Archive | Personal RSS feed for this section

So What Is Up With The Upside Down Crosses?

28 Mar

This is the most common question I get that doesn’t involve my genitals, so I figure I should finally take a shot at answering it.

satanluvsmeYour humble narrator: Rani “No, I Don’t Literally Worship Satan” Baker.

So let’s just get this out of the way: spiritually, I consider myself a pantheist. What I mean by that is that I believe everything that exists is an aspect of the divine. I also reject the idea of a physical manifestation of the divine outside of the realm of metaphor. That said, I don’t have a functioning definition of divinity that I consider satisfactory. I also consider myself amoral in the sense that I don’t externalize the source of my empathy, desire to to do as little harm as possible, and basic social decorum. I also reject appeals to some sort of universality of said “moral” behavior, mainly because most appeal to some sort of chauvinism. Philosophically, I attempt to remain open to a dynamic situational universe and respond thusly. A lot of my positions are influenced by Robert Anton Wilson’s ideas about Model Agnosticism.

So I’m kind of like an atheist, except I kinda believe in everything, except for the concept of a god or morality. Simple, right?

And I’m no fan of Laveyan Satanism either. Too rooted in Objectivist thought for my taste. In reality, what I believe and practice is closer to Luciferianism than Satanism, but most people don’t know the difference and “HAIL SATAN” is more fun to say and gets more people’s undies in a twist. I also appreciate that thanks to my hometown, “Hail Satan” has turned into an informal pro-choice mantra. I swear to Satan I had nothing to do with that… but friends of mine might have. :3

I’ve also always been fascinated by religions that choose to include Lucifer into their rituals, like the Process Church Of The Final Judgement for instance. But long before I dared wear or utilize an inverted cross (which tbh always used to make me uneasy), I’d been drawn to the image of Baphomet (for probably a ton of blatantly obvious subconscious reasons).

ranibaphomet

In any case, for a while I associated both my gender identity (and my attempts to repress it) with black magic, demons, things like that. It terrified me, and the more my body and mind made it clear I needed to confront and do something about it, the more terrified I got.

So anyway, I don’t worship Satan, and I don’t hate Christians either. Because I guess that also needs to be clarified.

That said, I make no secret of the fact that I’m pretty church-damaged. I’m the first-born daughter of a preacher’s first-born daughter, and was raised Assemblies Of God, an extremely strict charismatic Presbyterian sect (that apparently Sarah Palin belongs to, lol). I remember church services being terrifying spectacles of histrionic performance, people slain in the spirit and speaking in tongues and dramatic faith-healings being a weekly occurrence. When I was 13, I voluntarily converted to Southern Baptist because it was more “liberal” if you can believe that.

The thing that really began to erode my Christian faith, however, was the suicide of my uncle Jim, a gay Christian pop singer. I couldn’t (and still can’t) come to terms with a God that wouldn’t want him in heaven, much less reconcile my own sexual orientation and gender identity issues with same. His death shook the faith of a lot of my family members. My mom (the aforementioned preacher’s daughter and one of my favorite people in the world), while still retaining a reverence for the teachings of Christ, currently follows a spiritual path influenced by the medicine of the Lakota Indians. My uncle, a Mennonite pastor, is now actively working to make his denomination more welcoming and inclusive of LGBT people. So, you know, this part isn’t entirely an unhappy ending.

So maybe we’re getting to the bottom of why the inverted crosses, but why pink? Well first of all because it shouldn’t exist. I’ve been obsessed with that idea for a while. There’s probably yet another trans metaphor in there somewhere. Hell, the name Destroyed For Comfort is probably an unconscious trans metaphor. Anyway, this is the first recorded time the pink inverted cross was a thing, and wouldn’t you know it I’m wearing a fucking dress (I swear to Satan this shit is unintentional)-

flipside2009cross

So yeah this was at Flipside 2009. It’s a pretty safe bet there were drugs involved in this decision to include new iconography in the Destroyed For Comfort performance oeuvre.  It didn’t start to become a prominent image until the months leading up to and especially shortly after I’d begun transition, however.

a12

A sort of symbolic acknowledgement yet rejection of my past while retaining momentum. Confrontational, yet cute. Like me.

Speaking of momentum tho, I think I’m bored with talking about this. Pretty sure I got the point (or as close to one there is) across.

So #D4C Recently Scored Some Portland Press… Sort Of.

28 Mar

dfcmercury2Photo via Portland Mercury. You can find a list of everyone pictured here.

