Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lux has left the building: The Interior is now Exterior

Primordial. That's the way I and a few of my like-minded schizicens felt about the Cramps. The funeral oration of Pericles will probably resound from some of the pulpits, but it won't be here. Never met the man, only saw the band twice, yet the connection was formed before I even knew how deep the twisted and gnarled roots entwined below the surface of the culture. So, instead of going on to Lester Bangs length (as I am wont to do), a few brief remarks.

The first hint of that was the ep, with liner notes about how they gestated, fairly festered, in the blue glow of b&w monster movies (language that evoked the mysteries of radiation and mutation so dear to those sci-fi pioneers), reading EC comics (my first love before rock and roll) in a Cleveland suburb. The whole impact of the prose was to herald a sound as a supporating lesion, the open wound that art seeks to heal but never can. (Ok. Maybe a little Greek tragedy, like Philoctetes, if you want.) And it was all red too. I now know that "Human Fly" was not an original, nor "Goo-Goo Muck", but it belonged to them after that point.

Even the name, Lux Interior--it was like a joke that was raving before you heard it. The punchline was a voice like a hyena's laugh in the Serengetti: giggles, whispers, moans and gurgles. The rest of it were feral glints in the night...don't wander far from the campfire.

While still rusticating in the Midwest, a friend wrote me about the new club opening up on Halloween on Second Avenue called CBGBs Theater. It was only open for a couple of shows, I guess, but that one found the band in full glory. Brian was still with them and glowering. Ivy lifted her legs to reveal what most males wanted to see. Lux gnawed on a raw bone--either cow or pig--and threw it into the throng. Then repeatedly stabbed stuffed animals until the front rows were covered in kapock. Then a roadie brought out a box under a tarp...and Lux opened the cage and released the rats onto the audience.

Uh. That's Dada, folks.

Smack dab in the center of the "New Wave" was this band who had totally escaped the distancing of Cool. They never bothered with Existential Dread; they were too busy running from zombies, and pumping out a lurching rhythm on so much echoplex and reverb you'd have thought you'd fallen into the Cavestomp Dimension, where "The Mole People" were ruled by Rocky Horror, dictating his fiats through a Ventures amp on 11. No matter how alienated you got, all it would take is some of that throbble to thrombosis your neurosis and get you to wriggle-wiggle with the worms.

A friend tipped me to the tape called "The Purple Knif Show" wherein Lux went on a radio station in LA in 1984 and DJ'ed a 90-minute set of favorite tunes. What made it more impressive was that he was using the code words known only to ex-North Ohioans of a very particular period. He had stepped very forcefully, in his fishnet hose and stiletto heels, right out of the closet and opened declared himself a f.o.g.--Friend of Ghoulardi. If you have to ask, don't look at me--I can't tell you. Not in a million years. And I've tried, elsewhere. But that's another reason they endured through the years; the Lux/Ivy unit made for this astonishing enigma. Not that they wouldn't speak to the press, but nothing they ever said went beyond this space-out of childlike naivete to abstract terror; the sincere innocence necessary to generate the core of jibbering madness that opens the door to escape. And from what? To where? Remember the Doc's dying breath to Captain Leslie Nielsen in "Forbidden Planet" on what killed the Krell? "Monsters, John! Monsters...from the ID!"

On every Labor Day Lobster Bake we'd join in with other psychempaths on the rockbound coast of Portland, Maine's Thousand Islands and they were always near to top of the playlist in heavy rotation. The booze cruise on the ferry would resemble a batch of drunken sailors on shore leave, but I can't forget stomping with my avowedly hetreosexual male companions into a collective high kick on "Bikini Girls With Machine Guns." Some people wait their entire lives for such liberation.

The last time was the 25th Anniversary celebration of CBGBs. I made sure to see at least the Ramones and the Cramps...which was apt, as it was so cramped breathing was difficult. Still, you don't get any better moshing than when there is no room for independent motion. Whenever I moved, you moved, and whenever Lux lunged, we caromed. But despite the close quarters, it was without friction because no one there would rather be anywhere else with anyone else for that time. Was it similar to the aforementioned Ghoulardi cult? Perhaps. Who can answer the Sphinx?

Shall we see his like again?

...monsters from the ID...

[post scriptum...the music upload thang is done far better by far more than i, so for that, i suggest you try the mediafunhouse link to the right. it may not be your oedipus-type riddle-buster, but i guarantee everything there will be a lot more fun than sticking hot pokers in your eyes...]


Media Funhouse said...

Strange that such a rockin' monster has left us all so very sad. Maybe it was very id quality you talk about that made us love the guy so much. He sorta understood what this rock/show business was all about. Until I heard this one again today, I forgot he did offer his final wishes years ago:

I wanna leave a happy memory
when I go, I wanna leave something
to let the whole world know,
that the rock 'n' roll daddy has
a done passed on, but my bones
will keep a rockin' long after I've gone

Roll on
Rock on
Raw Bones
Well I still got all the rhythm in these
Rockin' Bones

Well when I die don't you burry
me at all, Just nail my bones up on
the wall, Beneath these bones let
these words be seen, "This is the
bloody gears of a
boppin' machine"

And I worry about tomorrow just
thinkin' about tonight, My bones are
getting restless and I do it up right,
A few more times around a hardwood
floor, Before we turn off the lights and
close the door

Sister Ray said...

"let no man write my epitaph", indeed!
D.I.Y.! D.I.Y.! D.I.Y.! D.I.Y.! D.I.Y.! D.I.Y.!