Saturday, July 5, 2008


(Natalie Coughlin)

Last night they aired the sixth day of swimming trials for the upcoming summer Olympics. I got my chance to see Natalie Coughlin qualify in the 100 meter freestyle -- she came in second. But even better was the woman who beat her, Dara Torres: 41 years old, who has competed with honor in FOUR previous Olympics (1984, 1988, 1992, and 2000), who has retired from swimming twice, but came back to now qualify for an unprecedented fifth Olympic appearance -- becoming the oldest woman ever to compete in Olympic swimming.

I've seen Dara race at each of the previous years she came to the Olympics. I'm impressed as hell. (Maturity is SO HOT.) So, in addition to the requisite Natalie Coughlin pic above, I'm now including a photo of Dara. See ya'll in Beijing.

UPDATE ON 6 JULY 2008: Last night, Dara Torres set a new American records in the women's 50 meter qualifying swim. She's ON FIRE.

(Dara Torres, photo by Robert Maxwell)


Friday, July 4, 2008


I have a new hard drive.

Still facing loss of most of what was on the old one, but at least I can work again.

And, for those who are having much greater troubles in the world, here's the latest word about the Big Sur Fire as it affects Emile Norman, whom I posted about here ten days ago, from his website:

Current Status about the Big Sur Fire
7/4/08 am - The fire has still not reached Highway 1 in our area. We continue to watch and wait. Emile's house has been prepared as best as possible to survive should the fire cross the highway and move towards the ridge. Good thoughts, prayers, smudges and all beneficent sharings of spirit short of small animal sacrifices sent our way are appreciated. :] All of Big Sur has now been evacuated and Emile has safely moved to town.

Thank you for your concern and your patience!


Thursday, July 3, 2008


(Sunol Regional Wilderness Park, photo by Sunil Veluvali)

During the early 1980s, I coped with the dual stress of living in the most population-dense urban area in the U.S. plus plotting social revolution by leaving the confines of San Francisco whenever I could. I fled north to the Golden Gate Recreation Area, south to Highway 1 along the coast, or across the bay to the linked East Bay Regional Park areas. My favorite outdoor spot then, and still, was Sunol Regional Wilderness Area.

Sunol had been, for time out of mind, a good living for Ohlone first nations and whoever preceded them. With white theft of California, it became ranchland and then part of the watershed for San Francisco itself. It thus escaped being plowed or built upon. Steep hills bisected by Alameda Creek, sere and golden in the summer, emerald green in the winter, Sunol's valleys and gentler slopes are wooded by alder, willow, sycamore, coast live oak, valley oak, blue oak, elderberry, grey pine, and my beloved red-barked madrone. In spring the meadows are choked with vivid California poppies. Many bands of coyote sing from the hilltops at dusk, and magpies strut around as if looking for a fight.

(Alameda Creek, Sunol Regional Wilderness Area, CA)

It was about an hour's drive from the Mission District where I lived. It had a lot of hiking trails not for the casual stroller, and back country camping. It also had four primitive creekside campsites near the green barn visitor center, but these were separated from the parking lot by a 30 foot hill, which meant all gear had to be grunted in by manual haul. There was a single spread-fed tap in the center, two outhouses up the hill, and no electricity. Thus, these four campsites were avoided by families and serious campers alike, who went either to the back country camp or to an RV area in one of the other parks. I often had the entire campground to myself.

It wasn't just, or even mostly, the physical beauty of Sunol that drew me back endlessly. It was also sacred space. Here and there in boulders near the creek were mortars which had been used for thousands of years to grind acorns into meal. I had more than one unexplainable incident there, including hearing the voices and singing from what I believe were ancient peoples by the creek at night.

Sunol also allowed dogs. Thus, I began hosting an annual Dykes and Dogs Campout at Sunol in July, drawing anywhere from six to 20 lesbians plus their canine familiars. The women tended to be urban, earnest, and serious. The dogs were usually a bit uncomfortable with all that open nature, and never wandered from our enclave. My dog, in fact, refused to sit on the ground after dusk, demanding either a lap or a place on the picnic bench. If these could not be had, she would crawl into my tent and huddle in my sleeping bag until I came to bed.

The campsites nestled under a rocky hill, and huge old trees kept the entire expanse shaded. I could, and did, leave my tent flap to walk three feet to water's edge. I got into the habit of toting along a massive jar we used in our pantry at home to store grains. I'd wash it out, wade into the middle of Alameda Creek, scoop up some bottom mud and vegetation, then fill the jar with creek water, creating an instant habitat which sat on the picnic table all day, full of fascinating life. At dark, I'd return my mini-pond back to the creek.

Upstream and down were bigger pools where we could swim naked if no one was around -- and few people ever were, in those days. At night, the park staff left and locked the gate; then we really had the place to ourselves. We'd keep our fire going all night, women sitting up to talk and sing, citified dogs leaning against us trying to inform us that murderous raccoons were lurking in the nearby boulders.

