after my face melted in a hallucinatory bad trip in the bathroom mirror of a del playa apartment when i was 22 i was never afraid to talk with anyone ever again
because i realized that everything is perspective and context: we all fool ourselves into believing that this is beautiful, that is ugly, she is hot, he is scary, that is dangerous, this is perfect
but after someone accidentally puts one drop of a liquid chemical into your Natty Ice, what was ugly turns beautiful and whats hot is not.
after that i never got nervous to approach a “pretty” girl, interview a powerful leader, or stare down a tweaked out gangster
until i met kim gordon in santa barbara.
even in 1990, a year before “punk broke”, backstage of ucsb’s Campbell Hall, it was frightingly obvious
that Grunge had grown up from the midwestern Twin Tone yawp of The Replacements Husker Dü, and Soul Asylum.
and sprouted horns and filled out to the global beast that would be Nirvana.
and it wouldn’t have happened if not for Sonic Youth, whose 1990 Geffen debut “Goo” showed the record industry that
the Bon Jovi 80s were over and rock n roll was back to save yr soul in a way that would make your parents not just tell you to turn that shit down but maybe we should have a family discussion because we’re really worried about you.
and at the heart of Sonic Youth was Kim Gordon and she was scary as fuck because who else would dare go after LL Cool J who had just released Mama Said Knock You Out
“Are you going to liberate us girls from male, white, corporate oppression?” she taunts with the aid of Chuck D playing the role of Flava
“Let every body know.” he demands.
But it’s Kim’s “C’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon c’mon” that summons the dual guitar squeals from Thurston Moore and Lee Rinaldo that sounds more of a woman who knows what she wants as opposed to the cheerleader you would have seen (and not heard) a few years before in a Warrant video.
Even though it was painfully obvious that Kool Thing was a street corner diss of Cool James
(LL released “Walking With A Panther” in ’89 which featured hits like “Goin Back to Cali” – from which “Kool Thing” appropriates the line “I don’t think so”. Panther also featured singles “I’m The Type of Guy”, “Big Ole Butt” and “Jinglin’ Baby” that did fine in hip hop circles and the pop charts, but whose misogyny was hard to support among the Riot Grrrls)
while chatting with Rinaldi and drummer Steve Shelley I asked, “so is Kool Thing about LL?”
Shelley said, “that’s Kim’s song, ask her.”
And I couldn’t even look in her direction, let alone approach her, so I just sipped from my can of Coke and changed the subject.
She was the edge in a band whose tone was so gnarled that if barbed wire had a theme song it’d have been Sonic Youth.
They say most scenarios benefit from the woman’s touch. Kim was the woman’s punch.
Without whom neither Nirvana nor Hole would have spanked thru as quickly and painlessly as they did.
Which is why I heartily celebrate Kim’s 60th today
from a safe distance.
meanwhile if you haven’t seen the doc of the Sonic Youth tour where they brought along Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr., and Babes in Toyland, and Gumball, and The Ramones
well maybe on Kim Gordon’s 60th birthday maybe it’d be kool thing to do