Tag Archives: punk rock

THE VIRGIN MARRIES DO MALIBU-“Town Slut’s Daughter” forthcoming novel excerpt

Heading to the studio, they wound their way along the curves of Pacific Coast Highway past sunning sea lions, surfers bobbing at Point Dume, shithawks—seagulls—bombing the pier. Fiona watched Dennis ogling a busty brunette astride a Palomino stallion bareback, galloping through roiling surf.
“You can see the gray whales during migration.” He told them smugglers used to run liquor, opium and Chinese labor through the area.
The studio sat under the lee of the mountains, a veritable citadel by the sea. The massive foyer, a circle of mahogany pillars, opened teepee-like, rays of sun warming the slate floor.
“Hey Virgins, it’s your first time!” joked Dennis. “In a studio.”
Producer Dan Foley ambled in, gently gruff in a RECOVERING CATHOLIC t-shirt, black jeans, lizard skin cowboy boots. He sat, Virgins arranging their bums on a bank of white couches.
“Okay, so what kind of a production values are you going for?” he asked, voice like sandpaper.
“Don’t you know?” Jackie clung to her guitar case.
“It’s your music. You tell me.”
Fiona knew. “Raw. Gritty.”
“Right,” said Rita. “And we want it tight.”
“Monster bass!” said Jackie. “I play bass like no one, melodically, but with a lot of guts.”
“Describe your sound. As a band I mean.”
Gawd. I wish we had a manager. “We sound like the Virgin Marries. Our drummer is a walking, talking, sonic boom. Our bass player is an original. Dolores plays her Les Paul like a band saw. It rips! We write excellent songs. The singer can actually sing. I have great stage presence too. We all do. Right, girls?” They nodded. “We’re talented. Fucking brilliant in fact.”
Dan feigned ducking, as if to avoid a blow. “Alright then. We have a band in the studio. Who’s responsible for the arrangements?”
Dolores groaned. “Arranging is for wimps. We don’t arrange our stuff.”
Rita brandished her drumsticks. “Yes we do! We don’t want a ton of effects, Linn drums, or a million overdubs.”
“No cowbells!” said Fiona. “I hate fucking cowbells. Let the farmers have ‘em.”
“Or synthesizers,” said Dolores.
“I hate saxophones almost as much as I hate cowbells. And flutes! I hate the flute. It reminds me of beatniks. And hippies.”
Dan stood at the window looking out over the mist-shrouded hills. “Okay, so you know what you don’t want. I will venture to say I think you need a clean sound. Organic. Unrestrained. Untainted.”
“Organic?” bleated Jackie.
“Yeah. Organic, as in authentic. Virginal. Pure. Virgin Marries, doing what comes natural.”
“Er, yeah, okay.” Jackie feigned gagging. “But we are not hippies!”

Pink Sombreros

The cowboy led his horse to water
The horse refused to drink
The cowboy roped a steer one day
The steer was full of sawdust
The cowboy saw a sign in the sky
Revolving neon stars

Dudes in white fringes live here now
Dudes in pink sombreros are here to stay

The cows are lowing, the myth is dying
This land can break my heart
I have no place to go
Beyond my wild whisky dreams

“How about piano?”
“Gimme a break! Do you want us to sound like the Eagles?”
Rita glared at Fiona. “We couldn’t sound like the Eagles if we tried!”
“It is a ballad,” said Dan.
“Yeah, it’s a ballad,” said Fiona, “but it’s a cowboy song. I hear guitars.”
“Guitar yes, of course, but this song, a wonderful song by the way, should be played on acoustic. Just the rhythm parts.”
“Acoustic!” yelped Dolores.
“Yes. Acoustic will make it a classic. Showcase the vocals. A little piano in the bridge.” Dan leveled his eyes at Fiona. “And another thing. Hit songs do not have minor chords.”
Let’s hit you. Fiona sighed.
“I thought you were tired of Continue reading

Why These Shoes Matter More than an MFA

I’m paraphrasing; read an interesting book review of British sociologist Katherine Hakim’s Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital, which argues that “erotic capital can be as professionally useful as a university degree,” and that, “women have been conditioned not to exploit their attractiveness for economic benefit.” I didn’t agree with her entire hypothesis but certainly she makes valid points. “Hakim claims heterosexual women’s erotic capital and fertility— their greatest trump cards—have been systematically undervalued and suppressed by religious fundamentalists, the patriarchy and even radical feminists who want to restrict women’s ability to benefit from their one major advantage over men, and to humiliate women who gain money or status though such activities.” Well, growing up, I was always uncomfortable with my sexuality and certainly didn’t feel at liberty to exploit it. I covered up, equating sexy with sleazy. I was actually loath to admit that I was afraid of men, their oh so keen response to my body nothing but overwhelming. I still don’t believe that being desired makes one powerful, not in and of itself, but as a happily lapsed Catholic, I’m able to revel in my body, mainly grateful it works, and do not hesitate to flaunt.

