Posts tagged Violence Girl
Posts tagged Violence Girl
Heading to Champaign for the @HipHopPunkFem symposium at University of Illinois. Full schedule here:
Avoid Black Friday madness, get your signed copy of Violence Girl & a limited edition book bag now! only 8 left.
"The wild tongue is the unrestrained messenger of truth. The machete that cuts through tangled webs of lies. It has a powerful thrust to push against those who would silence my words, my language, my thoughts. The wild tongue is a source of pleasure: cerebral, physical, spiritual." -
Join me tomorrow night in Santa Ana at El Centro Cultural de Mexico for Seeds of Resistance: Wild Tongue for a reading, musical performance and more. - Alice
Thank you to @CypressParkLAPL and everyone involved in tonight’s reading. It was my pleasure to perform for you and I had a great time meeting you all. Thank you for having such good questions! A big thank you to my good friend Angie Skull, I wouldn’t want to do it without her. - Alice
If you can’t make it to @CypressParkLAPL this Wednesday evening, my reading and Q&A will be Livestreamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cypress-park-library
Submit your questions to @CypressParkLAPL in advance using hashtag #AskAlice on Twitter.
"I’m a punk writer. I am as skilled at writing as I am at playing guitar, which means there are many people out there who are more skilled than I am, but I don’t care. I figured I was going to have to jump over my limitations to write a book, but that’s how I’ve lived my whole life." Alice Bag, interview with MRR, 2012.
My half sister Yolanda was 10 years old when I was born, so I literally and figuratively looked up to her. I remember her teaching me how to do the Twist. When my mom wasn’t home, I could always count on Yolanda to boss me around. I didn’t mind. She didn’t yell like my father was prone to do, and she didn’t talk to me like I was simple, which my mother tended to do. My sister always took the time to explain things to me, at times seeming wiser than either of my parents.
In my eyes, Yolanda was the most beautiful girl in the world (not counting Sarita Montiel, who I considered the most beautiful woman in the world). When I was a little older and we moved to the Ditman house, my dad and I would watch beauty pageants together on TV. We’d take a pencil and paper and score the contestants. We’d see who could pick the most winners after each elimination round. Once, my sister walked into the living room while we were doing this, and I remember looking at her and thinking she could beat them all. After that, I hounded her for weeks, begging her to enter a beauty pageant. I could imagine my sister on TV, having a crown placed on her head and having a big bouquet of roses handed to her. She’d smile at us through the television screen and I would be jumping on the couch with joy! I was sure she’d be a winner, but my sister dismissed my pleas with a flattered giggle, and eventually I gave up.
My sister was the only other person besides my mother and I to experience my father’s rage on an ongoing basis, and when I think about it now, it must have been harder for her to bear than it was for me, because he wasn’t even her natural father. He was just some random ogre who beat up her mom. My sister and father rarely spoke to each other except in the most cursory manner. Yolanda had lost her real father to cancer at a young age. It would have been nice if my dad could have given her a father’s love, but I don’t think she wanted it from him. I suspect that Yolanda deliberately tried to make herself invisible when my dad was around. Whenever possible, my sister stayed out of the house.
When we moved to Ditman Avenue, my sister Yolanda entered Stevenson Junior High School and met Angel Lujan, with whom she would eventually get married and spend the rest of her life. Yolanda spent most of her time after school at Angel’s house. When she and Angel did come to our house, they could usually be found making out in the narrow space between the neighboring apartment buildings. Being a typical little sister, I’d sometimes spy on them and throw rocks at them, and Yolanda would toss back empty threats at me. It seemed like Yolanda had managed to find a little piece of happiness and a way to save herself from the ugliness that thrived in our home. I don’t blame her for moving away from home at the first opportunity.
Yolanda died of cancer a few years ago. Being at my big sister’s side during the last few weeks as she struggled to fight off the inevitable was heartbreaking, because she was in excruciating pain. The type of cancer she had was incurable, and the doctors sent her home to live out her final days with her family. All we could do was try to dull her pain with morphine, but on the day she was sent home from the hospital, the nurse practitioner was delayed in getting to her house, and Yolanda began to moan for help as the drugs wore off. Panicked, Angel and I tried to figure out how to ease her suffering. I thought seriously of calling a friend who might have access to heroin. Finally, the drugs arrived and Angel, unable to see clearly through his grief, asked me to administer the painkiller into her mouth. “You can’t give her too much,” he said to me, but he needn’t have, since we were both thinking the same thing. Yolanda was in so much pain by then that all I could think to do was to help her by ending it. Every time she awoke and cried out in pain, I gave her more morphine to ease her suffering. In the end, I honestly think I may have taken my sister’s life by overdosing her on painkillers.