At one Dykes and Dogs campout, my dear friend Annie brought her older sister Susan, also a lesbian (or at least bi). They were hard-core New England working class, with strong accents and unfamiliar humor. Annie and I were, in a month, going to progress our friendship into sex for a while, on our way back from the Michigan Women's Music Festival. Something was in the air already, and I had a glorious time sitting up with her and Susan around the fire, not talking much because some women were actually trying to sleep. Right before dawn, the dew broke around us, and I felt it transmogrify, instantly soaking my hair, back, rump, any part of me not facing the fire. I was two organisms in one at that moment, drenched and baked dry. Then Annie said "We have to see the sunrise! Let's go, we can make it up Flag Hill before the sun gets over the horizon!"

(Flag Hill, Sunol Regional Wilderness Area, CA)

We broke into a run, the three of us, across the creek and up the trail to Flag Hill -- which is a difficult climb, even for healthy young bodies. By the time we reached the top, I was desperately out of breath, and we missed the sunrise after all. But we lay on the crest, gasping and laughing hysterically, before returning to make pancakes for the others just getting up. A priceless memory.

At another campout there (not a Dykes and Dogs event), the seven of us who became the Pleiades spent a weekend deciding to move our support group into activism. We began planning how to share our theory, our ideology, and offer the world what is now commonplace comprehension about the reality of child sexual abuse. At that time, every word we said was indescribably original and brave. We came up with the name for ourselves there, too, when we took a night hike up along a tiny creeklet and I told everyone the story of how the Seven Sisters were hunted by their incestuous uncle Orion until they at last gave up life on earth and became a cluster of stars.

One year we had 17 women at the Dykes and Dogs event, occupying three of the four creekside sites, when a pair of women with three children arrived and began setting up a tent in the last open site. It seemed obvious to me that at least one of the women was a dyke. The children were a girl around six, a boy around four, and an indeterminate-gender toddler still in very droopy diapers. As I watched them surreptitiously and eavesdropped, I figured out that the mother of the kids was from Israel -- she spoke Hebrew to them as she sharply commanded them to stay out of the dirt, out of the creek, put that down, don't suck on that stick. (I'm guessing at the actual phrases from the tone and context, I don't speak Hebrew.)

Over the next few hours, I decided the two women had not been together long -- likely, the mother was fresh from a marriage. This was still common to our community then. From 1970 until around 1975, when it seemed like all of us came out at the same instant, at least a third of these "new" lesbians came from heterosexual marriages which had produced children. Our dyke enclaves were crowded with kids in transition -- part of the reason why our lesbian-feminist values were so concentrated on custody rights, abortion and birth control, and the rights of children in general. If you were out then, sooner or later you became lovers with a woman who had a kid, whose ex-husband was behaving badly, who assumed you were (unlike men) going to do your fucking share of the childcare, or else.

One of the many radical aspects of the business model that Olivia Records established in the lesbian-feminist community (in addition to woman-only space, giving jobs to women instead of men, disabled access and signing guaranteed at all concerts -- values which have been abandoned in "queer" organizing) was that included in the ticket price to a concert was free childcare for whoever needed it. Children were assumed to be the responsibility of the entire community, not just the mothers.

I knew what this lesbian, going camping with a mother of three, was contending with: A new lover who might not be comfortable with PDA, a trio of children wondering what the fuck had happened to their family and fighting with her for their mother's affection, and the heavy expectation that she live up to ideals of equality and non-ownership. It was tough enough to do when you weren't camping. The mother's battle to keep these three little ones clean and out of peril was already consuming her peace of mind.

After talking it over with my roommate (who was also devoted to shared childcare), we strolled into their camp and introduced ourselves. I explained what was going on -- the dyke, trying to hold the complaining toddler in her arms, said "Well, I certainly wondered" with a grin. We invited them to join us, and the mother immediately said "No, thanks." I expounded a little further, promising her we loved children, some of us were parents, and then I added that at least a third of us were Jewish. She froze at that, probably wondering what kind of stereotype I was projecting onto her.

My roommate said "I'm Jewish" and added that she taught Israeli folk-dancing at the Women's Building. The mother did not unbend, but the dyke mother-wannabe began asking interested questions. At some point I said I was a poet, and she grinned hugely and said she was, too. She added her last name to her first: Martha Shelley.

I almost shit myself.

I babbled about how much I loved her work, how much it had meant to me. But the mother shrieked at one of the kids -- I don't know which one, the name was something like "Ahlahn" -- and Martha said she had to go help. We left, then, and they continued with their family weekend. Occasionally Martha would wave at us with a grin. Otherwise, we had no contact. I hope all went well with her and her new love. I hope a poet's heart enabled her to become the children's other mother. I hope the magic of Sunol seeped through.

