Mistah Kurtz, he dead
"money for nothing, chicks for free"
Part Two by Jim Hayes
Neil's first concert was queen. so was mine. But since he's a rock star he's gotta one up me and saw News of the World. Of course I saw Jazz.
Oh yeah, it all comes back like bad dream during a NOD, the land of NOD. I took a Kellogg's' cornflakes box and I pasted a picture of Neil and Jennifer from some magazine called Index. Neil was wearing a PITT shirt and since I went there it felt right- I would stuff the boxes with newspapers and seal them with tape. They were talismans. I sent it to some Royal Trux address in LA. I never heard nothing. I didn't care (once you make art, y'can't expect to control it). I was living in a second world housing project with a hot chick on the North edge of Marietta. I was writing for Flipside at the time. Drag City wanted a cover for the interview I was gonna do. Al said that if anyone asks for a cover, they don't get it. So I call Jennifer, we make some small talk about one of their ex members running off with my first wife, it was cool. I don't care. I mentioned my cereal box. She had literally just got it that day; she said it was on the mantle. I heard her cup the phone and say to Neil "this is the guy that sent the cereal box."
I asked her a lot of questions and my girlfriend stomped around the apartment cos I was talking to my favorite singer who happened be a Calvin Klein model. The tape didn't come out. Early signs of the witchy vibe.
Why must I record my phone calls are you planning a bootleg lp? Dash Snow. Michael Rockefeller. Sean Flynn.
Must have been ten years ago. The Howling Hex were in Atlanta. They had a percussionist; Phil, he was clean and read some poems, a huge Emily Dickenson tattoo on his back. His name sounded familiar and it turns out he was from Morgantown (Neil told me that thought about buying some property there. I heard that he and Jennifer stayed there for a while in one of the post punk hippy flophouses. Was it the one with the Manson-like cult leader? The guy that had some sort of chick heavy "family"? 'Member he survived being shot in the head and it was "proof" of his magickal powers? Yeah, the people that know for sure aren't talking to me. Shocking). So this percussionist was from West Virginia and he asked if I knew a cute brunette called Gravity.
"Why?" Oh I was just being flippant, she was alright. I remember we were at the Morgantown flea market and the song "Witchcraft" came over the PA and we just laughed. Actually that was the last time I ever saw Marsha Ferber, the woman that ran the Underground Railroad. I liked Marsha very much, it's very sad that she disappeared. This chick Gravity, she was friends with my first wife. She actually changed my life and has a crucial part in my self-mythology.
The music as a calendar, the grids that stretch along our memories tessellate into failed dreams, empty promises breeding broken hopes that leak upon the table.
In that 1971 essay, Lou Reed said something about dirty long haired people on the road, oh I shot up to your song oh I got busted to your song12... the rock critick is an endless reference point. I do a lot of collages because I can't draw. I don't have any talent, that's why I'm a rock critic. I wanted to be a rock star when I was a kid but I couldn't play an instrument if I had to. I can't swim either. That's a sure sign that you're a failure and a non-entity, you make collages, you write about rock bands. You're an avant garde artist. A plagiarist, a charlatan, a faker- ouside the Arena. Instead of admitting that you suck, you wave around the banner of theft, claiming its some post-dada gesture. Being a rock critick is like taking a picture and the photographer's shadow appears in the window. Oh look it's the avant-garde rock critic- oh he's drunk and being provocative, oh he's gonna wind your band up and watch you react and then write it down, heh heh, how clever. But can creativity be suggested by genre itself?
Flet Chippo was the Marxist brother you never heard of- one of the vaudeville acts that Leo Kerouac spotlight printed handbills for in the fading twenties twilight-rock criticism as vaudeville entertainment between the dancers, as space between the advertisements- someone would tell jokes as the girls would change their clothes- Chet Flippo was present at the creation when rock criticism took its first deep breath and exhaled a mighty wind.
The problem with criticizing Royal Trux in a hidden reverse13 is that it has to be put in context- those that say (cough) "edgy rock for gen x-ers." They weren't there and really can't respond unless it's in historical context. 1997 was a bleak year for rock music.
Two year later, on my way to Athens Ohio, there as Amish guy plowing a field I was heading before Columbus and I want to now, have you ever seen the rain, the rain came over the radio and I just burst into tears. I never understood what that meant.
Fucking dash snow- if I hear his name one more time- I believe it is rightful I believe it in my mind- the past- old men arguing over tomes- it's not a bad way to make a living, I ain't complaining.
I dropped a line to my friend Bubba the Elf: I saw a picture of my ex yesterday and I just went off- there's this Royal Trux song about a couple arguing about buying dope- it's the last page of the 120 Loop: gimme my coat little sister and I'll bring the car around- yeah set me OFF- did I talk to you yesterday? I'm writing about Royal Trux now and I just can't write about them without EMOTION y'know? yeah the first time I talked to Jennifer I brought up that interpretation and she just said "yeah uh huh." what right does the fan have to say? y'know?
