PUSHERMAN OF LOVE…AU REVOIR TO BOBBY BEYOND…”
(-Geordie Pleathur & Special Guest Co-Star, Chris Barry, Wax Nostalgic About Bootsey X, Rockroll Music, & The Last Few Kicks At The Honeycomb Hideout, In Hamtramck, Before Fascism, Austerity, & The Death Of Cool)
*THIS REGULARLY SCHEDULED RANT & ROCKNROLL RAVING WAS FILMED LIVE IN FRONT OF A STUDIO AUDIENCE.
“They put me down, man, those square people in Port Arthur. They called me a slut. They threw rocks at me in class. But all I was looking for was some kind of personal freedom and other people who felt the way I did.” (- Janis Joplin)
“There’s just no pleasing some people. The trick is to stop trying. ” (-Robert Mitchum)
“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.” (–Tom Robbins)
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” (-Steve Jobs)
“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.” (-Frida Kahlo)
“You are the real threat, who trained and created Osama Bin Laden … you are the people who created al-Qaida… Defend the human rights of the black U.S. citizens being killed in U.S. cities every day, Mr. Obama. I’ve told Mr. Obama, how do you want to be remembered? Like Richard Nixon, who ousted Salvador Allende in Chile? … Well President Obama, you already made your choice … you will be remembered like President Nixon” – (-Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro)
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history …is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory….
Democracy depends on citizens being informed, and since our media, especially television (which is the most important source of news for most Americans) reports mostly what the people in power do, and repeats what the people in power say, the public is badly informed, and it means we cannot really say we have a functioning democracy.” (-Howard Zinn)
“Either you think that state-sanctioned torture of prisoners is beyond the pale for a civilized country or you don’t. No cavils. No resorts to textual parsing. And no exceptions for ‘we were scared.’ This isn’t a gray area. You can choose to stand with history’s torturers or you can choose to stand with human decency. Pick a side.” (-Kevin Drum)
“Holocaust Memorial Day. Survivors will lay wreaths and light candles at the so-called Death Wall at Block 11 on January 27th to mark 70 years since the camp’s liberation, and remember those who never left. I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1986 just for one day. It took me more than two weeks to take it all in.I have never forgotten what I saw. Don’t let this (or similar) ever happen to anyone: Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Black, White, Yellow, Red, Believer, Non-believer, Straight, Gay, Lesbian, Disabled, Able, Fellow, Man, Woman or Child… Don’t fight for the fight. Fight for understanding, tolerance and love. Individually or in a group. Love. Peace.” (-Timo Kaltio)
“I used to like people like Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls and Lou Reed. I thought Oh great, they feel just like me. They were saying all the things for me so I could sit at home and watch TV and think it was my rebellion. Then these guys just stopped saying anything relevant. Suddenly I realized that the only way to release what was inside of me was to go out and do it myself.” (-Tony James; Generation X)
“There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” (-Arundhati Roy)
“I believe that with the advent of acid, we discovered a new way to think, and it has to do with piecing together new thoughts in your mind. Why is it that people think it’s so evil? What is it about it that scares people so deeply, even the guy that invented it, what is it? Because they’re afraid that there’s more to reality than they have ever confronted. That there are doors that they’re afraid to go in, and they don’t want us to go in there either, because if we go in we might learn something that they don’t know. And that makes us a little out of their control.” (-Ken Kesey)
“Fascism is capitalism plus murder.” (- Upton Sinclair)
“Most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.” (-Brave New World)
“The late Christopher Scott ‘Chris’ Kyle, ex-Navy SEAL and compulsive blowhard, whose (highly suspect) story is told in Clint Eastwood’s biopic Sniper, was a banal, blood-drenched emblem of US empire — of not only its psychopathic militarism but the lies the state confabulates to justify the bloated egoism inherent to its Western supremacist sense of White man entitlement.
Moreover, why does the fantasy of a White Avenger killing the imagined Dusky Menace with pristine élan …and god-like accuracy grip the imagination of the mob of the homeland of the US imperial state? As the level of uncertainty rises in the empire, the steadiness of an expertly aimed, perfectly calibrated rifle, in the hands of an expert (White male) marksman, provides an illusion of control. The appeal of firearms, in general, stems from this psychological phenomenon, and the image is particularly seductive to the overwhelmed and (seemingly) powerless before circumstance populace of a declining nation such as the US. In an era when the factors of one’s life and fate are determined by distant, seemingly phantom forces, the fantasy of a powerful, in-control sniper targeting elusive enemies carries emotional resonance. To wit, lurid, militarist fantasies appeal to the id of a population that is authoritarian in nature. Racist propaganda films such as the movie Sniper allow authoritarian personality types to transcend the constrictions inherent to their own rigid thoughts, and the cinematic bacchanal of blood serves as libation to their torpid minds.
As for Kyle, the rancid fabulist of self-serving, heroic tales, his end itself was an emblem of poetic justice. By being shot dead on a shooting range by a war traumatized ex-soldier, the events of the incident seem as if his own shunted aside soul, grown mad by the bloody machinations of Kyle’s scheming ego, had returned for vengeance. Apropos: One wonders what end lies in store for the soul-resistant empire that Kyle’s psychopathology mirrored.” (-Phil Rockstroh)
“Our politics is trapping us into fabricated causes of war. People who want to appear tough and decisive leaders promote war, and it generally works for a time…. Now we know the truth about Iraq, that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no intention or capability of attacking the US. We are learning the truth about Libya, that Libya was not facing genocide.at the hands of its leader.
