T-shirts are the most underrated medium for art, providing a platform for the display of creativity through both language and form. These aptly named cotton, shoulder-chest huggers are the most democratic pieces of fashion.
Quintessentially American, T-shirts embody a spirit of individuality through self-expression. They share a special, symbiotic relationship to another homegrown American art-form, rock-and-roll. T-shirts are memorabilia, capturing memories of a time and place through music.
You might think that a magazine all about female drummers wouldn’t be very popular, but Mindy Abovitz has shown us that the world loves to see a badass mama hitting them tambours hard. Her all about ‘chicks with sticks’ publication, Tom Tom Magazine, has become a hit around the globe.
For its Summer 2013 “Country Issue” the magazine headed south to discover the female drumming talent booming in the Miami music scene. And, meanwhile, its creator got an opportunity to connect to her roots.
Chicks and sticks were not the only subjects discussed last Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at Books and Books. Feminism and the state of women in music and media were also explored in the Q & A with Mindy Abovitz, founder and editor of Tom Tom Magazine, the only magazine in the world all about female drummers. Liz Tracy, music editor at the Broward New Times facilitated.
She rescued any awkward moments with her comic relief. Mindy was telling the audience about the next frontier for the magazine-women’s advertisement. She said she wants to target feminine products such as makeup and maxi pads, “you know the things you think about when you think about women.” To which Tracy replied, “yes because when I think of women, I always think of a big, huge maxi pad.”
During the audience Q & A, I asked Mindy the question on everyone’s mind, “What made you want to start a magazine about female drummers?” Mindy declared, “I am feminist.”
She said she googled “women and drumming,” back in 2009, before the magazine was founded, only to find images of women-in-bikinis on a drum set, not actually drumming. Being a musician, she proclaims she “hates writing,” so the magazine was born out of a real need to show positive images of women in music.
“If people haven’t recognized there is a problem, they are either very privileged or not paying attention” Mindy Abovitz
The event drew an eclectic audience of music lovers young and old. There was an older male drummer with his young daughter on his lap. An elderly woman dressed to a tee came out to share the story of her best friend in high-school who was a drummer.
Others included local musicians who’ve played at shows at Churchill’s Pub in Miami that Tom Tom Magazine helped realize. They included female drummers featured in the current issue of Tom Tom Magazine like Dorys Bello of BBQ Bitches and Slither and Emile Milgrim, manager of Sweat Records and drummer of Quarter Horses. The issue has a Miami Drumming Guide that showcases a dynamic group of female drummers and their favorite local hangs. I got the chance to talk to Emile about her involvement with Tom Tom Magazine.
“The great thing about Tom Tom Magazine is that Mindy features stories with people like me, who aren’t famous celebrities”
Following the Q & A, in the cafe’s outdoor space, under a moon-lit sky, local band Quarter Horses provided another kind of relief-a musical concoction of their Gospel Noir melodies.
In the current issue’s Miami Drumming Guide, many of the drummers chose Churchill’s Pub, the CBGB of the south, as their favorite place to play, hang and even eat. Beatriz Monteavro calls it “the center of the universe.” In December 2011, the Art Basel Showcase was implemented with the help of Mindy and Liz’s friend, Adam Gersten of Gramps Bar, who stated the event “wasn’t the typical line-up” at Churchill’s Pub. Showstoppers included Holly Hunt, Snakehole, The State Of, The New, Bonnie Riot, Cave Rave, Mother Popcorn, Follow That Bird, and Miss Frankie Rose. Here’s a vid of Holly Hunt rockin’ it out at the event.
So, why are resources like Tom TomMagazine necessary, in the general scheme of things? Because the media bombards us with images of air-brushed girls and women in overly sexualized poses-not really doing anything but looking pretty and luring men through the promise of sex. Because, there’s a possibility that images teach young women that it’s what they have to offer society. And, it teaches young men that it’s what women should be offering them.
Because, too many girls get boob jobs. Because it’s a bit out of control. Because out there there’s a girl that wants to drum, but thinks she can’t because she only sees guys do it. Because music-venues like Churchill’s Pub, which has clearly supported women in music by hosting Tom Tom Magazine’s events, is a male-dominated scene that holds events considered degrading and misogynist.
While talking to Emile at Sweat Records, I saw a poster illustrating an image of a woman in a teeny-tiny red bikini on a big pile of jello. In their recent Ladies Jello-Wresting half-naked female rugby players wrestled each other in jello, exposing themselves in compromising positions to a predominantly male crowd.
