Listening to Frankie Stubbs as I’m leaving New York to head to Boston and do my first of the Rage the Page workshops. It’s so funny, I’ve done this book on how to use negative energy and transform it into positive creative energy, and I think I’m going to start taking my own advice soon. Ever since the book’s release on Friday, Ive been more overwhelmed than I ever thought I would be. It’s really strange to have gone from copying zines, one by one, selling them for a dollar or a Euro and now having this ‘actual book’ with incredible artists involved. I think I’ve gotten pretty used to working really hard with absolutely no recognition, and for free, for so long that having people I’ve never met before come up to me and hug me and say’ Thank you, Thank you.’ A few people have told me that once they got hold of the book, they started to cry. I sure don’t want to make anyone cry- I just made the book I wished I had ten years ago.
I have to comment on something here, something that was brought up on Tuesday night at the incredible Icarus Project sponsored event in coordination with NYU- where Kate Bornstein performed a new work based on her piece in the book and Bonfire Madigan both presented and played a short set. That’s right, it was in-fucking-credible. It was in Professor Bradley Lewis’s huge ass living room that looked over the rooftops of Soho, and we all crammed in there, sitting on pillows and couches and eating the pizza and the FRESHLY BAKED PIES – I repeat- FRESHLY BAKED PIES – that they made for the event. Sheesh. It was hot.
Anyhoo- during the Q & A, a guy raised his hand and asked me why I decided to concentrate on just women who’ve dealt with self-destruction. I thanked him for his question, knowing that it was going to be the first of many times I would have to answer that question. I asked myself that question while writing the intro, but hardly ever during the making of the book, because- I don’t know. When you make something- you usually don’t ask why. You just do it, and then after it’s done you go- Oh, that’s what I did. I think I was trying to do . . .that. After you’re away from it is when you can get some better perspective on that.
In the year and half/two years I was working on this project, I think the main dealio was to just display a group of creative, intelligent and kick ass women who’ve dealt with these issues. . .because that’s the book I needed when I was in college- a book that said, ‘You are not alone’. ‘There’s a reason for what you’re feeling’ ‘It blows now, but it can get better.’ I went to a small po-dunk private college in the middle of Illinois- absolutely HATED it. I’m talking caps lock button HATED IT. The only solace I found was Howard Gardner’s book, “Creating Minds” which is about different types of intelligences and has bios of seven geniuses in each separate intelligence in the 20th Century. That book carried me through college. That and Martha Graham’s autobiography ‘Blood Memory’. And Ani DiFranco.
After college, I somehow came across a copy of ‘Angry Women’ the first of the two Juno books that profiled amazing women that were pushing the boundaries in their respective art forms. For years, I couldn’t even read the book- I could just hold it. I felt something there, something fairly powerful- and I didn’t even need to read every word- I somehow felt- intuited through that book that collected the stories of different women and housed them under one title, that I did, indeed- have a tribe. I still didn’t know any of those women, but they existed. And for awhile, that was enough.
In answering the man’s question at the Q & A- I described that I simply didn’t think about including men, because it wasn’t what I needed when I was younger. I was surrounded, in college, by groups of men working and creating together. I wanted the women’s stories. I needed my own.
Another reason is because the way men self-destruct is often much different from the way women do. There is a more outwards sort of release often, instead of inwards. I’m talking stereotypically here. (Read Nicole Blackman’s piece). And it’s not that I don’t want to help men, and it’s not that I don’t believe that men could take away just as much from the book as a woman could, but I just edited the book I felt capable of editing.
Finally- the way self-destruction is perceived in both men and women is totally different. Check out the Wilson guy- Luke or Owen, I always forget. And that’s the thing- this guy actually tried to kill himself, and didn’t succeed- and I’m not even sure of his first name. If a woman celebrity actually tried to kill herself, it would sell newspapers for a year. What’s with this fascination, and almost encouragment, of the self-destructive woman? Are we tragically sexy? I guess so, but that’s only if our mouths are closed on the issues. Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears, Mary-Kate Olson. . .all of them seem to have their mouths muted when their stories are told in a visual display on every goddamn magazine cover. The bold print declares, ‘They’re getting better! They’re getting worse! They’re getting even!” It’s like the media is a child and can’t stop playing with it’s Barbie dolls- tearing off their heads, putting them back on, and having them act out some insane drama with clichéd dialogue. ‘I’m getting much better. I’m going to rehab.’ The lines are the same, and the acting, as ever- is terrible.
What a beautiful façade we’ve made of this pain.
While there is a sense of ‘honor’ and ‘respect’ around male self-destruction. Luke or Owen Wilson’s family is there to support him. that’s about all I know about that suicide attempt. Not that I want to know anything more- that air of privacy should be equal for anyone when dealing with such a severe and personal topic. However, who do I know more about now? Michelle Williams. And here we go- let’s shift ocus to the tragic woman in the screen. Let’s pull our focus in tighter. Let’s see what the fuck happens.
Okay- by now you’ve gathered two things. I ramble senselessly- apparently, in blogs, and I’m tired as fuck. I’m still not in Boston, but I’m closer. I’m glad that I’m blogging all this out though now, because that man’s questions, along with all the positive encouragment I’ve been getting, has spun my head around. I need some basis in these days, and perhaps writing it all down will give me that stability. I think I’m going to need it.