Two Tune Tuesday: Drugs

I was recently explaining having been straightedge in the mid 80s to friends who’d never heard of it, and heard tell that these days, straightedge kids drink but don’t do any illegal drugs, & to that I say: feh. The whole idea was to be raw to the universe, with no pain-bearing barriers. & For the record, some of us weren’t self-righteous or judgmental; we just got tired of being asked if we wanted a beer.

FWIW, I never did like most of the music made by straightedge bands, but preferred music by guys like Mark E. Smith, who “took some of these.”

More on the Cis

The thing is, I love the anger in the trans community. I’m an old school punk rocker; anger is in my blood. So stay angry. Just don’t, as my mother would say, let it cut off your nose to spite your face.

Starting a conversation on the understanding that accusing someone of privilege of whatever kind – straight, male, white, cis – is usually met with a “fuck you i’ve suffered” rejoinder is a good place to begin. Most people’s lives are hard, so it’s unlikely anyone wants to hear how much less hard his/her life is because s/he is male / white / rich / educated / physically abled / cis.


It’s a lot of death in a week: first Ed McMahon, who we knew was ailing; then Farrah Fawcett, who was fighting her illness with bravery and in the spotlight, and then Michael Jackson – who was always ailing, invisibly.

Maybe it’s unexpected that I should admit I liked Farrah Fawcett, pinup as she as for the dumb blonde, but I was a tomboy in the 70s, and Charlie’s Angels were fantastic. They really were, in those crazy velour shorts and flippy hair. But I had the trading cards, and I remained a fan even through the Cheryl Tiegs season(s?). I became a fan of Fawcett’s when I saw her in Extremities and in Between Two Women – both of them, believe it or not, cementing what I would articulate as my first feminist awareness.

But Michael Jackson’s death is unreal, much like his life was. Keith Olbermann used the word “human” a lot tonight in talking about Jackson’s death, which is something we all need to be reminded of. He was a person, a broken, fucked-up soul, maybe wrong and bad in criminal ways, maybe just broken and sad. We don’t really know, and won’t really know, I don’t think.

As someone who loves to dance, though, there is no denying his talent: Off the Wall is a perfect gem of pop music, and it dances from track to track. I have it on vinyl from way back when – the secret perfect dance music of a punk rock child. I was a little surprised tonight to remember exactly how many “world premieres” of his videos I saw – “Thriller” I remember, as many Gen Xers do, but also “Bad” and even “Remember the Time,” which is a hokey but perfect little romantic song. It’s impossible to deny a man’s talent who was – despite your best efforts – a major soundtrack of your life. His music had something so perfectly immediate about it; I remember where I watched all of those world premieres, and I remember the first time I saw, and held, a copy of Off the Wall, and the party I was at the first time I heard the tracks on Thriller.

It’s hard to explain to younger people than me that MTV never ever showed videos by black artists before MJ (and that hip hop had its own special show in the late 80s, because hip hop was just too *whatever* to mix with the rest of what they played). & You can’t hate a man who obviously took notes on every move James Brown ever made & every sound he could make.

So goodbye to Ed, to Farrah, and to Michael. As the duo Yazoo once put it, a little early, Goodbye Seventies, too.

Two Tune Tuesday: The Damned

In honor of them playing in NYC last week, when I *wasn’t there dammit* here’s some tunes from The Damned, who threaten retirement every couple of years. I’ve seen at least two Farewell tours, maybe a decade apart, at places like The Ritz, The (New) Ritz (or the former Studio 54, depending on how you look at it), Coney Island High, Irving Plaza. Oy. Yes, I am missing NYC pretty hardcore these days.

Get a playlist!

