the deep element

January 20th, 2010 | Other Projects

Photo on 2010-01-20 at 21.07 #3

Well I’ll be goldanged. Why am I paying for therapy when I can get analyzed here quite brilliantly for free? Thank you to Alex K who identified Diving Into The Wreck as my dream association in the last post. Right down to the “body armor of black rubber,” “the grave and awkward mask.”

Adrienne Rich figures rather prominently in the memoir I’m writing, and clearly this poem has lodged itself somewhere deep in my psyche. Here’s a site that lists comments from various writers and critics about Rich’s 1972 poem. Margaret Atwood said about it in the NYT Book Review:

“This quest–the quest for something beyond myths, for the truths about men and women, about the “I” and the “You,” the He and the She, or more generally (in the references to wars and persecutions of various kinds) about the powerless and the powerful–is presented throughout the book through a sharp, clear style and through metaphors which become their own myths. At their most successful the poems move like dreams, simultaneously revealing and alluding, disguising and concealing. The truth, it seems, is not just what you find when you open a door: it is itself a door, which the poet is always on the verge of going through.”

I won’t say any more about what I’m working on. I often feel like blogging is a kind of “spilling my seed,” a dispersal of my thoughts before they’re fully formed. Kinda like that puddle of ink in the last post.

Hey, are there any readers in the Twin Cities who might be interested in earning a few bucks to look up a Star Tribune article for me at the library on microfilm? Contact me here!

89 Responses to “the deep element”

  1. Betsy says:

    Hi Alison, I have a good friend who works at the Mpls downtown library and I’m sure could get her to do it. I’m also in the cities but she could do it faster.

  2. Ginjoint says:

    Well, hope that’s not gonna stain.

    And hey?! I “met” Margaret Atwood in November, on her book tour. Instead of just a reading, she had a whole dog-and-pony show goin’ on, using local actors and singers. I lurve her. I wonder what it feels like to be that smart.

    I feel kinda bad, Alison, that the blog is a distraction or a threat to your thought process. I was hoping that we would be more of a Greek chorus, that sort of thing.

  3. JM in the TC says:

    Hey! I am a reader in the Twin Cities that might be interested in looking up a Startribune article at the Library. I will more than likely be at the library anyway so why not. Although I am not sure if there is supposed to be a link on the here in “Contact me here!” So, let me know if I can help.

  4. Dr. Empirical says:

    When I go to art museums, I find I get a lot more out of it if I have someone with me to whom I can State the Very Obvious. It helps me give form to the half-formed thoughts that would otherwise never take coherent form.

    Instead of “spilling [your] seed” in the blog, why don’t you look at it as a place to “think out loud”? Your spelunking post is a good example of how well that can work.

  5. Ellen Orleans says:

    I hear you. Many of my writer friends say that writing blogs are a big distraction from their real work. Similarly, lots of feedback just muddies the water and thins the blood.

    Better to work with a close group you know and trust.

    Yours in keeping your seed pouch drawn tight and the ink flowing…

  6. Joan says:

    I have never blogged before but thought I might have a go. Although this is off the current topic, I happened to find Alison’s blog on “my möbius shirt” when searching for comments on my work. What a delight to find Maggie Jochild‘s post @145 on my Time paper and hairball_of_hope‘s wonderful job of explaining the underlying concept. It’s so nice to see physics being discussed like this. Gee whiz, there’s hope for physicists yet.

  7. tmw says:

    My girlfriend and I are both librarians and she’s at the University of Minnesota. If it’s in the Strib, chances are good that we can get it easily. My email’s up above.

  8. --MC says:

    On the one hand, we blog commentators could function for you as proof that you are not working in a vacuum. Something as intensely private as a memoir, and as individually work-intensive as a graphic novel, can leave you feeling like you’re stranded on a small asteroid like the Little Prince. Didn’t he have a flower to keep him company? Think of us as that flower.
    On the other hand, I know the feeling of not wanting to divert any mana from the project until it’s completed — I can’t show anybody anything from a project before it’s done — since we live in a small apartment, I’m always whisking things off my board when K comes too close to the drawing board, which makes her irritable; but if I show her the work in progress, she might comment or .. make suggestions ..

  9. NLC says:

    Hi Joan

    Yes, while there has (thus far) been minimal discussion of Lie Groups or gauge invariance, there are a few of us Physics geeks who hang out here.


