About zyzxx

I am a creative writer and music journalist. My work has been published in the LA Weekly, Flipside, Tattoo Savage and many other publications. Recently I completed six episodes of a comedic webseries coming out in January.

ROCK THE VOTE! 7 Year Bitch – Sick ‘Em (1992), Viva Zapata! (1994), Gato Negro (1996)

Ah, the cherished 7 Year Bitch CD’s, well worn and much played.

My first introduction to 7 Year Bitch was seeing them perform in 1992 at one of the ROCK FOR CHOICE shows at the Palladium in Hollywood. Although I now bow down to worship at their musical alter, at that time I thought they were ridiculous. Riot Grrrl was not on my radar and my political awareness could saddle up and ride upon the back of a flea (it was microscopic). Keep in mind I was still fresh from the school of Stevie Nicks and Heart. A band like 7 Year Bitch was foreign to me. Their lyrics and performance was political, no bullshit and in your face, not shrouded in the gypsy metaphorical magic dust that was familiar to me. On top of that, they had absolutely no scarves, mandolins or doves incorporated into their show!

Still, these shows perked up my ears and opened my eyes. Walking around ROCK FOR CHOICE and the various Barbara Boxer benefits being held was my political awakening. Visiting tables and taking pamphlets on contraception, Roe vs Wade, and self-defense techniques for women from the tattooed and pierced rocker chicks who were unabashedly handing them out, helped me to find and solidify my worldview. The gut feelings I had were defined and given shape as I started to discover paths to the clans of like minds out there.

The 1992 Presidential election year was a big one for me. It was the first time I actually voted for someone that I felt was my president. Also, after living in Los Angeles for two years, supporting and voting Barbara Boxer into office made me feel legitimate when I called California my home.  The bands of course were what initially inspired me to buy a ticket to these events, but it was the whole of the experience that got me out of my head and out into the world better equipped to understand, appreciate and love what 7 Year Bitch contributed to the world.

Tomorrow is once again a big election day. Please don’t forget to vote. Also, I know some of the propositions we are voting on this time around are quite confusing, so I am going to wrap up this blog post by helping you better understand some of the Propositions you will be voting on.

JEN’S GUIDE TO THE PROPOSITIONS:

Prop 3: Unofficially known as the Omne Trium Perfectum Proposition, Prop 3 will require, by law, that all comedians limit podcasts to three (3) minutes or less until their talent is proven in the court of public opinion.  Costs associated with a YES vote on Prop 3 would be a 150% increase in open mike comedy nights and quadruple the number of web series produced by mid-2013.

Prop K9: Known on the street as the F*cking Clean Up Your G*d D*mned Dog’s Sh*t Proposition. A YES vote on Prop K9 would require all dog parks to become official repositories for the mounds of dog poop left unattended by canine owners on city streets and public park paths.  An increase in the business tax on gourmet doggie biscuit boutiques and canine salons would help pay for the new pick up and dumping services that would be required. Prop K9 is funded in part by all shoe soles walking the grounds of the United States of America, non-profit group FAD (Felines Against Dogs) and the crazy cat lady next door.

Prop WTF: A YES vote on Prop WTF equals a NO vote on Prop HUH. In order for Prop HUH to pass, vote YES on Prop WTF but NO on Prop DOH and Prop 7. A NO vote on Prop WTF equals a YES vote on both Prop HUH and Prop DOH, but a NO on Prop 16. A YES vote on Prop WTF and a NO vote on HUH equal a NO for Prop DOH and will activate the bonus round.

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Guest Blogger! Eleanor Hitchcock reviews band Breaking 27.

I can’t tell you the glee I felt in my heart when Ellie came home one day inspired, invigorated and raving about a band called Breaking 27 who played at her school as part of their “No Bully” tour. A REAL band consisting of 11 through 13-year-old kids that played rock and roll instruments in actual clubs and didn’t sing like chipmunks. She blathered on about the girl who is lead singer and how she went into the audience. She gushed about the drummer who she concluded is “probably as short as you are mommy.” She loved that the bass player and keyboardist were girls. At her begging, we went to the website and poured over their pictures and watched all the live videos they had posted.

