Mia was the singer of The Gits, who survived her death in various variations, and was a member of the Comet-centered Capitol Hill music scene here in Seattle of the early nineties, which ran parallel to but generally under the radar of the nationally-recognized scene here at the same time.
I had a long, sad conversation with indie filmmaker John Behrens shortly after her murder. We were seated outside at Café Paradiso, catty-corner from the illustrious Comet, the tavern where she’d spent her last few hours among friends. He’d just shot footage for a video that I think never made it out the door. Even though I’ve played in bands here on and off for at least a decade, I never got deeply involved in the ‘scene’ aspects of being a musician here; I’d been there, done that (mostly without being a player) at home in Bloomington, and never saw any real reason to exert myself in that direction here.
Consequently, and also because of Mia’s pronounced resemblance to my sister, her death came as a kind of echo to me, a painful reminder of my own loss (closer in time to Mia’s death than Mia’s death is to now). At the same time it was a parallel moment for many people that I knew here.
Heroin deaths notwithstanding, Mia’s death was the moment when Death’s wings first gently brushed the nape of the social circle of people I had nodding acquaintance with from nights at the Comet. As my sister’s death redirected my life, Mia’s death would redirect those of her peers as well. It was the end of childhood.
In more ways than one, as well – shortly after her murder, the city’s economy began to power up and the great majority of my neighborhood’s genteelly underemployed college graduates found themselves sucked into the go-go tech industry. College dropouts of my acquaintance fared less well, underlining the privileges of class that have grown stronger all my life.
Something about her death directed me away from that scene thereafter. I think it was both too close to my loss and at the same time a reminder of the price of community. People die, and you have loved them, and it will be forever painful. An awareness of the reality and inevitability of these losses led me to invest more energy in work than friends for many years, possibly including the present day.
To an extent, then, perhaps that’s a justifiable decision. I have, it seems, lost count of the numbers of drug deaths among my acquaintances. What, at least three heroin deaths since then, probably more.
Well, that was cheery, wasn’t it?