Not Black Metal: Gojira’s Magma, and This Track Right Here

So, per usual, I do kind of a cursory Google search to make sure these bands I’m touting aren’t total dicks. Turns out, searches for “Gojira transphobic,” “Gojira homophobic,” and “Gojira racist” has turned up nothing. Thank god, because I really fucking like the two singles I’ve heard from their forthcoming album, this one specifically:

WARNING: Pretty typical and boring metal imagery, but the song is rockin’, I promise.

“When you change yourself, you change they world,” they say.

Hunh. Would you look at that.

This Is Mine, This Is Ours, and Fuck Lord Mantis

Remember that metal, like lots of other things in life, can be dumb and hurtful and full of entitled, supremacist assholes. Remember, still, that metal is your friend, but the people who make it aren’t necessarily.

***

Part of what makes my gym routine (I know, I know) bearable is music. Like, earbuds crushed so far in my ears that everything is sealed up and blocked out—the pop music and sickeningly sweet love ballads piped in via the gym’s overhead speakers; the grunting from men of all ages, apparently paying a monthly fee to give themselves hernias; and even the nice lady who just wanted to know if I was done using the EZ bar or not. Anyway, ALL THAT SHIT gets blocked out because it’s distracting, and distractions tend to fuck with my head in unnecessary ways at the gym. Before I know it, I’m a total freak show or, somehow worse, entirely invisible.

Spotify’s New Metal Tracks is my go-to. Every time, without fail. In fact, I consider the hour or so I spend listening to this playlist part of my self-care because, let’s be honest, I’m a metal head at heart.

So, there I was, listening to New Metal Tracks and lifting shit, and all of a sudden, I’m like, “What is this track? This is so metal and satanic and AWESOME.”

The track was “SIG Safer” by Lord Mantis. Some of you may already be familiar with this band. I had been too busy death-gripping the black metal of yore that I missed the band’s horrifyingly transphobic comments and defense of their equally anti-trans album artwork for their 2014 album, Death Mask. (This is a link to both, if you’re interested, but I want to recommend that you tread carefully and slowly, and, more importantly, that you take care of yourself first. In the grand scheme of things, Lord Mantis and their opinions don’t mean shit, but your health and happiness being a trans fan of black metal really fucking do.)

My point in all of this is to say that, okay, now I’m pissed. Late to the party, sure, but, no, I’m pissed—and for myriad reasons. I don’t like it when racist, misogynist, transphobic fuckwits mess with my good time. (We’ll talk NSBM another day.) There’s enough of them in the media, at your local grocery store, and at the fucking gym. Hell, they may even be sitting at the table at the family Christmas dinner.

No, no … my point is that nothing hurts worse than when something you love attacks you. Nothing is worse than stumbling upon ignorance and hatred—and complete denial of both by the perpetrators—in an art form that you love, in an art form that, in its own strange, discordant way, expresses your darkness and your anger and your pain and your limit for anything that fucks with you or tries to fuck with you.

Here we are, having our outlet, enjoying the blast beats and the screechy, slow-death vocals, and fucking Lord Mantis walks in?

No, no. Turn around, turn around, turn around.

So, for those of us whom have found ourselves really digging on shit we wish we had never found in the first place—and, honestly, feeling really betrayed by that—I’d like to recommend a few albums/bands that, at least at the time of writing, have yet to find ways to make me reconsider my support.

Pyramido - Vatten

I really like the new Pyramido album, Vatten. You can check out some of their (really good) older tracks here. They remind me a little bit of black metal mixed with old school Swedish d-beat, but slowed down, you know, quite a bit.

Tombs - Obsidian

Tombs new album, Obsidian, is moody, dark, fast, and screamy. It’s very good, really. You can check out Tombs on BandCamp!

Graves at Sea - The Curse That Is

Okay, Graves at Sea technically isn’t a black metal band, but, yeah, I really, really like this album.

