Between The World And Me

July 29, 2015

Slavery is not an indefinable mass of flesh. It is a particular, specific enslaved woman, whose mind is active as your own, whose range of feeling is as vast as your own; who prefers the way the light falls in one particular spot in the woods, who enjoys fishing where the water eddies in a nearby stream, who loves her mother in her own complicated way, thinks her sister talks too loud, has a favorite cousin, a favorite season, who excels at dressmaking and knows, inside herself, that she is as intelligent and capable as anyone. “Slavery” is the same woman born in a world that loudly proclaims its love of freedom and inscribes this love in its essential texts, a world in which these same professors hold this woman a slave, hold her mother a slave, her father a slave, her daughter a slave, and when this woman peers back into the generations all she sees is the enslaved. She can hope for more. She can imagine some future for her grandchildren. But when she dies, the world – which is really the only world she can ever know – ends. For this woman, enslavement is not a parable. It is damnation. It is the never-ending night. And the length of that night is most of our history. Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains – whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains.

-from Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


White Girls

January 11, 2014

I can’t write one complete sentence about her because she was her own complete sentence, and her sentence about herself was better than anyone else’s because she uttered it sort of without thinking while thinking too much, I can’t tell you how unusual that is in a world where, nowadays, no one leaves the house without some kind of script.

-from “Tristes Tropiques,” the first essay in Hinton Als’ White Girls


We See Through You #19

October 1, 2013

Hey Maximum. Listen, about a hundred people sent me emails suggesting that I go fucking die for talking shit on Agnostic Front, which I don’t really care about, but then Alison sat me down and was like “if you don’t think Vinny and Roger were keeping each other warm on long tours in a small van and ‘Showing Henry and Ian the ropes’ in the early 80s…” and I was like, OHHHHHHHHHHH. So okay, got it. Sorry I talked shit on Agnostic Front everybody. I didn’t find out about punk til I was 40.

I know a lot about Faith No More though.

Anyway can we talk about the internet? Because look, I have been talking hell of shit in this column lately, and I want to take a break from talking shit to talk about some stuff that rules. Specifically, I think that the way that a lot of people are using the internet is fucking rad and I want you to know about it so that if it seems like the kind of rad that you like, you can bask in that radness too.

See, the internet isn’t punk. I know that. I was there for the Great Debate Of Oh Eight* about whether punkers could have myspace pages and still count as punkers. I remember being kind of bewildered at the time because like, I had never paid any money to any bands through myspace, and I was like, myspace isn’t making any money off me. I mean I guess they showed ads or whatever. But I got to listen to hell of bands for free there! And listening to bands rules. Plus my bands got to post music there, which you could just listen to for free if you wanted to. (You didn’t want to listen to my bands from then, though. Trust me.) And like, I don’t know what your life story is but I can’t afford to just buy every record in Maximum that sounds cool.

Nerds are uploading that shit to the internet though!

I don’t know how I would’ve gotten a copy of the first Shoppers tape if it wasn’t for nerds turning that shit into mp3s and then putting them online. And I mean the stuff Shoppers put out on vinyl is good but song three on that first demo (titled “IV” on the LP; which is it) is, like, a perfect song. I want to listen to that version of the song! Luckily, I have an old computer where Safari crashes every time I try to watch a youtube video. But it can play mp3s! And there are people who are stoked to turn tapes into mp3s and put those mp3s up on their blogs. They are probably nerds but so are YOU. (Actually for what it’s worth that demo is on Shoppers’ bandcamp page, too, but I can’t figure out how to download it from there.)

You can just, like, borrow an iphone, record some songs, and put that shit up on bandcamp in a day if you want. Or make friends with somebody who has some microphones and stuff, read your old Basement Screams columns in MRR, have your friend Brendan record your band in a barn and then put it up on bandcamp for free! I’ve talked before about how I’m unclear how you alleged punkers afford these giant amps and stuff**, and finding a thousand dollars or whatever it costs to print a record is just, like, inconceivable to me. But it seems like it is punk as heck to make a shitty recording and put it up on the internet for free. And also easy!

