Oh no! I’ve been “doxxed”!

An open letter to my esteemed white nationalist readers:

Congratulations on collecting a few blurry (and frankly still flattering) pictures of me and constructing a poorly written paragraph mocking my body, my sexuality, my politics, and my writing.  Good on y’all on figuring out that I despise fascism, racism, and nationalism in whatever malignant form they take.  Literally, the post before this one is about antifascism.  Many of the stories on this blog are about teenage punk rockers punching out Nazi skinheads.  If observation, deductive reasoning, and sentence structure are at all indicative of this whole “master race” thing y’all are constantly circle jerking over, well I believe I have some very sad news for you.  I get that releasing whatever private information you could get your little hands on was supposed to humiliate my friends and I into silence and shame, but it didn’t work.  Not one of us are less committed to antifascism and anti-racism than we were a few days ago.  If anything, we are going to be even more dedicated and vigilant from now on.

I love my friends. I love the work they do.  I’m going to go ahead and infer on the motives here again, but I imagine y’all hoped this would drive us into terrified isolation and infighting.   It didn’t work.  Your tactic only served as a reminder of how vital actual community is to movements, how looking out for one another is a part of community.  We are looking out for one another, and will be continuing to do so into the future.

I love my home.  Asheville is far from perfect.  It’s full bland liberal whiteness, consumption as activism, and bumper sticker politics. It has its share of white-dreaded hippies who just want to Namaste the world into not being a horror show.  Beneath that, it also has a long and rich history of radical struggle.  Asheville has a vibrant and thriving radical queer community.  You don’t get to lay stake to a city, just because you feel your whiteness entitles you to it. Asheville holds no place for you within it and the majority of its inhabitants likely hate you.

I am proud of my “crappy poetry”.  Again, you’re really reaching here.  All of my writing is on a public site.  Literally anyone with this thing we call “the internet” can access said writing.  After they have accessed it, a person can like it or they can dislike it.  I find strength in sharing vulnerability and brutal honesty with whoever chooses to engage with my writing.  That vulnerability and honesty is not for everyone, and this is fine.  Frankly, I would be disappointed if a single white nationalist found a single piece here that resonated with them.  Because by existing with all the tenderness, honesty, and painful nuance I can pour into it, my art is intended to be a (small and effeminate) fist in the face of the rigid white supremacist hyper masculine culture you motherfuckers are shitting yourselves in panic about losing.

I would call my aesthetic “aging crustpunkgoth meets skinhead adjacent”, thank you.  Again, anyone who knows me, or reads my writing knows that I have 20+ year history being a part of various underground subcultures and a deep love of music and subcultural aesthetics.  I come from a time and place where subculture weirdos were far less numerous and stuck together, often against fascists.  With that history, I wear what feels comfortable for my awkward body.  Sometimes that’s lace and black denim.  Sometimes that’s a Fred Perry.

I rarely walk anywhere without steel toed boots on my feet though, just something to remember.

Last, and perhaps most importantly, the imagery of the (just so poorly placed) “Anti-Communist Action” logo on your fliers is not lost on anyone.  The imagery of a body falling from a helicopter intends to evoke the terror of the Pinochet regime when leftists and enemies of the state were thrown from helicopters into the ocean.  Further, the coded, antisemitic language often replacing “communist” for “Jew” is lost on absolutely nobody.  One only need to look at the history of the Third Reich and other fascist movements to see how deeply rooted so called “Anti-Communism” is in antisemitism.  Your ugly, racist, antisemitic colors are showing here, and everyone can fucking see it.

Try to throw me or anyone I love out of a helicopter, I’m taking at least one of you motherfuckers to the bottom of the ocean with me.

Thank you for your time, and thanks for the free advertisement.

161

DOXXED!
Portrait of the author upon learning that Nazis have leaked the very public information that the author does in fact, not like Nazis.
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Oh no! I’ve been “doxxed”!

