inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #176 of 208: Straight Outta Concord (angus) Mon 19 Sep 05 23:01
    

        Early seventies, I saw on KQED-TV [local PBS] a band called 
Steamin' Freeman, with a female keyboardist and female drummer; cursory 
research indicates that they were Dorothy Moskowitz and Ginny Whitaker. 
        What stands out in my memory is that they were players who were 
backing a male frontman/singer.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #177 of 208: Berliner (captward) Tue 20 Sep 05 05:19
    
Sounds like a bunch of great leads to follow up there. 

I'd like to turn the conversation to another subject brought up in the
book, the rock press. And I'm afraid I'm going to have to be severely
critical here. The reason is simple: Lisa has ignored a huge part of
it, and, thus, really hobbled her survey. 

What I'm referring to is the women journalists she doesn't mention.
There was Sue Graham, who edited Jazz & Pop, itself not a real
groundbreaker -- although it did try to bring those two worlds together
to greater or lesser effect -- and who later married Charles Mingus
and became one of the most feared women in the music biz after his
death because of her fierce protection of his legacy. There was Raeanne
Rubenstein, who was best-known as a photographer, but who edited
Crawdaddy for a number of years. There was Gloria Stavers, who edited
Hit Parade subversively, turning a teeny mag into an early cheerleader
for any number of underground bands, in part because she hired Danny
Fields, who later signed the Stooges to Elektra and managed the
Ramones. She died tragically early, before she could really make the
impact I know she would have made. 

But mostly, what's missing is the real feminist triumph of the era,
the magazine which made a huge difference in hundreds of thousands of
teenage lives. I'm speaking about Creem. 

Creem was an amazing magazine, the one rockers turned to after giving
up on Rolling Stone's wimpiness, and it came not from any of the media
centers of the day, but from godforsaken Detroit. I was involved with
it from 1971-1976, and although I was listed as West Coast Editor, I
never had much day-to-day contact with it, my frequent visits
notwithstanding. 

However, I did spend enough time there to realize that it wasn't just
the Dynamic Duo of Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs who were steering the
ship, but also a crew of amazing women: Roberta "Robbie" Cruger, Jaan
Uhelski, Connie Kramer (the publisher's wife), and, later, Georgia
Christgau and Sue Whitall, among others. These women weren't there
because they were someone's girlfriend (although some of them were from
time to time), nor because they were groupies, but because they were,
like the rest of us, rock fans. They were absolutely equal partners in
its production and its direction. They wrote stories, worked with
production, and, most importantly, imparted a sensibility that made the
magazine essential to the culture of the times. When I tell people I
worked for Rolling Stone, they say "Wow, cool." When I tell them I
worked for Creem, they start freaking out: "Man, I devoured every copy
of that as soon as it came in the mail! That magazine really told me
what was going on, and it made me feel like I wasn't weird because I
hated James Taylor. It didn't suck up to the rock stars, and it made
fun of everything. It was just as much rock and roll as the music it
wrote about." 

Apparently, Lisa, you did speak to Roberta Cruger, but there isn't a
word about the magazine in the book. Why not?

To redress this imbalance, I've arranged for Jaan Uhelski, who's still
working in rock journalism, to join us here, and I believe she'll be
along a little later today. She's read the book, and her knowledge of
this is far more detailed and specific than mine, because she was there
from the very beginning, as a native Detroiter who started out as the
"Coke girl" selling soft-drinks at the Grande Ballroom. 

Jaan, are you out there? Talk to us. 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #178 of 208: Low and popular (rik) Tue 20 Sep 05 07:36
    
"Ginny Whitaker"!!!

Short, sweet, and kicked major butt.   If she could have been in King
Crimson, she'd have been in heaven.

