Thursday, April 24, 2008
I ONLY HAVE A BIG MOUTH WHEN I HAVE A PEN IN MY HAND.
I had spent quite a bit of my formative years drawing cartoons about people I usually liked and admired, but more or less making the mistake of spoofing and/or making fun of them at the same time. And not only that, in a lot of cases I knew or had at least met some of these people over the years, and the cartoons were fairly specific in nature. In my mind, they were usually Mad Magazine type satire and I went after the obvious jugular. It was often very odd to realize that a lot of people in our little punk rock world "way back in the day" appeared to have no sense of humor or seemed too "big for their britches". Yeah, I got into a little bit of trouble. Well, not trouble really but you know..I would feel uncomfortable afterwards in most cases. My Frankenstein monster in the form of li'l ol' cartoons took on a life of their own. The following examples invoke my greatest "pen in mouth" tendencies of those days. I know here have been some other funny stories, these were the biggest "oops!" occasions:
FUGAZI: There is no doubt in my mind that if there is ever a chance that I'll run into Ian Mackaye again in my lifetime, I will be scared shitless. Why? Well, in the early nineties, Maximum Rock N Roll printed a cartoon of mine where I poke fan of four bands. One of them was Fugazi. It was a really inoffensive cartoon that brought to mind monobrows, well to do parents, bands breaking up before their album comes out, extreme seriousness and other stereotypical Dischord Record half-truths. Six months later I visited San Francisco and ended up going to the record store that MRR had. While looking around I ran into the still living Tim Yohannon. While catching up with him, Tim informed me with a big smirk on his face that Fugazi were just in town, and that "they were not too happy about your cartoon". His smirk seemed to get twice as big after he told me this, with a silence in the air as I tried to figure out just what that meant. Over the years, I have heard various reports on this horrible thing, with an artist buddy of mine informing me that Ian's own brother Alec had told him that my cartoon had actually made one of them openly weep. No shit. Then there was the time I met Joe Lally of said Fugazi band and I had a nice conversation until I introduced my name in mid handshake. Suddenly his hand turned into a oily dead fish as he drolly commented. "Oh. I know you." And then he walked away. Even better was the fact that I was at a Fugazi show with Buzz and his wife who knew some of those guys. Staying away from them was hard to do, as they hung out till THE BITTER END. Man, what a pussy I was/am. The worst part is/was, a AM a fan of some of those guys and what they have done musically. And even worse, there is a book coming out, another punk rock book about..well, punk rock. And somehow these guys behind this new book had gotten a letter that I wrote to Jeff Nelson of Minor Threat (I wrote to Ian, too.) when I was like a little kid. It was lengthy, and it was..uh..very much of its time (which means it is a gushy fan letter). The whole world is going to be able to read about me praising the band Second Wind to Jeff Nelson very soon! Yikes!!
I figure that is my karma being paid in full for making fun of Fugazi in that cartoon a million years ago.
BARRY HENSSLER: Barry is probably best known for being the singer in the Midwest band NECROS, one of the more popular eighties hardcore type of bands for those who were into that sort of thing. Barry was one funny guy, an extremely funny sarcastic and cynical type of guy, sort of the type of person that plenty of other slightly younger hardcore kids would no doubt turn into in a few years. He was a riot, no doubt about it. Unfortunately trouble was brewing when one Buzz Osborne (who seems to always be at the enter of these things) goaded yours truly into drawing a quick secession of spoof cartoons that lampooned Soundgarden, Laughing Hyenas and Barry Henssler, all done at the residence Buzz had when the Melvins still lived in "Frisco" (i.e. years ago). Thinking nothing of any of it, it was only later when I realized that Buzz had given the cartoon of Barry nodding out after eating too much junk food, surrounded by rare records and dreaming of fronting the ULTIMATE BAND (all of Big Chief's influences, or at least Joe Perry) to....Peter Davis of Your Flesh magazine (back when it was a magazine). Peter had printed the unflattering picture next to a equally unflattering review of one of those Big Chief albums. Of course, the next time I met up with him he was..uh..less then pleased. He didn't let me off of the hook, either. I felt bad enough to write him an apology afterwards. But of course, I kept using the Barry prototype (in a "big chef" hat) for a variety of other cartoons because I thought it looked funny. And I guess because I am a smart ass. I always run into people who know Barry, who lives in Chicago these days and is a deejay I think. I would be a little less scared of seeing Barry at this point then Ian, but the end results would probably be the same. i can't say watching anyone spinning records that I don't like ranks up there on my list of "things to do" so I guess I am safe on this one.