When I was a teenager of 15 in 1970, out to myself and the girl I was messing around with but still unbelievably isolated, rural, poor, no way to go find the information for which I was ravenous, I went to Nocona, Texas one day with a couple of friends who had to shop for some kind of special attire not available by mail order (which is how we got most of our clothes, still.) Next door to the clothing shop was a drugstore, there on the main street of the square, and I said I was going in to buy myself a Coke float. I did, drinking it at the counter. Then I wandered back to the magazine area, and discovered rotating metal racks of pocketbooks. The farther into the shadows these racks were placed, the more pulpy or racy the books became, and I realized this must be the county's source for "adult" material. I began sweating, my face flushed, and tried to become invisible to the clerk who was, in fact, keeping a cold eye on me.

Near the bottom of a back rack I found a book whose cover was bland and whose title seemed to be The New Women. When I pulled it out, I discovered this title was preceded by An Anthology of Women's Liberation by… It was edited by Joanne Cooke, Charlotte Bunch-Weeks, and Robin Morgan, names I did not yet recognize. It promised to contain prose, poems and polemics by Cynthia Ozick, Diane DiPrima, Marge Piercy, W.I.T.C.H., Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, Rita Mae Brown, and Frances M. Beal, among others.

The price was 95 cents. Likely the only way I could have come up with that much money at that time would be to use every penny in my pockets. Despite my hammering heart, I dared to open the cover, see what it really had inside.

The table of contents showed an essay titled "The Realities of Lesbianism." Holy mother of god, there was that word, in clear print. The authors briefly confused me -- was Del Martin a guy? -- until I realized it must be short for some female name, like Delma. No way was I going to look at THAT article, not in public. I flipped through the book and saw a page with lots of white space -- a poem. Now that I could handle. I stopped and read it:


by Martha Shelley

She was never athletic,
yet by sitting still,
tensed for a shower of blows
her shoulders had secreted muscle.

Never the schoolgirl of unconscious grace,
not the fair-haired leader
most certainly not the sweetheart of Sigma Chi --
she had acquired a tough butch rep of late;
cross between a casanova and a hood --
and half believed in it herself.

So I was surprised,
but most of all she was surprised
to know that she had been beside a fire,
beside a woman, drinking wine,
talking, unable to reach for a waiting hand;
talking until it became absurdly late,
and they retired in polite dismay
to separate rooms.

The words scoured through me. I knew all of its meaning. This was the first poem I ever read about my identity, my true nature. I closed the book, somehow found the courage to carry it up to the counter and buy it, despite the scowl of the clerk. She put it in a brown paper bag, but that was not concealment enough for me. On the sidewalk, I shoved it under the waistband of my pants and walked carefully back to meet up with my friends.

I still have this book. It's here beside me, full of extraordinary information for such an early time. I've never lost my affection for women with tense, meaty shoulders who face the world defensively, because of Martha's explanation.

(Gay Liberation Front, NYC, circa 1969)

According to one online biography for Martha Shelley it reads ''Lesbians' marginalized position within the New York Gay Liberation Front had led Shelley, Rita Mae Brown and others to form a lesbian caucus, "GLF Women". Women from the GLF caucus, together with lesbians, form the women's liberation movement, then formed the "Lavender Menace" in 1970.

'This group is most famous for producing the first lesbian feminist manifesto, "The Woman-identified Woman", and for their "zap" of the Second Congress to Unite Women, held in New York (1970). The zap, in which "Lavender Menace" members disrupted the proceedings of the Congress, called for the women's movement to face its own homophobia and support lesbian rights.

'The pretext for this action was the National Organization for Women's recent purge of lesbian office holders, according the view that the presence of lesbians in the women's movement undermined its credibility and that the lesbian issues were a distraction from the legitimate concerns of feminists and feminism.

'In 1971, under increasing pressure from within and outside the women's and lesbian movements, the National Organization for Women included lesbian rights in its charter.

'Martha Shelley's influential writings in the late 1960s and early 1970s include "Notes of a Radical Lesbian", "Gay is Good", and "Lesbianism in the Women's Liberation Movement".'

Shelley also wrote Haggadah: A Celebration of Freedom (Aunt Lute Books, 1997). Her poems continued to appear in women's journals throughout the 70s and 80s, at least, a jewel every time I ran across one.

Her above-mentioned essay "Gay is Good" (from 1970) can be read online here, p. 391.

