Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Bargain CD

It was a triumphant day today as I scored a $5.00 used CD of the Butthole Surfers “Psychic, Powerless… Another Man’s Sac”.  This is music that can readily be referred to as “challenging”, yet I find it soothing and almost relaxing for some reason.  You see, I have a long close relationship with this album (and I do mean album.  I have it on vinyl as well).  This record comes from a time when punk rock meant more than pretending to be either the Clash or Black Flag after the smoke had cleared.  At the time this came out, “punk rock” meant this shit was going to be subversive and probably way out there.  The punk rock label meant the band was going to be challenging the norms and standards of what had come before it, and not hope to play on the Burger King Stage at Warped Tour.  People got really upset when you played this stuff.  “What the hell is this?” 

I liked the Butthole Surfers immediately, first probably because I liked the idea of a band calling themselves “Butthole Surfers”.  People were really into Def Leppard and Michael Jackson when this came out.  This stuff couldn’t have been any further out there.  The band was a group of people deliberately trying to irritate and freak you out just because they thought it was funny.  It didn’t even appear as if they could play their instruments very well.  Seriously, how can’t you get behind an idea like that? 

Here is a great piece of Butthole Surfers information I am sort of paraphrasing from the outstanding book “Please Kill Me”.  When the band started to tour, they didn’t do so in a van.  They took out the back seat of a car like a Chevy Impala, and a couple of them had to lie in the back like corpses.  Even better, they were driving around with a dog.  The dog’s name?  Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad.  The dog’s name wasn’t “Mark”.  No, it was “Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad”.  So these freaky guys would show up to a place like CBGBs, a dog running around all over the place with one of them calling out “Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad!  Come!  Come Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad!”.  Once again, absolute genius...

This particular Butthole Surfers record was extremely useful as a way to clear out a party.  If your house was full and you wanted to get people out of your house, all you had to do was turn up “Eye of the Chicken” or “Cherub” and watch normal folks leave like you dropped a can of tear gas.  I assume it would still work that way today.  I really need to test it with my outdoor speakers in about a month.  Of course, to certain people, this music blasting was a sign things were about to get turned up a notch.  One of these people was an acquaintance of mine named Don.

Don was one of those quiet guys that looked like the lead character Arnold in the very obscure, yet still great made-for-TV movie from the mid seventies “Bad Arnold”.  I realize this is a very oblique reference, but dammit that’s who he looked like!  Don had fallen in with these people in my orbit, a group of punk rock hippies that enjoyed a strange mix of alternative music, recreational drugs, thrift store bicycles, and tye die shirts.  It was probably good for Don socially that he fell in with these people and became part of the pack, but I’ll bet it didn’t help his work performance any. 

Don went to see the Butthole Surfers on the tour behind “Locust Abortion Technician” I believe.  That was a good idea.  What wasn’t a good idea was that Don, at the pack’s urging, decided to take several hits of acid that Bruce had received in trade for some shitty bike he had restored from a junkyard.  This was the tour where the Surfers played giant movies of botched surgical procedures, car crash aftermaths, and childbirth while intermitted flashing unbelievably powerful strobe lights flashed directly at the audience.  To give you an idea of how powerful these lights were, one of the band members had to quit because the lights triggered grand mal epileptic seizures.  This was clearly a very, very bad place to launch a powerful hallucinogenic experience.  It might have been the worst place ever.

Don was so distraught by what he saw and the experience he had that he literally could not speak for a week.  He had a look of confusion and fear in his eyes that I have only seen in animals in dire circumstances.  Hell, and that was when I saw him four days later shuffling down the street. Imagine what he must have been like at the show.

All these thoughts flooded back to me as “Gary Floyd” blasted in my car, my face in a small grin.  Music is so great for that reason.  A simple thing like a song can trigger memories and feelings of a different time and place.  These moments always come unexpectedly.  I wish I could recall certain times/places at will, but it just doesn’t work that way.  It's all sensory.  A whiff of perfume.  A sight of a Spring flower.  A song.  An object.  The taste of a glass of wine.  That's how important memories are stored.  

I don’t know if the people I used to hang out with that were as enthusiastic about the Butthole Surfers as I was (am) still listen to their material.  They should.  I know I’m glad I did today.  I’m even happier because the CD has the EP “Creamed Corn From The Socket Of Davis” as a bonus.  It’s an embarrassment of riches… 



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