I led the effort against both wars and saw and disclosed early evidence which argued heavily against both wars, yet in both cases the country was swept up into war by leaders who knew no other course of action. In both cases, those responsible for taking us into war under false pretenses have not had to account. These wars are making us less safe. Americans long for another type of security, the security of jobs, decent wages, a good education, housing, retirement security, investment security, neighborhoods free of the fear of violent crime. We must demand our leaders shake their addiction to the violence of war, quite wasting money and lives and start taking care of things back here at home.” (-Dennis Kucinich)
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” (-Dante Alighieri, Inferno)
“I can’t believe the apologists for the ongoing murders by police, especially the Eric Garner murder. This happened in New York, miles away from the ongoing crime spree that is Wall Street ‘banking’. What was the ‘crime”? Selling individual cigarettes to make a living. This is today’s America, where ambitious and hard working people must do what they can to survive, where poor entrepreneurs, the Horatio Algers of our times, try to hustle a living. It shows the utmost poverty surrounding us that people can’t afford a whole pack of cigarettes. It shows the injustice in law application where bankers on Wall Street are allowed to steal billions, and no policeman EVER hassles them, while a man who bought a pack of cigarettes, paying tax on it, then breaks it into individuals and sells it to poor people is murdered. And the apologists sanctimoniously proclaims his utter respect for the law!! What about the laws against fraud, perjury, insider trading and fraudulent inducement? Are you now going to announce that those are victimless crimes? While selling cigarettes is a capital offense? Why don’t you ask the millions of people illegally thrown out of their houses about ‘victimless crimes’? Why don’t you ask the pensioners who have had their pensions cut due to losses by fraud, about victimless crimes? It’s Good Germans like you that allow fascism and an open police state to flourish.” (-Paula Whowantstoknow)
“Here’s the thing: We make heroes of killers and turn the poor into criminals. We protect war criminals and punish homelessness. We support genocide and outlaw kindness. We give billions to the wealthy and steal food from the hungry. The US is the Empire of Death, a rogue nation bereft of morality, common sense, decency and nobility. You can’t defend it because it is indefensible. Don’t even try. I see through you. You’re a ghost, less than human, empty. Tonight people are starving, homeless people will try to survive in sub-zero temperatures. Somewhere innocent people are scanning the sky or listening in silence for the sound of gunfire or the explosion of a drone. Don’t try to explain it away, or justify it, or make rational arguments about why it must be this way. I see through you.” (-Lee Burkett)
“The dispossessed of this nation – the poor, both white and Negro – live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against that injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty.” (- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
“The public visibility of the police killing of unarmed precious Black folk puts more pressure on the Black President and Black Attorney General to pursue Federal prosecution of unaccountable police. The multiracial protests are beautiful but without Federal action remain symbolic. We need real pressure on the administration — not uncritical cheerleaders for the administration trying to misdirect our rage.” (-Dr. Cornel West)
“If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.” (-Howard Zinn)
“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are ‘still’ possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge—unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable.” (- Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’)
“It’s a hard world to get a break in/all the good things have been taken…” (-Eric Burdon)
“Minimum wage is going up to $9.25 an hour. A brick of Tillamook cheese is $9.25. There is so much wrong with this picture.” (-Heather Costello)
“Shut up or I’ll have you arrested! Get out of here you lowlife scum!” (-John McCain to peace activists)
“Shutup! You don’t get a lawyer!” (-Lindsey Graham, all giddy about indefinite detention)
“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.” (-Assata Shakur)
MOTOWN JUNK: GUDBYE TO JANIE’S GYM….
Dear sister poet, dear brother poet, too…hope you’re keeping yourselves strong in these dark and desperate times, what with the crippling weight of modern history, blood on the sidewalks, boarded-up store-fronts, always ongoing ch-ch-ch-changes, and the pangs of summer…When the world we knew is vanishing all around us, one becomes reflective and seeks to identify the part of one’s self that is not merely waiting…for a sign from above…for your woman to get ready…for Godot, for Herb, for my man…for the world to change…for the old crew to come to their senses…for the next buzz…for the other shoes to fall…usually from some telephone wire…waiting to find out who gets the rose on this season of “The Bachelor”. You realize you just waited half your life away, as Leonard Cohen sang, for the miracle to come. And sometimes, it never, ever shows it’s face in this part of town. Now that we’re older and fatter, beaten but unbowed, us wrinkly, raggedy survivors are mostly feeling pretty jaded and spent–so many, many of our nearest and dearest loved ones have perished in grueling, harrowing succession, the burnt out bands have all broke up, we all got laid-off from our last halfway decent record store jobs we used to complain so bitterly about-but now can’t help but fondly reminisce, our record labels all went bankrupt, some of us had breakups, or housing foreclosures, unexpected incidents or accidents or illnesses or evictions, or sold off the last of our treasured possessions to pay some jacked-up rent to live dangerously in the slippery-slope ghetto where we have to walk past all the dopeboys to use the pay-phone in front of the dollar store, and are loathe to even start rebuilding, yet again. Disillusionment, old age health problems, poverty, and chronic pessimism poisons everything, now. My only advice to the choir is, “Sing Louder”, brothers and sisters. It’s all too brief, so sing loud, and if you got some dream, do it right now, while you can. We ain’t gettin’ any prettier. The Constitution is gone, the institutions are morally bankrupt and corrupt. The old rocknroll landmarks are disappearing. People are even getting disappeared into domestic black sites. We are still falling for the same old lies used to justify more racist rich man wars, for bankers and oil barons. We see tv shows about wounded veterans being gifted with McMansions all the time, but most of us know wounded veterans who are homeless. Our media lies, you can’t trust the government, police, doctors, or regulatory agencies. We’ve all foolishly exchanged some of our own self respect for short-sighted self interest, collected our own fair share of regret and compromise, witnessed the death of frivolity, and lost a lot of friends and confidence along our way–some to the reaper, some to religion, some to divorces, or capitalism. Alone in our tiny boxes, glued to our tiny boxes. Going to desperate lengths to distract ourselves from Fukushima radiation, Samsung televisions, “Hello Barbies”, and smart phones eavesdropping on our family conversations, airport molestations, no refusal blood draw checkpoints, no knock night raids where Swat teams kill people over five dollars worth of pot and always feel obliged to shoot the family pet, exploding oil trains and leaking pipelines, polluted water, droughts, toxic food and bad medicine, nefarious corporate trade agreements like this evil TPP. Judge Dredd robo-cops tasering the elderly, killing unarmed black people, everyday, and beating up and arresting the people who demonstrate. Burning drivers alive in their vehicles with tasers. Water shut-offs, illegal evictions, scrap-metal and broken glass.
I’ve been a drop-out longer than many of you have been alive, so the annual trip out to the mall is still, somewhat, traumatic for me. No record stores, no book stores are left, so I can’t even buy “Vive Le Rock” magazine, but there’s three fucking video game stores, ya know? Desensitizing idiots to killing and war. Grown-ups, standing in thirty minute lines, to buy violent video games and kiddie video game oriented action figures. My old lady asks the cocky dork at the counter if he had some specific character and he informed her she needed to go to the end of the thirty minute line…and wait…to read a list(!) of available molded plastic characters that are kept in a drawer behind the counter, as a loss prevention measure. I excused myself, as to avoid conflict with this fat, smarmy nerd and wondered down to Hot Topic–man. I must be old. They had maybe one thing I might have bought-a cheezy, twenty-five dollar black and purple Danzig t-shirt with the “Who Killed Marilyn” design from his first single. Where was all the old goth and punk rock? Gone-only shit I’ve even heard of was, “Twilight”, Tim Burton, and that corny emo boyband that wears those cute Motley Crue costumes-Black Veil Brides. I left without buying anything, sat down at the food court and watched all the fat, heavily tattooed people walking by. I’m so poor, I always wonder where all these other seemingly poor people get the money for all those fucking Marvel comics tattoos. I’m way too anti-social for the mall. I can no longer shop happily. I’m just not into video games. I still like records, books, roadtrips, and spontaneous jams.