Oh, sorry.   I'll be quiet now.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #179 of 208: Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Tue 20 Sep 05 08:35
    
Ed, you are completely right. I should have included Robert Cruger,
and Jane Scott, and Lisa Robinson, and Gloria Stavers, and Patricia
Kennealy-Morrison, etc. That said, I do want to say in my defense that
my reasons for not including Roberta were logistical and had to do with
the difficulty of finding complete runs of Creem (I believe that
Bowling Green State has one, but I couldn't find one in San Diego where
I did the research). Roberta was able to get me some of her writings
from the period but it took her brother a while to find them in a
garage in Detroit and they weren't in time for inclusion in this book
(I had a publication schedule to meet). A scholar has to work with the
material that is available. All the research for this book was funded
by the bank of Lisa and it didn't leave a lot of money for travel.

I would also like to point out that the New Yorker's circulation
numbers (as well as those of the Sunday Daily News, were very high (the
latter claimed 4 million readers on Sunday) and I was trying to
address the most ubiquitous writings of women critics. I also believe
that Willis's writing is a benchmark for the field of rock journalism,
especially in that formative period. That is not to take away from the
other women's writings, but hers, as I say in the book, is something
special. Roxon's work as a gossip columnist was very important as
gendered language, i.e. associated most closely with women, and is
often devalued for this reason. I believe that this aspect of Roxon's
work, as well as her place in the history of the Murdoch media empire,
make her career of interest to gender and media scholars. Robinson
certainly had the former characteristic but not Roxon's visibility (or
the encyclopedia) or her Murdoch connections.

I am also curious why more is not said about these women in other,
better funded books on the subject? Powers and McDonnell did a great
job in "Rock She Wrote" and the British book  on rock journalists (I
think it was " In their own Write"?) included many women writer's
stories.  
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #180 of 208: Lolly Lewis (lolly) Tue 20 Sep 05 14:27
    
I love reading this! Diane (Gravenites) Tribuno was one of the singers
when I was doing backup with Nicholas and Mike (Bloomfield) et al.
Could not remember her name! 
And Steamin' Freeman! Golly! Haven't thought of him in a while, is he
around somewhere? Greg Errico is definitely around, I see him from time
to time. I can get ahold of him, David, if you don't see him at the
studio.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #181 of 208: Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Tue 20 Sep 05 15:01
    
Say hello to Greg for me <lolly>

We worked together on Lee Oskar stuff back when I was at Far Out
Productions/LAX Records.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #182 of 208: Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Tue 20 Sep 05 15:03
    
Ed, a strictly personal observation here but I think the
behind-the-scenes story of Creem is a book - has anyone done one? The
SXSW panel a couple years back really whetted my appetite for it.
(Somewhere, I still have one of your Creem business cards.) Jan and
Robbie were especially interesting in what they did and still do.
Robbie was at the EMP conference in 2003 and introduced herself to me
but I lost her card.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #183 of 208: David Gans (tnf) Tue 20 Sep 05 17:59
    
I won't be back at Fantasy any time soon; I just happened to notice Errico's
name on a sesion log at thee front desk.  Go for it, Lolly!
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #184 of 208: from JAAN UHELSZKI (tnf) Tue 20 Sep 05 22:52
    


We're still trying to get Jaan Uhelszki's account opened and all that, but in
the meantime, she sent this for me to post:


I did see the glaring absence of any female Creem writers in the book, and I
always thought that we were one of the more enlightened publications.  Maybe
it was just the fact that Creem paid so little, ($22.75 a week) but there was
something that was posted in the front of the magazine that encouraged
solicitations from writers that went something along the lines of: WE AIN'T
GOT NOTHING THAT YOU DON'T HAVE. And ignoring the obvious, I believed the
editors, so I started sending submissions to the mag  when I was still in
high school.  It took me a while, but by 1971 I was a full-fledged member of
the staff, working in the trenches.  Selling t-shirts, fullfilling subscrip-
tions, writing record reviews and being part of what became a full-on dream
team.

Any good, irreverent, left-of-center idea was entertained--and if it hadn't
been for Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs, and Connie Kramer I would never had the
encouragement to think I could do pull this off.

I read Nik Cohn and Janet Maslin in Eye Magazine, and I knew that that was
the job for me, but I lived in the suburban hinterlands of Michigan and who
else was going to go for a story where I proposed to do a story not on Kiss,
but as a member of the band which I turned into  "I Dreamt I Was Onstage With
Kiss in My Maidenform Bra." A man couldn't have done that story. He wouldn't
have got the access.