And so for today, I decided I am going to step away from my usual format and let my daughter step in and do her first bit of rock writing.

Here is her review:

BREAKING 27 at CHIME CHARTER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

I saw a band at CHIME cald Braking twenty-seven. The peepols names are max. Sophe. Kale. Sharlit. And eden. I love your band. Love Eleanor the band Made [me] dance beecuss it is groovy to me. And is music to my erse. (Eleanor Hitchcock)

 

 

Writing is MOFO Hard. 360’S-Illuminated (Link Records 1991)

ImageWashing dishes. Doing laundry. Offering myself as a human Kleenex during cold season in a preschool classroom. These are just a handful of things I would rather do then sit down and write when I need to write. Dorothy Parker said it best, “I hate writing, I love having written.” I’ll say it in another way– writing is motherfucking hard. Anyone one who boasts writing comes easy for them probably should be doing a pinterest page instead. Whatever it is bursting forth with great ease and being committed to page I am willing to bet is about as engaging as lifted photos of baked goods, shoes and pets.

I can’t pinpoint the time when I began to identify as a writer because I can’t remember when writing was not somehow incorporated into my life. But this I do know. My feeling about the act of stringing words together into something that is affecting and intriguing has remained the same. It is motherfucking hard. I imagine it to be like knitting a scarf. Placing fingers around pen or upon keyboard is as mind-boggling and primitive a feeling as it is to take couple of sticks, clack them together and create something from a pile of fibers. Like a scarf, once finished you hope your writing might bring warmth on a chilly day, but more often it becomes a noose to choke the life out of you. Exhilarating, necessary and motherfucking hard.

Style or length of writing makes no difference in the ease factor for me. When I was writing upcoming show highlights for the section the LA Weekly used to call “Scoring The Clubs,” I needed to get 150 words per article on the page. That’s it.  We had a Monday morning deadline, so every Sunday evening I’d begin the process. I’d listen to the band’s music and stare at a blank page. An hour in this scenario would evolve into head pounding, tears, rage and overwhelming regret for pitching the show idea in the first place. Eight hours later I would begin crafting excuses to send my editor as to why I could not make the deadline. And just as I was about to decide what sounded more legit, “my vision just disappeared” or “my typewriter broke,” I’d feel the spark of inspiration. I’d turn back to the page and that beautiful first sentence would come to me. From there, I’d bang out the assignment usually having about fifteen minutes to spare before I had to wake up for my day job.

I was brought back to all this when I put the 360’s CD into my computer and gave it a listen. I didn’t remember them and was expecting a 90’s shoegazing English band (for some reason), but instead was treated to some pretty decent Pretenders influenced rock and roll. Not a bad disc at all, but there were tumbleweeds blowing across the page when I sat down to write about this album’s place in my music library, and life. And then it came–that spark. Why don’t I plagiarize myself?

So good readers, here is my “review” of the 360’s album Illuminated, stitched together using a few lines from some of my favorite reviews of the past:

“Like a fallen knick knack shelf,” (1) “there is a certain brilliance to music created by a toddler banging passionately on pots and pans on the kitchen floor.” (2) “No tangible boundaries between the silly and the bleeding heart,” (3) [this band] “is more likely to slap you on the ass and give you a ‘hey baby’ than plant a tender little peck on your cheek.”(4) “Get your panties revved up and ready to be slung on stage,” (5) because 360’s “have given a flappy lipped condition a new meaning.” (6) They are like “having a Midol tablet, two chocolate bars and a car load of junk food when you are riding the cotton pony.” (7)

WORKS CITED:

(1) Guitar Boy at Highways. LA Weekly June 30th – July 6th 2000

(2) Old Time Relijun at The Smell. LA Weekly April 16 – 22nd 1999

(3) Babe The Blue Ox at Spaceland. LA Weekly October 9th – 15th 1998

(4) Downgirl at Meow Mix West at The Garage. LA Weekly July 17-23rd, 1998

(5) L7, The Donnas at The Whiskey. LA Weekly March 26- April 1 1999

(6) Cameltoe, Woodpussy at Club Sucker at The Garage. LA Weekly February 26-March 4th 1999

