakland Coliseum. In fact, I went to with Jason White who plays guitar in Green Day. It’s not in my nature to hate people for making a decision to make a living doing something that they love. I would love to make money on my writing, and I had a story recently published in an anthology put out by a major publishing house. No one is calling me a sellout or creating a bunch of controversy.

Punk rock is fussy. I know that. There are rules in punk rock too, rules made by people who hate rules, and that’s fine, I guess, but don’t ask me to make excuses for liking Green Day even though I played drums in Spitboy because I won’t do it.

I will, however, stand up on a table in the back of Gilman and dance just like I did when I was twenty-three years old if, even my thirteen year old son doesn’t approve.