Fighting (And Beating) Fascism Is Totally Punk Rock

On a beautiful spring afternoon in 1996, one of my best friends and I walked into a room packed full of punks and skinheads in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Both of us had fallen in love hard with Punk Rock the year before. We lived and breathed for the next show. We had recently seen a flier at a record store for a Two-Tone Ska and Punk show happening at a community hall in Lancaster. My friend convinced his beleaguered and loving mother to make the drive from neighboring Southern York County to Lancaster so we could spend the day dancing with all the other punk rockers and moonstompers. The names of the bands who played have long since faded from my memory. I do, however remain certain my friend and I were the youngest kids at the show, all nervous with our charged hair and Doc Martens. I will confess to a certain youthful naiveté here, still new to the subculture and susceptible to some negative stereotypes about punks leftover from the 80’s. That is to say, I went everywhere, even punk shows expecting trouble, in a constant state of alert.

My friend and I quickly realized we had no reason to worry. The crowd of punks and skinheads inside the hall were exuberant and friendly. The older punks asked us where we were from. They taught us how to skank. All the punks danced hard, yet without aggression or maliciousness. When someone fell, there was always a set of hands reaching down to lift them back to their feet within seconds. My friend and I lost ourselves like that, stomping to the music until the show ended and it was time to return to our small town. Before we left, we hit up a table towards the back of hall filled with information from Anti-Racist Action (Antifa’s spiritual predecessor) to grab some zines and stickers. I spent three dollars on a “DESTROY FASCISM” patch. The patch was a simple embroidered design of a red star stomping on a swastika, a voice bubble emanating from the star with the words “Fight Back”. That patch adorned almost every punk jacket I wore for the remainder of the 90’s. I did not learn to sew until I was almost 18, relying instead on safety pins to affix patches to my jackets. This meant the patch was easily transferable from garment to garment.

I lost that patch somewhere down the years. Reading the news this morning, I wish I still had it. I hardly believe something as symbolic as wearing a patch on my clothing will stop a rising tide of fascism in its tracks, but I believe in wearing your heart on your sleeve. These days too, I find comfort in remembering where I come from in a world where I feel as uncertain of our species’ collective future as I ever have. This is why I still adhere to lace codes in my Doc Martens. Yellow straight laces to signify to the few people I pass by on the street who might be versed in obscure subcultural fashion codes from a bygone era that these boots are laced up to stomp out fascism.

If you came up punk in the 90’s, you probably hated fascism and Nazism with fervent vitriol, even if you had the only the most rudimentary understanding of said concepts. This too, was a sentiment leftover from the 80’s when groups like Anti-Racist Action organized with punks across the country, fighting and often bleeding to remove the filth of fascism from their scenes and cities. By the time my friends and I came up, the violence was finally dwindling. A.R.A. pushed to make punk and Oi shows inhospitable for fascist recruitment. Nazi skinheads attacked minorities and menaced punks at shows, but with a growing rarity. In Rural Pennsylvania, they served as an omnipresent threat, yet just as often unseen menace.

When we weren’t at shows, my friends and I smoked weed in the woods away from the prying eyes (and noses!) of parents, then rushed back to our bedrooms to put Crass records on the turntable and pore over the lyrics. Crass’ talk of neo-fascism in songs like The Gasman Cometh and Yes Sir, I Will record scared the shit out of me when I was fifteen and living in a small town, far removed from the grim realities of Cold War Britain. The threat just seemed so far away and impossible. Where I lived, Nazi skinheads showed up at maybe 1 in 10 shows and 9 times out of 10, the punks were ready to stomp them the fuck out the instant they threw their first stiff arm salute.

Sure, we worried that the government was fucked, and might kill us all in a nuclear war. We worried we would get cancer from all the pollutants in the air and water and chemicals in our food. We strained at the leashes held by those that ran a world we were coming to realize we wanted no part of. All the same, I was living in a small town, being raised by a conservative mother in the deceptive, neo-liberal calm of the Clinton years. My mother listened to Rush Limbaugh on the radio and raved about the ever-looming threat of SOCIALISM. I listened to punk records and read zines with my friends. The signals were as mixed as they were many. I knew the grim realities of police violence and state control existed, but had not yet witnessed them first hand or felt their hands at my throat. There were two cops in our little town. They both went home at 9:00 PM.