I'm drinking yeungling porter. I usta drink that in Philly. I'm working on the Royal Trux book. It's interesting to finally write about what went down, or at least what I saw. There were many demons present on the Pound For Pound tour; some of us still have scars.14 That was seventeen years ago this week. I have pretty skeletal notes.
"Gimme my coat little sister and I'll bring the car 'round." And I confirmed this with Jennifer, "Turn of the Century" is a song about a junky couple arguing about whether or not to cop and finally they just give in to it. "Gimme my coat little sister and I'll bring the car around." All right, I'm listening to a Royal Trux gig a year before I first saw them. I saw this L.A. club, Spaceland, in a Jim Carrey movie recently. So I know the venue is real. I found a 16 year old quote from a famous under assistant Second City promo man: "This is Jim Hayes, he's a lunatic from Flipside."
Yeah he's a like a recluse, he lives in Marietta, he's got this monomaniacal obsession with Royal Trux he's not a bad guy but he's obviously obsessed with drugs and just disturbed. He sees criticism in terms of pure theory, an abstraction. syndecoche...
Royal Trux were like scrimshaw: they only existed on certain whaling ships. I'm interested in art objects. Specifically, I'm obsessed with art objects that are erected out of the result of an execution or definite process. Royal Trux was a lot like Jeff Koons (or perhaps Mark Kostabi, after all his damn kid brother was in Youth Gone Mad).
Royal Trux existed as a counter-narrative to rock music and since rock music has simply gone away... The only band that comes close to Royal Trux is of course the Blues Explosion, and since the Blues Explosion continue to exist while Trux ceased to exist- the Blues won- if you look at the history of post-hardcore American music it like a struggle between the black and white lodges from like the "morning of the magicians"- yeah, American rock music in the '90's was a struggle between the forces of tight and loose... Neil Hagerty with his Dan Flavin sculptures, Jon Spencer with his Jackson Pollack canvases and pretty much everyone else was a just a puddle on the floor...
Where'd they come from? DC- Neil was in PG (paregoric: y'gotta cook it up in a lovin' spoonful) he either quit, left or was thrown out- I don't remember. I knew he had this noise thing with this cute chick- oh yeah and this West Virginia malcontent was on drums (just thinking about him I can feel the charisma). But yeah coming from DC in the middle of the '80's, at that point, the fucking Dischord scene had become pretty much intolerable and self-righteous (only NO TREND ruled) so the noise of Pussy Galore was necessary. It was predicated by fate. The Exile on Main Street cover (they say) was Neil's idea (not like Jon Spencer would take somebody else's idea and RUN with it: "No Glot, C'lom Fliday").
Yeah I heard that Kurt was listening to Royal Trux when the tabloid Strolling Ruin came to interview. Of course he was, Cats & Dogs WAS the album of the year. Nirvana acted and sounded like Foghat (does that mean Scream was Savoy Brown?). Kurt was Casper the Friendly Ghost of rock. On his tale of woe all these folks were signed; all these bands got deals- some of those bands sucked big time too.
('member how Courtney would always make fun of PAW? they were probably the worst: who were they anyway? I was in the LES going to cop and I saw a suitably used van with a license plate that said PAW and these flannel creatures milling about. I was getting sick so I had to spit, suddenly one of these pathetic impoverished garden gnomes spoke: "hey man you spit on the van," HUH, did not. Years later I realized that was PAW, THE PAW wow. Gee. Fabulous.)
So out of all those bands, Royal Trux were the only one that got a good deal. Complete control (C-O-N-control). So the fact that the records didn't do too well didn't matter. Tho Jennifer told me that Sweet 16 sold the most copies. I like that album, it's the one with the toilet filled with puke on the cover and Jennifer looking gorgeous on the back. I remember when Virgin sent it. On top of a cover filled with puke, the letters RTX spelled out in confectionary sugar. I could not believe it. Even I thought it was disgusting. "Sweet Sixteen" was part of the trilogy of albums ('60's, '70's, '80's) this was the bloated multi-track '70's album. It was like a decent version of Santana covering "All Things Must Pass." The sound was dense and of course Neil was soloing all over the place.
See Part Three of this Royal Trux articleFOOTNOTES:
10. What did McLaren say: "never play, never give the game away"
11. Crosby Stills Nash Jung Gifted and Black!
12. "Fallen Knights & Fallen Ladies" (No One Waved Goodbye, Fusion: 1971)
13. Is Bonnie Prince Billy really hanging out with David Tibet?
14. Throbbing Gristle "Rafters"
Also see our interview with Jennifer Herrema/RTX, our Royal Trux article and our interview with Neil Hagerty of Royal Trux
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