Look! I’m in bed with Susie Bright!

September 10th, 2009 | Uncategorized

1. Well, at any rate she made me this amazing pair of pajamas. Yes, the statuesque sexpert, all around sex-positive goddess, erotica anthologist, and founder of On Our Backs just felt moved to sew me some flannel PJs, as a gift. She let me pick out the flannel pattern and I chose these grizzly bears. I am inexpressibly moved by this kind gesture.

If you don’t frequent Susie’s blog already, check it out. Also, she has an awesome audio show that’s actually called In Bed with Susie Bright, on audible.com. You can check out some free episodes here. The one with Betty Dodson is particularly good.

2. Remember the dickwad congressman who shouted “You lie!” at the president during last night’s rather moving health care speech? You can make a donation to his opponent here.

3. And look! My brother and his wife got in their local newspaper for keeping their kids out of school to hear Obama’s talk to schoolkids–which the local schools had decided not to play live to students on Tuesday.

107 Responses to “Look! I’m in bed with Susie Bright!”

  1. Ruth in RI says:

    Happy September 10!

  2. Ellen O. says:

    What a nice birthday present. Happy 49th. I hope it’s a year of exploding creative steered by good concentration and progress.

    Ah, “dickwad.” I haven’t heard that term of endearment in many a day.

    Terry Gross (Fresh Air) had a guest on tonight who talked about the rise (again) of the militant extreme right. Many believe that Obama will round them up and put them in concentration camps. Odd, some of us worried about Bush doing that to the liberals.

    Or maybe he did.

  3. S. R. says:

    You and Susie Bright are my heroes of the moment. Those pajamas are amazing beyond comprehension.

    Now I’m starting to visualize an encounter with you and that image of Tin Tin in the background…

  4. Ready2Agitate says:

    You are ready for fall in VT, AB!

    Thx for reconnecting me to Susie Bright’s work – it’s been a long time (like 15 years) since I read her/knew what she was up to (where *does* the time go?).

  5. laura says:

    Thumbs up for your brother and his wife! That said, it would give me the shivers if in my country a politician (ANY politician) would do a back-to-school speech the first day of schools and it was broadcast to all schools.

  6. laura says:

    You look wonderful in your pijama. Have I mentioned I received the art and I am unexpressibly happy and grateful?

  7. Antoinette says:

    My sister made me a flannel gown — it has tiny little flowers instead of grizzly bears but the fabric was my sister’s choice, and it’s still warm & toasty. And all the better for hovering over the heating vent in emulation of a dirigible after shoveling out the driveway.

    Happy September 10th to you, AB. Long may you run!

  8. Aunt Soozie says:

    Who knew Sexy Susie made flannel pjs? I guess it’s okay as long as you have a lacy thong on under there…

  9. Yes, it’s all very funny, the reversal of fortunes. I remember being amazed that Democrats could keep any kind of composure at all while listening to Bush address them.

    Yet they did.

  10. I woke up feeling bad about using the expression “dickwad.” Especially in a post where I was talking about sex-positivity. I try in general not to use genital-related curse words. In public anyway. Anyhow, now I can’t change it because Ellen has already referenced it.

  11. Calico says:

    I love the pajamas! They look so Autumn and cozy, and they go with your office colors too!

    Some of you may be interested in signing a petition on behalf of Alan Turing – see link in article below.

  12. Andrew B says:

    Alison, you are utterly terrifying. You look like you could eat a baby. I’m sure Focus on the Family are trembling in their loafers. (And the Phelpses are trembling in their strait jackets.)

    Good for your brother and sister-in-law. I was disappointed to see the article refer to your sister-in-law as “Mrs. Bechdel”. “Mrs.”, which you really didn’t see for about twenty years there except in reference to antique socialites, seems to be making a comeback.

    I don’t think I’d be willing to give up genital-related curses, as it would mean giving up “schmuck”.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Alison, you should use that picture on the jacket of your next book!!

  14. --MC says:

    Yeah, happy birthday one day late. You know, if somebody wishes you a late birthday like this, that means you can celebrate it for one more day.

  15. grrljock says:

    It’s the AB version of Where the Wild Things Are!

    The Spike Jonze-directed movie is coming out soon, of course. Saw a too-long trailer of it recently, and I didn’t think it was magical (but maybe I was just being curmudgeonly that day).

  16. Ellen Orleans says:

    After reading the initial post, I was curious about the word “dickwad.” Seems it is derived from dick-weed, originally British? (It appeared in the movies “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “First Wives Club,” back in the 1980s)

    I wonder what it refers to? Is “weed” or “wad” here equivalent to smegma? Smegma is actually a healthy genital lubricant, but I guess it is seen as dirty by the sex-fearing mainstream.

    Seems we could use Susie Bright’s insights here.

    All that said, excellent pajamas.

  17. M says:

    I just read your book Fun Home, down here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I was overwhelmed with the sensation that, like Willa Carter said, “there are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” Congratulations, you acchieved to tell a wonderfull and very universal story and did not hide any sort of feelings when doing that. One could fell your anger sometimes. Sometimes one could fell your lonelyness. Sometimes tears came to my eyes.

  18. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ellen O (#16)

    I didn’t realize dickweed was a Britishism. I had a Chinese colleague who was born in Hong Kong, she came to the US as a teenager. She often had the strangest malapropisms, which I ascribed to her smush of US and British English with Chinese. She once called someone a dickweed, and we all rolled on the floor laughing, partly because the guy deserved it, and partly because we thought it was one of her strange language things. Now all these years later I find out it really is a British vulgarity. Hmmmmph.

    I think the funniest malapropism she ever uttered was the time she was trying to use an idiomatic equivalent to “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” in our weekly staff meeting. In her version, it came out as “There’s more than one way to f*** a chicken.” We couldn’t stop laughing, especially after her officemate turned to her and said, “Really? I didn’t know chickens turned you on. Guess what I brought for lunch today?”

  19. M says:

    By the way, I ended up with a peacefull smile which I desire you will keep for life. Ah, and I loved your pajamas!!!

  20. Last night I shot a grizzly bear in my pajamas…

    Calico #11, THANK YOU for the link to the petition about Alan Turing, one of my heroes. Turns out, Gordon Brown, British PM, has now issued an official apology for the way Alan Turing was treated. I’ve just written a post about it that will go up at Group News Blog and my blog at 2:00 CST. Apologies won’t bring him back to life, but it will affect future accounts about the man’s extraordinary life.

  21. vanillagrrl says:

    Andrew B (#9) – I learn something new every day!

    I donโ€™t think Iโ€™d be willing to give up genital-related curses, as it would mean giving up โ€œschmuckโ€.

