Thursday, April 21, 2011


Pictured (sigh), the last set list (or one of the last set lists) from Sister Spit 2011.

So we headed back from Minneapolis, heading sound again, trying to escaped the snow and the bleakness, though I will forever hope to return to Minneapolis again to revisit the Seward Cafe because I think it changed my life, I think from now on I am going to become a partial foodie just because I realize that foodies are the most interesting diners, and it's just time for me to get on board this food stuff.

As Michelle Tea said about several things over the course of the trip: "You don't want to be on the wrong side of History" meaning your little jealous corrupted brain full of prejudices and preconceived notions and what not, cannot always be trusted.

I didn't like foodie-ism because I didn't feel like it fit in with my curmudgeonly view of myself, but it's time for me to adjust and change and try something that might stretch my brain.

This is why I quit smoking in 1989. Because I sensed that the smoking days were over. Smoking was going to change and become alienating and expensive and uncool. I was not going to want to be smoker in 1999. And I was right about that one.

The Foodie thing though I have been wrong about, and too cheap to indulge in and will probably remain so, but I am now officially interested in it or at least looking at the people who are .... which is a long way of saying I think I like the vibe of vegan restaurtants now .... I sure liked Seward Cafe.

So anyway. Back in the van. We land in Madison. The space is small, a cool little collective, sort of grungy and Portland-esque. Everyone was ill or something so poor BESSIE our host had to do everything herself, including setting up the chairs which I re-spaced for her because people often don't know the secret to setting up chairs is SPACING. Nothing worse than stuck in a chair with no room in front of you.

So we dicked around and got food at this super comfort food diner called Monty's that was Queer friendly, or at least had a queer waiter, and a highly eclectic menu. We came stumbling out of there late and got back to the space and had that wonderful SISTER SPIT occurence of A TOTALLY PACKED HOUSE. As a writer and goer to of writer things I have never seen anything literary consistently PACK THE SPACES like SS. Anyway.

So all went on. We killed. The standing room only crowd gave us a standing ovation!!!

Afterward I met Kelly from STACKED.COM which is a cool book site .... that interviewed me. That was fun. And some other fans. I never quite got the hang of hanging out after the show, I often hid in the back room, but whenever I did I always seemed to find several fans milling around. GIRL lives on, which is so cool, and so flattering.

The next day it was on to Chicago for our final gig. Things started slow as we all stood outside in the freezing cold waiting for the SUBTERRANEAN CLUB to Open. This was in trendy Wicker Park. Michelle was shaking with cold. They let us in finally. Things looked bad at first and there was a big blow up with some club people. But everything got done, as happens...

So then the show. We KILLED. AGAIN. It was great. I read the final scene in RECOVERY ROAD where Maddie tries to talk to Stewart and I CRIED !!!!!!!

Well I didn't actually shed tears but I kept having to step away from the mike and re-compose myself. I finally told the audience: "I'm sorry. I'm a cryer." I don't know if they were won over by that. They seemed to be with me though, in terms of the story. I did achieve that great thing of total silence from the crowd which is hard to do in a bar. But that scene is good and heartbreaking .... anyway, so that was the end of the tour and the end of the book and everything kind of wrapped up nicely.....

I am so glad I went on this tour. It was so fun and so interesting in so many ways. And I will never forget my crew!!!! What a great time. I am sad it's over but feel exhausted in a good way, in the best way. I LEFT EVERYTHING I HAD OUT THERE!!! Awesome!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Ali Liebegott, one of our fearless leaders, was alas not able to pass through Wisconsin without paying a price for culinary crimes....

MARYS! We only have two more dates on the tour!!! Everyone is so sad!! It's been SO FRICKIN' FUN!!

"Mary", by the way, is what everyone calls each other in the van. It is one of those spontaneous slang things that happens in such group situations.

One can be addressed as "Mary". "Can you hand me those cheese balls, Mary?"

One can express things to the Gods in the form of Mary. "Mary, is it ever going to stop raining?"