Betty was not a big fan, having been introduced to them when they were doing kitschy goth things like

  1. “Grimly Fiendish” (which dammit I love anyway), but I took her to see them live & she was, alas, converted. What I think she said was, “goddamn they’re the loudest band ever.”
  2. “New Rose” was the first punk single. They beat everyone, including the Pistols, to that one.
  3. “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” is very Captain Sensible: stupid and funny and fun to sing along. Uhhuh.
  4. “Smash It Up Pts 1 & 2” is in the canon of great punk rock theme songs.
  5. “Anti-Pope” is well, perfect, & was especially for a good Catholic girl with a lot of anger.
  6. “Generals” is from the Strawberries album, which came in bright red vinyl. It’s a pretty record, & a good one. Dave Vanians’s Interview with the Vampire tribute is on that one, too. These last two are a bit of the politics I imbibed with the tunes.

Best of Cramps / Happy Valentine

Since people have asked, here’s a few of the best Cramps songs… okay, my favorites. & The last one is just – well, why not?

Get a playlist!

I have to dedicate the 4th song to my dad. He was driving me somewhere – probably to a shop called Slipped Disc where I bought a ton of music when I was a teenager – and he was humming along with this track until he stopped and said, “is that really what they’re saying?” and promptly changed the station. (For the record, Slipped Disc sold all the great 80s punk & new wave I loved, including all the other crap that went with being a fan: calendars, buttons, patches, picture discs, t-shirts, books… all of that stuff. For anyone who’s been to Record Runner in the West Village, Slipped Disc was kinda like that. With a lot of metalheads.)

So Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Make yourself a cocktail, put on those big fuzzy slippers & dance to these tracks. Round out the evening by watching some godawful B-movie. Eat some cheese out of a can. Really, it’s good for you, once in a while.


Wow I have been busy, only finding out today, care of Penny on the MHB boards, that Lux Interior died this past week. He was half of the band The Cramps, well-loved punk rock psychedelic rockabilly band.

Yes, that all goes together.

RIP, Lux. & May your heaven be paved in gold lame.

This is them doing “What’s Inside a Girl?” (which was one of my favorite tracks):

Blogger Initiative

As many of you know, I was at the LGBT Bloggers’ Initiative this past weekend, feeling simultaneously like the new kid on the block and the old whore. Many of my fellow bloggers – I realized during a presentation on media access by Cathy Renna – are bloggers, only. It never occurred to me that being a blogger who was a published book author first was weird, but there I was.

Nevermind that for now. I met a smattering of lovely people who are active in the LGBT blogosphere, some of whom I knew before and some who I didn’t: Dana of Mombian, a whole bunch of the folks at Bilerico, including Bil, Serena, Irene, and Alex; some of the Pam’s House Blend crew, including Pam herself and Autumn Sandeen. Among other I ran into were Allyson Robinson at the HRC cocktail party on Friday night, Mara Keisling of NCTE on Saturday afternoon (at the infamous Mayflower Hotel), as well as Tahlib Disney-Britton of Freedom to Marry, James from,  and Tobias Packer of Equality Florida.

Continue reading “Blogger Initiative”

Haircut for 2

For the first time in a dog’s age, Betty & I are both getting haircuts tomorrow. Maybe I’ll post photos. Maybe I won’t. I’m sure we’ll look – oh, exactly the same as ever. Pretty much.

So does anyone else have horror haircut dreams? They’re not always horrible; sometimes they’re just weird. Where you dream that you did something really insane to your hair, & you have to go out somewhere important, like to your sister’s wedding, & your hair is insane? Is it a chick thing? Or a former punkrocker thing? I’ve definitely had hair disasters, where I bleached/dyed it too many times & it all just started breaking off, or, alternately, where it turned this really bizarre, unnatural color – like orange caramel, or a weird greenish brown – where the only answer was to cut most of it off & dye it a dark color. (Thus, once resulting in what Betty refers to as my “Harry Potter phase.”)

I’m sure tomorrow will be fine, though. The same lady’s cut my hair the past couple of years, & there will be no bleach or dye involved.

I’m Your Girl.

A woman on Hardball keeps referring to Hillary Clinton as a “radical feminist.” Um, for the record, Hillary Clinton is not & never was a radfem. Nope. Not. At. All.

What’s interesting is seeing an African American woman defend the use of the word “girl.” Interesting because I can’t imagine her defending an African American man being called or calling himself “boy.” For damn good reasons.

If Chris Matthews says “spunky” one more time I’m going to stuff a bra in his mouth.

