Under yr Crown

Local upcoming pretty girl, performance art star, writer and astro-witch Jaime posted something on Facebook asking about what the best thing about being a Leo is. This is a question dear to my heart. We're in Leo season these days, and I am in love with another Leo (who is also a Cancer rising, natch).

Madge: "A meeting of the Leo’s! A Cosmic Convergence!!"

This question of the best thing about being a Leo also reminds me of one of my favorite bands in the world, a crucial queer root for me, The Need. In particular, the 7" record they released in January of 1997 which is maybe my favorite record in the world.

It's six songs, but really two. I mean each side has one bigger song and then two smaller (shorter, I mean) songs. It's kind of a masterwork. "Majesty" and "Crown" are the sort of hits here, they were also recorded for the self-titled CD that came out on Chainsaw later that year (I think?). I remember reading somewhere that they wrote "Crown" and "Majesty" to be about each other (as Leos would) but I can't find the source. The B-sides here are amazing, and were part of the live show for many years, and very important to me as well.

The infamous bloody knuckle sexing poster. 

I remember having a VHS bootleg of a daytime performance they did at a college somewhere, where they played "Crush". I saw this before I had seem them live myself, and before I got the self-titled 7". I only had the Chainsaw album, and "Crush" wasn't on it, and I was obsessed with The Craft (like everyone was) but I was too cool to really fully admit it (because we felt like it was sort of exploitative of, you know, actual Wiccans) and I was thinking about magick and alternate ways of understanding and being in the world because I was 14 and I was starting to think that I was probably queer, that I probably had mysterious urges and desires that seemed scary and suddenly it occurred to me that they could be powerful (this desire, these ways of being) and The Need had a fucking song where the chorus was Rachel chirping "Light as a feather! / STIFF! AS! A! BOARD!" I love "Crush".

"Stiff as a board" isn't even the best part, the best part is the end with the "Do you believe in vibration?" bit. That's the thing about this record and these songs; they're fucking PACKED. Of course The Need was packing back in 1997. There's so many hooks. There're so many catchy phrases and anthemic moments, but they're all strung together. It's a kind of metaphor for the shorthand of emotional intimacy with someone, like inside jokes. It's trusting, like it expects you to follow (and you do).

There's something very Leonine, as well, about the actual material of the songs. It's this thing of abundance, generosity, focus dressed up in extravagant drag as distraction. It's like what I was saying earlier about the sense of being packed full of hooks, gems. It's a fascination. It's a kind of dorkiness, the willingness to get so specific and so tender and lovingly "into it".

In this interview with Plazm Magazine from 1998 they talk about being Leos.
"When a discussion of lesbian pack mentality and gay male isolation prompts Rachel to quip “Each a king in his own domain,” I mention that images of majesty crop up throughout her lyrics and artwork. 
Radio: Well, Rachel’s a double Leo, and I’m a triple Leo. 
Rachel: Leos have pride, they’re attention lovers, they have big egos. Honestly, a common Leo trait is to feed off attention, and it makes perfect sense that we would be in a band together for that reason. Trying to impress one another inspires us. Radio sings me love songs in our practice space-a new one every day. Tomorrow’s the heavy metal Rachel one. I can’t wait. 
Radio: I sing different genres, all about Rachel. She gets this funny look on her face, like she doesn’t know what to think, because I can’t sing very well."
I remember seeing them perform (in 1999? 2000?) in Oakland, at Club Not. That was the warehouse around the corner from the much more widely-known Club Hot!, which is where Seth from Panty Raid and Jenny Legs from Erase Errata lived, where they would often have shows. No, the Need played at the warehouse entrance around the corner, where Luis from Pansy Division lived, called Club Not. It was smaller and felt strange, a little "off" or queer. It was perfect. I remember seeing that both Rachel and Radio had Leo tattoos on their forearms.

Ian from Panty Raid kept requesting "Kathy Qualuude" (one of the songs on this record) and I thought that was such a weird request. But then they DID perform it, and it was fantastic. All of their songs are good songs. It's like you think they focus inward, and they sort of seem to, but it explodes outwards. It shines. Much like the Sun, or the way that diamonds trap light.

After being out of print for many years, you can (and should) download the record HERE.



I trick myself into feeling I'm having a conversation.

I was talking to my Analyst this week about how there are some people or some incidents that upset me at the time, but were too painful to really experience, so I kind of take pride in being able to repress something. There are people who I'm totally fine with, who don't bother me and who don't upset me and who I'm past and have almost forgotten, and mostly don't care. And like I said I'm totally fine with them, unless I have to run into them or think about them or see them or be reminded of them, in which case everything comes flooding back and I flip out. I don't like this about myself.

