Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ
by Jim Hayes
For even his own brothers did not believe in him. John 7:5
(plagiarism is necessary! progress implies it!)
I haven't been to Athens in years. Not since Zowie Fenderblast moved. It's been too painful. 8 years I guess, 65 miles from my door. The dark memory motel situated on the edge of town. That house was where I usta hang out with Jucifer. They lived in sprawling ranch that was nicknamed Pussy Manor because of the previous nine pound hammer occupants. The story was something like the ancient sheriff hung people in the trees. The wind showed the shape of the trees. He took a trapdoor fucking exit. Escaped. Departed. Disbursed. Cashed in his Georgia check.
He was very tall, well over six foot. He had a long face and scraggly goatee. He usually dressed in tight gray GDR like uniforms. He told me he was primarily an occultist. With a background in the prison industry. They were transferring John Wayne Gacy to his execution and they stopped at the prison where Zowie worked. He asked Gacy how his sandwich was: "it's a little dry," he said.
We were talking at a coffee shop in the middle of Athens. I can't remember if he smoked or not. Two seats over was a scrawny guy hacking and coughing. A chick with a clip board was hitting everyone up and I figured it was for donations. As she got closer, she asked the scrawny guy if he was willing to take a survey about contemporary Christianity. He said no because he worshiped Odin. He worshipped Odin? Zowie looked at me and arched his famous eyebrow.
He said not to get too caught up in who he is or who I think he is (that was my trigger, he must be who he says he is). Zowie Fenderblast: philosopher, psychologist, anti-Christ. The door was opened when the wind appeared. Zowie Fenderblast was the first crisis actor. The federal government shuttled him around the horizon of Illinois as an undercover glam rocker. I was a glam rocker for the FBI. Jim Derogatis shares his tapes and files, like Watergate or something-Spencer testifies at the trial of Blind Willie Horton. Getting wasted with the vampires, listening to Ray Charles shout blues blind on the phonograph.
The first time I saw him he was playing air guitar to one of his solo songs, some Bowie-esque anthem. He was leaning behind the desk at one of the trailers at the dump. He supervised prisoners at the county dump. You'd be standing around and these guys in orange jump suits would wander past carrying chain saws.
Zowie Fenderblast is the last American rock star and he doesn't even exist. The story always was that he was a junky and he was in prison. The photos of him shooting up. The photos of him in drag. All staged. In reality, he had a series of jobs in the prison industry while he wrote songs on acoustic guitar. All crisis acting designed to support a body of recorded work. Acoustic guitar is a retronym. Philosopher-the way he lived. Psychologist-how he knew how to create a fan base by creating a gender bending junkie mystery man. He knew his fans wanted somebody "out there." Anti-Christ? Well...
Crowley said that the only type of magick that was applicable was to contact one's Holy Guardian Angel by focus on the True Will. The Oversoul. What Zowie was up to I'm not sure. By being an occultist, I'm supposing he did things to make certain specific things happen. Which of course is witchcraft. He said he blew up a slot machine in Vegas. Got his picture taken with some hotel honcho and a dancing girl. I have no doubt.
The question is was he an independent entity or was he a creation of Rick Sims from the Didjits. Was he a homunculus spawned from the Touch & Go studios? Zowie always said that the music was a result of Rick Sims production "genius". That he wrote the songs and the result of Sims' overdubs turned it into what it was. He said he'd show up for a photo shoot and he'd get in drag and pose with people's guitars (that Red Hot Chilli Peppers sticker is NOT his guitar). So how much he contributed to this weird story is unknown.
He told me that he considered himself an occultist. I'm not sure exactly what that meant. Did he mean witchcraft? Living in the dump, I always saw parallels to the cunning man of 19th century England. The electric shaman living in the darkness on the edge of town. The cunning man is a concept designed to describe eccentric occult practitioners who lived on the edges of town dispensing fortunes and horoscopes. Secret heroes with secret histories.
