I met Alison at a Die Princess Die show almost three years ago. Our mutual friend Christopher introduced us. “You’ll really hit it off,” he said. “You both write about music.” He and Alie and their friend Rhadeka had driven up from Santa Barbara, where they all lived, to see another band, but they stayed at my insistence for DPD. Alie liked them, as any lover of rock & roll would. After the show, she posted a comment on their MySpace page: a swarm of razor blade butterflies to the face. fuck yeah. Her metaphor was right on the money—DPD did sound like a swarm of razor-blade butterflies to the face—but Alie’s face was lightly scarred here and there, so in that way it was a bit disconcerting. I never asked her about the scars. I never asked her anything about her past, knowing through Christopher that she was in recovery, and not wanting to put her on the spot.
Throughout the summer of 2006, we sporadically corresponded. I saved all her messages. Were we flirting? Maybe a little, to keep things interesting. In July, I met her downtown one night to see, among other bands, the Pope; and in August she wrote: christopher, rhadeka and i are all going to tangier tonight for bryan’s reading. can you go? it’d be nice to see you and you can check my new bleach blonde hair AND my new unicorn tattoo. Bryan was and is a poet; another mutual friend. I drove to Tangier, where I first ran into Christopher, who said that Alie and Rhadeka were excited about seeing me. “They really like you,” he said. Alie, when I saw her, looked great. She had indeed bleached her hair white, though I don’t remember seeing her tattoo. Nor do I entirely remember my actions that night, but there’s a clue in the comment she posted the next day on my MySpace page: aggressive hugs and aggressive jokes. all my other friends humor and affection is total pussy bullshit now. thanks a lot. My friend Sarah teased me about that comment, referring to me as “bully boy.” A week later I did a reading from my novel, and I invited Alie, who wrote back a few days later: i was washing dishes at the cafe where i work during your reading. but don’t worry – i pictured it in my mind.
That September, she published a piece in Skyscraper magazine, which also featured an interview, conducted by someone else, with Die Princess Die. I, too, had recently published a piece about DPD, in the now-defunct zine Big Wheel, and I gave Alie a copy when I met her and Rhadeka for coffee at a Silver Lake Starbucks. At one point she mentioned that she didn’t like spending time in L.A. after her tumultuous history there—an obvious allusion to her alcoholism, and the only one, to me at least, she ever made. Still, that was as much as she said, and I didn’t push for more, again not wanting to put her on the spot. I invited her to the Echo the following week to see DPD, but she wrote back: so i cant make it on sunday – but ill be in town on the 7th of october. i read your stuff in big wheel. you’re funny… On another occasion she wrote: when are we starting our magazine?
But she was moving to San Francisco, or so she’d said when we had coffee in September, and I figured that, once she moved, I’d probably never see her again. She last wrote to me on November 10, 2006:
the pope is playing on monday at the il corral. apparently they are also playing christmas day at the north pole. but i think it would be better if we just planned on going to the l.a. show, because getting a flight to north pole on christmas can really be a bitch.
I ended up seeing another band that night with my friend Pete. Alie left me a phone message, which I failed to return, though I did later write to apologize. She never wrote back, and a month later, checking MySpace one morning, I found this message, posted by Rhadeka, on the bulletin board:
To All Friends of the Beautiful Aliebeth (aka Alison Meeder)
Alison passed away yesterday. She had been unreachable by phone or email since Tuesday, so last night three of us who speak with her daily went to her house to make sure she was okay. We found her in her bedroom.
Alison was a smart, beautiful, and as we all know, hysterically funny woman. She was also a severe alcoholic. After one year of sobriety she began drinking again, and tragically did not make it through this last binge. I am doing everything I can to keep the image of the sarcastic unicorn loving beautiful girl in my head, because the person I saw last night was not our Aliebeth.
Alie, I hope you are at peace, and I bet there are all kinds of heavy metal unicorns where you are now.
She was twenty-seven years old. Her MySpace page still exists. It says that she last checked in on December 12, 2006. It announces her current age as thirty. Her “default image” is of a humanoid robot and a robotic-looking unicorn standing side by side in a heavenly mist. Robots, in theory, don’t die. Unicorns never existed. And why the fascination with unicorns in the first place? At one time, I would’ve taken a Freudian approach. Horses were associated with masculinity—i.e., “strength”—in ancient Greece, and the addition of a horn seems obviously phallic. But horses are fragile. Without human intervention—and even then—a fractured leg can easily prove fatal. A predator attacking a fleeing herbivore will often go first for the legs, aiming to maim it. The imaginary horn supplies a defense otherwise lacking.
So Alie’s choice of symbols have come with time to make sense to me. Her early death has not.
A reedited version of this piece appears in the nonfiction collection Subversia.