An Irregular Column
[Introduction:] It’s hot. Over a hundred. Stickier than swinger’s bedsheets. Too hot for underpants, has been for weeks. The sweat bu
ilds up. Walking, taking the train, sitting at the computer. It collects on my back. Invisible rivulets, channelled to the brown hole. Then it spreads. Chafing, sandpapered by the sweat. Before I know it, a pink fan of chafe, sweeps in a perfect semi-circle a hand’s width from the hole. I can hardly walk for the pain.
Yesterday, I didn’t notice the pain, either in the asshole or the chafe around it. Now I do. It hurts. It didn’t gradually build up. It just went
from not hurting to hurting. There was a time when it started to itch. When it just felt uncomfortable, but didn’t hurt. I could’ve stopped, dropped pants, washed off, dried carefully. I didn’t. So now I can’t walk ’cause my ass hurts so much.
[Part 1:] Bob Conrad predicted I’d write about GG. He was right. GG died last week. His last show– at the gas station– was the most violent I’d ever seen. I wrote about it for The New York Press. Here’s what I wrote:
GG followers pack the abandoned service station. Bobby Ebbs shows off his back to a reporter. It’s tattooed with the poster from A Clockwork Orange. A big kid, built like a football player, swigs from a Colt 45 forty-ouncer. Another kid, not older than 14, plays with his just-died green hair. Donny The Punk shows up in his sailor suit, sporting a fresh herpes sore on his upper lip. A curious college boy sits by himself among the metal art. He’s playing silent brooding intellectual. It’s a freak show: Scummy and proud.
“Will this be the show where he kills himself?” asks the 14 year old.
Todd Phillips, GG’s film biographer answers, “I hope not. When he goes, he’s gonna take an AK-47 and bring the audience with him.”
GG pushes into the performance space. He wears only a jockstrap, and boots. Soon, he ditches the jockstrap. Starting with a new song called “I Am The Highest Power,” he complains about the microphone.
“You’re just a pussy!” shouts a young man, with scraggly blond hair.
GG turns “I’m a pussy?” he shouts.
He takes the microphone and slams it into the side of the young man’s head. Bang! The blond crumples. A trickle of blood drips from his forehead. Someone grabs the body by the legs and pulls it off the performance floor, dumping it on the gravel outside.
“I’m a pussy! I’m a pussy!” shouts GG, banging his head into the metal doors that had once opened into the garage. GG’s bloodflow is heavier than that of the blonde boy. It spiderwebs over his face, coming together in a red smear over his chest.
Then something else happens. The crowd bunches in one corner. A loud smacking comes from the middle.
“Alright, show’s over.” yells an authoritative voice.
A bearded young man runs through the side door. His hand presing his left eye. Blood oozes between the fingers. More banging. People explode out of the building, running backwards, away from the naked GG.
One, two, three, four. The wounded stagger out, pushed in a bloody path by the force of the crowd.
Outside, the adrenalin still pumps. The guitarist from an opening band hurls a bottle at a passing car. The football-player sized kid runs up to a passing bus. He climbs on the front bumper. Then he smashes his fists against the windshield. The terrified driver plows ahead, throwing him to the side.
Bottles fly overhead. GG is out on the street, still naked. He hugs a lamppost, smashing his head into it. Then he walks toward his fans. They scatter, tripping over each other in the scramble to get out of the way.
The blood, now in torrents, pours down GG’s body. Sirens ring in the background. GG crosses the street, walking quickly. A dozen police cars pull up from all sides. Cops get out, only a few in helmets.
“Put the bottles down.” comes the voice from the loudspeaker. A few half-hearted bottles land near the copcars. Then it’s over. The punks and the kids walk away. Quietly. An injured girl, sits on the sidewalk. Blood dribbles into a rag pressed against her shaven head.
The first casualty is awake now. “Wow! What a show!” he says.
GG gets away. Naked, covered in blood. He gets away. This is Sunday.
Monday afternoon, my phone rings. It’s GG’s brother, Merle.
“GG passed away this morning,” he says. Such a coy euphemism about a man who detested euphemisms.
It’s over. After Geraldo, a year and a half in jail, his picture in the mainstream press, and a national tour, GG died in his sleep from a heroin overdose.
His fans said he was God. They were close. Pure id, GG refused to bend to any rules. He lived through pain, coma, hospital and jail. He was afraid of none of them. Free of fear, he was absolutely free to do what he wanted. What he wanted to do, was destroy.