What does the music sound like? There is no music, there's just an image connected to a sound. It's rock. A different kind of tension. A version of the Kiss costume but with sinister intent. The music generated a buzz. WSB at Zeppelin MSG 75. The music being used as a form of astral projection, blastro-naut.
It was a warm summer night 2016 and for whatever reason, I started wondering about Zowie. I found his old lady on Facebook and dropped a line. I don't think he appreciated that. When I was coming home from a rather sedate five drink visit to the pub, he attacked me with witchcraft. As soon as I stepped onto my lawn, I felt a gauze like substance envelope my body and his face appear in my head. It was him and I shit myself. I ran into the house peeling my pants, completely freaked out. Why did he do that? I cleaned myself up and put the clothes in the trash as well as everything I could find that had to do with him. I dumped the file folders with printouts of emails, I destroyed the cassettes of the interviews, I dug through an external hard drive and purged his solo album. The next morning, I drove ten miles to the North to Kennesaw. I carried with me a faded piece of paper advertising a Crowley book mimeographed by Karl Germer in 1952.
Wildman is a character. A skinny scraggly guy with a very long silver beard and rings on all his fingers. He sits behind a cluttered counter inside a Civil War bookshop. He's also a herb dealer and a purveyor of occult advice. Famously, after the first gig of the ‘73 Tour at Fulton County Stadium, Jimmy Page came up to Kennesaw to see Wildman's Crowley books. He gave me some sage and told me which banishing pentagrams to use at each corner of the property. Of course, I had them at dusk because the twilight is the crack between the worlds. I gave him the Crowley ephemera as payment in kind. Buy the black egg without haggling, he said.
That was the last time I thought about Zowie for a while.
We agreed that the truth was more interesting than anything you can make up. What I remember and other people remember aren't necessary the same.
He talked about people as his disciples, though I wasn't sure what we supposed to do. One day, he called and asked if I wanted to help save the planet. I said sure. I didn't know what he meant. I'm guessing he wanted to form a positive energy, a positive life force. I dunno. It was never discussed again. Perhaps I was supposed to witness his life and then use it as an example? Everything was always so cryptic. Nietzsche peers behind Zowie Fenderblast: decadence always precedes decay.
His birthday is eleven eleven the numbers of magick. the cunning man on the edge of the village. The man rumored to be the greatest man that ever walked the face of the earth. There's a town in northwest Ontario- no, no wait, wait it's northeast Georgia. Athens is a mythical place- it usta be cool but now it's just another place. When I met ZF, he was living in a trailer in the middle of a dump. His wife is pretty cute so it wasn't a total loss. and the dump is not some Jersey trash heap either- they planted grass over all the mounds so it almost looked bucolic. It looked bucolic if you didn't know what was underneath it.
God, that time he called me-some Georgia State professor had some hidden life as a transvestite prostitute and the professor recorded all these reel to reel sex tapes which Zowie rescued. He told me it was all these first person narratives- of course, ZF found that! Of course he did. He told me it was WEIRD which I guess it was but if he said it was weird it must have truly twisted.
He showed me the holes in the ceiling from where his friend blew his brains out. I didn't say anything other than obvious platitudes. What do you say to that? The guy was some Nashville Pussy insider, roadie, and friend. I didn't know him. I do know that the band before Nashville Pussy mentioned reading Aleister Crowley while eating their cornflakes. The type of people that read Aleister Crowley in the morning like some sort of 12 step playbook.
Fleeting impressions from over eight years ago. Last time I spoke to him was the day Beefheart died. "I love you big dummy," said ZF. That was the last time we ever spoke. I'm sure if he just cut me off or just disappeared. It was his birthday and I left a message. The next morning, Manson's birthday actually, a sharp voice responded when I picked up. "Who is this?" The phrase was accusatory. Apparently, the phone he was using belonged to the county and it got passed along. Once the voice calmed down, he told me that ZF moved to McHenry Illinois. Really? Okay.
