a long time ago, many life chapters ago, i had a younger boyfriend & his best friend was named larry. larry's name around town with some was "scary larry" bc he had the most morbid taste you could imagine in that pre-internet era! hanging out with larry & friends meant a night of very heavy drinking, maybe some psychedelics, listening to records, & watching disturbing videos, some i wish to this day i could erase from my memory, but much that were so cool, like john waters & russ meyer films... always, always we listened to the cramps. we worshipped the cramps! we all still do, living or dead! shantell -- the tough-looking gal with the soulful gaze & sweet friendly voice, bakersfield punk rock drummer, underground dj, & lifelong dear friend of larry's -- wrote that now larry's in heaven with lux. i hope so. i hope they all are there, all the ones who ravaged themselves to death with booze & drugs & loneliness & wild &/or long nights too many... i was turned on to so much fantastic outsider americana/punk at this time, being around larry, from hasil adkins to the legendary stardust cowboy & esquerita, screamin' jay hawkins, the gun club, the mummies, real rockabilly (not the polished pop barf variety, but the sincere but tough unwashed no-BS raw kind)... the list goes on & on...
larry elected to become a mortician & his school death mask, i remember, was of ed gein. it was quite artfully wrought, of course, for in my experience, the most creative people are not just tortured into self-loathing or insanity in some ways, they're also the most highly talented in many ways, being probably more touched by the divine, maybe icarus-like closer to the sun tho they may not even realize it, to the eternal flames, to immortality that conversely brings rushed mortality... i am rambling because i am sad.
we were in the motel the night before roadshow revival when i learned larry had died. earlier in the day we'd rushed to RSR to see our favorite band, our hero, james's life-long friend & mentor & my teenaged-thru-age-40+ object of adoration & lust & were shocked to tears by what we saw... the musician lifestyle is ravenous, just devastating to healthy longevity; so sad, tragic, heartbreaking, whatever you want to call it that the brightest, most bursting talents end up crashing so hard (see above)... so i already was pretty depressed when learned about larry.
i always knew larry was a loving, sweet guy under all the dark interests. but turns out the morbidity that turned him toward the profession of mortician, along with his love of outsiders, created a champion who was brave & determined to help when people lost their loved ones. story after story told of larry caring for the grieving, going the extra distance to help loved ones at their saddest moments. he didn't just dress corpses, but made sure people could say goodbye to their girlfriends, parents, & other loved ones in the most dignified, protected manner... in other words, i found out my friend "scary larry" was in some way a saint.
then i found out he had "drank himself to death," & the floor fell away.
alcohol is a demon. i really believe it should be outlawed, except then it just would go underground & still would be used, would even thrive in use. we who have the itch, who cannot steadily be in the flow of g.o.d., want what we cannot have & that want often is for something ruinous. again, i think that's bc the craving for the divine turns in the wrong direction & becomes a craven lust, tho most anyone would laugh if i told them that in that way, so i'm writing it instead... were i fundamentalist, i think i'd describe it as god vs the devil, the almighty struggle for our souls, but that implies we're puppets instead of beings with free will, but then again sometimes the simplicity of the religious story (i don't mean that disparagingly) makes a lot of sense to me, efficiently eliminating the gray, like when i'm really sad...
yes, alcohol is demon, destroyer of families, ultimately a foul tidal wave drowning love, self-respect, lives, soul. if you mess with this nasty, filthy drug, be warned: it might kill you & devastate everyone who loves you. now don't think, please, if i see you drinking that i will condemn you: no. you are the only one who knows if you take a drink, the drink takes you. if that's the case, STOP! if it's not, continue drinking. have fun! i guess some do, tho that's not the case for me, nor too many people i have loved who no longer live because they just wanted to drink, not realizing there was no case of want: they HAD to drink.
one of the biggest blessings of the fact that i had to stop my alcoholic drinking on july 4, 1995 is that i have not broken my mother's heart since then. i've had sad things happen, have made stupid decisions, have made her worry, but break her heart? no longer. i am so grateful for that...
james shocked the crap out of everyone who saw him at RSR: the human comet named james hit that stage & blew it to bits! afterward, full bore, he continued to whirl & smash his way around the grounds until he went out like a firework. he's in rest period right now, but the show advertised on this poster i made this morning is happening saturday, & he'll be back at his powerful full-steam by then, so i hope you'll go.
now back to teaching duties, for i am going back into the classroom come august, i do believe. i am creative, but i am not one of The Creatives. therefore i suffer, have artistic & emotional angsts [sic], but basically am a mere workingman kind of artist, a crazy pragmatist, salieri to the mozarts around me.... ok, whatever: better stop writing now because i'm boring myself. please come to the show, if you can!
Labels: alcoholism, artistic, blablablablabla, friendship, grief, larry gragg, live music, madness and creativity, rest in peace, roadshow revival, the cramps, whiteboy james