Yep, everyone and their extreme pet has some. Here are a couple of mine:
Shangri-La circa Andria Lisle, Scott Bomar, Sherman Wilmott, and myself (’96 – ’98, I think):
We had this giant man in his mid 40’s, completely bald, straight dressing, and obviously afflicted with something (mentally). Somehow, he had an astounding knowledge of (and taste for) left-field noise and drone. To say that he did not look or act the part is an understatement. He would walk in and blurt out his wants in a disturbing, staccato tone.
“DO YOU HAVE THE NEW SKULLFLOWER?? WHAT ABOUT LABRADFORD?? SUN CITY GIRLS??”
Being on the cusp of the Internet age, I’m not sure where he was getting his info…he even knew about upcoming releases. Maybe he slept on a mattress of Forced Exposure catalogs or Revolver update faxes.
Number two (circa a little later):
Miles and I were working a Saturday afternoon at Shangri-La when we noticed this alterna-grit, or “Arkansalternative” character acting erratically across the street, to the right of the Huey’s parking lot. He was about our age, scrawny, with a dirtball goatee and wild eyes. He would walk in one direction, then double back, and so on. We were both muttering “don’t cross the street, don’t come in here” to ourselves when he fixated on the “Open” sign and did just that.
The man was high as hell on meth, crack, something of that ilk, or was enduring a psychotic hangover/comedown from something of that ilk. Sweating profusely and with there’s-nothing-behind-them-but-they’re-still-crazed eyes, our exchange went like this (Miles ducked into the back, when the “back” was up front, I was stuck behind the counter):
“Dude, it’s hot as hell, can I take my shirt off?”
“Please don’t do that.”
“Man, I was just asking a question.”
“I was just answering a question.”
He fidgeted about for a minute, picked some things up, put them down – it didn’t appear that he could concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds. Plus, he kept trying to find some conversational meeting ground.
“Uh, dude, did you go to that rave at 616 last night?”
“Nope.” (at that point, 616 had been closed for at least three years)
“I don’t really go to raves.”
He looked at the magazine rack, and of all things, picked up my zine (The Cimarron Weekend – we had about fourteen readers, and this guy was most certainly not one of them), flipped around for a second, and said to himself, “Fuck, no way can I read THIS shit right now.”
He then emptied the contents of his wallet and pockets all over the counter, and with no rhyme or reason, started sorting through about 30 – 40 scraps of paper, change, and receipts.
At this point, I was trying to move him out the door. My body language and looks were in that mode.
“Dude!! I’m just trying to get my shit together!!”
This was sort of aggressive, so I asked him to leave unless he was planning on buying something, and if what was spread out all over the counter was any indication, he was not.
He storms out the door with a trailing “Fuck this place!” I locked the door, and we then safely watched this little slice of Midtown Theater:
1. Lays down, shirt off, in the Huey’s parking lot.
2. Walks into Huey’s.
3. Almost immediately bolts out of Huey’s, backwards, waving his finger at someone inside the doorway.
4. Runs up to the cop car that had just pulled to the light – driver’s window (won’t this get you shot?) – and has some sort of conversation with the cop, who, oddly, DRIVES AWAY.
5. Lays down in the Huey’s parking lot AGAIN, then climbs on top of the dumpster. Jumps down and disappears.
….for a lot of posts, starting soon, in less than a week, when my nights free up, and I have nothing to do but work and muse, but until then, a grossly-belated moment of silence for Edward Bunker, who passed away on July 19.
(switch into Fluff Mode)
Bunker was a wildly charismatic con man, thief, and heroin addict who spent close to three quarters of his life in prison. At 17, he became the youngest ever inmate at San Quentin. Armed with an 152 IQ, he eventually started writing near-perfect crime fiction, including No Beast So Fierce, the book that Dustin Hoffman obsessed about for years, several of which saw him trying to put the story on the big screen. When Hoffman threw his hands up due to the directorial pressures and studio bickering, the duties were assumed by Ula Grosbard (then husband of female lead Theresa Russell), and the result was 1977’s Straight Time. Hoffman, who plays the lead (and was unjustly soured by the final cut), put in a performance unlike any delivered before or since. This box office flop IS A MUST SEE, especially for fans of great and gritty crime/loser dramas. Straight Time is 70’s noir sublimity with more heart per minute than 99% of the genre.