I mean not everybody can afford an ipod or whatever and that is a legitimate thing to talk about, except like… can everybody afford a record player? Does everybody have a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight to keep their records? I feel like we have this hierarchy of formats where vinyl is the best and tapes are cool and CDs suck and CD-Rs are kind of weirdly cool, especially if you can get spraypaint onto them, but mp3s are pretty much bullshit, like they don’t even count. But that hierarchy is pretty much bullshit! We’re all anarchists here, Maximum. None of us likes a hierarchy. And a lot of us have computers! It’s 2013 (I think) and a lot of us have computers and use the internet and stuff. I don’t know. I just listened to eight Peeple Watchin’ songs I downloaded from bandcamp and it ruled, and now I’m listening to the Dogjaw/Agatha split that I think I downloaded for free from bandcamp too? You can get all the Correspondences stuff there for free, too. The Groke album is free on bandcamp, so are the Ragana albums, so is the Primary Stress demo. It just seems kind of rad that, like, a lot of us have computers already, like for other stuff, and that a weird byproduct of computers being everywhere now is that it can sort of lessen the role of capitalism that, until recently, has necessarily been part of liking bands.

I’m trying not to make grand pronouncements like “everybody’s got a damn computer now so let’s al make records” because I don’t want to make any assumptions about who has a computer and what’s cheaper than what for anybody who isn’t me; capitalism is totally weird and it ruins everything. And of course having a physical record rules, and when you buy a patch or a tape at a show your dollars go directly into the gas tank and belly of a band that’s on tour. Obviously I don’t think that every band should be forced to record their records into a computer microphone in a basement and put it on the internet for free. I just think it totally rules that some of us get to. You know? It fucking rules that I can just give you my record for free. Like al the way for free.

We live in the future and it is weird and cool! I’ve been living in rural New Hampshire for a couple months without a band so I’ve been demoing new stuff on my own for when I have a band again and it has been really easy and kind of fun. Macintoshes come with this program garageband where you have to fuck around with it for a couple days before you really get it down, and then you sort of have to learn to program drums if you don’t know how to play drums or if you don’t have any drums and especially if you both don’t have drums and don’t know how to play them. But it turns out it’s pretty easy to program drums and I mean everything I’ve recorded into this computer microphone has sounded like shit, but: good. I can’t wait to put it online in case you want it. Actually my Mysterious Guy Hardcore band Tall Girl’s song “Rat Princess” from that demo is gonna be on the Stick Shift Records comp my friend Kelly in Burlington might already have out by the time you read this. They’re at if you like trans positive feminist punk record labels or whatever.

It just feels awesome that we get to live in the weird future where if we want to we can make up songs and record them and then just give them to each other without even having to buy tapes or live near each other or visit or anything!

…Actually that sounds kind of alienated and depressing.

But so is everything else in the world I guess? I don’t know just listen if you are cool please make a record and put it online because I can’t afford to buy it but I want to listen to it.

And I think it’s funny that there’s still this idea that the internet has killed music or whatever. This is obvious but it’s worth saying: if this stuff kills the music industry, it won’t kill music and it sure won’t kill punk. This shit is rad for punk and it’s rad for music. Somebody recently was talking shit about bands that record their shit on protools or whatever and then can’t back it up in real life at the show and I’m kind of like… I think that’s cool? The whole point of all this punk shit is that you get to suck. I think the idea that you should only make music if you have the skillz to pay the billz live is some dude rock bullshit; who cares if a band sucks live. Actually I care, I think it rules when a band sucks live. Especially if they suck awesomely!

Also, I think all the bands I listed in this column so far are bands with women and/or queers in them, which might just be because that’s mostly the kind of bands that I like, but it might also not be a coincidence. I mean this computer recording mp3 internet stuff especially rules for queers, weirdos and people with no friends! I know I am leaving the Maximum Nebula and approaching Punk Planet territory when I talk about programming drums ’cause you don’t have any friends- and feel free to tell me what is and isn’t punk, either via maximum or at but it just seems like all this technology we all spent so much time resisting and dismissing as not punk has become cheap and available to a lot of us who might not otherwise be able to, like, get in a van. Or solve the eldritch mysteries of “distribution.”