Things have changed a lot since I still willingly participated in capitalist society. A dude at a kiosk asked me what my cable carrier was and I told him I don’t watch tv, I buy vhs videos from junk stores for a dime a piece. Finally, the old lady was allowed to make her selection and these dorks really thought they were doing her a favor, allowing her to buy some video game shit. Remember when all those smalltown bro types first discovered grunge and grew goatees and all felt like astronauts when they got bouncer or bartending jobs at scummy collegetown “Alternative” venues, in the 90′s? THAT kinda attitude. Like when a high school wrestling team meathead first discovered Scott Weiland singing that “Sex Type Thing” sleazy radio song, back when Weiland was still dyeing his beard orange like Scott Ian, and that hicktown sadist jock type experienced his first, big, profound, macho, lightbulb moment: that he could get a piercing, go shirtless like Anthony Kiedis, punch the creepy weakling in the Mr. Rogers sweater, AND pretend like he was artsy-fartsy, impressing the freshman indie girls, and aged, barfly battle-axes, all at once. Armies upon armies of combat booted Chris Cornell imitators delivered the Tarzan bellowing, frat-boy deathblow to the last remnants of a true music underground, pounding their stinky chests like Woodstock ’99 apemen, with tribal Lollapalooza tattoos. I mostly remember throngs of awful fratboys in Sub-Pop t shirts feeling like they were making a statement by not bathing and wearing flannel. Just garden variety, towel snapping locker room types. Forever brimming with that smirking confidence that comes from having some petty power over others. These lowly computer game retail slaves were similarly, ridiculously all puffed up, like grunge era fratboy bouncers–or cops. That’s how the elites stay in power–by giving the jocks and geek-squads an illusion of inclusion. Here’s a badge and a title. Instant power-trip. Dude-calm down–you’re a clerk. Middle class people ridicule you, incorrectly presuming you never got a college degree. Reminded myself to avoid the fucking mall-it is no place for me. It’s wearying to realize how few places remain that allow any genuine safe space for freaking freely around the bonfire. You gotta own property, and by the time people climb the pyramid, pay off their debt, or inherit their grandmother-in-law’s old farmhouse, they seldom wanna host mandolin and dobro jams on damp, smelly, hay bales in the backyard. That’s when people most often seem to get infected by the white knuckled, “Got Mine, Jack”, exclusionary infection, they start guarding their turf, clinging to their privilege, listening to talk radio, in the truck-like their dad, maybe even attending his church, complaining about minorities and immigrants–it’s like gentrification becomes their unholy mission. Territorial pissing and unchecked greed is our way of life, here, in Duck Dynasty Amerikkka–it’s why everyone feels so isolated and alienated. Prosperity gospel hijacked Christianity–the only real religion in this country is money. Everybody’s looking out for #1, that’s what we are trained to shout at state college football games: “We’re #1!” Even in some music subcultures, that “me, first” attitude is all that trickled down from Reagonomics–like, there can only be one black haired goth dude, per zip code, and you ain’t it, Jack. The quarterback wanted that gig. Or the modelling agency executive’s model son. This ain’t no halfway house, you best be moseyin’ on down the line. All that extremist police state bullshit paranoia and senseless, brown shirted, state violence they rammed down America’s throat after those 3 buildings were blown up in NY, they are using the same exact handbook in France and Canada, now, so there ain’t even nowhere to go, if you wanna avoid this whole fucked up war pig, cut-throat rat race, capitalist sham. They keep us in fear with horrific images from destabilized regions overseas, while giving hollow lip-service and empty speeches to equality, even as they are allowing the domestic enforcer class to kill an unarmed citizen about every eight hours, here in the so called homeland. ‘Same handbook works everywhere–proxy war patsies, filling the public air-waves with mean-spirited around the clock fascist fear propaganda, making laws against speech that questions dominant narratives, demonizing symbolic others, false flag events, and martial law.
THIS IS THE SONG OF MY HERITAGE….
I’m still mad they broke punk rock. That Travis Barker turd is still everywhere. No one remembers anything about Crass or the Adverts or the Exploited or the Jam or Ramones or Dead Kennedys, beyond the logos that are plastered all over that over-priced collectible merchandise. The people have been relentlessly retrained and conditioned by media-monopolies and unreality show programming to believe that punk rock has something to do with rich, faceless, prep-school goobers in designer clothes like Fallout Boy, or rich faux-glammies with operatic vocal ranges like Adam Lambert, or sweaty, rich, gym rats who smile all the time and energetically jump up and down like professional athletes and play generic, non threatening corporate rawk–like Foo Fighters, or rich guys who appropriate outdated hip-hop affectations and date actresses, and drive pimpish automobiles, like those dorky gold chain wearing Madden twins, or nauseatingly fake Broadway show tunes ghost written by Linda Perry, for rich wankers like Green Day…Ya startin’ to see a pattern emerging, here? And worse, still…Rather than only needing the agreement of three other defiant, pissed-off, outcast teens to form a band, like when I was a kid, now, you’ll need to hire a producer, and a songwriter, and a vocal coach, and a stylist, and you and your so-called band mates will all need to get proper permission-slips from the parents’ accountants, and entertainment lawyers—because all these affluent show-biz kids who remain onstage in this static age, have no ideas of their own, really, other then it looks fun to play festivals and appear on Jimmy Fallon-they all have handlers and public relations staff who provide them with carefully choreographed moves and scripts because they don’t want to jeopardize their popularity, or carefully protected position in the upper-class V.I.P. lounge, by doing anything that risks their stature or reputation as well groomed manakin celebrities. Those trite, trendoid, trust-funders get to rule because the rest of us can’t get along, or locate an elusive income stream adequate enough to finance a fucking practice space. The big-media grabs of the past two and a half decades allowed 200 men in suits to control what ideas were allowed on the public airwaves. So now, rocknroll was underground again, as corporations created shit like Bro Country and Rap Metal. Robin Thicke and Blake Shelton. It was the age of the douchebag. Fratboys with piercings still acting out stale “pretty fly for a white guy” gangsta rap fantasies, while paying tramp-stamped lapdancers with hair extensions and breast implants to do some bad bump n grind in hilariously low end V.I.P. lounges. Sports bar people can not tell the difference between Kurt Cobain and Chad Kroeger, Scott Stapp, Gavis Rossdale, and Dave Grohl. Every program repeated corny mantras like “go big or go home”, so most people decided to abandon the clubs and pubs. Nobody wants to be felt-up by the oaf at the door, pay a cover, not smoke, pay ten dollars for drinks, get hassled by guys in white baseball caps and get a d.u.i. on the way home, just to hear some smug D.J. play Kanye, or “Party In The USA”. Everybody is in a room in front of a computer, or flipping endlessly, endlessly, endlessly through Net-Flix, and never finding anything worth watching.
