1981

November 19, 2013  |  By
  1. AT SIXTEEN I THRASH IN SERIAL TRANSPORTATION AND THE BLEAK APARTMENTS OF FRIENDS’ OLDER BROTHERS.
  • A road trip to San Francisco to see Prince perform from the Controversy album. Morris Day and the Time are the opening act. The audience is 99 percent African American, and dressed to the nines. Dancing with arms thrown up; we’re in church. Our minister preaches: I’ll Jack U Off! 
  • In May, I have my first gay sex. We warm up with vodka, orange juice, and his collection of every David Bowie video he recorded off Friday Night Videos. FNV is an hour-long program that airs weekly at midnight . . . pre-MTV (which will air for the first time this year). Not being used to alcohol, part way through I have to run from the bedroom to the toilet to heave.
  • Unable to find anyone to go with me, I take a Greyhound bus to see The Talking Heads at the same venue where Prince played: the San Francisco Civic Center Auditorium. Afterwards, I go to City Lights Bookstore and spot Jim Carroll in the basement. He’s the author of The Basketball Diaries, which I haven’t read yet, and the song “The People Who Died,” which I’ve listened to over and over. I’m too shy to say hello.
  • We hitchhike to Berkeley to see a second-run screening of Rock and Roll High School, and then crash a dorm party to dance to Oingo Boingo and the B52s.
  • In Sacramento I do poppers with straight stoners on a dirty brown carpet. An Iggy Pop poster is pinned to a textured wall, and Pink Floyd is on the turntable.
  • I’m transported to a future past, and it feels like crystals are growing up out of my brain. What are these amazing sounds? The album is called My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.
  • It’s a double-barrel evening, because later that same night I read an article in The New York Times which also blows my mind, though in a much darker way. The story is about a rare cancer that is rapidly killing homosexual men.
  • Nina Hagen, Devo, The Specials, Laurie Anderson, The Flying Lizards, The Pretenders, The Buzzcocks, Throbbing Gristle, Elvis Costello, The Boomtown Rats, Gang of Four, Grace Jones, Yoko Ono, Les Rita Mitsouko, Bow Wow Wow, New Order, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, The Damned, Roxie Music, Blondie, the New York Dolls, Dead Kennedys, Adam and the Ants, Princess Tiny Meat, Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, Mutter, Nico, Violent Femmes, Psychedelic Furs . . . I gather these bands in used record stores outside Stockton, as if the sum of them could make me cool by proxy. But remember, that’s the point in 1981. I have nothing else to barter with. Bad skin, clumsy, gay kid from a poor family: I dive into music and wear, as a badge of honor, a love of bands that many of my peers have never heard of. The music comes from outside our open prison, and it promises to take me with it someday. Someday soon. It’s my escape hatch in more ways than one.
  • I wear a white thin-collared shirt with a skinny black tie and severely short hair colored blue-black. Strangers hurtle unimaginative slanders at this (unintended) neo-Nazi look. They say things like, “New Wave!” “Devo!” “Boy George!” and “Fag.” With the help of an ice cube and a potato I now have a safety pin earring. I’m hardcore . . .  in the least interesting way; signaling the aesthetics of rebellion while owning almost none of its responsibilities.

 

  1. Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999) is one of my favorite works of video art. In it Leckey leans forward to help his own past up from where it stumbled. Acne-spotted, glassy-eyed, the desperate need for escape worn like a flag . . . an adolescent-lack-of an apology grinding its teeth across the dance floor, a bit of sick on its designer sleeve. Knowing where you want to go is all that matters.

 

  1. “In the decade before the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, a trio of Bay Area women — later dubbed the Army of Three — fought for women’s health rights, including access to legal abortions. Their activities included circulating a list of doctors, mainly in Mexico and Japan, who provided safe abortions. Eventually Rowena Gurner, Patricia Maginnis, and Lana Phelan formed an organization that expanded into what is now the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America. But in the early years, the three answered thousands of desperate letters not only from women but also husbands, friends, and family members seeking their help. When artist Andrea Bowers learned of the group’s work, she set up an interview with Maginnis at the activist’s home in California. There, she noticed that Maginnis had saved the many letters mailed to the Army of Three in stacked plastic bags.” — Brooke Kellaway

 

Woman With Straw Hat and Feminist Fist Tattoo (May Day March, Los Angeles, 2011)

Andrea Bowers, <i>Woman With Straw Hat and Feminist Fist Tattoo (May Day March, Los Angeles, 2011)</i>, 2011. Colored pencil on paper, 30 x 22 1/4 in. (76.2 x 56.5 cm)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If She Were President (Shirley Chisholm)

Andrea Bowers, <i>If She Were President (Shirley Chisholm)</i> (with detail, right), 2010. Graphite and colored pencil on paper, 40 x 25 in. (101.6 x 63.5 cm)

 

 

Fuck Officework

Andrea Bowers, <i>Fuck Officework</i>, 2011. Graphite on paper, 30 x 22 1/4 in. (76.2 x 56.5 cm)

 

 

The Annual AIDS Memorial March from Castro Street to San Francisco's City Hall (1991)

Andrea Bowers, <i>The Annual AIDS Memorial March from Castro Street to San Francisco’s City Hall (1991)</i>, 2007. Graphite on paper, 22.25 x 15.1875 in. (56.5 x 36.4 cm)

 

 

 

 

 

Design of Choice (My Body My Choice)

Andrea Bowers, <i>Design of Choice (My Body My Choice)</i> (with detail, lower image), 2008. Colored pencil on paper, 94 7/8 x 48 in.

 

 

Young Abortion Rights Activist, San Francisco Bay Area, 1966 (Photo Lent from the Archives of Patricia Maginnis)

Andrea Bowers, <i>Young Abortion Rights Activist, San Francisco Bay Area, 1966 (Photo Lent from the Archives of Patricia Maginnis)</i> (with detail, right), 2005. Colored pencil on paper, 50 x 38.25 in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman With Straw Hat and Feminist Fist Tattoo (May Day March, Los Angeles, 2011)

Andrea Bowers, <i>Woman With Straw Hat and Feminist Fist Tattoo (May Day March, Los Angeles, 2011)</i> (detail: click to enlarge), 2011. Colored pencil on paper, 30 x 22 1/4 in. (76.2 x 56.5 cm)

 

1 Comment

  1. Louise Glück Says:

    I love this paring of a musical “coming of age” with iconic feminist images. It brings to mind that Emma Goldman quote, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution,” and the soundtracks of various political movements.

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