  10. Tom says:

    I found blogging a most interesting experience for it reveals the way we organize the flow of out thoughts. It may be useful exactly to get us aware of criteria we use to decide wether some thought is to be shared or not, and if it’s not, wether that’s because it isn’t ready to, or it isn’t ment to.
    I follow just a few blogs, some belonging to dear relatives, some to friends I got thru ideas exchanged when they posted on my own blog, and last but not least, some to people I got to admire, and of whom I got sort of fond of.
    This is the case of Alison Bechdel’s one. “Fun Home” was one of best things I read in past year, and it touched me in many ways. Finding that she writes in her own blog was joy to me. Even aware aour realities are distant, as are our countries, I really like to see her posts and the many fine commentaries made after each one of them.
    It’s a pity we all are separated in blogosphere by the language wall, for portuguese is not easily neither commonly spoken for people out the lusophone community (Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Macau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe) and, in spite of my effort, my English is far from regularity…

  11. Hey! Thanks for the offers of help, JM and tmw.I just emailed you, tmw, since you included your address.

    Ginjoint, I love your Greek chorus analogy. It’s not the blog comments that make me feel seed-spilling and distracted, it’s my own posts.

    I’m very grateful for everyone’s attention and contributions here…and now look. I’m getting blog people to help me do my research!

  12. bean says:

    if you know anyone with an affiliation at a nearby semi-decent college, they should have access to lexis-nexis, which should have your article available in full text, unless it’s from the 50’s or something. won’t have photos though, if those are an issue.

  13. Calico says:

    AB – Are you drinking…squid ink?!
    : D

  14. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Joan (#6)

    Thanks for the kind words. There are geeks of all sorts hanging out here; witness how the Möbius thread spawned segues from menopause to math to healthcare to politics to dance to physics to astronomy to Greek to mythology to linguistics to popular TV culture, with some compassionate community hugs along the way. That’s pretty typical around here, the only usual elements missing were bacon, maple syrup, and cats, which somehow make it into nearly every thread. The running gag is that something is “off-topic” (as if there ever really is only one topic in play).

    Along with the physics geeks, there are serious geology and math geeks here too… a few years back there was a lively thread or two about factoring polynomials (I was a lurker in those days), and we’ve had some geology lessons about rocks, hydrogeology, and the fashion choices of geologists (plaid shirts and denim jeans is the favored style for the older ones, khaki cargo pants with zippered pockets and floppy hats is the style favored by the younger ones).

    Stick around, you’ll have fun. And more than a few of us will actually understand what you do for a living.

  15. bee says:

    i see that you already have twin cities volunteers– just wanted to be counted amongst your loyal mpls fans! 🙂

  16. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Tom (#10)

    Lusophone… I just learned a new word. Thanks.

  17. meg says:

    Great photo! 😀

  18. From PLoS ONE, an interactive open-access journal for the communication of all peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, comes an interesting study, “Democrats And Republicans Can Be Differentiated By Their Faces”. The abstract reads:

    “In Study 1, perceivers were able to accurately distinguish whether U.S. Senate candidates were either Democrats or Republicans based on photos of their faces. Study 2 showed that these effects extended to Democrat and Republican college students, based on their senior yearbook photos. Study 3 then showed that these judgments were related to differences in perceived traits among the Democrat and Republican faces. Republicans were perceived as more powerful than Democrats. Moreover, as individual targets were perceived to be more powerful, they were more likely to be perceived as Republicans by others. Similarly, as individual targets were perceived to be warmer, they were more likely to be perceived as Democrats.”

    The study was conducted by Nicholas O. Rule and Nalini Ambady, Department of Psychology, Tufts University.

    I was also intigued by the article at this site “Language Structure Is Partly Determined by Social Structure”.

    I found no studies concerning how the ingestion of ink might affect artistic expression.

    Now back to watching Jacques and Julia roast chickens.

  19. Acilius says:

    Sometime between 2000 and 2006 the Times Literary Supplement reviewed a biography of a man who had been cast away on a desert island. He survived because a barrel of ink washed ashore with him and he had it to drink. I’ve spent the last few minutes with Google and lexisnexis trying to refresh my memory of the castaway’s name, but have come up empty. Whatever his name was, he was never really healthy again. Anyway, that’s what the photo reminded me of. That, and the movie “Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist” in which a similar glass jar holds poop that is fed to Flanagan.

  20. Bechadelic says:

    What a cool concept photograph Alison. I absolutely love this blog. There’s always something interesting to see or read 😀

  21. judybusy says:

    Oi Tom,
    Muito obrigada para o palavra “lusophone!” Nao conhesei antes. O seu engles e _otimo_. Eu falo bem portugues para viagar, mas no mais! Eu amo que vc e aqui!

    To practice my Portuguese, I’d love it if you would share some of the blogs you read. Esta mais facil quando o material esta interssante!

  22. hairball_of_hope says:

    Review of Patti Smith’s new memoir, “Just Kids” on Bloomberg:

    Maybe it’s just me, but why does an accomplished woman’s life have to be interpreted in relation to an accomplished man’s life? Or so it seems, from the title and the tone of the review discussing Smith’s and Mapplethorpe’s intersecting lives.

