It has been reported here that the article by Tom Gogola that appeared in
New York Press (Dec. 7, 1994) was only political satire. It was also picked
up and reprinted in the Utne Reader. Since there have been several
questions about it, perhaps you will be interested to read the complete
article. If so, here it is. If not, click on Next and we'll see you again
CHELSEA RIOT GRRRL: White House Basement Tapes
Even as Whitewater indictments are being handed down, the president is
facing a new scandal involving a family member. Are You There God? It s
Me, Chelsea, named after the Judy Blume book about a young girl s awkward
days of early puberty, is an exhilerating tour de force of First Child
angst, a song DIY masterpiece from the bowels of the White House that slams
forcefully through a slew of genres - rap, punk, power pop, folk, and
spoken work. Throughout it all, presidential daughter Chelsea Clinton
delivers blistering critiques on an array of policy matters, and in an
astonishingly unselfconscious way reveals the true Chelsea to an
unsuspecting but curious nation.
This cassette-only release, recorded cheaply on a 70s-era tape machine,
made its way to me a via a family member of a child who attends school with
Chelsea. By all indications, Ms. Clinton is a frustrated riot teen with a
lon on her mind and the chutzpah to say it. Like most 14-year olds, Chelsea
has an attitude problem; the president, as a result, has a Chelsea problem.
According to sources, Ms. Clinton brought copies of her tape to school and
distributed them to friends after becoming incensed at her parents because
they refused to let her go to Woodstock, canceled her subscription to Sassy,
and didn t invite Liz Phair to the White House s celebration of American
music. Moreover, sources say, Chelsea is increasingly aggravated by her
parents enforcement of the media blackout on her life, except when it comes
to nerdy, politically useful events like her 14th birthday part - a debacle
she savagely deconstructs on the album s opener, Lousy Birthday, a
spoken-word-over-bongos lament that provides a never-before-seen glimpse
into the realpolitik of Clinton-style family values: It ws the first time I
ever got a spankin / When I told them I wanted to go whitewater rafting /
If you think the White House is in disarray / You should ve seen what I did
to my room / After they took my Taxi Driver video away.
It s clear throughout Are You There that Ms. Clinton is struggling mightily
with an Electra complex of epic proportions. Brutally firing away at her
father s various lusts, she adapts a Liz Phair title, Fuck and Run (for
President) and rewrites the lyrics to assail his sexual politics and
critique his foreign policy: You gave Paula Jones the bone / I know, I
heard you on the phone / I heard her squeal like a pig / I heard you moan.
Then, after a five-minute saxaphone freakout reminiscent of early Pharoah
Sanders, overlaid with snippets from dad s press conferences, Chelsea
screeches in no uncertain terms, Keep Jimmy Carter out of my face / I ll
spray that peanuthead full of Mace / Tell Aristide to join Hair Club for Men
/ Or shave Castro s beard, glue it on, amen!
It s telling that not a single word about Are You There has appeared in any
publication anywhere. White House aides reportedly intercepted a copy
Chelsea tried to send to Gajoob, the estimable cassette-only review zine,
but many copies had already gotten around. While the White House threatened
to sever media access if the tape was featured on Inside Politics, the real
reason for the blackout, I suspect, is the media trying to save face in the
wake of Dee Dee Ramone, Chelsea s savage attack on the White House press
corps. This brutal two-minute spate of two-chord punk frenzy spare no one
as it careens giddily through the self-styled arbiters of conventional White
House wisdom. With rants like Wolf Blitzer Is Worse Than Hitler and
Maureen Dowd Is A Fucking Cow, who can blame them for keeping this thing
under the carpet?
The middle section of Are You There is cut from the same angry two- and
three-chord cloth; critics might argue that Chelsea s prmitive guitar riffs
are a bit repetitive, but even if this were a deficiency, it s more than
made up for by the lyrical potency.
Tip Tipper Over has Chelsea railing against she-Gore s exploits along with
the Parents Music Resource Center, with the vice president s sellout on
environmental issues: Your stiff old man needs a warning label / His
tree-hugging persona is a goddamn fable / Tip Tipper over / Tell Al to go
screw / Tip Tipper Over / The spotted owl will get you.
Her pro-pot anthem, Let s Inhale is bouncy and celebratory, and Chelsea
messes with the president with a sample of the bong-sucking sound from the
Beasie Boys Paul s Boutique intercut with snippets of dad laughing.
Between that she screams the choppy chorus; Let s inhale / Let s go to
jail / Let s call Guiner / When we need to make bail / Let s inhale / Till
we re meltin / Do vodka shots / With comrade Yeltsin.
Unlike her father, Chelsea is uncompromising, principled, and unwavering in
her dedication to liberation and militancy. With the pabulum pusations of
Kenny G and Michael Bolton pealing ever so balefully through the White
House, Are You There God? It s Me, Chelsea is a refreshingly brutal,
nihilistic romp. Electric as Beck, nastier than GG Allin, with the passion
of Patti Smith and the politics of Bob Dylan, this is the album of the year,
and the only worthwhile thing to emerge from the Clinton year. Chelsea in
By Tom Gogola, New York Press (Dec. 7, 1994) Subscriptions $25/yr (52
issues) from The Puck Building, 295 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10012.