More memories from Spike. He’s now living the life of a retired insurance executive down in the tropics. We could sit over beers with Spike down at his perfect émigré abode in Mérida, ruins of ancient civilizations all around, and discuss old times. Un otra Pacifico por favor. A bowl of chops and guacamole, the sauce is very hot. The fan would spin slowly overhead and flies would buzz and we’d sip the ice cold beer and remember old times, laughing. Until then, though, he’s in Mérida and we’re still in LA and we chatter away over Facebook. He posts photos–I can’t believe all these photos–from thirty some years ago and brings back memories. We reminisce, combing the memories, teasing a narrative out of them. It’s a ball. Good times. Bad times, too, but they turn into good times with time. Younger days, crazy times. He digs up an account of a notorious party, only twenty seven words, and a whole universe comes rushing back, the feel of it, the sounds, sights, smells (cheap pot and poppers, mostly), the raw creativity of it all, in everything we did….
We missed the fight–and the gig–because the little security guard out front wouldn’t let us in. This was Melrose and Western on the fringes of Hollywood in the bad ol’ daze where big scary drag queens hung out and mugged people and the security guard took one look at my big combat booted punk rock hulkingness and my wife’s fearless insults and death stares (not to mention all the beer we were carrying) and he hid behind the gate and wouldn’t let us in. No come in! No come in! There was a lot of commotion inside, feedback, laughter, shouting. Some sort of punk rock catharsis and there we were, out on the sidewalk. We’re invited we said. No come in! No come in! Go get Spike, he’ll let us in! But Spike wasn’t in condition to let anybody in. Spike was bleeding. Not that we knew that at the time. We just thought it was a helluva party. Feedback, shouting, laughter and curses meant good times back then. Go get Spike! No come in, he said. We gave up. I’m sure we were very nice about it. The next day we heard the eyewitness account from Chuck and Ellen. Ellen laughed her famous laugh. Some crazy chick had sucker punched Spike. Blood everywhere. Never did find out why. Did there have to be a reason? When we read Craig Lee’s blurb in the LA Weekly–it’s probably in our scrapbook–we probably said more nice things about the security guard. People said World Zero was good. Said you guys missed a good one. Don’t blame us, we said, we were outside with the beer. Well, you’ll see them next time. Big things were portended. Post-punk. New Romantic? No, post-punk. I was relieved. I loved post-punk, not much into New-Ro (or was it Nu-Ro?). Besides I couldn’t imagine Spike doing anything that wasn’t intense. I remember him in Publik Enema in ’78 or ’79. He blew my mind. I’d never seen a singer like that. Or a band like that. That band helped change everything I thought about rock’n’roll at the time. Like how you could completely reinvent it, and scare people, and blow their minds. At the time there seemed nothing more important. I doubt Spike even realizes the impact he had on me. So I couldn’t wait to see World Zero. Alas, somehow I never did see them. In fact, I had gotten it in my head that they had never played another gig. That there was some spectacular blow up at the party, Spike getting punched out, the band imploding. One of those bands that played one gig and broke up and we still talk about them thirty years later. Actually, World Zero were around a year and recorded a demo and everything. Seems I had gotten World Zero confused with a band with another band with Spike, one that I was in. Think we were called Worm Farmer, though I have no idea where that name came from. We practiced intensely for a gig up in Santa Barbara we weren’t even on. The Goleta Valley Community Center. Every punk on the central coast was there, misbehaving. Someone snuck us on the stage. Spike never showed up. Well, he had, but he and I had stood on the steps earlier screaming at each other–who knows why–and he stormed off into the night. We played anyway. It went well, no one got punched out or anything, no blood, but we never played another one.
We still talk about that gig thirty years later, too. I was in bands in my thirties and even forties that played lots of gigs but didn’t have the same impact on me. I suppose life is much more intense in your twenties. Things are more vivid, they mean more. Everything is new. Thirty years on, we’ve seen it all before. Even if we haven’t it seems like we have. Even writing something like this, I swear I’d written it before. Maybe I did, once, in my head. Or maybe in a scrap of a letter I never sent. Probably not, though. The brain is just so used to hearing the same damn stories over and over it just assumes I’m repeating myself. It probably just reflects the ennui all about us. Just look around you. These are jaded days. Textured. Emotionally distant. Art is all concept, writing is sucked dry by irony, music is trapped in genres. Back then, though, those were different times. The poets, they acted weird as fuck, and the ladies, they made them cry.