Sunday, January 1, 2023

Ten People Who Actually Didn't Suck in 2022

 2022 sucked. That's how I usually introduce this annual list of people who miraculously didn't, and I wouldn't be totally off base to do so again. 2022 was a year as chock full of horrors as any other year you might expect to survive during this dark age of Cthulhu. After all, this year was decimated on every conceivable front by a grotesque imperial proxy war in Ukraine that seems frighteningly likely to end in a thermonuclear third world war. On a far more intimate front, gender outlaws like myself have never faced such well-publicized vitriol, with the partisan industrial complex using us as their go-to props for their latest midterm election circus.

I get called groomer six times a day with mushroom clouds blooming on the horizon. For all intents and purposes, it really is the end of the world as I know it. So, why then do I feel strangely fine? Could it be the estrogen finally coursing through my veins after 34 years of testosterone poisoning? Or maybe something that my therapist suggested about rewiring my grim brain in the positive finally clicked. I don't know. But for whatever reason, 2022 was a heinously apocalyptic year that didn't quite suck and here's at least ten reasons why.

Richard Fierro & Thomas James- 2022 was a year that found my tribe under near constant attack, both figuratively and literally and it didn't get much more literal than the recent massacre at Club Q in Colorado Springs that stole five beautifully freaky people from us too soon and grievously wounded dozens more. But it could have been much worse, and it would have been much worse if it wasn't for the aggressive mutual aid of a tribe under attack. Richard Fierro was an ally and an Army veteran of multiple stupid wars who was at Club Q that night with his family to support his daughter's friend performing in the drag show. Thomas James was a US Navy Petty Officer celebrating another day of Queer survival during the Kali Yuga with the family he had found. 

When faced with a heavily armed beast in their midst, these two men and countless nameless others reacted automatically by throwing themselves before the bullets. By the time the cops finally managed to show up, my people had already subdued this beast and beaten him to a bloody pulp. The cops should have stayed home. We didn't need them. We never have and we never will, because, as Thomas eloquently put it from his hospital bed, "When you come out of the closet, come out swinging." In the eternal words of Oscar Wilde, people have gone to heaven for far less.

Roger Waters- I'm not really a Pink Floyd fan. truth be told, I lost all interest in the band after their madcap ringleader Syd Barret took his experiments solo before vanishing altogether. I'm even less of a fan of celebrity activists. Neoliberal saints like Bono and Angelina Jolie just use poor people as another stage to masturbate their insatiable egos on and I can't help but notice that they've only gotten richer and more powerful by hitching their names to obnoxiously newsworthy causes. This is precisely what makes a character like Roger Waters so inspiring. Waters didn't set out to be an activist. He never showed up at Live Aid or rocked the vote. But one year, a few Palestinian fans convinced the rock star to visit the West Bank Wall before a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv. What Roger saw changed him. He canceled the stadium performance and chose to play to a far smaller crowd at the Arab Israeli commune of Neve Shalom instead and he never looked back. 

Since then, Waters has gone out of his way to isolate himself from his bourgeoise industry by becoming the highest profile spokesman for ending Israeli apartheid and this stance has cost him millions if not billions of dollars in the process as he's been tarred by that apartheid state's international lobby as an anti-Semite for standing up for the rights of the only Semites still facing an imminent genocide in Palestine. And Waters hasn't stopped there. After a year of celebrities posing for photo-ops with Volodymyr Zelensky and pledging their undying allegiance to peace by supporting a new Cold War, Rogers stood virtually alone in condemning the violence on both sides and calling for an unconditional ceasefire. The result was as predictable as it was depressing. More canceled shows and more mainstream venom. But somebody has to sing "Give Peace A Chance" and thank Kali that there is still at least one rock star who lives by the lyrics he sings. 

Omali Yeshitela- This may come as a shock to some of you, but Black Power isn't dead and the feds who brought you such Motown hits as Cointelpro remain as committed as ever to stomping it out like an ebony flamed campfire. They made this abundantly clear this July when the FBI launched a series of multi-state raids against the Uhuru Movement and their political arm, the African People's Socialist Party that together form the oldest existing Black Power Movement in the country. Several members were arrested, including the movement's founder and spiritual leader, Omali Yeshitella, whose been scrapping with these cunts since J. Edna wore kitten heels. Their crime was simply maintaining an open and constitutionally protected relationship with a Russian anti-globalist activist accused of having ties to the Russian government. People who condemn Uhuru out of hand for simply maintaining relations with a government you or I may disapprove of are missing the whole point of stateless third world nationalist movements like the one built by men like John Africa, Omali and Malcolm X. 

