The Spitboy Rule
By Michelle Cruz Gonzales
If you were milling around the punk scene in the early to mid ’90s, you will most certainly remember Spitboy. Fierce in both their ethics and sound, the Spitwomen put out a small handful of releases on all the most noted record labels at the time (it turns out there was a reason for this label jumping, too), and toured across much of the globe with legends like Citizen Fish.
Their drummer, Michelle Cruz Gonzales, who went by Todd during this time, briefly covers the highs and lows in this memoir, though it’s far from your standard 40+ year old punk reflection. Gonzales, who is Xicana and born and raised far from the affluence of much of the punk community and even some of her bandmates, eloquently describes the struggles of not only being an all women band in a male dominated subculture, but also Mexican-American in a very homogenous scene. With the Riot Grrrl movement at its peak during Spitboy’s prime, you might think that women’s rights were at the forefront of fans of punk rock and hardcore, but many of the moments described here will tell you otherwise, as Spitboy encountered plenty of patriarchal behavior and belittling comments during their run.
If you’re reading purely as a fan, there’s of plenty of information about Spitboy in the studio, the dilemmas of playing internationally, and mentions of other punk rock celebrity ties to the band (Aaron Cometbus, Pete The Roadie) as well as Spitboy’s unfortunate turning down of Fugazi’s request to play with them. But the real crux of the book involves the stunted thinking that the band, and especially Gonzales, dealt with during this time, despite being revered in the punk community.
Currently a professor and a family women, Gonzales peeks back to her youth with honesty, insightfulness and humor here, making this an engaging read that inevitably leaves one to dwell on the dynamics of gender, race and class. Much like her time behind the drum kit, Gonzales seeks to communicate first and foremost, and she succeeds with The Spitboy Rule with a similar impact that her music left.