GrrlBeat @ the Feminist eZine RiotGrrl Archive
Welcome to GrrlBeat!
"GrrlBeat" was a series of women's music articles written by Leslie Harpold for RiotGrrl.com during the 1996 - 2001 period. Sadly RiotGrrl.com is no more. We have archived some of the articles here for research purposes and also because they are an enjoyable read. This is not a complete archive of every GrrlBeat article ever written, but it is enough to provide a sense of what GrrlBeat was.
The articles include:
Scars & Guitars
Since I can remember, my big opening line on dates has been "tell me about your scars". I never meant tell me about your emotional scars, and to date, no one has interpreted my million dollar question that way, regaling me with tales of evil ex-girlfriends. No one wants to hear about that.
I like that question for a lot of reasons, mostly because it got me great stories. A guy once told me about a three inch shin scar that he told guy friends was the result of "something that happened in a hotel" and girls that is was an old football injury.
Both answers were true and fine examples of revisionist history, manipulating the truth to suit the needs of the moment. The injury, it turned out was indeed sustained in a hotel, while watching a football game. With his parents.
It?s the reassuring power of scars though, that allow me to trust a person. No longer seamless flawless beings in God?s own image, with scars, a person, male or female becomes human, flawed, and scars serve as medals of honor, proving that the bearer has somehow lived - done something risky, made a mistake, they are no longer perfect, they are - like me - fallible. It inspires in me a certain tenderness, I think due to the very essence of humanity that having a scar defines.
All poetry aside though, I have been to more rock shows than I dare count at by now, and there I definitely have the scars to prove it.
My first rock related scar I got while seeing the B-52s at Pine Knob. Pine Knob is an outdoor venue and people take things like picnic baskets when they go there. I was pogo-ing to beat the band, and chock full of Diet Sprite mixed with Riunite Lambrusco I lost my footing on the slippery hill and fell into someone?s metal chaise lounge ripping up my hand on the top part about where the thumb meets the rest of the extremity. It used to be a lot more noticeable, but - time has made it near invisible. It was after realizing this would be a scar, I made the commitment to carry my rock wounds with some sort of pride - slightly less than a battle scar, and slightly more than mock modesty.
The second major scar came a couple years later seeing They Might Be Giants. What ill could come to someone at a show so packed with stone cold sober merry geeks who seldom leave the house? Well, this time, someone else was bouncing around maniacally, and flailing her arms, and her mall bang matching nail tip caught my cheek. A half inch scar that looks like a cat scratch, again, barely visible. It was at this point however, I decided no more geek bands for me. I would earn my injuries in a more proud fashion.
At a Mudhoney show in a small club, I got another smallish scar on my left palm. This one is a mere quarter inch, but it?s in the palm of my left hand. I was in the "band area" - a small room behind the stage talking to some of the band members, and Matt Lukin was trying to change the strings on his bass. The first two came off neatly, but the peg on the third string popped or did something that caused one of the strings to fly completely backwards at my head, and I put up my hand so it wouldn?t smack me in the face. A good thing, too, since I ended up with a really deep cut on my palm. There was much bleeding, but I still managed to make it through the show, because hey, I?m punk rock. I laugh at pain.
Now, my biggest rock scar is on my left shin, and has the best story attached to it. I was in Melbourne, Australia, hanging out with a different band and at the Melbourne Music Festival. There was a huge dust storm, and it became imperative to move equipment at a pretty quick rate. People were backing up against one another, there were a lot of bands who had stuff just sitting out in the area cordoned off for the artists back stage, and no one wanted to see their equipment get messed up. One of the roadies for Nirvana, feeling that his band, and perhaps even rightly so - was the most important band there, set a big ass amp down right behind me.
After handing a guitar case to one of the my friends (from the much less famous band) I turned around to make sure nothing else had been left behind by my friends. I was totally unaware that a giant amp had been set beside me, and I?m not ashamed to admit I had a couple of strong Aussie Brews (hey, I was over 21) and I fell over it, in a very unpretty way. Falling over the amp in somersault fashion caused me to crack my head on a smaller but no less hard shelled amp corner, and I have a one inch v-shaped scar on my scalp from that. Until now, only my hairdresser knew. (Okay, only my hairdresser and a guy named Eric I told this story to on a date a few years back knew. Sheesh, you people are sticklers!)
My other scars involve much less cool happenings, like falling off the toilet when I was two. I like to say that hey, I am not only willing to suffer for my art, but the art of a bunch of long haired guitar picking rock musicians, because hey, I?m a giver. Damn nice of me - no?
