PARDON MY SPEW, Y'ALL!!
Root Boy Slim, American Phenomenon
By Mark S. Tucker
"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different." - Kurt Vonnegut
Some people are born with too much in the way of brains. That would seem to be a blessing, but, well, this is Earth, it's a slaughterhouse shithole dominated by raving bipedal monkeys enamored of lies, violence, and Republicanism. The upshot of incarnation within it seems to be a matter of excelling in greed, vapidity, underhandedness, vituperation, and double-dealing. So why in hell would one even need intelligence? Animal cunning, psychopathic delectations, and a complete lack of conscience serve much more adroitly and would seem to be the only skills necessary to a rather comfortable place in the United Snakes of America. Thus we've arrived through millions of years of what scientists like to tell us has been evolution into the 21st century, where one of the stupidest Americans on record not long ago was king – er, I mean 'president' – and issued from a dynasty whose sole claim to fame has been the personification of precisely those elementalities just mentioned.
I'm convinced this is cipheric of just the opposite of the esteemed theory, where the end game of a long lunatic confinement within a technologized uber-feudalism known as 'capitalism' is apocalyptically baring its terminally bitter fruit in devolutionary marvels. The traditional depiction of a fish crawling out of the slime to eventually amble about on two legs is backwards. It should show the piscine first swimming about at the top of a wave, near the beaming sun, then plummeting slowly downwards over ages and ages as it mutates, eventually to wear a Brooks Bros. suit while lugging an attaché case to the bottom of a murky lake, head and torso half way into a viscid oozing muck strewn with trash and debris, old tires and discarded condoms, biohazard canisters and chemically weighted oil slicks, the sounds of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band bubbling from an iPod back up to the surface of a world glowing with nuclear meltdown radiation, wracked with superstorms, and thicketed with triffid Monsanto vegetation gone horrifically awry.
"Sweet bowlegged Jesus!, so what the fuck does all that have to do with this Root Boy Slim bastard, you blithering idiot?," you may be tempted ask, to which I would reply "Hm, yeah, I see what yer sayin'. You could have a point there, Sparky, but I suggest you put a hat on it and amble homewards before you embarrass yourself. I have a few allies in my rickety Curmudgeon Club HQ, and we don't take kindly to pinkboy norms."
The upshot, dear PSF reader, is, as Curly would say, "ironical" and a scenario not oft touted unless in the presence of cult maniacs, which I take this site's audience to be. Perusers, however, may well be devotees of Reader's Digest and watch Jersey Shore and Oprah Winfrey religiously, who knows?, but I proceed on the assumption that they aren't and they don't, and that they find, to hork the Christian line, good fellowship and upstanding likemindedness in misfits, upstarts, agitators, and dilettante ne'er-do-wells. That being the case, I have a really good one for ya.
Foster MacKenzie III - best known in his parodic, lout, alter-ego, Root Boy Slim personna - was a child of privilege, born with a silver spoon, whelped into what was hoped would be the manners of the horsey set, and given every chance to excel thuswise. Fortunately for us, though he was agreed by all and sundry to be an exceptionally gifted child, indeed a prodigy in formative years, Foster bit the spoon off at the haft, spit it in the culture's face, provoked no end of scandalous behavior at the several very expensive bastions of education he was shuffled off to, and, long before reaching maturity, seemed destined to be tossed on the trash heap or attain to a curious fame. But not right away.
After a record of peregrinations hither and tutorial yon that infuriated the home clan, MacKenzie's aptitude continued to be undeniable, and he was gifted a scholarship to no less an Ivy League in-club than Yale. You remember Yale, don't you, o wise and all-inclusive audience? It's where the Bush family, among robber baron others, stashed its refuse – I mean 'sons' – as sire and dame trotted off to Kennebunkport for a round of golf (Foster's father, by the way, was, heh!, a golf course architect). Yale is still basically a baby-sitting establishment for people with more money than God but also where the ruling class initiates its sons and daughters into the arcane mysteries of jacking up the planet and its inhabitants. If his pre-college days had presented problems with authoritarianism for the fledgling Foster, we can well imagine what would occur now.