Being a Satanist means never having to say you're sorry. Who's to say? What's to say? "Don't get too caught up in who you think I am." He told me that early on. Slapping the steering wheel in exclamation, his Ben Franklin glasses wired tight. "We're talking about Krishnamurtui at the dump!"
We were discussing Genesis Breyer P-Orridge leaving the Temple of Psychic Youth. Perhaps the only example of someone starting an occult experimental group and then abdicating the position. Of course, Krishnamurti comes to mind. Being a Satanist means never having to say anything, allowing actions to speak. He told me that the day that LaVey passed he got up on the bar in Athens and said something to the effect of "a very great man passed away today." I one upped him by reporting seeing LaVey at a Psychic TV gig in NYC. He was sitting at a table with a couple of blondes.
"That would be Blanche."
The day that I called him, Meatloaf called him. Called the office at the dump. ZF has connections to Weezer and one of his songs was performed by one of the guys on a solo album. This led to a connection with the Lizzies and they design clothes and Jennifer modeled some of them (it's a small world after all, much too small, much too small). At the same time Carlos Santana was calling him asking about another song. He's like Mac Davis or something- the Rhinestone Cowboy, the Legendary Ziggy Stardust Rhinestone Cowboys, though Ziggy Stardust was just Paul Kanter spaceship bullshit anyway.
Touch and Go was in pretty bad shape in the mid-'80's of course Big Black was fantastic but they allowed the label to indulge itself in just boring marginal shit- the Lone Star was the last No Trend album but regardless, the days of buying every brand new Touch and Go record was like OVER. The ‘80's were collapsing, into the ‘90's. Y-Chromo-Boy brought home the Lee Harvey Oswald Band album and they looked like lunatics. They were all dressed like glam rockers with these names and a positively frightening live shot-ZF howled.
I had no reason not to assume they weren't a real band. The producer guy was from the Didjits and he knew ZF from Champaign. They had an experimental noise band called the Groovy Carrots. One thing they did was a recording of slabs of meat hitting a microphone or something. It was brought to the attention of John Cage (he might have been doing a lecture at the University of Illinois), who approved.
One of the weezer people who were already world famous were telling him "oh, your life is going to change." He told me that he saw all these people exchanging music from phone to phone, for free of course. How was he to make a living off that?
When you see a porn video, you're imagining that it's you in that place. When you listen to a band, you're imagining that you're feeding off that energy. The sound is a splinter.
I wish I could get tenure as an American rock critic. Unfortunately, I only got a B+. I write this to help the future ant-like labors of grad students who research American rock music and contemporary occult movements. I hope my memories and impressions paint a more complete picture of this most mysterious American artist. The notion of defining yourself by what you listen to- ancient rock criticks trying to relate to the present like "Does the spectator have a value?" "Does discovering where ZF was, does that get me a pass?"
It was during the twisted year of 2010. I had picked up a habit. I was completely out of mind most of the year. The only times you remember are when you were sick. And when you got so hammered, you wonder, "what ever happened to the Lee Harvey Oswald Band?" I found his real name from a web forum and then I found out where he worked. 65 miles from my doorstep. Strange.
He mentioned the name of a guy he said was one of his disciples. He was a guy did a performance art piece with Zowie once. He did something underground and behind the scenes up North somewhere. I vaguely remembered hearing the guy's name, which is more to say than me a hanger on and parasite from the early nineties NY dope scene. NY Scum Rock. Rosemary's Babies from Lodi. The birthplace of the Jersey Devil. Did he ever call his fans "disciples"?
Then there was the whole thing about the VUCK. What was that about? He had some YouTube videos posted where he discussed meeting-I don't even know if I should write what he told me. Let's just say, he conjured up some type of elemental or at least he met an elemental at the dump.
He was a strange person. I thought it more interesting that his life was his art and the music was just a part of his existence. The body of work exists as a splinter. Meeting him was probably the last thing I've ever done. Writing and sharing my impressions are my contribution to future rock scholarship.
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