Twenty-two years later, I am no longer young and idealistic. My generation came up in the complacent Pax-Americana of neo-liberalism and the Clinton years.  We became adults in the war mongering to the victor go the spoils ruthless profiteering of the Bush years. We watched Obama offer more of the same, albeit with a prettier face as the world spun out further down. Now there are those who would argue that we are in the end stages of capitalism where a bloated system reliant on relentless resource extraction and consumption, dependent on human misery can no longer sustain itself. Those in power are terrified of relinquishing hold on what gives them wealth. We see power resort to ever more drastic measures to hold on, to keep us running in circles; spending, consuming, hurling humanity to its collective mass grave. If history shows us anything, it is that in these moments of crisis and social transformation where malignant ideologies like fascism take root .

Reading the news this morning, I see that the world my fifteen-year-old self both railed against, and simultaneously never believed would actually arrive has indeed arrived. The moral equivalent of the Nazi boneheads we strove to run out of our punk scenes and cities two decades ago have situated themselves as the conductors of this blood soaked horrorshow. The nihilistic apparatus of power seeks to serve only itself, by any means. It tears migrant families apart. It aims to strip legal rights from queer and transgender people. It aims to allow cops murder people of color with impunity, to warehouse them away in prisons. Antisemites are murdering senior citizens in their places of worship. White supremacists, enraged by any modicum of progress made in dismantling the system that upholds their power, emboldened by the current administration are shooting black grandparents in grocery stores. Movements like Black Lives Matter that you know, arose to make the very simple request that black lives be afforded the same dignity, safety and self-determination as their white counterparts are vilified and criminalized, treated as if they are polarizing and partisan. All of this to feed a network of profiteering, gluttonous parasites.

That great and terrible “just around the corner” that Discharge warned us about through a wail of distortion and D-Beats going on forty years ago now, is no longer just around the corner.

It is here.

Times are cold and hard, but this is an argument against despair. This is the time to act. This is the time to organize. Go to shows. Be with your people. Love your friends and watch their backs. Do not give into depression and isolation. Do not give into apathy and indifference. After the gigs get into the streets. Agitate. Go hard. The fascists are not only organizing, but they are murdering people. Their weapons of state control and industry are running riot and literally bleeding our world to death. This is not a grim and potential future we worried about when we were children. This is the painful present. The stakes have never been higher.

This is for the punks, because 40 years of the movement and the music have been preparing us for this very moment. This is for the aging punks. Remember that spirit of rebellion you carried as kids. I am begging you to keep that flame burning now in whatever capacity you can. Your world needs you to keep giving a fuck. Your world needs your anger just like it needs your kindness. Your children need you, because we owe them a world better that the one our parents left us. We owe them a planet with clean air and drinkable water. We owe them a free and just world. We must instill in them the compassion that this culture seeks to stamp out of them as soon as it can.

This is for the young punks, because while “No Future” may have been a hopeless rallying cry worthy of romanticism by punk rockers over four decades, but it’s a fucking copout now. Your world needs you, because the threat to our future has never been greater. Your fellow human beings living without the luxury of romanticized self-destruction need you. Not everyone has the option to give into despair and self-destruction. This is not the time to succumb to nihilism. This is the time to live up to your rebellious potential. This is the time to use your voice, to step into your power and stand fucking hard.

This is what Crass trained you for. This is what The Dead Kennedys prepared you for. This is what The Clash trained you for. Everything happening now,  Oi Polloi have been writing more or less the same song about since the 1980’s (Don’t get me wrong! It’s a great song!). This is the war that the Vengeance LP hardened your resolve for throughout countless cold winter punk house bedrooms. There must be no retreat, no surrender, because the time is now nearing midnight, and we are in danger of never greeting the dawn.

 

 

Fighting (And Beating) Fascism Is Totally Punk Rock

For My Queers

Trigger fucking warning, I am about to publicly say some dark and heavy shit about my experience as a genderqueer person. If you don’t wanna read it, no hard feelings.

I don’t talk about it much anymore, but for a number of years I identified as a transwoman, and presented as femme almost daily. I lived with constant, skin-crawling dysphoria, and a deeply unstable sense of self. Experimenting with my gender presentation and identity were the best means at my disposal to make those feelings abate. I also lived with some level of fear of having transphobic violence perpetrated against my body, but never experienced this, despite walking nearly everywhere in town. I feel painfully aware that I am the anomaly here rather than the norm. I never know whether to chalk it up to luck, or the fact that I wear one mean fucking mug when I’m out in the world.

