Carrie Brownstein is a skilled writer, clever and self-aware. She writes evocatively about music and gives fans a curated "behind the music." If I were a long-time Sleater-Kinney fan, I can imagine that I would have been gaga over the stories behind each album and album release tour. Since I'm a nearly life-time hater of live music, those parts weren't as interesting to me. Instead, as a long-time reader of zines made by Sleater-Kinney fans, I may have overidentified, when I felt like Brownstein was being dismissive of them.
That summer there were a number of Riot Grrrl "festivals" and "conventions," which were mostly single shows featuring more than four bands and maybe a few people selling fanzines. One of the best aspects of Riot Grrrl was that anyone could adopt the term as their own--it wasn't prescriptive. However, this ambiguity left room for a lot of interpretation. It was on this tour that I witnessed a girl with a tampon as a hair accessory and another with the word "Hippo" written across her T-shirt with a Sharpie. Reclamation had no bounds.
The scare quotes and last sentence are condescending at best, and closer to mean. When you're 15 years old booking more than four bands in a single show is a friggin' convention! The tampon hair accessory sounds cute to me, especially if the wearer's hair dye starts to run. I'm disappointed whenever I encounter a riot grrrl figure distancing herself from the movement. It may be true that few of them ever attended a meeting, but do they have to shake their head in wonderment that thousands of girls believed in its precepts so deeply and maybe acted like teenagers over it?
Much of what I've seen of people's reactions to the book is how meaningful Brownstein's own fandom is to them. I'm not seeing that. I do see passages like this next one as more meaningful, though:
It's hard to express how profound it is to have your experience broadcast back to you for the first time, how shocking it feels to be acknowledged, as if your own sense of realness had only existed before as a concept.
That's Brownstein describing how she felt on first hearing Bikini Kill, at having her own experience reflected back at her. Oh, and here's a quotation about planning a Ladyfest event that I can relate to, even if it feels a little mean/condescending, like the one above mocking the riot grrrl:
Frustration was high, as a group of about twenty of us attempted to navigate and cater to everyone's needs and wishes, differences and ideologies. We were often at an impasse, inert from politeness (or passive-agressiveness), no one wanting to take charge or declare themselves a leader.
Now I'm feeling super cranky at Brownstein and other people whose successes began with riot grrrl, so I'll stop. It's nice that Brownstein can show compassion for her own 15-year-old self.