Another excerpt from Meatheads. There's only one old punk in all Lost Angeles -- nobody else can even remember how things were before time and history got fucked apart -- this is from the scene where he's doing a last-chance death show while he bleeds out all over his throngs of adoring cultists. The old guy summoned Meatheads to be his backing band mainly because of secret drama, but also because nobody else in town is any good.
Can’t beat a stapler for cosmetic surgery. Mikey’s got a hank of beige leather upholstery stretched cross his skylight as camo. They say wet blood washes off dry, and he smears his little scalp wounds over the leather. He’s running in the pitch dark with his free hand on the rail, lunging upstairs three steps at a time. Honestly, the most suspicious thing is showing up somewhere if you’re not soaked red.
The rooftop hatch’s arced with party garlands of cicadas and vertebrae, with the big fire glowing through like an leaky oven door. Hands shoot through the hatch to grab Mikey before he puts his first foot on the ladder and they haul him up so rough and rowdy it’s like they found McReagan in their midst. But they don’t pitch him off the edge, just pass him over their heads and put him down by the fire.
The amps are wrapped in rainjacket, even under their slanted canopies, precious as minds and further blown. You’re probly gonna say they’re inert and saramonial, nobody ever powered amps by tipping unfiltered palmbeer into ethanol generators. But all up and down these rusty monolith stacks, there’s white smoke seeping from underneath the knobs. The little red lights turn on, and you’re a tourist.
No, don’t stop staring. You don’t have to be anything.
You’re not gonna see this again.
You’d think Raff would take you by the spenders, dragging you round the fire to your ducktaped guitar, but she’s over there gnawing on her drumsticks. Stork tibias. Get it? Donn’s flicking switches on the generator bank, sucking thoughtful on one tip of a flaky rubber patchcord, his dreads casionally frazzing on end from lectro bursts. Arco’s fingers are ripping silently cross her guitarneck like a pilgrim at a swordshrine sheathing and unsheathing and sheathing her katana. Your feet must be walking themselves, Mikey.
Your crew moves like fossil cathode patterns blitting on a screen, and the crowd’s gone in smoke, and you’re not there, anyway, and the legend’s balanced onefooted on a stage that’s actually literally a matchbox on its end, stretching his arm palmdown to the big fire like it’s tumbled and he wants to help it up and see, his nother arm’s simply gone, uncauterized and still spraying dark from some last-ditch hardcore surgery. He gives you the littlest nod you’ve ever seen. And we all know his name. We all know his name. And he names every name of his diying.
—This is off the name line, it goes from intro to out. It’s not written down.
Sweet fuckall shat Jan Paul Beahm. Bobby Pyn ate Jan Paul Beahm. Richie Dagger ate Bobby Pyn. David Bowie ate Richie Dagger. Darby Crash ate David Bowie. Sweet fuckall ate Darby Crash.
—He named more names than that, Mikey.
—Wait up. This is off the name line, it goes from intro to out. Sometimes it starts back up and you’re born again, born fucked into the meantime, but it’s still not written down.
—He wasn’t Bowie either.
—Seriously not, man. That’s not his face on my Bowie mugs.
—These are the names he said, okay? Sweet fuckall re shat Darby Crash. Jan Paul Beahm ate Darby Crash. Ward State ate Jan Paul Beahm. Paul Beahm MBA ate Ward State. Vic Spiral ate Paul Beahm MBA. Casey Vein ate Vic Spiral. Splinter Grope ate Casey Vein. Max Reich ate Splinter Grope. Darby Crash ate Max Reich. Darby Crash ate Darby Crash. Darby Crash ate Darby Crash.
This is off the name line. It’s still not written down. Names aren’t lies til they’re down.
—The only people I wanted to see at this show are dead already. I think they still might of come. Last time we did a show like this one, it was so people could member. I wasn’t sposed to keep going. I wasn’t sposed to keep going after that. I think something got fucked. But I can member you all from that night, and you don’t look older to me.”
Where’s the mic? He’s talking into his last fist.
—This show isn’t for anybody here. I’m doing this so I can have it back. To know what it was like when I was still around. Afterward when you cut me up, I want you so drunk you don’t know who you’re eating.
The circle presses in. All their faces the same in that moment. The fire rears up and broken glass falls from the wind.
—I don’t want you membering me.
So Darby Crash steps into his death song. Screaming but not even into his fist that’s not a mic, and the PA system wakes in a blur of feedback, even so. Who could ever name the words he’s forming? The world’s sick of metaphors, and when you hear some yuppie word had twentysix definitions, you know that’s a snakehand. Doesn’t matter what he’s singing.
Here. Raffia’s drumkit coughs and turns over like a lawnmower engine. Skulltoms and sheetmetal rimshots plow forward as Darby’s throat opens harder and harder. His eyes cast up in the spacecolored wind and he’s standing blasé as any idol, nothing moving but his jaw, and his words stretch and shear and deform. They’re probly just everything, whatever they are. These words so secret it’d take the universe to hold them. Here. Their guitars start to chop. Mikey’s holding one chord and his big chunky fingers seem to barely move on the strings, and Arco’s two hands skitter up and down her guitarneck, picking, tapping. They’re the only times he’s careful and the only times she’s restless. The crowd boils round the edge of the circle and some punk bursts from the moshline like he got flung. These words forming like secret squats, treeforts in the sewers. Birthday candles on curdled pizza. Tripwires and barricades. Here. Some punk shooting sidelong at Darby with his hand out like to tag the legend’s dick and Darby’s singing with his head turned, not looking. He’s so not looking and he steps forward and punker shoots right between his legs and vanishes into the fire. These words forming like shattering milkbottles full of vodka. Tonka car armies on the stairs. Here. One stairwell door’s pried away and the doorway’s wedged with a huge yellow block of styrofoam for soundhead. There’s six yuppiegut bass strings, thick as a thumb and five fingers, strung between the overhead doorframe and the ground so they stand vertically against the block. Here. Donn’s reefing on the ginormous strings and they jump like the strings of bows. The legend’s screams forming round him like swimming drunk in black water and Donn’s angling and sliding his forearm for a capo. The styrofoam soundhead bucks and shudders, shooting force through every level of the spam works, the building itself his fretless bass. Here. The legend skews balanced on the knucklelong cardboard matchbox. Vintage matchsticks roll to the concrete and flare like revolutionary water, though there’s no fire there. Fat distorted chording pours through the night and through the last words of Darby Crash forming like the smell of pissed jeans burnt with roman candles. Waking drunk covered with puke in the crawlspace. Very last final shows forever. Words shaped like that. The way we all got into hardcore.
For awhile there’s nothing else.