*names redacted for privacy*
Miguel, I really loved you.
I loved you in a way that was singular and irretrievable.
Words fail me as I’m typing these words to you, I keep deleting and backspacing and going back and going back…
When I first met you junior year of high school, I was a From the Inside refugee. My mental health was a place of false dreaming narratives on fire, loud with the panicking people inside me screaming and leaping from the parapets of my mind, so they don’t have to burn alive.
I was already three years into becoming a full-blown alcoholic by graduation. You remember. I was a seriously angry and fractured person. By the time I reached senior year, nearly eighteen, I wasn’t aware of half of the horrorshow going on in my mind.
And I had no idea that I was autistic, and that it was at the root of so many of my social flubs, my most oblivious and dangerous choices, and romantic failures, one after another.
Can you imagine? I know that if we both knew back then what I know now, perhaps our paths would’ve led to brighter lands.
I can’t recall whether you were in your wheelchair at the time I met you, or using your forearm crutches. I do remember being happy that you were as short as me.
Everyone was in awe of your artistic talents.
I was in awe of your body.
In my oblivious, direct manner, I asked you about your handicap: what was the deal with the crutches, the scars, the arm or leg or wrist in a cast?
You told me with detached frankness about your bone disease and how your bones would easily fracture and break. From childhood, you’d grown up with breaks, casts, wheelchairs, one surgery after another, and chronic pain.
You’d miss piles of school because you were bedridden or recovering from yet another surgery. Your growth was stunted by the constant fractures and surgeries and when you walked unassisted, it was with a limping, rolling gait.
You couldn’t run.
Once we started to get to know each other, I became privy to your insecurities, and genius, your good heart, and your yearning, in the dead roses you offered me, your chaotic, hastily scratched drawings stuck in the front doorjamb of my house, and your thick, brutally executed paintings.
Pen, charcoal, ink
pencil, paint, clay
you told me in mixed media how you felt about yourself, about me, about your life and worldview.
I was obsessed with you.
I slid you under my microscope lens, brought you into my line of fire, locked you in my interstellar tractor beam of rapt attention.
Everything else was dim, when I wasn’t hanging out with you. Few people in my life have commanded my attention as completely as you did.
You gave me, as you said I gave you, Thee Healin’ Feelin’…
I sometimes wonder how different our lives would be if only I’d been brave enough and calm enough, and self-aware enough (…and sane enough…) to have simply told you how I felt, what I was scared of, that I wanted to hold your hand because that made me more happy, the warmth of your hand in mine, than anything else in the world, and that I felt completely safe and loved and appreciated.
Holding your hand and leaning into each other as we walked, or holding your hand, cuddled up, talking about or watching or listening to weird and funny shit.
I held your hand, as I sped through the night on hallucinogens. You tethered me to you, to the gravity of a real life somewhere beyond the stars. The real glue that stuck you to me was how free you taught me I could be.
No person had ever told me, in the way that you told me through art and gestures, how beautiful I was, how strong, how fucking AMAZING, how perfectly dark and bright I was, all at once.
And I knew you were sincere, because we had mind-melded in a shimmering pool of LSD on more than one occasion.
Your room was kept dark except when you were working, or entertaining. Four flat black walls, the room thick with dust and paint and brushes and palettes and paper and canvas and sculptures.
Art was everywhere. Some HR Giger’s, most of it yours. There were posters and clips from magazines on the walls, bizarre and hilarious dark decor, spastic devils grinning in every corner.
Your room was warm, and for me a safe cave, very womb-like, which was your intent, in order to soothe your own cracked and vulnerable mental health.
There were times in high school when abuse and shit and misery piled up high and I literally couldn’t cope anymore. I would just +POP+ and go limp and dark in my mind. In need of your heart’s specific medicine, I’d hop in my little Honda Civic and hightail it to your place, usually showing up unannounced.
If I was lucky, you’d be home. You always welcomed me in, if you were. You were one of two people I would do that with, and while the other appreciated the darker parts of me, you understood what it was like to live in those shadowed places every day, in your own black and blue heart.