On the novel front, I’m working hard on a proposal, completed a synopsis and now must compose a scintillating query letter in order to avoid the dreaded slush pile. Feeling very good about this book, vital because I’m acting as my own agent. Apparently there are no agents in Canada worth pursuing. With a large part of the story set in United States, I suppose I could look down there, but the head reels at the thought, so I’ll focus my efforts north of the border for now, though I did contact several American colleagues to receive some promising leads. I’m very grateful for the help and guidance of friends Dennis E. Bolen, Gretl Rassmussen, Peter Trower, Julie Vik and Jenn Farrell.

So here’s the synopsis. Please don’t ask if it’s autobiographical. I feel much the way Beauty and Pity author Kevin Chong does. “You’d have to be an intellectual dwarf from Cloverdale to make that assumption.” My protagonist Fiona is not me and I am not Fiona. And though I may be a Surrey girl, I have a high IQ and stand 6 foot in heels.

The Town Slut’s Daughter


The Siren of Howe Sound, AKA Canadian poet Heather Haley’s debut novel, The Town’s Slut’s Daughter, is a tale of loss and transcendence, peopled with unforgettable characters. Fiona Larochelle’s journey unfolds in three sections with a mix of fact, fiction and startling events.

In part one, Girls With Guitars, Fiona flees a tortured relationship with mother Jeanette, and a harrowing home life of terror and physical abuse only to land in Vancouver’s violently blazing punk rock underground. Music provides a catalyst however; Fiona mines a talent for singing and songwriting to form an all-girl band, the Virgin Marries.

In part two, Girl With Guitar, Fiona is stranded in the United States after her bassist ODs and the Virgin Marrries scatter. Fiona is forced to navigate a minefield of vice, drug abuse, jealous lovers and predatory record producers as she works to rebuild her dream.

In part three, Girl with Ratty Hair, Fiona struggles to retain her voice while indulging in an obsession with cruel, dangerous men. She discovers that peace of mind is not possible with the volume cranked to ten. Rage may have facilitated Fiona’s quest in the beginning but it cannot deliver her. Amidst the tumult of the LA Riots, Fiona bolts her cocaine-fueled marriage to a modern-day Bluebeard. Throughout it all, a fierce, indomitable spirit prevails.

Bad girls flip the the bird at grease balls

And Jesus loves them. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been journaling. I’m pissed off. I have been sick. Sick and tired, of the rain and cold. It’s going to be one of those non-summers we British Columbians suffer now and then. Fuck it. I’m turning this year around. 2011 is the year  I complete my novel. Despite everything. Everyone. I have been caught up in the daunting task of cutting and revising, 150 pages slashed; didn’t think I could do it, so glad I did. When that’s complete I’ll restructure if need be. Here’s a segment of The Town Slut’s Daughter, partially set in Vancouver’s punk rock scene. You’ll have to excuse the wacky formatting, WordPress sucks. I’m afraid there’s no excuse for lapsed Catholic protagonist Fiona Larouchelle. She is not a nice girl.

“Look who’s on TV!” Rita pointed to Joey Shithead on The Vancouver Show with Pia Shandel.
“Ha!” hooted Fiona. “She looks like a Pia Shandel.”
Joey handled bubbly Pia with aplomb. Fiona threw down three tickets to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre emblazoned with Hit Someone You Love.
“Great!” said Rita. “What’s with all the misogyny? I thought the scene was so equalitarian.” Rita grabbed the kettle, turned on the tap. “Well, I suppose it is if you happen to be young, white and male.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t go.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t. Who is Transformer Productions, anyway?”
“I don’t know. Never heard of them. But it’s a great bill! Rabid, Pointed Sticks, SubHumans, K-Tels.” Angus was a hero for digging up a new venue, O’Hara’s, a derelict nightclub on the pier at the foot of Main. Her father remembered it from when he was a young buck roaming the streets. “I wanna go. We gotta see the K-Tels.”
“Okay. We’re doing our bit to fight sexism, right? We play electric guitars!”