Like, imagine that you are fifteen and you live someplace where you can’t come out and you hate everybody else in your high school too much to even find out if anybody even has a drumset: not only can you listen to queers who hate everything you hate from across the world now while you’re on the bus to school, but you can fucking sit down at your computer and put together an LP about how bad your high school sucks- maybe working in the genre eloquently described by an MRR reviewer like a year ago as “mysterious faggot hardcore?”- put that thing on bandcamp, step back and get through the school day with concrete proof that you are better than all these idiots. And then make it through high school! And then when you’re a senior or dropout with a bunch of face piercings some freshman at some other school might find your album on bandcamp it listen to it every day to survive high school too! How boss is that. I want to listen to that record.


If you’re like me, you cannot fucking wait for Girls Rock Vermont 2013. I’m teaching bass again. I’ll tell you all about it in next month’s column- if I don’t overdose on stoked first. Also I wrote a book. You can google it.

*I know it wasn’t just 2008 but that is a good rhyme right?

**Thanks Ryan from SWAATH for letting me use yours when we toured with you though. I don’t mean you or your band when I say “alleged.”

***I think maybe I talked shit about the latest Bouncing Souls album in a previous column, and I want to retract that. Back then I was listening to it in Eugene, Oregon, in a cold rainy January. Now it is summer. It is Souls season. The newest Bouncing Souls album rules.

****Also hey Colin Atrophy sorry I was pretending your name was Colin Entropy for a long time. Thanks for all the issues of Slice Harvester, they were awesome!

September 2013


We See Through You #18

September 1, 2013

Hey livejournal. I’m having some feelings this morning so I want to tell you about them. 

Maybe you knew this about me and maybe you didn’t, and maybe this is true for you too or maybe it isn’t? But I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a community. I’ve had friends and lovers and family and stuff but when people talk about, like, finding themselves in a town they’ve never been to, spotting some punkers or queers, and ending up with a place to crash or some folks to go to the pizza spot with? I’ve never had that. 

Part of it is the way I grew up: not trusting friends enough to let them get close to me because I didn’t trust myself enough to get close to me. I was like, intently oblivious about my own queer and gender stuff until I was out of high school because exploring that shit at that point would have been heartbreaking and dangerous. I didn’t even learn to trust myself enough to know what I was feeling until, like- well I’m 34 now and I’m still working on it. It’s hard for me to trust anybody. 

Another part of it is the fact that I’m a woman. Look, I know that I’m painting a target on my forehead saying this in MRR, but it’s hard for me to trust dudes. A lot of women feel this way. We live in a patriarchal culture that doesn’t give men a lot of tools to, like, not be dicks- and in fact gives them, like, every incentive to feel entitled to women’s time and energy without feeling obligated to give back in the same way. All dudes aren’t jerks, obviously, and a lot of guys realize this and do a good job with it- but like cops, there’s no way for me to know if a dude is One Of The Good Ones when I see him walking toward me or wherever.

With queers it’s kind of a different thing because there’s a lot of talk about not being jerks, and about being accountable, and about support and diversity or inclusion or whatever, but it’s been my experience that that stuff is often a lot more theory than praxis. See I’m trans, right, and in queer communities, there’s this narrative that being trans is about Liberation From The Gender Binary- but in practice, because my queer community grew out of the Lesbian/Women’s Communities of yore, what this often means is “liberation from having to be a woman.” Which like, that is great for people, I’m glad you’re feeling liberated from that. Being a woman sucks in a lot of ways! But like, I’m trans and I AM a woman. Being trans is not about that kind of liberation for me at all.

