I started this blog to have an outlet for writing and sharing after Giant Robot ran its course. But what my wife wrote about our daughter, her cousins, and their friend needs to be here too. By Wendy Lau:
After The Linda Lindas opened for Bikini Kill at The Palladium, I’ve thought a lot about… parenting. Martin and I have always believed Eloise is an exceptional and charismatic individual. But did I really believe she could do anything?
Last November, after The Linda Lindas’ first show at Save Music in Chinatown, Eloise’s music composition teacher Carl Protho said, “You better watch out. She’s going to play The Forum! The Greek! STAPLES Center!” I laughed and thanked him. He looked at me sternly and continued, “I’m not kidding. You better prepare yourself.” Right before he saw her perform at The Palladium last Friday, Carl texted, “Hold onto your heart!”
The day after The Linda Lindas’ previous show in February, Eloise and I ran into our friend Gabie Strong. We told her that Bethany from Best Coast sent a video of their cover of “Rebel Girl” to Kathleen Hanna because once Eloise yelled “Girls to the front!” she started crying. “Maybe they’ll open for Bikini Kill at The Palladium” was Gabie’s reaction. Again, I laughed.
Next thing you know, Kathleen Hanna tweeted the video, which has surpassed 55K views. And we all thought, that’s cool but it’s just Twitter. Then she invited them to open for one of the much-anticipated Bikini Kill reunion shows. Gabie was prophetic! First, I was shocked. Then super giddy. And then scared.
Us parents even confided our insecurities with Kathleen. Would people who paid good money to see Bikini Kill be disappointed to see a kid cover band open the show? But she was confident The Linda Lindas would make longtime fans feel like the struggle was all worth it and inspire teen girls to start their own bands. During their incredible set, so many people screamed, laughed, and even cried tears of joy. These little girls won over thousands of people waiting to see Bikini Kill! Kathleen was right.
I truly believe my kid can do anything. Moving forward, I will always protect her but never stand in her way. This post has been about Eloise because I’m her mommy, but I could write a whole essay on each of The Linda Lindas: Lucia, Mila, and Bela. These unbelievably awesome girls just showed us all they’ll rule the world.
Wendy and Eloise backstage at the Hollywood Palladium (April 26, 2019) Photo: Jessie Cowan
One week from today, my wife Wendy and I will be throwing the fourth Save Music in Chinatown DIY punk matinee/fund raising gig at Human Resources gallery to pay for music education at Castelar Elementary, where our daughter goes to first grade. This an unplanned and awesome extension of my days of writing about music and hanging out with artists when I edited Giant Robot mag. Getting to share and push culture on the printed page was a real gift. But to do something that happens in real life and try to make a difference in the community where my immigrant grandparents and in-laws have spent time is a different type of radical. Especially since Eloise goes to school there now.
The harebrained idea was spawned last year when our daughter started attending kindergarten. Her inner-city campus looks like a prison but it’s an excellent school with passionate teachers, bright kids, and a kick-ass dual-language Mandarin program that Eloise is thriving in. Then, in the first week, we parents received a flyer stating that the music program had been defunded. Could the households help pay the $50 thousand bill? In that particular mostly immigrant and blue-collar neighborhood, probably not.
Wendy wondered what we could do, since we’re not loaded and don’t do bake sales. It occurred to us that Chinatown has a punk rock heritage that can’t be beat (X, Zeros, Weirdos, Black Flag, Dils, Germs…) and a lively art gallery scene (post punk) as well. Although the scenes don’t overlap much with the locals outside of bars and restaurants, of course they’d help kids if they could. Especially for music. And since Wendy and I have ties to all three cultures, we decided to have punk matinees in art galleries to help the local kids. Wendy came up with the name: Save Music in Chinatown.
I was fortunate that my old friends Gabie from KCHUNG and Wendy from Ooga Booga Store introduced me to the crew at Human Resources right off the bat. The gallery’s vibe is perfect with its past lives as a kung fu movie theater, porno theater, and sweat shop before it was abandoned and was reborn as a gallery that specializes in difficult to show or sell art. Eric, Grant, Luke, and everyone else there have been nothing but super cool and supportive.
And how awesome is it to have punk rock back in Chinatown. In the afternoon. I have a lot of friends who don’t get out as much as they used to because they don’t like staying up late or dealing with getting a babysitter. These all-ages matinees are a perfect way to get everyone out but also expose kids to cool music.
At six, Eloise has seen the likes of The Chuck Dukowski Sextet, California (with Jason from Green Day and Adam from Jawbreaker), Channel Three (with guest appearances by Maria Montoya and Tony Adolescent), Money Mark, Hector Penalosa from The Zeros playing with The Baja Bugs, and Bob Forrest from Thelonious Monster. Not to mention art rockers like Lucky Dragons, L.A. Fog, Deradoorian, Bitter Party… (Conversely, a lot of the artists who are used to playing late-night, sketchy venues dig being able to bring family and kids to our shows.)
While groveling for raffle goods is definitely the most awkward part of planning, I think it’s a key part of the fund raising. It allows us keep the door price low but raise some extra bucks. And it allows all sorts of friends and neighbors to contribute and build a scene. Regulars like Una from Keep, Mark from Donut Friend, Chris at Scoops Chinatown, and Vicki at Berndt Offerings, all the bands that sign records, artists who donate autographed books and prints, and everyone else–what would I do without them? And on the the bake sale end, gourmet goodies from so many parent/volunteers plus baked goods from Wendy’s pasty chef/cousin Linda, coffee courtesy of Julia and interTrend, and other treats add to the awesome experience (and funds raised) substantially.
And Sunday afternoons are ideal because there’s plenty of free street parking and everyone can leave early enough to grab some noodles in Chinatown before getting home at a decent hour and not being a wreck on Monday. A perfect day.
So please come to our next show. I still can’t believe Bob Forrest (Thelonious Monster) and Josh Klinghoffer (Dot Hacker) are playing their first hometown show as The Bicycle Thief in 13 years for our little matinee. And I love Evil Hearted You’s carefully crafted post-punk roots sound on their debut album but their live show is going to kill you. I’m not even going to get into how great Hector Penalosa’s mini set of My Revenge was at the second show–a perfect mix of power pop, garage rock, and O.G. punk–and how much I want to see a full set. All that tied together by the garage rock tunes spun by KXLU’s Molotov Cocktail Hour DJs? Damn.
I hope you can tell that although Save Music in Chinatown was born out of necessity, and there are worthwhile cultural angles that I’m interested in and proud of, this project is mostly just super fun for us. And I hope it’s that way for everyone who helps out by playing or promoting the gigs, donating raffle items, working the bake sale, or attending.