Marginalized people seeking autonomy from the colonialist states that oppress them should have every right to engage in diplomacy with any nation that may help them gain the recognition they require to ensure their very survival and if the government succeeds in criminalizing these relationships through draconian measures like the Foreign Agents Registration Act, it won't just be Yeshitela's ass on the line. It will be any socialist organization that works in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution, any Shiite Twelver Mosque in contact with state sanctioned imams in Tehran, any charity sending aid through Lebanon that might pass through Hezbollah territory. What Omali Yeshitela and his comrades are standing defiantly against isn't a war on Russian influence, it's a war on international solidarity. Omali spoke for every stepped-on tribe living under the boot of this colonialist empire, including my own, when he stood on the courtroom steps and roared, "Don't tell us that we can't have friends that you don't like!" Well, Uhuru has friends like me and I'm one bitch who knows how to throw a punch in kitten heels better than any chickenhawk closet queen.

Chase Oliver- 2022 was the year I officially gave up on electoral politics. I never held on to any dizzy schoolgirl delusion that my vote was ever good for anything more lethal than a protest ballot but as this year's midterms quickly devolved into a downright violent turf war between warring tribes of peasants carrying the portraits of virtually identical oligarchs, it became disturbingly clear to me that the process itself has become a weapon of mass distraction designed to divide the poor against themselves. However, there was one candidacy that I couldn't help but admire. In the most expensive senate contest in the country which pit two confirmed wife beaters against each other in South Carolina, a plucky, pro-gun, anti-cop, gay trekkie named Chase Oliver triggered a run-off as a Libertarian candidate armed with little more than $8,000 dollars and a second-hand Toyota Corolla. By Chase's own admission, he didn't have any intention of winning, he simply wanted to expose how fucked America's electoral system really is and this brazen act of democratic monkeywrenching earned him the hatred of both sides of the two-party cartel and a special place in one non-voting Queer anarchist's heart. 

Pamela Adlon- I had to say goodbye to a family very close to my heart this year. For five seasons, Sam Fox and her daughters Max, Frankie and Duke, along with her seemingly indestructible elderly English mother, Phil, gave us a place at the table of a charmingly dysfunctional matriarchy with Pamela Adlon's FX dramedy Better Things. Based loosely on Pamela's own experiences as a defiantly single mother with a B-list Hollywood career circling the drain, I don't think words can accurately convey what this show has meant to me. I discovered it late at night during the early hours of the pandemic while grappling with suicidal ideation and a flurry of emotional flashbacks revealing a cryptic lifelong struggle with suppressed childhood trauma and Complex PTSD. 

All three of Sam's daughters felt like broken reflections of some piece of my childhood that I had buried alive beneath the floorboards of my subconscious, but none more so than Sam's rebellious genderqueer middle child, Frankie, who steadfastly refused to embrace any single gender label and forced her begrudgingly supportive but frequently vexed mother to love her regardless on Frankie's terms and no one else's. This is a message America still refuses to learn. Your children are beyond your command. If you truly love them, you must relinquish control and let them show you the way, their way. I can only thank Pamela for being big enough to step back and let wildflowers grow in her garden while allowing us all to share in the bittersweet experience. It may have saved my life.

Sophia Allison- The last decade has seen a veritable renaissance in the long-lost art of guitar driven indie rock and it is a movement overwhelmingly led by young Queer women and all the better for it. Mitski, St. Vincent and Phoebe Bridgers have all released refreshingly volatile masterpieces that stand shoulder to shoulder with anything created by Connor Oberst or Kurt Cobain, but 2022 was Sophie Allison's year to blaze through like a runaway comet. Less than two years after her brilliant sophomore album, Color Theory, Sophia, who performs under the moniker of Soccer Mommy, somehow managed to outdo herself with the year's best album, Sometimes, Forever, which saw the 23-year-old artist pull off the seemingly impossible feat of creating a work of art that was simultaneously more accessible and more experimental than anything else on college radio. 

What's even more impressive is that she also managed to use this unlikely combination of abstract industrial noise and intoxicating Top 40 melody to convey a harrowing portrait of another young woman in a state of evolution, liberating herself from the turmoil of childhood trauma, not by rejecting her loneliness and anxiety but by embracing it and coexisting with the chemical imbalances that make her a dynamo of pure weapons grade empathy and courageous intimacy. Lyrics like "You know I'll take you as you are, as long as you do me" come across like a battle cry for a generation defined by malaise but not consigned to becoming a casualty of it.

Malik Diamond- Have you ever wondered what John Zerzan would sound like if he were raised to be an urban shaman by the Wu Tang Clan? Yeah, me neither, but I thank a host of heathen deities every day that I found out when I met Malik Diamond. An impossibly versatile Swiss Army Man, Malik has been a force to be reckoned with in the Bay Area's underground hip hop community for years, putting out a steady stream of albums, books, zines and comics as well as coaching the next generation of anarcho-gangstas in everything from Kung Fu to hip hop history. But I know Malik as the second weirdest motherfucker on CounterPunch. His fluid, stream of consciousness essays on the everyday terrors of being an Afro-Indian half-breed who talks to trees in a rapidly gentrifying metropolis are both instantly relatable to a genderfreak hillbilly extraterrestrial like me and unlike anything else I've ever had the pleasure of reading. 

