Courtney Love @ The Catalyst (10.28.2004)


I went because…

1. I wanted to see the Queen of Disaster and Devastation with my own eyes.
2. I was curious to see who would still pay to watch her perform.
3. If she did something shocking or unseemly in my town, then I wanted to be there to witness it.
4. Chances were good that she’d give me at least an experience worth writing about.
5. I wanted to glare at her from the third row; cursing her for whatever role she played (intentionally or inadvertently) in the death of a particularly fragile icon.
There was another reason, of course, but until she came out onto the stage, tossing roses to the crowd and adjusting the straps of a slinky white dress two sizes too small,  until I pushed my way up from our comfortable little table, weaving behind a broad-shouldered stranger, until I was at the center of the crowd, only five bodies back from the edge of the stage, until she lit her first of many cigarettes and held it aloft in the same hand that clutched the microphone stand, until she belted out the first lines of “Asking For It”

every time that i sell myself to you / i feel a little bit cheaper than i need to

well I couldn’t have told you that reason, couldn’t have even guessed or more precisely, remembered, that I went to see her play on Thursday night, because there was a time when those heavy chords and ragged screams gave voice to a pain and rage I had not yet found a voice for.

So there I stood, on Thursday night, squashed into the center of stage-pressing crowd, noticing, not for the first time, how reserved I get in such situations, not wanting to dance because those around me were dancing stupidly, not wanting to sing along because those around me were screaming out lyrics with religious fervor. Then, catching me completely off guard, the first chords of Violet were struck and an electric charge shot from the soles of my feet to the top of my skull. By the time she reached the fourth line, I hardly noticed that my mouth was open and I was screaming along with the rest of them “you should learn how to say no!”. I don’t know if I can really explain how base and primal that felt, but somehow, in that moment, she was Mother and we were nursing from her tainted teat.

There was no logic to the thing. I mean, how dare she stand up there old and fat, with her tits hanging out, and a serious girdle visible beneath that clingy white dress? How dare she prop her stocking-clad foot on the speaker box and hike up her skirt as if people cared to catch a glimpse beneath it? How dare she behave as she does, vulgar, violent and unapologetic, while we must go about our polite little lives wishing (on rare or frequent occasions) to let go as well, to scream and rage, to be impolite and ugly without consequence?

But of course, that’s it; the mix of adoration and disgust, an explanation for that taste of mother’s milk;you see,  in some deep, dark corner of myself, I too long for devastation; I too want to be the girl with the most cake, and every once in a while, you have to purge that shit, so you can go along your way and not become Courtney Love.

{This piece was originally posted five years ago at and got me my first paid writing gig.)

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