I dedicate this version of Angel Baby to my beloved older sister, Yolanda. This song will always remind me of you, sis.
And we can walk to King Taco afterwards. @cypressparklapl
Making the Cut, an original “episode” from my blog, The True Life Adventures of Violence Girl, which eventually became Violence Girl, From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, A Chicana Punk Story. This version is how the story first appeared on 2/05/09.
The Bags started playing on a regular basis again. My performances seemed to be getting more aggressive around this time. Fights would break out in the audience or onstage. Our shows seemed to be a catalyst for fucked up, angry teens who just needed a little encouragement to vent. Our music at this time was loud, belligerent and frenetic - the perfect soundtrack for the crowds that attended our shows. These audiences were frequently out of control, whipped up into a frenzy by the music and my exhortations to release the inner beast.
The Bags live in 1978, photographer unknown.
At the apartment, the chaos and lack of privacy were getting to me. Nickey came by to attempt a reconciliation with me but I was not in a conciliatory mood and I began hurling accusations at him. In the heat of an argument, I grabbed a belt and whacked him across the face with the buckle side of it. An ugly red welt immediately began to bloom. He looked at me as if he’d never seen me before.
"Now we’re even…" Nickey said, walking away.
I would never be able to look at Nickey again without feeling ashamed of myself. For days afterward, I kept replaying the scene in my mind. He had done nothing but try to apologize for losing his temper and I had unleashed a furious blow against him. I didn’t understand it at the time but now I can see that I was turning into my father - a monster. The idea that I had any control over my rage was just an illusion; my rage was consuming me. Instead of crying, something inside of me took over and shut me down. I started functioning on autopilot. I felt numb, but numb was better than the feeling I got when I saw what a mess I’d become. I walked around like a zombie, feeling dead inside. I didn’t interpret what I was feeling as depression, it felt more like emptiness and a desperate longing for understanding.
Sitting at the kitchen table one afternoon, I had a brief moment of solitude. As I was sitting there, I noticed a razor blade laying next to a freshly sharpened eyebrow pencil. I was inexplicably drawn to it and I picked it up. Seeing the ugly black smudges on the blade, I wiped it clean on my shirt and started to make a tiny incision on my inner arm. The cut was only about an inch long and barely broke the surface. A fine, red line of blood came stinging to the surface. It stung, it was as if my mind and body woke up from a deep slumber and yelled “Hey, what the hell are you doing?” I set down the blade and felt myself grow happier as the numbness temporarily lifted. It meant two things:
1. I was not already dead (evidenced by the fact that I could still feel pain)
2. I had no desire to kill myself (I only cut deep enough to cause pain, not serious injury)
Over the next few days, cutting myself with a variety of sharp tools seemed like a medicinal act of bloodletting. I stayed away from razorblades after that first cut for fear of cutting too deep. When the numbness became unbearable, when I felt like I wasn’t part of the human race, I’d cut. Before long, it became necessary to wear long sleeves to conceal my new addiction.
One night, Craig Lee caught me standing outside alone. He walked up to me and grabbed my arm. Gently, he pulled up my sweater sleeve and gave me a somber paternal look.
"Why do you do this, Gordita? Are you trying to kill yourself?"
"No… you don’t understand," I said.
"This isn’t like you…" he muttered, shaking his head from side to side. "Your arm looks like hamburger."
I quickly pulled my sleeve down. I felt embarrassed and ashamed, the abrasions from scraping back and forth with a brooch backing had left a scab pattern that crisscrossed my forearm. If he thought I was trying to kill myself, he must think this was my cry for help. But it wasn’t a cry for help; the thought of suicide stank of cowardice to me, yet I had no way of explaining my behavior.
"I just need to feel something, Craig…" I said, hoping he would understand but he didn’t.
"You shouldn’t drink so much. Why don’t you move back home?" His response stunned me. So there it was. He didn’t think I was grown up enough to make it on my own. Craig was like an older brother to me. I wanted to prove myself to him and now he thought I was a wuss who was trying to kill herself with tiny razor blade incisions and abrasions from safety pins and shards of glass. He thought I should run home to mom and dad.
"Fuck off!" I told him. He gave me a sad, wounded look and walked away.
I continued to cut for months after my conversation with Craig but now the relief I derived from cutting was tainted with guilt, shame and confusion.