I don’t care what Hillary calls herself. It was her vote on the war in Iraq that’s the problem.

Gogol Bordello, Wanderlust Kings

They didn’t disappoint, though that was nearly a low energy performance for them. They’ve been described as gypsy punk but I think of them more as the slavic Pogues – the insane, charismatic lead singer, huge folk influences, a gigantic punk attitude. I love them. The only time I got to see them – at Irving Plaza – I wanted to get drunk and break things, and I couldn’t decide if that was the drunken polka/gypsy thing, or the punk rock thing, or just the sheer energy & chaos of the band. If you get a chance to go see them live, and you can stand a loud, rowdy show, do go. Not for everyone, but if you’ve been feeling like most music is too crap commerical or just completely ballless, they’re the band for you.

& Yes, I’m proud to say that they’re a New York band; at least, they met & got their start here. The lead singer is from the Ukraine, there’s a couple of Russians in the band, the violist is from Israel, & they all met (legend or not) on Avenue B. They’re like the last genuine East Village/Loisaida export before gentrification wimped everything out.

Long, Loud Summer

The folks over at Wolfgang’s Vault just put up a ’78 Ramones gig that is so damned great – and very much what their live shows were like: practically no breaks, DeeDee’s “1-2-3-4!” about the only ‘between songs’ chatter, and adrendaline, speed, and power chords. The Palladium, where this show was taped, is now sadly gone; the last band I saw there was Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.

Damn. It makes my old, tired self exhausted just listening, but I can remember pogo-ing for the entire time they played at some shows I was at. My fondest memory – kind of my own ‘coming of age’ ritual, since I didn’t have a Sweet 16 – was going to see a Ramones show at Hofstra University: a bunch of us loaded into someone’s van. The energy was great, positive, aggro: when some Nazi punks showed up, the entire audience (& the Ramones) shamed them out of the room. But my coming of age ‘ritual’ was more specific than that: at some point during the show, I thought I was sweating obscenely because I’d rubbed my hands down my thighs and they were damp. So I went into the bathroom to splash some water on my face and neck and arms, but once I hit the bathroom area – which was better lit – I saw that my hands were actually bloody, not sweaty. I went into a stall and my thighs were streaked with blood, and finally I found a huge gash/hole that’d apparently been made by someone’s spike or safety pin or something. I wasn’t bleeding profusely by any means, but I hadn’t noticed and in all the jumping around had managed to get it all over me.

Ah, good times.

Do check out this show if you did or didn’t get to see the Ramones live. If you can only take a song or two, then I’d recommend the first two, “Rockaway Beach” / “Lobotomy” since that’ll give you the general idea, but they’re really on for the “Surfin’ Bird” / “Cretin Hop” bit of the show.

Just a Shy Young Woman

In an interesting review of the book College Girls: Bluestockings, Sex Kittens, and Co-Eds, Then and Now that appeared in the April 2007 Atlantic Monthly, reviewer Caitlin Flanagan paraphrases the author, Lynn Peril:

She arrived (at the University of Wisconsin, 25 years ago) with a butch haircut, a suitcase full of punk clothes mail-ordered from New York, and a ‘tough-chick persona.’ I suspected that she was romanticizing her past, but then she shows us her freshman ID card, and she really was a fright.


But then in the next paragraph:

Underneath, though, she was as timid as any 18-year-old girl plucked from home and set down on the campus of a huge university. Too shy to raise her hand in class, or even to order a pizza over the telephone, she was so rattled by a boy who flirted with her on the first day of French II that she promptly dropped the class.

Which strikes me as about right. The review is overall good but it’s the quoted bits that Peril wrote about herself that have my interest piqued; it’s not often I read something about women in college with shaved heads and punk wardrobes that mirrors my own experience at all.


