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Violence Girl By Alice Bag

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 21, 2012 07:23am | Post a Comment
Alice Bag Violence GirlViolence Girl is what Alice Bag calls a "Chicana Punk Story" For those of you who are unfamiliar with Alice Bag (Alicia Armandariz) she is a singer/musician that in her teens was part of the early punk scene in Los Angeles. She along with Patricia Morrison formed The Bags, who are not only a seminal L.A. punk band but in my opinion paved the way for many people who would have never thought of becoming musicians themselves.
 
Violence Girl covers her years growing up in East Los Angeles, a daughter of Mexican immigrants. It is in her youth that she starts to become aware of the disparagement of growing up poor and Mexican, from having to live in sub-quality housing to being ridiculed for not speaking English by unsympathetic schoolteachers. Alice grew up in a house full of love and was told by her father that she could become anything she wanted to be. Yet all the positive energy was for not as she had to witness years of abusive of her mother by the hand of her father.

In her teens, Alice love of music and education carries her through tough times. She discovers Glam Rock and starts venturing into Hollywood, where she would meet other like-minded youth. They would eventually not just become the pioneers of the L.A. punk scene, but of punk music in general. For a punk historian and a L.A. honk like myself, Alice’s stories of punk’s inception in Los Angeles are a real treat. Alice shows that it was misfit kids like her that created the origins of L.A. punk. It was a community that despite the differences in class, race, gender or sexuality that found a bond with each other. To me, that is what makes L.A. punk so influential worldwide. If you look at the origins of punk in other U.S. cities such as Chicago or D.C., you’ll see very little diversity.

The Bags were started as Alice and her friend Patricia wanted to start an all-girl band in the mists of all the male dominated bands. Although The Bags had male band mates, Alice’s songs and presence on stage influenced many women to start their own groups. The Bags as pushed punk in a faster, more chaotic style that was later adopted by the next wave of hardcore bands. The Bags, in the relatively brief history, manage to record a few singles and made an appearance in Penelope Spheeris iconic documentary, The Decline Of Western Civilization. For the movie, the band name was changed to The Alice Bag Band, as Patricia threaten Spheeris with a lawsuit if they used the name “The Bags” once she quit the band.

Alice concludes her book with stories from her post-Bags days. She continues to play music, graduates college and becomes a teacher. She also resolves issues with her father, who had become ill. She travels to Nicaragua post-revolution and works with youth there, getting an eye-opening perspective on how the rest of the world exists. So much more could have been written about Alice’s life, but perhaps that can be left for another book.

What is amazing about Alice is that not only that she paved the way for the rest that followed her in the punk scene and manage to get through college. She manage to accomplish all this in her teens and early twenties. Today, I witness youth today struggle with identity issues of not knowing what they want to be, thus living in suspended growth. More and more younger people live at home until they are in their late twenties with little ambition to leave. Certainly in Alice’s days it was cheaper to live in Los Angeles but like most of us at the time, we lived in places with less than satisfactory conditions and with multiple roommates to keep the rent low. But in the end, the standard of living that was compromised was a necessity to be a part of the adventure, which I feel today’s generation is missing out on.

On Tuesday, May 22nd at 8pm PST, I will be conducting an interview with Alice Bag on my radio show, Discos Inmigrantes. We will discuss her successful memoir, Violence Girl, which has her traveling across the world speaking to old fans and new fans alike and inspiring a whole new generation of artists. We will discuss her past, the whirlwind year since the release of her book and what it means to be a Chicana Feminist in 2012. Hear it live on radiosombra.org 8-10 PM PST

You can pick up a copy of Violence Girl At Amoeba Hollywood

Relevant Tags

East Los Angeles (7), Punk (46), Books (16)