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Sunday, January 5, 2014

best of 2013 by mimi thi nguyen

The 2013 standout releases for me include the 45-track survey of Portland’s all-female punk band Neo Boys, called Sooner or Later (K Records); the West London anarcha-feminist art-punk band Androids of Mu’s Blood Robots (1980), reissued by Water Wing Records; Dark Entries’ compilation from Icelandic post-punk Q4U called Q1 Deluxe Edition (1980-1983); the dreamy Elaines 12” from Brooklyn’s post-punk Household; The Younger Lovers’s latest bouncy LP Sugar in My Pocket (Southpaw) and of course, Shopping’s Consumer Complaints LP (Milk), featuring the ever-amazing Rachel Aggs from Trash Kit.

Nyky Gomez may be one of my favorite people I met in 2013. During the week I was on the POC Zine Project tour this October, we shared inappropriately timed jokes and over eleven hours’ worth of trivia and revelations on the drive from Los Angeles to Oakland (Nyky drove the entire stretch, with me co-piloting). This bad bitch bruja runs the brand-new Brown Recluse Zine Distro, boasting a catalog made up of zines written mostly by indigenous peoples and people of color. BCZD is currently fundraising to help support itself, and to furthermore make the entire catalog available to prisoners for free, and to send one copy of every zine in the catalog to existing zine libraries or those starting zine libraries nationally and internationally, especially in indigenous communities and communities of color. Nyky also does the zine Skinned Heart, and her latest issue is by far one of my zine favorites in recent memory. Buy everything from her.

From two of my other favorite zinesters, Anna Vo and Osa Atoe put out the interview-heavy fourth issue of Fix My Head in Fall 2013, just in time for the second POC Zine Project tour. This issue of FMH, like the last, documents punx of color in scenes all over the globe, historically and contemporaneously. This issue includes interviews with Mars from Aye Nako, Textaqueen, Melting Pot Massacre, Daighila, and the amazing Taquila Mockingbird about the early days of punk in Los Angeles. I have to say, however, that Osa’s interview with Golnar Nikpour is my runaway favorite interview. Golnar talks about her all-female QPOC hardcore band In School, her time coordinating Maximum Rocknroll, and her genius thoughts on “punk studies.”

Rosi writes Not Straight Not White Not Male, a text-heavy (literally, there is no layout) zine about being a genderqueer Vietnamese punk kid in Southern California – a zine after my own heart, sniff sniff. The zine was published in December 2012, but I read it in 2013.

Margaret Thatcher died. All our enemies from the ‘80s are dead!

I did a lot of great readings this year, but my favorite has to be the Guillotine Press release of PUNK at WORD Bookstore in June 2013. PUNK is the product/process of a years-long conversation between Golnar Nikpour and me about punk (of course) and race, politics, and historiography. I got to read with Jenny Zhang, a brilliant poet and essayist I first met from the blog Fashion for Writers. Jenny and I both read pieces inspired by Wendy Davis’s all-day filibuster of the Texas State legislature against some of the most restrictive anti-abortion proposals in the United States (which ended in the wee hours of the morning of the release). Novelist and all-around star of smart shit Sarah McCarry, who publishes the Guillotine chapbook series, hosted the release and started us off with a champagne toast to Davis.

My graduate school friend Steven Lee sent me a video of Helen Slater from The Legend of Billie Jean, one of my favorite movies of all time, saying, “Fair is fair, Mimi!” I totally cried with happiness.

In December 2013, I co-organized (with Ruth Nicole Brown, Karen Flynn, and Fiona I.B. Ngô) the Hip Hop and Punk Feminisms conference at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. We wanted to put hip hop and punk feminisms in conversation, especially since all the “third wave feminism” retrospectives seem to somehow ignore the emergence of hip hop feminisms concurrent with riot grrrl feminisms in the same decade. (From our statement: “This symposium stages productive conversations across hip hop and punk feminisms, including questions about the genealogies and as well multiple origin stories for hip hop and punk across diasporas and the globe (against a wholly distinct and discrete genealogy, or singular origin story, for each); about the theories of aesthetics and value that emerge from hip hop and punk cultures, including forms of immanent critique as well as political polemic that imagine futurity or negativity, and the uses and challenges to them from women of color feminisms; and about the ephemeral and haptic qualities of hip hop and punk performances, including the events, actions, and encounters between bodies that shape social and cultural formations within hip hop and punk cultures.”) The highlight for me has to be hosting the intensely powerful, and fiercely generous, Alice Bag in my sleepy cornfield-cornered part of Illinois, and otherwise bringing together some of my favorite zinesters –Nyky, Osa, and Anna—in my college town. Osa and Fiona also played with Alice for an electrifying performance, and may actually become a real band, so I feel I accomplished something this year.

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