And one can simply say the word to oneself as a kind of protection from all human trials and tribulations. "Mary!" And it works.

BACK TO THE TOUR: So we left Bloomington and drove up to Ann Arbor where we had PHOEBE GLOECKNER as a guest performer!! MARY!! We are all INSANE fans of hers. The gig was weirdly not packed--we are spoiled--but it didn't matter and created a loose fun, whatevs kind of atmosphere which I like.

Phoebe went on last and told us about her knew project and she was a little tired but spoke interestingly about her life as an artist. It was more like a big conversation really, all of us chirping in, asking questions, etc. And then we had a great dinner after, paid for by the awesome gay bookstore COMMON LANGUAGE who helped put on the show.

Then back to one of the less nice hotels, but comfy for us as we all have gotten used to each other and don't mind stepping over each other's underwear on the way to the bathroom ... etc....

Then to Milwaukee where I found the greatest bookstore ever. RENAISSANCE BOOKS, in Milwaukee, google it, go there, make a special trip.

It is like Powell's used to be before it was online, and there was still crazy first editions of your favorite books, hidden behind a stack of UFO books. Plus it was HAUNTED. Plus NOBODY SEEMED TO WORK THERE. And then when you did find an employee they couldn't really talk to you because they were busy listening to Crystal Castles on their headphones. When I first walked in I thought I had walked into some crazy HORDER nightmare but everything turned out to be meticulously in place and findable. The whole experience was just extraordinary. I wished I had more eyepower left to read and poke around there, I lasted about three hours but your brain gets fried on tour and your eyes go ....

The Milwaukee gig was fun, it was in a nice newer bookstore called Boswell's. I read a piece from my memoir about meeting and hanging with Courtney Love in Portland when I was a wee little Portland scenester. I thought the local queer kids might notice who I was reading about but they didn't seem to, having been born after the whole Kurt and Courtney era. And probably not caring anyway, despite the HOLE-worship still practiced by Tavi and her ilk. (Self Constructed Freak)

Then it was back into the van and onto Minneapolis which holds an important place in my history and yet which I have never been to! Also F. Scott is from here and Garrison Keillor. Mostly I think of it through F. Scott's eyes though, but of course the world of rich kids riding around in motorboats on the lake is not anywhere I am going to be. Isn't that always the case? You go to some famous spot that is so alive in your mind only to realize, Truman Capote's New York is not on the's no where you can get to .... that's why people love it so much .... inaccessible ....

We did get to see a little bit of rich kid cool at Seward's Cafe though which is the trendy foodie hipster restaurant that Sister Spit frequents on all trips to the Twin Cities. I don't go to such places usually, but I have to get over that because this place was full of such interesting people, the Volvo/Oberlin/Crafter crowd as far as I could tell. Beautiful young women in their Minnesota Woolen Chic. MARY! I was dying with envy and falling in love with everyone. Why do I have such little interaction with this world? So nice. So cultured. So FOODIE FRIENDLY. Why can't I be a normal person!!?? I want to be like these people. Saturday brunch with friends! Everyone equal and happy and well adjusted and having good jobs and having just graduated from excellent liberal arts colleges. Oh I am such a mess compared to these people. But perhaps I am comparing "my insides to their outsides" which is never recommended....

Oh yeah, the gig. We sold out Bryant Park Theater, or whatever it was, in the Uptown section of Minneapolis. It had a bowling alley/bar/restaurant/theater. I'm totally serious.

And it was fucking cool. We packed it. Kicked it. KILLED IT. We were great. The people loved us. Then we hung out all night until the wee hours. Kirk Read and I bowled. More beautiful kids .... hanging out ... on dates ... with friends ... smoking cigarettes outside the club in their $400 MARMOT down coats. Maybe F. Scott's dreams are still alive here. Despite the strange feeling at times that no matter how hard we row, "We are boats being born backward, ceaselessly into the past."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Michelle sings Fleetwood Mac ...

