the destroyer > cheap papers > Meagan Lehr


Tavi Gevinson's new online magazine Rookie arrived in September 2011. She's 15. Tavi missed out on the very cool print magazine, Sassy, that was discontinued in 1994. This was partly her inspiration. A missing out. Gevinson has fashion blogged since she was 11.

From Tavi's September issue Editor's Letter: "Rookie is a place to make the best of the beautiful pain and cringe-worthy awkwardness of being an adolescent girl. When it becomes harder to appreciate these things, we also have good plain fun and visual pleasure. When you're sick of having to be happy all the time, we have lots of eye-rolling rants, too."

I want to learn about NOISE. Rookie seems like it will offer wisdom in this. Wisdom is: "There is something inherently morbid about being a teenager, and I think the romance of the sex/death connection is never stronger than when you're in high school." But that's the thing. The thing that probably made my defense go snarky (something Tavi's surely familiar with). Maybe that sex/death connection is still lingering around?

Tavi again: "Tumblr is full of teenagers moping about being born in the wrong decade and YouTube is full of people complaining that the Little Monsters of today will never know music like it once was. Most of the time I feel convinced that the whole internet is devoted to trying to preserve, remember, and figure out what life was like without the internet. But you know something? It's not all that bad, this here 21st century. At least, I hope not."


Tavi knows me. She knows exactly what I want and what I've always wanted to be and will never be. Why wasn't I cool enough to come up with a magazine as a teen? Teenage envy––until you're 28 and want an electric guitar (past prime). You're past primus. Grrrrrrrl, you're late. But just a minute. Tavi has a DIY section specifically "For Those about to Rock: How to buy your first electric guitar." Tavi knows me. Tavi is me. Tavi was me. Now I'm thinking about the Adrian Grenier documentary Teenage Paprazzo. I'm in a para-social relationship with Tavi, and she would roll her eyes but I love her.


I didn't always love her. Reading the magazine, I felt like I had lost ownership over something completely mine. Why won't anyone look at me? She's almost half my age. Ack (like Cathy). I was the original suburban 90s poser/girl in a band/bizarro/she'll put a spell on you. The closest I got to goth––I tried to go lurking around the goths who hung out in the cafeteria by themselves at lunch, and when I didn't know that the band playing on the boom box was Dead or Alive, they shunned me. All I said was, "Who is this?" Who was I to break the spell? Nobody. Then Rookie lets me in on a secret: "Getting over Girl Hate."


I am confusing art and decay.
Elsewhere, fiction is an activity like walking.
Any girl who reads is already a lost girl.
          ––Lisa Robertson



Ladies who play/played electric guitar: Heart, Annie Clark, Marnie Stern, Liz Phair, Courtney Love, (Tavi + Erika, duh), Kim Gordon, Screaming Females, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre, The Go-Gos, Veruca Salt, Joan Jett (ugh, Kristen Stewart!), Sheryl Crow!!!, Bonnie Raitt, Warpaint, The

Bought an electric guitar. It's got a gold top. It makes my fingers hurt and it has a cool amp. Noise is cool sounds. Clean crunch metal intense. What is this revamp of my teenage experience?


This new mag really set me back at first. Being that the concept of "precious" is a type of antithesis for Destroyer principles, I was immediately in tension with images of teenage bedroom shrines and homemade floral crowns and cats wearing eye masks. The yearbook page with sparkly gems in the place of student faces as a background for the October issue? I was skeptical about her deep affections for The Virgin Suicides. Not the suicide part, but the intention part. What's with all the beautifully tragic images? What's with the kick-ass Friday mix tapes? Jeff Garlin as in interview subject? References to Beetlejuice? I draw a line with blue eyeliner and super-glue silk flowers to it.


