X MARKS THE STUPID
Musician/publisher/writer/mother-to-be Lisa Crystal Carver is tired of Generation X and its dysfunctional rantings. In fact, this Denver immigrant would like nothing better than to see the twenty-something crowd exposed for what it really is--a pack of lazy whiners.
"[Xers] are a bunch of spoiled people who are used to having too much and complaining about it," she says. "They have no survival skills. I think if they were faced with something bad, like a war or a famine, they would be totally unprepared. The only thing they're prepared for right now is receiving gifts--and complaining about them."
No one could accuse Carver of exhibiting the slacker tendencies she despises. At 25, she's a multimedia maven. A former member of the seminal noise terrorists Suckdog, Carver, under the auspices of the Sub Pop imprint, has just released "Monopoly Queen," a single on which she collaborates with her mother, Mary Ellen Carver, and Boyd Rice, the Denver artist with whom she lives. (Rice's resume includes numerous recordings issued under the name Non, an album made with Strawberry Switchblade vocalist Rose McDowall and a post as the official spokesperson for the Church of Satan.) In addition, Carver publishes Rollerderby, a much-lauded, nationally known punk 'zine, and has just announced that she's starting her own youth campaign. Its name: Generation L.
As Generation L's self-appointed leader, Carver promises that her movement will be everything that Generation X is not. Members will be well-groomed, punctual, intelligent and glamorous; the women will wear makeup ("I think women look good when they put on makeup, and I think most men-folk would agree"), and the men will sport big muscles and frequent erections. In addition, Carver says that each Gen L member will be required to learn a second language. "[Speaking another tongue] is very elegant," she enthuses. "You can go on a cruise and learn about other cultures--and maybe even date a foreign aristocrat."
The Generation L manifesto also encourages its followers to get in touch with their sexual and racial identities, which Carver feels PC extremists have all but destroyed. "I'm not a history expert," she explains, "but this is the only time I know of where there's not supposed to be any differences between men and women, blacks and whites, etc. For example, one part of the Generation L manifesto states that `all black men should wear big Afros.' I was attacked by a lot of people because they thought that sounded racist. Well, it is racist. I think black people should be proud to have kinky hair. If I were black, I would certainly have a big Afro. But I'm white, so I have white-person hair."
Taken out of context, these proclamations could lead less-informed observers to believe that Carver is nothing more than a Young Republican wannabe. Fortunately, her background proves otherwise. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Carver formed the controversial outfit Suckdog with high school friend Rachel at the age of seventeen. Thanks to music that featured bloodcurdling screams and violently thorny guitar squalls, Suckdog soon gained a reputation as one of the weirdest exports to come out of New Hampshire since G.G. Allin. According to Carver, a one-time Allin disciple, it was hardly a coincidence that she and the late G.G. shared a passion for the bizarre. "The creative things that come out of New Hampshire are very peculiar, because there aren't any guidelines about what's weird and what's normal in New Hampshire," she says. "Right now, a young person starting a band in most places in America would know that what's weird is screaming, moaning, guttural vocals over fuzzy, loud guitars. But New Hampshire is so isolated and so out of it that nobody has really told them what's weird. So we created our own idea of what was weird.
"And it really was weird," she adds. "I really haven't heard much like it since."
Although Suckdog's releases hardly set the world on fire--Drugs Are Nice, its most popular recording, sold only 3,000 copies--the band did manage to catch the press's ear. Melody Maker, for example, called Suckdog "the most interesting `band' in the world," and Spin chose Nice as one of the best sixty albums of the Eighties.
Carver's subsequent exploits with the avante-garde theatrical troupe Psychodrama proved to be equally strange. She was part of the group for only a short time, but she recalls the experience vividly. "[The members of Psychodrama] were sort of like these drunk hillbillies," she remembers. "But you never really knew what was real with them and what wasn't. Like, one member claimed to be a homosexual in love with Christ, but then he'd turn around and claim to be a racist or start putting down `fags.' They were very peculiar people. I lost touch with them a couple of years ago. They moved to the mountains, and no one has heard from them since."
Despite these offbeat brushes with public notoriety, it is Carver's outrageous 'zine, Rollerderby, that's won her the most acclaim. Launched in 1990, Rollerderby offers explicit content and a frank, Reform School Cheerleaders-like tone that became an instant smash with both corporate publishers and fanzine enthusiasts. Carver's blunt, off-color cartoons and hilariously perverse discourses on sex, violence and the female anatomy are both shocking and refreshingly honest. Reading Rollerderby, one feels that the darkest recesses of our minds aren't that terrible after all.
By its third year in circulation, Rollerderby had increased its readership from 30 to 2,000, and publications as disparate as Harper's, the Utne Reader and Hustler had reprinted excerpts from it. Today Carver boasts that the magazine is more popular than ever. "I started out my fanzine the same way everyone does," she concedes. "Using a photocopier and selling maybe twenty copies, if that. The difference is that I wanted to become like a Newsweek or Mademoiselle. I'm not a snob. I want my grandmother to read it. I want your grandmother to read it."
Carver would also like Gen Xers to read Rollerderby, if for no other reason than to find out what good literature is all about. It's not surprising, then, that she is appalled by the deliberately amateurish artistic contributions made by many of her peers. "[Xers] think they should be getting more attention for their art," she quips. "But it's bad art. It's complaining, angst-ridden art, and so it should not be making any money.
"They make this music that says, `Here I am alone in my room/I've lost a girl again/And dinner's burning on the stove/I'm so depressed'--and their fans are buying that record thinking that it's deep," she continues. "And they make these drawings that are purposely bad. I don't know why--maybe it's because they're just too lazy to take drawing lessons. But then they try to build up this ideology behind it, saying how they're fucking the system with their lack of talent."
But what about the DIY spirit that says that anything worth doing is worth doing yourself? Shouldn't X-heads receive credit for trying, even if their efforts are sluggish? "No," Carver asserts. "Do what yourself? These people put out these crappy, little, stupid, lame, complaining fanzines--and they go out of their way to make them purposely bad. They are purposely making things obscure and morbid and uncommunicative."
Carver's message, on the other hand, is loud and clear. "If obscurity is what Generation X wants," she states in her Generation L press release, "and it's what they always sing and make movies about, I say let's give it to 'em! We'll never mention them again. Generation L aims to please."
"I have a lot of opinions, and they're all right," she insists. "I know what's going on out there because I've been in the music and publishing industries for seven years now and I've met thousands of people my age. So I know what they need, and I'm ready to give it to them.
"Probably 97 percent of people just do what's fashionable," she adds. "Which is fine. But I want to give them a good fashion to follow instead of another bad one. When Kurt Cobain died, he got so much attention. I got mad and decided that I should get the attention instead. I mean, I don't see anyone else out there that's ready."
For more information about Rollerderby or the Generation L "starter kit," contact Lisa Crystal Carver at P.O. Box 18054, Denver,
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.