Paranormal fiction and urban fantasy books are plentiful these days, but a large portion of them are vapid. Allie Beckstrom, the heroine in Devon Monk’s “Magic in the…” series, is a welcome contrast to the genre’s disappointingly passive Twilight female characters.   TV shows such as Buffy, Charmed, and So Weird made common the genre’s kick-ass female characters, and opened the door for urban paranormal’s expanding popularity. The burgeoning teen fiction/young adult market, born with the huge demographic hump of Gen Y, cemented gothy/vampy/werewolfy/witchy/faery stories as a permanent fixture at Barnes&Noble. Yet, as the genre boomed, its greatest strength declined in favor of the lowestRead More →

The Spice Girls represent “bustier feminism” in the 90s. It is no accident that Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas’s new book, opens with a discussion of this band. They represent the negation of feminism by commercial cooptation. The Spice Girls are the pinnacle of Girl Power and bustier feminism. They placed Girl Power, a frosted cupcake of an ambiguous message about feminism, front and center in the public imaginary at the turn of the century. According to Andi Zeisler’s Feminism and Pop Culture, the Spice Girls and the Girl Power they promoted were a “shorthand for a kind of a diet feminism that substituted consumer trappingsRead More →

Baton Rouge has a new radio station: 103.3. Well, not a new radio station, but an old station with a new format. The new format is “Music for Generation X.” The old format was “Divas.” It’s quite a Frankenstein’s monster of genres, playing everything from Nirvana and Guns-n-Roses, to C+C Music Factory, with pit stops at Salt – n- Peppa, and REM, not to mention mid to late 80s disco, hip hop, rock, and the weird, bad music everyone forgot existed. Funny, though, because I recognized every song, which demonstrates the way that music in the 80s and 90s was homogeneous despite the generic differencesRead More →

The latest Rolling Stone has an offensive retrospective on Madonna. Although Madonna’s iconic look is always the subject of dispute, lately, the media has treated her like a clown. The only explanation is that she’s over 50. Fifty year old women, they say, shouldn’t prance around on a stage and spread their legs. It’s unbecoming. Rolling Stone frequently participates in this mistreatment even though they’ve helped turn Madonna into an icon.  Many of their pictures deliberately show her in an unflattering light. In this retrospective, they do put a handful of pictures of her in her 50s, but they fill the pages with the youthful,Read More →

I have always loved kd lang. I liked her country-punk performance-art style back from Angel with a Lariat. She caught my eye in the 80s with her spiky hair, Buddy Holly glasses, and country-western wear; she was a genre-bending artist as much as a gender-bending one. Somewhere in my Texas life, where I was raised by a family of genuwine wannabe cowboy poets, I developed a secret, half-assed appreciation for the older fiddle-and-banjo country sound. Probably at the roller rink. I didn’t pay much attention to Lang’s music until Shadowland, though. I played the heck out of that CD because it harkened back to aRead More →

I can’t believe it’s been fifteen years since Liz Phair’s “Exile in Guyville.” I’ve been listening to the CD a lot lately for some reason and then FLOW posted a brief commentary on its impact fifteen years later. I really loved this album, but I didn’t find it as much of a feminist anthem as might have. But it’s fifteenth anniversary re-release reminds me that back in ’93 I was busy listening to Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge. There was a brief spike in popularity for women musicians in the late 90s with the Lilith Fair crew, but today the scene for me is bleak.Read More →

Ok, I just have to say I really like the song “Valerie.” The original is by the Zutons and it’s very catchy. But the Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse version is great fun. I love Amy Winehouse’s voice. She sounds so jazzy and authentic. The Washington Post says this about her: Aurally, she evokes comparisons to Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington, to Dusty Springfield and Nina Simone. Hers is a voice marinated in regret and pulsing with pain, yet soaked in snarkiness while fully rooted in the saccharine sensibilities of ’60s girl groups.Read More →

Here is what The Fish wrote back: we play evanescence, flyleaf, veruca salt, the cranberries, mazzy star, sneaker pimps…that’s the ones I can recall off the top of my head. Fiona Apple, Poe, Liz Phaire, Courtney Love (we play sometimes) are possibilities!check out THE CARDIGANS and the GATHERING! Of course I’ve heard of the Cardigans, but I haven’t heard of the gathering. Looking them up, I see they are a Dutch Metal band. Which of course raises the question of Kitty. We’ll see if my email made a difference. I’m gonna start checking out their playlist and seeing how often they play women.Read More →

I emailed The Fish at 104 the X today. Here is what I said: Why don’t you ever play any chick groups or groups with chick lead singers. The only one you play is Evanescence (over and over). Why don’t you play someone like Courtney Love, or Avril Lavigne, or Pink, or Cheryl Crow, Fiona Apple, Poe, Liz Phair, Joss Stone, L7. Seriously. I could go on and on. Where are the chick’s voices? If you want to mail The Fish too, his email is: thefish@104thex.com. I think on Monday I might call the programming director and lodge a formal complaint. Woo.Read More →