People don’t even hang out together anymore. No one visits each other, or writes letters, just quick texts, or Instagrammed brunches. I don’t blame anybody for wanting to stay inside when every morning, there’s another headline about another child shot dead in a park by police. Everyone has spent the last two decades, watching all those vote the weakest-links off the island shows, and listening to horribly dumbed-down music made by molded plastic models, so everything has become all about competition and strategy, and fitting-in and belonging, rather than rebellion or resistance, or raising consciousness, or even simple music making for the loud, reckless joy and cathartic value of artistic expression. The most basic things you need nowadays to have even a tiny, intentionally unsuccessful band are disposable income and highly effective business management skills. Used to be enthusiasm and desire, creativity and talent, friends and a basement…ya know? I even hear big-time metal dudes formerly from major label bands who opened for Ozzy complaining they don’t have the money for rehearsal spaces, anymore. That’s why these chubby, charisma-free, rich kids with nothing to say are just dominating the vapid culture. It’s become more like choosing teams for dodgeball, then starting a gang with your like-minded pals. Everybody knows it is not a good investment: renting rehearsal spaces at top market value, or paying recording studios fifty bucks an hour, expecting to “get somewhere”. It is just not practical to harbor those useless ambitions, anymore. There’s no time for unsanctioned art, or music, or literature, or film…not when the race is on. Even when ex Circle Jerks and Redd Kross members in OFF! open up for Bad Religion, I’m told that nobody even comes to rock out to OFF! Particularly not, if you are blue collar and forced to piss in a cup for minimum-wage jobs that don’t really even come close to covering rent. Nobody can afford to buy concert tickets, or rent bandhouses, or pay the insurance on a shitty band van, anymore, especially not with all these new homeless hate-laws, allowing cops to drag you out of your vehicle and beat you and impound the van for the crime of sleeping in the back, because you could not afford to pay the one thousand dollar rent, and you had to leave without your furniture. So what we predominantly have left are shitloads of advantaged predators who are good at competing, who come from money, they’re the ones still making the fucking music, nowadays. Advantaged predators who are good at competing don’t always make the best art. Honestly. Maybe they are better suited for sports, or military service, but they all liked that rowdy Nirvana song at college and started reading all about Henry Rollins and Thurston Moore’s opinions and now, we have to see them with their dumb beards and banjos on the cover of both remaining glossy music magazines, everytime we walk past the shrinking grocery store news-stand. Everybody wants a badge in this rent-a-cop culture, to show they have authority and are bona fide and licensed and properly notarized by the man…and those are the people we keep handing the microphone to. All the kings horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put rocknroll rebellion back together again. People wait all year for their one thousand dollar a day Burning Man minute…POOF!…. and it’s promptly right back on the gerbil wheel. Jane, get me off this crazy thing. Jane! Help!
HOT PANTS ZONE….
Back in my day, sonny, we made punk rock mix tapes to communicate and share cool music with our friends, black velvet clad crushes, and pen-pals in other towns-it was one of our most popular pastimes. I have one dear, sweet friend who still makes me those tapes, except he puts ‘em on discs, now. Back then, the death rock girls would even bust out the magic markers and lovingly decorate the envelopes they’d send the cassettes through the mail in, with all those aforementioned punk rock band logos. If you had a decent logo, it got painted on jackets. That was our version of a thumbs-up “like” on social media’s surveillance-grid. There were no computers, no cell phones, if you were poor, there was no cable tv, so to entertain ourselves we went to the library, we made collages, we made fliers, fanzines, wrote letters, painted furniture and like, glued pieces of broken mirror and baby doll heads to our leather jackets. Sometimes, we’d step outside and smoke cigarettes, lean against a rusty car and watch the cars go by. We may have wanted to look like the Cherry Bombz in all that colorful, fitted leather, glam finery, but we were just weird hicks from nowhere, so we had to settle for motorcycle boots and leather jackets from Frontier Hoedown-the Western shop in the mall. Somebody’s fat mom’s blouse and a can of Aqua-Net. Ghoul make-up is commonplace now-thirty years later, even sportos do their pub-crawls in zombie face, but the golf shirts in the preppie era did not appreciate scrawny delinquents in makeup and rosaries, believe me. You only got rides to big cities maybe three or four times a year to see a band at an all ages venue, and to pick through the crates of cut-out record-store vinyl, and load up on black concert t shirts, so everybody made their own punk rock t shirts, at home. Another major pastime. Only the Cure, Misfits, Black Flag, and Suicidal Tendencies did big merchandise back then. Nobody talked about “branding”, believe me. We thought it was way major to print stickers, or fanzines, or get buttons made. Nobody worried about sucking up to right wing rock stars or their awful girlfriends, or spoilt kids. If we thought the hot new band was mediocre, we did not feel obliged to wait in line to kiss the rich singer’s fucking ring. It wasn’t about all that asskissing middle school cafeteria bullshit. Quite the opposite. We formed our little groups to get away from bullying rich kids with Marshall stacks who played Journey covers. We were primarily focused on shaping our own private subculture, in response to all the banality and suckshit assholes in sports cars and baseball caps who wanted to fist-fight in the Arby’s parking lot every Saturday Night. You weren’t trying to be friends with the brutes. You weren’t welcome at the top forty cover-band bars, anyhow–unless you played Bon Jovi and had a dumb perm and big muscles. You played basement parties when somebody’s parents were out of town, or rented out the local boy’s club and invited the hardcore band from three towns over, and the out of state thrash band to appear with you on a bill that never even covered expenses and that was still a triumphant moment. Your friends from out of town came and sang and crashed on the floor. If you met a girl who liked Dead Milkmen, or the Cramps, or even Motley Crue, she was in, we accept you. Gabba Gabba Hey. If you got a halfway decent review in “Flipside” or “Maximum Rocknroll”, that was like, IT, man. Who could ask for more?
SANTA’S GOT A BOMB FOR WHITEY….