  22. bean says:

    maybe others will disagree, but i believe that those in posession and enjoyment of their own penises (of any variety) have the choice of whether to be dicks or not. if the shoe fits…

    and, yes, many yiddishisms would be lost without the ability to reference male genitalia, and i’m not prepared to give them up just yet.

  23. bean says:

    on the other hand, i do sometimes feel bad calling someone an asshole, because, well, we all have one, but those who seem to most especially enjoy them are most often gay men. so i think “asshole” may be somewhat homophobic, in a way that “dick” is not.

  24. Antoinette says:

    Bean #23: I feel bad calling someone an asshole because assholes serve a purpose. Frequently the people we call assholes do not.

  25. Kat says:

    Happy late birthday Alison1

    The thing about insults is that they’re, well, insulting. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
    I recently excised the word “lame” from my vocabulary (which, given my generation’s affinity for it, has been hard), and it got me thinking about all those other words that insult not only the person who deserved insulting, but also a whole group of people who have nothing to do with it….

    I’m looking for words that express my frustration/anger/hate for a person without demeaning some unsuspecting portion of the population.

    It never occurred to me that “dickwad” should be avoided, though.

  26. Kat says:

    oops, that should be an exclamation point

  27. Kate L says:

    Thanks to everyone in the previous post who wished me happy birthday! I feel bad that I trod on A.B.’s birthday, though! When I saw her fierce pajama pose photo today, I felt like she was telling me, “Grrr! It’s MY birthday!” So, happy b-day. Alison!

    Also, a well-meaning friend gave me a flannel nightgown, coplete with little flowers on it. I’ve worn it a few times.

  28. Ian says:

    Belated b’day wishes AB!

    Btw, dickwad, or its variant dickweed, may well be British, but I can’t ever remember hearing anyone actually say it before.

    One birthday present may be that Republican senator who talked dirty about an affair into a live microphone who resigned. I think the best bit was that he admitted to talking about the women, but refused to admit to actually having the affair, even though he’d already boasted about sleeping with two women in the recording! Politicians truly live in a completely different reality to the rest of us, don’t they?

    PS the PJs are completly fantabulosa! I’m very jealous.

  29. Kelli says:

    @Ian #28: Fan-tabula-rasa? ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Renee S. says:

    RE: Dickwad/Dickweed

    I’ve heard both used here in Michigan. More often Dickweed than Dickwad.

    Of course, Dickhead is more often heard than the above Dick references here in Ann Arbor.

  31. Ian says:

    @Kelli #29: I’m afraid I had to look that one up. Just to refresh my memory of course … ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m not sure I subscribe to the concept, but yep, politicians seem to develop/employ one, usually after having been found out. Strange that, isn’t it?

    @Renee S #30: Dickhead! That was the commonest term of abuse I heard growing up here in Blighty. That, and its variations such as “nob/knob” and “nob/knobhead”. Very often pronounced without the “h”, i.e. nob-ed. Strangely, you didn’t hear many people use just plain “dick”.

    Oh, down what strange paths does my stream of consciousness takes me?

  32. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie (#20)

    “…how he got in my pajamas I don’t know. Then I shot an elephant. I tried to remove his tusks, but that’s not so easy to do. Of course, in Alabama the Tuscaloosa, but that’s entirely irrelephant to what I was talking about…”

    – Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding, the African Explorer

    (aka Groucho Marx in “Horsefeathers”)

  33. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    You must be exremely fond of that cord of firewood, AB — there you are in those flannel pajamas standing in front of the cord in Susie’s blog, looking completely adorable and cute as a bug. Cuter than most, in fact.

  34. Ginjoint says:

    Happy belated birthdays to Kate and Alison!

    And also sympathies to meldyke. *hug*

    Apologies for my tardiness – I’ve been busy with a new place, plus a new baby. No, not human – feline. He’s 8 weeks old and I found him stuck in a window well last week. He was crying so loudly I heard him from across the street and five stories up! (Well, six technically, since he was in a basement window well.) He is a maniac, and my 2 three-year-old cats are reluctantly adjusting. You know how cats have all that impenetrable socioeconomicpsycho-drama between themselves.

    I use genital-related curse words. I even use “cunt”, though rarely. “Dick”, “cunt”, “fuck” – there’s something onomatopoeic about them that’s really verbally satisfying. I know, I know, take away my feminist credentials.

  35. Martha says:

    As I said on Susie’s blog, Alison + Susie + Grizzly Bear Pajamas = Uberbliss. Yoooge fan of you and Susie. And now, bear pajamas (hm…calling Stephen Colbert….)!

  36. Lisa S. says:

    Cute PJs. I wouldn’t characterize them as sex-positive exactly, but looking back, all those Lanz nightgowns didn’t act as much of deterrent in college.

  37. meldyke says:

    @Ginjoint (#34): Thanks for the hug… it helps. And congrats on your new kitten! We have a newish puppy named Lola (she’s now 4 months old and seems so big!)…. and despite the craziness, aren’t they just the best?

    As for genital cursewords, I do use them… but save “cunt” for cursing when it hurts so good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  38. Ginjoint, the Posse will be pulling up shortly. Please remove your credentials from your billfold and have them ready for seizure.


    So, as a result of the above, I went on a search to find out if dickweed was a perfectly harmless plant whose first syllable had lent itself to association with other meanings, and then the transmogrification of “weed” to “wad” added to the suggestability. My first Google hit was the Urban Dictionary, and the array of associated epithets preceding definitions gave me a jolt.

    I, too, try to squeeze from my vocabulary profanity or defamation which is creatively precise; hopefully humorous as well as shocking. I admit I have double standards for gender-based terms, in the same way that I do for race or class — cracker and redneck, for instance, are perjoratives based on eating poor people’s food and working in the fields for a living, respectively, and that seems far worse than calling someone a snob. “Whitey” is far less offensive than non-white racial terms. It’s because of the societal power arrayed behind the insult, and I think that’s fair.

    And, at most of the progressive blogs I frequent, using the C word will get you banned, not just have your comment deleted — akin to the N word.

    There does seem to be a powerful anti-gay undertone to a lot of the negative terms used for male genitalia, though, doesn’t there? As if the only way you can really put down a guy is to compare him to a not-guy (women, lesbians/gays, trans, etc.)

    On top of that, while we definitely live in an overwhelmingly phallocentric, dick-goes-in-a-hole = sex culture — to the detriment of our connection with nature, which is rather more vulvaesque, in my opinion — most of the straight men I’ve talked with are secretly afraid their genitals are ugly, inadequate, and unpleasant to women. To be honest, I’ve heard such expressed by a majority of straight women. (I’m reminded of the disgust on Maya Rudolph’s face in the SNL short “Dick in a Box” when Samberg is rubbing his pseudo-phallus on her face — the humor in that moment was because, porn aside, most women don’t really want that thing near their mouths.)