The next night Fiona, Shannon and Rita drove down to the show, a near riot on by the time they arrived.
BAM!     THUD!     WHAM!
“Hey,” said Fiona, “it’s like Batman.”
Entering cautiously, they noticed a riser to their right and looked up into the scowling faces of thirty or so longhaired bikers and fat, bearded yahoos greeting them with upraised chairs and benches. A table whizzed past their heads, crashing against the wall, but when the girls advanced, like a sea parting, the bikers moved aside to let them pass.
“I guess we don’t pose a threat,” said Fiona, “or maybe they’re sparing the girls.”
Shannon laughed. “As if they have policy.”
They found the K-Tels soldiering through Automan, bassist Jim Bescott and green-haired Art so on the beam, they deftly dodged an assortment of projectiles. Fuming, Rita sidled up to a big greaser just as he was about to launch a Labatt’s can and grabbed him by the arm.
“Hey asshole! Those are my friends.”
He nearly choked on his tongue. Rita stood guard until the frustrated hit man left.
Like hyenas tracking a herd of wildebeest, their tormenters plucked the youngest, sickest, stupidest kids from the crowd, methodically pummeling all attitude out of them. The Bowery Boys were on rodeo clown duty, goading the creeps, pulling them off their friends, getting in a few punches of their own.
“This is nuts!” shouted Fiona. She waved at Oona and Spooner across the room. They dashed over. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” sputtered Oona. “What the fuck is going on?”
“I dunno, it’s bizarre,” said Spooner, glancing nervously about the room, “every biker and grease-ball in the Lower Mainland must be here. I heard they’re even coming up from Bellingham.”
Is a mob the sum of its parts? Fiona could see no eye contact, with each other or their prey. No motive, no reason. No head. No heart.
Shannon surveyed the pandemonium. “Well, if this is Valentine’s Day, it must be hell.”
“Where’s security?”
“Maybe this is security,” Rita said grimly. “I’m having visions of Altamont.”
They exited at the first opportunity. Fiona saw Dennis wrestling a Continue reading

Mourning, messages

Sun instead of rain. Bonus. Writing quite a lot, most of which can’t be posted, about events personal and searingly painful. Too much grit, not enough lyric. A death in the family works to put matters of the heart into perspective though. I can say I’m fortunate to have compassionate, intelligent friends in my corner.

I’m so sad, weary, jaded. I wonder if anything appalls me anymore. I was more bemused by the antics—or tactics—because the Black Bloc is not an organization, Black Bloc is a tactic—at the G-20 summit in fair Toronto over the weekend. It seems their message becomes more obscured with each year of their annual bash-in, one reason I’m sure most people chose to watch the World Cup on Saturday instead. It’s all so predictable, tedious. This, a few days after a discussion of anarchy with Sean Cranbury of Books on the Radio as it pertained to punk rock and the Internet. I suppose that is their message. Anarchy. I understand that anarchy does not equate with violent disorder, that the anarchists have gotten a bad rap, but I don’t believe their utopian vision is feasible. Not in this world.

I have always been suspect of mixing art and politics and none of my comrades in punk rock were card-carrying anarchists. I suppose Gerry Useless of the Subhumans was the most radicalized among us and perhaps the only, at least to that degree. Zealotry is zealotry, something my Zellots band mate Conny Nowe and I were aware of as we chose a resonant name. Zealotry is dangerous, futile, often resulting in death. To me, being an artist is a political statement.

The information highway may be swamped with billboards these days but its essence is the same. Everybody and his dog has a blog. What could be more populist? Which is more democracy than chaos. I detest capitalism, abhor the yawning chasm between the rich and the poor—don’t get me started! —but until something better comes along, will not ascribe to anarchy, nor tolerate the chaos anarchists create. Take your Molotovs and your machetes and shove ‘em.


I find a message
via vanity plate,
a gearshift in the gutter,
an egg,
turquoise and high in a nest.
I make it my own.
Not in my house!
It holds its value.
The toaster,
the red couch,
leftover lasagne,
my first stainless steel appliance,
the inherent drama
four walls.

