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girls rock
an open letter to my daughters as they approach their tweens
by joe procopio (@jproco)

Mighty Mites,

I know you're only seven and I know you've got plenty going on what with the first grade and the Jonas Brothers and the constant barrage of Barbies and unicorns trying to pry away your hard earned lemonade profits. I get that.

Not that I relate perfectly. When I was seven it was all Star Wars. It was easy. I had Han Solo as my guide. But it isn't just the nostalgia for the olden days that makes my upbringing seem so radically different from yours. Let's face it. I'm a boy. And that in and of itself lowered the expectation bar.

You've got a different path to walk.

So as you start to put away the baby dolls and the pocket pets and start wondering why my mobile phone gets Angry Birds and yours only lets you talk to an obviously over-medicated Cinderella, I'm going to give you your first primer on becoming a tween.

You're starting to figure yourselves out. Even in the relatively short time that I've known you, I can see dozens of traits and talents forming like buds in the springtime. And one of these that applies to both of you, I'm pretty sure, is your desire to rock.

How do I know this?

Let's call it an educated guess.

Don't Fall for the "Owning Your Sexuality" Crap

Madonna is a man's idea of how women should sell records.

You've already figured this one out for yourselves. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful that through the music of Madonna you've added new words to your vocabulary like "repetitive" and "shrill." I'm also glad that it didn't take you long to figure out that no one cared how well Lennon & McCartney or Jimi Hendrix or Bono or Kurt Cobain danced.

And don't believe the apologists either. Innovation is not figuring out how to grind on a male underwear model as effectively at 52 as you did at 22. This is not a career, this is a house of cards that can be knocked over when some punk gives the finger to a camera during your halftime performance at the Superbowl.

In other words, keep it about your vision. There is nothing extraordinary you girls should have to do to be able to stand on the same stage with a band full of jocks or weepy emo dudes. Put a guitar in your hands and rock from the opening salvo until the big finish.

Bleed for your Art

Juliana Hatfield was one of the first girl rockers who didn't have a gimmick, and went out of her way to reiterate that fact every time she played.

Yeah, she keeps falling, and she keeps getting up. That's the takeaway. Well, that and the fact that she keeps crushing that Les Paul.

Never Forget What Irony Looks Like

Veruca Salt started as a cutesy grunge act that wrote super-sweet melodies and sang downer lyrics over them. For their second record, they took a total left, hired Bob Rock, and went ballistic, aurally, while making one of the most awesome videos of all time.

Yes, they're pretty, the song is about girl power, and there are double and triple entendres all over the place. But it's done with the same kind of tongue-in-cheek manner that Weezer discovered after critics and fans ignored Pinkerton. They turned up the amps and added a giant, exploding, winged W to their stage show. They made it fun without giving up their integrity.

Sometimes a Statement is Just a Statement

Before becoming known for ripping off other artists and making horrible videos, Elastica was known for their eponymous debut and punk vibe. They were signed off of a four chord monster, "Stutter" and made a video that features no statement except the song itself.

When your grandfather saw this video he squinted and asked "Are those boys or girls?"


Well, not exactly, but you get my drift.

And Now The Bad News

Madonna just released an awful album featuring the hit single "Girl Gone Wild" (IRONY FAIL!). She's still very successful.

Juliana Hatfield slid into obscurity, and with each new stab from hell's heart she's getting more and more naked on her album covers.

Veruca Salt split, and one girl's website has only been updated once since 2008 (to mark the arrival of a baby), while the other's website had its latest update in 2003.

And Elastica dissolved almost as quickly as they hit. The lead singer is apparently on the west coast, gluing objects to canvases. I don't know how you make money at this.

But remember, this is rock and roll. Don't tie your cart to that horse. At the end of the day the rule is burn out before you fade away, or in your case, burn out and then pick up a career in flying automotive mechanics, the time travel sciences, or invisibility -- before you become a sexual punch line still insisting that even though your career looks like a badly written Skinemax movie, you were in control the whole time.


Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

more about joe procopio


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mike julianelle
4.2.12 @ 2:21p

I've always liked that Volcano Girls song.

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