You’ll read obituaries calling him sick, a sad comment on society, maybe even pathetic. He was not. Though he lived for less than 40 years, he lived without duty, without thought to the future, worrying about bills, acting politely for the neighbors. He did what he wanted, when he wanted. How many others have lived so fearlessly for so long?
No, we didn’t get the final fireworks we expected. GG died privately, curled up on a friend’s floor. The crowd of GG idolizers hoped they’d be there when GG did it. They weren’t.
A videotape of GG in San Francisco shows an interview. Someone asks him didn’t shit on stage, as is his custom.
“The crowd expects it,” said the interviewer.
“With GG Allin you don’t get what you expect” GG replies. “You get what you deserve.”
[Part 2:] When I started setting up ARTLESS’s Southern/Western tour I asked for help over the electronic punk network. I explained that our needs were modest, a $200 guarantee, some food, a place to stay. Boy did I get answers:
“You’re ripping of the scene.”
“You’re trying to make money off of punk, that isn’t what it’s about.”
“People shouldn’t get rich from punk rock. It goes against the DIY spirit.”
Yeah, I know they’re stupid. But some stupidity is so wide spread it deserves an answer. Especially since answering it sheds light on larger issues.
First, lets face it. Punk rock is NOT a revolution. If THEY felt threatened, THEY’d snuff it in a second.
Second, there are very few people who would call themselves punks. All who do are out of place and time. They’re anachronisms. People with mohawks and green hair in 1990 aren’t very different from people with Elvis sideburns and pompadours or granny glasses. The fashion died years ago. That’s what it was– a fashion. The late comers who are picking it up now are as relevant as BEATLES fans. (I hear that some geeks are even spitting at performers. In 1993???? Sad, huh?) As for the music, I like a lot of it, but it’s just music.
Someone on the e-list mentioned the “Do-It-Yourself” ethic. He asked if only punks had it. Of course not.
The best example of DIY is Fugazi/ They’ve have been true to their ideals, and their independence. They left punk rock about the time the original punks put on ties or began dying from drug overdoses.
FUGAZI knew what they needed to do to conduct their lives the way they wanted. Ian and Jeff continued with Discord, their record label business. They developed contracts, performance standards and door prices. They made a successful business. It operates morally and makes enough money to live on.
On the other hand, you’ve got kids who organize shows in their spare time. They live off Dad’s allowance or a job. Joe works at Tower Records for $5.50 an hour and has a band on the side. He’ll play anywhere and doesn’t care if it gets paid. His music is a hobby. He’s satisfied with spending a portion of his life doing what he doesn’t like to do. He does this so he can afford other things.
Hobby or business. That’s what music can be. That’s what punk can be. There are no alternatives. Hobby or business, neither is better than the other, though they reflect different values. Volunteers at shows, record stores and zines all have punk as a hobby. They are willing to compromise their personal lives for their hobby. Those who see it as a business, are unwilling to make this compromise.
On an independent level, punk is usually not a very lucrative business. If you’re a lousy businessmyn (as I tend to be) it might even be an unintentional hobby.
Keeping this in mind, lets look at my $200 guarantee. Touring for two weeks and playing 10 nights (normal, considering 12 nights booked, and at least 2 cancelling) the four person band takes in $2000. Gas and upkeep on the van takes at least $30 a day ($420). Touring and driving long distances means taking the shortest routes and not getting off. That means eating at those horrible highway places 2 or 3 times a day. That’s expensive– at least $15 a person a day or a total of $840. That leaves us $740 for the whole band. Even if we ignore our previous debts (around $2500), we make a total profit of $185 each or $13.21 a day. For that, we’re accused of “trying to get rich.”
(I wrote about this to the e-list. One answer was that we should “dumpster dive” for all our food. Sure, that’s real healthy, and perfect for travelling, even if it were possible. Eating shit might be a hobby for some, but it isn’t a business.)
The businessmen and the hobbyists are often at odds. Each accuses the other of being “untrue to the spirit of punk.” The fighting doesn’t surprise me. Whenever there’s a tiny cult without a strong leader, you get lots of in-fighting and factions. Punk rock is no different from Communism. Both are ideas whose time has come and past. Both have adherents blindly clingging to them. Both have meaningless ideological disputes and violent disagreements. In both cases, nobody but the tiny self-centered group themselves cares.
Punks are like teddy boys or old hippies with bell bottoms and granny glasses. Maximum Rock’n’Roll is a Jurassic Park. We’re the dinosaurs. There’s not going to be a punk revolution, any more than there’s going to be a communist revolution. All we have is the music. We’re fans, but that’s it.