Bunker also wrote The Animal Factory, which Steve Buscemi turned into a Willem Dafoe/Edward Furlong prison drama of watch-able quality. Bunker’s wrote two other novels, Little Boy Blue and Dog Eat Dog, plus the crucial autobiography, Education of a Felon. Bunker also wrote the screenplay for Runaway Train. A cameo bandit, Bunker pops up in all of his adaptations, as “Skitchy Rivers” in the recent remake of The Longest Yard, and as “Mr. Blue” in Resevoir Dogs. Tarentino, predictably a Bunker fanatic, called No Beast the “greatest crime novel of all time.”
Bunker jumpstarted the career of Danny Trejo, hiring the cartoonishly tough, tat-covered ex-con as a consultant on Runaway Train. The two had previously known each other in the prison context. Like Bunker, Trejo did a lot of consulting work on films, but eventually landed respectable roles in Heat, the El Mariachi trilogy, and Bubble Boy.
Bunker lived out the rest of his free life as a respectable, creative, member of the film and literary world, while remaining largely unknown to most audiences. He was a family man.
Warning: Bunker’s books are not Underbelly 101, like Bukowski and ilk. You need to get that out of your system, anyway. Do yourself a favor: Read all of Bunker’s books. You’ll thank me. You’re welcome in advance.
I’m working on an incredibly tardy (the editorial circumstances are different) piece about SST records. Last night, I performed a live radio call to accompany my work. Figuring that it would somehow aid my progress, I’m still not sure how well it went. One thing without question is that it WILL NOT appeal to those that fall outside of this demographic:
Male, 27 – 45 years old, record geek, cobweb crotch.
Like Master Shake says: “Good luck with the casual sex, ‘cuz you ain’t getting’ any!!!”
Intro to piece:
INSIDE THE BLASTING CONCEPT
The Missteps Of SST Records, Part 1
By Andrew Earles
Roughly twenty years ago to this moment, a mind was in the throes of a total and complete undoing. A complex, blazing, revered, and some might say, beautiful mind. This noggin belonged to Greg Ginn. Hard evidence exists to support this claim. Hard evidence that has names, names like October Faction, Tom Troccoli’s Dog, Painted Willie, Angst, SWA, D.C. 3, Gone, Alter Natives, Das Damen, Universal Congress Of, Lawndale, and grossly, Mr. Zoogz Rift. They weren’t all bad, and some might even be considered ahead of their time. The unifying factor among the nooks and crannies of SST was this: The bands didn’t have a time, and Greg Ginn didn’t have a big enough paper shredder for his fistfuls of money. Because of assumed credibility or undeniable badass-ness, Saint Vitus, Saccharine Trust, Slovenly, and The Tar Babies will be omitted from this part of the examination, and not everyone mentioned above will get their turn. Wurm will make the cut. Overkill, in their pre-thrash days on SST, will bear mentioning.
SST even released a readymade, cursory window into its own marginality. It was called The Blasting Concept: Volume II, and there’s no better way to begin our no-turning-back plunge. For roughly three dollars and fifty cents, a mid-80’s indie troubadour could subject themselves to the whims of a misguided label mogul. This decision was easily made by the cheap price and inclusion of such reliable names as Meat Puppets, Husker Du, Minutemen, and Black Flag. The songs were previously unreleased, which was advantageous to the buyer, as only one of these bands (Husker Du) was in its prime around 1986, the year the compilation hit stores. Ok, Husker Du were exiting their prime around that time. There are no less then three classic rock covers on The Blasting Concept V. 2; the Minutemen butchering one minute of Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love,” the Meat Puppets painful take on Foghat’s painful take on Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” and D.C. 3’s oddly charming adaptation of Mountain’s “Theme From An Imaginary Western.” SST must take the credit for delving into 70’s butt rock and proto metal before any of their underground contemporaries, though this prescience was more artistic suicide than groundbreaking foresightedness.