Her essay "Notes of a Radical Lesbian" can be read online in this compilation, p. 498. However, it appears in its original form as available Stepin Fetchit Woman in Come Out: A Liberation Forum for the Gay Community, p. 7. Come Out!, published 14 November 1969, was the first publication of the (post-Stonewall) Gay Liberation Movement. On page 6 of the same issue is this poem by Martha (along with others' poems):

(Come Out!, page 6 -- click on image to enlarge)

The introduction to the volume which reprinted "Notes of a Radical Lesbian" states: "Lesbian feminism is the most influential perspective among lesbians in the seventies. It encouraged the development of a separate women's culture and institutions such as coffee houses, bookstores, restaurants, and even automobile repair shops. Martha Shelley was one of the earliest, if not the earliest exponent of the lesbian feminist perspective. She had been a member of the lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis in the early sixties, and after the Stonewall riots in 1969, Shelley became one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front, the first gay radical organization to grow out of the political unrest of the sixties. Lesbian feminism also articulated a new approach to sexuality that Shelley touches on in this essay."

One often-appearing quote by Shelley (from "Gay is Good") states We are women and men who, from the time of our earliest memories, have been in revolt against the sex-role structure and nuclear family structure." Another quote, from "Notes of a Radical Lesbian", declares "I have met many feminists who were not Lesbians but I have never met a Lesbian who was not a feminist." Ah, Martha -- that was then, this is now, eh?

In April 2004, Martha Shelley married her partner Sylvia Allen in the brief window such weddings were allowed in San Francisco. Here is an account by Sylvia of that event.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008


("Dykes In A Truck", photo by JEB, 1977 during the recording of Casse Culver's "Three Gyspies" album; a miniature who's who in women's music at the time; click on image for larger version)

[Updated as of 5 July 2008]

It is not possible to overestimate the impact of the written word on the Second Wave of the women's movement, especially when it comes to lesbian-feminist culture. Literally hundreds of publications, printed on newly-developed offset presses which removed censorship from the hands of male-dominated presses, were available to lesbians in every corner of the country. Access to books and journals was more widespread, crossing class barriers, than the internet today. Many of them were free, either by design (as in Lesbian Connection's still existing policy of "Free to lesbians, pay what you can") or because they were precious commodities, handed on from woman to woman and household to household.

At almost the same time, a thriving circuit of "women's music" (which was almost always code for "lesbian music") provided women-only concerts and albums which toured the country. Olivia Records, formed by members of the highly separatist and political Furies press collective, came to dominate this field because they promised every aspect of their music and album production would be done by women, without access to male privilege or male-conditioned thinking. We could hear the difference -- it sounded like nothing we had ever heard before.

We had a decade-long conversation, under the noses of the patriarchy. It was the ultimate FUBU. And from this language we uncovered the means to form our own presses, bookstores, coffeeshops, clubs, schools, rape crisis centers, shelters from violence, art galleries and movements, dance troupes, disabled networks, political action groups -- anything we could imagine that would be informed by something other than the male-conditioned viewpoint.

It no longer exists, nor does anything out there even begin to approach it. Some argue it is no longer necessary, although with the current realization among young feminists that their input and assumption of power is not tolerable to a disheartening proportion of their presumed progressive male allies, I see an echo of 1968, when we realized the male left was not going to budge from identifying us as primarily sex and joke material.

For those of you who have not bought into the biological determinist myth, who are struggling to un-cover and un-learn the conditioning that actually makes you the race, gender, and class that you are (regardless of appearance or self-declaration) -- for those of you who don't buy the media or revisionist hype about the 1970's -- here's a list of what we, in my separate world, were reading cover to cover.

Consider that each journal had 50 to 100 pages, that it was accepting the best thinking and writing coming in from (sometimes) half the population, that we were singing and speaking to not just those we loved passionately but all future generations. Consider what has been silenced: Deliberately, I believe, by those too frightened to allow women's and girl's voices to be heard without male-identified temporizing and demand for airtime.

Consider the words of Monique Wittig: “There was a time when you were not a slave, remember that. You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied… You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not exist. But Remember. Make an effort to remember. Or, failing that, invent." -- Les Guérillères

(The material listed below is from the Timeline created by the Austin Lesbian Activism in the 1970's Herstory Project, founded by me; it's not exhaustive, there is more than what I've named, feel free to add more in comments).

Valerie Solanas writes the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, a rationale and program for S.C.U.M. (The Society for Cutting Up Men), and it is printed by Olympia Press.

Sexual Politics, by Kate Millett (Doubleday)
Les Guérillères, Monique Wittig (Avon)

In June, a group in New York called radicalesbians (including some women who were involved in the Stonewall Riots) publishes "The Woman Identified Woman", a manifesto which declares “A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion”. This manifesto presents an analysis of lesbian oppression that has feminism at its core, and coins the term “woman-identified-woman”. Copies of this leaflet are carried to every lesbian community in the country, and its analysis is enthusiastically embraced.