"…here is what I remember about those magazines: 9,000 articles by girls about why their bodies were disgusting. Sometimes, there was a whole section: readers would contribute "stories" along the lines of "One time I dropped a tampon in front of a boy and I was soooo embarrassed," or "One time a boy found out that my bra was padded and I was soooo embarrassed," or "This one time, I found out that I have a body, and I'm not just a cloud of pure consciousness, and that means that I have to eat and sleep and stuff. I was soooooooooo embarrassed!"


This magazine is whip-smart. "So I'd like to talk about figuring out how to call people out when they say something that offends me as a girl, and calling them out in a way that will actually be effective. Like if you're with a group of friends and someone says that Rihanna deserved it, or in class when someone says that Jane Eyre needs to quit her whining and enjoy her life as a domestic governess, and you wanna say something, but you don't know how."


Image by author. Click to enlarge.

On the heels of my 10-year high school reunion, which was just in October (missed it): here I go Tavi––what was I doing at your age? Here's a gem I found in my saved trash. Can you catch the My So-Called Life reference? So I was riffing on a period not my own, myself:

Maybe somewhere back in the boiler room (a boiling pot)
1986, 87––we would have been perfect
If the wingtips had tipped me off
To you
Our joy divided into even sevens (not chubby, woman eights)
And I as an outcast––you as a restless, wrestling gothic
Slow Smith
Attraction; blacksmith to my good girl history
It's a mystery––
          how I found you in the cusp of my hand
          crumpled on a piece of paper––small and cream
          but unclean
In the way every good girl needs
Squired, not perspired
I am yours as the shoes on your feet
We meet
on the bulb lit, makeshift forum

Babble on;
you're teething

Somehow you have me seething
          and singing you to sleep.

"A lot of people in my life––both male and female––doubt the sincerity of my enthusiasm for bratty or lovelorn pop music, women's colleges, movies about high school or Chloe Sevigny. Some see it as a pose––liking girl things to get girls or fashion blogs to look at pretty faces––but I know my intentions are pure, and even partly academic. There's no group as interesting to think about, observe and interact with as the American girl, from what you all consume culturally to what you make yourselves." ––Joe, Rookie's male contributor


Image by author.


What turned me was the generosity of the site. Or rather, the genuine building of a community. Tavi and her friends share and contribute, as do writers, artists, and editors. The tone is faithful to the magazine's readers. They like sharing. When I came around, I realized what I had missed in my space between Sassy and Rookie––though I think back and I had a pretty fantastic girl group––was a well-written, funny, interesting, personal, and exciting forum to read and interact with. I had to piece this together myself (which helps explain why I'm obsessed with collage concerns). Maybe I wouldn't have to prove so much if I had discovered a magazine out there that shared my questions and interests. This one does, and I'm not a teen anymore. It's awesome that Rookie exists––for my sake, and for those teens of now. Hopefully they take a cue or better yet, ask some questions.




"I am 99% sure that 99% of the people who are currently teenagers know 100% of Mean Girls by heart."



I don't like the girly stuff like long hair and flowers and 70s glow on photos and feathers. Nothing against these interests but it feels false when I try to do it. High school e-mail:


"Use the internet to discover shit you like, and use the beauty of tangibility which so many believe no longer exists to absorb yourself in it. If you hear an album you love on Bandcamp, buy it on vinyl so you can watch those golden sounds get churned out. Watch videos of your favorite bands performing live on YouTube, then form your own. Listen to a great mix on 8tracks, then make mixtapes to decorate and give to your friends. Find zines on Tumblr or Etsy and then make your own.

[…] Winona was like, "I wish people still baked bread!" You can still bake bread, Noni! And people can still play records and read magazines and listen to the Who. It's just that, well, most people don't. And you know? Maybe that even makes it more special."

"Cars today are just ugly. Clothes are kind of ugly. CAN'T EVERYONE JUST CHANGE THEIR LIFESTYLE SO THE OUTSIDE WORLD IS EASIER ON MY EYES????"

And now I'm practicing bitchface and finger exercises for my new guitar.

November's theme is Girl Gang. Yes.

All images are from Rookie, unless noted.