Sister Spit @ UMASS

Big crowd at UMASS.


An hour of work time in a hotel seems to be worth about two hours of work time anywhere else....


We just got to Bloomington in time to catch the Lil Wayne show. But we all fell asleep ....

Here's a shot (pictured) of us doing a little Sister Spit Yoga, ("from each according to his ability, to each according to their needs")

We finished at College of William and Mary and all piled into the van and drove 11 hours to Louisville, Kentucky which was very fun even though we got caught in the middle of a monsoon.

A local spoken word group opened the show at Louisville. they were called S.H.E. and it was interesting to see them, because it made me realize how just doing the tour had kind of forced us to hone our skills. Not that the S.H.E. kids weren't good, they just weren't quite as individualized as we have become. But a great experience for them I'm sure and for us to see what they're thinking about and writing about ....

Afterward, we went to a girl named Lex's house and karaokeed and were invited to hot tub with some people in their underwear, which none of us managed to do. .... they were super nice though and their house was filled with the signifiers of indie queer-ness: cool Bratmobile poster. Joy Division poster. Fever Ray on the stereo. Tons of interesting books to look at. Generally I'm finding college kids to be a bit more clueless than I expected but these Louisville people seemed kind of awesome.

Also Louisville itself kicked ass, being older than I expected and just having a real sense of character and history. Many of the tour people expressed this. Who would have thought?

We ended up that night in a gross rooming situation and Beth Pickens the road manager, got us out of there and into a super nice hotel downtown for super cheap. What a deal. The place was amazing and right downtown and had WEIRDLY NICE ECCENTRIC people working there which is the mark of greatness as far as I'm concerned when it comes to hotels.

I started saying a couple years ago that as you get older and you don't want to go to clubs anymore, you will go to Hotels to meet people and hang out. I LOVE HOTELS. I should have stayed in my band. I would have got all the hotels I wanted....

Anyway, so now we are in a gross Super 8 on the freeway by Bloomington, INDIANA which was FRAT PARTYING out all around our show. Nice though to be in the midwest. I have some weird connection to it too. I know I keep saying that. But it's true, my dad is from iowa and I dress just like him, and so when I'm in the midwest, I look around and see millions of versions of myself. American Prep. I think I would like to live in the midwest.

If you run a writing program in the mid-west and need me to teach there for a year, get in touch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The College of William and MARY!!

This is not an actual Sister Spit gig but this is what they look like.

Tonight I am back in the fold and we're rocking William and Mary College in beautiful colonial Williamsburg ....!


At Colby Sawyer College, after the show, we hung out with some co-eds from there who told us about school and what they were studying. There were several Women's Studies majors and they were telling us about feminism and rape culture and stuff like that, a lot of which sounded very similar to the stuff we talked about when I was college.

So the next night I decided to bust out my Details article "HOW TO DATE A FEMINIST" at the UMASS show. (This instead of reading the part in RECOVERY ROAD about UMASS-- Maddie goes there when she can't get into SMITH, even though she's from Oregon and it doesn't make sense to go that far to go to a big state school, but you have to read RECO ROAD to understand ....)

Anyway, I have never read HOW TO DATE A FEMINIST in public. It was considered pretty controversial when it came out, making gentle fun both of feminism, and the kind of dumb men's/women's glossy magazine articles about how to date different stereotypes. Anyway, it went over big, and got a lot of laughs and though it was clearly dated in some of it's references, ("doc martins") pretty much all the points were still perfectly valid. "Almost all smart women are feminists, but not all feminists are smart".

The rest of the show was great, including the finale in which a witch put a spell on all of us ... and the best part there were like 500 people there. We filled a whole BALLRROOM!!

And I came to like UMASS too, despite what I said about it in my book. It is a HUGE state school, but it is very Massachussettes, meaning it is just a little smarter than your average state school, and not pretentious and full of nice little nooks and crannies to hang out in and work in and nod off, and drink coffee. They had a PEOPLES MARKET thing in their student union that was some sort of student run co-op, full of that distinctive Western Mass kind of hippy kid/queer kid vibe that seems familiar to me.

