The other week I went to the Brooklyn Bloggers meetup at the Bell House with my friend Laura of the blog Eating the Beats. It was my first time going to an event consciously as a “blogger,” and despite having written on Killerfemme for the past few years I’ve been hesitant to really identify as being a blogger versus simply being a person who has a blog. All told, the Brooklyn Blog meetup was fun. I talked to bloggers who write about New York nachos, tech and gadgets from a girl’s perspective, writers for Broeklyn, and a brave young woman who writes about being broke and navigating New York’s dating scene. It was nice to hear people’s interesting ideas and find out about how they are crafting their blogs. However, I also feel like I’ve come to blogging too late to really get into it without seeing the bold commercialism that is behind so many blogs now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but blogs are often seen as a means to another end, which is fine, if that’s your goal. While I too would love a book contract and/or a regular byline, I don’t necessarily think my personal blog will be my ticket to my dreams as a writer.
Mostly I feel like I haven’t found my blogging “community” yet. Perhaps it’s because of the vastness of the blogosphere (if we can even call it that anymore), but I don’t feel like I’ve found bloggers who share my ideas, values and aesthetics. In fact, most of the blogs I read are in French. While I thoroughly enjoy those blogs, it’s hard to connect with those writers when I write in a different language, even if I comment on their entries en francais.
This made me think back to when I started making my personal zine Induglence in 1998. When I first encountered zines I knew immediately that I would make one myself. The concept of publishing one’s own personal writing made sense to me innately, especially as a teenager, because I knew that I could not expect anyone else to publish my work. Perhaps because I knew exactly the kind of writers I wanted to connect with—I would describe them loosely as young feminists interested in art, queer politics, and music—it was easier for me to immerse myself in the zine community. I felt like over the course of two or so years I was able to build up an audience for my zine and also a network of close friends, penpals and fellow zinesters that I felt I shared something in common with. My connection to and beleif in the power of the zine network extended into helping found the Portland Zine Symposium in 2001. It continues to resonate into my adult life because some of my closest friends (and neighbors) are women I met through zines over 10 years ago.
Perhaps its because I have close friends now that I don’t feel the same urgency to seek out people to connect with through blogs. However, I also feel like I am writing in a vacuum, and some days that makes me wonder if I should even continue to bother with this blog. Keeping a blog (and keeping it up more regularly and diligently) has reminded me about the whole reason I started making zines and keeping a blog to begin with: to write. Being a writer has been my dream ever since I was a little girl and it is something I am determined to make a reality in my thirties. I know it’s harder now than ever to distinguish oneself, one’s voice, one’s ideas, and one’s blog (especially if I don’t have hundreds of dollars and hours to sink into the design and hosting of it), but I also feel like its much easier for me to find opportunities to publish and connect with wider audiences nowadays. For me, I feel like blogging and writing for other web-based publications holds a lot of promise. We’ll see what the future will bring.
Hopefully in the next decade I'll be able to write a better novel than Ida the cat.
I was really excited to get to speak with Tina Weymouth, the bass player of the Talking Heads and a multi-instrumentalist and singer in the group Tom Tom Club. Tom Tom Club’s song “Word Rappinghood” is one of my all time favorites (yes, I liked that song before Chicks on Speed covered it) and I have loved them since I was lucky enough to score their records in used bins. Lucky for us all they are reissuing a live record they made several years ago that only had a very limited availability. I got to speak with Tina Weymouth about Tom Tom Club’s 30 years and what has changed and what has stayed the same. Check out the full story on Venus Zine here.
I’m really pleased to have two pieces in the Winter 2010-11 issue of Venus Zine (which features Janelle Monae on the cover)! A few months ago I got to meet up with Jenny Lewis and Jonathan Rice to talk about their new project Jenny and Johnny. There’s a shorter version in Venus’ new “Heart to Heart” section in the magazine and an alternate version online, which you can read here. I also reviewed the new Clinic album, which is unremarkable. I’ll have the PDFs up soon!
