If you’ve seen the 2013 documentary The Punk Singer, you know Kathleen Hannawas stuck out at sea for a long time when she was creatively paralyzed and overwhelmed by the day-to-day challenges of Lyme disease. One of the harshest consequences of her illness was profound fatigue, something that severely limited her capacity to write or perform music. At times, she found it difficult to even speak.
Lucky for us– oh, and for Hanna too– she’s doing much better these days, so much so that even though her band The Julie Ruin, like, just released their new album, Hanna is making an appearance this week at a speaker store in Soho, of all places, called Sonos.
L to R: Medlyn, Hanna, Horovitz. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)
“I know a lot of you complain about new groups coming in and replacing you,” Ada Calhoun told the crowd of East Villagers and ex-Villagers gathered in Cooper Union’s Great Hall last night. “If you’re not a Lenape Indian, I just don’t have a lot of compassion.”
Behind her was a photo of the area in all of its bucolic splendor, 400 years ago – way before the Pinkberrys and the Red Mangos inspired the tongue-in-cheek title of her new hyperlocal history, St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street.
Everyone has a St. Marks story — my first was smoking free hash after getting ripped off on bunk X. “And since the middle of the twentieth century, kids from all over the country, and the world, who wanted to be writers or artists or do drugs have come to St. Marks Place to find one another and themselves.” So says St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Coolest Street, the dizzyingly fascinating mostly-oral history by Ada Calhoun, which launches Monday, Nov. 2, at Cooper Union with free beer from Brooklyn Brewery and a punk cover band—the St. Marks Zeroes—featuring Ad-Rock.
Kathleen Hanna manhandling a motorcycle on a photo shoot (Courtesy of Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill, and the Fales Library & Special Collections, New York University)
A couple weeks back, Bikini Kill reissued their very first demo tape from 1991, Revolution Girl Style Now, via the band’s own record label. You’re probably about dried up after drooling over those three previously unreleased tracks included on the reissue and all the killer old photos of Kathleen Hanna and the band that emerged across the internet as a nod to the occasion. But get ready to salivate anew, coz we did some time travel of our own and rifled around (as gently as possible) the Kathleen Hanna Papers.
Today Bikini Kill released a track from the forthcoming reissue of its demo album Revolution Girl Style Now. “Playground,” one of three songs left off the original demo, was recorded in early 1991 at the ABC House in Olympia, Washington, a day after one of the band’s first shows. The reissue, out Sept. 22, was mixed by Guy Picciotto of Fugazi. No, the band won’t be touring behind it (Bikini Kill broke up in 1997 and Kathleen Hanna went on to form Le Tigre and then The Julie Ruin) but plenty of other female-driven ’90s bands are back on the scene.
We’re big fans of Kathleen Hanna. We’re big fans of King Buzzo. So imagine our delight last night at Santos Party House when Buzzo and the Melvins brought out Teri Gender Bender, the firebrand frontwoman of opening act Le Butcherettes, for an amped up version of “Rebel Girl.” (Grunge trivia: Kathleen Hanna is the one who wrote “Kurt smells like teen spirit” on the walls of Kurt Cobain’s apartment, spurring the song title; Buzzo, who has covered “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with Leif Garrett, recently said the Cobain documentary Montage of Heck was 90% “total bullshit.” Discuss.) Watch it above and when you’re done, check out their cover of “Moving to Florida” by the Butthole Surfers, with former band member Jeff Pinkus on bass.
This week is your last chance to see The Punk Singer on the big screen, and you should definitely, definitely catch this cool doc about Kathleen Hanna – one of the most visible and outspoken figures of the Riot Grrl movement – before it leaves IFC Center and Nitehawk on Thursday.
The film’s archival footage of Hanna’s band Bikini Kill – not to mention its interviews with Kim Gordon, Hanna’s bandmates in Le Tigre and her husband Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys – filled us with so much nostalgia for the ‘90s (when Courtney Love was so, so much nuttier than she is now) that we were inspired to check out the Riot Grrrl Collection at NYU’s Fales Library. More →
Introducing “Reel Psyched,” wherein we tell you what we’re really excited to see in the theaters this week.
With the Lower East Side Film Festival in full swing in Manhattan and the Northside Festival’s film program popping off tonight in Brooklyn, it’s a good time to be a film buff.
At the L.E.S* Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday and continues through the weekend, offerings from up-and-coming directors are judged by a panel of guests including celebrities like Judah Friedlander (“30 Rock”) and Dan Janvey (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”). The audience favorite gets a $2,000 check from Vimeo (ahem, Bedford + Bowery’s video player of choice). More →