So one of my childhood punk rock hairsprayed amigos I made friends with at some out of town Elvis Hitler show, way, way, way back in our sick teens, and who I was tight with years later, made me many lovingly compiled mix-tapes, years and years ago, I still got a whole paper grocery sack of ‘em somewhere, and ya know when you get introduced to new music, some songs will immediately resonate with you, and some stuff takes awhile to sink-in. I can be slow to embrace new tunes, no question about it. Some of them tapes featured a bunch of songs by his hometown’s local faves, names like Bob Seger System, Cult Heroes, Seduce, the Torpedoes, Junk Monkeys, Paybacks, Feisty Cadavers, Cranford Nix Jr., and BOOTSEY X & THE LOVEMASTERS, and I gotta admit, I didn’t get it, at first. Too Iggy Pop. In the shadows of all that corporate grunge shit, back then, were the last suburban legions of Ramones clones, lining up to bore you with their cheap and tawdry, shamelessly derivative Clash or Thunders impersonations, and it was annoying, tedious, unimaginative-too many copycats, not enough real alley cats, ya know? Plus-every shitty pink spandex wearing hair-metal band was trying to become doomy Alice In Chains dudes overnight, so when I first heard this familiar Iggy like crooning and yelping and rusted junkyard riffage and cocksure, Andre Williams style R & B gestures being played by a local legend and his all-star bands, who released some albums with appallingly cheap looking cover art, I wasn’t sure what to make of him, I was guarded if not dismissive, initially, but everyone kept telling me he was like a flaming cocktail of Sly & The Family Stone, J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf, James Brown, The Fleshtones, Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, and Iggy Pop. I was skeptical, but hey, my nearest college town had it’s very own David Bowie, who ran the goth boutique, by the name of Ronald Koal, so ya know, I tried to keep an open mind. Detroit Rock City is a fabulous place to visit, if you don’t mind having to get your car’s suspension realigned due to all the potholes, and you will need a car, it ain’t some place you want to be traipsing around on foot in. I thought it was sketchy in the eighties, before the bottom fell out. Miles and miles of broken down factories and burned out houses. Twenty foot high gates and barbed wire. It’s a war zone. Ground zero for disaster capitalism. The music community really stick together in that town. Doesn’t matter if it’s Kid Rock, the Nuge, or I.C.P., Detroit people root for one another and you gotta admire that, in a way. ‘Lotta natives tend to champion any band stamped, “Made In Detroit”. I’ve been to Compton, I’ve been to South Boston, but I’ve never seen hometown pride like you do in the Motor City-cool thing is, that same ferocious loyalty they have to sports heroes and white boy rappers, they also have it for their friends. Gritty, gruff, salt of the earth. It does make it harder to believe when locals sing praises of an underground artist with the same zealous patriotism they have for Eminem, Jack White, and all their sports teams. So my party store can collectin’, glam rock, homeboys were turning me onto BOOTSEY X, sometime, way back when. I liked a couple songs, right away. One was by an old band he was just the drummer in, called the Mutants-I immediately dug their tune, “So American”, which was a fun, poppy celebration of cheeseburgers and driving around with the windows down, sort of like a Dictators song, without the macho pro-wrestler shtick. Cool, cool. Another one was called, “Genius From The Waist Down”, and that made me smile right away. Bootsey was best known in some college radio circles for playin’ drums for 70′s punk heroes, The Ramrods (“I’m A Ramrod”) who were courted by new wave kingpin, Seymour Stein, and Elektra proto-punk impresario, Danny Fields, and appreciated by Kim Fowley. After that band split, Boostey went on to jam with Nikki Corvette and also, the Sillies.
His song, “I Wanna Be Rich” is a fizzy pop anthem about sittin’ in your moldy squat, sucking down cheap malt liquor and eating ramen, dreamin’ about seizin’ that American dream they told us so much about, and someday bein’ able to fill jukeboxes with rare glam sides, and dress like Elvis did in Memphis in his twenties, and live like they do on those spring break shows for kids on MTV. “Pusherman Of Love” was an urgent ode to decadence and promiscuity, in the timeless tradition of Stagger Lee or Jim Dandy, assuring all the sexies that Bootsey was always on-call and available as their personal physician; and bragging like a rapper about how he made midnight housecalls and his caring and attentive bedside manner. Our many mutual pals and faithful co-conspirators and occasional collaborators continued to sometimes regale me at various cookouts and basement acoustic jams with Bootsey X stories, briefing me on the Ramrods, or Mutants, or Coldcocked, or Rocket 455…but really, aside from digging three or four songs well enough, I didn’t think much more about that guy, until one fateful night, when he showed up, all of a sudden, live and in-person, in real life, oozing unequivocal star power, lavishing me with very unexpected heaps of seemingly sincere praise and generosity, and telling me and all my whiskey guzzlin’, pizza eatin’, suitjacket and purple scarf wearin’, circus of the stars cronies his many fabulous stories, and he even brought a stack of old records, he wanted to turn us on to. Whoa. He was a rocknroll animal after my own heart! Pure personality. A Prime Mover. In a town notorious for it’s tight-knit, locals only, in-crowd, here was perhaps, the quintessential in-crowder, bestowing me with waves of encouragement and positive, soul affirming recognition. He always said he read my stuff in the music rags and loved my songs and even offered to play drums in my tiny, ill-fated, under-funded, part-time band; he offered not once, but many, many times, over the years. We just hit it off instantly, soul bros, hi-fi, high fives. Weird sees weird, I guess. He was the real deal, a lifer. A refugee of the culture wars, just like me. One of us was a flamboyant, extroverted, highly opinionated, record collecting, garage punk vocalist and aging ladies man with a long procession of stripper ex girlfriends; who was always spookin’ the horses and stirrin’ up the natives by enjoying mid-day luaus, or d.i.y. put-put golfing in unexpected public places, and the other was…well, let’s just say we had some shit in common. It became more challenging, I think for both of us, to find a rightful place in the world, as we got older, and the record stores we worked at kept closing, particularly in that Bush/Cheney climate of darkness and suspicion, with the bogus drug war, sucky music, and boiling frog police state. We were old school Funhouse geeks. Teenage Heads. Not really cut out for the tiny boxes of conformity, or fascism. When both of our lives kept stubbornly spiralling downward for quite some time, we even momentarily considered becoming roommates, I was always flattered by his enthusiasm, concern, and attention. BOOTSEY X was a loose cannon, a live wire, a real cool time tonight, the kind of guy who was liable to show up with strippers and a big bottle on a school night, who would get you in trouble because he was too charming to refuse. He had impeccable taste in shoes and unparalleled expertise regarding rocknroll’s secret history. He was a hairdresser by trade, like Little Richard, but I so wish he would have gotten a big time radio show with top-notch health insurance, like all those lesser lights on Sirious Radio. He knew everything about music. He was a cool struttin’, jive talkin’ Creem magazine, in tight slacks. Cub Coda covered one of his songs and dropped dead before it was released. I hope Cub’s Van Wert relatives will see fit to let us hear it someday. Bootsey was the consummate old school record store dude who’d inspire you to brave rush hour every payday and stand around a musty record store for three hours talking about deep tracks and liner notes and blow too much bread on scratchy vinyl, before they were all infiltrated by self congratulating yuppie scum who were certain they were deserving of sainthood, by merely existing in a Wal Mart World, even as their own unchecked, record store owner with a boner, bully greed mimicked the Walton family’s. Bootsey was a real rocknroll motherfucker. Like Lester Bangs, or Rob Tyner. A true believer among true believers, believe me. In Detroit, the girlfriends knew more about music than the pudgy figureheads in other cities. He had it all sussed–from rare Replacements songs to ancient Mitch Ryder, or sixties soul, he knew it all.