Ghost Bath - Moonlover

This is Ghost Bath’s Moonlover. Fans of Deafheaven, like me, are likely to eat this one up.

***

Please, please send me your favorites, okay? -J.

Depressive

corpse_paint_4_by_david_in_chains

For me, it’s probably the tough-boy/satanic boy, over-the-top masculinity beneath that thick, white paint on their faces, the ultimate mask, corpse or warrior. For decades, my own mask was only slightly different. If black and white are the colors of corpse and warrior, what are the colors for fear and denial?

For Trans Fans of Black Metal: A Blog Series

This is going to be awesome. In the mean time:

 

Does This Make Me Look Old? Picking “Jacob” in an FTM World of Aidens, Jaxsons, and Ebens

I’ve been Jake for as long I can remember. From the moment I knew I wasn’t That Name because—come on—I just wasn’t. I didn’t feel like That Name. It didn’t fit me. I hated it, even though everyone told me, “Oh, it’s so pretty,” “It’s so perfect,” “There’s no other name that would be better.”

I was Jake before I was Jacob. I was Jake in my head, and in my head, I looked like Rob Lowe.

During our week spent top surgery-ing in Florida, I met a lot of guys with self-selected names—guys with really great fucking names: clever and badass and creative and just really very awesome. Like Piranha in Nevada. These guys had carte blanche, and they put serious thought into the sounds they wanted people to make when they opened their mouths and said their names. They may have looked past, you know, more “regular” names like “Jacob” or “Edward” or even “Graham” because, remember—carte blanche.

I met a Maddox and a Pryor and a Gray. These are the three that I remember the most because I remember thinking, in my pre- and post-surgery daze, “DAMN, those are really good names.” But go anywhere to any trans or genderqueer social gathering and you’ll hear more, and right now, I’m only talking for the guys/masculine of center folks. I’ve read posts and Facebook updates from Wyatts and Finns and Ottos. Landons and Masons and how many fucking Aidens? Aidens spelled every which way imaginable?

For a short while, I got down on picking Jacob. Right there in the waiting room, I thought, “I’m a fucking writer! ‘Jacob’s’ the best I can do?’” Why not Archie? Why not Milo?

To be completely honest, I considered both Archie and Milo, but Archie started with an A, and I’d already done that. Milo is cool, but people, I know, sometimes think of dogs when they think of Milo, or maybe the Descendents, which is better. So, again, no.

But, that day in the waiting room, “Danny” saved the day, and I thought, “Okay, see? Traditional isn’t so bad, really.” I mean, not only is “Jacob,” like, biblical traditional, but did you see that it was the eighth most popular name for newborn boys in 2015? Word. I’m a top-tenner.

“The Nipples Will Be Gross for a Little While”

That’s what the doctor said. I didn’t think they were that gross, really, because, No. 1, they looked like nipples I had always wanted.

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Post-Op Is the Best Op

This is likely an obvious statement, of course, because who doesn’t want to be done with surgery in general? I’m happy to be done with surgery. I don’t have any specific tips for other people preparing for surgery or even gender affirming surgery. Actually, I do. I worked really hard for it physically and mentally, and I think that paid off, especially in regards to range of motion and ability to bounce back after general anesthesia. Do a little exercise and visualization. Also, TAKE THE LAXATIVE EARLY. Some guy recommended the night before surgery, and again the night of surgery, and so on and so forth, but I didn’t read his post until I was already home and past the misery of what is quite evil constipation. What else? This surgical wrap here:

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When You’re Misgendered by Your Community (You Could Blame It on Mercury Retrograde)

My partner says to blame it on Mercury Retrograde—that powerful, yet nasty pull of the planetary forces. She does this not to diminish the effect misgendering has had on me, but to redirect the energy elsewhere, way outside our earthly realm, up into the skies and the stars. The universe has our backs, and when we ask for it, it gives us what we want. She says this to me probably to help me release the pain and anger.