    This aversion may not be specifically anti-male, but a reaction to (a) how we as women are not given equal power in defining what’s erotic and (b) our Western antipathy to oral sex in general. When I used to hang out with drag queens, who supposedly revered women enough to want to be one, the anti-female-genitalia commentary was incessant and worse than I’ve ever heard from even troglodyte straight men.

    Except for vaginas, of course. In the 70’s were were briefly able to step away from the equation of Woman with Vagina. Now it’s back everywhere, often strongest in so-called queer discourse. We are once again reduced to a hole, because that is what phallocracy requires. Honestly, anytime I read a thread where that equivalency or emphasis on vagina is going on, I know the folks talking are not Feminist in the way I comprehend it.

    To quote Judy Grahn: “I’n not a hole / I’m a whole mountain.”

    But even if male conditioning (whoever has adopted it or failed to exorcise it) as it is rammed down our throats has created a justification for rejection of penis as objects of power, I don’t think it’s a liberation step forward to make fun of them in retaliation. Especially if men and boys are subconsciously aware the power being accorded their parts is utterly bogus.

    So, unless I absolutely mean that someone is thinking with their dick, I’ll avoid using “dickhead” and all its equivalents. Yiddish — not so much, because the terms as they are used out here in goyisha wonderbread land have been adulterated to something not actually related to phalli. But if my audience is conversant with Yiddish and Jewish culture, then yes, I’ll hit the books and find another Yiddishism, there’s plenty to go around.

    And, when really stuck, I scroll through the Shakespearean Insult Generator — I can’t give you a URL because a second one will send this comment to the cornfield, but I’ve referenced it before and Googling will turn it up. Even there, I have to usually do some etymological back-checking, because there are nasty roots lurking everywhere in languages evolved in a patriarchy.

    And, HoH, I was beginning to wonder if either nobody watched Marx Brothers movies, the joke was too puny to deserve a response, OR folks actually thought I went on nocturnal bearhunts and were being too polite to register their horror.

  39. Ready2Agitate says:

    Maggie, your writing is exquisite.

  40. The Cat Pimp says:

    Belated happy birthday, Alison. Love the jammies. They look very warm and rustic and go very well with that hat.

  41. Kate L says:

    Ready2Agitate (#39) Yes, Maggie is as good a writer as any media celebrity anyone I’ve been reading. Oh, and Maggie (#38), I think its a mistake to think that drag queens want to be women. It’s male-to-female transsexuals who want that. Drag queens are another part of the transgender spectrum.

    Hey, am I the only one who’s noticed that the tens of dozens of anti-Obama demonstrators now being televised wandering around in DC are mainly middle-aged, overweight and white? Also, this morning in the space of half-an-hour of watching cable news television coverage of this epic event I noticed that Faux News’ estimate of the crown size grew from “thousands” to “tens of thousands” to “hundreds of thousands”. The angry white men still did a pretty poor job of filling up the public spaces they were occupying in the national capitol.

    Hairball (previous post). Sandy and I did nothing special on my recent birthday, unless you count my having to steam clean my dog’s pee-pee off my sofa (!)

  42. anna says:

    Those are some great pjs!

  43. Dr. Empirical says:

    HoH (32) That would be Animal Crackers, not Horsefeathers. He’s Quincy Wagstaff in Horsefeathers.
    “I’d Horse-whip you if I had a horse!”

    My favorite guitar player, Adrian Belew* is occasionally in a band called The Bears. Alison’s pose above is entertainingly similar to the official Bears High-Sign. Her hands just need to be a little higher.

    *That’s right- my favorite guitar player is male. Deal with it. Number two is Etta Baker if that helps.

  44. Well, let me qualify my comment about drag queens to place it in an era and location: This was the mid 1970s, on a college campus in a relatively small city, and a fair number of them came from rural areas. Their maturity, the times and the region do make a difference, and I recognize that, don’t generalize to now.

    But — these did folks insist on female pronouns and took offense if they were called male in any way. Which was/is their right.

    To put it in context, in the same town was a women’s university with a small population of lesbians (whom I also hung out with) who dressed in male attire and used male pronounes for themselves and each other. They, too, referred to women frequently in very derogatory terms, using words we’d find abhorrhent. Several of them that I knew beat their girlfriends — I mean, one broke their girlfriend’s arm because the girlfriend was supposedly looking at someone else across the room.

    I felt rescued from both cultures by feminism and the profound truth that Biology is not destiny. We can choose our identity and behavior without regard to physiology or, more importantly, to the lies about which roles are available. It’s not subversive, IMHO, for women to adopt male gender roles as these college students did, or vice versa.

    Although they, all of us, were doing the best we could in terrifying times.

    My first glimpse out of these narrow corridors came from a brilliant, hilarious Radical Faerie who insisted I buy an Alix Dobkin album and go with him to Austin, where those scary, serious, extremely attractive political dykes lived. That, plus all the extraordinary women’s writing that was pouring forth from offset presses.

    Billie (how he spelled his name) convinced me to volunteer with him as a speaker on lesbian/gay life and rights for small North Texas community colleges. We’d show up for classes of mostly adults trying to get degrees after work and dinner, usually the first out queers they’d seen, and answer their questions. I would never have done it without Billie’s courage right beside me, but sisters, let me tell you, it was an extraordinarily enriching experience to face that fear and move through it.

    Our first time was in North Richland Hills, which is a bastion of Bible Belt conservatism. We introduced ourselves, and of course the first question we got — I got — was how did my lover and I decide which one was the man? After I stumbled my way through that one, a guy in a suit asked how did we, you know, DO it?

    I would have refused to answer, but Billie stood up and went to the blackboard. He had a talent for drawing, and not just an expert’s knowledge of male anatomy but a passionate love for the subject (natch). That class was in dumbstruck silence as he covered a board with sketches of how he and Jim, you know, did it — detailed, unexaggerated, and accompanied by narration full of terms I’d never heard. I learned worlds, and Billie didn’t try to conceal the chubbie he had when he slid back into his desk with a grin.

    I didn’t dare emulate his breathtaking coverage, but I did get across some basic information about the size and actual location of cllitoral tissue — a lesson I’ve continued giving ever since, mostly to astonished straight women.

    The teacher who had invited us got up and erased the board, and class was let out early. She didn’t ask us back for other classes, but our reputation was out there and we were a popular duo in that speaking circuit.

    I miss the fuck out of Billie. He died of AIDS in the late 1980s.

  45. Ian says:

    @Maggie #38: I have no idea what you look like, but the picture your writing puts into my mind’s eye is of a woman I can just imagine going nocturnal bear hunting if that were your wont. Although now my mind has transformed that into you riding on horseback, chasing rotund and hairy men in leather caps, chaps, harnesses and genital piercings through the Castro.

