Monday, September 20, 2010

Girls Rock in Oregon Hill

I spent the evening in my favorite working class neighborhood, nearby Oregon Hill or as the local restaurant critics are lately proclaiming it, "the upcoming restaurant row dining destination."


I went for cheap (but good eats) and backyard movies, the pleasures of the working class.

Luckily for me, O-Hill is within walking distance because trying to park over there on a school night is pointless.

When I rolled up to 821 cafe, it was fairly quiet and I joined the barsitters, half of whom were the day shift who'd just gotten off and were enjoying happy hour beers (rail bourbon shots $2) and trash talking a fellow employee who'd come in wasted the night before.

They know me at 821, so I don't have to place my food order, only my beverages of choice.

Tonight's music was mostly punk and thrash, not my first choice, but definitely preferable to classic rock, country or Top 40.

The server sitting next to me told me that she no longer even hears the music during her shift.

I can't imagine being that music-oblivious, even while working, but perhaps she's just tuning out someone else's musical choices.

That I could see; I would have to tune out Journey.

Afterwards I strolled over to the Flying Brick Library, a radical lending library in an old house on Pine Street.

Tonight they were having a benefit for the Richmond 'Zine Fest, showing two documentaries, Grrlyshow and Girls Rock.

 It was such a beautiful night to be sitting outside under the stars watching a movie on a fabric screen strung up between the fences.

Grrlyshow had interviews with some of the seminal figures in founding girly 'zines like Bust and Bamboo Girl, created by a generation of third-wave feminists.

Discussing that subject with a friend who's a Women's Studies professor after the film, we concluded that we're currently on the cusp of fourth-wave feminism, unbelievable as that sounds.

Girls Rock was a documentary about the annual five-day music camp in Portland, Oregon for 8-18 year old girls.

They choose a musical genre, learn to play an instrument, come up with a band name, write a song, and perform live for 700 people.

All the while, bickering and developing friendships with their band mates.

The film follows a few girls in depth and each is captivating and heartbreaking in her own way.

Given their ages, the girls are all in the throes of discovering who they are and the camp helps them appreciate themselves for the individuals they are.

Musicians like Carrie from Sleater-Kinney teach the campers girl-power lessons in between band practices and female bands perform during lunch every day.

You could actually see the girls becoming more comfortable in their own skins over the course of the week.

Many in the mostly female audience were charmed by the strength of character of a couple of the youngest girls, but they seemed like divas-in-the-making to me.

I'd be curious to see a follow-up piece about what those girls are like now.

Afterwards, a volunteer from the Portland camp shared her experiences there and spoke of her desire to start a similar rock camp for girls in Richmond.

With all the strong female musicians in this town, we'd probably be a natural for such a thing.

I'd have said we could hold it in Oregon Hill, where you can't walk down the street without hearing a band practicing, but restaurant row probably won't approve of pint-size shredding and high-pitched screaming.

More's the pity for that.


  1. Mock on mock on, tis all in vain!
    You throw the sand against the wind,
    And the wind blows it back again,
    And every sand becomes a gem
    Reflected in the beams divine,
    Blown back they blind the mocking eye,

  2. It's been a long time since I had so much poetry directed at me. I hope it continues.

    Noses are red,
    Black eyes are blue,
    I'll mock all I want
    Wear safety goggles, too.

    And that, my friend, shows why I'm oppositely attracted to the poetic type.

  3. i worked for a year at a place with pretend-radio, pop from the past few decades whose insinuations are no longer slightly risque. it was murder. every moment of every day was murder because i couldn't tune it out. and then, one weekend i realized that i was having withdrawal from it. i went straight to the record store and picked up the Go-Go's first album. there's my connection between girls rock and tuning things out. as for oregon hill, i don't know if i've ever been there.

  4. Go-Gos aside, I still think you can be helped.

    Do you know where it is?

  5. around Hollywood Cemetery, isn't it?

  6. It is, so perhaps you have been there. Maybe back in the days before we had Camembert?

  7. ah yes! now i remember, it was when richmond was occupied by the germans.

  8. I'd like to say that I give bonus points whent my readers are up on their history, but I'm more concerned with their knowledge in other areas.

    What are you bringing to the table anyway?

  9. I should have known it would be something tart.

  10. indeed, but rather like a strawberry tart.

  11. Oooh, there's so much I could read into that.