That all too brief moment in time was the last hurrah for merriment and late night improvisational comic absurdity, top volume bozo-debauchery, bold as love celebration and good cheer. Stoned philosophers and rhinestoned revelers guffawing in the dawn’s early light. Reminded me of vintage golden days with my original crew of skate-rats, mohawks, motorcyclists, and metalheads. Sometimes, there might be ten or fifteen rocknroll crazies passing guitars around and singing, “Lovin’ Cup”, or “Spaceball Ricochet”. Detroit Rock City knows how to par-tay. I mean, really. Trying to keep up with Bootsey as he zoomed from drink to handshake to hug to drink and it’s onward to another nightclub with his head out the car window was a dizzying experience, but most everybody seemed cool with his warp drive personality. Detroit was not nearly so infected with that “J-O-B” three fingersnaps, Judge Judy social programming as other towns. They love larger than life motherfuckery, there. My theory has always been that’s it’s because it really is so tough to live there, in Detroit, that by the time the weekend rolls around, people are really ready to let their hair down, but there is also a hardcore circle of full time, wild hearted rockers, who are not fucking around. At all. At all. The bars are a lot friendlier than in other towns, and people dress up for shows and dance their asses off. There isn’t all that standing at the back wall, with your arms crossed, thinking how you could have played that last solo faster. People wanted to get along. It was always a blast. There wasn’t that puritan streak that exists in other towns where church ladies, office scolds, and middleclass squares want to supervise you, or shush you for being too original, or unusually attired, or ban dancing like in “Footloose”. It was a really positive, uplifting, and nurturing vibe there, for the most part. Cool record stores, cool costumes shops. Lots of great food. A communal spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness left over from the MC5′s time prevailed, for the most part. The ice cream truck plays “Looking At You”. Those were the last of the good ole daze, before that dwindling gang of mine split up, and spun-off in different directions, like billiard balls cracked hard, or fireworks in the night.
DWARF BUNNY NATION….
Nowadays, the media-juggernaut has convinced sadly gullible cows that Taylor Swift somehow represents rural small town southern girls, this billionaire’s daughter who has never been to a smalltown; and that empty vessels like Kim and Kanye are important public figures; and that we should all primarily concern ourselves with Bruce Jenner’s surgery or Beck’s self esteem; so it’s not much of a stretch for any cable-dumb consumer to tell themselves they are being deep and edgy when buying some shitty product–anybody with a camera and a mousepad believes they are a “Rockstar” with their Guitar Hero video game and vile tasting energy drink, taking selfies on their way to kooky St. Patrick’s Day kareoke, blaring that bad Pink song, while waiting in line in the Taco Bell drive through, with a car full of high-heeled Kardashian wannabes without underwear like their role models Paris Hilton, or whoever this week’s new Miley Cyrus is, but my man BOOTSEY X had that very real shake appeal, the GENUINE “X-Factor”–the kind that can not be learned, or taught, or auto-tuned, or manufactured by tools like Simon Cowell. When his neighborhood fans first tried hipping me to his swanky recordings, it took awhile to really grasp the true, full-blast, technicolor BOOTSEY X experience, because you just can’t explain that kind of phenomenon with mere words, you know—like you can’t “explain” Johnny Thunders, or Jerry Lee Lewis, or George Clinton to somebody, it has to be witnessed in the flesh. Right? Many of his limited budget studio recordings hardly did him justice, and he deserved better, but this was no giddy trust fund jerkoff, like I was sayin’, he did the best with what he had at hand. BOOTSEY X wasn’t someone you merely listened to, he was a way of life who you had to FEEL, to understand. Some of the acest gunslingers and most highly venerated rocknroll personalities Michigan had to offer, marquee names like Ron Ashton, Greasy Carlise, Ricky Rat, Gerald Shohan, Niagara, J. Kordosh, and Mark Gilder all backed-up the the suave Mister X, at various places and times. All-stars from the Torpedoes, Rob Tyner band, and Outrageous Cherry. BOOTSEY X was part gospel preacher, part shifty drug hustler, part used car dealer, and all horny hedonist, and stand-up comic, in his sharp shoes and silken shirts. James Brown splits, Michael Des Barres mic stand ballet moves, carnival barker salesmanship. He specialized in that rat-a-tat-tat-tat sixties radio disc jockey patter. He was a visceral vision of hardworking Motown swagger and smart assed, slick-talkin’ street soul. Lots of my friends were offbeat geniuses and sentimental street poets and train-jumpin’ troubadours and know-it-all rock critics, so at some point, I developed a fairly broad threshold for excessive rocknroll behaviors. We were not prudes, or politicians. We were not running for some Catholic school student council. I never had any expectation that he should be some modest, genteel, southern belle extending his pinky, while sipping tea from grandma’s fine china, so we got along like a house on fire. Then, his house caught on fire. The old school Detroit rocknroll community promptly got it together to help one of their own through this serious setback and I remember thinking how righteous and moving it was that so many turned out to support this heroic underdog. Some mean spirited spinster types wrote some really ugly, judgmental shit to one of the papers complaining bitterly that anyone would want to champion an individual who openly wrestled with pharmaceutical addictions. Man. That blew my mind-how effective all that Dr. Phil drug scare and reefer hysteria, prison-profiteering propaganda had become. This country was divided and conquered via daytime tv programming in the nineties that ceaselessly demonized anyone who did not make “good money”. To me, BOOTSEY X was far more valuable then another cog in the corporate death machine. He was the people’s champion, a beloved entertainer, a trickster, like Bugs Bunny in shades. The life of the party, a storytellin’ man. You can’t put no hourly pricetag on somebody like that. I used to live with a songwriter who wrote one halfway good song in the fifties and still gets to live comfortably on it today. Meanwhile, some of my friends are GREAT songwriters, who’ve written HUNDREDS of great songs, and they are shamed and scorned by the squares for failing to inherit a middle class lifestyle. Fuck that shit. BOOTSEY X had a manic energy and Vegas sized wit that could resonate with party people from all walks of life. Leisure oriented, Friday night boozers and Soul Train line dancers, satin trousered hell raisers, and fire escape bar-b-q’ers, of all ages. He was dashing, in his own way. All the flashest ladies competed to be his Sugar Babes Of Soul. Here was one of the last brave dudes, in a world full of painfully transparent lies and outdated myths, spewed by loudmouthed blowhards like Bill O’Reilley, Bootsey perhaps naively hoped to get extra credit for having integrity and for casually telling the balls-out, sad and sordid truth, no matter how