Edward the Dyke & Other Poems, by Judy Grahn (Women’s Press Collective--a publishing collective Judy and other lesbians formed when Judy’s poetry could not get printed by establishment presses)
Looking at Women, by Fran Winant (Violet Press)
The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You, by Dorothy Bryant
The First Sex, by Elizabeth Gould Davis (Putnam)

Amazon, a Midwest journal for women, from the Amazon Collective in Milwaukee, WI
Black Maria, a feminist literary magazine, Chicago, IL
Focus, a journal for lesbians, Cambridge, MA
Lesbian Tide, a lesbian-feminist magazine, Los Angeles, CA
Majority Report, a women’s newspaper, New York, NY
Off Our Backs, an independent radical feminist women’s new journal

Ti-Grace Atkinson writes, “Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice.”
Sappho Was a Right-On Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism, by Sidney Abbott & Barbara Love (Stein & Day)
Eating Artichokes, by Willyce Kim (Women’s Press Collective)
Lesbian/Woman, Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon (Bantam)
Country Women, a country women’s journal, Albion, CA

Maxine Feldman releases Angry Atthis (a single)
Holly Near founded Redwood Records

Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution, by Jill Johnston (Simon & Schuster)
Love Between Women, by Charlotte Wolff (Duckworth Press)
Songs to a Handsome Woman, by Rita Mae Brown (Diana Press)
Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown (Harper & Row)
Diving into the Wreck, by Adrienne Rich (Norton)
We Are All Lesbians, by Fran Winant (Violet Press)
Amazon Expedition: A Lesbian-Feminist Anthology, ed. by Phyllis Birkby, Bertha Harris, Jill Johnston, Esther Newton, and Jayne O’Wyatt (Times Changes Press)
Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women’s Liberation, by Mary Daly
Mothers and Amazons, by Helen Diner (Doubleday)
The Cook and the Carpenter, by June Arnold (Daughters, Inc)
Our Bodies, Our Selves, by the Boston Women’s Health Collective (Simon & Schuster)

So’s Your Old Lady, lesbian literary magazine, Minneapolis, MN

Virgo Rising: The Once and Future Woman (engineered and produced by women) -- singers include Charlie's Aunts, Kit Miller, Nancy Raven, Malvina Reynolds, and Janet Smith (Thunderbird Records)
Holly Near releases Hang In There (Redwood Records)
Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard release Hazel and Alice (Rounder Records)
Barbara Dane releases I Hate The Capitalist System (Paredon Records)
Suni Paz releases Brotando del Silenco (Paredon Records)
NYC Lesbian-Feminist Liberation Collective releases A Few Loving Women (self-produced) -- singers include Ali, Lee Crespi, Jeriann Hilderly, Margar4et Sloan, Mary Solberg, Martha and Luci Wilde
New Haven and Chicago Liberation Rock Band releases Mountain Movin Day (Rounder Records)

A collective of lesbians forms in Los Angeles to produce music albums exclusively by and for women. Naming themselves Olivia Records, their first album is by one of their members, Meg Christian. The album, I Know You Know, is distributed nationally by independent lesbian agents and is a wild success. Original members were Ginny Berson, Meg Christian, Judy Dlugasz, Kate Winter, and Jennifer Woodul.

(Original Olivia Records Collective, L-R: Judy Dlugasz, Meg Christian, Ginny Berson, Jennifer Woodul, and Kate Winter)

Amazon Odyssey, by Ti-Grace Atkinson (Links Books)
The Hand That Cradles the Rock, by Rita Mae Brown (Diana)
A Woman is Talking to Death, by Judy Grahn (Women’s Press Collective)
Crossing the DMZ, by Martha Shelley (Women’s Press Collective)
Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, by May Sarton (Norton)
Woman Hating, by Andrea Dworkin (E.P. Dutton & Co)
Riverfinger Women, by Elana Nachman/Dykewomon (Daughters)
Loving Her, Ann Allen Shockley (Bobbs Merrill)

Albatross, a lesbian-feminist satire magazine, East Orange, NJ
Lesbian Connection, a forum for lesbians to share news, information and points of view, East Lansing, MI
Quest, a national feminist quarterly, Washington, DC
Womanspirit, women’s spirituality, Wolf Creek, OR

(Back cover of Lavender Jane Loves Women with top to bottom, Alix Dobkin, Kay Gardner, and Patches Attom) WOMEN’S MUSIC ALBUMS PRODUCED THIS YEAR:
Lavender Jane Loves Women, by Alix Dobkin with Kay Gardner and Patches Attom (Project One)
Willie Tyson releases Full Count (Lima Bean Records)

The Female Man, by Joanna Russ (Bantam)
The Lesbian Reader: An Amazon Quarterly Anthology, ed. by Gina Covina & Laurel Galana (Amazon Press, Oakland)
Sex Variant Women in Literature, by JeAnnette Kluth H. Foster (Diana Press)
Lesbianism and the Women’s Movement, (essays by The Furies), ed. by Charlotte Bunch and Nancy Myron (Diana Press)
Loving Women, by The Nomadic Sisters (self, Sonora, CA)
The Lesbian Body, by Monique Wittig (William Morrow)
After Touch, by Jan Clausen (Out & Out Books)
The Cunt Coloring Book, by Tee Corinne (Pearchild)