  46. Kat says:

    While we’re on the topic of birthdays (sorta), my grandma turns 94 today.

    She doesn’t consider herself a feminist icon (she doesn’t consider herself an icon of any kind, but I beg to differ), but her life has shown that she is:
    Only woman in her graduating class from the U. of Maryland medical school, staunchly holding on to her own religion and identity after marrying a Mormon, working in the family planning clinic for the Alameda County health department, member (for a while anyway) of NOW, and now defender of gay rights.

    I’m so impressed that my 94 year old grandma is still thinking and evolving and undoing the homophobia and racism that are so prevalent in her generation (and family).

    Yay for Yiayia (or Grandma Betty, or Grandma Hall as she is alternately known)!!

    Boyfriend and I are just about to go and have pizza with her.

  47. Kate L says:

    (Maggie, #45)

    Sorry to hear about your friend Billie.

    The electric kool-aid acid test of transsexuality is if someone is uncomfortable enough in their birth gender to attempt to physically modify their bodies to conform to their self-identified gender (or, more safely, have a surgeon do it for them). Recently, I heard of a young female-to-male transsexual in the local area who attempted to remove her own breasts. She gave up on the attmept, fortunately, before doing herself harm and hopefully will be starting a hormonal regime leading up to eventual sexual reassignment surgery.

  48. Renee S. says:

    @ Dr. E #44
    Well, it’s okay if your fave guitarist is male. So is mine. I just have a gripe that women guitarists are often just plain ignored. Enough on that subject.
    Love those PJs, AB!

  49. Kate L says:

    ABC News has posted a statement that Matt Kibbe, an organizer of today’s corporate-sponsored event in Washington, misquoted it as to the size of today’s crowd of anti-Obama, anti-health care marchers. The size of the crowd was NOT 1 to 1.5 million, as Kibbe claimed ABC News said. It was in the tens of thousands, according to ABC News. Oh, well, what’s two orders of magnitude to people who claim that Obama is a communist-fascist muslim who is really (gasp!) British. Really, these are the claims these people are making. They also refer to the American election of November, 2008, as a “coup”, and say that they “want their country back”. Anybody who remembers the civil rights struggle in the United States during the 1960’s should have expected this kind of reaction from a certain segment of the population. The same people (in many cases) who did not want people of color being legally permitted to vote in the United States (an issue finally put to rest by the federal Voting Rights Act of 1964) would probably not welcome a young black man being elected president of the United States.

  50. Ready2Agitate says:

    1. Ditto Renee #49, Dr. E.

    2. Today transsexuals (speaking to the binary m2f, f2m) do not need to have, want, have tried, or plan to have SRS. Today’s litmus test is if a human being feels that their assigned gender at birth doesn’t conform with their true identity, and therefore lives full-time in their true gender (with or without surgery). There was a transsexual student at Harvard University about 7(?) years ago who was a non-operative f2m (living full-time as male) who was assigned to male dormitories. (Harvard thought itself very forward-thinking and progressive at the time, but the young chap – forgetting his name – was quite an activist and agitator in the best sense of the word, and really gave Harvard a run for its money!). (Liberation!)

    3. “I woke up feeling bad about using the expression โ€œdickwad.โ€ ”

    Oh how very very ‘Mo’ of you, AB!!!

    4. Maggie, I remember you talking about Billie before. But I felt sad again to remember that he died. May his memory be a blessing (that’s a Jewish expression of condolence).

    5. Speaking of Mz. Jochild, Ian (#46), ya know there’s a photo of her up at her meta watershed blog, right? (which used to be linked alongside to the right here, but maybe has been replaced by Group News Blog).

  51. Ready2Agitate says:

    oh, and happy birthday YiaYia! Great legacy, Kat!

  52. Kate L says:

    (Ready2Agitate, #51)

    Thank you for the update, young one! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sometimes, I think my timeline is stuck in the 1960’s.

    When I went home last night, I turned on CNN (MSNBC is still blacked out locally by Big-Name National Cable Franchise) and saw the following interview by CNN’s Dan Lemon with progressive radio talk show host Michaelangelo Signorile. On his own show, Signorile recently conducted a very disturbing interview with the Arizona Baptist minister who said from his (tax-excempt) pulpit that “God hates Barak Obama”. It turns out that this was only the start of the minister’s hatred.

  53. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#53)

    Where’s the IRS when ya need ’em? You can bet your bottom dollar the Bush/Cheney thugs would have been all over a cleric who bashed them from the tax-exempt pulpit.

    @Dr. E (#44)

    Damn, I knew which Marx Bros film had Capt. Spaulding. Must be that *other* PMS affecting my brain. Sort of like the joke, “I’m at the age where I have two kinds of PMS… one that makes me want to kill someone, the other that makes me forget who I want to kill.”

    De-clique-ification note for non-menopausal folks: The *other* PMS is perimenopausal syndrome. Among its effects are strange memory lapses. Someone on this blog once described it as “losing the nouns, but keeping the adjectives.” I also get strange brain cross-threadings, such as typing “Horsefeathers” when I knew the correct film was “Animal Crackers.”

    Film buff notes: Horsefeathers is a spoof of college life, circa 1930s USA. Thelma Todd plays “the college widow,” a euphemism for a sexually-active woman that made it past the censors of the Hays Office. There are the expected skewerings of academia, college football, etc. which translate pretty well into today’s college life. There’s also a speakeasy scene, with the famous password, “Swordfish.” Lots of puns, puns of puns, and very clever dialogue. Definitely worth a rental if you haven’t seen it. Keep in mind that the film was made during Prohibition, so the scenes involving liquor were considered racy at the time.

    (…exits stage left singing, “Whatever it is, I’m against it…”

  54. Kate L says:

    hairball (#54) In the last years of the Bush Administration, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service, not the Irish Republican Army, gentle world readers) did conduct (and then drop) an investigation into the tax-exempt status of the First Congregational Church. By coincidence (or not), at the time First Congregational was trying to air a commercial advertising the fact that it accepted LGBT members fully. Btw, you never saw that commerical air, because none of the networks contacted by First Congregational would run it.

  55. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie (#38, et alia)

    I had a manager who used the phrase “I was putzing around with the computer,” and I had to explain to her what “putz” meant. She almost choked.

    Occasionally I explain this to folks who use the terms indiscriminately, and usually they are very embarrassed. I tell them if they wouldn’t use the words “prick” and “dick” in a specific context, they shouldn’t use the Yiddish equivalents either.

    As for the manager, I told her she should have said she was “potzkering” around with the computer, which meant she was tinkering with it.

    It’s surprising how many folks simply don’t know that “schmuck” and “putz” are vulgar Yiddish words for a certain part of the male anatomy. I don’t think I’d be as surprised in the middle of white bread America, but here in NYC where there’s a very large Jewish population and Yiddish-influenced culture, it’s always a surprise for me.