In my quest to find more about who organizes these jello-wrestling events, I went Churchill’s Pub. Churchill’s is a bit of shit-hole. It’s not in the best area of town, in little Haiti, so cracked-out looking characters asking for a penny often use the parking lot as their hang out spot. There’s a huge poster of Winston Churchill’s staring down as you enter. A long scratched-up wood bar divides the interior into the main stage on the left and some pool tables on the right. It reeks of puke and grime that’s been accumulating on the floors since it’s establishment in 1979
The nasty kitchen has British grub like fish and chips, yet few would attempt to order anything other than fries. At least the beer is good. The bathroom I haven’t yet dared to enter, yet. Still, it’s the place to go to to hear real, raw rock music, or make it on the cheap. So, anyone can go, and you get the worst-of-the-worst. Sometimes you hear something that actually sounds like music in between all those bangs. One of the best events are their tribute acts, including Nirvana, the Smiths and Joy Division.
I spoke to event planner at Churchill’s Ian Michael and David. B. Daniels.They have a different perspective on these jello-wrestling events. David Daniels said, “the girls have a good time, it brings us business, and they leave with a ton of cash in their hand. It’s a win-win situation.” Moreover, according to Ian, ”It’s the women who want to do these events. It’s their idea and they all have a good time. It’s not like we’re not forcing them.”
The last jello wrestling event was a fundraiser for the Fort Miami Women’s Rugby Club. The female bartenders at Churchill’s enjoyed the event so much they are planning a similar fundraiser themselves in the near future. So are these events a win-win situation?
Tom Tom Magazine shows that it’s really up to us girls to make a change. Some may argue women have internalized the misogynist male culture that objectifies females, thereby causing them to act accordingly. But, in the end, no one is forcing girls and women to portray themselves in a hyper-sexualized manner in the media. It’s up to us to push the images and stories that we’d like to see, which is exactly what Mindy is doing. This makes her a hero or heroine in my book; and, it’s clear we need them.
A quarterly full color print that’s distributed around the world, Tom Tom Magazine features a bevy of role-models, including some of the greatest female drummers from past and present. With that in mind, enjoy a gallery of some badass ladies on drums. I took a few from Tom Tom Magazine’s dope facebook page.
Kate Carpenter: The Carpenters
Cindy Blackman: Lenny Kravitz
Maureen Tucker: Velvet Underground
Ladies on Drums
Patty Schemel: Hole
Samantha Maloney: Motley Crue
Megan White: The White Stripes
Cici Harrison: Heliotropes
Carleen Jean Butler
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the current issue of Tom Tom Magazine. There’s a stack over at Sweat Records
There’s something special about putting the needle down on a piece of vinyl, hearing that screechy sound, then watching it spin melodies-the movement itself an aphrodisiac for dance.
Vinyls take me back to childhood when my dad played Willie Nelson and Nat King Cole records on an old-wooden record player while we danced next to them in the living room, a sort of after dinner ritual.
My siblings and I would fight over who got to put the needle down on the record, careful not to scratch them. And, of course, there were those old-school DJ parties where amateurs scratched the vinyl like they were Mix Master Mike.
Public art can be disappointing, often displeasing and unrefined. Fret not, with some help from the City of Miami Beach, the Bass Museum of Art has curated an art programtc: temporary contemporary to bring artwork, which would make any Miamian proud, to the city’s unexpected places.
Imagine walking through a lush tropical garden on a perfect, sun-shining, not a dark cloud in the sky, palm-breezy Miami day. Not just any garden, but a magical garden of memories and dreams evoking an alternate dimension. Sounds like a great sequence out of a Lynchian surrealist film, but it’s the idea behind the current tc: temporary contemporary public art installation, Pleasure, Fear, and the Pursuit of Happiness, now showing at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
Holy shit balls! It’s getting hot in here!As temperatures continue to steadily rise in the 305, The Vagabond, Gummdrops, Alley Times, and, yours truly, Tropicult are launching a rockin’ Summer Concert Series this Friday night!
The shindig should set the tone for more super fun local hangs and a badass summer. Headlining all the festivities are two of Miami’s hottest local bands, Deaf Poets and Lil Daggers, together on the same night.
That ain’t it!! Charlie Woods will be dropping a special DJ set and all of the dudes from KRiSP are expected to attend. Plus, pop-up shops by our local favs, installations, BBQ, even one of Miami’s most recognized street artist, Atomik will be out there doing his thing!!
It’s now May and we already miss O, Miami. For a month, the O, Miami Poetry Festival went wherever people went.
Sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, organizers P. Scott Cunningham and Melody Santiago Cummings brought poetry into public places, both common and special to Miamians. Places one would normally go to for poetry like Books and Books, and the B-Bar at the Betsy Hotel, as well as unlikely places for the elusive art form like El Palacio de Los Jugos, The Swap Shop and Publix, they have a sense of humor.