Being an underestimated under-gender I got away with things my male counter-
parts couldn't. A Bachman Turner Overdrive Diet Guide, going chocolate tast-
ing with Grand Funk Railroad, or treated like the maid by Jimmy Page on their
1977 tour -- made for rare fodder on an expose about the band.

Attitude and imagination counted for everything at Creem, plus I think people
succeed from their limitations not their strengths--and if gender was or is a
limitation, the women at Creem were a formidable force--Lisa Robinson, Robbie
Cruger, Georgia Christgau, et. al.

Sadly, I think that female rock journalists are still seen as a novelty--and
as a result we have to be more professional, go that extra mile in research
and preparation, and still think about our "reputation," but on the whole
women like Sia Michel at Spin, Melissa Maerz from Spin, her sister Jeniffer
Maerz at the Stranger have that same fearless spirit that we did at Creem and
are on the whole much more skilled listeners and astute writers than many of
our male counterparts.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #185 of 208: Berliner (captward) Wed 21 Sep 05 10:33
    
I have to back up here and ask Lisa some questions, though. I'm not
sure that your definition of "ubiquity" is solid. Yeah, the New Yorker
and the NY Daily News had larger ciruclations than Creem, but how many
people paid attention to the rock critics there? In a newspaper, that
part of the paper is just part of the fish-wrap, and sure, the New
Yorker may have had a rock critic, and she may have been superb (and
she was), but I wonder how many of their readers were readindg *her*? 

On the other hand, in terms of impact on the fans, the musicians, and
the industry, magazines like Creem and Rolling Stone and even Crawdaddy
had a lot more power than either the Daily News or the New Yorker. 

You can't just be that selective with your data, in my opinion, and --
although I know nothing of academia -- just going ahead to publish
with whatever scattershot stuff you have to hand would, I think, open
you up to some fairly withering criticism. 

Moreover, I can't buy the argument that you couldn't find at least big
runs of Creem. You might not find them in the library -- hardly
surprising, given the nature of the magazine and its reception by the
dominant high culture of the time -- but I bet there were nerds in San
Diego who had them, record collectors, comic book stores, and the like.


The material was available, is what I'm saying. Probably easily
available. 

(And yes, Margaret, I think Jaan's working on a book about Creem, but
I should let her talk about that). 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #186 of 208: Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Wed 21 Sep 05 12:09
    
As someone who has read all of Lillian Roxon's columns, I would hardly
categorize her work as "fish wrap." She was inordinately influential
with a segment of rock fandom that most rock journalists ignored. She
aimed her work a lot at young kids and women. She was a gossip
columnist and I believe that is a very important role in any community.
I discuss why in the book in Chapter 3. 

As far as whether the New Yorker's audience not really reading
Willis's reportage, I just don't buy it. True, most of them were not
among rock's cognoscenti (or that of rock journalism) but many were
serious fans, which I think is clear from the fact that the column ran
for 7 years and would have continued has Willis not tired of its
direction. She, like Roxon, was writing for a group of fans that were
not included by most of the magazines in the rock press: public
intellectuals, literati (especially of the East Coast variety), older
fans, and women or those interested in gender (especially feminists). I
also included Willis in my book because she was the only rock critic
who was also simultaneously a founding member of Redstockings (an early
radical feminist group in the NYC area). He authorial stance was
unique. 

I never said that the New Yorker of the Daily News had more influence
than those other magazines. I merely said that the former were a big
part of the history of rock journalism because a lot of people saw
them, the work done in them was very good, and that their stories
deserved to be told. 

As far as "being that selective with my data," Ed the short answer is,
"yes I can." I never said that the book was an exhaustive history of
women in rock journalism, nor did I say that I would only deal with the
most influential (according to rock journalists who worked during the
era) publications. I said that I was going to tell a certain part of
the story that hadn't been told, not all of it. I didn't choose
Willis's work because I "had it to hand." Hers was some the most cogent
and tightly written prose in the field. She was one of the best and I
have never heard anyone say otherwise. That her material was readily
available was a lagniappe, not a deciding factor.
 