Along the way though, the lad discovered a talent in and love for football. Upon becoming a Yalie, he pledged Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE – thus, 'Dekes' to themselves but 'Dicks', as in 'Rich Dicks', to the rest of us) with... you guessed it: George W. Bush, son of George H.W. Bush. Both were now fratboy bros, and Foster was the house's social director (uh-oh), but there existed anuthuh club bruthuh who'd figure a lot more genially into the Root Boy Slim history: the captain of the football team, Bob Greenlee. Kinda funny, that: a future president who'd illegally and serpentinely twice gain the White House through rampant conspiratorial duplicities was flouncing around in tutu and ballet slippers as cheerleader while the guys he was limp-wristing for on the gridiron would one day be run out of town…by him. Ah me, ah my, what a sense of humor the world has!
But I do not joke. Coke-head, pot-head, alcoholic, soon to be AWOL Dubya wasn't terribly fond of goddamned hippie bastards potentially dragging him out of the closet merely by association and thus did not take kindly to MacKenzie and Greenlee, who'd formed the 'Prince La La, Percy Uptight, and the Midnight Creepers' band roaming about in ermine, in silver hot pants, and acting up on pub stages. Reptilianly competitive, Georgey-Porgy probably also wasn't terribly thrilled with gents who could drink, smoke, and snort his lame ass under the table either, so, the year after the pair graduated, MacKenzie and Greenlee decided to mosey back to the ol' alma mater to re-acquaint and smirk, only to discover that the strange little monkey-boy from Maine / Texas had become frat prexie. Sighting his arch nemeses, Bush immediately had 'em escorted off the premises and banned... for life.
Talk about auspicious debuts! But that wasn't the end of it.
Much later questioned about this on radio, MacKenzie chuckled and typified our glorious ex-leader as a "stuffed shirt" and asked the radio jock if "asshole" was a word that was acceptable on the air. Making good and full use of his sanctioned toilet paper (diplomas and degrees are, let's face it, buttwipe, and Foster had attained a Bachelors, then fled academe forever), Prince La La, soon to be Root Boy, first tried his hand at city plannership. Didn't dig it. He then turned to street trundling, one day driving an ice cream truck in DC under a heroic dose of Owsley's best. He went into what has been termed a 'psychotic break', jumped the White House fence, and, when intercepted, informed the Secret Service he was looking for the center of the universe.
You'd think, upon such information, our rulers and their dogs would consider Yale had emitted yet another blazing genius admirably ensconced in high flown Lancelottian quest for singular ends, maybe even a candidate for a trifold National Geographic centerspread, but, no, the incident only earned him a residency in another hallowed institute, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a nuthouse, the oldest one in D.C.. One would suppose, given the town's inhabitants, such organizations to be proliferant, therefore Lizzie's joint assuredly held mucho esteem, and MacKenzie - no relation to Doug and Bob as far as I can tell - was diagnosed with schizophrenia, an act constituting further proof of the charlatanry of the psychiatric profession (look the definition up to discover why). This, all things considered, wasn't a blow: he was treated with the usual pharmaceutical cocktails, questioned and profiled, which I'm sure caused the brainy bastard no end of amusement, and then put on meds for the rest of his life. Nice work if you can get it, and if that caused the uproarious malcontent any pain, no one knew of it within a history that became increasingly bacchanalian. Instead, the estate endowed rather gravitious street cred in a realm valuing such traits and their misfit artiste holders: rock & roll, hallelujah!
Foster was a stout fellow – football, 'member? – and by this time had waxed in physical stature, presenting a stage personna with greasy hair, a beer belly, swozzled, stoned, and hilariously Bukowskovian. Moving down the coast, the group was especially well received in the mid-Atlantic region for its outrageous antics and Memphis rock-blues boogie. In fact, it had acquired such a word-of-mouth reputation that when they showed up at the Psychedelly in Bethesda, the Varsity Grill in College Park, and the Cellar Door and The Bayou in Georgetown, throngs and even administration staffers from Jimmy Carter's gaggle would inevitably show up and rock out. Foster was once even invited to visit the White House by Jimmy's appointment secretary.
Root dug Da Cart, saw in him a jes' folks kinda guy, but when doddering moron Ronald Ray Guns, poster child for Alzheimer's, succeeded him, the songs "Cowboy in the Sun Too Long" and "Rich, White, and Republican" were born, though they wouldn't show up 'til later. Enter Steely Dan.
A&R reps at the shitheel Warner Bros. cockroach organization were handed a copy of The Root's "Christmas at K-Mart" along with a demo LP containing "Boogie 'Til You Puke" and "You Broke my Mood Ring" (just "Mood Ring" on the formal release) by none other than Donald Fagen and his producer Gary Katz. The label immediately signed the bad boys to a quarter-million dollar contract upon that infamous pair's recommendation, and from this emerged the infamous, though still almost unknown, first slab, Root Boy Slim and the Sex Change Band with the Rootettes (1978), produced by Katz.