Conditions, a women’s magazine with emphasis on writing by lesbians, Brooklyn, NY
Dyke: A Quarterly, exclusively for lesbians with a lesbian-feminist vision, New York, NY, edited by Liza Cowan and Penny House
Signs, a journal of women and culture, Barnard College, NY
Goodbye To All That, newletter of the Austin Lesbian Organization, Austin, TX

The Changer and the Changed, by Cris Williamson (Olivia)
Kay Gardner releases Mooncircles (Urana Records, distributed by Olivia)
Holly Near releases A Live Album (Redwood Records)
Malvina Reynolds releases Held Over (Cassandra Records)

Gay Americans: Lesbian & Gay Men in the U.S.A., by Jonathan Katz, Harper & Row
Dyke Jacket, by Fran Winant (Violet Press)
Talk Among the Womenfolk, by Susan Saxe (Common Woman Press)
The Feminist Books of Lights and Shadows, Z. Budapest

Calyx, a women’s literary journal, Corvallis, OR
Lilith, a Jewish women’s magazine, New York, NY
Sinister Wisdom, a lesbian-feminist quarterly, Charlotte, NC
Big Mama Rag, women’s newspaper, Denver, CO

(Margie Adam performing in 1970s, photo by JEB)
Margie Adam releases Margie Adam, Songwriter (Pleiades)
BeBe K’Roche, by BeBe K’Roche (Olivia)
The Ways a Woman Can Be, by Teresa Trull (Olivia)
Berkeley Women’s Music Collective (Windbag Records, distributed by Olivia)
Three Gypsies, by Casse Culver (Urana Records, distributed by Olivia)
Holly Near releases You Can Know All I Am (Redwood Records)
Sweet Honey in the Rock releases Sweet Honey in the Rock (Flying Fish Records)
Judy Grahn and Pat Parker read their poetry on Where Would I Be Without You (Olivia Records)
Joanna Cazden releases Hatching (Sister Sun Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Ginny Clemmens releases Long Time Friends (Open Door Records)
Living With Lesbians, by Alix Dobkin (Project One)

Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution, by Adrienne Rich (Bantam)
Women & Honor: Some Notes on Lying, (pamphlet), Adrienne Rich (Motherroot)
The Joy of Lesbian Sex, by Emily L. Sisley & Bertha Harris (Simon & Schuster)
Women Who Love Women, by Tracy Young (Pocketbooks)
the immaculate conception of the blessed virgin dyke, by Ellen Marie Bissert (13th Moon)
Beginning with O, by Olga Broumas (Lowell University Press)
Tribe, by Martha Courtot (Pearlchild Press)
Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy

Chrysalis, a magazine of women’s culture, Los Angeles, CA
Tribad, exclusively lesbian-separatist, New York, NY
Austin Dyke, a lesbian separatist newsletter, Austin, TX

From Women’s Faces, by Therese Edell (Sea Friends)
A Lesbian Portrait, by Linda Shear and the Family of Womon Band (Old Lady Blue Jeans)
Meg Christian releases Face the Music (Olivia)
Linda Tillery releases Linda Tillery (Olivia Records)
Malvina Reynolds releases Malvina Reynolds (Cassandra Records)
Willie Tyson releases Debutante (Urana Records)
Woody Simmons releases Oregon Mountains (Deep River Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Olivia Records releases compilation album Lesbian Concentrate, with Gwen Avery, Linda Tillery, Meg Christian, Teresa Trull, Sue Fink, Judy Grahn, Berkeley Women's Music Collective, BeBe K'Roche, Pat Parker, Mary Watkins

Word is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives, ed. by Nancy Adair & Casey Adair (New Glide Publications) -- Note: Also in 1978, this book was made into an award-winning documentary of the same name, the first queer-produced documentary about lesbians and gays in the U.S.
Ask No Man Pardon: The Philosophical Significance of Being a Lesbian, by Elsa Gidlow (Druid Heights Books, Mill Valley, CA)
Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, by Audre Lorde (Out & Out Books)
The Notebooks that Emma Gave Me: The Autobiography of a Lesbian, by Kady Van Deurs (self)
Our Right to Love: A Lesbian Resource Book, ed. by Ginny Vida (Prentice-Hall)
The Black Unicorn, by Audre Lorde (Norton)
Movement in Black: Collected Poetry of Pat Parker, 1961-1978 (Diana Press)
Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her, by Susan Griffin (Harper & Row)
Gyn/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism, by Mary Daly
Wanderground: Stories of the Hill Women, by Sally Gearheart (Persephone Press)

Lone Star Lesbian, a publication providing a statewide lesbian network for contacts and support, is begun by Austin lesbians. Publishes into 1979.
Our Time Has Come, a lesbian newsletter, begins publication in Austin and lasts until 1980.