GG died trying to make his business a lifestyle. A few stragglers and imitators in other bands will do the same. The rest of us better realize where we stand before our assholes start hurting and the chafe gets so bad we can’t walk.
→ Talk about business dept: As was an expensive joke. I paid $15. ARTLESS was entered in the New Music Seminar contest for the right to play free at a tiny little club for a bunch of drunk “industry types.” What a surprise! We didn’t win. But that’s not the end of the story. With the rejection note comes a form letter with the following offer:
Although your submission was not selected, each band who met our April 23 deadline is entitle to FOUR full Seminar registrations at the discounted rate of $250.00 per band member.
Wow! What a deal!
→ Plugging Myself dept: Like I said, we’ll be starting our tour late in August. By the time this comes out we’ll have the dates. BUT there’s a good chance things’ll fall through or there’ll be last minute changes. If you can set up a show for us, please call JOHNNY PUKE, our booking agent at (212) 260-1546. He’ll also have information about our schedule.
→ Bad guys in the mail dept: I got another one of those fake surveys. It’s from The English Language Political Action Committee (PO Box 9558, Washington DC 20016). They’re sponsoring a Constitutional Amendment that will make English the “official language” of the U.S.. I’ve often written about how stupid and totalitarian this is.
In Switzerland, there are 4 official languages. In Papua New Guinea, over 300. Part of what makes America the greatest country in the world is our multiplicity of language and culture. These guys want to stop that. Of course, they have other, more sinister motives.
Stop having ballots printed in other languages? Stop providing court publications, and forms in other languages? Who does this affect? Not the political candidates these guys support.
Who do they support? Here’s a hint from their intro letter:
- “We have been blessed with a common unifying language only by custom…”
- “[we] support a law that would inhibit Congress from supporting costly and unproductive bilingual education programs…and other “multi-cultural” special interest demands.”
They also oppose Puerto Rican statehood, ostensibly because the folks only speak Spanish there. But actually, why?
Because they’re right-wing Christians, intent on making America in their own image. That’s why! The English language amendment is evil! Fortunately, these guys have to pay printing costs: AND they include those nice prepaid envelopes with their “surveys.” Write and ask for one. Fill it out, and send it back, enclosing whatever else you might like.
→ General flakiness dept: Is there a Noel Ogdon out there? I wrote myself a message that I should have mailed him something or written to him or something. I can’t read my writing so I don’t know what it was or where I was supposed to send it. Please contact me again. Sorry. Oh yeah, as usual my snailmail address is: PO Box 137, Prince St. Station, New York NY 10012. E-mail to: MQB8130@ACFCLUSTER.NYU.EDU, but I’ll be away from mid-Aug to mid-October so don’t expect any quick replies.
→ Special thanks dept: To the anonymous guy/gal who sent me the tape with the porno sounds on one track and a Christian sex instruction record on the other. Fine editing job and finer concept. Fun Satan worshiping stuff too– but no backwards masking!
→ Speaking of tapes: I got a tape called Mind Control In America from Steven Jacobson (PO Box 15734, Winston-Salem NC 27113). Although slightly Christian paranoid in its outlook, Steven has succeeded in uncovering what really sounds like backward masking. But the coolest thing is his theory of control.
You know the old lefty idea that you should try to make as much trouble as possible. The reason: it’ll bring fascism and fascism will make people revolt? Steven turns this theory on it’s head. He says the government is encouraging people to make trouble so people will welcome fascism as a way to protect them. He uses, as an example, the movie Reefer Madness. The movie can be watched on two levels. It horrifies adults by showing teens having free sex and wild parties. At the same time, it thrills and entices teens by showing free sex and wild parties.
This encourages teens to use drugs and adults to fight them. This double whammy, says Steven, is responsible both for our stupidly restrictive drug laws, and widespread drug use. He has plenty of other examples– and they make sense. Considering the state of Civil Liberties in the U.S. and the calls for more jails. It just might be that Steven is right.
→ Death is better than sex dept: It’s a hilarious display of Christian influenced stupidity. The UN has a display of the conditions of children– especially girl children– around the world. At one place in the display, they talk about how starvation and poverty force kids into prostitution. It’s the only alternative to dying of hunger. Later, they say that the UN is working with countries to prosecute people who pay for the sexual services of these foreign children. This is to help “wipe out child prostitution.” In other words, it’s better they should die.
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