In the spring of 2013, I attempted to hormonally transition. The weather had just turned warm after a long and brutal winter. I had just finished massage school. I had finally left an emotionally abusive and controlling relationship with my partner of four years who thought of himself as a center of the queer community in Asheville, even going as far as to refer to himself as a “local celebrity” (fucking seriously). During our relationship, he often used his own transition to excuse his physically aggressive and verbally abusive behavior. The fact that we were finally done and I had room to breathe, made it seem even more like the right time.

It is difficult to remember with any clarity how long I stayed on T blockers and hormones, but I think it was roughly three days. I spent most of the time sick and with crippling panic and one full day of near psychosis. I spent that afternoon in bed, having visions my own death, and the death of the people I loved. I saw myself on my knees in the mud in an internment camp, and felt a hulking shape behind me taking aim at the back of my skull with a rifle. I heard the report of a gun, felt my body convulse and my world went black for a moment before my reality reshaped back to my bedroom.

I laid in bed and felt certain of a future filled with transphobic violence and alienation ahead of me, and saw a life of watching my friends die. All the sudden, the shotgun in my closet seemed like a very simple means to bail the fuck out of that future. Luckily, I realized I was in way over my head, and called my friends. My friends took turns staying with me for the next two days while I cried and puked and tried to feel normal again. I went back to the doctor the next week, and informed them that I would not be finishing my first round of feminizing medication.

Really, I spent that whole summer and the year after that trying to come back to normal. I was scared all the time, and just wanted to be in less pain. I ended up changing my gender presentation drastically, primarily because the only way I could feel comfortable in my skin was to hide it. This presentation largely endures to this day. I am mostly comfortable with it, and have come to love myself in ways I never thought possible when I was younger. While I make never make any apologies for survival, I do at times feel like I somehow failed, or was not strong enough to transition. I wonder if I didn’t take the easy way out in exchange for comfort. I came away from the experience with a new awe of what my sisters go through to just live, and live in a dangerous world that marginalizes the living shit out of them at that.

My point in telling you this story is simple. I would bet you money that this latest (and terrifying) anti-trans legislation surprises all of about none of the trans people in your life. While the potential scope of state sanctioned erasure of trans people is absolutely chilling, it is not new. Transphobic violence is not new. This violence is encoded into our histories and brutally written in the names and bodies of the trans people who came before us and didn’t make it. This violence is written in the snuffed out lives of the staggering amount of transwomen of color who are murdered every year. This violence is written in the hard-lived lives of trans people who are denied access to safe housing, employment, medical care, and are routinely criminalized.

Now a whole lot of us are scared and the potential dawning of a new era of state sanctioned violence and eradication perpetrated against trans people. So I want to close with this: You’ve gotta back the trans people in your community, like right now and harder than you’ve ever backed them. They are fucking terrified and our basic humanity and very existence is under attack. Back the transmen in your life. BACK THE FUCKING TRANSWOMEN IN YOUR LIFE. ESPECIALLY BACK THE TRANSWOMEN OF COLOR IN YOUR LIFE. Think about how it threatens power that trans people reject binaries and heteronormativity and how that puts a big ol’ target on our backs. Check in with your people. Ask questions. Offer support. I know I am thinking about what kind of support I can offer my community as a gender variant weirdo who can go stealth easily. I am imploring you to do the same.

If you aren’t thinking about how to ally with your transgender community right now, if you aren’t ready to throw the fuck down with and for them, I don’t want to fuck with you. Period. Point blank. This is not a debate. It’s a war. Pick a side.

For My Queers

For My Mother and Desmond Dekker

Sixteen years old
Doing my chores
On a summer afternoon
With the window opened
Out over the rolling hills
Of Southern York County
Desmond Dekker sings to me
On the stereo for company
I can hear the world waiting
In the soundwaves
Making their way down the street
Reaching escape velocity
On their way out out
Of my lonely little town
I will make it out one day too

Scrape the dried Elmer’s glue
Off the sink with a smile
Check the stiffness of my hair
In the mirror for the tenth time
Spiked towards the sky
Like a middle finger aimed at every sideways eye

My mother sticks her head in the door
“Oh! I like this song!
I remember when it was on the radio”
Back when I was young
She hums along
With a rare smile
Cracking across her face
Remembering a life
Thirty years gone

