Happy, by Maggie Estep

Like Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave did for me during the 80s (as seen on HBO), Maggie’s work also opened my eyes onto a world beyond my suburban, son-of-a-preacher-man home that I knew I wanted to join one day. Urban, independent, absurd, progressive, radical (if standing up for yourself was radical). I wanted to be that brave.

She was the antithesis to piggish Andrew Dice Clay and (in my mind) a soul sister to early Janene Garofalo and an indication for what Henry Rollins was becoming. She was also a stepping stone for me into the world of progressive politics and an open invitation to reject that which was being slopped on us all in the lunch line of modern pop culture. Ironic that MTV is the source that served her up to me.

Upon hearing of her death yesterday, I realized I had forgotten how much she meant to me and how deeply her words landed in me.

Hey Baby — her piece I remember from medium rotation on cable television, spoken word over droning rockish music. Fun fact: this was also skewered on Beavis and Butthead.

I Am an Emotional Idiot — no description required.

Her work was funny. The truth and smarts held within made it even funnier and more poignant.


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