You never failed to cheer me or at the very least, happily distract me for a while. Or work on a drawing or painting, while I listened to Psychic TV’s Live in Heaven with a pillow over my face, to shut out a world broken and blinking erratically, our planet a derelict motel sign in the cosmos.
You would hold court in your black and cozy room, explicating in minute detail how we were still young and that our brains were warm, white clay, just waiting to be formed and developed.
As such, we owed it to ourselves and our artistic essence to take that clay in our hands and subject it to all the molding and pressing and shaping we could apply, with all of the drugs we had available.
Because I was scientifically-minded and always up for experimentation, and had no boundaries or sense of self-preservation to speak of, I heartily agreed.
You weren’t my introduction to weed or hallucinogens. But you immediately became the composer and conductor of some of my most significant psychedelic moments.
I handed over my mind and heart to you, and you gently applied THC, tabs of acid, mushrooms, and Psychic TV, carefully, but with deep pressure, molding my neurological pathways into something wider, more open, more…clean, and new.
Live in Heaven is the album you chose to accompany us during the start of our first LSD trip together. That night, heretic and earth magick woman that I am, practical and skeptical to a fault, I saw Thee Higher Power.
I FELT Ov Power. God Power.
I was penetrated with and impaled by hundreds of galactic star crucifixes and GODDAMN wasn’t it Deep? Still I hung on to myself.
I shrank, smaller and smaller, finally losing all touch with myself, and the “I” fell apart into splitting seams and cells, I was sperm and egg and I was racing back through time, the stardust of ancient celestial clocks thick on my skin
and then…and then, something burned, something gave, and I finally Saw with my split-open third Eye.
My Soul died and Self fell away, and finally — I saw it all, from on high, stars and planets shotgunned below me, bright pinholes in the black walls of the universe. I saw it all, and when I turned around, completely GONE inside and out, you were there, holding my hand.
I couldn’t understand what you were saying, because I’d lost the power of comprehension and speech, having evolved then devolved so fast, but I felt your heart pulse something like “Do you See now?” and you were grinning and I was weeping, and nodding and laughing with the weight of some strange and hidden wisdom sliding into me, to be divined and understood at a later time.
It was the first time I read your mind, and you read mine.
Deep shit, Brother. No one believed us, except others like us. They knew.
The other Psychic TV you spun for our mutual head-cleaning and mind-melding adventures included Themes 2, Themes 3, and Live in Gottingen with the TV turned to static and you holding my hand. In the living room, on the big TV, youd play VHS tapes of PTV, and I saw a man swinging back and forth, you know the one.
Everything on that tape, and more, added to the existing fodder deep inside me for my past and current aesthetic and values with regards to exploring kink, gender, sexuality and freakery of all kinds. I need to KNOW and, via Psychic TV and at that young age, Genesis made me feel I was authentic, brave, and Whole. I felt I was allowed and encouraged to be Myself, however that manifested.
They influenced my finding my way to a form of ‘religion’ that works for me, a kind of spirituality I can understand, as much as my yearning, hesitant, and over-literal mind is able to accept and build further spiritual exploration upon.
Over time, over trip after trip, crucial neural pathways in my young mind became permanently mapped to the sound and vision and music of Genesis P-Orridge and their projects.
I became mapped to you, too, and your artistic inspirations and processes, every beat of your heart becoming mine, and likewise you were mapped to me. After a while, we’d freak people out with the level of intimacy with which we interacted, because our minds were linked on an emotional and neurological level.
We would sit together communicating in paint and ink. We would paint our moods and emotions, write wretched poetry, and journey when we could and escape this daily grinding plane with chemicals, mushrooms, and herbs at every opportunity.
You and I…we were lost in Paradise…
You and I and our friends, we were all mad, broken children, drug-addled miscreants from two high schools and one independent study program, wreaking weekend havoc on the dark streets where we lived.