    Quoting from the review:

    She arrived in New York (from southern New Jersey) on July 3, 1967, 20 years old and carrying not much more than a few drawing pencils, a notebook and a copy of Rimbaud’s “Illuminations” she had swiped from a Philadelphia bookstall. The friends she went looking for in Brooklyn weren’t there. What she found instead:

    “On a simple iron bed, a boy was sleeping. He was pale and slim with masses of dark curls, lying bare-chested with strands of beads around his neck. I stood there. He opened his eyes and smiled.”

    Soon the two of them were living together, though Smith is gratifyingly discreet about their sex life. She has much more to say about their art. They were sure of themselves, more so of each other.

    [… snip …]

    By now he had begun coming out, a process more difficult and embarrassing for him than his outrageous later photographs would lead you to think. Smith took it in stride, supportive but bewildered when his sexual trips began turning extreme:

    “I really didn’t want to know. It wasn’t so much denial as it was squeamishness. His pursuits were too hard-core for me and he often did work that shocked me.”

    She was more of a naif than either her appearance or her poetry suggested. “You don’t shoot up and you’re not a lesbian,” one acquaintance confronted her accusingly. “What do you actually do?”

    (… goes off looking for her archived copy of Patti Smith’s article about February snow and the deaths of Warhol and Mapplethorpe …)

  23. hairball_of_hope says:

    Ah, I found it on the Web:

    Quoting from the article:

    It is the immutable hour. The still, somnolent hour of God. The snow is falling and aroused by dream I slip into my coat and enter the last breath of night. Not a bit of wind, not a bird upon the branch to greet me. Only the mute thrum of flakes upon my face covering everything- shoulders, sky, the path before me with the color of snow. And I am reminded of the hair of certain men – of the silky strands of de Kooning; of Sandburg, Frost, and the beard of Whitman.

    The moon arrays the field – a wide pallium of white velvet-I do not wish to cross and mar with my step. So I stand for a long time looking down at my faithful boots and my long, dove-colored coat. I have always loved a good coat, and my preoccupation with a sleeve or the detail of a vent can carry me away.

    I remember wearing this same coat the night Andy Warhol died. It was February. Snow was falling and I was walking very fast. As I passed a small churchyard surrounded by an iron gate I realized I was chanting a prayer to the beat of my feet. I hurried on. I was due at the recording studio and I was late, for I had been talking to Robert. He called, in great distress, to tell me Andy was dead.

    “He wasn’t supposed to die,” he cried out, somewhat desperately, somewhat petulant, like a spoiled child. I could hear other thoughts racing between us.

    “neither are you”
    “neither am I”

    I could hear him hearing me. We didn’t say anything. We hung up reluctantly.

    “I am with you.”
    “I am with you.”

    Walking. I suddenly felt very happy. It was a beautiful evening. Cold and clean. The snow, which had been falling lightly, now fell with great force. I wrapped my coat about me. I was in my fifth month and the baby moved inside me.

    “It’s snow, little baby, snow.”

  24. Kate L says:

    Drinking ink! Gawk!!!

    I’ve always thought that those of us inhabiting our little community here are A.B.’s latest creations, springing from her imagination too late to make it onto the panels of DTWOF. Women geologists? “Muffalatta” as the code name for… well, you know. In fact, this is DTWOF writ large, extending from the prairie plains to the hustle and bustle of New York, and all around the world!

  25. Renee S. says:


    #23 As a longtime fan of Patti Smith, thanks for that! I won tickets last week (I was the radio station’s first caller) for her upcoming concert in Detroit on Feb. 19th. Just wish she was doing a book signing here. Chicago is the nearest book signing venue, and that’s not happening for me. The only time ever I drove 4 hours (one way) for a book signing was for AB’s Fun Home lecture in Dayton. And it was well worth it.

    #22 “Maybe it’s just me, but why does an accomplished woman’s life have to be interpreted in relation to an accomplished man’s life? Or so it seems, from the title and the tone of the review discussing Smith’s and Mapplethorpe’s intersecting lives.”
    Yeah, true, the book probably would not have gotten as much marketing attention if it was solely about Patti Smith. The book marketing people figure that the book appeals to a wider audience by focusing on two famous controversial people, especially Maplethorpe.

    It makes me wonder if Patti Smith first wrote the book and then sought a publisher or if perhaps a publishing company initially approached her with a great book deal if she she chose to focus on her relationship with Maplethorpe. Or maybe she just plain wanted to tell about it.
    Well, anyway, it still looks like a good read. Gonna wait for mine at the library.

  26. Ian says:

    @hoh(22): I agree about women’s endeavours always being related to men they’ve been involved in. It’s been very refreshing lately to read various articles about Dame Elisabeth Frink where they mention her 3 husbands in passing, but talk far more about how her work was influenced by Giacometti (which it was).

    Although I was reading (and hearty apologies if I’m wrong about this) was that one of the differences of feminist art history looked at the world and influences around the artist, grounding him/her in reality, as opposed to previous art historians looking solely at the work in isolation.