At one point we also went to Emily Dickenson's house where Ali Liebegott dazzled the tour guide. When asked if anyone was a fan of Emily Dickenson, Ali pulled up her shirt sleeve and showed the older woman her full arm tattoo of Ms. Dickenson's portrait. The woman--thus energized--was great, full of gossip and conjecture. The best kind of tour guide. And we got to see Emily's white dress, goddess like and ethereal. Dresses are so awesome.

Then on Friday i got on a plane and flew to Houston for a TEEN BOOK CONFERENCE that was super interesting and held in a huge contemporary public high school which was brand new and full of nice kids. A night out of TEX MEX that night completed the fun. There were a bunch of cool people on hand but Stephanie Perkins and Lindsey Leavitt and I closed the bar, or at least the shuffleboard game thing, new friends, yay.

Then onward, back to meet the SISTER SPIT crew back in William and Mary tonight!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Holy crap, so we show up at Bard and it's like ... our gig is on the back porch of a barn ... outside ... in the freezing rain ... at night! ... next to woods which Kirk Read who is our resident gay redneck hunter/outdoorsman, wanders out into ....

But no it turns out it's a garage... a garage with a really crappy skateboard ramp on a muddy road just outside the maintenance compound where they ought to maybe pave the street they are on. We're all like, okay, this is cool, as we step through the mud in our useless California shoe wear .... (I'm wearing white vans... good call!)

So we set up our crap and then someone lets us in to the main garage area which actually turns out to have a stage and such, so not as weird as it first appeared. All of this running like an hour behind so that weird cool Bard people started appearing and disappearing and wandering around. One awesome girl with a WENDY O haircut, brilliant, and the weirdest coolest face ever, should have tried to chat with her but why ... they are just kids the college kids ... you talk to them and there just isn't anything there yet.....

I mention this girls' haircuts because I think that YEAh Yeah Yeah's were formed at Bard, or partially at least.

And also because HAIRCUTS MATTER. And a cool haircut by a single audience member makes a "medium" gig into a "good" gig. And this girl had a cute dress too. Wear cool clothes people so that I can have something to live for!

Anyway so then my friends Sally and La showed up and we had a reuninion and Sally got to meet everyone from the TOUR and La kept driving off somewhere because his wife teaches at Bard and needed a piece of pizza for some reason. La was a struggling photographer when Sally found him, now he is a big shot at the New York Times and married to a brilliant beautiful magazine editor ... The Sally Effect. In her effortless way she attracts the best and the brightest ....

So we did the Bard gig and hung out and the Bard kids were awesome and cute and strange and quiet. I spent a lot of time standing on the nearby Lacrosse field trying to channel my beloved dead grandfather in the darkness. He coached high school sports for forty years in New England. I am I suspect more New English than I really know. There's a strange sense of home for me there. I love kids too. Though I am constantly complaining about them (see above).

So we drove the next day to Colby Sawyer college in New Hampshire and had another subdued gig which was nevertheless fun and we went ape-shit at the college cafeteria in any event. I had ALL the dinner options. Meatloaf. Fettucine. Hamburger. And just kept eating until I couldn't move because I LOVE INSTITUTIONAL FOOD OF ANY KIND. (A food fascist I must be. I want my cottage cheese contained and supervised and not "free range".)

During my performance, I read a bit of RECOVERY ROAD which went well though I started to get choked up reading about the tragic love of Maddie and Stewart. I almost started crying!!! On Stage!!!! You get a little raw emotionally on the road.

And Michelle read a great piece about rad-ass teenagers from her Rose Of No Man's Landwhich I love hearing from. I love all the books people have been reading from. Everyone on the tour is a great writer, which makes it fun no matter what the weird circumstances or varying crowds....

