Alibi V.24 No.9 • Feb 26-March 4, 2015 

Get Lit

Starpower

Kim Gordon returns to UNM SUB on memoir tour

Kim Gordon
Kim Gordon
Alisa Smirnova
Celebrities are the saints of the postmodern world. Humanity emulates and venerates these somebodies. The marriage of longtime, quintessential punk-rock, art power couple Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore served as the model relationship ideal for Generation X. When they separated in 2011, their fans were beside themselves. American author Elissa Schappell summed up the sentiments of the masses most succinctly in a first-person essay published at Salon; she recalls that stumbling across a tweet announcing the news of their breakup felt like “reading an obituary.” Schappell wasn't alone in idolizing the testimonial for matrimony that Gordon and Moore's relationship proffered.

Their divorce was finalized in 2013, and Gordon was then interviewed by Elle. She revealed infidelity as the root cause of their split. Blogosphere research revealed that a literary collaborator 20 years Moore's junior was the proverbial other woman. Examining the media response to Gordon’s Elle interview reveals how far we haven't come as a culture in regard to covering the intimate details of artist’s lives. Hipster blog Brooklyn Vegan posted an entry with an excerpt and link to the interview titled “Kim Gordon tells why she and Thurston Moore are divorcing and stuff.”

The media reception of Gordon's Girl in a Band: A Memoir has created a slanted idea of the book's narrative and content. Girl in a Band isn't Gordon's first tangle with a typewriter. She's a prolific art critic and music journalist. Offhand recollections of the moral shortcomings of other rock stars like Billy Corgan, Danielle Dax and Courtney Love in the book were seized upon by media outlets. Excepting stories about teenage boyfriend Danny Elfman, Gordon's color commentary about celebrities feels like an afterthought. Facing controversy over blunt appraisals of Love as a “car crash”and Corgan as a “crybaby,” Gordon revealed that her editor had “nudged” her toward criticism.

At the heart of this work is a love story. The dissolution of a marriage plays into it, but it's also a love letter to New York City, Hong Kong and Toronto, to Sonic Youth, Miles Davis and Bikini Kill, to no wave, noise and post-punk, to grunge, riot grrrl and free jazz, to tapioca, painting and family. Gordon calls out major label misogyny while revealing her calculated decision to front Sonic Youth to reassure those spooked by their noisy soundscape. Apart from her bandmates, a host of characters inhabit Gordon's memoir, folks like William Burroughs, Michael Stipe, Lana Del Rey, Larry Gagosian, Jim Jarmusch, Kathleen Hanna and so on. Gordon shares her songwriting and lyrical memories of Sonic Youth and reflects on the band's catalog. She recalls cultivating her own “lowercase rock star” persona.

Kim Gordon appears at the UNM Student Union Building Ballrooms B & C on Sunday, March 1, at 7pm. To gain entry, purchase a hardcover copy of Girl in a Band for $27.99 from Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW). With each book purchase, a $5 ticket add-on option is included at bkwrks.com. And enter the first person: Yours truly will be interviewing and moderating the discussion with Gordon, which will include a 20-minute Q&A session with the audience. (Dear Kim, I promise I won't ask what it's like being a girl in a band or a rock 'n' roll mom.)

Girl in a Band is a love letter to New York City, Hong Kong and Toronto, to Sonic Youth, Miles Davis and Bikini Kill, to no wave, noise and post-punk, to grunge, riot grrrl and free jazz, to tapioca, painting and family.

This won't be Gordon's first time at the UNM Student Union Building. According to the internet, Sonic Youth played a basement show at the SUB on Nov. 22, 1988. A report on sonicyouth.com states that the band was instructed 15 minutes into their set to play just one more song; they then played a 20-minute song, and police ultimately escorted 60 audience members out. I’ll be sure to ask Gordon about her recollection of that SUB show in 1988 when I interview her at the present-day Student Union Building.

In the meantime listen to a 3-hour Spotify playlist of Kim Gordon-centric tracks by Sonic Youth, Body/Head, Free Kitten, Yokokimthurston and SYR5 with Ikue Mori, or an excerpt of Gordon reading from her memoir below.

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