    So I suppose if you took that approach it would be valid to look at Smith’s relationship with Mapplethorpe, but only insofar as the two artists might have influenced each other.

    @Kate L(24): I like to think of this little community on here as a continuation of the theme “Dykes and Other Carbon-Based Lifeforms to Watch Out For” who have a bit of sympathy with the anarchic spirit of the strip. Plus some folks who’ve dropped in via Fun Home.

  27. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Aw crap, I got here too late. I’m at the University of Minnesota and I would have jumped (as much as my broken leg will allow me to jump) at the chance to be Alison’s research assistant, but it looks like that’s pretty well covered…
    Hey Hairball, a friend and I used to joke that the best thing Patti Smith ever did was turn Robert Mapplethorpe gay. In all seriousness, I love her music, at least the early stuff, and this is an affection that has endured through the many reports I have read of her being a serious backstabber. I saw her perform about a year and a half ago in Minneapolis and she tells great stories–she’s really self-deprecating too.

  28. Andrew B says:

    Speaking of blogs and Margaret Atwood, I just learned that Margaret Atwood has a blog. It looks like it’s associated with the tour for her latest book, so I don’t know how long it’ll stick around.

  29. “we are the half-destroyed instruments
    that once held to a course”

    Oh, she does, she still grabs onto the ropey guts of so much in me with this work, thirty years after I first read the book. No wonder it’s inhabiting your dreams.

  30. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Renee (#25), DeLaDeLa (#27)

    I saw Patti Smith a few years ago at a free concert in Damrosch Park (it’s the park located behind Lincoln Center). She was great. I agree with DeLand, you’ll enjoy the performance.

    @Ian (#26)

    I recall reading something about Martha Gellhorn, who was a fabulous war correspondent (she covered wars until she was in her 80s). She did not want to be known as “Hemmingway’s third wife,” and yet that factoid is in the first paragraph of her Wiki. :(. Supposedly, this was a factor in their divorce.

    @Andrew B (#28)

    Segueing to Margaret Atwood, in her classic novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the women all have patronymic slave names derived from the male to whom they belong (e.g. Offred = “Of Fred”). I always thought that was a brilliant creative decision on Atwood’s part.

  31. Ginjoint says:

    DeDe, how’d you break your leg?

  32. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Hey Ginjoint,
    I was the victim of a hate-motivated attack, in which two men physically attacked me and four friends while hurling homophobic and racist slurs. I guess this is giving away my actual identity, but here’s a fairly decent account of the story:

    The police haven’t caught the guys who did it, despite the fact that the doorman, who witnessed the attack and did nothing, stated repeatedly that he knew one of our assailants. Apparently going to the bar to haul this guy in for questioning has not been high on the Minneapolis police’s priority list. It’s been a very bitter lesson in how little people like us matter to this system.

  33. Acilius says:

    @de la de la: Good golly! Best wishes to you.

  34. Ginjoint says:


    Your story knocked the wind outta me, Deland. I am so, so sorry that happened to you and your friends! God, my blood is running cold right now and I’m short of breath. Your leg gets broken in two places and the cops can’t be bothered to question the doorman?! That had to be a vicious fight, as legs are big bones, harder to break. Those thugs were out for blood. I mean, Jesus…I need a minute…BRB…

  35. Ginjoint says:

    Back. And here I thought you were going to say you slipped on the ice.

    Is there any phone number we can call at the police department to complain about the lack of follow-through on this? I’ve seen this happen here in Chicago – many phone calls and/or angry emails makes the brass realize that they need to prevent a PR disaster. Believe me, I’d be MORE than happy to call…grrrrrrrrrrrr…

  36. dvoyre says:

    huh. whenever people ask me who my favorite writers are, i usually say adrienne rich, alison bechdel and june jordan. does june show up in your new book by chance? sigh. how many months ’till it hits the press?

  37. Bechadelic says:

    @ DeLand DeLakes (# 32)
    I’m tremendously sorry to read about your horrific experience. Just reading the report was so frightening; I cannot begin to imagine your personal trauma. I hope they find and severely punish the people who hurt you and your friends.

  38. Ready2Agitate says:

    Crap, DeLand DeLakes. That is f*cking scary. I share your outrage and anger, and hope you are doing OK. If letters/calls would help, please let us know (I happily agitate on demand). But seriously, big hugs. ((((<3))))

  39. Ready2Agitate says:

    (another Patti Smith fan here, too)

  40. Acilius says:

    @de la de la: Yes, if there is anything we can do to help let us know. You’ve had an effect on my life; it was your mockery of the troll a year or so ago that drew me in to this forum, converting me from a frequent lurker who commented rarely to a daily commenter. I don’t know if you want that on your conscience, but I consider myself indebted to you.

  41. freyakat says:

    Hi deladela…,

    I second Ginjoint’s ‘holy fucking shit’. I’m
    so sorry that this happened to you and your friends.

