Category Archives: Blurt The Most Fucked Up Thing

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Brian Baker of Bad Religion

Bad Religion

You’re about to enter a world of pain. Since BLURT launched in 2008 we’ve asked musicians, comedians and authors to write about their most outrageous stories. They’ve really delivered the gross-eries – we have sex, scat, puke, violence and heart-wrenching tragedy among almost three dozen columns at BlurtOnline.com and in the print magazine. What follows another true story of seriously fucked-up events: it might make you laugh; it might make you cringe; it might even make you puke. Grab a bucket; it’s about to get weird. —As told to Senior Editor Randy Harward

HEY, THERE’S FUCKIN’ ARTIMUS PYLE!

 By Brian Baker of Bad Religion

When I was with Junkyard, we opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd. That tour has enough stories for an entire novel in itself. One show was at an amusement park in Canada, I think. My memory sucks. The Internet would know this.

Do you remember when Lynyrd Skynyrd had their famous plane crash? Artimus Pyle was the guy that pulled the survivors out of the plane. He had a broken leg and he still walked a few miles to a farmhouse to find help.

So on the tour we were doin’, Skynyrd had two drummers: Pyle and Kurt Custer. And you know, in Southern rock, two drummers is not that weird. Anyway, Pyle decided to climb the lighting rig during the show. He was maybe 100 feet above the fuckin’ stage, and everyone’s pointing at him. “Hey, there’s fuckin’ Artimus Pyle!”

He wasn’t supposed to drink on that tour. But earlier he’d gone into our dressing room and drank all of [Junkyard singer] David Roach’s whiskey. So when Skynyrd came onstage, Artimus Pyle wasn’t there, or at least ready to go. That’s basically when they fired him. We watched him get fired from the band he saved from a burning plane.

Ed note: The ostensibly official accounts of the plane crash make no mention of Pyle’s monkey business as the reason for his dismissal. That said, we prefer Baker’s account. Punk legends Bad Religion released their sixteenth album, True North, last year via Epitaph Records.

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN Donovan Woods

Donovan Woods 2

You’re about to enter a world of pain. Since BLURT launched in 2008 we’ve asked musicians, comedians and authors to write about their most outrageous stories. They’ve really delivered the gross-eries – we have sex, scat, puke, violence and heart-wrenching tragedy among almost three dozen columns at BlurtOnline.com and in this magazine. What follows is another true story chronicling seriously fucked-up events. It might make you laugh; it might make you cringe; it might make you puke. Grab a bucket; it’s about to get weird. —As told to Senior Editor Randy Harward

 RAINY DAY PEOPLE DON’T TALK; THEY JUST LISTEN ‘TIL THEY’VE HEARD IT ALL

 BY DONOVAN WOODS

 I was in a subway station in New York, standing, waiting for my buddy when I saw a guy (I’m assuming he was a homeless guy, but I don’t know) do a crazy thing. A thing I had never even considered happening even once.

 The man stood overlooking an escalator which was going down. He took his penis out of his jeans, rested it on top of the ledge and began to urinate down onto the bottom end of the escalator.

 There were a number of people who’d just gotten on this rather long escalator, and suddenly they were all slowly, steadily descending towards a stream of hot urine. Many of the people noticed the piss immediately, and, as though this happened all the time, turned and calmly began heading back up the escalator. Their faces hardly changed, though they took big strides to make progress. Five or six folks though, were engrossed in their own conversations or just weren’t paying attention and were still moving towards the piss stream.

 I kept thinking this guy’s gonna run out of pee and it’s going to be fine. But he just kept pissing. It went on for so long (seconds, but it seemed like minutes). I had to do something. I started to move toward the escalator to yell, but another guy, a classic New York loud-talking guy, beat me to it.

 He said, “Hey! There’s piss! The guy is PISSING! HELLO! TURN AROUND! HEY!” They heard him. Everyone heard him. Even a lady wearing headphones heard him. They gasped and turned and started frantically running up the escalator.

 An older lady in front was so close to the piss I thought it was too late – but she made it. A guy turned and picked her up so she could get off at the top. She didn’t get pissed on. Nobody did. A triumph of the human spirit.

 Then the loud-talking New York guy started to yell at the crazy pissing guy. He was strangely succinct, and thoughtful in his word choice, as though he’d been trained for this very situation. “Hey man! What are you doing, man?! You can’t do that! Okay?! You can’t piss down there like that, you’re gonna piss on people! That’s rude, man! It’s fucking rude! Do what you want, but don’t piss down there like that! Don’t!

 Such an American berating! I loved it. The pissing guy took this in pensively. It felt as though he was really considering that this may have been wrong, even for him. He’d realized he’d crossed a line, I guess. He put his dick away, did the “Okay, sorry, sorry” hands and walked away.