First, at the inn where we stayed in Provincetown. How I expected to pass as “man” in what is essentially “Boys Town” with only three months of testosterone under my belt, I don’t know. This visit had a different feel. The town felt less queer and very, very gay. White gay men of privilege were pretty much everywhere, even during the gray, quiet hush of winter. Again, I felt “other.” At dinner, a fantastically loud dyke referred to me as a “young man,” which made all that liquor I had been drinking feel extra good, but then implied that my partner and I were probably straight. “I like how you get married in Provincetown, but live in Lesbianville,” she said, like something was off with us. Yeah. Everything felt weird.

Second, back home while shopping for Christmas gifts. Me in big baggy coat and black Bruins cap. Me with my head low, remembering to keep my voice down, at my optimal range, even though this guy behind the counter looks safe. He looks like me. He could be trans. He’s got to at least be queer. I think I read people well. I think I can feel energy—what’s safe and what isn’t. My partner pays because I still haven’t updated my debit card with my new name. There’s so much to do, in regards to that shit. But when we finish, he calls after us, “Have a great day, ladies,” and I feel like he’s cut my throat. This pisses off my partner. “Why do we have to use gendered language?” she asks, her blue eyes sharp. We expect better from our community, don’t we? There’s nothing worse than when we fail ourselves.

Later, my partner points out that I had given him my discount card and when he scanned it, my old name probably popped up on his screen. I don’t know how I feel about this, if I want to forgive him or not.

Third, at the doctor’s office. I am there for my three-month checkup and to have my trans PCP sign off on my medical clearance form for my top surgery come January. This trans health group is awesome and has designed a system where, when I check in, I’m given a slip of paper where I write down my preferred name and pronouns. But this time, thanks to Mercury Retrograde, I’m late, due to serious fucking traffic getting into Springfield, thanks to the city’s planning for the new grotesque casino. No one gives me a slip of paper. I’m just really happy to have made it, so I don’t ask. I tell them my name is Jacob and that I’m late. The woman looks quizzically at the computer. I say my old name. “You probably have it under my old name.” She does. I am called in by my old name. I am led down the hallway and the nurse uses my old name. She does this because it’s on my paperwork, and I have not filled out the usual “Please call me this name” form. I am late. I feel like this is my fault, and I’m tired. I feel like, this week, no one sees me for who I really am.

But then my doctor comes in and the first thing he says is, “Did they call you by the wrong name?” I tell him yes. My partner chimes in, angrily, “Several times.” I say, “It’s probably because I was late. I didn’t get the usual form.” He says, “No,” and then he disappears for five minutes. I can only imagine what he’s doing or the words he’s using to the overworked staff. I feel bad for the staff, not for me. I feel bad that my doctor has to get up and correct this, but he does, and when he comes back, he says, “There’s no excuse for that,” and when he sits, he is calm and strong on his stool. I want to put my head on his lap and cry a little. I want to ask him to help me get there quicker, wherever “there” is. But there’s no time because I’m late. He just has to fill out this form for me. I stay quiet while he writes, checking my history in the system. “Is all this still true?” he asks about medications, about family history. I nod. All of it is still true. This week, I don’t feel like I’ve changed at all.

I Can’t Write Porn (Part 3)

mustangIt’s a conversation my partner and I have had way more than once. “How do I refer to your cock so you know which one I’m talking about? This one”—she’s referring to what I have between my legs, which, I’m kinda happy to say, has been growing in size since I’ve started testosterone injections—“and that one?”—and that’s the one sitting on our long, stout dresser, always ready for action—a full six or so inches of proud, “realistic” silicone.

I call this cock my “extender.” It is just as much a part of me. I don’t discriminate because I don’t sleep with it attached to my body (it could burrow a hole in the mattress, I swear) or can’t piss through it, although I find this unfortunate. But I love that extender—my cock, or my other cock. We’ve even given it names. “Percy” was one. “Lord Fleshard” was another. They don’t really stick because we haven’t named other parts of our bodies, so it seems to trivialize its importance to me, to us. I mean, with my extender, I can really leave a mark.

