The Make Up’s “Save Yourself” (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

“I was frozen baby, cold to the touch, limbs from other bodies, I didn’t look like much, I was nothing baby and my blood was cold til you put your mouth to me and blew right out my nose. I was just a body until you gave me life and now I walk the earth… you’re my Dr. Frankenstein, oh yea.” — The Make Up


Creation, transformation, resurrection. Second chances, new life. Being saved. Saving yourself. Betwixt our birth and our death are countless itty-bitty births and do-over deaths. We bloom, we wither, we bloom again. Our existence is filled with entrances and exits. We hover in silky cocoons (regrouping, rethinking, investing, in wait) and then the itch between the shoulder blades — a surprised unfurling! The cocoon cracks open and we emerge with wings like Frida paintings. This REANIMATION is the persistent miracle of human experience. The hurt and the heal… a progression of spirit.

“If I’m alive now then I was dead, though like a stone unbothered by it. Staying put according to habit.”  Sylvia Plath

“I wept because I had lost my tears and I was not yet accustomed to their absence.” Anais Nin

“Hopeful as a lizard pulling clean from an old skin.” Barbara Kingsolver

” ‘Oh my god’, she cried, ‘I never knew what it meant to be real! I never let the sweetness or the horror or the dignity penetrate my brain.’ ” James Douglas Morrison

“There was preserved in her the fresh miracle of surprise.”  JDM (Yes, the Lizard King.)

The above quotes may be slightly off, a word here or there, as I have plucked them from my 4am brain. By now they are practically prayers… I’ve carried them for 20+ years as though they were the secret to the universe. Each letter a bead on my pixie stick rosary, each word a bone in my girl-body spine. They are MINE. Please appreciate what I am sharing. The recipe for my prize-winning ee cummings “eyes big love crumbs” cookies. I am letting you sleep in my luxurious bed — with me in it, taking up voluptuous room. We snooze bum-to-bum and dream of clouds shaped like raucous church organs. I am letting you hold the golden compass; you are stroking the orangey-pink pelt of my fox familiar. I have stocked the freezer with cherry jubilee. I am lulling you to sleep with my krishna chant; your bedtime story is the dream I’m already asleep & dreaming. Listen! The Make Up is ROCKING a dark smoky club; the stage flickers with hypnotic illuminations; Ian writhes and testifies! We dance in the rhythmic hive, the crowd abuzz, and I let you (why I hardly know yee!) grind your soft-pulse-stiffening against my ass of greedy proportions. DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND WHAT I AM HOLDING IN MY HAND? I am offering you a sequin mer-scale plucked from my tailbone, the edge jagged from once it laid, crusted with DNA. If you were a hoodoo huckster, you could perpetrate some voodoo violence. But you would never be so profane. Safe from cruel eye curses, the sacrosanct flesh-rind of my fish-femme sacroiliac.

“Why,” you may ask, “is all that worth this goddamn much to you?”


We are all unbothered stones who recognize the magnitude of our death once suddenly alive. All cried out and cringing in the new light, with headachey eyes that flooded & keened until all that was left was life. Again. Anew. We have all called out with a great A-HA! as the mystery comes into focus. We have all sworn to never lose the profundity of that moment. But it blurs as it must — midwife to the A-HA! Above all things, I have lived to be that girl of continuous surprise. For that extraordinary seizing BONK! to be preserved in me. A yellow canary named “Eggyolko-ono” in my rib cage — a JOLT! of snapping flapping feathers. As a girl wonder, adrift and alive, all my aspirations fall under that umbrella which — POP! — has just opened with a dandy’s flourish.

This shit is SPOOKY KABUKI, it’s the very essence of Punk Rock Gospel. The Make Up even describes their sound as “Gospel Yea-Yea.”


The Make Up– totem band for an Alphabetfiend! A carnie-queen lipstick shamaness circus freak! Hell yea! Let’s undulate! It’s a glam saint rosary rock speaking in tongues writhing snake-handler deep south baptist punk psalms sound…. oh yea-yea ya-ya.