PUSHEAD: I already had printed this story in a cartoon from my first book, but Brian "Pushead" Schroeder was a big early influence on me, even though what I ended up doing artistically (once I learned how to draw) had nothing to do with anything that he is known for. I wrote him letters, he was really cool and encouraging. Met him one time and he was again really cool. Flash forward a year or so: I started to build a name in the punk rock world and was also in a band that went up to Berkeley California and stayed at the mighty MRR house at the time (this is the mid eighties). I met them all: Jumpin' Jeff Bale, Tim Yohannon, he of the green taped record collection and also..Pushead. He wasn't actually living there, more like crashing there. What was he like this time? Well....he refused to talk to me. It was a whole house, not a very big house mind you and he more or less avoided talking to me the whole time. Plus there were like sixteen other people coming and going all weekend! And there he was..not talking to me. This was confusing to me, cause he last time we met, he was really cool. What did I do? Turns out that Tim Yo told me that he had "a stick up his ass" about me "because I didn't spend enough time on my drawings".
Well, this was the truth. But really..what the fuck? And it was my first encounter with that kind of thing, people acting all squirrely over nothing, little punk rock fall outs and the like. Over the years, especially since I have printed that cartoon, you wouldn't believe how many people have commented on it, and that Brian Schroeder was always sort of a dick. But as for me, I really couldn't say (not that I really care) too much about it. Maybe he was having a bad week or something. I haven't heard about him or from him since. But certainly, I have made fun of old Pushead quite a bit, and he has popped up as a celeb from my early days that introduced me to the world of being an asshole for no real reason at all. Hmmm. I wished he would have told me all of that stuff about my cartoons sucking. Maybe I would have gotten better quicker. Maybe not.
KEVIN SECONDS: Every time Double Negative goes anywhere, there is a good chance that I am going to hear about this man and his band. You all know the story by now. But I have rarely ever talked about the aftermath of the messy business of art/bitter feelings/financial compensation. The last time I re-opened this Pandora's box was when I was married. I was on the Internet and I wondered, "I wonder if that drawing is still being mass produced?" Well, it was. T-shirts. And skateboards! Lucky me, the legacy goes on and on. Stupidly not thinking, I started to post on HIS message board, and then I stood back and witnessed the sparks flying, followed by perhaps the most brutal character assassination on my behalf that I have ever read! The topic went on and on and the carnage was brutal, no doubt about it. My ex wife and her friends started to post haiku's about me being paid (I wish I remembered them, they were quite funny) until finally the whole thing was mercifully shut down and dismantled. This was like five or six years ago, maybe? The obvious thing here is that this man is by no means a punk rock billionaire, like that NOF-X guy or the dude from Bad Religion. I am sure he's been ripped off more than I ever have, and in a funny chain of events, I remembered when my original artwork for their "Walk Together, Rock Together" record was changed to a water colored type of photo scribble done by..you guessed it: Pushead! He made them look like A-Ha or Duran Duran! Oh cruel irony. He has popped up at times, now I just have to endure kids telling me what a "classic" that drawing is/was, as the rest of Double Negative laughs at me every time it comes up.
Here are the only two examples of people I can remember that could take a joke, and/or didn't give a shit.
MARK ARM AND STEVE TURNER OF MUDHONEY: In the same MRR cartoon where I apparently enraged Fugazi, I made fun of Mudhoney as well, which you know..was a very easy thing to do, if you think about it. Well, I met these two a few times, and they had both read it and thought it was hilarious, and that they LOVED IT!! Not only that, they wanted more cartoons making fun of them. I gotta say, this was a RARE THING. Thanks guys. I still really like the first GREEN RIVER twelve inch.
MIKE DEAN: I have bashed my former hardcore heroes so many times over the years, and through all of it, through every spoof and lampoon, My friend Mike Dean, the very unsentimental bass player of CORROSION OF CONFORMITY has stayed my friend, and has never given a shit about any of that at all. And I gotta tell you, I have wondered at times about that stuff at times. The end result? He doesn't give a shit.
I still do sort of the same kind of spoofing but it is less specific these days. There is really no one I think worth really "going after" these days, especially since I feel mainly outside of the "music scene" these days for the most part. I had even tried to do something like that recently, for Henry O. of Chunklet fame. I simply quit. There was nothing worth making fun of, especially cause of being out of touch. I don't know who to hate anymore because I don't know the players! If there is a phalanx of other people out there that I am in "trouble" with, they simply haven't gone after me with pitchforks to set me straight yet.
Posted by brian walsby at 3:05 PM