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Bay Area Reporter
SF Bay Times
Rainbow Network

From Rainbow Network
By Charlotte Cooper
Review                     Rainbow Rating:

`Godspeed` is the first novel by Lynn Breedlove. No idea who she is? Only one of the most significant dyke musicians alive today. Forget Melissa Etheridge or kd lang or even Avril Lavigne, Breedlove could kick their arses any day as lead singer and general hellraiser with Tribe 8, the first and best punk dyke band in history. If Tribe 8 are the Sex Pistols, then Breedlove is easily the lesbo equivalent of a sneering Johnny Rotten at his `God Save the Queen` best. With a pedigree like that you`d expect her first book to be a cracker. Luckily it is.

`Godspeed` is the rambling story of Jim, an occasional bike messenger boi-dyke in San Francisco, who has a lust for speed, the chemical kind. Throughout the novel Jim gets addicted to whizz, deals, kicks, starts using again, and so on. It`s not your average drug redemption story, but it`s obviously based on Breedlove`s own experiences as an addict in past years, and that`s what makes it compelling and real. Jim goes on the road as a hired hand with a band that`s not a million miles away from Tribe 8 and finds some kind of peace with himself. There`s a love story intertwined in it as well, but naturally it`s unconventional and of course there`s no fairy-tale ending.

Breedlove energises what could be a hackneyed story with spot-on character portraits of people around her scene, including the bike messenger users who hang around a vacant lot, and Ally, the love of Jim`s life. From her list of acknowledgements, and the lyrics to her Hag Anthem, the prose in `Godspeed` is so power-charged that reading it makes you feel as though you`ve been mainlining crystal meth too!

Like `Valencia,` written by fellow Sister Spit performer Michelle Tea, `Godspeed` is a snapshot of a crazy time and place. It`s hard to believe that Breedlove survived those times, but any reader of this book would be glad that she did, and that she lived to tell the tale about it too.


SF Bay Times
Volume 23--Number 15--April 18, 2002

Lynne Breedlove Does It All --by Don Baird

You know, it really thrills me when locally known or identified talents suddenly hit upon new levels of achievement or notoriety, a convergence of details all in their favor or the creation of their finest work to date, hitting their full artistic stride or the top of their game, entering a realm that will likely insure them some of the exposure they so richly
deserve. There have been a couple of shining examples of this recently and it would be a sin to not faithfully sing their praises here in the pages of Beat This.

The first is Lynn Breedlove, upon the publication of her first novel entitled Godspeed. Lynn, best known as the full-on, balls-to-the-wall vocalist for the punk dyke metal band Tribe 8 whose very existence has pushed issues of expression and equality and sexuality into places and faces as diverse and unsuspecting as the male dominant punk rock scene and the separatist and initially perplexed Michigan women's music festival for a decade now. There was really nothing like seeing Lynn onstage skank dancing in a circular motion, shirtless with a strap on dildo sticking out of her pants, which at times she'd eventually saw off with a chainsaw or dull knife or force a guy in the audience to go down on, but the simple fact that she did these things not just here in SF but all across the states in places where people weren't so tolerant of anarchist feminist political vaudeville, or mock genital mutilation, or genitals for that matter. Wherever Tribe 8 went, they blazed the trail for so many other women of the underground, lesbians that even most lesbians were afraid of, the marginalized subculture of extreme butches to FTM's, mod prims, green-haired punk dykes, cartoonists, lesbian S&M sex workers, women of contemporary literature, aggressive spoken word artists and poets, filmmakers etc., all these unique factions brought together by simple mutual admiration and respect for Tribe8's tireless commitment or just the awe they inspired in so many others like themselves to be themselves. After all, not every dyke wore khakis, had bad mullet haircuts and dangly earrings and listened to the Blazing Redheads.

There was a new outrageous dyke emerging, defying assimilation, being confrontational, throttling the gay community with artistic endeavors replete with political purpose, creating a new voice and opening the floodgates to thousands of others. To me Lynn Breedlove was the perfect example the new and extreme lesbian of the 90's, Futuredyke, like a super-hero flanked by her band of equally empowered, fearless female greats. She also created and ran an all-female bike messenger service called Lickety-Split and one day she had some photos delivered to my home to accompany an article I was writing and the messenger who made the delivery was the most stunningly beautiful woman imaginable, an enigma with eyes that danced with light, and I thought, Lynn, you're such a dude, imagining a fleet of similar Goddesses making up her staff.

More recently there has been some changes in Tribe 8's line-up, most notably the departure of long time guitarist Lynn Flipper, a great player with teen idol-good looks who has decided to make films instead of music for now. Her departure had some worried about the fate of Tribe 8 but some new players were added and reportedly the change has sparked new life into the band. Enough so to have earned them a spot on an upcoming bill that in some ways must be a big highlight, thrill or milestone for them as a band, for on April 25 at the Warfield Theater Tribe 8 will be opening for Siouxsee and the Banshees! But wait! Right at press time another show was added on the
previous night at the Fillmore same line-up so that's twice they'll have the honor-and a possible second chance for folks to get tickets as the Warfield show sold out like instantly.