Discord Records testified to the band’s spirited synergy:

Make-Up’s performances have been characterized by the freneticism, catharsis and spirituality of what can only be described as GOSPEL MUSIC. They are a total departure from the boring pantomime of rock ‘n’ roll as we know it, inflicting a sublime theatre on their audience which resembles a baptism, or perhaps an orgy. Their ‘singer’ is typically employed as a lead-chanter, while the others perpetrate a rhythmic drone on the subjects of their “Rhythm Hive”.

a fresh puff of powder, a smear of cherry gloss, a coat of black mascara… a new look, a new start, a new way. Transformation is the order of the day with The Make Up’s Rock & Roll HOLLER. HELLO!

“When I see you again, I hope that you have been the kinda person that you really are now.” Sly Stone

5 Responses to “The Make Up’s “Save Yourself” (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)”

  1. gammaword Says:

    Did it again, din’ ya? Smokin’ stuff here. I realize when I read one of these — what to call them? messages from everywhere? an animation of the Universal glimmering? — that you are so sure-footed that I let you carry me down the rocky hill on your back, while the to-and-fro sway overlooking the sheer cliffs, which should be alarming — isn’t. This line — “your bedtime story is the dream I’m already asleep & dreaming” — so much of Ouroboros in that, regenerative and eternal, but with a light, light touch. And the cherry jubilee — the combination of the lusciousness of the dessert itself, with the echo of Baptist in that “jubilee.” Mmm. Yum-ster. I’ve said this before but — oh, it was that other Sunday AM one — I don’t so much parse your words as I do dream them, or they dream me, or something — the thoughts and images sort of dart in and out of me, like fish. And sometimes you see their quicksilver scales bright, catching light, and other times they turn tail and slip away into the dark part of the water — you know they’re there, you just don’t know when they’ll come darting back.

    I did get stuck parsing one line, which I don’t understand — “We have all sworn to never lose the profundity of that moment. But it blurs as it must — midwife to the A-HA!” I know that swearing, and I know that blurring. What I don’t get is how all that is midwife to the A-HA.

    But it sorta doesn’t matter — I’m enjoying my little aquarium. Thank you.

  2. gammaword Says:

    Oh, and the fact that you do this in the context of talking about a band — A-HA!!

  3. alphabetfiend Says:

    What I love about the cherry jubilee line is yes, it works beautifully here, linguistically, metaphorically, but it’s also a very real thing emotionally. Thirteen years ago I started keeping Cherry Jubilee ice cream in my freezer for my BF Carly b/c it’s her favorite. This is such a comfort to her, such a valentine, that when she visits she goes straight to the freezer and then when it’s there (it always is) she sighs with delight. It’s about being loved and spoiled… catered to. Yet it totally works without the context of Carly’s love proof. But if she reads this she’ll sigh like she’s looking at a frosty tub of ice cream.

    The blur is midwife to the A-HA! b/c if it never blurred again, if we stayed in that crystal clear moment, we’d never get a new A-HA! The blur helps carry us to the break through. Ouroboros again… in that it’s a cycle, a circular process. We fight the blur or the death or the unbothered stone but without it there’d be no clarity, birth or motion. We need the full range in order to appreciate the parts. I tell myself to hold onto the A-HA! but if it never slipped away I couldn’t be that girl with preserved surprise. It has to slither off so that it can sneak up on me again.

    My hope is that you could find something in it for you, something that spoke to your changes… the tearing down and rebuilding that you’re doing. I tried to stick that arrow in the bow for you.

  4. alphabetfiend Says:

    To be fair, the band is MAKE UP — hard not to heed Ian’s caterwaul call!

  5. gammaword Says:

    This is a mind-bender and I love it! Thanks for spelling it out for my addled brain. Been chewing on it for days.

    – an unbothered stone, for now

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