On the morning of our interview, Shocked went public about our dispute. "I hate to take this to Twitter, but Ian is attempting to strong-arm me over a matter of principle and I have no reason to acquiesce," she wrote. Now her fans and haters were weighing in on whether it was reasonable to require a recorded interview or not. And just before my plane to Burbank took off, the news stories started to appear.

"Michelle Shocked To Promote Herself With Free Concert During Pride, S.F. Examiner Op-Ed," went the SFist headline. The bottom of the site's first story included this bit: "It sounds like Shocked has already figured out she could get played by the media. Now she's claiming that 'ProJo' writer/SFWeekly music editor Ian Port's request to record their interview is an attempt to strong arm her. (Into what, exactly?)"

In trying to get a story, I had become a part of the story. The same thing happened to Vogt. The previous week, he'd written, "June 30 is the last day of SF Pride Celebration. Watch @SFWeekly @sfexaminer & @sfbg for full details on @MShocked free concert." But news of the concert had been greeted with outrage, and soon Vogt was defending himself, trying to shape the narrative other media were using to report on him. "Maybe we challenged Michelle Shocked to come to SF, answer for what was said/reported, face her fans & foes alike and perform for free?" he Tweeted on June 17. "Nah. couldn't be just that."

As the story grew, his stream of Tweets became harder to parse. When he said that "People need to take responsibility and be held accountable for what they say and what they do," Vogt was presumably talking about Shocked, but others would hold him to the same standard, another illustration of the conventional limits of Twitter in conveying a complex situation. This controversy spawned from the original one, like a fractal. You could imagine it replicating endlessly from itself, each part the pattern for the whole.

I landed in Burbank and walked off the plane into the hot sun. There was a voicemail on my phone from a 323 number I didn't recognize. I'd hoped it was Shocked. But when I called back, it was Trilling. Shocked wasn't coming, he said; instead, he was going to meet me, and we were going to have a "chat."

We met in the sweltering parking lot of a Fry's Electronics near the Burbank airport. Trilling looks kind of like a mad scientist, with longish curly hair, little round glasses, and an intense expression. He drove me through Burbank to a Cuban restaurant. When we sat down in the air-conditioning, he pushed aside the little table placard, and tried, once again, to get me to change my mind.

"You're in an awkward position here," he said, reminding me that press interviews have been conducted since the beginning of time without tape recorders. "You're really okay with coming down here and not getting the story?"

"I am." I already knew what her stock responses about the Yoshi's comments would be. What I wanted was to go deeper than Tweets and prepared statements.

I reminded Trilling that Shocked had given numerous recorded interviews to other media besides Piers Morgan, and that she doesn't exactly speak in the most concise, clear manner. Even if I took excellent notes, it would still be very easy to take her out of context, or misinterpret a key piece of one of her long, circuitous tirades. That how this whole thing started, back at Yoshi's. Short notes wouldn't much help the kind of deeper examination I wanted to do anyway. Trilling then said that she had wanted to record the interview — but only if she retained the sole copy of it.

After 20 minutes, we both got tired of talking in circles. We finished the meal and he drove me back to the airport. Michelle stayed at her apartment in downtown L.A., and I got no interview. Soon Shocked was bragging about the saga on Twitter, calling the failed meeting "a metaphor for dry-humping." She was proud not to have talked. She regarded me as the enemy from the start, and in her mind, I guess she won.


After our interview attempt failed, things soured between her and Vogt as well. Eventually he pulled the plug on the free concert and apologized.

Later that week, Shocked released most of her email correspondence with Vogt and me to a circle of friends, who then passed them to other media. Some of those media outlets wrote stories pointing to a dissonance between Vogt's emails and his public statements, mostly about whether the concert and ad was his idea or hers. As far as I know, the ad was the idea of a sales representative at our sister paper, the Examiner, who first pitched it to her. Vogt is an excitable guy who likes the spotlight, and he clearly recognized an opportunity when it came along.

Despite Vogt's emailed promises to Shocked about an SF Weekly cover story, the interview was the idea of the editors. It was decided on our side (and independent of Vogt) whether and how it should be conducted. I knew going into this that Shocked was erratic and capable of doing anything, including publicizing all of our background negotiations. But as with one small piece of any story, those emails don't tell the whole thing. They're only a little better than Tweets — slightly longer statements for the media maw to chew up and regurgitate, sometimes adding a little context and understanding, often not.

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20 comments
bluedye33139
bluedye33139

The psychoanalytic term for Shocked's paranoid behavior is "projective identification," in which a person's personality functioning requires certain things from people around him or her, so the person behaves in such a way that pushes people into oppositional or condemnatory behaviour so that the person can explode into a self-defensive meltdown and shriek "You are persecuting me! You are attacking me! See! See!"

Vernet
Vernet

wow.... much worse than anything ms might have said or thought is how various people in this forum argue that not being mainstream makes you irrelevant artistically... citing zeppelin as a counter-example, as if there was any basis for comparison, as if zeppelin would have played yoshi's. these people actually believe that fame is some sort of quality approval seal. they probably own spice girls records and are swayed by catch phrases on special k and toothpaste. so much for the idea that the SF Bay is a place slightly less stupid than others. sad world we live in.