(7) Patsy, The Need, Red Aunts, Automaticans at Saint Lucy’s at The Fais Do Do Ballroom. LA Weekly August 21-27th 1998

My First Time. 12 ROUNDS Promo CD. (Nothing/Interscope Records 199?) (1998)

Discovering the 12 Rounds CD in my collection was like the feeling you get when you find a super long hair growing out of your neck. You are a bit disgusted, but also intrigued as to how it survived for so long without you noticing.

How did 12 Rounds end up snuggled in right next to 4 Non Blondes? I am guessing it somehow escaped a purge I did a few years ago in which hundreds of promotional CD’s were led one by one to the trash bin outside my house. You see, at one point in my career as a music journalist in the 90’s and early 2000’s, I was getting at least one or two promo CD’s a day, mostly of pure crap from major labels that were seemly never ending poop factories. I had a floor to ceiling stack of unopened CDs next to my desk I lovingly christened “The Leaning Tower of Interscope and Hollywood Records”.

I could never figure out how I ended up on these publicity lists, but will say it wasn’t a cost-effective decision for the major labels to make (imagine that). Somehow they deduced from blurbs I wrote about Club Sucker, The Need, Patsy, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, Team Dresch, K Records, Chainsaw Records and Kill Rock Stars, that I might be a good person to hit up to do a review of their freshly signed all male, mainstream “alt-grunge-hybrid-trip-hop-ska-electronica rock” band.

I must have gotten every new “next Nirvana” band there was to get.  They all had names like Dustmite, Blind Baby, Hang or Chloe’s Needle Problem. The names of course hinted at the festering angst, scars, dirt and poetry radiating from the souls of the goateed pretty boys clad in winter wear, whose sulking oozed from their PR photos like puncture wounds.  Anyway, all this crap crowded my library of CDs for a long time until a few years ago when it dawned on me that I would never unwrap and listen to that T-Ride promo CD and started chucking the shit.

Okay, on to 12 Rounds. I will admit this errant refugee from the first purge of promo CD’s evoked a bit of emotion. Even as something never before heard, due to its sheer will to remain in my collection, 12 Rounds is responsible for making me think about the moment in time just before the tidal wave of promo CD’s began to flood my doorstep. It was a moment in my history when music journalism felt new, pure, artful, creative and inspired. I remembered the first time my writing was included in a publication that boasted a circulation more than ten. It was a paragraph highlighting an upcoming show at The Roxy in the LA Weekly, a paper I lived and died by as a citizen of Los Angeles. Oh that electrifying moment when I picked up the issue that contained my first piece–an adjective laden blurb about a local band I loved.  Hundreds of blurbs were to follow over the next seven years, but nothing will ever beat the rush I felt that first week every time I passed a pile of the LA Weekly in a restaurant or local club and thought about my words making it into the hands of one-hundred thousand readers.

A few days ago, I did actually listen to the 12 Rounds CD. First, I was surprised to pop it in and discover they are a female fronted band (there was no picture on the sleeve). This album is not a bad album in any way–somewhat typical sounding “trip-hop” 90’s stuff, but in the end, it fell flat for me. So after one play, knowing I would never listen to it again, this 12 Rounds compact disc has made the march to my garbage can. But unlike the promo CD’s before, I shed a tiny tear as the lid closed on this one.

The ones that survived. Bonus points to anyone who can name the CD’s pictured.

Lesbian Thumb Ring. 4 NON-BLONDES-Bigger, Better, Faster, More! (Interscope Records 1992)

My good friend Elizabeth loves to remind me about how, when I first came out of the closet, I made her go with me down to Melrose to buy a thumb ring. In my mind, a real dyke always donned a thick, plain silver band on their opposable digit. Not yet comfortable in my new skin, I didn’t want to adorn my neck with rainbow freedom rings on a ball chain–THE symbol of gay in the 90’s. So instead, in hopes of making myself known to the cute waitress at the French Market Place, I opted for what I thought to be an obvious statement of my sexuality and wore it proudly upon my thumb.