Just prior, Greenlee had formed The Joanna Lake Band with tasty-ass guitarist Ernie 'Sex Ray' Lancaster. Root came to visit his frat bro and sat in a few times, and this was how the RBS ensemble really began. In new incarnation, the trio wrote a bawdy collection of seedy paeans to gutter life, perverts, addicts, roustabouts, loons, and the wider panorama of what America was producing while busying itself enriching the .01% off everyone else.
It goes without saying that WB's promo was shite incarnate (when is a label ever otherwise?) but still... everyone who chanced across the band or the release was thunderstuck, laughin' their asses off while wide-eyed and groovin'. With the sub-moniker 'Sex Change Band', consumers picking up the vinyl were obviously going to be adventurous in the first place, and the item turned out to be a highly satisfying admixture of Tom Waits, The Tubes, Capt. Beefheart, Frank Zappa, and even a bit of Bette Midler on a spread-eagled bender with William Burroughs as organ-grinder, one and all kicking the crap out of rock-blues.
If things hadn't been evident all along, the release immediately set in stone that MacKenzie wasn't so much a musician and singer as comedian and satiric commentarist a la the immortals, Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks. The second album's (Zoom) reverse cover displayed a photo of a fiery-eyed somewhat cleaned-up version of Jethro Tull's beleaguered Aqualung (The Root hisself) and then laid out the pseudonymical remainder of the ensemble:
E. Sex-Ray Lancaster (Lancaster, gtr.)
Rattlesnake Rattles (Greenlee, b.)
A. Kung Fu Bashor (Albert Bashor, dr.)
W. Lounge Lizard Kelly IV, Esq. (Winston Kelley, keyb.)
Krash Kaka (Dick Bangham, b.vox)
Cherie Anita Fixx (Cherie Grasso, b.vox)
Jones Boys Horns (Ron Holloway & Marshall Keys, horns)
…with, of course, Root Boy on lead vocals, harmonica, and 'special defecks'. Members, sit-ins, labels, and even stage names would soon start rotating (Lancaster became E. Locker Room Lancaster, Kelly IV Esq. became Winston Spots Kelly, and so on), though, thank God, the base trio remained intact from start to finish as did the sound, a porridge of demented booty-shaking melodies and rhythms that would, due to controversial lyrics, never see the light of day on radio or in the charts. Hell, Wilderness Road, who released an equally idiosyncratic rock/comedy Sold for the Prevention of Disease Only (1973), could've warned 'em about that.
Nonetheless, word got out, and fellow head-case 'Mr. Mike,' Michael O'Donoghue from Saturday Night Live, found in MacKenzie a compatriot sharp-eyed lunatic and so filmed an appearance of the RBS band for a 'Mr. Mike's Mondo Video' segment of an upcoming SatNiteLive installment. Unfortunately, the notoriously tight-assed Fredito Silverman caught it before the gig could make its stealthy way into the cathode narcotic machine and had the piece "rejected" (a euphemism for 'banned'). Well, what Silverman wouldn't let you see, Perfect Sound Forever and Mark 'Fuck Everyone' Tucker now bring your way. WARNING!!! Should you desire your progeny to grow up Republican, do NOT expose them to this video!! (waitaminnit!... waitaminnit!... didn't J. Edgar Hoover wear dresses and suck... nawwwww, that's gotta be bullshit, right?):
Sadly, had Silverman kept his prudish proboscis out of things, the exposure might well have been exactly what was needed to put the ensemble over the hump and into the big time. No one can say for sure, but SatNiteLive did have a way of being extremely fortuitous. I vividly recall their running of Devo's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" vid and me going apeshit, climbing the walls, hanging off the chandelier, and running out the next day to buy the LP. In fact, see that YouTube citation of 1,182,166 views for it? 341,582 of 'em are mine.
When the RBS LP made its way to Rolling Stone, which, despite itself, at one time actually had a few good critics here and there, kinda sorta maybe, Root Boy Slim was declared to be ''the hippest thing to happen to Washington since Nixon resigned''. What this sort of critical thrashing about from pole to pole presaged, what such violent contrasts indicated, was not any longer enviable, though one time it'd been a PR tactic. In between the profitable glare The Rolling Stones had provoked and what Marilyn Manson would one day incite came a period wherein a jaded and reactionary American public rejected such anarchism instanter.
