to Utter Coolness, Now Leaving
did I miss the boat? I'm not really sure how any of this happened. I as
downtown tonight at a bar that would, should, could have TOTALLY been
my scene. Dark lighting, big comfy couches and chairs, lots of red velvet
in the decor... the works. OK, so, the music left something to be desired.,
but in the grand scheme of things, I should have had a good time at this
place. But alas, no, I didn't. Y'know why? Because it was overrun by frat
boys, lounge-lizard-wanna-bes, poofy Jennifer Aniston lookalikes, and
pseudo-Goth chicks who broke out the long flowy clothes for the venture
out tonight. Now, fifteen years ago, this would've been a completely different
crowd. Trouble is, fifteen years ago, I was nine.
This isn't my only beef, either-- this whole fucking gentrification
of the city. I'm thinking it's so much broader and much more insidious
than that, and it pisses me the fuck off. See, when I was in my teen years,
I live in a tiny little upstate New York town where everyone pretty much
dressed the same, listened to the same music, and shopped at one mall
together. There was no diversity, let alone the concept of non-conformity--
I didn't know such a thing existed, except on TV. It just wasn't the way
things were run, and although I felt discontent, it was some sort of mild
ache that I couldn't put my finger on. My big rebellions in high school
were things like listening to jazz (gasp!), joining the theater and band
(freak!), and volunteering for extra parts at the local opera company
(yikes!). Yeah, sure, no big whoop, right? To me, they were my only signifiers
of individuality in the little terrarium I lived inside of.
So, I got a little older, and maybe a little wiser. At least a
little more daring. I moved to New York City after college (like half
the free world) and found a place where I could actually do the shit I'd
always read about or seen in indie movies. I met people who did that stuff,
and had always had the balls to do it. They listened to bands like Fishbone
(before ska went all pop), Ani Difranco (before being lesbian/bi was chic),
and people I'd never even heard of. They dressed the same way they'd dressed
for the last ten or fifteen years. Yes! I'd struck gold! Well, I thought
so anyways. Here, staring me right in the face, was the opportunity to
finally dye my hair purple, pierce my nose, wear funkyass freak-out clothes,
be out there, be wiiiiiiiild.
Just like every other friggin' girl in the city.
I'm ten years too fucking late to be unique.
And another thing: I read a lot of feminist magazines now. A lot
of them have biographies of young feminists, talking about how they felt
growing up, what they went through, and how they "found" feminism.
I have read so many articles talking about how the woman felt so alone
until they went to their first riot grrrl meeting, or read their first
zine, or whatever other semi-community-oriented thing they discovered
in their town or city. Y'know what? There was no riot grrrl meeting in
Binghamton when I was 13, 15, or 17. There weren't any zines, and the
public Internet didn't exist. I didn't live near any hip independent coffeehouses
(even now, there's only two good ones, and one of them closes at like,
9:00 pm)... nothing. We had the mall, we had Denny's, and we did the best
we could. It's not fair, not at all (I know, life isn't fair), because
if I'd had even the concept of a zine, I'd have put out an issue
a week. But no, n-n-n-no-- I had a journal, in which I wrote about boys
and arguments with my mom, and I pretended to be an intellectual by feigning
a tremendous interest in Shakespeare. The only thing really remotely feminist
thing I did was write a critique of "Taming of the Shrew" for
my tenth grade English class. I talked some good shit, sure, but I didn't
have half the resources those other women in the magazines talk about.
Fast forward to today. The Now. Now, I see the stuff I always wanted
to be all over the place. (Imagine my dismay at seeing my favorite fashions
on display at the Gap.) Now, I hear swing all over the place, but I swear
to God, I've been listening to it since like, eighth grade. Now, swanky
dark surreal lounges are overrun with guidos and frat-boys smoking big
fat cigars and ordering Dewar's as if they actually liked drinking
Now's my chance to be just like everybody else... again!