Friday, February 15, 2013

Oh, my, look – you can read the longest, most rambling chapter of my forthcoming book, The End of San Francisco, in the journal Eleven Eleven...

What do you mean, I said. Andy said Mattilda, Kathleen Hanna came to your reading. That wasn’t Kathleen Hanna, I said—her name was Kathy. Andy said Mattilda, that was Kathleen Hanna, and I figured he must be right because Kathleen Hanna changed his life, changed a lot of people’s lives actually, but by the time I found out about her music and all the other Riot Grrrl bands, that wasn’t the kind of music I liked anymore. Punk was something I was trying to be in high school, I went to Fugazi shows and swayed in the back corner, as far away from the slamming as possible. I had pretty much every album by The Clash, and even wrote a story named after their song “Stay Free” that described the kind of friendships I fantasized about, “We met / when we were at school / never took no shit from no one.” But I was too much of a faggot to be accepted as punk, this was DC at the end of the ‘80s and I wasn’t out I mean I didn’t know anyone who was but everyone knew about me.

When I discovered dance music, it was such a relief—I didn’t have to feel like an alien just because I wanted to look styley and twirl around instead of slamming into people. Sometimes I slammed into someone, but it was an accident. And then when I got to San Francisco in 1992, I was suddenly surrounded by music that called itself punk again, punk music and slam-dancing, except now it was queers who were slamming, queers who sneered at any mention of house, techno—so repetitive, they would say, but really they were saying only fags listen to that, the wrong kind of fags. So I danced to house but lived in a different world, a world of dykes and a few fags who held each other and talked about rape and feminism and thrift stores and veganism and surviving childhood abuse. We made ‘zines and chapbooks and dyed our hair and painted our nails and wrote manifestos and stuck nails through our ears and organized protests and competed with one another for shoplifting excess, shared recipes and tips on sexual health and got angry and crazy and depressed together, but we were in San Francisco so we looked down on Riot Grrrl and everything else we associated with Olympia, and even Kathleen Hanna—we thought we were tougher and smarter and more original.

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