Public Animal #1 (G.G. Allin)
I had sent a copy of The Times to GG Allin on a Monday – I was surprised to hear back on Friday.
“Thanx for your zine, its about time N.H. got off its dead ass + started something.
“How about a mention on our band? We’ve done this in other zines around the country. Anyway, I’m all for it.”
Also enclosed was a bill:
Madman GG Allin and The Jabbers. Thursday, March 4 at Club Meri-mac, Manchester.
Club Meri-mac on the 4th, huh? Sounded good to me. I mean, when the hell do I get the chance to even get into a club? GG on the 4th? Sure I’d interview him.
My friends – T-boy, Bet, and a kid named George – borrowed a car and took off for Manchester in a Friggin’ blizzard. After an hour of sliding off the road, we parked behind GG’s apartment.
GG, it turned out, was down at his bass players place. When we met him, he was running around like a stagehand before the play.
His hair was a light-brown mess; old suitcoat, no shirt, ripped jeans, cowboy boots that had fallen to pieces years ago. His eyes were confused, as if full, only half registering when we introduced ourselves. Finally he said that he was glad we could make it. We could have the interview at the Club.
We followed GG’s ancient white Dodge to the Meri-mac. I’d never seen the asshole of the world until I pulled up in front of this place. We’d been driving past rows and rows of those tarpaper boxes they call Manchester living, when suddenly hit a vacant lot in which sat this dirty, red ski chalet. “Club Meri-mac” was lettered in black above the door.
Inside was like a friggin’ stable.
“Can you fuckin’ believe this place,” George laughed. “They’re probably snortin’ Drano in the men’s room.”
The bare floors were of grey wood upon which a handful of listing tables had been tossed. That cliché smell of smoke and beer was in the air. The long bar was dark, attracting most of the attention to the back of the room. Everywhere, young working class heroes, just finished sweating from some job in some plywood factory, screamed over their beers. There was this used up old lady at the bar; a few little kids played around on the floor.
After fumbling around in the back, GG found the key to the dressing rooms – funny, I would have called it “The Pit”.
A hole it was, too, down in the cellar – one broken table, a couple of chairs with the backs smashed off, lots of dirt and wood and concrete, and next to the boiler, a water pail that everybody seemed to use for a pisspot. On the walls, black-markered names like “The Nubs”, “Jim Jones and the Gayanas”, and even “GG Allin and the Jabbers” found their fespective marquees. GG had a tapedeck and we had a tape, and we all found seats for the interview…
“Aw, shit! There’s no outlet for the recorder.”
I wasn’t surprised. As it turned out, there wasn’t a lot to remember.
People walked in and out during the next two hours, making their cameos and then disappearing. At one time, I figure there were ten or twelve of us down in that pit, talking, shouting, smashing a beer bottle against the wall.
After us, the first to arrive was Chris, the new guitarist. He looked like a little Ramone with red hair, and wore one of those leather jackets that you knew he never took off. He had only recently started with the group. Otherwise, he worked at Burger King.
Next came Al. He looked like a naughty seven year old and spoke with the breathless hush that I usually associate with dying, old men. He set down his bass and joined in the conversation. These three roadies he’d brought along ran around like stooges, smoking joints and making jokes about sucking each other off.
GG worked in a nursing home; Al had just lost his job. The two had originally come from Vermont looking for a scene, and since that time had gone through a pile of drummers and guitarists. They didn’t own any real equipment (they were borrowing a snare drum for this gig), turned most of their playing-money into occasional recordings, and advertised themselves in little rags all over the country. If nothing else, one thing is certain about the Public Animal – he’s a hell of a capitalist.
Upstairs, the warm-up group had started. They were a bunch of long hairs who throbbed through heavy metal covers. I swore they were going to fall through the floor on top of us. Originally, The Jabbers were supposed to play with a high school group called Pig Pile, but they’d cancelled out a few nights before – their parents didn’t want them playing on a school night.
Downstairs again, the roadies got their kicks taking a picture of Al with his cock in his hands. The drummer, Steve L., finally arrived. He had one of those smart-ass faces you can never trust and passed judgement on every band from here to L.A.
“Do you have any closing comments,” I yelled.
“Yeah,” Al said. “Women…Women and smegma.” The roadies cracked up.
I felt like a stormtrooper pushing into that crowd upstairs. T-boy, Bet, George and I took to the sidelines; GG and The Jabbers stepped onto the 4′ high stage. The people still took me off guard. Aside from a couple of likely looking hardcore groupies, most of these people just didn’t seem to be like anything I’d seen in Boston. There was a hostility about them, with their wooden high heels from Fayva and those rust stained work boots. I just couldn’t figure it out.