This is why I don’t trust queers I don’t know. I’ve had so many experiences where some cool queer punker who Knew About Gender wanted to explain to me about how cool it was that I seemed cool because trans women are usually awful for this reason, that reason and that reason- and then couldn’t understand why that made me feel fucked up; or just couldn’t get their head around my not wanting every rando on the street to know I was trans (I don’t want to blow your mind but it’s because people treat trans women poorly); or every time a white trans guy or female-assigned genderqueer person made a thing explaining about how dangerous it is to be trans because of all these statistics when, actually, it is mostly dangerous to be a working-class Black or Latina trans woman, not a college-educated white trans* person; or every time I’ve entered a space full of queer folks and had to prove that I was cool or okay or whatever, just because they read me as a trans woman and then had no idea how to talk to me like a human being. 

I lived in the bay for four years and felt all fucked up pretty much the whole time. I was like, I keep going to these house shows and performance nights and readings and there keep being trans people talking about being trans, people keep trying to be nice to me but I keep feeling all alienated and invisible, what is going on? Every collective house in the east bay had at least one trans guy and no trans women. It wasn’t until I moved away and started to parse out the way that, like, everything about being trans that I was seeing was about how masculinity is cool, and talking about how packing a cock in your UnderArmour boxer briefs was like brave and empowering. Or endless performances by cis femmes who viewed femme as a kind of trans identity, who wanted to talk about how hot they were for masculinity in their partners. This wasn’t being cool about trans stuff, this was being cool about trans stuff in female-assigned trans people, and then assuming that that coolness was relevant to male-assigned trans people too. If you do the math thing where there’s a four on each side of the equals sign so you can erase both of them, then look: this is expecting patriarchy to affect men in the same way that it affects women.

(Meanwhile, the guys behind the counter at the E-Z Stop on Shattuck were laughing at me to my face while I was buying a sandwich and then calling me a tranny when I left. Those were pretty much the sides of the leaving the house coin when I was in the bay.)

Eventually I had to start framing The Queer Community and myself as broken up, just in order to be able to get through a day. I was like, the queer community is my ex, we see each other at shows and stuff but I’m still mad, she hurt me pretty bad and I don’t trust her to change. 

And obviously we don’t need to talk about attitudes about trans women outside queer communities, right? I’ve already told you in this column about how shitty it felt to read Kim Gordon chuckling with Chloe Sevigny about what “freaks” they both think trans women are. We don’t get to have heroes and all that but still it’s just like… okay, world, I get it, I don’t get to have a community, I get it, you can stop telegraphing that shit at me. I promise: I heard.

And look, I named this column We See Through You With Imogen Binnie instead of Being Trans Is Hell Of Alienating With Imogen Binnie (or God Shut The Fuck Up About Trans Women Already, Imogen Binnie, We Get It) because I don’t fucking care, I’m used to it, I’ve made my peace with the fact that people do a shitty job with trans women. This is old news and it’s boring and like, last night demoed a new song for this mysterious new band I’m starting. I just scored a copy of the Daïtro / Sed Non Satiata split, which is apparently kinda rare? I don’t know, I don’t know shit about collecting records, but can we just talk about French screamo that sounds like it came from the Emo Before Guyliner era? 

Nope. ‘Cause Maximum ran an interview with Kathleen Hanna a couple issues ago and I need to PROCESS.

Before we go further: I’m not going to tell you not to listen to your old Bikini Kill records, or that you’re an asshole for ever liking anything she’s ever done, or literally, that you need to do anything. The Julie Ruin record was my favorite for a while too, and it rules that Maximum ran an interview with Kathleen Hanna by a sixteen year old. I just want you to know that Kathleen Hanna is a major reason that I feel like I can’t trust queers and I can’t trust punks, and therefore a major reason that I feel like I don’t get to have a community- but you can do what you want with that. 

Look, there’s no reason for anybody reading this magazine to care about the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, because that shit is not punk. Basically MWMF is this week-long women-only music festival that has been happening every summer since the seventies, except the only women who are allowed are cis women. (Well, and trans men.) But definitely not trans women. For like a decade and a half there was a protest that happened nearby called Camp Trans, where I organized for a few years. It was rad but it didn’t work, Michfest still doesn’t want trans women to attend.