Scars guitars and dark smokey bars. Some things just go together.
There is a saying that the largest sex organ in your body is your brain. Now vsualize where, in relation to your brain your ears are located. Here's the thing, they are handles. Handles that you can pick up and carry your brain to all kinds of places with. Stay with me for a sec, it gets dirtier I promise.
We need to get one thing straight, grrls. This is always a sex column. Every issue. Music and sex are so closely connected, if you're living right, there are times when you will not know the difference between the pounding of drums, the pounding inside your ears, and the pounding of your heart. If you're living right, there will be moments that the three become one, and you are gone baby, gone, to the righteous place that good grrls go when they're being very, very bad.
Don't give me that small Midwestern liberal arts college rap about how physical intimacy between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing to be shared and enjoyed, because when I think about sex and rock and roll together, I think please, make it as dirty as possible.
There is an experience grrls have at live shows sometimes, especially loud ones, rock, not soul, (I see rock and roll as about fucking and soul and light music as being more about making love) it has to be rock, and I'm going to take you there now, stream of consciousness style. I'm promising you girls, it's what gives you the fever.
I'm watching some band, and they're good. No, really good. Damn, my lips are moving with the words. I feel uncool. Screw it, I can't help it, this is great. Mmm, I really like that song, yeah, hey, the guitar player's kind of cute. Did he just look at me? I hope my mouth wasn't open. Wow, man, it's crowded in here and I'm hot. Sweaty too. Wait, who are these people pressed up against me? Where did my friends go? Damn, this is my favorite song by this band. I love this bassline. Yeah. My hips are kinda swaying, I hope the guy behind me doesn't mind - wait - I think he's got wood, better cut it out. Are my nipples hard? Why am I suddenly thinking about my nipples? Because I love this fucking song, and it sounds fanfuckingtastic right now, this is why I came, and wait - shit, I feel horny. More than a little I mean I feel downright HOT. Shit, why does everyone suddenly look so attractive? I have to go to the bathroom, damn, this shivery feeling is waving through my whole body. I really want to go in the bathroom and - no, I can't do that, people would hear me. Screw it, I'm going for it.
Of course, by the time you get to the bathroom, the feeling has subsided. If this is happening to you, even if only once in a blue moon, congratulations! You are living IN the moment. You're also doing exactly what the music is supposed to inspire you to do. This is why people spend hours making mix tapes to do the nasty to, why 75% of all rock songs are about sex, and why rock stars can get booty at the snap of a finger. He who controls the music controls the mood, and if that's a man, your deductive powers should tell you where that road leads.
Don't think I'm above using music as a means for seduction either. Chicks are more than capable of setting a soundtrack for a night, an hour, or a really high quality ten minutes of love. Just because I know better than to use songs that have deep personal meaning for me as ambiance for bumping ugliness doesn't mean there aren't lost of perfectly good songs I can use to get my panties and his boxers in a twist.
Smart grrls know when to let the music be their guides. Once I dated a guy and it seemed like all we did, five nights a week was go to shows. If the band was good, and I started to get that special yearning, I would scope out the room, and try to engineer a discreet but satisfying diversion. Usually something like "baby, go into the grrls bathroom, go into the last stall, pull down your pants and I'll be there in three minutes." I never saw him move faster. The three minutes was for me to mentally work up my anticipation so that there would be no need for pesky foreplay, we could cut straight to the action and try to make the most of the few minutes we felt we could monopolize the stall.
Yes, there was the risk we'd be caught - only that someone would hear us, or the embarrassing moment that we had to walk out of the stall breathless. That was what made it so dirty. It wasn't always the bathroom, sometimes it was the alley behind the venue, or if there were no other options, I'd just give him the hottest kiss grope combo I could get past the public eye and scream "we're going home NOW" in his ear, since whispering is pointless when the music's blasting like that.
I don't need to remind you that this is the season grrls. Spring fever is hitting hard all over, and I advise you take care of it. Go see a live show, not your favorite band, and not a band you know anyone in, just someone you've heard is good live, and loud as a motherfucker. Don't go for some arena show, it works so much better in a more intimate venue. Take your squeeze, just in case the urge hits, and prepare to be a bad grrl for a change. Better still, a good grrl who does bad things. Pay attention to the music and let it take you where it may, and soon enough, I promise the music, your heartbeat and the pounding inside your head will synchronize, that's when the impulses to misbehave kick in. Try following one of them, or at least flirt with the idea for a few minutes, I promise you'll thank me later.