If you were like me and grew up in the 1990’s and loved punk rock and feminism, you loved Sleater-Kinney. It’s no longer the 90’s (though with all the plaid coming back this season and all the reissues of classic grunge records you might wonder) and I’m no longer a teenager, but I still love Sleater-Kinney, punk rock, and feminism. I still have not yet found a band as compelling as Sleater-Kinney (though Electrelane filled the gap after Sleater-Kinney disbanded in 2006, but then they broke up too!). I liked S-K long enough to get over my initial teenaged rock star worship and went from buying a ticket to a show in Boston I was too young to go to and hoping for the best to being impressed with their guitar chops on their last record The Woods. They were just a really solid band. Every album brought an innovative approach to their sound. Their live shows were breathtaking and the members were well spoken and stylish to boot. All this to say that despite my ambivalence about music lately I was very excited to hear that Corin Tucker has a new project (and with Sara Lund from Unwound on drums no less!) and jumped at the chance to interview her and write a profile for Venuszine. Her new record, 1,000 Years, is solid as ever and as always, she is always thinking deeply about what’s going on in society and her personal life and working that into her songwriting. Please check out the full profile on Venuszine here.
I have been writing for the website the Feminist Review for several years now, reviewing books, movies, and music from a feminist perspective. The site recently rebranded and relaunched itself as Elevate Difference and it looks great! Honestly, at first I wasn’t too sure about the new name. I thought Feminist Review said what it needed to say. However, once I took a look at Elevate Difference’s snazzy new design I got it- it’s wide reaching, broader ranging, and sophisticated, while never loosing its feminist perspective.
I have two new reviews posted now on Elevate Difference—Mirah’s Gone Are All the Days 12″ single and taboo-busting French director Francois Ozon’s new movie Le Refuge. Please check them out!
I think that Ms. Frankie Rose is one of the coolest women in Brooklyn right now. She plays drums and guitar, she writes songs, she’s committed to her professional life and her music, and she lives a grown up yet still punk rock way of life. I got to interview her about her band’s new (self-titled) album and wrote a profile for Venus Zine, which you can read about here.
|By Alison Wonderland
This past summer I’ve been writing up a storm for Venus Zines website. I’ve been writing profiles of bands and reviewing a slew of great records. Check out my latest here:
Bassist Kathy Foster, part of the Pacific Northwest rockers The Thermals discusses their new album
Indie pop icon (and Economist!) Amelia Fletcher talks about her latest project, Tender Trap
Quirky experimenters The Books talk about their latest album and moving out of NYC
Plus album reviews of the reissue of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime… Moi, non plus, and Savoir Adore’s In the Wooded Forest.
I got to profile German “indietronica” act Lali Puna, of my favorite bands, for Venuszine.com. I spoke with Valerie Trebeljar, Lali Puna’s main lady, over on a transatlantic telephone call and I had to control my enthusiasm while speaking to one of my favorite musicians. The feature highlights their latest album Our Inventions. Check out the profile on Venuszine.com here.
For the past few years I have been reviewing books and albums for the highly useful and informative blog The Feminist Review. My subject matter has ranged from ethereal Brooklyn folk-duo Christy and Emily‘s new record Superstition, to the book Zubaida’s window, an experimental novel about an Iraqi exiled in Berlin. It’s a great resource and provides an important service to independent and feminist minded creators of culture. They are looking for donations to keep up and running. So in honor of women’s history month I suggest you drop a few bucks their way via their site: http://feministreview.blogspot.com
For archiving sake, I’m also going to list all the reviews I’ve written (more for my own record than your reading pleasure):
Christy and Emily “Superstition”
Nakatomi Plaza “Ghosts”
The Summer Cats “Songs for Tuesdays”
Oneida “Rated O”
Zubaida’s Window by Iqbal Al-Qazwini
Black Male Outsider by Gary Lemons
Lessons in Integration edited by Erica Frankenberg and Gary Orfeld
Pas Chic Chic “Au Contraire”
A is for Accident “Selfish”
Pale Young Gentleman “Black Forest Tra La La”
Dressy Bessy “Holler and Stomp”
The Shondes “The Red Sea”
The Gender Politics of Development by Shirin M. Rai
Cause Co-Motion “It’s Time!”
Hawnay Troof “Islands of Ayle”
Bodies of Water “A Certain Feeling”
Juana Molina “Una Dia”
Omar S and Claude Von Stroke
From Bubblegum to Sky “A Soft Kill”
Feminist Coalitions edited by Stephanie Gilmore
Bachelorette “My Electric Family”
I am so happy to report that Venus Zine is back in business, which means that I will now be reviewing shows and writing about music, art and culture for them more regularly. My first review after a long hiatus was the Magnetic Fields’ performance at Town Hall on March 10th. It was a very nice and stately show and had the feeling of a reunion of friends who are all in someway connected to the Magnetic Fields. You can read the full review here.