Ever think about how weird it is that, even though we’re Canadian, we remain endlessly fascinated by what’s going on on the other side of the border? Actually, maybe we’d better modify that statement to read “Cascadians”, because that’s as good a descriptor as any for many of us living in Greater Vancouver.
We’re close enough to the U.S.A. in these parts that we feel closer to the good people of Bellingham than we ever will the flag-waving wheat farmers of Alberta or the centre-of-the-universe suits of Toronto.
So hands up if the most important thing on your mind is what’s happening in the U.S. Supreme Court this week with Roe vs. Wade. Specifically, what appears to be an ongoing and concerted effort to dismantle American abortion laws that have stood for the better part of a half-century.
As Stephen Colbert said to his fellow Americans—and Pacific Northwest Cascadians— yesterday on The Late Show, “We don’t live in a democracy.”
Folks from Lenny Bruce to Malcolm X to Jello Biafra have of course been attempting to make that point for years. And to that list one can add visual artist/designer/musician/all-round-rad-human being Kim Gordon.
As an agent for social and cultural change, Gordon’s been on the frontlines since her days as the bassist for the legendary—and much-missed—Sonic Youth. This week she continues the fight with the new single, “Grass Jeans”, proceeds from which will go towards Fund Texas Choice, a nonprofit that pays for women in the Lonestar State to travel to abortion clinics.
Those who follow the news—American news, that is—will recall that in September ever-backwards Texas banned abortions where cardiac activity in a fetus is detectable, most often around six weeks gestation. Exceptions can be made for medical emergencies. But—with the exception of rapists and those who commit incest—anyone with a lawyer, or a conviction they’re smarter than Saul Goodman, can sue a doctor for providing an abortion after a heartbeat is detected.
But back to Gordon. In an Instagram statement accompanying the release of “Grass Jeans”, she said, “I often get asked ‘Can music change things for people in a political landscape?’ Hell yes it can.”
She continued with “But it takes a listener, an audience to make it anything. So please join me in helping to protect and keep accessible a woman’s right to choose her fate by purchasing this song and supporting Fund Texas Choice and their collective efforts to secure abortion access for all. Thank you. It means so much.”
Her first new music since 2019’s solo debut No Home Records, “Grass Jeans” delivers everything that Gordon fans might dare hope for: scattered shots of no-wave guitar dissonance, cooly detached vocals, and cruising-in-Death-Valley drums and bass.
This isn’t the first time this fall that Gordon has stood up and fought for the rights of her fellow American women. Last month proceeds from two newly released Sonic Youth live albums—one recorded in Dallas circa Rather Ripped, the other at Austin Music Hall for Washing Machine—were earmarked for Fund Texas Choice and the U.S.’s Abortion Support Network.
At that time Gordon told Rolling Stone: “This Texas law is pure old-west-style vigilante, cowboy DIY mentality that goes against the constitution. We will only overcome this if we’re an engine coming out against this regressive and inhumane law, by coming together. I hope this brings awareness and encourages other people to join the fight by donating.”
Riding shotgun on “Grass Jeans” are live collaborators Sterling Laws (drums), Sarah Register (guitar), and Camilla Charlesworth (bass).
In Gordon’s sights? As a true-blue Cascadian, and devoted news follower—American news, that is—you fucking well know the answer to that.
Now, can we seriously stop for a second to talk about what’s been happening in the Ghislaine Maxwell case. And also take a moment to say "God bless the Pacific Northwest".