imprudent, or supposedly impolite, he may have been perceived as being, by the dull as wallpaper, scenester come-latelys, who just never fully immersed themselves in the naked abandon and magical, unbridled joy of get down, get funky, footloose and fancy free, singalong, electric warrior, real wild child, na na na na, finger snappin’ good times, in the Motor City. Took me awhile for all this to spill out, I think primarily because I wanted to allow considerable time to pass, so as to be respectful to his more significant intimates, some of whom have also written at length about the good brother, I guess I just wanted them to have have the floor. It’s not like I grew up with the cat, but we were friends and I appreciated his company, and even talking on the phone, he could make me laugh, just imitating individuals who he was encountering at certain kinds of meetings we used to attend. I don’t even know if I ever really encountered the “Real Bob” behind the performer, cause even in his hard times, when we’d talk on the phone, I suspected he was putting on a brave face for me, but I do know he recognized that I fully accepted him, flaws and all, and it was mutual–we were common spirits who had met too late, because by the time I brushed with the dude, the bogus corporate media hoax had lured every killjoy bummer and badtrip buzzkill into the now fully fluorescent scene. Clear Channel was buying up everything, college stations, even venues. You couldn’t even smoke in bars most places, and super fun was now forbidden by the yuppie “haves” who owned and operated the consolidated radio playlists, ever shrinking music press, and were steadily buying up nightlife infrastructure, who sold a watered down version of freedom back to us, at top dollar, and in tiny increments. And over policed by thick necked hockey players with over-sized flash-lights. It must have been strange for right-on song and dance men like BOOTSEY X, Morris Day, Jim Osterberg, or David Lee Roth to live through a time where folks were conned into not wanting to dress snazzy, boogie down, or have an all-night laugh-riot, in that insufferable “Alternative”-era, when the tv people were willing to stand in line for negative glum-fests, and popular kid scene kings punching smaller people in the eye. Clobbering the weak is not sexy or rocknroll. It’s sanitized war, football bully monoculture. I should not have to spell this out. Kurt Cobain loathed much of his own audience, and even all these years later, most of the music still smells like piles of unwashed tube socks and millions of bongwater spills on dirty dorm-room carpet. Iggy Pop tried to keep the cold metal, skull ring, rocknroll lifestyle hijinks rollin’ with “Instinct” and “Naughty Little Doggie”, but finally succumbed to doom and gloom with “Ave. B” and that awful fucking nu-metal album best left forgotten. Finally, he got back with the Stooges and we’re all happy about that. BOOTSEY X kept right on entertaining the good people of Detroit, never one to follow trends, or tone down his swashbuckling, soul belting, show-band style. He was fortunate in one way-to have a devoted circle of highly talented backup musicians. A boutique label released a limited edition vinyl lp called “Women’s Love Rites” co-starring guys from the Sights, Trash Brats, and the original Lovemasters.
Fortunately for Detroit rockers, there were still a significant population of night-life loving, deeply sincere, unbeatable music people running some of the last great rocknroll clubs where you could still congregate and socialize and host badass bands from out of town, as BOOTSEY X was one of those die-hard fun gluttons who thrived in a seedy, permissive atmosphere of pills and girls and greasy food and great musicians. In an age when all our former idols have become celebrity make-a-buck t-shirt salesmen, and the mainstream dorks worship at the feet of crybaby richkids who belly-ache about their guacamole and/or fans taking pictures of them while they’re performing, BOOTSEY X was one of the very last, stylish, punknsoul originals to tread the boards who really, really, really cared about, and understood, and appreciated his audience and earnestly lived his whole life to bring people together and show them a good time. “Annie got hot pants power!” He was the kind of dude who could go to a dark, seemingly conservative, little old man bar and turn it into a conga-line dance party spilling outside into the streets, all while groovin’ to that old F.M. radio song, “Love Train”, through sheer willpower and a pocket full of Peter Pan fairydust. I miss him. His luck was as fucked up as mine. One of the last real friends I made, he was always acting upbeat, giving advice, offering to let me and my girlfriend crash at his humble abode, or play drums in my dead end glitter gangs, he was good people. A real soul brother. I’m sorry we didn’t have more time together. He became one of my favorite rocknroll characters, and was a thoroughly goodhearted bloke. Last time we spoke, it was on-line, he was really sick, he told me he loved me and I, him…kinda feels like he’s still here in a way, because he was so totally full of soul and you can’t ever fully kill a man with a soul. Now, he’s a rocknroll angel. I watched highlights of his tribute concert on youtube and that whole community really did him righteous, it was very poignant and touching. Buy all his music on E-Bay, like “Women’s Love Rites”, “Pusherman Of Love”, anything with his name on it. Check-out all his stuff on Youtube. If you still love rocknroll, you’ll be gratified to get hip to his kung fu fightin’, raw powered, high-fashion lover, soul shakin’ rocknroll, and rhythm and blues revue, even if you are leery of all the hype, at first, like I was. See ya on the other side, Brother Bootsey. You are so loved by many. I asked our colleague, fellow traveler, and lifelong ally in the war against the jive, Mr. Chris Barry, to join us here for this toast tonight, so please welcome tonight’s special guest, who also has a few words to share about the good brother. As most of you know, Chris is similarly, an under-rated songwriter, always insightful social commentator, peerless rocknroll performer and all around badass cat.
TO BOOTS WITH LOVE BY CHRIS BARRY
I really only got to know the entity commonly referred to as Bootsey X [aka Bob Mulrooney] towards the end of his life. He was already sick by the time we were introduced and I could often read between the lines of our correspondence to recognize that his illness had begun to color his attitude towards the world somewhat. And fair enough. We should all be as stoic as Bootsey when confronted with the knowledge our days are numbered and even better, that they’ll likely be dominated by unfathomable pain until the sweet black angel of death finally pops by to put us out of our misery.
I’ve never been one to casually throw out the ‘ol “hero” handle just because somebody’s had the misfortune of contracting a terminal illness. How anyone determines that dying from cancer or ALS or whatever is somehow heroic is beyond me. You get sick, possibly find yourself attached to a shit bag and/or suffer similar indignities for awhile, everybody around you cries a lot and you eventually die. Hopefully sooner rather than later for the sake of all involved. I dunno, I just can’t find any Rambo’s or Che Guevara’s or anything especially valiant in that equation.