 All the people talked to each other about the pissing and how close they’d been to it. The hero New Yorker just put his headphones back on and walked over to the trains. My friend showed up and I told him but he didn’t believe me, so I showed him the piss on the escalator stairs which were now cycling around back up to the top and down again, people walking on it, because they’d just arrived and didn’t know that a crazy guy had pissed everywhere moments ago. Life went on, but what a blessing to have seen that.

 Photo credit: Mark Peckmezia. Canadian Donovan Woods released Don’t Get Too Grand on Aporia Records last summer. It’s fuckin’ great, man. Okay?!

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Nadine Shah

Nadine Shah

You’re about to enter a world of pain. Since BLURT launched in 2008 we’ve asked musicians, comedians and authors to write about their most outrageous stories. They’ve really delivered the gross-eries – we have sex, scat, puke, violence and heart-wrenching tragedy among almost three dozen columns at BlurtOnline.com and in this magazine. What follows is another true story chronicling seriously fucked-up events. It might make you laugh; it might make you cringe; it might make you puke. Grab a bucket; it’s about to get weird. —As told to Senior Editor Randy Harward

  THE SOUND OF ONE DOG PANTING

 BY NADINE SHAH

 I was driving from a gig with my friend in the far east of Turkey a few years ago, when the car started making some huge thumping noises. It finally ground to a halt around 10:00 at night in a petrol station.

 After a little running around we managed to get it to a local garage, and found somebody who spoke English to translate for us. The good news was he could fix the car, but the bad news was he couldn’t do it to until the following morning. We didn’t have enough money to get the car fixed and get a hotel for the night, so the mechanic said we could sleep in the garage overnight to save money.

 He took us upstairs and showed us two pretty dilapidated sofas we could sleep on, and gave us a blanket each. Then the night guard came in. He was about 60 years old and 6-foot-5, with a few missing teeth and a lazy eye. He also had a large German Shepherd, and a shotgun.

 We were told he was going to stay with us as well, to make sure no wild dogs got in and the place was safe. He didn’t speak any English, so the three of us just sat there in silence drinking a large whiskey. I needed one if I was going to get any sleep in this place! We curled up to go to sleep on our different sofas, and I slowly drifted off.

 Dog

I woke a few hours later to a heavy panting sound, I gingerly opened my eyes, scared of what I was going to see, but thankfully the guard was still asleep in the easy chair opposite. His dog wasn’t, however. The German Shepherd was up on my friend’s face, gently humping away, panting and all. His lipstick was out and just rubbing on his face, but my friend was still fast asleep.

 Now it’s difficult to know what to do in this situation. Obviously I wanted to stop it, but disturbing a large German Shepherd mid-mating really didn’t seem like a good idea. Especially when his owner was 10 feet away with a shotgun. I was trying to figure out what to do when with one final large pant, he was finished. The German Shepherd climbed off my friend and curled up for the night, with a pretty content look on his face.

 I also saw a video of a snake that had been decapitated today. The decapitated head turned and bit its own detached body. Meh…

 British singer-songwriter Nadine Shah’s debut album Love Your Dum and Mad is out now on R&S/Apollo Records

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

You’re about to enter a world of pain. Since BLURT launched in 2008 we’ve asked musicians, comedians and authors to write about their most outrageous stories. They’ve really delivered the gross-eries – we have sex, scat, puke, violence and heart-wrenching tragedy among almost three dozen columns at BlurtOnline.com and in the print edition of our magazine. What follow is one among many true stories of seriously fucked-up events we’ve compiled. Some will make you laugh, most will make you cringe. One might make you puke. Grab a bucket; it’s about to get weird. — Randy Harward, Senior Editor and Resident TMFU Transcriber

 THE CAT’S BACK…

by Jake Portrait (Unknown Mortal Orchestra)

 One night in London, we had pretty intense night of drugs and alcohol. We’d played at a bar that was part of an artists’ commune in Wadsworth, London – a shitty, dilapidated part of London. It was called The Cat’s Back.

 Anyway, there was this crazy guy there who was related to the owner. He had a talking problem – he couldn’t not talk. I don’t know what you’d call it; that’s the first time I ever came across it. But literally – he talked all night long. Even when we were playing. We thought he was heckling us.

 After the show, we had a raging party. And, at about 7:30am, we were trying to find place to sleep. This is when Julien Ehrlich [Note: now of The Smith Westerns] was in the band. The three of us went up above the bar to lie down on the floor. There was absolutely nowhere else to go. We’re trying desperately to fall asleep on floor of this shitty dive bar. We were just fucked.

 Then the compulsive talker waltzes back in and of course he won’t stop talking. All of a sudden, we hear a really loud thump. The dude had passed out sitting at table in middle of the room. His head had hit the table and he was bleeding profusely. As I looked over, I noticed a puddle of yellow forming around the dude. We pretty much just sat there and watched this 65-year-old dude lying bloody on the floor, pissing his pants. That tour was one of the darkest, and that was probably the nastiest thing we’d seen on tour. At least the first year.

 Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s latest album II and recent acoustic EP Blue Record are available on Jagjaguwar. Visit the band at www.UnknownMortalOrchestra.com)

 Photo credit: Neil Krug

 

Superchunk Offers Latest in Live “Clambakes” Series For Free

Chunk

Live in Australia ’96, no less…

 By Blurt Staff

 Superchunk has just released Clambakes Vol 7: Shut the F*ck Up!…No, We Love You – Live at the Corner Hotel 1996. It was recorded live in Melbourne, Australia on November 23, 1996.

Mac wrote of the new Clambake: “To celebrate our return to Australia, we take you back to the last show of our last visit and a Clambake recorded live at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne in November 1996. It sounds like this was a fun night and I’m sure it was—Smudge and The 3Ds were on the bill—so please excuse a few glitches in the recording and enjoy the energy circa ’96. Looking forward to seeing you again shortly.”

Superchunk will be in Brisbane and Melbourne next week, Nov. 11 – 16. Rock down under, y’all!

Clambake Vol 7 track list:
1. Intro
2. Untied
3. Hyper Enough
4. Cool
5. Punch Me Harder
6. Silverleaf and Snowy Tears
7. Iron On
8. Water Wings
9. Wilbur Chat
10. Sunshine State
11. On the Mouth
12. Mower
13. Why Do You Have to Put a Date on Everything
14. Skip Steps 1 & 3
15. Tie a Rope to the Back of the Bus
16. Driveway to Driveway
17. 100,000 Fireflies
18. Fishing

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Peter Himmelman

Peter Himmelman

Get a leg up with the acclaimed singer-songwriter. Guarantee: no PETA employees were consumed in the making of this article.

 BY PETER HIMMELMAN (AS TOLD TO RANDY HARWARD)

Karla

 Several years back I had a gig as a blues singer on a paddleboat called the Josiah Snelling that used to steam up and down the Mississippi carrying tourists mostly, but also some gamblers, fur traders, assorted Indians and a dozen or so guards from Stillwater state prison. It had an enormous paddle wheel in back and as far as I knew, it was the last of its kind on the entire length of the river.

 It was on this boat that I first met Karla Weinstein (I learned her real name later from an article in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.) There was nothing particularly memorable about the way she looked when she first stepped into the tiny bar area where I’d been doing my set. She was on the south side of pretty, short, about 5’2” and change with closely clipped black hair, wire-rim glasses, and a too-small turquoise turtleneck that showed off a bit of flat stomach. She was sitting on a bar stool drinking a gin and tonic when she motioned me over. I’ll never forget the first words she said to me—and bear in mind that when she said them, she wasn’t trying to be funny or seductive. At least it didn’t seem so at the time.

 “Hey Peter,” she said, “have you ever had a hankering for some really good-tasting meat?”

 “Yeah, I s’pose I have,” I said. “What do you have in mind?”

 That’s when the trouble started. Or maybe I should say that’s when the beginning of the trouble started, because there was a whole lot of fun and good cheer that went on before the trouble. I finished up my set and by the end of the night, everyone except for Karla had got up and left.

 So the two of us went down to Karla’s stateroom and drank a bit more, talked some and listened to some old 45s she’d spun on a portable record player she’d brought on board. Great stuff, too: The Archies’ hit “Sugar Sugar,” “Black Snake Moan” by Blind Lemon Jefferson and one of my favorite songs of all time, “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. The version she had was in Portuguese, very haunting, very seductive, but also very sad in some odd way. Before the song ended Karla and I were both in tears. I’d gotten sad because I’d been thinking about my Grandma Rose who had died recently and because the Portuguese sounded vaguely Yiddish, which is what my Grandma Fose often spoke, and Karla… well, I didn’t have a clue as to what she might have been crying about.

 After the tears, we slow danced in her room, having a really good time when suddenly, she flings the record player off the table and starts laughing this horrible, witchy laugh that I can remember perfectly today. I should add that almost exactly when the laughter began, a storm picked up and you could hear a bone-crunching thunder and see these tremendous bolts of lightning which flashed through the little port holes in her stateroom, making it look as though we were both illuminated by some kind of intense strobe light. When the last record ended all you could hear was the sound of our breathing and the thunder from outside. That’s when Karla kneeled down and took a hot-plate and some kitchen utensils out from underneath her small bed.

 “Who’s hungry?” she asked.

 When the oil in the pan got hot enough she added some garlic and cilantro and then some ground beef that she’d kept on ice in a large Coleman cooler. When it was ready she served us both a big helping with some white rice on paper plates. Karla was strange but damn, she could cook. And I was hungry too, on account of all the dancing and whatnot.

 When I woke up the next morning Karla was gone and I could hear all kinds of commotion outside. The Josiah Snelling was flooded with FBI and the entire upper deck was cordoned off with yellow police tape. There was a body under a bloody sheet and police photographers were taking pictures. When I looked out onto shore, I saw Karla in handcuffs, laughing as she was being pushed into the back seat of a squad car.

 Later that day, I learned that the body under that sheet was missing a leg.

Peter Himmelman is one-half of Minnesota, a band featuring director/screenwriter David Hollander. Their debut album Are You There? was released last year on Hymn and Holler. Read our interview with Himmelman elsewhere on the BLURT site.

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Susan SurfTone

Susan Surftone + Seana Steele, photographed in the Columbia Gorge

In which the surf guitar heroine, thanks to an absentee tour manager, goes from bad to worse on her first European tour.

 By SUSAN SURFTONE

 It started off bad. He left us waiting three hours after we arrived at the airport in Paris. No phone call. He didn’t answer his cell or mobile or whatever you want to call it. The Belgian tour manager. Let’s call him Road Warrior. I was with Bashful the keyboard player, Happy the drummer and Grumpy the bass player. I guess I’d be Doc if this wasn’t written in the first person. We were starting our big Euro tour; Belgium, Germany, Demark, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands and France. The Road Warrior was our guide. He spoke seven languages. Common sense wasn’t one of them.

 Grumpy did what he always did when he had time on his hands. He drank. If he drank too much he’d turn ugly. Happy ran around the airport checking out stewardesses, especially Asian ones. Bashful fretted with me. Road Warrior arrived with no excuse and off we went. This was perhaps the only time I was glad to see him.

 The van made “broken-down” seem like a luxury vehicle. It was a two-tone red and cream converted delivery van but, hey, it was a Mercedes. It could do 60 mph at best and we were going to be on the Autobahn a lot. It had no heat except a tiny space heater that seldom worked. No seat belts with a big bench seat in the back. A suicide knob used often and hard by Road Warrior rested on the steering wheel. Major Tom sitting in a tin can up front, just me and the windshield waiting for me to go through it.

 The first gig was in Brussels. Grumpy was mad. Happy was, well, happy and Bashful was optimistic. We went to the club and Bashful and I, both being female, encountered an odd ritual practiced by young Belgian males. Beer was served in a plastic cup. The young Belgians would literally take a full cup out of your hand, drink from it and walk away with it. One tried it with me and he was soon very wet after I threw it in his face. After that I drank in peace.

 Road Warrior forgot to get an adapter for the bass amp to accommodate the different current in Europe. He also forgot a lot of the drum hardware. Road Warrior ran off into the night to get what we needed. Grumpy proceeded to blow up the bass amp when he did some finagling with the wiring and plugged it in. There was smoke. Road Warrior returned three hours later with some equipment. We played and those who stayed seemed to like it.

 Road Warrior then disappeared leaving us with the club owner and his girlfriend who spoke very little English. They took us to a club. It was pouring rain. Then, to another club. It was about 4:00am and no Road Warrior. The club we were in wanted to close and were ready to throw us out. Finally Road Warrior showed up.

 We got into the van and drunk Grumpy, Happy and Bashful fell asleep in the back. I remained awake in the front passenger seat. Good thing. Once outside of Brussels we were driving along a two lane road when we started to veer off onto the right shoulder toward some trees looming in the dark. Road Warrior was asleep. I woke him up just in time.

 It was the little things over the 30 days that the tour lasted. I fell off the stage in Nuremberg when I couldn’t see the edge in the dark after we played. Straight down and landed on my feet. It hurt for days. After a gig in Kassel, Germany Grumpy was pontificating in the bar with a bottle of beer in hand. As he threw his arm back he caught me right in the mouth with the bottle and broke one of my front teeth. Blood and tooth everywhere. I was talking to a fan with Bashful. We went into the restroom to assess the damage and when we came out the fan was waiting to continue the conversation. Very punk rock.

 Happy had a tendency to play fast, too fast, when he got excited. We were in some dive in the Back Forest where the bathroom had overflowed even before the crowd arrived. The place was packed with people shoulder-to-shoulder about a foot in front of us. You couldn’t swing a guitar neck. Happy played faster than the van could go on the Autobahn. I mentioned it to Grumpy after the gig and he launched into a drunken rage at me.

 I left the bar and went across the street for pizza. One of the best pizzas I ever had. In the Black Forest, who knew? After every gig Road Warrior fed Grumpy booze. I think he was hoping Grumpy would finally hit me. He didn’t. Almost but he didn’t except for the accidental beer bottle.

 We played the second to last gig in a small bar in The Netherlands before heading into Paris for the final gig there. There were two sawhorses with a surfboard set up on it right in front of the very low stage. What the hell. As we started to play, liquored-up Dutch farm boys, big ones, took turns taking running leaps at the surfboard. The board went flying, farm boys went flying. At us.

 We literally had to dodge them. All while Road Warrior got drunk and danced around with silver Christmas garland on his head. After the gig he told me we played for free. He had to make it up to the bar owner because the band on tour before us left the tour early. It seems their drummer had trouble with the food and shit his way all over Europe until deciding to call it quits.

 After all this I went back again the following year. Round Two with Road Warrior. It got worse.

Susan SurfTone (yes, formerly of Susan and the SurfTones) released Too Far (www.susansurftone.com) this week, July 9. Check it out!

SUSAN AND THE SURFTONES – “I’LL CRY INSTEAD” (BEATLES COVER)

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Here Come the Mummies

Here Come the Mummies

You see a lot of fucked up shit in 5,000 years. Here Come the Mummies, via their interpreter/manager, tell of one – apparently ongoing – incident.

 BY NIGEL QUENTIN FONTANELLE DUMBLUCKE IV

 Torches blazing…

Shadows. Great columns. Endless space. Gold, marble, copper, lapis lazuli. Saffron in the air. Music. Incense smoke. Drums, wind and string instruments. We played and played. A wedding. A tremendous feast! Grapes, dates, figs, fishes, nuts, quail, duck, perch, catfish, carps, mullets and eels, elephant-snout fish, tiger fish, moon fish, cucumbers, melons, broad beans and chick peas, olives, cakes, pomegranates, bread, barley beer. Wine! Dancing! Seductive undulations of well-groomed nubile females. The youngest and most beautiful of the Pharaoh’s daughters was married today, to the son of the General of the Armies. Eight daughters. All off limits. Merely the thought is a danger. But it is a thought that occurs to us often… 

Darkness. The Silence. Aeons passing. Time evaporates. Earth. Rocks. Worms. Pebbles. Struggle gives way to exhaustion which gives way to resignation… struggle, exhaustion, and resignation… an inexorable cycle. Impossible to move except by fractions of an inch. Can’t speak. Mouth full of sand. Suffocating!

A feast! Music accelerating. Wine! More wine. And more yet! A drunken frenzy. A great crescendo of laughter and song. A crashing gong of a night!

…I remember fragments. Quiet. Tranquility and moonlight. Torches now mere glowing embers. I’m roused as something brushes my cheek. Skin. Some woman’s neck or thigh. Still badly intoxicated, nevertheless awake and newly alert, it hits me: women’s necks, women’s thighs. Fingers and toes. Eyes, ears, lips, tongues. Hair. Raven and gold. Bellies, backs, breasts, calves. Curvy, voluptuous, and delightful in every way. Sweetly sweaty. Wine. Love! Life! A wonderful dream. An ecstatic reality…

Morning. Stillness. Silence. Everyone sleeping. Groggy. Grey light. A breeze. I look about me. We, my bandmates and I, are laying betwixt and between several (how many!) lovely naked young women. What beauty! Look at the lovely bracelets, rings and charms, and all manner of ornamen… tay…shun. What the? Oh, no! God, no! The daughters! The Pharaoh’s seven maiden daughters! The chill of recognition runs me through like a sword, as I look around. Then close behind me a horrifying shriek of terror!

…Restless underground. Underground. Can’t move. Can’t speak. Mouth full of sand.

Tossing and turning. Sweating. No escape from the visions projected on the inside of my skull. Eerie flashes of light. Screams. Shouts. Lightning running through my teeth and through the bones of my spine. Blinding light shooting out of the tops of our heads. On fire. Agony. The Pharaoh’s face glows white with rage. Unappeasable now. Un-opposable. Killing. He is speaking, uttering a supernatural curse. Booming!

“…Disgrace… festive day… daughter …never rest… eternally… most unappeasable rift…” Riff? We cannot hear. There is just a howling. A howling wind, and grievous thunder, and a shrill whine like a great drill. One that bores into the skull. A fiery wind strips our clothing from us. The sand stings our faces. Can’t see. We cannot hear. It doesn’t matter. We know. It’s all over. This is the End. It’s just beginning… Without doubt, the most fucked up thing we’ve ever seen.

Sun. Wind. Sky. Dunes. Dust. Wandering. Hungry. Thirsty. Now only thirst remains.

Falling. Flying. Darkness. Light. Darkness. Centuries. Millennia. Hurtling across a Great Nothing.

…Dim yellow light. Awake. Emaciated. Dead. Yes. Dead. But living. Un-alive? Dead-esque? Born again? Un-dead. Yes, that’s about right. Un-dead! We look at each other with a grim sense of resignation. We have been here before. We will always be here. We have been hovering on an E9 chord for the last thirty-two bars. Or has it been thirty-two days? Or years. Or decades? Longer? My saxophone is in hand, mouthpiece between my crumbling lips, but how did it get here? Mellow, if dusty, sharps and flats issue from my horn like playing cards on a nonexistent string, shot from the sorcerer’s hand. The beat is never ceasing. Always the same. Always changing. Time has ceased to be. We play and play, searching for the key. That unlocks what? Redemption? That breaks the curse? That returns us to what? A half-remembered half-remembrance? No, our doom is sealed.

…After an abominable, interminable interval, an odd scratching sound slowly becomes audible during the rests in our music. Getting louder. Strange. Then, a loud metallic scrape. We stop. We turn to each other in puzzlement. The reverberations die after what seems to be an eternity. There is quiet. A raging, pregnant quiet. My dusty heart skips an un-beat.

The sound of a pickaxe striking rock. Ding! Dink!

Whack! A shaft of blinding light. Collapse! Rock, dust, a great blinding column of sunlight. Sunlight! We have to cover our eyes. The sweetest, most fragrant air imaginable wafts through our underground prison, filling our withered lungs.

Squinting through our fingers, the figure of a man slowly takes shape. Wide-eyed. Defensive stance. Pith helmet strapped at an odd angle upon his head. Frantically reaching, trying to put it right, to no avail. Terror-stricken but putting on a good front. His flashlight teeters upon and finally plunges from the new ledge, conking him squarely on his disheveled head, scrambling very well his heretofore soft-boiled mind. A half-choked scream dies in his throat. The crotch of his pants soak through in an ever widening circle of shame. We are face to face. The most fucked up thing we’ve ever seen, y’all. 

Hollywood! Flying machines! After much legal wrangling and despite the ill-will of several international powers, we are in the Burbank studios of NBC in the mid-nineties of the twentieth (!) century. Our dedicated, lovable (if not-quite-all-the-way-there) discoverer, agent, and business manager, Nigel Quentin Fontanelle Dumblucke IV, is grinning from ear to ear, very pleased with his ingenuity. We are taping an ill-conceived pilot for a TV series starring Here Come the Mummies and the reunited cast of The Golden Girls. It was thus we came to be left alone overnight with Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, Betty White, and a week’s supply of one of the early fore-runners of the drug Viagra ™.

We know what you’re thinking. And you’d be right, too. This was, by far, the most fucked up thing we have ever seen. And we are just getting warmed up. Onward!

(Translated from grunts and love-bites by NQFD IV)

Venerable 5000-year-old funk/R&B band Here Come the Mummies released Cryptic last month. Check out the live performance video for the track “Chaperone” below. You think the Stones look old? That ain’t shit. 

HERE COME THE MUMMIES – “CHAPERONE”

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: The Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra

NTO by Sandro

In which the titular Tremulis expounds on the (im)proper way to get down.

 BY NICHOLAS TREMULIS

 As the summer festival season rears its sweaty head upon us I think its only fair game to comment on a phenomenon I’ve witnessed since playing outdoor shows from my teens to the present. It may not be the “most fucked up” but it is generally commented on by the bands I’ve been in as, “Now, that’s fucked up!” So I think we’re playing in the same ballpark.

 In all cities and towns… all countries, parishes and provinces this strange occurrence is a constant at every festival I’ve ever performed. It is always two people; one male, one female. They usually look the same and dress the same from town to town. Maybe it’s a secret union like the Freemasons? Could it be a birthright bestowed upon them that has been carried on for generations? I think the best way to describe it is in handbook form so let us begin our little instructional booklet.

                       THE LOYAL ORDER OF HIPPY-DANCING COUPLES

 Let’s start with your uniform.

 Men: You need to wear cut-off blue jeans, preferably a vintage of at least 20 years since their purchase. “Low-rise” are the best choice for this as they must be pulled as high up as possible, yet still revealing the “coin purse” for the impressive double-jointed moves you’ll use during your performance. What once might have fit well must now be tight as hell, revealing an explicitly detailed outline of your impressive tackle box. (The Crowning Touch!)

      As you are most likely in your mid-fifties or sixties, one guesses you might be a little thicker in the middle, making it harder to keep your apparel in place. This is where a good, sturdy set of suspenders (preferably the rainbow kind) can add functionality, whilst whispering a touch of the continental to your ensemble.

      Shirts are optional, but a good wife-beater that has been tie-dyed with as many colors as possible is optimum. Just make sure to trim the bottom so that at least four inches of your midriff is showing. Hot!

      Finally, nothing on earth is more regal than the balding ponytail. Let your freak flag wave!

 Ladies: I can’t begin to tell you how to dress. Of course, matching outfits are unbeatable in any forum. Let’s just say fringed t-shirts and headbands are the coup de grace to any trousseau. You are the illusive rock and roll Tinkerbelle-with-a-fanny-pack-gone-bad!

 The Dance: You’d think this was a freeform sort of thing, given the footage from Woodstock and the like, but throughout the years this has evolved into a very regimented and disciplined art form. Here are some of its rules and regulations:

 1. Always dance directly in front of the stage. You’re a big part of the show. You don’t want to gyp the fans of the band that came early by stepping off to the side. Right in the center of the action is where you want to be. You’ll need space to do this right. A good estimate is about 60 feet across and 30 feet deep. You may wonder how you’ll be able to clear this much space right in front of the stage? Believe me, once you start dancing people will start backing away pretty quickly. Shock and awe!

 2. Stay in character! Men, you are the wizard of seduction, conjuring the wind and sky to enslave the beautiful maiden before you. This can be done by waving your arms around in a sort of catching butterflies kind of way, dropping to your knees a lot always adds drama, spinning and leaping are always top drawer and the pièce de résistance; the jumping handstand! Basically anything you thought looked and felt cool when you were 12 is now twice as cool.

 3. Ladies, you are a renegade sprite prancing from tulip to tulip, drawn into the vortex of your sorcerer partner’s hypnotic undulations and off-color Italian hand gestures. You are a slave to a rhythm only you and your partner can hear and understand. Also and maybe most importantly; there’s no such thing as too many cartwheels. Keep ‘em comin’!

      Finally, you are now part of the band. They need your help to steer them into this new symbiotic relationship. Grab the band’s set list right off of the stage to see if they’ve forgotten to add the staples of your choreographed set. You’d be surprised, but in working on our own material, we often forget to work on your set as well. “Feels Like the First Time” and “Don’t Fear The Reaper” are the sine qua non of any set and yet we always forget to learn them. Feel free to yell these titles between every song. It can only make the evening more magical!

      Last but not least; yelling “Free Bird” is still hilarious, never gets old and sets you apart from the herd. You are the rock ‘n’ roll Adam and Eve! See you this summer.

 The Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra just  released the career-encapsulating CD/book For the Babydoll: www.nicholastremulis.com 

 [Photo Credit: Sandros]

 NICHOLAS TREMULIS ORCHESTRA – “WITHOUT YOU, WITHOUT ME” LIVE AT RAX TRAX

 

Nicholas Tremulis book

THE MOST FUCKED UP THING I’VE EVER SEEN: Jay Ruttenberg

Lowbrow 1

In which the esteemed editor of The Lowbrow Reader goes down on the corner. In a matter of speaking.

 BY JAY RUTTENBERG

 For eight and a half years, my wife and I lived in a squalid hovel on West 15th Street in Manhattan, just large enough for the Census Bureau to avoid categorizing us as vagrants. We paid handsomely for the apartment. I adored living there.

 Alas, there existed a downside. Residing in the neighborhood meant that I regularly found myself at the intersection of 14th Street and Eighth Avenue: the worst junction of New York, if not the  hitherto explored reaches of our solar system.

 Each patch of the area presents its own unique disgrace. To the southeast is a sleekly annoying glass behemoth designed with the sole purpose of housing the wealthy. If memory serves, the building began construction roughly around the time that Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan from the Canarsee tribe, and was completed only in the last couple of years. Abutting this building sits a gloomy space, generously labeled a “delicatessen,” which counts among its clientele some of America’s most aggressive riff-raff. Once, when walking by, I overheard a bloodcurdling row and began to call the police, afraid that the establishment was finally being torched to the ground. Upon closer inspection, I discovered two of its employees irately throwing food at one another while customers cheered.

 Cater-corner to the deli stands an imposing structure that, at any point in its history, seems to capture whatever is ugly in New York’s zeitgeist. It was built at the turn of the 20th century as a muscular bank, a glorious shrine to avarice. When I moved into the neighborhood, the building housed a ghastly carpet shop; this was replaced, during what future historians will no doubt regard as the Sex in the City–era, with a millionaires’ grocer, every piece of produce handled as if it were a dictator’s infant son. In the thick of the recession, the building sat conspicuously empty. And now, this grandiose structure is leased by a corporate drugstore, aisles of tampons and toothpaste sadly arrayed beneath the heavenly domed ceiling. “Sorry,” society says with a demoralizing shrug, “but we really cannot do any better than this.”

 The corner’s deepest failings, however, lie not in its stores, but in its streets. I have long suspected that the bohemian chestnut about refusing to travel above 14th Street had less to do with an aversion to uptown squares than the lack of hipness intrinsic to getting hit by a car. Years ago, a traffic cop was briefly stationed in the middle of the intersection. It is my assumption that she did not survive her shift, as she quickly vanished, and the police ceded the crossing to anarchic motorists.

 The area’s style of driving favors maniacal turns and flamboyant stops, as if each vehicle is returning from the same driver’s ed course, and it is taught by Popeye Doyle. On weekend nights, many cars bear the words “garden” and “state”—so innocuous when taken separately yet chilling when encountered together on a license plate. While in Manhattan it is unlawful to take a right turn on a red light, this regulation is gleefully flouted, along with those rules about not using one’s automobile as a racing device, weapon, or quadraphonic hip-hop broadcasting system. George Washington crossing the Delaware once was brave; me crossing 14th Street for nearly a decade as half the population of New Jersey swerved towards my person was heroic.

 After a handful of terrifying near-misses and at least one letter to the mayor’s office proposing that an aerial tramway be erected over the intersection, I am happy to report that my wife and I eventually moved a few blocks north. It is best not to ask my thoughts on West 23rd Street.

 ***

 Despite writing the classiest, most tactful TMFU entry to date, Jay Ruttenberg is the editor and publisher of The Lowbrow Reader (online at www.lowbrowreader.com). Early last year Drag City’s publishing arm dropped an anthology of the mag’s best stuff, aptly named The Lowbrow Reader Reader. For more information, peruse the below interview with Ruttenberg, originally published in BLURT #12, then check out a pair of way cool videos. THEN, get off your ass and go get the book. It’s a hoot.

  ***

 Stooping to the Level

 Jay Ruttenberg’s Lowbrow Reader, anthologized and analyzed.

 The New York Times called Jay Ruttenberg’s Lowbrow Reader “A smart little magazine about dumb humor.” Sure, it lionizes Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison, and gives the Queens of Comedy (Mo’Nique, Sommore, et al) a venue to discuss their sexual proclivities – not exactly the most edifying topics. Then again…

 Everybody fucks, everybody poops, and many of us have been drunk enough to hallucinate giant arctic birds. Doesn’t that universality make it relevant?

 “I think a lot of great comedy draws its strength from addressing base topics in an intelligent way – and, conversely, looking at lofty topics from the perspective of a moron,” says Ruttenberg. He points to Chris Rock, “far and away the smartest standup of from the past 15 years. When he talks about, say, politics, it can be with faux man-on-the-street ignorance; when he discusses sex or relationships, he speaks as an exalted philosopher, using the preacher’s cadence of his grandfather. I should point out that Chris Rock is also the favorite comedian of the President.”

 Ruttenberg started the Lowbrow Reader with “the vague notion of covering what was generally perceived as ‘lowbrow’ comedy in a hopefully smart and funny way.” He also wanted the magazine to “come from a heartfelt place” and to steer clear of ironic praise and disingenuous approval. “It always gets my goat when a critic fawns over something that is conventionally bad, but you can kind of tell his admiration is insincere… If the accolades smell false, it cheats the reader.”

 And so it is that The Lowbrow Reader Reader (Drag City) compiles cartoons, commentary, essays, fiction and verse from Patton Oswalt, Neil Michael Hagerty, Gilbert Rogin and David Berman. It also includes an ardent and lengthy look at Billy Madison from Ruttenberg himself. “If you have only seen Adam Sandler’s later movies, that may look stupid or phony,” Ruttenberg says. “But after giving this way too much thought, at least for a mentally healthy adult, I can report that Billy Madison really is my favorite movie.”

 However, he defers to Margeaux Rawson’s interview with the Queens of Comedy –originally conducted for Glamour, which rejected it as way too blue – as the book’s masterpiece. “All I can say is, if a person is to read only one article in the book, I hope it is that one. Unless that person is my mother-in-law.”  –RANDY HARWARD

  Videos: ADAM GREEN – “You Blacken My Stay” and “Give Them a Token” (Live at the Lowbrow Reader Variety Show)