The fact is, influential as it may have been, Creem is NOT readily
available to scholars and researchers. I have to have a full run to
make literate comparisons. To write about a few issues of a magazine as
if that gave me an understanding of it in its totality, now that would
be scattershot. I decided to write about those two journalists because
I believed that their stories illustrated something about the era that
hadn't been discussed before and was important. That's called
authorial privilege and all of us get it. 

The following is basically the intro and thesis of the chapter on
Willis and Roxon:
"The 1960s and 1970s were some of the most contentious years in
American social and political history. The struggle waged over the
representation of women musicians in the American periodical press is
but one example of this fractiousness. As discussed in Chapter 1,
gender and sex roles were undergoing tremendous change, as was the
nature of rock music. Music journalists were at the vanguard of this
“bargaining.” Pop music stars like Bob Dylan and the Beatles were the
heroes and the role models not only for many average people but also
for the leaders of the various movements in the counterculture. Rock
writers often acted as interpreters or analysts of these artists’ work
for everybody else. The fact that most of these journalists were men
also influenced both the contents and the approach of those in the
profession. However, there were also some women writers in rock
journalism who performed these roles. Their work, directly and
indirectly, not only expressed their views, but also served as an
alternative to the professional endeavors of the members of the
overwhelmingly male Fourth Estate. 

"This chapter examines the work of two writers in the mainstream
periodical press who were among the most influential rock critics of
their day: Ellen Willis and Lillian Roxon. These writers, along with a
few other female and anomalous male writers, explored the complexities
of rock music, especially its effects on gender and sexuality. This was
especially true in their work on women musicians. Rather than trying
to fit these anomalous women into existing stereotypes or diminish
their impact by drawing attention to their physicality, these writers
attempted to create a type of music journalism more befitting these
women and their work.
 
"Because their work has been so long overlooked, one of my main
purposes in examining Willis and Roxon and their work is to offer the
first detailed biographical essays of them.  In each case, discussion
and analyses of the bodies of their work could easily fill a book.
However, I wanted to provide an introduction to their work for those
who were not around when it was first published and a solid basis for
further research by scholars who want to delve into their considerable
contributions to journalism and women’s history." 

I would suggest that you write a book on Creem. It sounds like you
have strong feelings about it and it is clear you were closely
connected. If you do, I know you will do a great job including all the
fabulous women who published there. I decided to tell a different
story. 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #187 of 208: Straight Outta Concord (angus) Wed 21 Sep 05 15:32
    

        [I always wondered how it was that Hit Parader had, by the time I
read it for a few months in 1976 and '77, got to be so strange; post <177> 
seems to solve that mystery.]
        Now I'm inspired to start getting back issues of Creem on eBay, 
just to get that dirt on Jimmy Page.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #188 of 208: Life Is Easy When Considered From Another Point Of View (dam) Thu 22 Sep 05 05:59
    
Creem was a great and wacky magazine.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #189 of 208: Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Thu 22 Sep 05 09:24
    
Janet Maslin wrote for Eye? I did not know that. Interesting.

Female rock journalists, at least those who wrote for Stone, also took
a hit, as it were, from the portrayal in "Annie Hall," I think. 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #190 of 208: Berliner (captward) Thu 22 Sep 05 09:47
    
Very few women wrote for Rolling Stone, at least in the days I was
there. Susan Lydon, probably, early on, but I can't think of any
others. 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #191 of 208: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 22 Sep 05 10:37
    

I wrote for Rolling Stone back in the very early '70s, but my writing
wasn't published in the edition that came out in the States, it was only
printed in Australia. Aussie Phillip Frazer had acquired the Australian 
publishing rights to RS from Jann Wenner. The rendition of RS that
was printed in Australia had an Australian insert in each edition.
I wrote for the Aussie-insert Rolling Stone.