    I also would be happy to pay a telephonic or electronic or US postal call to the police department or to whomever else it would be useful to deliver a calculated rant. This story is all too familiar.

    Take care of yourself.

  42. j.b.t. says:

    Deland, I’m really sorry to hear about what happened and my heart goes out to you– I’m reeling from reading the article. I live in Minneapolis and am going to leave a message for police chief Dolan right now!


  43. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Yeah, deladela, there must be something we could do to back you up on this. Anybody in the TC area could give you a lift or pick up your groceries or bring you some soup or talk to the “bouncer” and get him/her to testify to the obvious HATEness of this crime. This is so horrible, deladela, I wish I could move to TC to drive you to physical therapy or something. I’m glad you told us. This is a good support Greek chorus.

  44. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Now I’m crying.

  45. j.b.t. says:

    Ok! I just called the MPLS police – 311, if you’re local and it’s not an emergency. I found out that a Sargent Garcia was in charge of the case and I just called him. He was busy but told me to email him and he’d get back to me within the hour. I’ll let you all know what he says!

    We had a violent crime occur in our family 10 years ago (my father was murdered protecting a neighbor from her abusive husband) and I have to say the Minneapolis police were really terrific.


  46. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    j.b.t, you’re a champ, and I’m really sorry about that happened to your father.

  47. Bechadelic says:

    OMG, j.b.t., I know that words will never be able to delete the horror of the past, but I must say that it sounds like your father was a brave and good man. I’m so sorry to hear that your family had to face such a tragic loss. For me this blog post held so much initial joy as I laughed at Alison’s innovative photograph. Now I’m just sad to read about such nasty experiences of other posters.

  48. Tom says:

    @hairball_of_hope (#16): Yes, lusophone (lusófono) is a fancy word for Portuguese-speaker, from “Luso” which is the word romans used for people living where today is Portugal. PS. I just love your comments.

    @judybusy (#21): Feel free to add a comment to any post on my blog (linked to my name above), and leave there your e-mail (if you want to, of course); it will not be published. I would gladly recommend some blogs and sites in Portuguese, but it would be nicer if I knew what subjects and themes interest you most. Seja bem-vinda, e um grande abraço brasileiro!

  49. Alex K says:

    GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES: Dorothy and Lorelei, with AB as D and me as L. (If only.)

    Remember Dorothy’s comparison of Lorelei to a radio? You listen to it for days on end and just when you want to throw it out the window, something smart comes out.

    That wonderful, monstrous poem. How could I not remember it when you were — so obviously womb-visiting?

    Into your own past and through and out and up again into the light… again, bring us back treasure.

  50. Alex K says:

    @ 32 / DLDL:

    I wish that I could hit them harder.

  51. Alex K says:

    @20 / Bechadelic:

    AB has answered you.

    Now all the trees / ARE bread and cheese / and what we drink /

    is ink.

    Ink, the medium of creativity, of otherness — in setting experience outside ourselves!, of permanence — in acknowledging our own transience.

    Ink is art, the transcendent, the everlasting. And AB drinks, although her lips are closed.

    That outward sign and stain indeed she bears — and yet doth it betoken inward grace?

  52. Bechadelic says:

    @ Alex K
    LOOL, I’m such a dodo, I was so caught up by the cleverness of execution of the photograph that I only just got the photographic reference to the rhyme that was ringing around in my head in the earlier blog post. Thanks for shining a light on that. AB has answered indeed and what an awesome answer it is. I sorta drink in what Alison writes, so technically, despite having a serious lack of artistic ability, I drink ink too he he.

  53. NLC says:

    Speaking of ink drinking

  54. Marj says:

    @32 DLDL: I’m so HORRIFIED to read about your ordeal. And j.b.t., too. And then Maggie and Ginjoint’s health issues…

    I trundle along in my safe little life; this blog brings me closer to the Real World than the world as I experience it. My heart goes out to you.

  55. Feminista says:

    DeLand and jbt: You have my sympathy. I wish you healing and peace.

  56. j.b.t. says:

    Hi All,

    Thank you for the condolences – it was 10 years ago and I’ve done much healing since then. So don’t worry about me – I’m ok. I get sad of course, and angry, sometimes, but I’m sure not the wreck I was! 🙂

    Sgt. Garcia (the officer on DeLand’s case) DID actually call me back from the MPD and he told me that there were no arrests made because the case involved “2 groups fighting with each other” and that “the broken leg was caused when Ms. DeLand slipped – it was not broken by an attacker.” He also said there was name calling, but not enough evidence (like witnesses) to prove it was a hate crime.

    Sgt. Garcia was patient and not condescending when answering my questions, but couldn’t give me any better answers than the ones above.


  57. Deland, I couldn’t get your link to open so did a Google search to find other accounts of the attack on your and your boyfriend. One of the sites had comments from folks trying to minimize what happened or defend the tavern employees. It was all too much. Well, it’s been a bad week in many ways.