    I suppose that’s what happens when the social and political forces in power force the disuse of one’s native language (Yiddish). There used to be a dozen Yiddish newspapers in NYC, and a Yiddish-language radio station (WEVD). There was a thriving Yiddish theatre industry, and lots of literary works beyond the ubiquitous Isaac Bashevis Singer.

    Now they are all gone, and the language is on its last legs. It only took two or three generations for this to happen. We came to this country, they forced us to “Americanize” our names, told us we shouldn’t speak our language, and denigrated anything that remotely hinted at our ethnicity. Thanks to WWII and Hitler, the remaining Yiddish-speakers in Europe are all gone.

    I hope recent immigrants to this country learn from this lesson and work to keep their language, food, customs, and ethnic culture alive.

    Mag, I am always awed and impressed by your careful usage of language and the social/historical/sexual/power dynamic contexts of words. I both envy and admire your erudition and awareness of the power of words.

  56. hairball_of_hope says:

    Extra credit trivia question… who knows what the “EVD” in the radio call letters “WEVD” refer to?

  57. Dr. Empirical says:

    In my observation, the dearth of first-rate women guitarists has more to do with the fact that playing guitar requires a lot of left-hand strength, and women tend to have smaller hands than men than it does any conscious or unconscious discrimination.

    Of course, that’s just my observation.

  58. Renee S. says:

    Dr. E., oh please.

  59. ksbel6 says:

    Re #58: I cannot comment about playing a real guitar, but I can tell you that playing Guitar Hero is a challenge because of hand size (in my case not strength, just pure length of fingers). It is very difficult for me to play the “expert” level because of all the multiple key strokes up and down the controller.

  60. Renee S. says:


  61. Renee S. says:

    #58 Dr E.
    Not sure how the argument went from how women guitarists are over-looked in general to how there’s a “dearth of first-rate women guitarists.” The “small weak hands” argument is small and weak in itself.
    Our local blueswoman, Shari Kane, stands around 5’4″ and has tiny little hands. She’s first-rate in my book.
    Here’s a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3CXkyUnD7A

    I can remember when Charo (yes, the cuchi-cuchi Charo) was featured on the cover of Guitar Player magazine in the late 70s/early 80s. Charo, for those who don’t know it, is an accomplished classical guitar player. The editorial section of next monthly issue was full of ranting men ( I saw no women rants)complaining how blasphemous it was for her to be on the cover; that she had no right to be there among the other guitar gods previously featured. Charo is a very short, tiny woman. With tiny hands. (for those of you who think she is very tall, think high heels and high hair. I’ve seen her in person.) A classical guitar neck is much wider than an acoustic or electric guitar neck. Her small hands move along the neck like my hands on…well, never mind.
    In MY guitar playing experience and observations, I have sat in with a bunch of guys (different bunches of guys over the years in different settings) who were showing each other new guitar tricks, riffs and lead solos, but actually turned their backs away from me so I could not see what they were doing. Most told me all I needed to know were basic chords. This was very discouraging and humiliating. No wonder women give up playing guitar when their fingers are hurting.
    Also, I find that there’s this persistent belief that guitars, especially electric guitars, are a man’s instrument.
    I recently was selling my cigar box guitars at a local jamboree. I would call out to passersby to come and try the guitars. It always took more coaxing to get the women to step up. If a male/female couple was walking by, I would look directly at the woman, and say, hey, try it out, it’s fun and easy. She would then look at her partner and ask him if he wanted to try it. I would say, “No, I’m asking you! I’m promoting women to learn to play the guitar.” Even the men who admitted they had no musical ability whatsover came forth easily to try it out.
    But hey, once I did coax the women to play it, they were astonished how it WAS SO EASY TO PLAY!
    Bonnie Raitt is an average sized woman with medium hands. Susan Tedeschi is also a small woman. You might say, well they are not nearly “first-rate” as Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughn or Jimi Hendrix. But neither is Jack White.

  62. Renee S. says:

    I would like to now get off the soapbox and continue to gaze at the grizzly PJs.

  63. Renee S. says:

    dang it. Sorry for losing my gaze, AB, gotta step back up for a second.
    Every man that stopped at my booth, despite photos of me building the guitars, could not believe a woman could make them.

    ok, focus, Renee, focus.

  64. Renee S. says:

    dang. ok, one more thang.
    You think it’s easy on the hands playing a big ass harp? How many men do you see playing it?

  65. Renee S. says:

    um, Big Ass isn’t genital related is it?

  66. Ian says:

    @Renee S #61-66: Something touched a nerve, perchance? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  67. Dr. Empirical says:

    For a while, Bonnie Raitt (a fine player) was marketing a line of smaller-necked guitars for women players. Don’t know if that’s still going on.

    I’ve also had a surprising number of women tell me “I used to take guitar lessons, but I quit because I wanted to grow my nails.”

    I can’t speak to your experience, Renee, but every circle of musicians I’ve played with cared only about whether you could play. Women, if they were good players, were always welcome. I’m sorry your experience doesn’t match that.

  68. Renee S. says:

    @ Ian, yeah, and it wasn’t Novacaine.

  69. Renee S. says:

    focusing on pajamas now.

  70. Renee S. says:

    Would Mentor snip me if I said the word Dickweed right now?

  71. Renee S. says:

    Regarding long nails, reminds me of the comedian Margo Gomez, commenting on how some county supervisors were termed “Lesbian Supervisors” in the local papers:

    โ€œI donโ€™t think of them as lesbian supervisors, I think of them as county supervisors who happen to be lesbians.
    A lesbian supervisor would have a very different job: โ€˜Hey you, cut those nails before you hurt somebody.โ€™โ€

  72. Renee S. says:

    well, another point:

    here’s an excellent woman guitarist. But have a look at the majority of the comments. They are not about her guitar playing ability. Regular size guitar neck.


  73. Tools are often made in the size preferred by those who use them most. If there’s already an opprssion at play in who is allowed to use those tools, then that oppression will show up in the tool size configuration. This doesn’t mean that size is the only/best way for that tool to be configured.

    In 1977 I lived in a collective with a woman who was the first woman to go through a carpentry apprentice program in our part of rural Colorado. She had great manual dexterity and strength, but her hands were average-sized. She would come home from a terrible day at training where nothing she tried to use as tools would “work” for her, cry for a while, soak her hands to ease their ache, then come up with an adaptation (like extending the leverage on oversized pliers) that enabled a tool to be more functional. Or, because she had the money, she’d buy a “specialty” tool which worked just as well, but cost extra.

    The next day, her instructor would tell her she couldn’t use the adapted tools because they were “non-standard” equipment — she had to use the big boy stuff or she’d fail the training.

    She did manage to graduate.

