Myriam Gurba: Interview by Chris Terry
Author and self-described chingona Myriam Gurba is kicking 2020’s ass.
It started in January, when her takedown of the novel American Dirt went viral. Gurba’s review is scathing, thoughtful, and funny—a sweet spot that her prose often hits. In Tropics of Meta, Gurba said that the Oprah’s Book Club Pick “…tastes like its title,” sharing how the author, who has no Mexican ancestry, “…plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes … into her wannabe realist prose.”
Gurba’s review kicked off a long-overdue conversation about representation in the publishing industry. Why aren’t more underrepresented people allowed to tell their own stories, and do a much better job in the process?
The conversation around American Dirt also led to the formation of Dignidad Literaria, a grassroots movement that is fighting for better Latinx representation on bookshelves and in the overwhelmingly white publishing industry. Along with leading the conversation on social media, Gurba and her Dignidad Literaria co-founders David Bowles and Roberto Lovato met with publishing execs in New York to make their demands in person.
So, if you beef with Oprah in January, what do you do in February? Well, Gurba—a high school teacher—was placed on administrative leave by the Long Beach Unified School District for, as she Tweeted, “being ‘disruptive.’” That disruption? Speaking out online and helping students organize to fight back against a fellow teacher with a reputation for using violence and hate speech against students. The teacher in question is now on leave as well.
In addition to her accomplishments as an activist and educator, Gurba is a visual artist, co-host with MariNaomi of the AskBiGrlz podcast, a veteran of the Sister Spit spoken word and performance art tour, and the author of three books.
Gurba’s most recent book, the 2017 memoir Mean, is written with an energy that bursts off the page, using a brash sense of humor to trace Gurba’s coming-of-age as a queer Chicana artist. The humor and wordplay in Mean make her trenchant insights on sexual violence, racism, misogyny, and suffocating small-town life hit that much harder. The book is entertaining, thought-provoking, and a surefire conversation starter. Or, as Cheryl Strayd said in the New York Times, “Like most truly great books, Mean made me laugh, cry and think. Myriam Gurba’s a scorchingly good writer.”
In true pandemic style, Gurba and I did this interview via video chat on May 15, 2020, Myriam in a Highland Park garage, me in my View Park dining room. We discussed humor, speaking out, meanness, and much more. –Chris Terry
The Dumpies: Interview by Kevin Dunn
The Dumpies formed to tour the underexplored corners of the global punk scene. Well, underexplored by American standards. In the last three years, The Dumpies have travelled to parts of Asia, Africa, and South America that most Western bands never think of visiting, but which have vibrant, thriving, and vitally important punk scenes in their own right. Which gives The Dumpies a rich perspective on the power and potential of DIY punk. In return, audiences from South Africa to Vietnam have gotten to bask in the brilliance of their ramshackle approach to punk. Musically, imagine if Todd Congelliere had younger siblings who formed a band after a lifetime of being force-fed F.Y.P and Toys That Kill. Yeah, they’re that good.
I interviewed Tim, Mark, and Joel over Zoom in the early days of Covid-19. Sacia couldn’t be there because she was working her shift at the ER. A few days later, Tim got hit by a car before his own ER shift. He endured the two biggest fears ER workers have—being a trauma patient in their own ER and having all of their clothes cut off by coworkers. He’s recovered, doing fine, and they’re already talking about their next overseas tour. Their dedication to promoting underrepresented punks and punk scenes around the world is evident throughout this interview, and, in that spirit, we’re including part of an interview that Sacia did with We Did This, two DIY punk organizers in South Africa. –Kevin Dunn
Bad Moves: Interview by Donna Ramone
When crashing at a friend’s, I noticed a small, framed art piece above a mirror—“Queer punx run this town.” In the greater scheme of things, that statement was hard fought and not yet won, but here and now, it was hopeful, defiant, and true. Leading that same call out of Washington DC is Bad Moves, with their power pop catchiness, deep emotional lyrics, and personal fight to make every town more just, no matter who runs it.
Though we hope these interviews may transcend time, and be relevant and interesting to an audience in any version of our unwritten futures, we still exist as reactionary beings within a point of time. At this moment in time, we’re frozen by a virus. A pandemic ended all touring, every show, and we’re now struggling to create and connect without the foundational, collective way we know how.