Who cares, right? Some stupid festival. Except this thing happens where I meet somebody who seems like a cool queer, talk to them for a while, find out eventually that they go to Michfest, and end up realizing: I cannot trust anyone. Nobody has to be accountable to trans women about this shit anywhere, ever. It is this insidious thing that sneaks up on you every time you go to a party or a reading or something: one of these queers to whom I’ve just been introduced goes to Michfest. I mean, I think it is clear how that would make a trans woman feel fucked up, right? “Oh yeah I am good friends with someone who spends hundreds of dollars every summer to support a group that defines ‘woman’ as ‘not you.'”

Kathleen Hanna’s band Le Tigre played at Michfest in 2001 and 2005.

Now, whatever. I could write off this tacit endorsement of the idea that trans women are not women and get on with my life, if EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD didn’t love Kathleen Hanna so much. Over and over this reinforces my mistrust of queer people: if I come over to your house and you’ve got a framed Bikini Kill 12″ on the wall, I’m like, that’s cool, I’m stoked that band spoke to you that way- they spoke to me for a minute, years ago, too!- but what you are communicating to me is that you don’t care enough about trans women to, like, have at least a sort of complicated relationship to Bikini Kill. You know? I understand that Kathleen Hanna has done a lot of cool work and is really smart in a lot of ways, but what you need to understand, with your Bikini Kill record on your wall, is what your apparently uncomplicated relationship to this artist’s work says about your newly complicated relationship to me. Or maybe more specifically: my new mistrust of you. 

Just so you know, this is the background noise of my life and the lives of a lot of my friends.

Take my life, please!


1. My blog is called keep your bridges burning and my email is imogen at that blog, if you wanna talk about it.

2. Confidential to Kathleen Hanna: You’ve said that you think trans women are women, but your actions have clearly shown otherwise. If you’re reading this, would you please just fucking apologize for playing at Michfest? Apologizing’s easy and until you do you’re a hypocrite. 

3. You can still buy this book I wrote called Nevada at

4. My band Correspondences might play some shows again even though we all moved away! There are free mp3s at 

5. Next month’s column won’t have anything about gender. It’s straightup just gonna be two thousand words of Robocop fan fiction, I promise.

August 2013


We See Through You #17

August 1, 2013

Hey Maximum! What’s up dude, I just got back from two months of tour. I was touring on this book I wrote called Nevada, which like… I mean, everybody knows that reading isn’t cool. Or punk. But whatever, sometimes we just write and publish a novel and go on a two month tour for it anyway. And it was really good, dude. My publisher fucking paid for gas! I stayed with friends and friends of friends everywhere… this girl gave me a joint in Houston and this guy gave me a bunch of mushrooms in Asheville. Pretty much, like, it turns out that touring in bands is the fucking worst compared to touring on a book. Which actually brings me to my first point in this month’s column, which is about

What I Learned On My Book Tour

1. Punk Rock Fucking Sucks

Halfway through tour I ended up spending a week in the Montpelier, Vermont area. Some circumstances happened and I ended up having to drive down to Brattleboro and back in the middle of the night one night- only I didn’t have my own car at the time, so I borrowed my friend Katy’s car. It was a very fancy rental car, like one of those big square cars they advertise at suburban boys with money who think they might grow up to be rappers one day?

I was totally stoked to borrow it because some circumstances had transpired in Phoenix that led to me having a very fancy pen in which you can unscrew the top part and it turns out there’s a two gig USB drive tucked away in there. I did what anybody would do when confronted with a two gig USB drive, which was to fill it up with Fugazi and Godspeed You Black Emperor mp3s. So I was like, coooooool, Katy’s car is new and it’s going to have a USB port thing and I’ll be able to listen to all my cool mp3s!

I was wrong, though: the USB port didn’t work. Like I plugged in my cool thing and the stereo would, like, acknowledge that I had put in a thing that said Fugazi on it, but not play any of the mp3s? It was dumb BUT it turned out that the car also had a fancy satellite radio thing in it! Turns out satellite radio kind of sucks too, but- I am getting to the point- on one of the satellite radio stations- the punk station- a very old and crotchety still alive member of the Ramones was doing a punk music show! For like four hours or something!