One day, I’ll tell you about my other cocks and the way they all fit a role in my sex life. I realize that, with this variety and this open-mindedness for variety, I’m a fortunate guy.

But, back to loving my cock. Here’s why I love it. It looks perfect in my hand. I love the shape of its head—my little WW2-era soldier—and all its veiny ridges. I love to lube it up and make it shine for her. I love it when she asks me to make it shine, but first to slowly reveal its length and thickness as I lower my fitted sweatpants. She’s been eyeing it for at least five minutes now—my bulge. “You tease,” she says, already on her back, so beautiful. She wants to see it, to touch it, to lick it and milk it with her hand. With my waistband low enough, out I pop—just like that. She says something sweet about me, or something really dirty. It doesn’t matter what she says. At that point, I want to make it shine for her—with lube or spit, mine or hers. I want to watch her hand move effortlessly over my cock. I want to hear it wet. She does, too. “I love that sound,” she says to me, lips so pink and kissable, mouth so fuckable, as she jerks my cock, slick with lube. I take turns watching her hand and her mouth. “I do, too,” I say. I like when we share things, what turns us on. I like it even more when what turns her on turns me on. I think we’re made for each other.

I Can’t Write Porn (Part 2)

As a pornographer, I’m not sure if this is good or bad, my constant desire for sex. Do they usually come hand in hand? For some, of course! Before T, writing sex, just like any other writing I did, was such a quiet thing. I’d let characters roll around until something felt good to someone, and then off they’d go. What I created inside my head and with the help of Microsoft Word turned me on, sure, my internal world written out for all to see.

Courtesy of Jack's Sexual Library (sexlibris.tumblr.com)

Courtesy of Jack’s Sexual Library (sexlibris.tumblr.com)

But now on T, what was once an hour-long sensation of sometimes persistent horniness feels like it could evolve into week-long cravings. Please tell me I’m exaggerating because, honestly, I believe that if I spent any longer than five minutes fantasizing about sex, even if it was only to create a story intended to arouse others, I seriously may lose the day to doing nothing but needing to beat off.

Now’s probably a good time to talk about shame. My therapist reminds me what my body is going through. I’m, as I’ve already mentioned, in the throes of puberty. I have fucking acne after how many years of not having acne, of rarely having acne, even as a teen? It doesn’t matter because I’m a teen again, she says. I should be eating more and sleeping, like, 12 hours a day, she says. And what’s so wrong with needing to jerk off three times a day? The look on her face is neutral, undisturbed by me sitting across the room from her, agonizing over my sex drive like it’s the bane of my existence. Damn my need to pound my cock into any hole that’s willing! Damn my need to rub one out as I watch my partner select a new lipstick at the drugstore! (I know where that lipstick could end up.)

As the co-owner of an erotic press that was designed pretty much to fight shame first before anything else, it seems odd to me that I’d carry so much of it now. I’ve never felt so embodied, so certain that my physical frame will one day match what I’ve envisioned for years in my head (not Rob Lowe, of course, not exactly—but someone like Rob Lowe), and it seems like, logically, I really should be having one hell of a time with all things sex. “If you need to go beat off, go beat off,” my partner tells me, her eyes unblinking, so earnest and beautiful, even aroused by the idea of me explaining to her, in detail, what I had been fantasizing about, what it was that made me come, after that fact. “Come and tell me,” she says, “or don’t. But I’d like to know if you want to share. I think it’s really sexy.”

I don’t want to go into the massive issue of explaining what it’s like to have been socialized female and the shame we are meant to feel about sex, how people assigned female at birth are not really expected to enjoy sex, and if they do? Or, shit, are you a slut. I think everyone probably understands my underlying issue. All I really want to do right now is tell you about how much I love my cock, and how I wish I was better at proving my love to it.

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