Trish Nugent releases Foxglove Woman (Olivia Records)

(Holly Near and Meg Christian, 1970s, photo by JEB)
Imagine My Surprise, by Holly Near & Meg Christian (Redwood)
Kay Gardner releases Emerging (Urana Records)

Quiet Thunder, by the Izquierda Ensemble (River Bear Music)
Cris Williamson, with Jackie Robbins and June Millington, release Live Dream (Dream Machine Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Baba Yaga releases On The Edge (Bloodleaf Records, distributed by Olivia Records)
Sweet Honey in the Rock releases B'lieve I'll Run On (Redwood Records)

(Sweet Honey in the Rock)

Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians, (photographs), by JEB/Joan E. Biren (Naiad Press)
Conditions, Volume Four, the black lesbian issue
Coming Out: We Are Here in the Asian Community, by Barbara Noda, Kitty Tsui, and Z. Wong (Lesbian-Feminist Study Clearinghouse)
Lesbian Peoples: Material for a Dictionary, by Monique Wittig and Sande Zeig

Feminary, a Southern lesbian journal, Chapel Hill, NC

More Than Friends, by Robin Flower (Spaniel)
Tattoos, by Sirani Avedis (Terrapin Records)
Berkeley Women's Music Collective releases Tryin' to Survive (Olivia Records)
Mary Watkins releases Something Moving (Olivia Records)
Robin Tyler releases Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom, a comedy album (Olivia Records)
Kristen Lems releases Oh Mama
Maxine Feldman releases Closet Sale (Galaxia Records)

NOTE: Almost all of the images and much of the supporting information for this post came from the extraordinarly rich website of J.D. Doyle, Queer Music Heritage. He hosts a radio show "Queer Voices" on KPFT, 90.1 in Houston, Texas every fourth Monday of the month at 9 p.m. CST. He has scanned in apparently everything he can get his hands on, and his documentation is a treasure trove. THANK YOU, J.D.!! This culture is in danger of being "disappeared" -- for instance, Wikipedia is a joke when it comes to covering women's music and lesbian culture in general.

P.S.S. Liza Cowan brought to my attention a page at Holly Near's website, which is a list of all the women who were involved in Women's Music of the 1970's. As Holly puts it, "We were the musical reflection of the women's movement and the lesbian movement. Like any political song movement the music challenged, comforted, educated, and invited the heart to fall in love with a new perspective on life and humanity. There is no way to accurately measure the impact this music had on society but by naming and remembering we begin. I read my list at the concert and asked people in the audience to call out names I had forgotten. Later, Alix Dobkin and Susan Wiseheart put the final and orderly touches on the list" (Also, Barbara "Boo" Price contributed to the list of individuals and of groups.) I refer you there for all the names of those who did not manage to have an album of their own. Thanks, Liza, Holly, Alix, Susan and Boo!

The list at Holly Near's site was missing the following individual women singers and group:
Annie Dinerman (singer/songwriter whose work was used by Therese Edell and Meg Christian)
Barbara J. Galloway (Baba Yaga)
Bonnie Kovaleff (Baga Yaga, on Mary Watkins' Something Moving)
Coleen Stuart (on Mary Watkins' Something Moving)
Jake/Janet Lampert (from BeBe K'Roche, Baba Yaga)
Jan Cornall (Baba Yaga)
Jerene O'Brien (from BeBe K'Roche and Teresa Trull's The Ways A Woman Can Be)
Joan Balter (played with Robin Flower)
Joan Lefkowitz (Swingshift)
Joy Julks (on Mary Watkins' Something Moving)
Kieta O'Hara (Baba Yaga)
Maia McNamara (Baba Yaga)
Michal (Michelle then) Brody (from Linda Shear's Lesbian Portrait album and also local Chicago women's music circles)
Naomi Shapiro (Swingshift)
Nancy Cady (Baga Yaga)
Nancy Henderson (Berkeley Women's Music Collective)
Niobe Erebor (Baba Yaga)
Patti Vincent (Baba Yaga)
Peggy Mitchell (from BeBe K'Roche)
Susan Colson (Baba Yaga, Swingshift)
Virginia/Ginny Rubino (from BeBe K'Roche)

Swingshift (a women's ensemble doing mostly jazz and some world music in the SF Bay Area, containing Bonnie Lockhart, Joan Lefkowitz, Susan Colson, Naomi Shapiro, and Frieda Fein that I can remember)



Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts. There are some really creative folks out there. As usual, those from little gator lead the pack.


Monday, June 30, 2008


Here's another short-short story from my early days as a writer. This was published in Sinister Wisdom #11, Fall 1979. I wrote it while I lived in the lesbian land collective in Durango, Colorado.