We flew on wings of cannabis, LSD, ecstasy, a little heroin, a bit of speed, rancid-tasting mushrooms, and never-ending streams of booze. We all had our preferred menu, mine being weed, vodka, psychedelics and hallucinogens.
You would call up the Lysergic Circus of the Stars and I watched the show through gigantic, black pupils, grinning and giggling. We were gangs of children flipping right out, screaming with laughter, chasing each other through the hills and under the humming powerlines southwest of Corona, you know, Poppy and Stroh?
Because my emotional and psychic states were constantly dropping into near infinite pits of sadness then quickly peaking to a crescendo of buzzing, electric momentum and sensory confusion, most any stimuli were too much stimuli for me.
Some might think that smoking weed or partaking of hallucinogens would be exactly what NOT to allow an autistic person to do.
But Miguel, if you hadn’t encouraged such a safe and trusting space to develop between us, I would never have had the presence of mind or courage to learn to strip away the static and horrors of day to day, flesh and bone living, and allow my mind to unleash itself.
Weed numbed the constant debilitating sensory input in the world around me and increased my already intense verbal agility, so I could laugh and talk and not give one thought to managing tics or saying ‘the right thing’.
When you’re as stoned as we were, or as acid-drenched, autistic mannerisms looked like drug twitches to everyone else. So, I could hide in the high at parties, and let myself loose a little to be more genuine, more fearless, and to allow myself to explore my inner landscapes with no hesitation and with greater understanding.
But when I was sober–I suppose I was unreachable to many, and sometimes odd. Funny, and smart…but odd. When I was sober, I kept such a stranglehold on my autistic issues, I could barely breathe, barely move. As long as I appeared to be a relatively normal Human to avoid the bullying, it was worth the horror and exhaustion of maintaining the facade.
And the thing is, Miguel, you loved me, the sober spaz, as much as I loved the Miguel behind the art and drugs.
You had a way of looking at me and laughing when I was being a spaz that only a couple of people in my life can pull off without me feeling embarrassed or hurt.
I would say or do something while racing headlong through a mind filled with neurological landminds or nearly mute with the tongue-tying properties of acid, and instead of getting frustrated or upset, and totally without awkwardness, your brows would furrow and you’d shake your head and you’d laugh this WTF laugh of total good humor. And then you’d just wait patiently while I sat back, reset, and tried again.
You were entertained by my freakery and still loved me, regardless of my glitchy antics.
And you were pretty much the only person I could hang out with sober, and have as much fun, with no self-consciousness to worry about. It didn’t matter, though, whatever state of mind we were in, we could share it. With you, hand in hand, I skipped with joy through a pulsing, stonerific, biomechanoid Hell.
I’ll never forget the night I broke both of our hearts.
I lost my virginity by date rape at age sixteen, not long before I met you. He was nineteen, I was mentally unwell, yet no one’s parents stepped in, until it was too late, and I was lying in the hospital overdosing from his drugs and alcohol, and getting my stomach pumped.
I was skittish about any crushes or loving feelings or actual physical contact beyond very strict and sometimes ridiculous boundaries. I really couldn’t stand being touched, even when I wanted to be, or I’d get my boundaries and moods all jacked up and confused.
It was a party night, and I was alone in a room with you. We were laying on a bed in the near dark and suddenly found ourselves on the precipice of a potential moment–maybe a kiss. Maybe something beyond the exciting innocence of our always entwined fingers.
And when I had the moment in the palm of my hand, when the next logical step was to bring our bodies into the equation somehow, I froze. I completely locked down.
I forget exactly how that night finished out, but I can remember it feeling pretty shitty, for sure. And from there, I actively avoided you and backed as far away as I could and basically disappeared. No one knew, then or now, that I was actually terrified.
I had no idea how sexually and emotionally crippled I was. But I felt something of it, on a level I can identify now, but not back then. I didn’t believe that the possibility of a sincere and loving relationship existed, for anyone. And the sudden move towards physical closeness panicked me. It was too big, definitely unfamiliar, and really scary.