On Wednesday night, I did the Nobody Passes reading at Bluestockings, the radical/feminist LES bookstore. As the room was filling up I leaned over to Betty and said, “I feel like I’m in a Williamsburg subway station” because of the multiple piercedness in the room. It’s the punk in me, maybe; I have an old punk rocker friend who likes to yell “freak!” at people with multiple piercings and green hair, because he figured – as it was when we were doing it – that was the point. I mean if you weren’t shocking someone’s suburban sense of normality with your non-conformity, then you weren’t doing it right, but in Williamsburg sometimes it’s like having facial piercings IS normality.

& I say all that with a kind of fondness, love, and a little bit of envy, because I don’t have the energy to look like that anymore. I prefer passing as more mainstream these days, because I like the little shock people express when I launch into a diatribe about the exclusion of crossdressers from trans politics 12 minutes later.

The idea we were discussing was passing – as one thing or another: passing as white, or black, when you have parents who are both; passing as female when you aren’t; passing as female when you are. It was very heady, indeed.

But what was most interesting to me was that to some people, I wasn’t passing at all. One person registered something like scorn every time I answered one of the Q&A questions. The conversation tended around issues of queer community, and LGBT politics & media, which I guess was predictable – Mattilda is the editor of the anthology & all – but still, the book does cover many types of passing – passing as middle class when you’re working class, or the other way around – & yet there were no questions – or assumptions – about class while there was an assumption that everyone in the room was LGBT. & I had a moment – I think of it now as social Tourette’s, but it’s basically just my punk rock spirit moving in mysterious ways – of wanting to say the word “heterosexual” as many times as I could. Why? Because when I did, people twitched. It’s a funny feeling to talk about community and “scenes” and queerness in a group of people who you can bet don’t all consider you part of their “us.” I’m used to that, mostly, except when I find someone copping an attitude toward me, that I’m not properly queer because I don’t fuck girls per se, or for whatever reason they’re not telling me. & That’s okay with me, actually — Betty & I exist at the intersection of most identities and often feel excluded from one community or another — except when it highlights the irony of being branded “not queer enough” in a room of people talking about inclusion.

On Thursday afternoon, as a kind of counterpoint, I did an interview with a journalist from an online magazine, and at some point, she stopped, a little flabbergasted after I was talking about sex with Betty, and said, “You are so queer – I mean, you’re talking about sex between bodies that are heterosexual and you can’t see it that way at all, can you?”

& I thought, Well no, I can’t, but if you ask a couple of people who were at Bluestockings Wednesday night, they might tell you otherwise. & That, folks, is the nature of passing: sometimes you do, with some people, & sometimes you don’t, with other people, & we’ve gotten to the point where we never know which it’s going to be.

My thanks to the journalist for her compliment, and also to Mattilda for hosting and Liz Rosenfeld for reading and especially to Rocko Bulldagger for hir essay (which is largely about feeling ‘not genderqueer enough’) and conversation, and to Kate and Barbara and all the other lovely souls in attendance.

Reconciling Past Selves

the threads on wasted youth and teen photos have had me thinking about the idea of reconciling past selves. & i think sometimes trans folk think they corner the market on this one, but i know a lot of different people who have various kinds of misspent youths – even if they weren’t so misspent as they think. when i was a teenager, my (by then in his 20s) older brother balked whenever anyone found a photo of him from when he was a teenager – and at the time i remember thinking, “i never want to be like that about how i look now.” (& mind you, how i looked then wasn’t considered socially acceptable by any means.) sometimes i wonder if it didn’t alter other choices i made in life, in order to live a life consistent with having been that punk rock kid back in the day.

but i don’t know. there are other pasts: times i spent as a green, etc.

& maybe i’m feeling particularly vulnerable right now, because quite a few of you out there are reading or about to read my book, which is about me in ways that are more personal than perhaps people would predict.

anyway, a part of me just wanted to say: trans people are not the only ones with pasts they have to reconcile. & i say that to you trans folk just so you know it, & don’t go around thinking that that’s one more burden of transness.

i like to think all the people i’ve been, the aspects of myself i brought to the front burner or pushed to a back one, are all always there, operating all the time. like turning up the bass & turning down the treble while listening to music – some things dim & come back again, some things appear once & never re-appear, other things maintain their frequency and intensity all the while.

anyway. this was just to say, mostly.