PAPAS, THE: 5 ½” x 8”, photocopied, 30 pgs.

Apr 27, 2012

“I’m driving in my car, you turn on the radio/I’m pulling you close, you just say no/You say you don’t like it, but, girl, I know you’re a liar/’Cause when we kiss…fire.”  These are lyrics to “Fire,” a song by Bruce Springsteen—champion and voice of the American people—a song in which the narrator sings about sexually assaulting his girlfriend. The creepiest part of this is that the tone of the song is warm and touching. What’s even more disturbing is the character is supposed to be sympathetic. Springsteen, who’s always stood up for the people, really drops the ball here when it comes down to the simplest of women’s rights: consent. I wonder how many times I’d heard this song before I’d even kissed a girl. Talk about bad examples. It was a little before my time, so I wonder if this caused a stir at all. Or was it just the zeitgeist? This is Americana and this is the Americana that Spoonboy boldly confronts in his multimedia (zine and album) project: The Papas. The Papas is literally themed around Americana, the stories and culture of a country. But it goes deeper than the swinging dick strugglers and emasculated sad sacks of Bruce Springsteen songs. It looks at those who were even further oppressed because they didn’t fit into the gender binary hegemony. It attacks the patriarchal core of our society, by fighting the idea of that rugged individualistic male hero... and, thus, male supremacy. But it’s his linking it to our American heritage—Americana—that makes this such a crucial work. This machismo hurts everyone, even—and often especially—those who project it the most. Spoonboy’s argument seems to be that American society is based around the oppression of women, queers, and anybody who doesn’t fall into the “alpha male” category. This, in turn, leads to the oppression of everyone. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about the Spoonboy’s Americana and the songs on the album tell stories of people who are wounded by it, went down fighting it, and continue to resist it. It’s about people who fall outside of the gender norms, the rejected and fallen-out unamericans. It shows the fallout and damage inflicted on people who don’t fit into it, while still continuing to encourage that fight. In the zine, he reprints articles by radical writers like bell hooks, as well as art, some of his own writing and lyrics, representing an underground that resists. Raymond Carver once said, “All his life my father wanted to be bold.” He was talking about the damage the struggle had done to his father, the birthright of male privilege, and how it came up short for him. The male hegemony rewards no one, except for, maybe, the wealthy at the top who were born into it and, yet, somehow believe they’re self-made men. It’s a humbling work that attacks the entire system of patriarchy, demanding everyone take account of how they play into it, and encouraging them to resist it. This is a courageous and defiant work that should be listened to by everyone. (My copy of The Papas zine came with a tape, which was separated from it. However, Spoonboy’s The Papas, as an album, can be downloaded free at: It’s a whole package, though. I would recommend seeking out the zine with the album. (