All the sudden
My mother is no longer
The narcissistic monster
Living as a prisoner
To her suffering
Tethered to this decrepit house
Raising a selfish afterbirth
Already racing for a world
With no room for her in it

I see you as you were, mother
Young and full of hope once
Summer of ’68 in the desert
With the radio on
A glint of moonlight
Catching in your smile
Your broken home caught
In the reflection of
A rearview mirror
With good things on the road
Ahead of you

Raised ducking for cover
Seeking shelter from gathering clouds
And the chill winds
Blowing ill from a cold war
Summer of ’68
With power’s proxies catching a spark
From fires lit before you were ever born
Your older brothers
Jump from from iron birds
And into the firestorm
With not a reason why
But to do and stay alive
One took a bullet
To the thigh
And never quite got right
The other made it home
And never talked about
The War Again in his life

You grew.

Into the mother
I once knew
Tiny and sometimes cruel, filling the world
Smart and sharp
With a quick wit
And the bitterness lingering
Below the surface to match it

You taught me well
How to stand up for myself
To everyone save
For you
You taught me to lock
All the doors at night
Hide my heart
Hide my light

I see you there sometimes
Out there in the shadows
Lonely and uncertain
Where I am sixteen years old, steel-toes
Stomping up the stairs
To the sound of Desmond on the Stereo
Singing for every mouth to be fed
And waiting for the war’s end
Where all our noble failures born
From the best of intentions are forgiven

I see you now, in the lateness of the hour
The mother who
Did the best she could
With the mess and neglect
And violence
She was given
Spent a life running
Looking for the calm
After the storm
Looking for her son
Without seeing the one she bore

I will meet you there
When sun finally breaks through the thunderheads
Where Desmond Dekker is singing
For every mouth to be fed
Holy forgiveness
And every war’s end

Desmond Dekker

For My Mother and Desmond Dekker

Untitled

12:42 AM
Drunk, but not too drunk
Just marveling at
The taste of alcohol on my tongue
After five years of
World crushing panic
Every time I tipped a bottle back

Lying in bed
With candles lit
My last great love’s
Scent lingers on the pillow
Long after the echo
Of their laughter
Exited the room

Lingering on
Like cigarette smoke
Permeating hair
Painfully aware
Of toil dragging a body down
Taste the weight of age
Gravity gripping my face
Fear the grave
Lick my lips
Taste a long kiss goodnight
With all the beauty and bitterness
Of mortality on my lips, still

Untitled

On Island Road

Cooper City Florida, 1987
Voorhees and Krueger Come
To gruesome life on a suburban television
Screaming children run
Across a flickering screen
Fleeing bloodslick blades gripped
In the hands of fictional horrors unrelenting

The credits roll
The Screen goes blank
The groan and hum of the cassette
Rewinding breaks the brief silence
As the screams of so many murdered
Teenagers fade into the recesses
Of my young mind.
“What did you think of that?”
The words slide
From his tongue with cold eagerness
“Uh. A lot of people died.”

I am six years old
Spread on the floor
While parents wrestle with oblivion
Behind closed doors
He says ghosts live
In the corner of
Every room, watching
This scares me more than the movies
For some reason

His mother’s apron
Hangs limp from a hook in the kitchen
I imagine now, every corner filled
With aprons, suits, dresses
Suspended
Haunted
Lifeless

The cathode ray glow
Filled with cheap horror
Keeps my restless ghosts
At bay until the morning

Less than a block away
My parents sleep
Ashtrays on their night tables
Who smokes in the house around
A first grader with asthma anyway?

Late night cable
Takes a turn for the worse
Filled with wet mouths
And hungry curves
Speaking a language
I have yet to learn

He unzips his pants

There are power lines outside
Humming static against the
Thick night sky
The heat is oppressive

I know I should feel something more.

Right here
In this town
Sneaking around
Feet pound
Late night blacktop
Still clinging to the sun’s last heat
In this house
On this street

I feel nothing.

Do you know how
To give into hate?
I now know how to give in
To hate.

