The (white) American Experience and the Music of Lana Del Rey

The Maenad

The music of Lana Del Ray reminds me most of that half mythical, half hallucinatory post-American twilight zone between Los Angeles and Tucson Arizona.  A brazen inner landscape accessible in wholeness only to those Americans most touched by that hollow, and vapid sort of innate inaccessibility that is common to those overwhelmed or inurned by the white experience

For this high plane of high plains, drifting and tumbleweed driftwood of the mystic historical experience is a canon kept in the hearts of those raised blanc, a seed growing deep in the brains of the Caucasian.  This realm of the white American experience, itself purged of all thoughts of failure, or postcolonial responsibility, seems to stretch forth into everlasting future eons, like some shiny chrome new Christian denomination.

We shall henceforth call this realm the Airstream, or perhaps more accurately the Airstream Turkey, though for that interpretation I shall have to direct you to the works of that other inveterate sage of the American monstrosity Tom Robbins[1]

The Airstream realm is, in the planes of the intellectual and metaphysical abstract is most manifestly NOT the same realm as the often longed for (by some), seldom seen (by anyone, thank fuck) imaginary realm called (by me mostly) Whitelandia

Whitelandia is a terrifying and silly place; it is some sort of LSD folk memory born out of comfortable but intellectual and spiritually empty middle class people born after the second world war (henceforth called Boomers; depending on your frame of reference they are either Your kind-of-homophobic Parents, or Your definitely-Racist Grandparents, season to taste ).  In Whitelandia no one exists who is not a middle class white slag head who watches television and Drinks Beer All Day. There are no other options in Whitelandia, or maybe there are I dunno.

Whitelandia is the place I long for most of white America to go. 

As in “Go back to Whitelandia  you stupid fucking cracker.” 

Whitelandia is, or seems to be, “Great America” if you follow me. Whitelandia is a never-never land that never existed and never will save inside bullshit razor texts which some school boards, heavily weighted by Republican money and very unchristian values, pass off to students, teachers, parents, and each other as history texts.

The racism of the Airstream is strange, flat and almost memetic,. Subtler, perhaps, and – maybe– less insidious.    The place is not all Raygun gothic, though it far more Bradberry than it is Gibson. Not it is not all shiny chrome and aspirations, but if you are capable of even hereditary “Access” to Whitelandia and you have an imagination, it’s not hard to see everything in the Airstream as being shiny chrome and wonderous.  But those are rose coloured sun glasses dear, staring up into the brilliance of a New Mexican mushroom cloud.  A brilliant test bed orange to fix our make up in. 

Like Bradberry’s mars, there are few people in the Airstream. And those you meet are all “on the way somewhere else.”  The Airstream is America as liminal space. JFK lives forever here. Probably with a few fingers inside Norma Jean, a pair of postmodern dying and reviving gods, forever fornicating, and dying, stepping out with assassins and the FBI, feeding each other pills and holding their brains inside their head grunting furiously within a considerably less cockroach infested Whiteyhouse than the one we have here in hell in the real world.

The Airstream is not Whitelandia…but it is as I say adjacent;  if you aren’t careful and stay overlong in the right Rocket themed roadside motel you may wake up in Sundown Law Country.  The two realms are freely accessible to most people in the US raised white with at least a passing belief in their own inherent middle class value (yes people really think like this, bear with me) and let me tell you that is a LOT of people.           Yes obviously 71 million.  Though honestly most of the so-called other team also, or the dems would have had to do …something long ago.

I meander which is kind of what happens if you dwell on the details of Del Ray’s music.  Like exposure to some pulp fiction sanity blasting eon beast of the black abysses of purple prose and darkest night, looking directly into the face of this billowing atmosphere of pure …wan-ness (I had to look that up. Wan-ness. Wan-itude?)

It’s being stoned in a tidal pool actually. Just …do it.  Hang. Let it flow over you.

Lana Del Ray’s music is the like the force.   Yes. Full of no explanations but much lore.

Lana Del Rey?

I think she’s high priestess of the Stern One from planet Steel Spine and if she turns her head shit will come flying off.   Vorpal alien thing.  Not really human.

Possibly even a Reptilian.

Libel?  Never met her?  I was in Tacoma. “on an errand,” you know.

But her music is very much like doing drugs. Not as good but you know, when you live in dry times or just over 30

If you drink (or smoke. My Bacchus-bitch is not a picky eater) just start now.  Drift out when the clouds are persistent and keep that late September sun off your rotting human body as you lay back, pickle, and contemplate Norman Mailer

Or something.

White people…

In private, when that mood comes Do big fat rails of her music, but avoid her like the plague.  She’s def. a kitten eating Reptile. Her music will only destroy whatever is left of your mucous membrane.

But like Evanescence, tell no one.

The Sandmen are trying to kill me,

I’m way the hell over 30

Put the tape on erase

                        The Maenad

[1] You can tell it’s scholarly as there are footnotes!  Skinny Legs and All is an extremely dated very good book that nonetheless was one of maybe five things that resonated deep enough in me to – in some sense – form part of my personal spiritual practice. Have you heard the good news about Salome?


The Maenad (She/Hers) Transgender Goddess, an activist, artist, poet, publisher, sex worker, and author of creative non-fiction, erotica, fantasy, and science fiction.

Her work has appeared @corporealitmag @engendered @gutslutpress @fahmidanjournal @redplanetmag @wickedgayways @365tomorrows, within the Gongfarmer’s Almanac and on Madwomen in the Attic.

Her first chapbook, a work of trans erotic liberation, the Ishtar Cycle, is available from @lupercaliapress

Find her @dreaminggynoid on Twitter and @scarlet_maenadum on IG.

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