    When you look at the size of people in earlier times compared to now, the folks who built the cathedrals of Europe, the pyramids, the Great Wall of China — the troubadors, the knights, the peasants of all millenia — and realize they were much shorter than current generations, with smaller hands, reaches, strides — wow, how on earth did those “woman-sized” people ever do it?

    Answer: Because tools were designed for their hands. Duh. Without somebody telling them “you don’t have the right body to excel at this kind of work, have you considered nursing?”

    THIS is why we started Olivia, and why Olivia solicited community donations to get started/keep going with two essential promises: (1) Nothing but women doing the work of making music at every stage, no matter what, no male privilege or background or ideology in any way, let’s see what a difference that makes (revolutionized the music industry permanently, that single precept) and (2) We’ll make annual detailed reports to the women’s community and rely on your preferences to make our business decisions. Collectivism from the ground up. Which means EVERY cultural bias will be examined by the community as a whole. They failed, eventually, in both promises, but not before they had Changed The World.

  74. Dr. Empirical says:

    Renee, I’m not trying to belittle your experiences. I’m simply saying that they don’t match my own. If I’ve upset you to the point where you’re contemplating calling me names, I apologize, and I won’t pursue the subject further.

  75. Renee S. says:

    at last, back to PJ gazing.

  76. Ted says:

    HoH,I think your manager meant to say “futzing around”. She, however had heard it mispronounced so many times that it became “putzing”. How many times have you heard “voila” pronounced “walla” or something even worse?

    Renee, using youtube to make your point (and I don’t doubt what you say)is not a good idea. Youtube is the home to the most sexist, racist, xenophobic and homophobic comments on the interwebs. People just spout bushwah (an old expression)there just to take the piss.

  77. Kate L says:

    Oh, Renee S. (#77), you should see me in my cute white flannel nightgown with the lovely little pink embroidered flowers!

    Also, HuffingtonPost is running an article showing that, in every meaningful category, the well-being of Americans declined during the Bush Administration, while they increased (sometimes substantially) during the preceding Clinton Administration. And, of course, Bill Clinton left office with a balanced federal budget. And, the largest terrorist attack in American history did NOT happen when Clinton was president! http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/09/closing_the_book_on_the_bush_legacy.php

  78. Kate L says:

    Well, the article I just cited is actually from The Atlantic magazine. I read it in the HuffingtonPost.

    And I really am butch, despite that nightgown a friend sent me. Really, I am!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  79. Renee S. says:

    Well Kate, I would love to see that flannel

  80. Renee S. says:

    @ Maggie #75
    eloquent, as always

  81. Ready2Agitate says:

    …so here I was wondering just how I left off at ~50 comments and we’ve mushroomed to 80+ so quickly. Now I know. Seems I need to go gaze at some grizzly flannel pajamas now.

    (Now that I’m back – a tip of the fret board to Renee & Maggie for doing the heavy lifting today – of course, strong women that you are, you did it beautifully ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

  82. Ready2Agitate says:

    ps I had a dream in which my partner was playing a box-like raspy guitar (that cost only $30) (- why that part was in my dream I have no idea – money anxieties, probably). Wasn’t sure if the dream was inspired by seeing the film, “It Might Get Loud” or Renee’s you tube video – prolly both!

    pps I got to see Patty Larkin in Wellfleet, Cape Cod this summer. She was terrific! She founded the project (and CD) “La Guitarra” in 2005, and then toured with the most amazing guitarists – I got to see that show at the Iron Horse in Northhampton. Was anyone here there?

  83. Andrew B says:

    If many women think it’s more interesting to grow their nails out than to play guitar, that has to be related to living in a society in which women are valued more for what they look like than what they do. It’s not like growing your nails out has a whole lot of intrinsic interest. This has the potential to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, in exactly the same way as the assumption that women are all on the mommy track. It’s not impossible that differences in average hand size and strength could push men and women in different musical directions. But you can’t assert that until the conflating factors have been removed, which hasn’t come close to happening. If you look at the success of women violinists, cellists, and pianists in the classical world, you have to wonder about the importance of hand size and strength.

    In my attempts to play in rock and jazz bands, in the 80s, this was never even a question. There were practically no women trying to do anything but sing. I did find my stumpy fingers were an impediment to playing the bass, but not an overwhelming one. (The overwhelming problem was my lack of talent.) FWIW, there are acoustic reasons why basses are large.

    But again, until we’ve got a world in which boys and girls (but 90% boys, using the conventional number) are lining up to admire a woman because of the way she can make a guitar cry, and who cares if she looks like a geek, the only way to judge the contribution of physical ability is to look at related fields. When you do that, you see a lot of successful women in classical.

    There are also things to say about the way that the recording industry segregates artists by sex (and, overwhelmingly, race). And the role of guitar hero arguably involves a specific kind of androgyny that depends on a man crying and screaming in a high register. That role is probably not equally available to a woman, no matter how skillful she may be. (I know a lot of guitar players are not that kind of guitar hero, but an awful lot of the best-known ones, the ones beginners try to emulate, are.)

  84. Ginjoint says:

    Aw, Renee. Dr. E’s a great guy, a total ally, and I’m sure didn’t mean to irk you. I hope you give him a second chance. Dr. E, I can understand Renee’s aggravation – when one has been the recipient of that certain condescending tone from men because your hands/legs/arms, etc. are “too small”, so you “can’t do this,” it really gets wearing after a while. (I speak as someone with tiny hands. Advantage is, they can fit into small spaces.) And as Maggie brought up, oftentimes the problem is the tool size, not…oh hell. This entire post has officially turned into godawful sexual innuendo. I give up. I love you both.

  85. Ginjoint says:

    Hey Maggie – I printed my credentials off the internet. *smirk* I hope they still count. As for being banned from progressive sites for using the word cunt, well, I’m so over many of the progressive sites out there I don’t think I’d mind.

  86. Acilius says:

    Reading this thread, I set a ruler on my desk and stretched my hand across it. From pinky to thumb I crossed 27 centimeters (11 inches.) I suppose my big hands are the reason so many people have told me I should play the piano. But every time they tell me that, I want to smack them with my ukulele.

  87. noominal says:

    I always worry I will turn into a Collyer Brother, ending up buried in my own debriis, stacked book collection-wise. But I see from the back ground in your photo, I am in good company. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  88. Kat says:

    Re: guitar stuff
    If hand size versus instrument neck size were really an impediment, then there wouldn’t be any lute or theorbo players regardless of gender! Theorbos (kind of like a bass lute) are about 6 feet long and have as many as 14 courses of strings. Baroque lutes have 13 courses (26 strings total)!
    Imagine how wide that neck is!

    In short, I totally don’t buy the “women have smaller weaker hands therefore can’t make good guitarists” line. That guitar is a “macho” instrument (even in the classical world) has nothing to do with a lack of talent from women.

