On No Alternative and Tamra Davis filming Kathleen Hanna in a ski mask

Posted by Jason Diamond

There were three moments in the early 90s that set me down the path I’ve walked down in terms of my musical interests:

1.  Really liking the mandolin in the R.E.M. song “Losing My Religion,” then hearing the DJ describe the song as “alternative.”

2. Finding out the guitar riff off Weird Al Yankovic’s “Smells Like Nirvana” was a parody of a guitar riff by some band called Nirvana.  Liking that guitar riff so much that I went out to buy Nirvana’s album, and forever being grateful to Weird Al for another thing other than UHF.

3.  Buying the CD No Alternative because I saw it on MTV.  I also bought an Alien Workshop hat, and a chain wallett.  All of these things were purchased with money made from my bar mitzvah.

Those were the three things.  Some people have far more interesting stories about how they became obsessed with rock music, but for me it was all thanks to corporate rock slogans, Weird Al, and bar mitzvah money.  I wish I could say that I stumbled into a Nation of Ulysses show on accident when I was 14, or that Thurston Moore was my neighbor, and that I mowed his lawn, but I can’t.  I’d be lying, and I don’t want to do that to you.

I would also like to say that seeing the home video version of No Alternative a year later had an equal impact on my life.  But again, I’d be sort of lying.  The only thing I remember from the VHS tape I watched while stoned at some raver kid’s house, was Tamra David directed short film featuring members of Huggy Bear, Yoshimi from Boredoms talking about how boys are scared of her, Courtney Love, Kathleen Hanna in a ski mask, and much more. Watching that part actually did change my life.  The rest of the video is a fog of Goo Goo Dolls videos and bong hits.


  1. That’s pretty awesome. I remember first hearing Nirvana in the spring of ’92 when Teen Spirit started getting play on Z100, the Portland, Oregon pop music station. I was in the seventh grade and listened to Z100 because I had no idea what to listen to and wanted to fit in. That’s how I discovered alternative rock–buried between Madonna and Mariah Carey.

  2. Yeah, it’s almost easy to forget what a huge impact the “Nirvana moment” was for most people, with all the hype that came to follow.