It’s been a long time since we’ve done a “Wired for the Weekend” post but Beverly McClellan’s recent performance on The Voice is well worth posting. I couldn’t stand American Idol (e.g., the snark of the judges, the mean-spirited tone of the audition sections, the – mostly – bubble gum pop music etc.) but I’ve been enjoying The Voice because of singers like Beverly McClellan [and also Dia Frampton (Hapa!), Vicci Martinez, and Xenia Martinez (love the tone of her voice)].
McClellan’s recent performance was absolutely spectacular. Her voice, her stage presence, and even her quirky dance moves . . . loved it all. (For a way better analysis of McClellan and Martinez’s performances than I could offer, see Karen Tongson’s brilliant post “Hearing Queerly” at her Sound Studies Blog in which she asks us to take seriously “the sonic dynamism of lesbianism.”)
There are a couple of things I do have to get off my chest though. It’s too bad that Cee Lo and the homophobic Blake Shelton try to feminize and (hetero)sexualize McClellan but, of course, their normative perspectives and intentions matter not even a little bit with regard to McClellan’s performance. Since it is The Voice, maybe the judges are better off sticking to comments about the aural aspects of the performances because they don’t seem to get the visual at all. First of all, McClellan is not wearing a skirt. She’s wearing a kilt paired with a military jacket and she looks effing amazing. I feel like she’s channeling Marc Jacobs, actually. Second, does Shelton really think that calling McClellan hot is a compliment?! He can take his “compliment” and shove it. Uh-huh.
X-Ray Spex front woman Poly Styrene passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. Germ-Free Adolescents remains on my Desert Island List of Greatest Punk Albums Ever, and Poly is as ever an example. (I still dress like her in these videos.) As French philosopher Jacques Derrida observed so well, “an example always carries beyond itself: it thereby opens up a testamentary dimension. The example is first of all for others, and beyond the self.” Thank you, Poly, from all us “others.”
This academic year has been busier than usual for me (as you may have noticed from the dearth of posts from me, either here or on our Facebook), but I am happy to take the time to attend Chicago Zine Fest this weekend, speaking on the panel, “Archiving the Underground: A Discussion on Zines in Academia,” Saturday afternoon. I’m not entirely sure what I have to say about the myriad issues at hand, besides that it is still odd for me to read scholarship about my creative works, but it should be a fascinating conversation nonetheless. If you happen to be in attendance, do introduce yourself!
I should really save this for one of our Wired for the Weekend posts but it’s too funny to wait so call it Wired for Wednesday, I guess. Looks like 2b3 feat. Lil London just released a single called, “Spot the Blog.” Actually, it’s less an anthem to fashion blogs and more a mini-blogroll set to music – as well as a clear indication of the mainstreaming of fashion blogs!
Anyway, it’s good for a giggle. (Aside from Susie Bubble, I didn’t recognize the other bloggers.)
Minh-Ha is jet-setting, and I’m writing. We have several things lined up for next week, including an annotated list of queer blogs that discuss dress and embodiment and a couple guest posts on dyke hair and insulin pumps (separately, in this instance). But, meanwhile, in honor of all the bad-ass young ones who are eking out the last few weeks of school before summer (like Tavi Gevinson, who once again makes some choice observations about Terry Richardson), check out eight year-old punk rocker Venus screaming, “I don’t like beer!” in 1981 (Thanks, Layla Gibbon!), and The Brat’s “High School,” also 1980 or ’81.
A few days ago I posted about the draconian new anti-immigration law in Arizona that formally (because let’s face it, informally it had already been operational) criminalizes what one legal reporter calls “breathing while undocumented.” (This post was also syndicated to Jezebel, by the way.) In response, everyone’s been circulating Public Enemy’s “By The Time I Get to Arizona,” their 1991 protest against Arizona’s refusal to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But Chuck D’s been busy! Earlier this month he released the single “Tear Down That Wall,” which responds in part to the anti-immigrant fervor and the deaths of migrants crossing the Mexico-United States border, and is as such amazingly timely. (Davey D posts about it here, and the track is available for download here.) Here’s what Chuck D and his wife Dr. Gaye Theresa Johnson have to say:
Jan Brewer’s decision to sign the Arizona immigration bill into law is racist, deceitful, and reflects some of the most mean-spirited politics against immigrants that the country has ever seen. The power that this law gives to police, to detain people that they suspect to be undocumented, brings racial profiling to a new low. Brewer’s actions and those of Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, the Arizona State Senate are despicable, inexcusable, and endorse the all-out hate campaign that Joe Arpaio, Russell Pearce, and others have perpetrated upon immigrants for years. The people of Arizona who voted for this bill, as well as those who crafted it, demonstrate no regard for the humanity or contributions of Latino people. And for all of those who have chosen not to speak up, shame on you for silently endorsing this legislated hate.
In 1991 I wrote a song criticizing Arizona officials (including John McCain and Fife Symington) for rejecting the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The same politics I wrote about in “By the Time I Get to Arizona” are alive and well in Arizona today, but this time the target is Brown people.
These actions must stop. I am issuing a call to action, urging my fellow musicians, artists, athletes, performers, and production companies to refuse to work in Arizona until officials not only overturn this bill, but recognize the human rights of immigrants. This should include the NBA playoffs, revisiting the actions of the NFL in 1993, when they moved the Superbowl to Pasadena in protest against Arizona’s refusal to recognize Dr. King. We all need to speak up in defense of our brothers and sisters being victimized in Arizona, because things are only getting worse. What they’re doing to immigrants is appalling, but it will be even more damning if we remain silent.”
MIA has released “Born Free,” the first single from her as-yet untitled third album (due June 29), which samples “Ghost Rider,” by no wave legends Suicide (below the sweat-suited MIA). My mind is blown.
In the spirit of Mimi’s Weekend musical interlude, I want to add Janelle Monae’s video to the mix.
(I know I’m late to the party on this but can’t help sharing it anyway!)
I have a wedding to go to next weekend – can I learn this dance in time to rock the dance floor?
I think, yes! (I already have the tuxedo, in jumpsuit form of course – photographic evidence anon.)
- Cuz whether you’re high or low, you got to tip on the tightrope!
(The famous McQ by Alexander McQueen tuxedo jumpsuit.)
I can barely see because allergies are destroying my eyes, damn these industrial agro-business corn and soybean fields. My life would be so much more improved right now if I were made of machine parts.
Spokane’s Sweet Madness in a music video for their incredibly catchy 1980 song “Mechanical Things.”
The Scissor Girls, lip-syncing their song “Oscillator” on the Chicago cable access show Chic-A-Go-Go in 1996.
Oakland’s post-punk trio Numbers, live at Liminal Arts in 2004.
The staples of my graduate student wardrobe were striped t-shirts, black skate shoes, a red Members Only jacket, and a haircut given to me by a middle-aged Korean lady who didn’t much flinch when I asked to look like a boy. But, as The Stains snarled, “Do you wanna be a professional?” And can you appear to be one if you are costumed as a post-punk No Wave/New Wave androgyne?
From the classic Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, The Stains perform “Join the Porfessionals.”
Formed in 1976, the legendary X-Ray Spex featured the amazing Poly Styrene on vocals. Here’s “Identity.”
Mo-Dettes were an all-female punk band formed in 1979 by Kate Korris, an original member of The Slits and brief member of The Raincoats. Here they perform their first single “White Mice.”
Formed in early 1978, check out Swiss band Mother Ruin, and their video for “Dreamy Teeny.” (For more like this, check out the truly awesome archival resource for women in punk called Dear Diary.)