    Maggie, I think that the “tools are built to fit comfortably into the hand of the one who uses it most” idea doesn’t quite work for musical instruments, which are designed to create a certain sound. playing technique evolves based on desired results. (insert lecture on the evolution of hand position in bowed instruments from the renaissance period to today…..)

    Andrew B:
    “If many women think itโ€™s more interesting to grow their nails out than to play guitar”

    you’ve not met many classical guitarists, have you? Those (mainly) dudes have some looonnnnggg nails!!

  89. Kat says:

    Maggie, question about the “Collectivism from the ground up” at Olivia records:

    How would rehearsals or jam sessions go?? I was in a choral collective (called Vox Populi, natch) for a while, and our rehearsals were soooooo hard to keep on track and functioning!!!

  90. Kat says:

    beautiful painting by Orazio Gentileschi (Artemisia’s father), of a woman playing a (probably) 10 course lute:

  91. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kat (#92)

    She looks hot to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Is that a viola on the table? Looks too large to be a violin.

    @Renee (#62)

    I recall Charo’s guitar-playing early in her career on the afternoon talk show circuit circa 1960s (think Mike Douglas Show). She said one of her teachers was Andrรฉs Segovia.

    Women with conventional good looks, conventional attractive bodies, etc. (the socialized norm eye-candy for straight males) often find it difficult, if not impossible, to be taken seriously for their brains, skills, professional abilities, etc., so it’s not surprising the male Guitar Player readers kvetched about her being on the cover. Could have been worse… they could have demanded that she be on the cover in some scantily-clad or sexually-suggestive pose.

    As for the electric guitar being a “man’s instrument,” I can say that the contours of a Fender Stratocaster (pre-CBS, of course) fit a woman’s body quite well.

    No guitar-playing for me these days, alas. I am thinking about picking up a nylon Martin Backpacker so I can rehab my hand doing scales, but I’m a good ways off from being able to do that. I don’t think I can bend my wrist to that angle safely, I can’t bend all my fingers to the needed positions, and I can’t straighten my index finger all the way for bar chords. Not yet, anyway. I recently discovered I can undo the clasp on my necklace, that was almost as much fun as the day I figured out I could undo my bra without gyrations.

    Hand-span… I have long fingers, my pinky-to-thumb span is 215mm (8.5″).

  92. Renee S. says:

    @ HOH #93
    I agree with you about the Strat. I was saying only that it’s a persistant BELIEF that electric guitars are men’s instruments.

    Now you have me searching for the nearest ruler…
    hmmm. Are you measuring from the tip of your pinky to the tip of your thumb with your hand stretched as far as it will go? I always thought I had small hands, short fingers, at least, compared to other women’s hands…
    maybe I can stretch my hand further than most, or maybe I have a wider palm…
    I’m looking at 225mm, about 8.75″
    My middle finger is only 3 inches long. Must be a wide palm.

    Anyway…did you injure your hand?

  93. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Renee (#94)

    Are you measuring the middle finger with the ruler stuck in the web between index and middle finger? Mine is 87mm (3.5″).

    Hand is 70mm (2.75″) across MCPs (metacarpal phalanges, aka knuckles).

    Hand and wrist injury, plus nerve damage. Ouch.

    Motion is back, sensation is almost all the way back, pain is minimal, strength and mobility are coming back. Minimal paresthesias (weird electric, itchy, and crawly sensations).

    It’s been a long ride home. I got the scenic tour of the US health insurance system (scam) along the way. I’d slug those phony-baloney Fox News-inspired town hall protesters who are against a national health insurance program, but I don’t ever want to injure my hand again. ๐Ÿ™

  94. Andrew B says:

    Kat, 90, you needed to address the remark about long-nailed classical guitarists to Dr E, 69, not to me, 85. In 85 I was just responding to Dr E. When I wrote “if”, I meant “if”, not “given the fact that” — I meant it hypothetically.

    On the issues, I think we agree.

    Also, your 91, Stile Antico claims to rehearse and perform strictly as a collective. That’s 12 singers, I think. Ok, I checked, they say “as chamber musicians” and there are 12 of them. For whatever that’s worth.

  95. hairball_of_hope says:

    No takers for the “EVD” extra credit question (#57)… oh well. Eugene V. Debs.


  96. Kat says:

    Andrew B,

    A lot of the work that I do (musically, not at the Day Job) seems to be collective, whether strictly or not, and I just wonder how it goes down for others. The personalities involved probably have a lot to do with it. In Vox Populi, we had the blessing/curse of some very well-informed and geeky, but also very stubborn people…..that particular dynamic makes it hard.

    Hairball (#93),
    it looks like a viola to me, unless there’s some weird perspective going on. The body width and shortness of the neck are what make me think, yes, viola.

  97. Ready2Agitate says:

    Aw Hairball – sucky news. Me thinks you should consider _complete rest_ for that hand/wrist, at least as much as possible, which means, perhaps, a little less keyboard time (which I know is part of your day job, which I know is going thru major re-org hell, but still, please, be careful….) ๐Ÿ™

  98. Kat, I think they had hellaciously long meetings at Olivia. (grin) But I wasn’t involved on the creative end, only one of the hundreds of distributors who sold their albums across the country.

    There was a core collective of six to eight who made the main decisions, plus they hired others for specific projects (like, Joan Lowe was the sound engineer on their most successful albums) who of course could give input but they weren’t actually part of the collective. To save money, they mostly all lived together, and sometimes one or more of the “employees” also lived with them, blurring the living collective into the Olivia collective per se.

    However, their opening statement in Paid My Dues, 1974, p. 18, reads “Olivia will be operated on a collective basis, in which musicians will control their music and other workers will control their working conditions.”

    In 1975, the Olivia Collective issued a statement of income and expenses in 1974 which was printed in Paid My Dues. The reasons they gave for this public accounting were “we believe feminist institutions should be accountable to the women who support them…We think it is our responsibility to you to tell you how the money you gave us was spent.”

    The original group planning Olivia Records late in 1972 included ten members, but only five went on to become the original collective: Ginny Berson, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugacz, Kate Winter, and Jennifer Woodul. This article states:
    Olivia began as a collective and remained so for the first seven years. “We changed structure because it stopped working” says Judy [Dlugacz]. “What we didn’t realize then but recognize in hindsight is that a collective works only if it’s small and the people have the same commitment, ideologies, and goals.”

    In July 1988, Hot Wire Magazine published the first of a two-part article by Judy Dlugacz titled “If It Weren’t For The Music: 15 Years of Olivia Records”, pp. 28-35 . She describes the origin of Olivia as: “In 1973 10 women got together. Some of them had been part of The Furies, the radical lesbian feminist newspaper out of Washington, DC which had been run by a lot of fairly high-powered gals — like Ginny Berson, Charlotte Bunch, Rita Mae Brown, Jennifer Woodul, and Colita (sic) Reid. Several women from that group were looking for a way to work together on an on-going basis after The Furies disbanded.

