underground since'89

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tobi vail P.O. Box 2572 Olympia, WA 98507 USA

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

o p i n i o n s


So...I have a lot of opinions and am open about sharing them.

For awhile I was sharing them here pretty freely. Then I pissed some people off and I took a step back to think. I spent the past few months thinking a lot and was about to start posting some writing again when a good friend of mine let me know that some younger women are still mad about me expressing opinions here that they disagree with.

You know what I have to say about that?

Disagreement is actually good.


The idea that I should refrain from saying something because it is somehow not the 'correct' feminist perspective someone thinks I should have is TOTAL BULLSHIT.

I have opinions. They probably differ from your own on occasion. This is where I write them down.

SO WHAT? I am not asking anyone to AGREE with me. I am not asking for your approval or your permission. You know that, right?

Jigsaw is part self-expression, part artist statement, part spread-the-word, part incite-a-riot, part asking questions because-I-don't-know-the-answers-to-them-yet, part whatever else I happen to be using it for at any given particular moment.

The Jigsaw Underground has ALWAYS primarily been about trying to make something happen by questioning "the way things are", asking, "do things really HAVE to be this way or can we create something different" and trying to figure out a way to do that. I try to ground my critique in an anti-capitalist framework, often bringing economics to the realm of aesthetics. This can be troubling, even to me. Sometimes I just want a pretty picture to be a pretty picture. But other times an aesthetically grotesque indy-rock band (or film, or trend or incident) incites a flury of fury in my heart and I have to go sit in my room and listen to I Hate the Rich by the DiLs until I calm down. This leads to Bad Brains, which leads to Black Flag, which leads to Black Sabbath. Pretty soon it's back to Mecca Normal, The Melvins, Throbbing Gristle, Suicide, Chrome, Flipper, the Raincoats and PUNK ROCK Patti Smith. (YEAH!) On a good day this leads to the practice space or basement or to the typewriter, transforming aesthetic hatred into art-making. On another kind of day it might just lead to a RANT such as the one you are reading now and then that eventually leads to something else--the ripple effect, a message in a bottle, fingers crossed someone finds it and it means something to them.

Doing all this is based on what it meant to me to discover the Rites of Spring record in 1985 or Quadrophenia on tape in 6th grade, or Sharon Cheslow's interview with Nation of Ulysses in Interrobang! before I had ever heard or heard of them. These things, and so many more (See Comet Gain's Ballad of a Mix Tape) prove to me that art matters. Creating beauty out of despair and finding each other is what keeps us alive. Writing Jigsaw is part of how I do that.


So yeah...another thing Jigsaw has always been about is PROCESS.

I don't just write shit when I have it all figured out. I often write shit when I am FREAKING THE FUCK OUT and trying to get a grip on WHY. I guess maybe the interactive nature of fanzines on the internet can make that a little weird sometimes, but, you know, so can ZINES that are xeroxed.

I mean, I met most of the people I am closest to through writing this zine. It led to starting every band I've been in for the past 20 years in one way or another, to every major life event I've experienced. Jigsaw is something I made to share my perspective, to give myself a voice in this world. It's how I wrote myself into existence. How I made the transformation from being an OBJECT that was acted upon into a SUBJECT with a fully realized VOICE...how I became an active participant in the world...I'm not going to shut up. There's too much at stake.


Lately sexism has been bumming me out and I've been trying to talk about that a little and been questioned a lot in a 'please prove that sexism exists kind of way' and I have found myself quoting old Bikini Kill lyrics and looking to old zines. Like "dear idiot, please refer to article 9, page 2 written by yours truly in 1991". I don't want to get stuck trying to explain that, yes, sexism does exist and women are oppressed by virtue of their gender. I don't want to have to make a logical convincing argument to a jerk I don't give two shits about.

I also have been somewhat alienated by the current state of boutique-indy rock or "D.I.Y. culture" that is consumer-driven and into surface-y type concerns. I don't want to just say I like everything that offends me. No. I want to talk about why I don't like shit and what is pissing me off. This is where I want to do that. If you don't like it, please start your own band, i.e. write your own fanzine! Or heck, just write me a letter or a comment and we can have a conversation. Is that really so scary?


A fanzine is just a TOOL. Think of it like an amp you plug your guitar into. It can get you from Point A to Point B, it gives you a platform, a means of amplification, a forum. An OPINION is something to EXPRESS, something to USE for FUEL. Like electricity for the amp.

We don't have to have it all figured out before we open our mouths, right? We are not perfect. We fumble, we fall down, we hurt each other's feelings. This is not A FINAL DRAFT. Why pretend and hide the aesthetic collisions?


I will not tow The Party Line!

On that note, lets hear some old school Olympia jams:


whatwewantisfree said...

you rule...
i wrote my next column kind of about this, about being exhausted at 3am and having to explain why women can;t be sexist towards men, about how interrogating punk is the reason i am here, i don't wanna sit back and watch.
biscuit in drag=on the cover of the next issue of MRR

CO said...

yes. the main reason i got into punk ( became a punk rather then someone who listened to it)apart from the music, was the political and argumentative nature of it. if that's taken away and its reduced to a lifestyle-- how does it differ from another form of commodification? why should i give a fuck?

Shannon Drury said...

I admit, I'm shocked that anyone coming to your site would be the type to argue about whether patriarchy exists. I guess that means there's a whole new generation of assholes out there who need to learn the delicate art of consciousness raising. Or something.

Working in a legend said...

Tobi! Good to see that you're back and better than ever. That makes me so happy. And inspired. You're like one of the coolest persons I know and this text is fucking amazing.

And we still wanna interview you for our zine!

Unknown said...

Reading this made me feel so much better...this is part of the reason blogs are good! They are relevant, get the gears turning...The people around me are always giving me sideways glances when I say something they don't agree with, instead of engaging in a beneficial discussion. It's frustrating when ego becomes a fascist dictator out to squelch the learning process...ah, well, I love this, very well put!

elDave said...

I think that you don't have to explain anything about feminism, that isn't the same that sexism, some people are jackass from nature, it's impossible to talk without problems. THIS FREEDOM THAT WE CALLED "PUNK" or anything else SAVED OUR LIVES.

Anonymous said...

I love you for this. It redeems my faith in a way that few things do nowadays. You shaped my life so profoundly by what you and your friends/scene/generation did. I became a teen zine making home recording DIY-till-I-die girl thanks to you all, and that's still my core. I am turning 30 this year and I seek ways to do right by you, the distant angels that gave me something I wanted to be part of.