IMG_2073 (1)
Photo credit unknown
On Island Road

I don’t Know What To Say

I was six years old the first time I was sexually assaulted. I can recall the majority of the details with clarity and alacrity. This is a blessing and a curse, I guess because the memories have stayed strong and present with me all these for the past three decades. I have spent the majority of my adult life wrestling with them. Like many survivors, the memories often come bursting out of me with little warning, and at inopportune times. Sometimes during the summer if I am sleeping in a room with a ceiling fan, I wake up with a start thinking it is someone’s breath on the back of my neck. I have spent much of my life in and out of various states of dissociation and bottomless rage. I have spent much of my life like I still don’t know how to say no, and often find myself intimate with individuals who know just how to exploit that.

On the other side of that survivorhood, I distinctly remember being thirteen and my male friends and I figuring out that that there was a blurred line between persistence and coercion. To our young minds, the absence of physical violence somehow differentiated us from the individuals who assaulted me years earlier. Furthering that idea, when I was fifteen, a group of boys abducted one of my friends and took her to a party where they assaulted her. This crime was never reported, but served as singular turning point in the young lives of my friends and I; a reminder of sorts of the secret truth we had always known, encoded in our young bodies: The bad men were real, and they mostly got away with what they wanted. My best friend and I walked around school carrying knives secreted away in our pockets the rest of that year, swearing that we were going to stab the one perpetrator we could identify to death the first chance we got. We never did. He went on to live a normal life until dying in a car wreck on the run from the law ten years later. I was at a party when I heard, and I laughed audibly, comfortable in the certainty that my friends and I were so different from this sorry, dead asshole.

When you are a young person, especially when you grow up in punk, you define yourself by what you are and what you are not. You delineate everyone into a clear “them” and “us”. You surround yourself with other freaks and outcasts and convince yourself you somehow live outside of the unrequited-blood soaked horrorshow that is life on this planet. My friends and I naively believed we were somehow different, all the while shutting out the voices of the women and queers in our lives who have been imploring us to just fucking listen and do better. The few deeply intimate relationships with I have had with men have been with fragile boys with fragile egos, unable in varying degrees to examine hard truths about themselves, always wondering why their lives are perpetual disasters and their exes fucking hate them. Don’t worry. I am counting my relationship to myself in there too.

I wrote letters to two of the individuals who assaulted me at the beginning of my thirties, never having the nerve to send them. Two years back, I decided to send them while trying to reconcile and change my own patterns of abusive behavior towards intimate partners. I held the naïve belief that maybe these two men would hear me out and open a dialogue and that maybe we could sort out some of this mess together. One of them responded. I obviously could not hear the tone in their voice as they composed an email, but I am fairly certain it differed very little from Brett Kavanaugh’s as they berated me, simultaneously calling me a liar and weak for still feeling the effect of their actions thirty years later. They included their phone number in the email, demanding that I call them, which I never did. I have no doubt that had we spoken on the phone, they would have sounded *exactly* like Judge Kavenaugh did on television the other day.

This individual also came out to me as trans in their email. Two days later, they committed suicide. I blamed myself for the death of another trans woman, and wondered what kind of common ground we could have found had they just listened. I wondered how similar the paths we had walked really were. I spent the next week certain their ghost was in the room with me at night and slept very little. I left my room only to eat or walk my dog. I told my friends I was sure that they would be waiting for me in hell when I died. The crushing feeling of guilt stuck with me until I thought about what an utter fucking chump move it is to hurl yourself into whatever afterlife will claim you rather than take responsibility for your actions.

My heart feels ripped out of my chest this week. My heart is broken for all the people I love who are survivors (and that is almost everyone I know.). My heart is broken for all the people I love who are raising children, especially daughters in this thresher. My heart breaks for the kids who come after us, who were supposed to inherit a better world. My heart breaks for the people I love who live the duality of being both survivor and perpetrator this week, because every person I have loved the most has endured/is capable of/has inflicted some serious harm, and we have to live the lives we’ve made and pick up the pieces. My heart breaks continuously thinking about the people who I have done harm to. My heart breaks thinking about what it is to live in a culture that benefits you so intensely that your hard-learned life lessons usually come at the expense of the people you love the most, and that is treated as normal.

I am tired. We are all tired. We are all tired and heartbroken, and I have no optimism with which to end this post, only a small body filled with venom and unwavering love for my friends doing the best they can.

I don’t Know What To Say