And now I mourn.

Hangover City-Fractured Old School-Shmorgs guitarist Peter Draper

The party’s over. Here we sit, post-Olympics, talk of legacy raging as the provincial government returns to the capital for further belt tightening, dickering with The Budget. It was a glorious party and I, to my surprise, swept up. Well, I had to watch the hockey, it’s in my DNA, being a Béliveau.  I do regret missing the revelry downtown after the Team Canada victory last night. It was an incredible game, with an astonishing sudden death goal by the Kid, Sidney Crosby, decidedly a once-in-a-lifetime event. No next time. Boo hoo. I once passed up a free ticket to see Nirvana, to attend the premiere of Tombstone. Gawd. How can I admit such a thing? My only excuse, I’m a serious film buff and by that point, had witnessed enough wasted, wailing rockers for two lifetimes.  “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” – Orson Welles. Hmm, I can’t remember who directed Tombstone, and see, I’m not even going to bother to Google it, but he, or she, was no poet. Oh, I have another excuse for screwing up; I just remembered I was pregnant, hormone-addled. I mean, more than usual.

Some people are smugly saying things like oh where are those pesky protesters now? Well, when I was at W2 for the Real Vancouver Writers Series last week we walked by the Continue reading

“What is west coast music?”

Onstage at the Smilin' Buddha

My friend, singer/songwriter Julie Vik recently posed the question, “What is west coast music?” because as she said, I was there for the “transition.” Well, I replied, I can only speak from my own experience. I used to tour up and down the west coast, play the west coast circuit. I always say we shared more camaraderie with our American punk cohorts than those in the rest of Canada. I know some bands like DOA toured across country and around the world but most of us were strapped for cash and stayed closer to home, or at least west of the Rockies. A fellow islander and musician Chris Corrigan said that in the traditional music community there are strong connections within the scenes in Washington and Oregon and not so much with the rest of Canada. “When I was really active in the scene in the 1990s, you could look at the repertoire of traditional Irish tunes we played and see that they were heavily influenced by what was happening in Seattle. We’ve always been closer to Cascadians.” Makes sense to me. Cascadia, as a region, certainly, draws musicians, the arts together. I’ve noticed lots of overlap between the San Juan and Gulf Islands as well in the spoken word, literary scenes.

In any case, it was always more expedient for us to tour in a southerly direction than back east. The snowy passes and mountains certainly are formidable, then you have three days or so of flatlands-prairies-and then three more days of bush-Ontario!

The Dils (from San Francisco) came up and played Vancouver often, hung out with us and were very comradely. Black Flag from LA as well. I became friends with many Californians introduced to me by Brad Kent who had done a stint as the Avengers guitarist; Chuck Dukowski, Gregg Ginn, Darby Crash, Margo from the Go-Gos, Jello Biafra, Kid Spike and Karla MadDog from the Controllers. I got so weary of driving up and down the 1-5, pooling pennies to buy gas and arguing over which fast food drive-in to pull into. One time I begged to take PCH, just for a change of scene, and mentioned that it would be fun to go visit Henry Miller in Big Sur. They thought I was crazy. “Henry who?”

I shared these opinions with Scott Beadle once too, in an interview. He is Vancouver’s defacto punk rock historian, did a talk at the Vancouver Museum a few years back. Man, does that make me feel old! I recall being at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, in the punk rock section and looking at flyers under glass, flyers I have copies of at home!

In my humble opinion, Vancouver was Continue reading

Play It LOUD-“Caniculares dies” 09

Ugh. Caniculares dies. Dog days of summer! Staying cool isn’t easy today. I am relatively used to it, having lived in southern California for so long but still, these low 30 temperatures are brutal. One of the worst aspects, besides the fire hazard, is the perspiration. I’m just sitting here and sweating as if I were hiking up a hill. I wash my hands all day, still feel grimy. Think I’ll do my workout after the sun goes down. Fortunately, things usually cool down around here at night. It’s much worse back east, heat and humidity relentless.

I can’t seem to get the video shoot off the ground, feeling vexed that certain aspects are not coming together. I need a costume sewn, was given references to two people on the island but they aren’t getting back to me. So screw the Great Gatsby spoof, I won’t bother with the period piece clothing, will just dress Continue reading