David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Music


• Some people who hear punk music think that it is created by no-talent musicians who can’t even tune their guitars. Sometimes, they are right. One of the punk singers with no discernible talent was a nutter named Jon the Postman because his name was Jon and he was a postman. According to punk critic Steven Wells, “He got on stage and screamed his way through whatever song came into his head. He had no discernable talent whatsoever, but he didn’t give a f**k. To many, Jon the Postman symbolized what punk was all about.” What does that mean? It means that punk is all about doing it — now. If you wait to get on stage until you’re good enough to get on stage, you might never get on stage. So get on stage. Mr. Wells writes, “Jon the Postman did it. He got on stage, and he put out records. And everyone who ever saw him perform or listened to his music laughed like a drain. And then thought — ‘F**k! If hecan do it, so can I.’ Jon the Postman wasn’t anybody special. He was just a postman called Jon. But in 1976 and 1977 he lived his life as if he were a superstar. Jon the Postman WAS punk rock.”

• Ian Svenonius, a member of the Washington, D.C., punk bank Nation of Ulysses, was once named Sassiest Boy in America by Sassy, a magazine for North American teenage girls. As his reward, he stayed two days in New York City, hung out with Sassystaff, got a Magic 8 Ball, and was allowed to take what he wanted of Sassy’s collection of CDs that the staff did not want. Sassywriter Christina Kelly mentioned to Ian’s friend Calvin Johnson that she thought that Chia Pet would be a good name for a band, and Calvin told her that she should start a band with that name. The following week she received a phone call from Calvin telling her that Chia Pet had a gig opening at Bard College for Ian’s Nation of Ulysses and for Beat Happening (Calvin’s own band). Christina rose to the challenge. She and some other Sassyemployees and friends started the band Chia Pet and played. Calvin had not told Bard College anything about Chia Pet except that they were a New York band, and people at Bard College were excited when they recognized the Sassyemployees in Chia Pet.

• Henry Rollins had some interesting and weird experiences as lead singer of hardcore group Black Flag. Sometimes, the band would go such long distances to get to their next gig that band members peed out the window rather than stop at a gas station. Sometimes, Mr. Rollins would go outside on a break from performing and find it hard to get back in to perform because the bouncer didn’t think that he was in the band. Once, while in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he went to a used record store and heard a man tell a woman, “This place is great! I found the first Black Flag album for three bucks last week!” The woman replied, “Three bucks? I’ll give you mine for free.” And once he attended a Grateful Dead concert that he enjoyed very much — even the police officers were enjoying themselves and throwing Frisbees. One police officer looked at Mr. Rollins and said, “Nice tattoos. If you ever get bored, you can read yourself.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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