4 Non Blondes Bigger, Better, Faster, More moved me from a thumb ring to a ball chain. To me this album felt familiar yet at the same time crackled with a new kind of energy. Looking back at my first coming of age in high school, the soundtrack of that time was not the 80’s pop most of my peers were listening to on the radio, but instead was the music of Aerosmith, Steve Miller and Janis Joplin on cassette. I also loved Cyndi Lauper, The Motels and Yaz. But what my friends and I lived and breathed, was 60’s and 70’s rock. Therefore, in my second coming of age, the gay one, the recognizable riffs driving the gutsy, blues-tinged rock of Bigger, Better, Faster, More coupled with the gayness of Linda Perry made my transition into faggotry something that felt recognizable and right, yet also charged and uncharted.

While the music of 4 Non Blondes touched my classic rock heart, the band’s big throated lead singer Linda Perry spoke to my vagina. KD Lang and Melissa Etheridge may have helped me place one hand on the closet doorknob, but considering my dad also enjoyed their music, they didn’t manage to turn and open it like Linda Perry did. Her image fit my ideal at the time– a scruffy, nose-ring and tattooed troubadour that came to my window howling like a tomcat, beckoning me to meet her at the bar. She was the secret admirer I longed to have, who slipped scraps of bad poetry under my door and left roses on my windshield.

But that was then, and this is now. My interest in Linda Perry slowly waned as my tastes changed and she got absorbed into the mainstream like other iconic Lesbian Culture signifiers such as knit ski caps, Beth Ditto and what is now known as the Skrillex haircut. So listening to Bigger, Better, Faster, More now, what does this album sound like to me twenty years later?  I expected it to sound dated. I thought for sure the thin attempt at being political and bar-band style of blues-rock would prompt me to hit the eject button pretty quick. But wouldn’t you know, two listens in on a drive up to Santa Barbara and I realized that it miraculously stood the test of time. Although I doubt I will be playing it regularly and it won’t make its way into my Itunes, I think it remains a pretty damn good rocking CD.

Two thumb rings up!

My Life in Binders.

My identity is slowly being erased from the physical landscape of my house. I am taking my CD’s off of the shelves that line the walls of our dining area and putting them in plastic inserts to be stored in three-ring binders. Now, a new visitor to our home will walk in and have no idea that I am a music person. The alters constructed to display the essential, beautiful and overwhelming force that music is in my life, will be packed away and out of sight.

The last time I remember doing this was with my vinyl collection, and it was to make room for my CD’s. My music library has followed me around over the past twenty-five years, making each new move a bit more daunting because of the constant growth of my collection. But no matter where I landed, it was always placed out on display like artwork.

In the digital age, “things” like CD’s and records seem obsolete and unnecessary. But my feeling is that despite all the la-de-da bumper stickers and inspirational calendar pages telling us in cute little quotes how “things” are not what are important in life, I think things are immensely important. Things are what we use to speak to one another, how we know if someone is in our tribe. Things are the symbols we assemble to let people know what the hell is going on inside our heads. The first move I make when I visit a person for the first time, is towards towards their CD collection and bookshelves. Dogs sniff asses, I sniff music and book collections. If the smell intrigues me, you’re in.

So my current heartbreak comes in that it is time to put these artifacts of my life, my music collection, out of sight. Of course this does make more room for bookshelves.

Now, to what this blog is all about. In the process of going through all my CD’s, some for the first time in ten years, I have had the honor of cradling each one in my hand for a moment as I slip them into their new homes. This has brought back lots of memories of times past. It is amazing how music, or even just an album cover can bring you right back to a particular time in your life. And there have been many surprises as well, such as where did this Blues Traveler CD come from and why do I have so many Indigo Girls albums?

With all this emotional attachment whirling around, I have decided that I am going to “review” each and every CD in my collection, so the artifacts of my life are still on display somewhere, even if just in the virtual world. Here we go…