Then, screaming, “Fuck you, you pussies!” the band went into the most useless convulsions I’d ever seen. GG was a horror-show. His face went blank, his mouth hung agape; he began crawling around on the floor like some parastic reptile just out of its lightless cavern. I could hardly believe he was the same guy who’d just been talking about record companies downstairs.
GG had barely uttered a word of lyrics before he was covered with a shower of cheap beer and the dirt kicked of a legion of workboots. If he got near the crowd, they pushed him, spit on him, dragged him around like a piece of meat. And through it all he seemed oblivious. Behind him, the band fired off high tension noise – fast, distorted, dangerous. GG screamed a few inaudible lines, broke the mike, and let the band finish up the number while he dove onto tables, only to get savagely dragged down again.
The rest of the numbers went out much the same. When the set finished, GG ran back to the dressing room door – someone had locked it again. I could see him back there through the mob, his eyes looking fearfully wide, breathing heavily, seeming to shiver under that mud-crusted, shirtless chest.
George and I sat smoking by the stage. Once, this kid in a varsity football jacket walked up next to me and just stood there, staring down. I glanced up – he looked sarcastic and maybe a little loaded. “How you doing?” I offered. The jock just nodded and walked off to talk to this girl we had already figured to be a hooker.
As aggressive as the first set had been, it could not compare to second. So often today, Aggressive is used in a musical sense to mean simply “loud” or “fast”; usually it doesn’t imply the actual propensity for violence which may actually be generated through the music. Keeping this in mind, the second half of the night was all about real aggression. I think the band played two songs, barely; instead of singing, GG shouted distracted taunts at the mob.
“Hey GG! Why don’t you show us your cock?” someone yelled back.
“He doesn’t fuckin’ have one,” someone replied.
“That’s ‘cuz you bit it off when it was in your mouth,” GG answered to no one in particular.
Bottles started flying. The control of a performer over his audience, the fact that it’s all just an act – none of this seemed to be defined anymore. There was no longer a band and an audience, just a mob that descended upon the stage, stealing the mike, cramming GG into the bass drum. Some guy pissed on his leg.
That razor’s edge between aggressive music and out right violence is a treacherous game. We play it when we’re at a Boston club slamming, yet somehow we understand that the guy butting into us doesn’t mean us any harm, certainly nothing beyond a few bruises. It all relieves a lot of penned up tension.
Why, then, was the tension here hanging like the roof was about to cave in. The air was hot and thick, I was all hyped-up, lots of adreniliene. As I walked off the stage at the close of the final cord (?), I kicked away a bottle to
“That bottle hit me in the leg.”
“What?” I said back distractedly.
“You hit me in the leg.” It was the jock in the football coat. He spit beer on me.
“Oh…I’m really sorry. I’m sure I caused you great physical discomfort.” I spit back.
He spit on me again.
The next thing I knew, I was hit.
Everyone but me had seemed to have seen him. He was a friggin’ fat locomotive of a guy in a black leather jacket, and burning mad. He’d been sitting next to the jock. I felt the blood running down my upper lip, dripping into the dirt on the floor.
“That was just a tap. You fuckin’ spit on me.”
“Take it easy,” I said.
“You spit on me, man. You spit on me.” His voice was rumbling, frantic. I couldn’t fuckin’ believe this.
“You better get out of here,” someone said to my right, “he’ll fuckin’ kill you.”
“Listen, I didn’t come here to fight. I came to dance, right?” I was smiling under the blood. I had to get out of this somehow. The hulk was still yelling when George pulled me downstairs.
“What the fuck happened to you?” someone in the cellar called.
“Some fat fuckin’ kid punched me,” I answered. I had let the blood drip a design on my tee shirt. Somehow, I felt pretty good; for the first time that night I felt sure of myself, like I could handle the Club Meri-mac and everything that went with it. I understood what it meant to drink in a shithole like this; it’s all about cities and their machines, that run you all day long and wake you up at night when they rip you[r] arm off in a dream. This is what the rock underground is all about – it’s not GG Allin and his traveling freak show, it’s not an act for money – it’s just about pain and trying to forget it.
Later that night, back in my room, T-boy was ranking the Meri-mac crowd.
“Those assholes just didn’t understand. They don’t understand what the music’s supposed to be about, they don’t care. They’re just a bunch of bulkbrains out to kill each other.”
“Don’t you see, though,” I replied, “they do understand. They’re livin’ it for real.”
— Dwight Trash