Wish I'd saved copies, but it never occured to me at the time that
I'd want to look back at my work from that era. oh well...
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #192 of 208: Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Thu 22 Sep 05 11:43
    
Ellen Sander published one article in RS. There were are few, but very
few and they mostly started appearing post-1972.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #193 of 208: Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Thu 22 Sep 05 21:04
    
Re #184 from Jaan

>I knew that that was the job for me, but I lived in the suburban
>hinterlands of Michigan and who else was going to go for a story
>where I proposed to do a story not on Kiss, but as a member of the
>band which I turned into  "I Dreamt I Was Onstage With Kiss in My
>Maidenform Bra." A man couldn't have done that story. He wouldn't
>have got the access.

"A man couldn't have done that story. He wouldn't have got the
access." Bingo, Jaan! And, with no hint of irony, I'd love to know how
many stories and how much access you believe you got for being an
attractive female journalist. I can swear to up to half in the first
part of my career at the Austin Sun. 

That was partly because I often didn't know who I was going to be
writing about from week to week so I made decisions on the spot about
who to write about. I'd just walk up to Ry Cooder and Flaco Jimenez
(Graham Parker, Steve Miller, Roger McGuinn, B.B. King, Randy
California, Van Halen, John Cale, Ramones ... whomever) and hold out my
tape recorder. I knew by the offers of hotel room sin, good drugs, and
getting rocked all night long that being a blonde with big tits didn't
hurt. 

Nowadays, I feel so motherly toward these really young bands I
interview occasionally, like the Redwalls. Here I am talking garage
rock with a darling 22-year-old but it's all in the job. Still, when a
band like the Redwalls turn in such a fabulous, freshly retro in all
the right ways album as De Nova, it's pure pleasure and I am 21 again. 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #194 of 208: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 23 Sep 05 11:57
    

It's funny how those 22-year-olds look so ... so ... well, so damn young
these days, ain't it? I like your observation about feeling "motherly,"
Margaret. At this point I think I'd feel grandmotherly toward them if I was
still involved in that world. heh heh


This has been a fascinating discussion, and the past two weeks have gone by
amazingly fast. Though our virtual spotlight has turned to a new discussion,
there's no reason this one has to stop. This topic will remain open
indefinitely and you're welcome to continue as long as you're able, Lisa
and Margaret. Thank you so much for joining us and I hope you stick around!
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #195 of 208: Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Fri 23 Sep 05 13:23
    
I, too, would like to thank everyone who wrote in or who read the
posts. Your insights and contributions have been a real treat and great
help on the research for my new book. If you haven't read "Electric
Ladyland," I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to pick it
up and let me know what you think (or Hanukkah or Xmas gifts,
whatever;). I will be lurking around the Well and will answer any
questions any time. M, Ed, Cynthia, David and all the Well folks, thank
you all so much for your help and for giving me this opportunity. 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #196 of 208: Berliner (captward) Sat 24 Sep 05 05:35
    
We don't have to stop here, like Cynthia said, and if there are
questions for Lisa this is an appropriate place to post them; these
topics don't just vanish, after all, and some of them live on for
months and months. 

Meanwhile, I believe Lisa will be around to interview Kevin Phinney in
a few weeks. Stay tuned for that!
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #197 of 208: Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 24 Sep 05 10:22
    
Good because we never even broached the subject of rock wives!
Cynthia, if I thought it was different to feel motherly toward
musicians I might have slept with two decades before, being the
giflfriend/near wife of a musician is LIGHT YEARS different from being
a groupie! It's way more complex than being a rock critic with a
musician boyfriend. Thank you and David for all your help and guidance!

Ed and Lisa, I look forward to more discussion :)
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #198 of 208: Berliner (captward) Sun 25 Sep 05 05:39
    
And besides rock wives, "women in rock culture" could also be expanded
to include club employees, managers, booking agents, and record
company employees -- particularly publicists, a traditional niche for
women in the record industry. 
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #199 of 208: Low and popular (rik) Sun 25 Sep 05 08:31
    
There's a lot of overlap in the groupie-wife-girlfriend-publicist groups,
with women moving from one group to another.
  
inkwell.vue.254 : Lisa Rhodes: Electric Ladyland
permalink #200 of 208: Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Sun 25 Sep 05 17:29
    
Rik, agreed. I would love to hear the perspectives of some of you
journalists and male musicians on this, as I have only one perspective.

Ed, just received the Phinney book. It looks intriguing.
  

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