Did I say Fred Silverman was a constipated sphincterhead? I did? Well, he had a counter-part in Robot - er, 'Robert' - Christgau, who pretty much dismissed Root's LP tersely: "This band satisfies the first requirement of rock and roll comedy - they play their simplified Little Feat funk well enough to make fun of it. Inspirational Verse: 'Hey look out buddy / Get off my wig / Oops I didn't realize / You was quite so big'." I won't bother to parse the inanities therein, but we may recall it was Christgau who suffered Blade Runnerian 'asymptotic farcical premature burn-out', was 80 before he was 7, and had once, among myriad bizarre statements through his career, said: "and speaking of cartoons, better the Kiss imitations of today than the Robin Trowers of yesteryear." Well well WELL, quite a taste in musics, hm? He did, however, give the release a 'B' rating.
Mott the Hoople may well have been the last gasp of this sort of thing (flash glam as versus Root's trash glam) ever having a fighting chance as the onset of punk, even when it was good (extremely rare), flummoxed in, the new wave crushing musical talent in favor of pan-determined rejectionism. That instantly included smart-asses who weren't tatted-up, mohawked, drooling lobotomy cases. Ian Hunter and Mott, after a meteoric rise predicated upon David Bowie, a span of only a few successful highly engaging LP's, and then a violent decline into mediocrity, inadvertently revealed that a long, grey, tundra ecosystem had set in, within which flamboyance, unless it were ersatz bourgeois (CBGB, etc.), was kicked to the curb, especially if such theatre too realistically and too sardonically flechetted the lurid heart of things as they truly were. That was a no-no, even for the alleged rebellions of the Sex Pistols legacy, and that, of course, is precisely what MacKenzie was after, that Camus by way of Carlin neorealism, which was exactly why Root Boy Slim was an exquisite non-starter.
Certainly Root's crusty sand-rasp gravel-voice was nothing new. Joe Cocker had conditioned the public to such, and Waits' 1975 landmark Nighthawks at the Diner doubled up the resonance. Then, as opposed to feel-good party facilisms set by groups like the J. Geils Band, with its just-past-high-school hoo-rah, MacKenzie cannonballed into the livid modus of the maladjusted with a grit-toothed will amid literal tons of searingly fleering honesty and guttersnipe linguistics. If the razor sharp shock of "Boogie 'Til You Puke" wasn't enough, the flea-bitten rasp of pederasty raised its leering head in the succeeding "I'm Not Too Old For You" and ensured that even the sturdiest would flinch. Song titles alone let the listener know what he or she was in for: "Too Sick to Reggae," "My Wig Fell Off," "Heartbreak of Psoriasis" and so on. O'Donoghue had been perceptive: there was something new here... but it wasn't selling in the states despite a popular tour of Europe, so Da Dubya Bee dropped 'em like yesterday's news.
Miles Copeland III, Stewart Copeland's (The Police) brother and founder of IRS Records, picked 'em up and promptly repeated Warners' mistake even though the new LP, Zoom, surpassed the excellent debut vinyl. In the music biz world, failure is the first goal, success a rare fluke escaping standard grotesque mismanagement norms, as IRS proved throughout its history, imagining 'exposure' was something sick bastards did at night under flickering streetlamps in Sunset Boulevard's farflung East L.A. reaches. The '79 LP featured MacKenzie at an apex, making a virtue of being a mess, a theme that would remain until a premature death from drug abuse.
"The Gator," a romp on the old '60's craze for inventing new dance steps, became an audience favorite, with the rubes (and, hey, in 1980, you could catch the band for a half a sawbuck, $5!) thrashing around with abandon on the floor. Then came a parody on balladry, "The Loneliest Room in the World," followed by one of my all-time Root faves, "Quarter Movies," extolling exactly what you'd think it was: nervous joy for those old squalid spuzma encrusted booths where male solitaries could vicariously self-orgy their pained hearts out for a hell of a lot less money and hassle than trying to get lucky with the girl next door (and, leaving aside all the other factors, women wonder why men spend so much time on Internet porn).
As the record progressed, MacKenzie waxed more frothy, gibbering, and crazed. There'd been nothing like this before, and damn little would follow after unless it also sprung from him and his boogying band. By this sophomore effort, those who were hip enough to appreciate the music were starting to realize something: 10cc, a great group, and Bonzo Dog Band, classic cut-ups, were mild by thematic comparison; even the great Asylum Street Spankers, who'd come along later, hallowed be their name, as rasty and looped as they could be, and as musically diverse and on the mark, never quite nailed this bizarre but melodious warpsmithing and perversity peddling. Root Boy Slim was an American original.
