The last month of 2013 hosted a veritable bingo of ‘90s female icons for me: I got to see Cat Power solo at the House of Blues, the Breeders perform Last Splash note-for-note at One Eyed Jack’s, and a screening of The Punk Singer—a documentary about legendary artist Kathleen Hanna—at Zeitgeist. And while it was bittersweet to see Cat Power unravel in a tequila-fueled marathon of songs (and half- songs) and the Deal twins march through their tunes somewhat robotically, it was Hanna’s story that inspired me the most and sent me on a serious nostalgia trip, as the early part of The Punk Singer focused on the zine- making part of her life and the pre-internet community that crystallized around those kinds of activities.
I also remember the early ‘90s for being a dangerous, bro-heavy time in punk and as someone who was deeply interested in DIY and alternatives to mall culture—but not exactly foaming at the mouth to rip my shirt off and mosh— Hanna’s bands like Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl movement in general were empowering and liberating for me as well. I will admit that I miss some of the danger of those earlier days, but I know “the scene” is much better off today for having evolved to be more inclusive and diverse. (And boy, if I could time-travel to any one point in time—live music edition—it might have to be to D.C. in 1988, when Fugazi and Bikini Kill played Lafayette Park in support of reproductive rights. Swoon!) I was also struck by Hanna’s relationship with Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz. It was a long courtship started by skateboarding and formalized in a private ceremony on Kauai—not to mention that a generation’s most outspoken feminist had found her soulmate in a guy who helped usher frat- boy mentality into hip-hop. It reminded me of John and Yoko, which only goes to show that greatness happens in our own lifetime (and that if those two could find love and respect in each other, than anything’s possible).
It’s nice to celebrate the past, but we don’t need to look to it as some kind of lost perfection. Yeah, I do miss the good ol’ days of late night Kinko’s sessions, glue fingers and hacked copy cards, but I feel pretty good about this time and what’s happening now in 2014, especially the stories we’re putting together for this month’s issue, on this crazy inDesign file. There are amazing, mind-blowing, and life-altering moments happening out there, you just have to go out and find them. Maybe you are the next Kathleen Hanna. —Dan Fox