Just like the sweet apple reddens on the tip of the branch,
upon the top of the highest, [which] the apple-pickers forgot.
Yet they didn't really forget; but they could not reach it.
-- Sappho


"Of course, many of my acquaintances from the outside are struck by the oddity of this womon who lives with me. They have said she seems to be, at times, removed from reality, or a visionary. I think I will have to agree with them on the word visionary. She is a visionary, she has been called such for several centuries, though they do not know it.

"As for the womon, she is very happy here, incredibly happy. If she were not, I would return her, or find another place for her. But she wishes to stay by me, in my bed, in my world; and upon her real death, what she has written will fill several more volumes. The dry period of her last decade before I came has vanished.

"I think she is most pleased when I show her the books we were taught from in school, for in them she is held up as the example, the Writer, that she feared she never was. It must be a stretch of the self-concept to know that children are reading words she wrote five hundred years ago, reading and understanding and being swept with an emotion half a millenium old. No, wait -- her greatest pleasure came the time I took her to a play based on her life. She laughed long afterward, and when she could finally speak, she said 'They were so close, and yet so far from knowing.'

"Here in the collective, of course, she can be herself, and that is who we know and love. Age has lessened the 'boldness like a wren' of her, nor the chestnut in her hair. And she still wears white, but her hair falls free over her shoulders, and the Amazon just arrived next door is teaching her to ride a horse.

"And when we love, she is a girl again, a wild-hearted girl who loved too greatly for her time but not for mine. I am trying, very hard, to make up for the decades she lived with a broken heart. I think I can do this because I loved her for decades, reading the lines both written and silent that told how like me she was.

"And her oddity to those not part of the collective, part of the secret, is no real threat. We are all considered to be odd, we here on the sprawl of land and mountain we have claimed as ours for a livelihood and a home. And if our numbers grow suddenly, it is explained by the appeal of our freedom, the lure that calls in wimmin needing a sanctuary.

"And this is no lie. From the very moment I made my discovery (or was given the secret by the Mother, as Beata insists), I knew how I would use it. I had waited too long for the womon separated from me by my birthtime to consider anything else. The rest of it came when I realized that my dream was not alone, that others of us here had room and need for their own heroines. And so now we are great gathering of lovers, poets old and new, who listen to one another with an intensity that can only grow from having been torn apart.

"Next to the first journey, where I gained my love, the best was whisking the French maid from the flames. She wears trousers and shot hair with no fear now, and hears the voices of angels each time she speaks with us. Her eyes are so very brown, and the pain is faded altogether.

"Last week I returned with the Amazon, from the Steppes, who could see the erosion of her nation-tribe coming soon. I am going back often to that place -- there are many who wished to come. What? Yes, of course the lied, all the accounts of what happened to our eldermothers were lies; they couldn't very well say that a witch appeared as they neared death and they both chuckled merrily as they vanished, now could they?

"I tell you all this, my friend, because you have joined our clan and you can be trusted with the secret. Also, I sense that you may have your own request to make of me, a need to save someone from the womon-hatred of her own time. Aha! I thought so; well, it won't be so difficult. Can you get me her last known coordinates and the date of her disappearance? Good. What did friends call her? Melly? Alright, then, I shall bring Melly to you tomorrow. Only you must promise to give her all the room the needs to adjust -- and you must let her return cheerfully if she prefers that to being part of now.

"Yes, I would have returned my scribbler if she had asked it. But I think I would have gone with her, to ease the loneliness of the huge old house and that cold world. You see, I have always loved her. And I wanted to show my love from the first time I read the plea in 'My life closed twice before its close --'

"Hush, now, here comes the mother of us all. Yes, she is quite short, and dark, but the Greeks were in those days. Wait till you hear the verse she composed yesterday…"

© Maggie Jochild.


Sunday, June 29, 2008


(Black skimmer feeding at Gulf Coast)

Well, hard times continue here at Casa de Jochild. My main computer, the one I use for work and storage of graphics files, novels, etc., had been killed by a relentness hijacker virus named Braviax (despite Symantec, SpyBot and Spy Sweeper on board). I will have to lose everything not saved elsewhere when the hard gets replaced, perhaps on Monday. Fortunately, Ginny Bates and Skene in entirety were backed up elsewhere, so those are safe. I've lost several days of work and, well, I'm fairly down.

I'm writing this on my personal computer which is old and clunky, but at least I still have online access. After this post, I'll be putting up a long-ago short story that is one of my best; typed it in by hand tonight, because it existed in no transferable format. I'll continue to post as I am able.

Thanks for hanging in there. Love, Maggie

P.S. The U.S. Olympics swimming trials are being televised tonight at 7 p.m. CST, opposite Password here. I'll be watching Natalie Coughlin, you bet.

P.S.S. I am relieved to pass on to you that Emile Norman, the 90-year-old artist whom I posted about last week, has a notice up at his website stating that his house and art are not currently threatened by the terrible Big Sur fire. Thank you SO MUCH, whoever posted that reassurance.