I recently attended a photoshoot/press event thing for Sonic Debris Media PDX, a Portland noise label I’d previously contributed to for a compilation and subsequent live performance. The original idea was a lineup pic and a pic of our various instruments in a pile, the latter of which didn’t make it into the article. The article itself was to cover a regular experimental music showcase to be held upstairs at Habesha Ethiopian Restaurant. As an exercise in meta-journalism (or just fucking around) I took a few pics myself, to document the event as well as my amazing outfit that the muggy, drizzly weather kind of hindered from being seen very well in the final pic.

dfcmercury3dfcmercury4dfcmercury5dfcmercury6dfcmercury7dfcmercury8dfcmercury9

23 Words I’ve Had To Add To My Phone’s Dictionary.

28 Mar

dictboners dictboobs dictbuh dictcuddly dictebay dictestro dictfolx dicthella dicthetero dictkinda dictlabrys dictmeow dictmono dictoof dictorchi  dictphotoshop dictrani dictsexierdicttatts dictransfemdictransitdictphobiadictwelp

Seriously, I’m #NotYourRayon, And You Can’t Recast Me As One.

12 Mar

In contrast to the “decievers,” who wield their feminine wiles with success, the “pathetic transsexual” characters aren’t deluding anyone. Despite her masculine mannerisms and five-o-clock shadow, the “pathetic transsexual” will inevitably insist that she is a woman trapped in a man’s body… Unlike “deceivers” whose ability to “pass” is a serious threat to our culture’s ideas about gender and sexuality, “pathetic transsexuals” -who barely resemble women at all- are generally considered harmless. Perhaps for this reason, some of the most endearing portrayals of trans women fall into the “pathetic” category.  – Julia Serano, Whipping Girl

FULL DISCLOSURE: I still haven’t seen Dallas Buyer’s Club, but I do intend to see it. Truth is, I’ll probably even like it. I have a soft spot in my heart for sad sack “pathetic transsexual” stories. Hell, the Christmas after I began transition my dad made a clumsy shitty joke about a certain character from Priscilla Queen Of The Desert f0r obvious reasons in order to make the most hamfisted shitty jab at me or whatever, so like I know certain stereotypes I may never escape so I might as well sit back and enjoy?

So like in the whole aftermath of Leto winning an Oscar from this whole mess been seeing two common responses that I feel the need to jump in on, and how they curiously intersect in my own experience. The first is the WHARBLGARBL WELL MAYBE RAYON WAS JUST A GAY MALE CROSSDRESSER TRANSVESTITE AND NOT TRANS AT ALL DID YOU THINK OF THAT GOSH THE TRANS UMBRELLA DIDN’T EXIST BACK THEN (The following are assorted responses to Parker Marie Malloy’s recent Advocate articles on the subject)

dallas2Except in the real world:
Heterosexual trans women are heavily impacted by AIDS, frequently due to lack of healthcare and/or discrimination/stigma by healthcare professionals regarding testing and treatment.

dallas3
Except in the real world:
1) Christine Jourgenson, one of the most well known trans women of the past 50 years, frequently referred to herself as “transgender” since the late 1970s.
2) The movie takes place in 1985, the same year Richard Ulster founded the first Transgender Literature Archive at Ulster University. Also at least a year after this 1984 article by sexologist Roger E Peo.
3)Virginia (Charles) Prince didn’t invent the word, but she did help popularize it. The word appears in the psychology reference manual “Sexual Hygiene and Pathology” a full five years before the first issue of Prince’s magazine “Transvestia”.

dallas4
^the above was screencapped from the excellent Trans Hollywood blog, which has been swarmed by persistent assclowns of every flavor over their stance on this issue.

And, like fucking seriously y’all? Gay men don’t get sexual reassignment surgery. That’s like the shittiest laziest most homophobic stereotype out there, and it’s suddenly a better alternative than just saying the character is a sad inaccurate stereotype of a trans woman? The difference between gay men and trans women was already a well-known enough phenomenon in the real world half a decade before this movie takes place that, when the late-70s/early-80s tv show Soap suggested that the gay character would desire a sex change it faced protests from both gay and trans activists for trying to conflate the two. How easy motherfuckers forget history.

I mean, this isn’t 1975, and this isn’t Dog Day Afternoon, even though the scriptwriters (and anti-trans bloggers/commenters) apparently can’t tell the difference.

And it’s like, Rayon was a 100% fictional character unbound by any sort of narrative convention; why exactly does the character seem more and more like one that wouldn’t even fly in the 1990s?