The left likes to pat itself on the back for its commitment to diversity but diversity isn't about checking quotas with different shades of people that agree with you, it's about Muslim drag queens, undocumented egoists and schizophrenic sewar hermits. It's about people who bring radically unique perspectives to the table that couldn't be provided by any other human on the planet. And it's this spicey weirdo gumbo of socio-political chaos that builds the empathy we all need to survive the collapse of a civilization designed to assimilate us into its beige monolith. People like my comrade Malik don't just make revolution possible, they make it dangerously fun. And I love him like a brother from another mother for it and you should too if you know what's good for you.

Penny Logue & Bonnie Nelson- I've long had a dream that has haunted the darker corners of my skull. A dream of vast wide-open spaces without a single concrete monstrosity in sight. A dream of a space where people too Queer to be smashed into any theme park's corporate alphabet can simply exist, wild and free. Free from labels. Free from passing. Free from abusive cops and gladhanding politicians and hate mongering talking heads. A land free from the debasing moral architecture and constant surveillance of the metropolitan cis world or its carefully segregated gay ghettos. And, quite frankly, a place with guns. Lots of guns. AR-15's and WASR-10's and Ruger Mini-14's. All bedazzled with rhinestones and carried in the manicured hands of people far too fucking rare and beautiful and freaky and colorful to conform to any single gender marker on a bathroom door. In 2022, I discovered that this place of my dreams already exists in the form of the Tenacious Unicorn Ranch, a heavily armed genderfuck compound in the dark heart of Southern Colorado QAnon Country.

A couple of fellow rural transgender anarchists named Penny Logue and Bonnie Nelson started up this alpaca ranch back in 2018 in an attempt to provide freaks like us with a much needed refuge from the hostile slumlords and record shattering trans murder rates of the big tolerant cities, and over the last four years they have created a magnet for other Queer casualties of the modern world seeking to get back in touch with the pagan soil from which we all once bloomed, by any means necessary. But this real-life fairy tale didn't just speak to me because of some impossible dream. It spoke to me for the same reason that 2022 itself miraculously didn't suck even among the carnage of collapse. It spoke to me because this year that dream became a reality for me as well in my own terrifying little corner of Central Pennsylvania QAnon Country. 2022 was the year I found my family. A handful of Queer hillbillies like me who want nothing more than to raise animals and shoot guns in the holler and be left the fuck alone by the straight world around it.

This is the revolution that I've been fighting for my entire life, and I don't even have to kill a single breeder to achieve it. All I have to do is build the world I want now out of the scraps of the old and be prepared to defend it from the toxicity of the outside world. My community and others like Penny and Bonnie's may be far from utopia but we're done waiting for some biblical showdown to make it a reality. 2022 was the year I realized that each and every one of us makes our own goddamn reality. So let the cities burn and let the fag bashers pass their stupid fucking laws. I know a little place in the country where I can ride out the apocalypse and I know it's not the only one.

Happy 2023, dearest motherfuckers. Bring on the Armageddon. We've got nothing left to lose and nirvana left to gain.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH   


  1. “... two confirmed wife beaters against each other in South Carolina...”
    — Nicky/CH

    Chase, Walker & Warnock were running for the Georgia Senate.

    “Without the protective cover provided by voters, the government would have no pretense to act except as a law unto itself.”
    — Hans Sherrer

    Because the ballots don’t contain the phrase to mark:
    “None of the above.” or “None of the below.” I have boycotted voting beginning with the 2015 Canuckistan federal election.

    In the 2020 federal POTUS “election” 74 million “voted” for the orange monstrosity & 80 million “voted” for the former senator credit card.
    If those gullible jerks had stayed home as the late George Carlin recommended, the wall-to-wall corrupted system would have finally been revealed for what it actually is.

    As for this observation:
    “This is a message America still refuses to learn. Your children are beyond your command.”

    When my middle sister was 14 in 1969, our control freak mother expressed exasperation to me in private about her and I responded by quoting two lines from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet:

    “Your children are not your children.
    They are sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.”

    Just those two lines were all it took to shut-her-the-fuck-up about Laurel.

  2. Nicky thanks for sharing. Have you heard the punk as fuck song "Baby I Had an Abortion"? I was driving around and on local college radio station I stumbled upon this song.
    Abortion on demand, without apology!!!
    Thanks for the rec about Sophia Allison...