The saga continues as Brockie graduates from high school, engages in one more summer of debauchery before college, and has his mind blown by the greatest punk show that ever was.
Welcome to my Bunghole!
The tour has entered its third week and really hasn’t settled down yet. We have done a amazing job sharing venues with Lamb of God, but it’s been a real struggle. People are getting an amazing show, but they are missing a better one: the day-long work-out of frantic activity that it takes, day in and day out, to keep GWAR running, much less combine it with Lamb of God… and somehow these guys rise from their stinky bunks again and again, to put on the sickest show in rock and roll. Bless their black hearts.
But I still have some very disturbing information to report… I have taken to pee bottles and hot bags with an alarming frequency. I love to go to my “rack” with a full bottle of chocolate milk, and slurp it dry as I slowly pass out, bathed in the glow of my cool little in-bunk media system, playing the same damn movie I have been trying to make it past the credits of for the whole fucking tour. And inevitably I wake up needing to piss. Now, crawling out of the lower berth and then having to negotiate the darkened corridor can be a daunting prospect, especially while bouncing down the highway at 80 miles an hour. How much easier it is to grope about in the darkened bunk until you find that empty bottle, the one that you left the top screwed on—because you KNEW it was going to come to this, that you were going to pee into a bottle, screw the top back on, and sleep with a container of piss within two feet of your mouth.
But it gets worse. You know what finally drives me from my bunk? My need to shit. But guess what? We still have three hrs til’ we get there (“there” being some Kansas SHITHOLE), and I can’t wait for the next rest stop… oh no, not with the bus jumping up and down like that. No, you only have one choice, unless you want to entertain the notion of soiling yourself with gouts of hot semi-poo, yes…hot bag! You crap in a bag! And wipe your ass with a towel and throw that in the bag, too. And then throw some other garbage in on top of it to further muddle up the situation. But the most important thing is to get it off the bus as soon as possible. A forgotten “hot bag” can have disastrous consequences.
Enough about my ass, let’s get back to the next episode of GWAR, Me, and the Onrushing Grip of Death. When we last left off I had just left the local skinheads in the dust and caused what was almost certainly a fatal car accident. But then I realized something. I have spent ten episodes covering 17 years of life. I am 46 years old (I know…what the fuck happened?), so if I keep spewing at the current rate, I estimate we have another 18 or so episodes. At two episodes a month that’s nine months to go! Oh shit, what am I going to write about then? Maybe I should start making shit up…
GWAR, Me, and the Onrushing Grip of Death
Part 11: The Beginning of the Ending (of the first part)
My time in Rock and Roll High School, for all it’s triumphs, would end ignominiously. I was busted plagiarizing a Ray Bradbury story (duh!) for the school newspaper. This totally knocked me out of the running for the coveted “Most Talented” page of the school yearbook. So disgraced, I shuffled through the formalities of escaping high school with an eye forward to one last summer of debauchery before I got shipped off to the only college I had bothered applying to: Longwood University in Farmville. I hadn’t put a lot of thought into my decision, I was just happy to be getting out of there. Lives were falling apart around me, and in my cloud of blissful teenage ignorance, infused with a healthy shot of punk rock hatred, I couldn’t really see it. Pretty much as soon as I had graduated (along with a better-late-than-never Rusty), my mom let loose on Pops with a private investigator, who succeeded in capturing my dad in several less-than-flattering compositions along with a leggy Lufthansa employee. One son was gay, the other had shaved his head, and the wife had just dropped a lead hammer on his balls. Never one to waste much time on communicating with actual words, my dad made his feelings on the situation known through a series of grunts, some marathon gardening, and a flurry of checks dispersed to the appropriate agencies, institutions, and individuals. Within a couple of weeks, my dad was outta there, and would have a completely new family in just a couple of years. My mom and myself were left in the house for that final summer, and soon I was to be gone, off to freaking Farmville for whatever the fuck reason. Life was changing faster than I could understand it.