But enough about that, the book Godspeed (St Martin's Press, $24.95) is what I wanted to talk up here. I'm only about half way through Lynn's first novel and it's the kind of book I purposely force myself to put down and halt my consumption of it because I want to make it last as it is so rich and fascinating and hard and funny, a page turner that takes you on a journey weaving in and out of harsh reality and drug induced hallucinatory whimsy, memories to present moments, heroism to humility, violence to tenderness all in a rapid-fire highly detailed manner so fresh it crackles with amplified surges of uncontrolled noise, rolls you through filth and smells so acrid and blows directly to the synapse of nervous impulse as opposed to just getting under your skin. You experience this uniquely alive turn of the phrase with all five senses and it takes your breath away. For a first novel this is so strong it's frightening.

In the acknowledgements it states, "Mom says to tell everyone this is a work of FICTION." as the book's main character Jim, a dyke bike messenger speed freak who dates strippers and kicks ass and sells drugs and lives in a squat and tours as a roadie for a punk dyke band, bears some definite parallels to Lynn's own life. If you've ever heard Breedlove do any readings or spoken word stuff that she does so magnificently, you have an idea of the narrative fast paced style Godspeed takes on, but just an idea because she hits on a whole new realm of effectiveness in construction and she tells so many stories within stories, with incredible characters bouncing in and out of Jim's singular quest for the ultimate drug high or the love of Ally Cat, the stripper of his heart who can't abide the junkie behaviors yet can show him glimpses of the one thing in life he might fully submit to, romantic love.

Or at least that's what I've gathered so far, being only halfway through the book and savoring each chapter like a fine feast. I will say that the book portrays certain drug experiences with the most evocative accuracy and conceptually detailed descriptions that I've ever read. The rituals, the preparation, the ceremony, the high, its metamorphosis as you introduce another drug on top, and then another, the personalities encountered in buying drugs, the people surrounding dealers, the casualties who lose their minds and are hearing aliens, the perpetual tweak projects that never reach completion, and some of the most graphic and ugly details of severe abuse I've ever heard-they're all in there-the agony and the ecstasy, served up without judgment, romance or glamour, just the truth.

I maybe should read the rest of it before going on more but I think the literary world is going to take note and recognize that with Godspeed a brilliant new talent has emerged-alive and kicking ass. Buy this book-it's beyond just great.


Bay Area Reporter
April 11 2002

Ride with the devil
by Zak Szymanski

Early reviews of Lynn Breedlove's first novel have suggested its significance is based on the storyline of a drug-addicted lesbian bike messenger surviving in the underworlds of San Francisco and New York."Godspeed is the most important novel this side of Naked Lunch," says author Judith Halberstam of the book's release. "Imagine The Odyssey set to loud punk music and featuring a tough butch hero on a quest for her stripper girlfriend."

Don't believe it. The lead singer for the lesbian punk band Tribe 8 and spoken-word artist as featured with the troupe Sister Spit has indeed put forward a worthy piece of literary work. But innovation tends to thrive outside confinement, and the brilliance of Godspeed, while propelled by its characters' lives, is not dependent on its plot, or even its premise that the world revolves around tattooed jobless lesbians on the run. And with all due respect to Burroughs, Breedlove's book goes far beyond the disassociation and science of addiction, redefining not only gender and culture, but how thought itself should be conveyed upon the page.

This was apparent even at a brief reading as part of the Harvey Milk Institute's Arts and Lecture Series on Thursday, April 4. Godspeed, published by St. Martin's Press, would celebrate its release that night to the tune of an all-star lesbian/FTM lineup and a packed house at San Francisco's new LGBT Community Center.

The evening's genderfucked punk theme was set early on, with Breedlove's fellow Sister Spitster Sini Anderson picking up microphone frequencies through her nose ring, and transgender hip-hop poet Marcus Rene Van sputtering the rhythms of marginalization. But this was Breedlove's night, with a table set up for autographs and a slide show providing a glimpse of the images that provoked her groundbreaking work from life onto paper.

The hero of Godspeed, a lesbian named Jim, has something to say about everything in a way that has never before been said, and doesn't apologize for assuming you understand.

"The great thing about history is it makes you whole," Jim muses while imagining quizzing young punksters on their cultural forefathers. "No more lonesome fragment, me."

And on heterosexuality, she delivers a theoretical conversation that may even strike a chord with some members of the opposite-gender-loving population:
"Oh yeah, let's pretend we have stuff in common. OK we don't. OK, I'll just pretend I'm not me at all and that I know what you're talking about. OK great, and I'll just ignore you."

The story itself may hook you, and why shouldn't it? We're breathing bus fumes down hills and through South of Market, kicking ass and calling straight boys "faggot"; giving up everything for a girl because she's the only one who wouldn't want you to; jumping from the streets to the crafty finagling of sustenance and shelter; trading roadie labor for a chance to ride the sex-driven tour bus of a dyke band known as Hostile Mucous; bodyguarding a drag queen weakened by AIDS; falling for a bio-fag who wants you because you can't hurt each other; almost loving a rebound f**k whose tears just come too soon; avenging the sloppy rapes of the world, Lorena Bobbitt-style; and defending a Manhattan squat by throwing Molotov cocktails at the cops below, all in the midst of kicking — and rekindling — a relationship.

But it is the careful construction of reckless language — as well as what isn't said — that will ensure Godspeed's place in our community's canon.



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The Big News about Godspeed.

News item number one, Godspeed is available as an unabridged audiobook, read by Lynnee herself. It is being released by Killer Banshee Studios on February 1, 2006.

News item number two: Godspeed is currently in process of being written into a screenplay. Check back here for more news about Godspeed The Movie as it becomes available.

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