It caused a rift, like I had basically “dumped” you. So, people were choosing sides and I was on the losing end of that, as most of them were yours to begin with. But to me, emotionally anyhow, I didn’t feel that we’d been officially dating, but were ABOUT to be, and that’s what freaked me out.
And it later killed a piece of me to learn that there was a possibility that you thought I rejected you because of your body drama, which wasn’t the case. I was attracted to you because of YOU: the whole thing, scarred and wobbly and all. I didn’t have the ability at the time to just be honest, and my inability to deal with human emotions in any meaningful fashion made me cowardly.
I lost touch with you, and many of those friends for a while, and some, permanently. But at some point, you and I came back around to each other. Our feelings and the circumstances were completely different, though. We hung out for a while, sporadically, and then we drifted apart for good.
Certainly, one could say that what we felt, in the time that we felt it, was a product of our lives at that moment–drugs, drinking, dark and strange interests, a diverse group of troublemaking, creative types who hassled and inspired each other (some of whom were incredibly talented, like you and C). But, I’m not sure that I agree with the totality of that assessment.
We were all very young, very bored, very creative. Many had sad and difficult home lives, some outright abusive. Quite a few of us were well on our way to becoming addicted to certain substances, if not already there, body and soul. There were some common to more severe mental health issues among us, whether we knew it or not.
However, that doesn’t mean that what we felt as love wasn’t love but it also means, it could have been a hundred other things, too.
But with you, when that final disconnect happened, when I never saw or heard from you again, well…the connection with you hurt when it tore out, and it never really healed right.
I’ve tried to locate you many times over the years, but never a shred of evidence was uncovered as to your whereabouts, both online or off.
A couple of years ago, I connected again with C, who filled me in on some details. Things happened during confusing and painful times. People drifted, C’s dad (your second Dad) passed away, you disappeared, and that was that.
Then later, C and I connected again, and he said that the last he’d heard, you had gone off to Mexico, he didn’t know where, and that you’d cut yourself off from everyone.
He said he’d heard you’d finally ran mad. And that he had a feeling you were dead. You grew up together, he’d know better than me about you and our gut feelings about you, having bonded with you years ago.
I couldn’t stomach that, thinking that you’re dead. But running mad? You always had that Syd Barrett obsession, that he was a predictor of your fate, somehow.
Miguel—we lost Davis, too, did you know that? He died homeless, out in LA. There is one video of him online in existence and it’s him, of course, playing his guitar and singing, and he appears to be in a homeless shelter. And he is glorious in it, a perfect goofball, and everyone loved him, I read on his legacy Facebook page. Everyone was crushed. (Though, no one was surprised.)
I found out something like two years after the fact, and I cried for three days about it. All I could think was NO not Davis…take me even, but not him.
Now, Miguel—Genesis is gone, too.
S/he’s gone, after such a long life directed towards challenging and changing perceptions of music, gender, culture, art, S/he and Lady Jaye were priest/esses—Genesis was Thee Everything for me, and for all of those artists and musicians who wouldn’t exist without Throbbing Gristle and PTV’s contributions and influences on all to follow.
I’ve had some pin or icon or other with the psychic cross on my altar for 30 years and have carried your demon’s stone skull with me just as long, also part of my altar.
Now I don’t have either of you and I’m broken about it and sick inside. I feel so hard that somewhere out there, your heart is still beating, but it might just be my own, and I’m only hearing the last faint echoes of you.
dead and white
from a star too far.
I am going to print this and mail it to C, with a note that if he does ever hear from you again, to get this to you.
And if you’re no longer on this plane of existence, I’m hoping you’ve found a warm, safe place somewhere in those too far stars, with Genesis, and C’s dad, and the friends we lost, who never made it out of the hills in El Cerrito.
I love you, Maz.
My Everloving Scarecrow.
These tears are for you,
and your Feet of Broken Glass