The stage was set for a fittingly excessive expression of life in all its forms, and the country, at such a unique point in its short history, unwittingly provided us with one, both in a real and symbolic sense.
The canvas of the country was was begging for paint, and times could not have been more interesting for a young raconteur such as myself. The sixties were ten years old, and the country was still struggling with the gaping and bloody wounds they had left. Vietnam and Kent State, JFK, Malcom X, Bobby Kennedy… after this parade of horror Charles Manson had murdered the sixties with such finality that for a while the seventies existed for time-tracking purposes exclusively. It was such a cultural pothole that just about everything the seventies could muster, be it disco or the death of Elvis, was completely swallowed, leaving us like a naked baby, struggling with tools, trying to beat reality into a shape worth living with.
After the Iran hostage debacle, the country was in pretty bad shape. There was a recession that just wouldn’t quit, an increasingly bellicose Soviet Union, and a new President that scared the shit out of just about everyone. Getting shot didn’t slow Reagan down a tick; if anything it made him even angrier (and more delusional) as terms like a “winnable” nuclear war became part of our vernacular. There was real fear in the air when it seemed like the Russians might invade Poland. And then there was this “gay cancer”(AIDS) that was killing young gay men at an alarming rate. It seemed to me that even after the incredible horror of World War II, which had brought mankind to the very brink of destruction, and showed with crystal clarity the fate that awaited us if we did not change our violent ways, we had not learned our lessons, and humanity was already well down the path to whatever new holocaust awaited it.
My brother was still getting great acid, and we were still taking handfuls of it, roaming all over Virginia, D.C., and Maryland in our quest for music and fun. Any diversion that would take our minds off our own questionable futures was more than welcome.
Right around then I started realizing that pretending to be from England was a pretty bad way to make friends in the local music scene. The turning point came one night in 1980 at a Government Issue show in downtown D.C., where the locals stomped my wind-up cow into oblivion. I gave up on trying to impress them with my inane lies and got on with the more serious business of amusing myself. Even if they wouldn’t accept my cow, the Georgetown Punks had somewhat begrudgingly accepted my presence, even though Henry and Ian still wouldn’t talk to me (and never would). I had escaped detection as “that asshole who kicked in the windows and talked in a fake British accent” as luckily I had altered my appearance drastically after that particular fiasco, ditching the home-made buttons and doggie-chains for a pair of combat boots, a shaved head, and an old “Washington Post” newspaper bag from which I handed out copies of the homemade comic, “Mister Donut.” Punks from the “’burbs” were a growing and powerful force in the those early days of D.C. Hardcore and increasingly we had bands to represent us. The D.C. Scene had become part of the U.S. scene, which was in turn part of the worldwide explosion of punk… and it was really happening, right then and there! So when I saw Scream play in 1980, I was locked-in, increasingly leaving my high school buddies (with the exception of the Mantis, of course, truest of the true) behind for weekend-long acid-fueled binges. When Scream put out their first record on Dischord it was a huge event for all of us NOVA Punks…and we all wanted to do the same thing.
The final event of this period was probably the greatest punk show that ever happened, the “Rock Against Reagan” free show held on the Mall right next to the Lincoln Memorial. It was the crowning event of hardcore. Every punk band you could possibly imagine was playing there (Minor Threat, D.R.I., Agnostic Front, the Crucifux, Millions of Dead Cops, etc. etc.) and then, finally the headliners, Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedy’s took the stage. It was fucking unbelievable. At one point, Jello pointed up at the Washington Monument and called it “the eternal Klansman with the burning red eyes.” His ability to take our country’s symbols and use them to expose the beast within…well, even the dumbest skinhead was impressed. As I rolled around in a huge heap of slam-dancing bodies, Jello’s jabbering ringing in my ears, I finally felt that I was really part of something, something that mattered. I wasn’t thinking about how I got there, or where I was going. I was just thinking about how great it was to be there.
Years later, I still am.