It seems to me, I was telling my Analyst, that I've been asking the present moment to account for the past, to fix the things that happened before. Lately it's felt quite clear to me that something upsets me, and it connects to other things that have upset me before. But that connection isn't working for me. I want to bring the accumulated wisdom of my past experiences to bear in making the present moment bearable. In making the future possible.

My Analyst: It sounds like you have a long shitlist.
Me (stunned): Wow... You're right. I totally do. I don't like to think of myself as holding grudges, per se, but I do totally have a shitlist. Oh my god.

I was horrified. I don't want to be doing that. I want to feel the thing, get mad or get sad or whatever, when it happens, and then move on with new understanding. But I can't go back, I guess. Later that night, I came home and ate a big salad while sitting on my floor and listening to Sunn O))) and then PLD and I went out for happy hour.

Me: I was talking to my Analyst tonight about, like, anger and stuff, and he said it sounds like I have a long shitlist. And I realized, like, 'Oh my god I totally have a shitlist.'"
PLD: Yes. Everyone's on your shitlist.

My Analyst said that it might help to write or make art about revenge fantasies. I mean I'm not gonna make the world read more revenge fantasies of mine. But I'd been telling him (and anyone else) that I don't have fantasies. That I don't have a fantasy life, or goals, or dreams. I never remember my dreams. I never cry. But the point he was trying to make is that I often feel like I don't have a fantasy life, like I don't have hope, and maybe it might feel good or be good to explore the fantasies I wish I was having.

Another thing from that session was that I was saying that I so often feel like I'm not invited. I feel like I don't have a place at the table. Analyst encouraged me to make art about that -- to make art in which I imagine myself at the table. That, I thought, sounds like a fucking fantastic idea. So fantastic, in fact, that I feel like I had that idea and then forgot or abandoned it.

Remember: THIS IS FAG CITY. I'm pretending that we're here, that we can all be here whenever we want. I mean it's not just pretending.

I think back to the period in my life when I was happier, making more art work, being more successfully or whatever, and it seemed to be about that phenomenon; making something up that other people like, or want to be part of. Tell a story that other people want to hear. I disagree with that Joan Didion quote about how "we tell ourselves stories in order to live". It's not that I'm trying to survive by telling myself a story that feels good or rekindles my interest in the world. I can't convince myself. I don't believe myself.

I need to tell myself a story in which I'm not sad. I need to tell a story in which I'm invited. I'm trying to tell a story of a better possible world. It's like utopia, maybe. I'm trying to imagine a better future. This feels different than the Joan D thing.

It's frustrating in a way, because for the last few years (several years) I've felt like that's not a story worth telling. I feel like I don't want to reward people for being hopeful. I've felt so bad and I thought that I needed to figure out how, or why, in order to make it stop. The answers are not so forthcoming.

In many aspects I feel like I am running towards a cliff, but stop right at the edge. And then retreat. And then do it all over again. I need to cry. I need to move through. On one hand it's recovering something I lost: I need to get back. On the other hand it's finally admitting that I have needs and desires that aren't being met: I need to get out of here.

Is it possible to be hopeless and hopeful at the same time? That's what I think I am. Someone recommended that I look at Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis. It was excellent but it hit too close to home. I feel like this blog has become something like that. In the litany of "no hope" etc.

I spent the last month mostly off of social media, and I'm back. But it's boring, in a way. This exhibitionism. I've made myself into an effigy so that I wouldn't have to live. I turned myself into a flag.

I spoke with my Analyst once recently about how all of it, the social media, the blogging, the performance, the outwardness, the exhibitionism, the state of emotional nakedness, it's all part of a master project of hiding.

I've been hiding for so long that I tried to convince myself that I didn't exist.
It hurt!

There's this tension between being and feeling and I don't think I can do both. It's like I this pressure have to make all these specific and fatal choices, none of which are easy, some of which are totally impossible. But I don't. I think maybe there're some false distinctions I'm making and I guess I understand why and how I make them. Subconsciously.

Thinking of another ukulele show I wanna do. More songs written by angry women. I feel like these two songs are kind of the same chord structure, right?

Magician revealing her secrets. I wanna sing a very tenor growly version of both of these songs. I think it'd be sexy. I mean I think it'd feel good to do. I mean I think both. I guess I feel like it's a thought worth having. Hello in there.

I don't have any shows coming up, that I know of. Nothing on the docket. I realize how sad and pathetic of a story that is. I saw some shows today (on, thanks, Facebook) and it made me living. I wish I was invited to play these shows. I wish people wanted to see me. Not even me, a sexy press photo version of me. I wish that was the real me. I wish there was a real me.

Urgent and Ancient; unresolvable self. Nothing would fix this, anything would fix this. I should book my own shows, but you wouldn't come, would you? Does it matter? Even here, even writing this here, is a kind of exercise in a sort of Zen calligraphic futility. I want to find purpose in meaninglessness. I want to make peace with the fact that no one cares about me; that I'm unloveable, but I buck against this at the same time. There's a part of me that wants to use my voice to say something important. There's a part of me that I think is worth loving. There's a part of me that I use to love other people and I don't want to keep acting like I don't have it.

I let my guard down. I took off my guard and I threw it away.

It's not so bad. It's just, like everything else, temporary.


Feeling a kind of post-lunch torpor. I love Julie London's cover of this song. She's barely even singing it, and Laura Nyro wrote it so beautifully. I guess the word I'm looking for is graceful or something. In the sense of accomplishing more in terms of ephemeral beauty, with less obvious effort.

In an elevator yesterday they had one of those TV monitors that shows the time, the weather, and a deliberately innocuous news headline. This news headline was a new study conducted by the University of Southern California can apparently analyze someone's speech pattern to identify if they have depression.

This headline reminded me to think of myself as depressed. Imagine that you could listen to what someone says and know if they're depressed. Isn't everyone depressed.

I feel so futile and so infantile. I'm going to go for a long jog when I get home from work. I guess listen to techno or something. Julie London on the running track. I want my sweat to taste sweet and not salty.

I think maybe I have unrealistic expectations.
I guess I don't want to be glamorous. I wish I had an art project or something to occupy my time. I wish I felt like I was moving toward something and not just waiting to die or waiting for some thing to pull me out of this weird funky cloud of boredom.

That's not at all true. Okay.

I keep coming up against it but I feel myself palpably blocked, closed off. I feel like I've cut myself into pieces and need them to go back together again.

Like the different members of the band that is me are not all in the same room. I need to find a way to be whole. I want to be good.


Haunting / Waking

So inspired by a lot lately, especially this Margot Bergman show I saw recently at Anton Kern Gallery.

Speaking about the paintings in the show (kind of portraits within portraits -- she painted her pictures on/around found paintings she's collected) Bergman says: "It was a process - living with them, understanding what I was looking for, beginning to draw it out, slowly and without a plan, responding to the original paintings. I didn’t know what the next step would be. Once I found my way to the portraits, it was magical for me."

I'm really obsessed with the new Two Ton Boa album Certain Years too. It makes me wish I was still trying to get paid to write about music. I want everyone to know about this record. Even if you're not already a huge Two Ton Boa fan (which I am). It's mostly acoustic, folksy. It's haunting. It's kind of nuts. It reminds me a bit of what Goldfrapp did? Or what Portishead did? It's this thing of going to a less formally rigorous sound but losing none of the power.

Sherry Fraser's voice is haunting much in the same way for me that Bergman's paintings are. It's this effect of harmonizing with yourself, and composing between your own voices. The feeling, for me, is a kind of vertiginous wisdom, a nauseating collapse of context. It's as if you meet someone who looks familiar, and they tell you they're you from the future and they have to give you advice, and then you make out, you argue, you converse. You write a future together.

My favorite song on the album is "Waking"

Sherry Fraser's other records are amazing and absolutely worth hearing, but the new one sounds radically fucking different, but still recognizably Fraser's voice, her songwriting. Her lyrics. The power of the older songs is still there, it's just different. If I was a music critic I'd talk about the history of West Coast punk rock, which Fraser is a part of. I'd talk a bit about the Paisley Underground. Two Ton Boa is (or has been) sort of goth, sort of steampunk almost, sort of post-rock, sort of performance art, sort of narrative and sort of abstract, experimental but tightly-wound. Like coiled dynamite or something.

I remember when I saw Two Ton Boa play in Olympia in the year 2000, as part of the first Ladyfest. They played at Thekla and were amazing. I think there's a recording of that show somewhere. I remember asking Sherry to sign a poster for me some time later that week. I think she had fancy eyeliner on (drawn to be like lightning bolts). She signed the poster "To Max, Always look both ways". This is good advice.


notes out

I'm not rich, but I can spend it all. I can spend a lot.

(I remember as a child asking my dad "Are we rich?" I mean, we're white and we lived in LA and then the suburbs of the Bay Area. Both of my parents were actors who had pretty unglamorous day-jobs. But we were effete, bohemian-seeming. We had middle-class values. "Daddy," I asked "are we rich?"
"We're not rich in money," he'd say, "but we're rich in love.")

I'm not rich but I can spend a whole lot. It's as if I don't have any sense of reality or scarcity.


I want to cut myself off. I want to destroy myself. I want to hide.

And I have been. I'm really trying really hard to be good and I've been off of twitter and facebook which if you know me there is significant. What would I do without all this fake attention?

Probably not a lot.

I'm getting the feeling that there's not really anything worth doing. It's not scary and it's not sad or anything but it's also sort of uninteresting.

It seems so disingenuous to think that your thoughts and your vision are necessary.

The thing of taking a stand. Inhabiting your life. Seems insane to me.

I don't know where I am so I am looking for myself.

I truly don't think I need to write anything or sing anything or do anything ever again. It just doesn't feel necessary.

One hundred thousand false starts.

The best part of any book is the first page. The best part of a song is the first verse. The icing, the frosting.
Looking like something is the same thing as being it.

We think a wish is real. That the image is the same as the thing.

Should I bother following through with anything. Should I write about the shows I've seen, the sex I'm having, the ideas, the hurts, the pain. What is the point of the catalog if it only makes me want to die. But then again everything makes me want to die. It's funny that way.

Want to write to my old friends. Hey I'm listening to this old record and I thought of you:

We were childhood friends.
We came of age together. We never said goodbye we just disentangle very slowly over the course of the rest of our lives.

Is there anything that's not excruciating.

I see them but they don't see me. My friends. My internet friends. My ghosts. Remember. Remember?
I'm online I'm (always) online (who isn't)
but I have to take myself out of the conversation because I can't stop going too deep. I mean what's not a threat. Who isn't trying to hurt me. There're no small answers. I can't even --

Is there a way for me to bring comfort or joy or peace to anyone? Is there a way to be a force for good? How? How could I possible do this when everything feels, you know, as I said, fucking excruciating. Rich in Love is not a thing. That's not richness. Maybe I'm being a brat because I have credit card debt.

I want so badly to work for Comme des Garçons. I don't know how I could make this happen though. To feel like I know what I want, what a trip. But you know I choose an impossible thing. Not impossible but impractical.

Realizing, I mean no remembering, again that I have no idea what to do.

Don't you think I should make this blog private?

I've worked myself
I've worried myself
I've painted myself
I've danced myself
I've sung myself
I've written myself into a corner.

It's just too painful to bear. To be online on Twitter or online anywhere and begging screaming for help and to have the question are you kidding? I think it seems like I can't tell the difference. I probably can't.

Did I cry wolf.


What should I do. Should I stop performing stop writing stop blinking stop breathing stop talking stop standing still. Can someone in charge please -- I guess it's a tautology. There's no one in charge. I can't trust an opinion, if I can't trust mine.

I don't have an opinion or a strong feeling about myself.

It's too late for me. I find myself past my expiration date. Rotten by being uneaten. I have to be thrown out.

You won. You wanted me to know how worthless I am if you don't believe in me so okay you won.

Everyone's always just asking me for stuff. Seriously. Not because they like that I have it because they think it's all I am.

Me, Now: God fucking dammit I was trying to be nice to you.
You, A Year Ago: Well you should have thought about that then.

Why does it have to be me not here.
Why do I have to feel like I don't matter. Why can't I be your favorite. Anyone's.

Why is everyone always telling me to leave. To want to be there but to not be allowed to be there but to try to be there. I'm spiraling. Why can't I go down the drain. I feel like I'm blocked somehow. Like I can't cry.
I want to be one of the ones on your list. I want to be on a list of your favorite writers, performers, people, boys, citizens, names, numbers. Anywhere. Just to know I'm like one of the ones that matters. I know it's too much to ask -- to feel this way. But why? Why is it too much. Isn't there enough happiness to go around?

I know I'm blocked because I think a lot about these thoughts and then it calms down because I realize that nothing matters. It's not comforting it's like I feel like -- often -- at least lately -- I feel like I'm about to cry
which would make it the first time I've cried in years
(but who's keeping score anyway)
what happens is I feel like I'm about to cry and it's like edging but with crying instead of orgasm which I know isn't that different but what I mean is that when I feel like I'm about to cry, about to actually feel the thing, I stop I get blocked somehow. It's like I can't unlock the last door. And I don't want to but I know I need to.

It's like who else do I have to apologize to?
Oh shit, I know exactly who.