That fact, though, wasn't catching on. Rootalooguses and Rootettes posed a solid cult band but little more. Things abated. Five years passed, and Dog Secrets finally emerged on the indy Congressional Records (clever name!) in 1984 (Wiki sez '83, but I'm looking straight at the motherfucker, and the cover says "1984," so someone please tell Jimmy 'n Co. to suck Ayn Rand's Libertarian dick a little longer and then wake up a tad). Had any been nervous as to what might have transpired in that lustrum, fears were swiftly quelled: the band was as tight, disheveled, goofy, slobbering, rockin', and japesteresque as their history so far had seen them, kicking off with the neurotic "21st Century Man."
Lancaster was better than ever, Greenlee was on the note as always, driving everything forward, MacKenzie filed his fangs and reached for the Jack Black. Before needle ever touched vinyl for cuts like "So Young, So Hip, So Lame," "Liquor Store Hold-Up in Space" and the aforementioned "Cowboy Out in the Sun too Long" ("Rich, White, and Republican" was on the way next LP), the consumer knew all was well and rooty-toot-toot in musical la-la land. Should any have chewn nails, fretting MacKenzie might've been contemplating throwing over his wont in favor of mainstream musical masturbation, it was obvious that wasn't going to happen, now or in the future. The jazzily zippy "So Young," embedded as it was within an already wacky gig, distantly echoed Beefheart's Clear Spot, an archly delightful issuance that still baffles most, mainly for its aping of commercial songwriting, and paralleled elements of Copernicus' Living Theater evocations. Singles Bar, in the same orbit, sounded like a cut that didn't quite make it to the Tubes' Remote Control. Yes, all seemed bright and hopeful. Too bad that was the case only music-wise. As to success 'n fame, well…
1986 (Wiki says 1987 – wrong; I have the LP, ya bastids) saw Don't Let This Happen to You on Root's fourth try at securing a stable label, the very first slice issued by Kingsnake Records out of Greenlee's state-of-the-art studio confab. "Kinky U." topped the energy levels this time, with MacKenzie spitting out verses in frenzied bursts offset by trademark declines into depressoid gutturalisms. As said, "Rich, White, and Republican" carried the attack to political conservatism and obtusely predicted the election of Daddy Bush, his ex-classmate's and frat brother's pappy. If anything, The Root was reaching further than ever, hitting higher highs and lower lows. By this time, Kelly had dropped out, and Tom Lepson stepped into the keyboards along with other personnel changes. The sessioneers and everyone were on the spot, a bit grungier perhaps but nailing it. Squonky electronics trotted in through the front door ("Computer Lover") while boogie was going down in the back room. All was aesthetically well in Rootdom, but something unique was about to happen.
1987 saw the Kingsnake release of Left for Dead, with the 'Sex Change Band' titular add-on re-introduced, as the original group was back together as a fivesome, newcomer Steuart Smith backing up Lancaster on second guitar. The affair was down and dirty, in and out, the entire LP a blues jam made up right there, right then, on the spot, no previous anything in the way of prep, done in a 24-hour period. It not only worked but had a distinctly jook-joint feel. Lancaster got in killer licks, MacKenzie was lazily inspired, and the songs were as wonky as ever: "Snake Bit & Can't Shit," "Credit Card Woman," "My Sign Won't Work," and etc. If the drugs were wearing on our hero, and they sure as fuck were, it wasn't evident by what was contained herein.
1990 would see the last of Slim's studio work, with the Root 6 slab emerging on the odd Ichiban label. The founding trio was still hanging in, but it would've been far better recorded at Greenlee's place of business. Nonetheless, as if to veneer irony on Christgau's long-ago snark, Billy Payne of Little Feat was now sitting the drum kit, and Foghat's Bryan Bassett flanked Lancaster with additional guitarplay. The blues atmosphere of Left for Dead was every so often replaced by a propulsive rock format harking back to '60's bands. Normally, that'd be a good thing, as the strident infectious grooves were well laid but sometimes obscured Slim's encantations.
MacKenzie's social consciousness was, if anything, as sharp as ever, seen quite clearly in "Hey, Mr. President!," a plea for the powers-that-be to spare a crumb or two for someone other than the already obscenely rich (something that, um, was about as ready to happen as aliens landing on the White House lawn). "Everybody's got a Problem," though, found Foster a trifle weak-voiced, and some of his growly depth was lost in numerous places. Lancaster was stronger than ever, Bassett provided solid back-up, but if the future was warily peeking out from behind the scenes, on this release and no other was where it was found. Regardless, the album, though inarguably the least perfect of Root's entire catalogue, was worth picking up. The cat was still unique.
