Sorry I’ve been so absent and depriving the Internet kingdom of content-gruel for you to pour down your insatiable gullets, but everything seems to have been chugging along just fine without me. I had to kidnap our roommate Lisa and caravan off to my desert bungalow to escape the realities of existence, photograph some dilapidated architecture, and increase our chances of developing melanoma.
They (as in “the man”) are in the process of tearing down a bunch of stuff near the Salton Sea right now. I don’t really have the time or space to explain the Salton Sea in this post, but basically Gummo is real and instead of taking place in Xenia, Ohio, imagine it set on the shore of a giant contaminated body of water that is constantly washing up eyeless petrified fish and sludge-encrusted bird feathers. Now imagine that these tiny, tiny towns that sit on the edge of this sea have developed a huge meth problem and no one ever tears down any of the many buildings that have been set on fire, blown up, or abandoned.
It’s bizarre and scary and beautiful. There was this abandoned motel that I used to stop by whenever I was exploring the area that was covered in spray-painted satanic scrawls:
and Beck lyrics. No, really – (from “Qué Onda Guero”):
Anyways, we went back last week and somehow in about a year they’ve turned it from a hypodermic needle-laden pigeon-infested death cave into some stupid museum. They even tore out the pool (once a famous “secret” skate spot) and this Irish girl band called Wonderland were shooting a music video there with the guy who directed “Baby One More Time”. They apparently haven’t yet been corrupted by fame, so they did not understand that no one should ever follow in Britney Spears’ footsteps unless they want to have a nervous breakdown or get fat. Regardless, they were very sweet and even have a Wikipedia.
But I digress. Music. Rock ‘n’ roll. Listening practices on the open road were split between bopping to the Ramones and screaming along to the “90’s on 9” station on XM radio, which featured near-forgotten hits from The Offspring, Savage Garden, and Dishwalla. The amazing thing about this station is that every single time they go to the next track, you get that “OH MY GOD, THIS FUCKIN’ SONG” feeling. They’re on top of tapping deep into the recesses of your mental reservoir of pop culture.
We also found ourselves reading a lot after drinking margaritas, witnessing the decline of Western civilization and baking in the sun for hours. I finally got back my copy of Please Kill Me after it was abducted from my apartment by Jackson Scarlett the day after I got it from my brother for Christmas.
I can’t believe that I’ve spent almost 25 years of my life walking around having not read this book. It is a richly depraved swamp of stories about musicians that I have been blindly idolizing since I was in a training bra, and it’s totally fascinating. They were all sex-crazed druggie assholes, just like they wanted us to believe! Oh man.
Some things I have learned from it so far:
-Nico slept with EVERYONE. And thought that she was in love with them no matter how sudden/ludicrous their romance was. Lou Reed, Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop, etc. etc. etc. Everyone talks about how beautiful and genius she was, but they also disclaim that she was nuttier than a bag of P.B. Crisps.
-So did Patti Smith, but she seemed to revel in it more and went out of her way to sleep with famous artists for the sake of sleeping with famous artists. She is still the ultimate badass, however.
-Everyone thought Jim Morrison was annoying, a hack, and overrated. Also, he got bloated and disgusting towards the end.
-Detroit was once the coolest city in America.
-Groupies in the 70’s were all 13 or 14 and no one cared, not even their parents. Statutory rape was akin to jaywalking. Especially if your band was on Elektra.
-Almost all men associated with early punk/glam rock were two-thirds gay. Especially David Bowie and Lou Reed. Surprisingly, the New York Dolls were the exception even though they looked the gayest.
-Billy Marcia from the New York Dolls had the worst death ever, as in the most needless and shameful. On the Dolls’ first tour of England, he OD’d on a bunch of pills that hip rich kids at a party gave to him, and when he passed out they all just put him in a tub of ice water and bailed in fear of getting in trouble. He drowned. If they had just called an ambulance and he had gotten his stomach pumped, he would have been fine.
-Iggy Pop almost died more times than you have blinked today.
I will share more notes as I trudge onward. Tally ho! It’s only getting better.
originally posted on Deaf Forever, 4.19.11