To this end I always appreciated that on bad days the Bootstah wasn’t afraid to tell me how he really felt about the hand he was dealt in life and how his story was playing out, knowing full well he was on the final chapter and it sure wasn’t looking like the narrative was working its way toward a surprise happy ending.
SOME KIDS GOTTA ROCK
After all, a happy ending would’ve been totally inconsistent with the rest of Bob’s saga – as I understand it, at least. Others who knew the man better might have an entirely different interpretation of the Bootsey X legend. I sincerely hope they do and further hope it’s a far more accurate take than mine, because I can’t help but see Bob’s tale as a tragedy. In that respect, I suppose Bootsey’s tenacity in trying to make decent records at a time when decent records were arguably in short supply, the 1980s, could possibly be construed as vaguely heroic. But my guess is that Bootsey was one of those guys who just HAD to play rock and roll, that it was in his blood and to NOT be out there writing songs and doing gigs for 25 people after 30 odd years of trying was an even worse fate than actually doing it. Guys like that really do exist, I know because I’m one of them, it’s just something you sort of have to do , no matter how degrading, demoralizing, and downright depressing it can get at times.
I’m not sure why I feel such kinship to a dead man who, for the most part, I essentially only knew through fuckin’ Facebook and a series of private exchanges we had towards the end of his days. But I liked the guy immediately, maybe because I recognized the fellow rock and roll lifer in him and partially, I admit, because I’d learned he was a fan of my own musical offerings throughout the ages. And as everyone who knew the man already knows, Bob was a walking music encyclopedia, I mean, this guy really knew his stuff, so having his seal of approval on my own material really meant a lot to me.
Truth be told, I’d never listened to any of Bootsey’s records until we’d gotten to know each other a little, and even then, I’d only paid attention to a few songs here and there. You see, the god honest truth is that I’m used to things sucking. It’s far too rare that I hear anything that actually moves me. So when Bob first emailed me a few tracks of his to listen to, a couple new songs he was working along with the Lovemasters Pusherman of Love single, I didn’t have especially high expectations for it.
On first listen I remember thinking his stuff was good, but good like a thousand bands can be good. Which is already encouraging for someone as jaded as I’ve become but still, nothing really jumped out at me, I didn’t hear anything special in it. Nevertheless, out of simple respect for Bootsey I felt obliged to give it several listens anyway, I’m always honest when asked my opinion of other people’s music and to do so intelligently requires repeated listens – for me, at least. Chore or not I felt I owed Bob that much.
Well, as it happens Bob was actually the one doing me the favor, because as per usual with records I eventually come to adore, I found myself enjoying Pusherman more with every play.
After a couple of days I got back to Bob to tell him what I thought of the stuff he’d sent me. I was very happy to be able to honestly report that I actually dug it, that with the Pusherman of Love single I was really impressed with how he was able to work the well-worn Kick out the Jams/Loose riff into something new and, yeah, I’ll say it, unique. No mean feat, for sure. I also told him I thought the Lovemasters were a great band and that I got a kick out of his lyrics, all stuff that was true. What I somehow couldn’t see then though, is that it would take me another full year before I recognized this Bootsey X and the Lovemasters stuff wasn’t just good, it was fuckin’ BRILLIANT! That there’d soon be times this jaded old fuck I’ve become would play Genius from the Waist Down five, six, seven times in a row, dancing and singing along to this fantastic song pretty well every day for weeks on end, as enthused about this piece of music as I’d been about anything in… seriously, god knows how fuckin’ long. Whooda thunk it?
The late Bob Mulrooney might not have been what most people consider a great singer, but I’ve come to love the guys voice. You can hear his love of rock and roll in it, it’s right there for anyone with ears to pick up on, just Google Genius from the Waist Down and you’ll know what I mean.
Of course, by the time I realized just how much I admired his work the fucker had gone off and died on me. Looking back on it now, I’m concerned my original critique of his material might have come off as condescending. Deep down I know it probably wasn’t but still…. Anyway, condescending or not, Bob was pretty gracious about it all, as any non-idiot would be when presented with a sincere critique of their music.
The last correspondence we’d had before he died was essentially a diatribe of his inspired by a simple query. Said query being, “Hey pal, I haven’t heard anything from you in awhile. Hope you’re feeling okay.” A few days later he responded – and it wasn’t good. He told me that in fact he was doing terribly, that his latest prognosis had definitely not been good, that he was weak and sick all the time, had no money, no place of to live; he essentially he went on for a good thousand words about how miserable this brain cancer business was making him.
DEATH AT THE DOOR OF A ROCKNROLL LIFER
I was somewhat taken aback by his response. Yeah, I knew he obviously wasn’t in top form but I guess until then I hadn’t fully digested the fact that this shit was eventually gonna kill him. Bitter and fucked up as it was, I appreciated his diatribe, that he had enough respect for me to be honest about his misfortune, to let me know just how hard it fuckin’ sucks to be dying at his relatively young age. I wasn’t quite sure of how to respond. I mean, what do you say to somebody in such a totally fucked up situation as Bob was at that time? Even though he wasn’t looking for pity or money or anything along those lines, there wasn’t anything I could do to help him out with anyway.
It took me a few days before I was finally able to muster up some sort of response, a simple “yeah, that sucks, Bob. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been having such a rough time of it lately. Do you think you’ll be up to finishing those new songs you sent me anytime soon?” He got back to me immediately with a “yes”, he was hoping to finish them off as soon as he recovered from this latest bout with the cancer eating away at his brain. It actually sounded somewhat encouraging to my ears.
Roughly one month later I learned that he’d died. And that was it. Not that it would have made a huge difference to him or anything, but every time I put on Genius, or Pony Down, or Pusherman of Love, or any number of great Bootsey X tracks, it kills me I was never able to let him know how much admiration I have for his work. People who really knew him always go on about Bob’s great sense of humour, his passion for records, what a nice guy he was, these sorts of things. And I’m sure it’s all true. I believe I got a glimpse of his good character in my own limited way. But the only thing I can truly know about Bob is what I hear on his records – and to that end, well, fuck, some of it is just so good. I only wish I’d been astute enough to clue into his talent a little earlier in the game so I could have told him as much. Unfortunately, this little tribute to the man [eulogy?] is likely the closest I’ll get to it now.
(-Chris Barry is a freelance writer currently based in Montreal. At various times over the past millennia he’s fronted the 222s, 39 Steps, Pillbox NYC, and series of bands you may have heard at some point in your life. To read more of Chris’ stuff go to his blog, Looselips.ca )
SMOOCH. SMOOCH. AUF WIEDERSEHEN. YOU MAY LEAVE THE RUNWAY: