Photo: “HOLLAND-WIEN-EXPRESS” Zeeland and buddy, January 1984

Station to Station

…is a line on the greatest album of all time.

From station to station back to Düsseldorf city
Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie

Trans. Europe. Express.

After contemplating how best to present a WEB-size overview of my seemingly disconnected (and mostly highly obscure) book, music, photo, and film projects, suddenly (while staring at the below digital snapshot of JOE) it hit me. This 1977 album by Kraftwerk provides a thread that links all of my pursuits over 20 years — even the most tenuous and marginal.

Straight connection – T. E. E.

THE IDIOT is the title of my favorite book by Dostoyevsky (with Frank Kafka, my favorite author).

THE IDIOT is the title of my favorite album by IGGY POP. That album was recorded in Berlin. Iggy grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is where I went to college before dropping out to move to Germany. The worst job I ever had was working the night shift as a waiter at a 24-hour restaurant off US 23 across the street from the trailer park where Iggy’s parents lived.

PLEASE KILL ME is the title of a 1997 book purportedly documenting THE UNCENSORED ORAL HISTORY OF PUNK .

I haven’t read it. But I will. Despite this irritating (style-challenged) Kirkus Reviews excerpt on Amazon.com:

“Lou Reed and especially the Stooges’ drug-crazed Iggy Pop became icons for a generation of disaffected kids who identified with the impulse to roll around shirtless in broken glass while howling `I Wanna Be Your Dog.’ [...] Despite the astonishing prevalence of drug addiction, the New York bands and scene-makers of the mid-’70s, led by the Ramones, had splendid instincts for music and style, and most subsequent pop culture is to some degree indebted to them.”

“No shit.”

For a couple years when I was a teenager, my ambition was to be a rock music journalist. My first published words were two letters I wrote to CREEM magazine. The first big influence on me as a writer was Lester Bangs.

David Bowie:
Station to Station

A very great man (I think it was the Isley Brothers) once said that the real bottom line truism re life on this planet is that it is merely a process of sequential disappointments. So there’s no reason even to romanticize your betrayals. Just paying dues, kid. I get burned, therefore I exist. No words in the history of the rock poetic genre, from Dylan to Bernie Taupin, ever said it better than Sandy Posey’s pithy catalog in “Born a Woman”: “Born to be stepped on, lied to, cheated and treated like dirt.”

That’s who this intelligent review was written by.

David Bowie: Station to Station | 163

This is the first Bowie album without a lyric sheet, and I’m glad because aside from reservations voiced above I’ve always agreed with Fats Domino that it’s more fun to figure them out for yourself. The first line on the album is the worst: “The return of the thin white duke / Throwing darts in lovers’ eyes.” Somehow, back in Rock Critics’ Training School, when they told me about “pop poetry,” I didn’t and still don’t think that they were talking about this, which is not only pretentious and mildly unpleasant, but I am currently wrestling with a terrible paranoia that this is Bowie talking about himself. I have a nightmare vision in my mind of him opening the set in his new tour by striding out onstage slowly, with a pained look in his eyes and one spotlight following him, mouthing these words. And, quite frankly, that idea terrifies me. Because if it’s true, it means he’s still as big an idiot as he used to be and needs a little more cocaine to straighten him out.

This is pretty much exactly how Bowie opened his set at Wings hockey stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan on his “Station to Station” tour. I was pressed up directly against the stage, looking a little too much like CHRISTIANE F. in WIR KINDER VOM BAHNHOF ZOO, in the (staged) scene where she is pressed up directly against the stage at a Bowie concert watching him perform “Station to Station.” Except that she didn’t look as though she’d been waiting endless hours for a very tardy David Bowie during which time the PA played the same album over and over again: Kraftwerk’s RADIOACTIVITY.

Last year I read LET IT BLURT: THE LIFE & TIMES OF LESTER BANGS, AMERICA’S GREATEST ROCK CRITIC.

In terms of personal style (and physical appearance) Lester and I could not be more different.

But I learned that he and I share the same favorite drink, cognac. And the same favorite means of getting drunk: cognac and beer.

It turns out Lester grew up in San Diego and did a lot of his best writing in Detroit. I grew up in Michigan and did a lot of my best writing so far in San Diego. Both of us suffered through our last-ever “day jobs” in San Diego. Lester wrote songs, played in a couple bands, and released one or two records that never went anywhere.

So did I.

While I was still at school in Ann Arbor I used my student loan to buy an ARP synthesizer. I formed a band with my oldest friend Brian, whom I’ve known since second grade. We did a cover version of a song from THE IDIOT. (It didn’t sound like Bowie’s watered-down Top 40 version of “China Doll,” another song from THE IDIOT.)

Just before I moved to Germany one of our songs was released on a compilation cassette by a fledgling zine/record label based in Washington state. Years later SUB-POP would skyrocket from obscurity with their launch of a band called Nirvana.

In one of the movies exploiting the Seattle grunge scene there’s a brief shot of someone perusing PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL AS LITERATURE AND LITERATURE AS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, a collection of writing by Lester Bangs.

Lester died when he was 33.

I never expected to live this long. (I’m the same age as MOMUS and one year younger than MORRISSEY.) But the cold war ended without any nuclear strikes on Central Europe. The peak years of my promiscuous sex life passed without me expiring from AIDS (or for that matter even once contracting any “social disease”). It’s awkward. I never made any provision for living to see middle-age.

A year ago this month two overstimulated sailors I was entertaining unexpectedly pulled out a gun. Whatever they started to say I rudely interrupted with the demand that they take a picture of me sticking the gun in my mouth.

They didn’t know what to say, but humored my request. After the first photo, I told them to take another, maybe from a different angle. The sailor to whom the gun belonged could only think to suggest, “Stick it a little deeper down your throat.” When they took off I immediately transferred the images to my computer. But was disappointed.

I look even sillier with a gun in my mouth than I do wearing a ball cap.

…. Are lyrics by my friend Nick Currie AKA MOMUS who was in Seattle the other week. He played “Steven Zeeland,” “Psychopathia Sexualis,” “My Kindly Friend John Ashcroft,” but not another, earlier song of his called “What Will Death Be Like?”

When I was 19 I had a series of panic attacks contemplating death. I re-wrote my Last Will every month or so.

Now, death is the one thing I’m not afraid of. I told my friend Packard, “A year past 40 is like a bonus track on a remastered CD.”

Last year a photo I took of Packard was featured in the last publication Lester Bangs wrote for, THE VILLAGE VOICE. The accompanying article was written by Richard Goldstein, an esteemed journalist who in the 1960′s laid the very foundation of “literature as rock ‘n’ roll” while Lester Bangs was still selling shoes at Mission Valley Mall in San Diego.

The published article did have a stupid cringe-inducing headline. But it was through no fault of Richard’s that his overview of the social world I inhabit (or inhabited until that article was published) gave rise to grievous misunderstandings locally. At long last I received my first serious death threat.

I don’t have many regrets in life. But one regret I do have is that I let that bother me.

The last model I took photos of surprised me by pulling out Nietzsche:

346

Being misunderstood.— When one is misunderstood as a whole, it is impossible to remove completely a single misunderstanding. One has to realize this left one waste superfluous energy on one’s defense.

I think I’m starting to warm to the 00′s.

Time to do some remastering.


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