The NYTimes does what newspapers should be doing in their Sunday feature, Mama Was a Riot Grrrl? Then Pick Up a Guitar and Play. They tell a story you're not going to find on a weblog, and they tell it well. It's why they pay journalists. It's also why half the journalists in Richmond should be fired.
Times stringer Jessica Pressler apparently spends her days in Philadelphia, where there are no cardigan wearing hipsters, only old jazzmen. And now that I mention Pressler's Philadelphia connection, I can't help but doing what weblogs should be doing -- getting distracted by something slightly more compelling than what I originally intended to post. (Hang on! I'll get to the hipster punk juveniles in a moment!) So, Pressler cracks me up. Here's a snippet of an interview she did in February with Philadelphia's Johnny Goodtimes:
If you could be on any reality show, which one would you want to be on?
MTV's Made, which is the best show ever. Right now they only do teenagers but I think they should start a version for mid-twenties career changers. I'd be like, 'Hi, when I was a kid I wanted a career in international relations, but somehow at 28 the closest I've come to this is a newspaper story that called Philadelphia New York's next borough. What the f*** happened? I want to be MADE." And then MTV would get me some fabulous gay coach from the Carnegie Endowment that would quiz me about sustainable development and s***. Of course, like that model from Temple who is STILL a waitress at Coffee Shop, my career in diplomacy probably wouldn't really work out. But I figure I'd have a chance at getting a spinoff series in which I would live in a house with Richard Holbrooke and Brangelina. The White House.
This all took place after Pressler had half of Philly gunning for her last fall, when she introduced Philadelphia to readers of the NYTimes as the city's sixth burrough. Philebrity caught up with her after that little news fiasco.
Anyway, you were drawn in by the title of this post. Mosh pits in daycare centers? you thought. I am so there. And so you are, if you live in Brooklyn and you rock out to Care Bears on Fire. Brooklyn's so post-hip that the CMJ Music Marathon devoted a showcase for the nouveau, post-sippy cup music making crowd. Pressler was determined to find out more about these cute pixies playing punk.
The children whispering and fidgeting in front of the stage at Union Hall in Park Slope, Brooklyn, looked like any kids awaiting, say, a storyteller. Then Zora Sicher and Hugo Orozco, the two 11-year-olds who make up the band Magnolia, climbed onstage and broke into a hard-driving original song called “Volume.” It was clear this was not quiet time.
“Wooooo!” a dreadlocked woman shouted from the back of the room, where a crowd of adults, many in vintage concert T-shirts and cardigans, looking like kids themselves, cheered and sipped bloody marys.
A clump of teenagers looked on appreciatively during the set, part of a showcase of all-kid bands on a Saturday afternoon this month at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York. When the Magnolia duo paused to adjust their instruments — Zora on guitar, Hugo on drums — a babe in arms wailed. “Are you crying because they stopped, honey?” Mom cooed.
For this set of performers and audience members, indie rock is as familiar as a lullaby. “We like punk, classic rock, metal, riot grrrl,” said Hugo, an elfin-face sixth grader from Brooklyn, who was given her first drum set at 7.
Magnolia, like other bands on the Union Hall bill — Care Bears on Fire, Tiny Masters of Today, Fiasco, Hysterics — is more than a novelty act. It is developing a following on New York’s burgeoning under-age music circuit, where bands too young for driving licenses have CDs, Web sites and managers.
“Oh my god, there’s like a huge, huge kid-rock scene here,” said Jack McFadden, known as Skippy, who booked the show at Union Hall. “It’s really very indicative of Park Slope, since so many of the parents who live around here are hip and have these hip little kids that they dress in, like, CBGBs T-shirts.”
But nothing rocks my childlike world more than the Tiny Masters of Tomorrow:
On a Friday evening in November, Ada, the bassist, 10, a slight girl with a heart-shape face, was reading “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” at Piano’s, a Lower East Side bar, while waiting to go on with her brother, Ivan, 12, the lead guitarist. (Their father requested that the family name not appear in print to protect the children’s privacy.)
After the set, during which they performed, among other songs, Ada’s mournful “Pictures” — “It’s about my friends in second grade and how awful they were to me,” she said — an adult in the audience called the band “the new Raincoats,” a reference to an experimental British act of the late ’70s.
Ivan is familiar with their music, although he said he prefers louder stuff like the Stooges. “And I’m really into Apollo Sunshine right now,” he said, perched on a bar stool and chewing thoughtfully on a cocktail straw. “I go through phases.”
Their father has worked for the indie label Caroline and once pulled the kids out of school early to see the White Stripes. His children’s affection for indie rock, he said, is a reaction to mainstream tastes. “They’re rebelling against, like, Walt Disney.”