    One thing I’ll admit here, among friends, is that when the Right argues “all violent crimes are hate crimes”, they’re right a lot of the time. When I look back at all the assaults aimed at me and folks I’ve cared for (I’ve been called faggot too many times too count, despite zaftig hips and largish breasts), it was always in the context of me/us being labeled “other” — not the acceptable norm. Expendable because it’s okay to hate “the other” in our world, and violence is built into esystem to keep us scared and compliant. To actually stop hate crimes will mean a revision of the whole system, and even “good” cops are attached to the system.

    So we’re left with the indecent, insane, offensive reality of having folks verbally defiled inside a bar, followed outside and attacked in view of apathetic witnesses so violently that a LEG IS BROKEN, and it’s dismissed as “two groups fighting with each other”. That description has encoded within it all the cues about who was the right color/gender and who was not.

    When the small community where we lived discovered the mother of my daughter was coming out as a lesbian, a guy pushed into her house one morning and raped her brutally, saying over and over “You fucking dyke, this will teach you.” She got pregnant from it and in some ways never got past it. She never reported it, either.

    I’m glad you and your friends fought back, Deland. I’m honored you trusted us with the story and impressed at how much you have recovered, it says worlds about you, that you have rejected an identity as victim. Thank you.

  58. Ian says:

    I’ve never been able to come to terms with man’s inhumanity to man and how people are able to do these things deliberately to punish people, just for being “other”.

    Deland and j.b.t., I really feel for you both. I’ve been bullied and verbally abused and even had bottles thrown at me in the street, but never anything like the pair of you have experienced. I hope you recover quickly, both mentally and physically.

  59. hairball_of_hope says:

    I find it incomprehensible that the MPD didn’t interview the “friend who checks IDs at the door,” as he was clearly a witness to at least part of the attack. “A friend who checks IDs at the door” means he’s being paid off the books, and/or the bar owner doesn’t want to admit any employee liability for him.

    Exactly how is it that if the attacker pushed DeLand to the ground vs. if she “slipped and fell” during the attack (exact same outcome), the broken leg is not a result of the assault if she simply slipped trying to get away from the attackers?

    If the MPD would at least come up with the identity of one of the attackers (interview the bouncer and get the name of the guy he knew), perhaps the attacker could be sued for civil damages. The standard of proof is lower in a civil case, and it’s often the only legal venue where a crime victim can win (e.g. Nicole Brown’s and Ronald Goldman’s families vs. OJ Simpson).

    Un grande abraço to DeLand and j.b.t.

  60. grumpy says:

    a year or so ago in mass three people were beaten outside of a bar, under similar circumstances. it actually made it to trial – and the judge gave the assailant community service.

  61. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Dear All,

    WOW, I’m really amazed and touched by the outpouring of support here…and I’m sorry that I didn’t come back to thank you all sooner!
    I’m also incredibly grateful to the people who have made offers here to call the MPD, and to those who have already done so. Since this happened in early December, I had become so despondent with how slowly the case was moving I had begun to give up hope that we were going to see justice. But your kindness has given me new hope, so here’s some information that might help:
    The investigator who has been working with me is Sgt. Mark Osland. He can be reached at 612-673-3705 (though you’ll probably get his voicemail.) I don’t think I’ve ever even spoken to the Sgt. Garcia that j.b.t was able to reach, nor did I know he was assigned to my case. I will say, however, that Sgt. Garcia got a few things wrong: this was not a case of “two groups fighting,” it was a case of me and my friends and my partner fighting back in self-defense and in defense of one another, after our assailants started beating my boyfriend around the head. My partner didn’t even fight back until our assailants started attacking the other people in our group.
    Also, I did not slip and fall down. I was thrown to the ground by one of our attackers while I was trying to pull him off my boyfriend.
    So, if any of you are inclined to make a call on our behalf, the most important things to stress are, 1. This was an assault, not a bar fight, and my injury was the result of being thrown to the ground, not falling. This is the statement I have given to every officer I have spoken to since this happened, and it can easily be found in the police report.
    2. If the inspector currently assigned to our case is not willing to visit the bar on a Saturday evening to apprehend the doorman–a witness to the attack–then the MPD needs to find an officer who is willing to do this. The owner of the bar has already been caught in a lie about this person. She claims that he is not an employee, just “a friend who checks IDs at the door,” but another employee of the bar has confirmed that he does work there. The police already have the doorman’s name and driver’s license information, but have made no attempt to find him.
    3. Finally, let them know that you are concerned about the outcome of this case because you don’t want to live in a community that tolerates hate crimes! And if you live in the Twin Cities area or know people who do, spread the word to boycott the U Otter Stop Inn. They’ve been deliberately standing in the way of a felony assault charge by lying to the police and concealing the identity of the doorman.
    My name, for those of you who haven’t checked our the story I linked here, is Lauren DeLand. The incident took place outside of the U Otter Stop Inn early in the morning of Dec. 6. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for not letting this die–now I think I need to go get in touch with Sgt. Garcia.

  62. Calico says:

    DeLand and j.b.t., a big hug for both of you (and DeLand’s friends affected by this awful hateful incident).

    I was able to access the article earlier using IE 8.
    Maggie, maybe try a different browser to view it?
    Mozilla Firefox seems to work when IE refuses to cooperate.

  63. Calico says:

    Doesn’t Obstruction of Justice=Felony?
    I was hoping for a boycott of this bar as well.
    These attackers need to be apprehended ASAP.

  64. hairball_of_hope says:


    I read a bunch of reports online about the incident (and thank you for trusting us with your real identity). Many of the comments (and I saw you responded to “Fail” on one of them) were absolutely stupid, including a bunch about how a concealed carry weapons law would have helped in this situation.

    From the comments section of several of many reports I read on the incident, I found a Minnesota Public Radio reporter who is looking to do a story on the incident. I don’t know if you’ve made contact with her, but it’s worth a shot:

    I’m a reporter with Minnesota Public Radio and am looking for contact information for the people injured in the incident and/or any witnesses. I can be reached at: 651-290-1021.

    Thank you,

    Madeleine Baran

    P.S. A while back I complimented your screen name as being the height of clever (“I’ll never look at another stick of butter the same way again.”), and now I see it’s REALLY clever. :).

  65. Kate L says:


    Deland… I will follow the news link you provided so I can read more details, but please allow me to convey my condolences! 🙁 In reading about such viscous attacks, I have to think that I have actually lived a charmed life… One time I’ve already talked about, when I was sexual assaulted but not raped by a man who turned out to have aids (and KNEW it); more recently, another man in a car seemed intent on running me down as I crossed with the light at an intersection as he was turning left. His speeding car came so close that his fender brushed the leg of my jeans as I frantically ran to get out of his way. The man had his eyes on me the whole time. A campus cop in a squad car saw all this, and pulled up next to me to inquire if I was alright (he thought that I had been hit). When I said that I was fine (but shaken), he said he’d try to find the driver, and slowly drove in the direction the man had gone. I would have thought that the officer would have radioed ahead or sped off with his sirens and lights on. But no.

    Another time that comes flooding back into my memory happened when when I had just passed my Ph.D. final exam at (Moo U) and went downtown to buy some shoes. I was walking out of the mall with my bag of new shoes, when a carload of young men pulled up and seemed to be trying to urgently talk to me. I thought they needed help, so I started to walk over to them, which only increased their agitation. That’s when I realized they were actually angrily shouting homophobic insults at me. Just then the light changed, and their driver drove off. I was left there with my shoes, thinking two things. One, the local LGBT organizations were telling the truth when they said there were homophobic hate crimes in our progressively little college town. Two, I had darned well better get out of there in case the car was just going around the block!

    Now, I need to follow the news story link about DD being assaulted. And to think, when I sat down here just now, I thought the big news would be that some young man called me “ma’am” this afternoon (must be my maternal appearance).

  66. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Hey Hairball,
    Just to let you know I did get in touch with Madeline Baran all the way back in December, and I did tell her the story, but as far as I know MPR never did anything with it. I made a file of all of the stories I was able to find online, and as far as accuracy goes they range from pretty good (the column blog) to seriously shoddy (the story written up in the MN Daily, the U of M student paper.) Fox News called me no less than three times the morning after my surgery on the leg, and I had to (very nicely) tell them that I wasn’t interested in talking to them, as I was pretty sure they just wanted me to say Barack Obama broke my leg (and maybe carved a backwards “B” into it…)
    I also wanted to say thank you to all of the people who have bravely shared their own stories about some of the very scary things you have had to survive…I knew that this blog wasn’t for sissies, and I’m inspired by your fortitude.

  67. Acilius says:

    @DD: “I knew that this blog wasn’t for sissies” Hey, some of my best friends identify as sissies!

    Anyway, best of luck. I hope the authorities get their act together and clear this whole thing up so you can live your life in peace.

    @Kate: Keep safe! [hugs]

  68. Anne Lawrence says:

    Damn. Dunno what to say. This is why we need to take action.

  69. Ready2Agitate says:

    Maggie, please tell me the perpetrator in the incident you relayed is in prison.

  70. Ready2Agitate says:

    DeLand, I’m ready to agitate on your behalf, girlfriend! I’ll leave a msg for Sgt. Osland on Monday. I’m not local, but I’ll be sure to let him know all of the points you list. (Perhaps others can do the same – he’ll take notice if he gets a dozen phonecalls.)

  71. Ready2Agitate says:

    I hope it’s no offense to link to something humorous. (How this [kosher] vegetarian ever got to smile at things bacon, I’ll never know… oh wait, I DO know – it’s a dykely thing, natch 🙂 )

    OK here it is, from the diabetes blog I read (hope it works):

  72. R2A, the rapist was never identified. My lover didn’t tell anyone for two months because, well, it was 1972, she was trying to keep custody of her kid and she thought this guy might have been aimed at her by her ex-husband, our 2-year-old daughter was in the next room when it happened, and I was 18 years old, not a lot of help. When she realized she was pregnant, she fed me a story about having found a sperm donor so we could have a child together.

    Abortion was not an option in her mind because her older sister (in this fundamentalist Baptist family ruled by their iron-fisted Air Force officer father) had gotten pregnant at 16 and had escaped via a shotgun wedding. When my lover likewise reached 16, she thought she’d use the same mechanism and deliberately got pregnant with her boyfriend. However, this time her father took her to the local Air Force base for a “check-up” where an obliging military doctor strapped her to the table, sedated her and aborted her baby. She couldn’t face it again.

    However, 4 months into the rape pregnancy, she miscarried and had a D&C, and fell apart emotionally, finally, telling me the whole story. I did the best I could, but we didn’t have anywhere near the resources to follow up on the case. She just wanted it all to go away.

    But of course, it didn’t. Not inside each of us.

  73. Marj says:

    In tears.

  74. Marj says:

    R2A – thanks for the link, right when I needed it! (I was reading upwards…)

  75. Ginjoint says:


    Maggie, j.b.t., Kate…such horrific experiences. Stories like these remind us all again about the danger of simply being female. Or, in the case of j.b.t.’s dad, trying to step in and simply help a woman who is in danger.

    DeDe, I’m going to call Sgt. Osland tomorrow (I have to work all day today, as I did yesterday; so I wasn’t able to check in and see your post sooner). Hate crimes are meant to terrorize a specific group, to “keep them in their place”, and you can bet that the lovely souls who attacked DeLand & friends are surely bragging about their triumph to others. This, in turn, spreads the message that one can easily get away with these kinds of assaults, should one have the desire. (I will be sure to point this out to the good sergeant.)

    But you all know that – I’m preaching to the choir here. I must be doing the internet equivalent of tense chatter. I am angry.

  76. Acilius says:

    @AB: I love this blog, too.

  77. Kat says:

    DeLand, I’m late to comment on your situation, but that’s partly because I’m horrified and can’t figure out what to say.

    I hope you’re healing physically, and that you and your friends get justice so that you can start healing emotionally/spiritually.

  78. Bechadelic says:

    @ AB and Acilius – I love, love, love this blog too!

  79. --MC says:

    The 1977 documentary “Word of Mouth” is being revived in New York this week.

  80. MC, thx for the link and the great news but the film is Word Is Out. It had a radical impact on my life, made me think of lesbian/gay in MUCH broader terms, was my first glimpses of Elsa Gidlow, Sally Gearheart, Dougie Dancer, and especially Trish Nugent whose songs I still sing to this day. The Adairs did a very good thing.

  81. freyakat says:

    The Adairs and also the young Rob Epstein, who went on to make other important lesbian/gay documentaries like “Paragraph 175” and “The
    Times of Harvey Milk”.

  82. --MC says:

    Would you believe, Maggie, that I actually had an anxiety attack this morning at two because I realized I’d written “mouth” instead of “out”?

  83. Acilius says:

    @–MC: I don’t know what Maggie’s beliefs are, but I for one am never surprised when one of the regulars at this blog is panic-stricken at the realization that s/he is guilty of a typo. I sometimes think that the little community we have here is what the legal profession might turn into in a utopian society where there were no lawsuits and the prevailing ethos insisted on mutual respect.

  84. Ready2Agitate says:

    Just left a voicemail for Sgt. Mark Osland. He can be reached at 612-673-3705.

    I said I was calling about the assault that occurred at the U Otter Stop Inn on Dec. 6th. That I don’t know the victims personally but had read about the incident over the weekend. That I am concerned that the MPD is not adequately protecting our community, and may not be taking assaults against women seriously, which causese me grave concern. I mentioned the 3 points that DeLand DeLakes suggests above (see comment #61) and requested a return call as soon as possible to update me on the status of the investigation.

    Will report back.

  85. Acilius says:

    Thanks for the update, R2A!

  86. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Thanks for the agitating, Ready 2, and everyone else who has taken the time to help with our case– words are not enough to express how grateful I am.

  87. […] Bechdel’s writing a new memoir (ooo, ahhh) and an image from her blog eerily resembles an image from Art Spiegelman’s Breakdowns: Portrait of an Artist as a Young […]

  88. Donna says:

    What a beautiful post (and accompanying drawing) about your dream. I love the word spelunking and what it means to spelunk is cool too. And thank you thank you thank you for pointing out Alex K’s connecting it to the poem “Diving into the Wreck”, it’s beautiful. I love this blog!