Vernet
Vernet

understandable that the journalist would want to record it and that she wouldn't, given the fray. it's a tough one. interesting how long this article was while mostly talking other written material. it's basically controversy analysis.  michelle shocked is still cool whatever she said, believes. she's eloquent and rambles on, she can confuse you and maybe herself sometimes, who cares? she's not only about making sense. her music gets to be really groovy like some songs on texas campfire tapes and kind hearted woman.  it was just a moment, a single aspect of her life that has little to do with her music overall. the public's feeding frenzy reminds you of the clinton-monica lewinsky scandal. americans are obsessed with sex and religion.  prince, and d'angelo are bonkers because of the sex & religion. jj rousseau supposedly was a wife beater. no need to condone that but no need to focus on it either. just like you don't focus on prince's megalomaniac born again ways or how he and d'angelo make a show of their typically christian ambivalence about sex in their music. shocked's music is not only dear to the homosexual community, the whole thing can be treated as a nonissue unless you've got (like me, obviously) lots of spare time. maybe she'll want to experience some general silence, a paradigm shift, get the verbal communication out of her head, focus on the music. be like the black keys, those guys seem to not get involved with too much analysis. and they're discreet, they don't spill out their guts too much, at least that's the impression they give. it's just a different style, it's not all bad to be a jello biafra or michelle shocked, in fact it's very cool too but it must be draining. maybe she could switch to the understated style of her country blues heroes, simple lyrics, simple metaphors for a while. communicate just through music. in her defense michelle shocked is liable to answer a listener's letter, albeit by hand. i once wrote to her asking something specific about kind hearted woman and she actually sent a postcard back in the mail, how cool is that?  hope this thing blows over eventually and she gets back to touring. she could put new music and videos on patreon.com,  reinvent herself to a new crowd for a while, and see what happens. 

JackJett
JackJett

I always wonder how much $$ a cult level artist like Shocked makes.  I found the story interesting since I have been fascinated with the relationship between media and their subjects since we were all lead to a war with chatter heads from all walks of media.  While in the world of Celebrity, Shocked is not even as relevant as the inventor of the Mood Ring, I found this story interesting as to how the media is even interested in getting in bed with another sexually confused homophobic christian.  Here in Texas, they are a dime a dozen and can be found often 1/2 off....their fucking rocker.

anon
anon

I saw another story about this when it happened, someone claimed that the secret recording of her around a campfire was not not done in that fashion - which if true, seems to fit with her apparent desire to be at the center of controversy


Rojotoro
Rojotoro

Apropos of nothing perhaps, but I remember reading a story about Siouxsie once, and how she said when she was a young English punk she and a bunch of friends had gone over to France I believe, and it was to protest something. Symbolizing her disgust with whatever they were protesting she had decided to dress or don in some form clothing, or a hat with Nazi symbols on it. 

Message being, the people or entity she was protesting were behaving like Nazi's.

But when she got to the protest, a large crowd had gathered and somehow people misinterpreted her reasons for the Nazi symbolism and she ended up getting her ass kicked.

Lesson, if there is one, is to always be careful when reaching for that third rail, what you say, and what you mean can get misunderstood and quickly result in unintended consequences.

All that said M.S. is an also ran, never was, third rate no one. This whole thing reminds me of Pelosi's response yesterday when asked to respond to Michelle Bachman's comments regarding DOMA:

She said "Who cares ?"

Indeed.




Wilson Ww
Wilson Ww

i read the whole article to try and understand the situation better. unfortunately, she still seems like a (difficult) nutter. as a good friend said about her (when the Yoshi's scandal broke) "I never liked that fucktard".

Dean Jones
Dean Jones

It's sad to see the trend of people being stupid and then claiming that their free speech is being impinged or that they are misunderstood. If people remember, Socked went through this back in the 80's when she tried to wear blackface on the cover of her album Arkansas traveler and then wrote a rambling letter included in her CD about the significance of Minstrel Music in the U.S. she's just a nut, and needs help.

Robert la Bohème
Robert la Bohème

Is anyone clicking through five pages of this nonsense? I'm not.

塞繆塞繆
塞繆塞繆

Blah blah! Fuck her! She want us to say it ok! She can screw her self!!!!!

Glen Jasper
Glen Jasper

Short, sharp, shockingly irrelevant.

studiesincrap
studiesincrap

Is it really Twitter's character limit that's the problem? Or is that Michelle Shocked and Todd Vogt, both professional communicators, somehow have no ability to understand how their words will be received by other human brains?

commun5
commun5

Njudah and Chipper:  Check out MShocked's Twitter page and you will see why such an article is necessary to convey the Byzantine qualities of this situation.

Chipper
Chipper

I agree with NJudah, "wow" is about that all that can be said in response to such a self-indulgent and self-referential piece.

Mr. Port should be writing academic semiotic analysis instead of attempting to be a journalist.

njudah
njudah topcommenter

Wow, first the Guardian has their writers writing about themselves, now the Weekly? What happened? When do we get back Actual Journalism?

emily577
emily577

As upsetting and frustrating as this sad chapter has been for myriad reasons, it's important for everyone commenting on it to stick to the facts. It's simply not true that Shocked was "an also ran, never was, third rate no one." You can call her third-rate if you want--that's your opinion. But she was not a "no one." She was big news for being a big talent, and she mattered.

Rojotoro
Rojotoro

@emily577 I guess my response would be relative to what, or whom ?She's hardly a household name, and likely generated the most publicity of her career only as it evaporated for something other than her music. 

I think Led Zeppelin was a musical act that was big, and mattered.

Michelle Shocked ? Not so much.



 

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