    The original meeting was at the home of Ginny Berson and Meg Christian on 27 January 1973.

    “There was also a group that had been part of Radical Lesbians in Ann Arbor (including me) who had recently moved to D.C. We were also looking for something on-going to do politically.”

    The original group of ten met together for half a year. They made Olivia into a corporation but tried to come up with alternative structures such as a collective. Then the number dropped to eight, and by the time the decision was made to move to Los Angeles in 1975, the collective consisted of five members: Ginny Berson, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugacz, Kate Winter, and Jennifer Woodul.

    In the planning stages, they were contacted by engineer Joan Lowe who owned a small record company in Oregon. She offered to do anything to help them, including coming to them and serving as engineer. They accepted her help. She came to D.C. and recorded their first 45, Meg Christian singing “Lady” and Cris Williamson singing “If It Weren’t For The Music”. This 45 was used as a fundraiser and brought in enough income to make their first LP, I Know You Know with Meg Christian in 1974. After the move to Los Angeles, they were a living and working collective for financial reasons.

    When they had enough money again, they made a second album in the summer of 1975, Cris Williamson’s The Changer and The Changed. Joan Lowe again came to town and served as engineer. This sold beyond their wildest expectations, 40,000-50,000 albums a year, and by 1988 had sold over 250,000 copies.

    Dlugacz stated “The living collective remained for seven years, and we just kept adding people to the working collective.” She names the addition of Sandy Ramsey and Robin Brooks.

    Olivia Records’ move from Los Angeles to Oakland occurred at the end of 1977. Dlugacz states “In 1978 about fourteen of us were living in this one ten-room house. It drove us all a little crazy. Eventually the living collective broke up into people living in separate spaces.” The collective also headed into difficult financial times. Kate Winter left right after Olivia produced the Teresa Trull album Let It Be Known in 1980. Meg Christian left the collective in 1984, leaving only Judy Dlugacz of the original five. Judy was president of Olivia and the company has remained in her name.

    She states that circa 1975, “We had a commitment to using women, and particularly at that point in time our premise was based upon a fairly separatist viewpoint.” She goes on to discuss the flak their received for their insistence on women-only concerts, other negative feedback, and states “I think the strongest example was at the point where we were working with a transsexual. This was a very major turning point for us. We were still in Los Angeles, and we had been looking for a woman engineer who was a little closer than Joan, one who lived at least in California. Someone mentioned Sandy [Stone] and we interviewed her. She had tremendous credentials, which was terrific. It seemed like yet again lightning had struck and we had found the perfect engineer. So were going forward, about to start BeBe K’Roche, our third album, when we got a call from Boo Price. She said that she was now recording Margie’s album Songwriter; they had been in the studio where we were going to record BeBe, and an engineer there had told her Sandy was a transsexual. I took the call from Boo, and when she said, ‘I just wanted you to know’, I said ‘Thank you very much.’ I got on the phone and called over to Kate Winter to ask what a transsexual was. She had a friend who was a transsexual, so fortunately she was able to describe what it was to the rest of us.” (See article for remainder of this long episode.)

    According to their own public records:
    The 1976 album BeBe K’Roche lists “The Women of Olivia” as Ginny Berson, Robin Brooks, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugacz, Sandy Ramsey, Teresa Trull, Kate Winter, Jennifer Woodul, and the women who distribute Olivia Records.

    That same year, the Judy Grahn/Pat Parker album lists “The Women of Olivia” as Ginny Berson, Robin Brooks, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugacz, Sandy Ramsey, Teresa Trull, Kate Winter, Jennifer Woodul, and the women who distribute Olivia Records.

    In 1977, the Teresa Trull album The Ways A Woman Can Be has a photo insert which shows “The Olivia Records Collective”: Ginny Berson, Robin Brooks, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugacz, Sandy Ramsey, Teresa Trull, Kate Winter, and Jennifer Woodul.

    All of the above information is drawn from contemporary primary source documents, not later revisionist versions. I can’t list them all here without having this comment delayed, but one of the best sources is from Queer Music Heritage’s excellent collection online at http://www.queermusicheritage.us/olivia7.html
    of Olivia herstory, album covers, and JPEGS of pertinent articles from women’s publications of the times (you’ll have to read through the articles yourselves, it’s not indexed). Also, RainbowHistory dot org slash furies has almost all of the copies of The Furies newsletter, the phenomenally influential lesbian-separatist publication which had national distribution (preserved online courtesy one of the collective members, JEB). Olivia arose directly from “The Furies” (with some later input from Radical Lesbians members). I transcribed the first essay from The Furies and published it online at my personal blog.

  99. Suzanonymous says:

    I happened to run across E.B. White’s, Dusk in Fierce Pajamas, a phrase which amused me this morning because of Alison’s pajamas and pose in this post.

  100. NLC says:

    Hmmm… How disappointing that no one has mentioned “Waltzing with Bears”, yet.

    (“Un-cle Walt-er” and “Aunt Al-i-son” almost scan the same…)

  101. Renee S. says:

    @Maggie #100
    wow, this is a great and powerful herstory!
    I hope you’re journaling/archiving all of these moving, fantastic, and important stories & information somewhere. What a wonderful book it would make!

    Thank you for all you write!

  102. Ian says:

    @Renee S: Dr. E’s definitely an ally and very cool. In fact, I have mini-crushes on all the guys who post here, although I believe Dr. E bats from the other end of the pavilion sadly.

  103. rocketbride says:

    the guitarist talk reminds me of a story in “this book is broken” (the broken social scene story). when feist started practicing with the other guys, one of them picked up her arms like a puppet and said, “i’m not gonna bring my guitar tomorrow!” the implication being that she wasn’t good enough as a guitarist and had to just get up and sing. the interesting thing is that she’s by no means a bad guitarist…if you look at her solo work, she’s always always always playing guitar. and she’s tiny. ๐Ÿ™‚

    this also reminds me of my first drum lesson when i was 16. my instructor looked at me and said, “this is good…you have big hands for a girl.” i’ve had that thought in my head ever since.

  104. Xena Fan says:

    We’ve been waiting patiently. When are you going to release the video of Susie Bright and you in bed?

  105. Hayley says:

    I have the Olivia Records 1977 release “Lesbian Concentrate” on LP – it is hilarious, historic, and a hootenanny to boot. I’m not sure a better song has been made than Sue Fink’s “Leaping Lesbians” or Meg Christian’s “Ode to a Gym Teacher.” Our herstory is so rich but it is a rollick sometimes too!