By Jose Rojas
Lead singer and co-founder of the punk rock band, The Bags, Alice Bag, celebrated Women’s History Month last Thursday at East Los Angeles College by sharing fragments of her latest book “Pipe Bomb for the Soul.”
Alice Bag is one of the few women and Latinas in punk, and The Bags are one of the earliest L.A. punk rock bands that have heavy influence in modern hardcore rock.
Besides being a rock star, Bag is also an educator, author and a feminist.
Her book, “Pipe Bomb for the Soul” is a post-punk look at life in a post-revolutionary socialist society.
The book, published in 2015, is based on Bag’s diary during her trip to Nicaragua. It explores capitalist, racial and gender assumptions and proposes a new model for growth.
“‘Pipe Bomb for The Soul’ is a self-published book that is based on a journal I kept when I visited Nicaragua in 1986. I was a teacher at the time, so I volunteered, helping with literacy in Esteli, Nicaragua.
“I lived with a family there and did solidarity work. Back home, I was an elementary school teacher. I worked in Los Angeles at a school with a large Central American population so I also wanted to learn more about the culture. The experience really changed me. I think I went in pretty naive and had my eyes opened during my stay. ‘Pipe Bomb for The Soul’ chronicles that journey of self-discovery,” said Bag.
Bag also mentioned she is very excited about her new and first solo album, scheduled to be released this summer. Bag’s new album is a collaboration with different musicians from Los Angeles.
“This is my first solo album and I’m thrilled to be recording it now at the age of 57. I’ve been playing and writing music for decades, but it never occurred to me to record a solo album until last year. Some friends of mine from the group FEA, who are on the Blackheart Records label, invited me to produce some songs on their record.
“As I was getting ready to go into the studio with them, I started thinking about how much fun it would be to record my own songs. One thing led to another and after I finished working with FEA, I started planning my solo album. It was funded through Kickstarter and I’m happy to say that I received overwhelming support. I asked some of my favorite L.A. musicians to play on it. I’m very pleased with the results. It will be out this June. Get it!” Bag said.
During her trip to Nicaragua, Bag experienced many things that changed her point of view about life.
“Many things I saw impacted me,” said Bag. “There seemed to be a high level of interest in social and political philosophy across the nation. People lived their lives working and supporting the revolution. It was beautiful to watch.”
Growing up in East Los Angeles, Bag was influenced by multiple cultures, different types of music, food and religions. However, Bag, besides being a proud Chicana, is also proud of being a Latina.
“I love my Mexican heritage, from learning about pre-Hispanic civilizations to learning what’s happening on the latest telenovela. I love that I can speak two languages, especially when the Latin roots of my native tongue can make other languages and scientific terms easier to understand. Need I mention the food?” Bag said.
Bag strongly believes that Women’s History Month should serve as inspiration for all those young ladies who have dreams and goals they want to achieve.
“Never give up your dream, and ignore anyone who tells you to give it up. Our lives are powered by dreams. If we give them up, we will lack the incentive to keep going. Work toward what you want, no matter how outlandish it may seem. Slow and steady, you’ll get there!” Bag said.
Bag also believes that there is still a lot to be done to eliminate the gap that still exists between men and women in society.
“I absolutely believe a gap between males and females still exists. Women still face discrimination and are held to different standards. When we do get the job, we still make less than our male counterparts for the same positions. We have to deal with a glass ceiling that keeps the jobs at the very top, out of our reach, because most heads of state, CEOs and ultimately decision-makers, are still male.
“Plus, we still live in a society where people can joke about rape, and violence against women is considered by some domestic, rather than a criminal issue. Yeah, there are still plenty of inequalities that need to be addressed.” Bag said.
After Bag performed, she took pictures with attendees of the event and also autographed copies of her book for her fans, which were very happy and excited to talk to her.
“I think there couldn’t be a better way to celebrate Women’s History Month than with Alice, I love her. She is my inspiration,” ELAC student Jocelyn Alvarez said.
“Her lyrics are always full of inspiration. I read her book ‘Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage: a Chicana Punk Story,’ and it has inspired (me) to always fight for what I want and to always be myself, no matter what,” Bag’s fan Janet Mendez said.