Monday, April 4, 2011


Yeah, so we got out of Seattle, which was so great and drove up to Vancouver, where I have never been as an adult, and don't know much about except Doug Coupland is from there and D.O.A. was from there, D.O.A. containing Chuck Bisquits who famously tried to steal my friends drums stool when they played together when we were all in high school.

So we get up there and we're staying in this hotel complex/outpost out in an outlying pretty is a trendy ACE-like hotel, a restaurant, a hair salon and a big theater underneath. A very interesting place, very Euro in it's concept. The people that worked at the hotel were a little useless, but we have been spoiled and when you're doing the hotel thing you kind of need things sometimes from the people and it sucks when they are busy buying shoes on Zappos.

Anyway we had a couple hours and I got restless and walked into the city, a long walk through Vancouver's skid row and then along the docks where some shady dudes pulled up beside me and tried to interest me in a home entertainment system and also some artsy kids on bikes were doing a photo shoot in Vancouver's very interesting alley system. They put all their electric wires down them. It all looks sort of cool and skeletal ....

So then when I got to the city I ended up under the city in this strange parking lot tunnel thing. And then I couldn't get out. And it was dark and scary and deserted down there and people were drag racing. The same sci-fi Masarati kept driving by. I could not make heads or tails of this. And got deeper into it. And the one person I could find could not help me and finally another tourist, a young woman, came upon me and she and I were both bewildered and lost and we finally found a trap door in a parking structure and then had to hike five floors up and opened a door and found ourselves in the middle of downtown Vancouver's central square. Very weird. But it was cool. I really loved the city. Interesting people walking around and I eventually found this big strip where everyone shopped and hung out and it was awesome. Reminded me of Hong Kong, which is apparently where about half of Vancouver is from now, since that was where all the Chinese business people from Hong Kong fled to when they turned it over to Communist China.

But I digress. The city was really fun and cosmopolitan. Miles better than Seattle. Interesting to see the Pacific Northwest done up right. Seattle and Portland seem so grim and depressing lately. Maybe because I am contemplating moving back for a period. whenever I think about returning to this area I sort of freak out.. And yet I continue to do my best writing there. My best writing spot in the world remains my parent's kitchen table in Hillsboro OR and the couch next to the TV in the living room....which is where I wrote RECOVERY ROAD. my newest and seemingly best book since GIRL.

We turned around from Vancouver and drove all day and did another show at Lewis and Clark College in Portland. Some friends showed up including Kevin Sampsell and Barb and Kari Luna and some others and we all hung out, though you tend to be so fried it's hard to always have an intelligent conversation with people, even though you are SO GLAD to see them.....

Then back in the van for the eleven hour drive to SF and then onto a plane and now I am sitting in a hotel near JFK, waiting for our ride up to Bard for our first East Coast gig.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Riding in the SISTER SPIT van from Vancouver to San Francisco, and getting bored, you start rummaging around for stuff to read ... picked up KING KONG THEORY that one of my comrades was reading and had my mind quietly blown. It's by Virginie Despentes, a french feminist writer who is apparently famous for a book and movie she wrote called RAPE ME, which I had not really heard of.

Wow, this was a fun read, maybe the first feminist text I've ever read smiling through every page ... it never slowed down ... interesting ... funny ... compassionate thoughts on the the men's side of things... reflections on her punk rock life ... her rape ... the weirdness of being famous as a feminist author/film maker and the shit storm the inevitably rains down upon you ....

And it also reminded me eerily of my own book DESTROY ALL CARS which also has a rythym of strident manifesto, then quiet personal reflection. Kind of like Kurt Cobain's guitar style, stepping on and off the SUPER FUZZ pedal. Just when you don't want any any more bone crunching declarations you are suddenly hanging out with the 17 year old author, going to punk shows, drinking beer....being young and kind of out of place in the pretty girl world ...

Loved it. Total recommend. This is one of the fun parts of Sister Spit being kind of immersed in stuff I used to follow more closely than I do now. And getting a chance to check it out again ....