In any case, it’s a game of semantics to pretend that people aren’t going to associate this character with the lived experience of trans women. It straight up says multiple times in the movie (as well as the book) Silence Of The Lambs that Buffalo Bill doesn’t exhibit any of the traits of trans identity, yet he’s a consistent go-to trope, a cognitive bias horror reflection of the insistence that the lived experience of trans women are a figurative/symbolic theft of women’s flesh somehow. Body autonomy? What the fuck is that? And it’s just one of dozens of similar movies pushing the same image.

leatherfaceindragOh hey look, another movie with a timely, sensitive transfeminine portrayal starring Matthew McConaughey

Anyway, enough of that.

The other point being made I take contention with (perhaps even more so) is this assertion Calpernia Adams makes in her recent Advocate piece regarding the controversy.

But I have known people like Rayon. She is not a made-up grab bag of random hateful attributes. She’s a portrayal of an uncomfortable segment of the trans experience that a few TLGB folks would rather be erased rather than discussed. I think many of the haters hate Rayon because she isn’t beautiful, she isn’t passable, she isn’t gender-binary, she isn’t 2014-political. And when I see that elitist hypocrisy, I’m inclined to push back.

It’s hard being trans, even more so in the era and circumstances of Dallas Buyers Club. I’ve known plenty of trans sex workers, self-medicators, wise teachers, hilarious weirdos, and people taken before their time due to violence and lack of health care. I’ve known trans people very much like Rayon, and maybe if some people got up from their remote activism -devices (computer screens and smartphones) and left their ivory towers and privilege bubbles, they’d meet a few people like Rayon face-to-face too.

Excuse the fuck out of me? Where in the actual fuck do you get the gall to recast all concerns about this character into some tired gross archaic “transsexual vs transgender” elitism?

I’m *from* Texas. I’ve self-medicated. I’ve done drugs. Like, a *lot* of drugs. I haven’t done sex work, but I can’t say I haven’t considered it. I’m not HIV+, but I’ve dated people who were. I spent the latter part of the 1990s getting sneered at by older transsexuals in “support” groups during a time when I was young and lost and really could have used some guidance. I frequented gay bars, and often slept with gay men (slept with an awful lot of straight guys too, for the record).

krossover1Me, literally standing in the doorway of the infamous, frequently cop-raided, Harker Heights,Tx gay/drag bar Krossover, in 1999(?).

And being concerned about passability? Christ. I’m the tallest, gangliest, most shittily-tattooed, donkey-faced thing out there. And apparently I dress like a Hot Topic threw up. So lets just say it isn’t high on my concerns.

bangs

So like, when Leto talks about “the Rayons of the world” or whatever, he’s talking about people like me. Except fuck you no he isn’t.

And it’s like, maybe I don’t really want to be spoken for in this gross pandering “No Homo” way and romanticized as some sort of “impossible creature” and yet again have my narrative, a path and experience I’ve fought for and struggled with for a lifetime, repackaged in a cynical fashion by people with no understanding of it.

Not sure what I really expected from a movie that repackages it’s protagonist as a uber-heterosexual and homophobic (yay bisexual erasure) in order to learn some sort of hamfisted lesson, tho.

That said, I still intend to check the movie out. No homo.

Photos Of The Pleasant Valley Abandoned Golf Course

14 Feb

Sorting through old photographs, I came across these strange, creepy beauties I’d taken maybe 10 years ago. They’re from an abandoned putt-putt golf course in Austin off of Pleasant Valley, a few blocks from where I used to live. I’d fallen in so much love with the sad little decomposing forgotten bastion of another generation’s happiness that I’d weaved it heavily into the plot/imagery of the most recent issue of Why I’m Not An Artist. Apparently, you can actually visit this place currently without tresspassing (which is probably what I was doing back then), but it looks like they painted over everything so it probably doesn’t hold the same charm.

You can see more pics of the same place here.

golfcourse6golfcourse5 golfcourse4 golfcourse3 golfcourse2 golfcourse1a golfcourse7

Let’s Talk About Negativland’s “TRUE/FALSE” tour; Spring 2000

26 Jan

negativland1
THESE GUYS ARE FROM ENGLAND AND WHO GIVES A SHIT

Lemme tell you about one of the most important formative experiences of my adult life. It was May 16, 2000, at Stubbs BBQ in Austin, Texas, where I was to finally experience the band Negativland for the first time. I was almost 23,  living in Copperas Cove, putting together the 7th issue of my comic Why I’m Not An Artist, and working as a flow solder operator. It was also about a year into my first attempt at living full time as a woman. It was a pretty exciting time period in my life, all things considered.

Before then I’d had sporadic attempts at doing live music with a short, chaotic noise music project called DEVIANCE that I performed in with my brother and a high school friend. That’s an entirely different story that may get explored next time I get nostalgic. At this point, I was satisfying my urge to do performance art by being a drag queen, and rarely recorded, much less performed, music. Little did I know this show would change damn near everything I thought I wanted to do with myself as an artist.

Keep in mind, I’d never had a chance to actually hear their music before. I’d only heard of them a couple years before from a review of their album Dispepsi, a concept album about advertising oversaturation, which simultaneously sounded like the stupidest and most brilliant thing ever.  I was only aware of their reputation: booted from Black Flag’s SST label, nearly sued to oblivion by U2, etc. I visited their website regularly, however, and found out about the show there.

The show itself was amazing on a level I still have trouble describing. From the moment they started, they got a couple hundred people to sit the fuck down in the dirt and shut up for two hours straight, with a short puppet show intermission in the middle. There was simply no choice, the whole experience was so overwhelming it was impossible to concentrate on anything else. The entire stage was draped with white sheets where dozens of videos played at once behind, in front of, and on top of the band.  Most of the songs they performed were from Dispepsi, but there was also stuff that wasn’t released until “No Business” and a few tracks that were never released in any format I can track down (such as the “Loop That Goes On Forever” song, as well as “Breathe In, Breathe Out”).

I was completely stunned. I’d never seen anything like it. I recall thinking “I don’t know what the fuck that was, but that’s what I want to do with my life.”

I stayed in contact with them through email and at one point even exchanged letters with them-

negativlandletter3 negativlandletter negativlandletter2

Their whole aesthetic of seeming chaos and indifference covering such heavily-calculated intricacy redefined my approach to, well, damn near everything.

Cyberpunk Dysphoria.

25 Jan

facerecognition0

Reading over theories  and aesthetic projects on how to use makeup and fashion and such in order to subvert facial recognition software and otherwise alter facial mapping, I realized a few things. Outside of the frequently made new-wave/cyber-punk connection, I also realized that I’d consciously endeavored to distort my facial plane constantly in my public presentation. I’ve worn makeup near-daily, and nearly 100% of the time I’ve appeared in public, since I was 17. More often than not it was garishly done and asymmetric.

facerecognition5

Compare to this chart of facial-recognition thwarting makeup:

facerecognition4

It would be as inaccurate to say that trying to live as a man meant I was not gender dysphoric as it would to say that a monogamous relationship would suddenly make me not bisexual. My dysphoria colored and recoded a lot of my experiences, and I have to wonder if this conscious nullifying of identifiable features was a product of it. It’s became so seemingly obvious that I nicknamed the stage makeup/facepaint I’ve been wearing the past three and a half years as “dysphoria monster” (also the name of the cover image of the album Chevalier D’Eon).

facerecognition3

Upon Further Reflection On The Whole Caleb Hannan Mess.

23 Jan

So yeah, I got pretty pissed about that Grantland article and vented out the results of a weekend dwelling on horrid thoughts. Over the next few days I found myself tangling with the Right Wing blogosphere on the subject, because I love mocking the Right Wing. In particular I’d found myself interacting with Robert Stacy McCain and Donald Douglas, and an avalanche of cronies, including a dude with a Duck Dynasty Twitter theme that called me a “eunuch” all night, lol.

Um yeah dawg, I’m still a few thousand dollars away from that.

Eventually I got tired of snark and figured I’d clarify myself.

caleba1caleba2caleba3

Image

Mirror Magick 23

26 Nov

mirrormagick23

Visited My Childhood Arcade, And It Wasn’t Too Shabby.

26 Nov

homearcade1

Before I moved out of Texas and headed out to the Pacific Northwest, I wound up going on some trips to haunts of my adolescence with my brother as a sort of little-bro/big-sis bonding. At one point we wound up at the Killeen Mall, hanging out with an old high school friend.   Mostly, the mall is exactly what you expect:

homearcade3homearcade2

But when we found ourselves back at the arcade of our childhood, it was surprisingly fun. But then, spending the day in Killeen, Texas can really throw off your expectations so who can even tell. It was definitely not as depressing as anticipated. Other than the surprising lack of, well, arcade games, there was a lot of fun bright colors and rides. Parts of it looked like they were recovered from a Six Flags or something similar, and there were some games in the back that seemed like downright antiques (but in a creepy, aesthetically pleasing way).  It also included a full indoor black light mini-golf course.

Also, apparently TILT is a franchise.

                 homearcade18 homearcade19  homearcade17 homearcade16 homearcade15      homearcade14homearcade12homearcade13homearcade11homearcade10homearcade9 homearcade8 homearcade7 homearcade6 homearcade4homearcade5    homearcade20