Bad Moves is trying to adapt, like we all are. Their first full-length, Tell No One, was on regular rotation during my morning sprint to the bus stop, as I waited for the day they would tour. Their second LP Untenable was just released, and no one is sprinting or touring anywhere. Where there was once a packed living room of people singing along, there are now internet-hosted shows playing in our own empty living rooms. We’re sad, and things are harrowing. But that doesn’t mean we can no longer sing and dance. Bad Moves reminds us we can have both: talk about how shitty it is, while dancing our breaking hearts out. –Donna Ramone
Patrick Kindlon: Interview by Kurt Morris
My college roommate texted me a few months back, “You should check out Drug Church.” Even though I was the one that introduced him to hardcore and punk when we were eighteen, he’s stayed on top of music more than I have since then. His recommendations can be hit and miss, but the band name intrigued me and I was blown away. Their mix of Pixies riffs combined with Jawbreaker hooks, Quicksand post-hardcore, and lead singer Patrick Kindlon’s screaming vocals and sardonic lyrics made their album Cheer an instant favorite with me. I found even more goodness delving into their back catalog.
Drug Church has been around since the early 2010s and originally hails from upstate New York, although they live in various places around the U.S. now. In addition to Drug Church, Patrick Kindlon is also the vocalist for Self Defense Family (previously known as End Of A Year) and writes stories for comic books.
I reached out to Patrick hoping to get an interview and he wasn’t very responsive. When he finally got back to me I came to find out the reason: he had COVID-19 and was laid out for a while. When I finally caught up to him it was by phone while he was quarantined in an apartment in downtown L.A. –Kurt Morris
One Punk’s Guide to John Waters by Billups Allen
One rainy weekday, my friend and I went to a small Baltimore shop specializing in mid-century antiques called Hampden Junque. The store is next to a building adorned with a three-story-high pink flamingo. The pink flamingo acts as an unofficial mascot of the city. You’ll see them a lot, especially if you patronize small restaurants, junk shops, and bookstores. A flamingo is a nod to cult filmmaker John Waters, a Baltimore native who uses the city and its residents as the backdrop for his transgressive comedy films. His film Pink Flamingos (1972) is tag-lined as “an exercise in poor taste.” Its offenses include rape, murder, incest, cannibalism, cop killing, bestiality, necrophilia, and sadism. And yes, as I mentioned, it’s a comedy. The movie is loud. People scream their lines most of the time. It’s often kinda gross. Its conventions sink way below an acceptable level of filth and obnoxious behavior without being prurient. Most of the actors look like they are performing on a dare. Maybe even under duress. It triumphs in anarchy. It dares you to enjoy it.
I first saw Pink Flamingos at The Key Theater in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. during a twenty-fifth anniversary screening in 1997. I was a fledgling film buff, enough of one at the time to trust the theater’s taste in programming. I was adventurous enough to have sought out “cult” films with a reputation like The Toxic Avenger (1984) and Ken Russell’s Whore (1991). I had also seen Waters’s 1988 hit Hairspray and followed his career to Serial Mom (1994). Flamingos had a freshly minted MPAA rating of NC-17.
Yet the film’s sleazy reputation lurked in dark alleys for twenty-five years. I was actually scared of it when I sat down to watch it. I had no idea what to expect. The fear of the unknown prevailed: what could be ensconced in this film that would cause people to revile it for so long? The film contains a subversive atmosphere outside of the outrageous themes. The 16mm film stock and wobbly sound editing lend the film a documentary feel, as if the audience is privy to conversations they’re not supposed to be a part of. It seemed to me the characters could discover I was there and pull me into the story at any minute. It forced me to form likable alliances with despicable people. I laughed a lot. I definitely thought more about it when I left the theater. In the end, I wanted to be a part of it the same way I wanted to make the walk down a long and scary alley to get inside Washington D.C.’s Hung Jury Pub many years earlier to see my first live punk show. –Billups Allen
Donna Ramone reminisces about when conspiracy theories used to be fun. (instagram)
Jim Ruland encourages you to film to police. (instagram, website, twitter)
Sophia Zarders illustrates the virtual community of a pandemic. (instagram, website)
Sean Carswell knows that all work and no play make the Silver Fox a dull boy. (instagram)
Rev. Nørb is rubbing his thermometer against the heated bulb and looking for freedom. (instagram, website)
Jennifer Whiteford is reading for the revolution.
Elly Dallas blades through quarantine. (instagram)
Puro Pinche Poetry: Gritos Del Barrio (Edited by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and Eugenia Nicole (instagram)
having an addict for a parent makes you wonder
if adults can be trusted
then when you’re an adult, you can’t be trusted either.
RoQue Torres takes another brick out of the wall. (instagram)
Ben Snakepit works from home and taunts the facially follicly challenged. (instagram)
Rhythm Chicken marinates his brain in the barbecue sauce of minor celebrity. (instagram)
Art Fuentes and the shit pile of King Poo-Poo. (instagram, twitter)
Designated Dale survived Covid and tells the tale.
Jamaica Dyer sees the solidarity of BLM. (instagram)
And photos from the lovely and talented:
Halline Overby (instagram)
Chris Boarts Larson (instagram,facebook, website)
Rachel Murray Framingheddu (instagram, website)
This issue is dedicated to the memory of Little Richard.
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