There's an old joke in the holistic medicine community, one picked up while interning. Your mentor asks you "Do you know what the first sign of a heart attack is?," and you, the interne, ponder the inquiry for a moment or two. Not having run across the data previously, you confess that you don't know. The mentor lets a slow smile spread across his or her face and answers simply "Death."
You'll read that Foster MacKenzie "died in his sleep" (Wikipedia, etc.) three years later or "apparently died in his sleep" (Orlando Sentinel, etc.), but that's the sort of weenie-spreche all too typical of Wiki and mainstream media. At the time of his demise, he'd been working on short stories and a spoken-word album, not to mention the next Root Boy Slim release, for which Gary Katz was seeking a major-label deal. But it wasn't that The Big Root passed in the way all of us would like to go, no, there was just a wee bit more to it than that. As Tunlaw.org has pointed out, and as I'm assuming the autopsy the Orlando Sentinel had mentioned might occur revealed, "Rootboy Slim [sic] died from a cocaine-induced heart attack in Florida on 6/8/1993." I've not been able to determine if that means he suffered a seizure while he was lying in his bed, reading or something, or was actually asleep and his body finally said "Welllllll, that's enough, I can't take this anymore" and ceased functioning, so you might want to take those generalized dumbed-down reports with just the tiniest grain of salt.
Regardless, no one denies the guy was a druggie and impressive in his intake. Let's call it 'recreational hard-core'; you'd have to be to possess a decent working brain, let alone genius, in this world. The flamboyant roustabout didn't reach quite 48, falling short a month or so, but he certainly was one of America's great unknown musical acts from 1978 until that abrupt notice from the aorta machine. He left behind what was, at last count, a 1,400-member fan club and many many more admirers, though Christguavian crit-scoffers still look back at it all a bit askance. For instance, Jon Dougan of Artist Direct rhetorically asked his readers: "Latterday satiric genius or obnoxious fat guy?" before deciding the answer for them, adding that RBS materials were "sophomoric… sometimes funny even when obvious and contrived," and I suggest Mr. Dougan consider running to Neil Schon for succor and pabulum inlieu. Seems to be his speed.
When MacKenzie was asked by reporter Chris Gladden from The Roanoke Times in 1980: "What turned you from the 9-to-5 world to music?," MacKenzie replied: "LSD." When pressed for tales of hobnobbery with one or two famous figures beyond his infamous fratbrat compadres - "Do you associate much with Hunter Thompson?" - the newshound was told: "Naw. We bump into each other. The last time he saw me, he said I ought to be locked up. That's somethin' comin' from him. I come on strong sometimes." According to Dan Casey of Dan Casey's Blog inside the same venue, the incident occurred at a party at George McGovern's house... and Casey got that tidbit from MacKenzie himself, albeit on the QT. When you can impress Dr. Gonzo that you're a head case and an Olympian drug abuser, well, that's something very few will ever be able to enter into a resume.
But I think I'll end this paean with a cool-ass poem by John Balaban and then a paragraph which was once on the Root Boy Slim official website. Here's the poem:
Root Boy Slim, 1945-1993
Dead now, Foster MacKenzie III,
better known as Root Boy Slim,
lead singer and composeur
for the Sex Change Band.
His trademark "Liquor Store Hold-Up in Space,"
"Dating the Undead," and the popular
"Boogie 'Til You Puke"
rocked the '80s bar scene in D.C.,
his coked and uninsultable clientele.
Just the sight of him invited trouble.
Even his Post obituary misbehaved, saying
he was "overweight, dressed like a slob
and took delight in shocking his audiences."
I kept the clipping for a week,
then crumpled it, tossed it in the basket.
But plucked it out, alive in my hand
like some stunned sparrow,
some stoned songbird
fallen down a long chimney.
Nice one, John. And here's the RBS site paragraph:
"Writing a biography of an artist is usually a straightforward process. You list the date of birth, throw in some astrological crap, talk about all the gold and platinum records the artist has received, maybe even toss in a few quotes of a philosophical nature to show what a deep thinker the artist is. Unfortunately, that approach just won't work with Root Boy Slim."
Amen. And we can only hope that coked-out angels sang him to his rest.
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