Well. Turns out either my understanding of what constitutes “punk rock” is really skewed, or else the drummer from the Ramones is wrong about it. And I get how canon works, I know my dumb understanding is wrong. I mean, the punk stuff I like is all either pop punk I liked when I was fifteen, scrEaMOcore I liked when I was twenty, or made by women and the occasional non-woman queer. But Marky Ramone played a four hour barrage of songs by angry teenage dudes singing about angry teenage dude bullshit, punctuated by like one Plasmatics song! Or else angry men singing about teenage dude bullshit.

Who cares!

I mean, I know I’m a big queerdo who plays in a doom metal band with a cello sometimes or whatever but I just forget, most of the time, that this is what punk rock mostly is. And I mean I know that I’m a humorless feminist lesbian anticapitalist witch who doesn’t think anything is funny except this joke Francesca told me:

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Fugazi who?
Ice cream eating motherfucker

But I just forget that when people talk about punk rock they’re usually talking about like… Agnostic Front, or something. I dunno maybe Agnostic Front rules and I just wasn’t paying attention right when Marky Ramone played them but when I think punk rock I think the Maple Rabbit song “Fuck Macho Bullshit Forever” way before I think, like, “Bro Hymn.” I just completely forget that punk rock is full of dudes being tough and singing about their boring problems or the boring things they are angry about, like heterosexual sex or “politics.” Like, when a bunch of white twenty year olds get interviewed in Maximum and say dumb stuff about the way they don’t believe themselves to be implicated in the gentrification of their cities? Turns out punk rock is mostly closer to that than it is to fucking +HIRS+. I just forget!

2. Everywhere Rules.

Everywhere I went was awesome! I’d get to Tucson and TC Tolbert would show me the top secret Melrose Place pool in the back part of Casa Libre, and then the next day I’d walk around downtown and find multiple biographies of Yukio Mishima in multiple used bookstores and be like, oh my fucking god, Tucson rules, I had no idea!

Or I’d go to the middle of fucking Tennessee and a million queers qould show up at Austin’s house and an older lesbian with short grey hair would listen to my synopsis of Nevada and be like, that sounds borning, I wrote a story recently about a Jewish lesbian who ends up in heaven and is like, what the fuck, but then she finds out that heaven is actually just a farm where aliens keep souls until they eat them. And I’d be like, fuck man, I could live in the middle of Tennessee!

Or I’d go to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where I’d hang out with Alice and AJ and smoke all their weed and then Alice would sneak a bunch of fancy makeup (which is a thing she knows a lot about; one time she was like, can I do your eyebrows, and I was like, okay sure, and then she was like, can I do your makeup, and I was like, sure, and then it was basically the scene in The Breakfast Club where Molly Ringwold gives Ally Sheedy a makeover to look less like a fucking gross mess) into my bag without telling me and I wouldn’t find it until a week later, when I was staying at the Arlington Hotel in Maynooth, Ontario, which my friend and a couple of her friends bought last year, where they have like open mics and music and book reading and all the things, out in a town where the main other things you can do is go to the general store or go to a diner that closes after lunch. And then I’d be like, fuck, Maynooth, Ontario rules!

I got to hang out with Morgan Page and Trish Salah and Zoe Whittall and all these other amazing people in Toronto, which made it almost okay that the border guard rifled through everything in my car on the way up. Although, admittedly, my story sounded totally bullshit: uh, I am… a student, I guess?I rented this car with New York plates in Vermont, I don’t really live anywhere… okay yeah I’ll pull into a numbered space. Luckily though, check out this border crossing tip: keep hormones in your trunk! The border patrol people might be so interested in your hormones that they overlook whatever contraband you’re smuggling over the border.

Not that I was smuggling anything. Except love! Love for places. Turns out if you stay with cool queers everywhere then you will fall in love with everywhere. Kinda makes sense when you put it that way I guess.

3. Nothing Else.

I try not to learn stuff.

You can still get that book at If you want to explain to me what’s so cool about Agnostic Front, email

(July 2013)

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