Wednesday, August 29, 2007

*** I had more thoughts on GG Allin than my Stranger piece could fully absorb, so I offered to write up an entry for the paper's music-themed blog "Line Out" to explore some further aspects of the man's ridiculous life. They were interested, but it looks like it won't be running there now, so I've taken the liberty to recycle it here. Originally two seperate pieces, I've gone ahead and jammed them together into one long, unweildy mess. Enjoy, if you dare ...


When music fuehrer J. Zwickel okayed a feature on GG Allin, I felt like destiny tapped me on the shoulder. Since first hearing his classic “Drink Fight and Fuck” back in the 80s, I’ve been fascinated with this peculiar icon and personally conflicted over how and why I enjoy his work. I knew this would be a chance for me to conquer demons, redeem a fallen hero and write the ultimate GG Allin article. Well, I got busy and didn’t do that, you know how it goes. But even though I open the piece with an anecdote about something I didn’t actually do (easily the lamest of journalistic conceits), I stand by the published product, if only because I’m proud to have gotten the title “Assfuckin, Buttsuckin, Cuntlickin Masturbation” into print all over the city. Top that, Seattle Weekly!

Anyhow, dig the article if you haven’t already and then come back here and get a load of these videos. The one thing I really wanted to write more about was Allin’s music, some of which is genuinely exciting bonehead punk rock that deserves to be heard. Allin didn’t exercise quality control – most of his records are akin to field recordings, documents of a few drunken hours in the studio with whoever happened to strap on a guitar. But when GG had a good band behind him he could rise to the occasion with some powerful noise. At one point, Allin even roped former MC-5 rockers Dennis Thompson and Wayne Kramer into recording a single with him, and the result is unsurprisingly one of his best. The rollicking “Gimme Some Head” not only boasts the righteous power of Kramer’s crazed lead guitar and an effortlessly infectious chorus, but it also opens with the best example of Allin’s cracked poetry: “Hey now girls, I want lip service/I don’t wear a uniform, I’m not in the service.”

There’s an awful lot of GG on You Tube, including a live show from 1987 in its entirety, so let’s just stick to a couple of my personal favorites. Wallow on your own time.


Allin’s first band was his best and longest lived. The Jabbers were a tight, aggressive power pop band and when paired with Allin’s numbskull lyricism, came off sounding like the Dead Boys’ hick cousins, a cruder, stupider take on the New York punks they emulated. This homemade rock video features GG in somebody’s basement lip synching to the opening track from the band’s debut LP Always Was, Is and Always Shall Be, a remarkable record full of spastic punk anthems. “Bored to Death” is a great track that still resonates with me – anyone who can’t relate to lyrics like “I am bored to death/I’m just so bored with the human race/I’m so bored of life/But it don’t matter anyway” is a fucking robot.


The song is pretty weak, but the dramatic bits of this video make it worth highlighting. My favorite moment is when GG shouts, “We’re taking over the city!” It’s such an empty, hollow gesture – Allin raising his fist in defiance and the whole world continuing on with its business, ignoring him. But that’s the key to Allin, what he fought for and what he means to his fans – shouting into the abyss, refusing to be a nobody even if it means turning to outrage and infamy. Allin is every frustrated loser who ever capped off a life of seething obscurity with a final explosion of deadly rage, and there are more people like that in the modern world than any of us want to admit.

Audio documents of early Jabbers gigs suggest that audience response ranged from indifference to derision. It isn’t hard to imagine a desperate young GG, addled by alcohol, adrenaline and immaturity, determined to elicit a serious reaction from the crowd and taking the work of Alice and Iggy to what must have seemed a logical conclusion. The Jabbers watched their leader gradually get more extreme over eight years of touring East Coast rock clubs. By the time they disbanded in 1984, GG had become a legend for extra-musical reasons.

(Sensitive viewers should exercise caution – this one gets a little rough)

Part One

Part Two

Here’s GG Allin at one of his spoken word performances, this one in Boston circa 1988. Allin is at his peak of intensity here, a period where he had no regular back up band and toured the country by Greyhound, drinking himself into psychosis every night and performing wherever and however anyone would book him. It’s ironic that Allin considered himself to be the greatest rock n roller of all time, because he was so much more effective as a solo performer. It’s easy to accept a clumsy punk rock tune about punching women with a detached giggle, but a whole different experience to see it demonstrated at a poetry reading. If Allin really had a coherent message of hatred and anarchy to convey, he should have written a novel – the book tours would have been legendary.


The popular documentary Hated brought Allin’s work to an audience beyond the hardcore contingent, and began a career for director Todd Phillips, who made it as a student and went on to helm mainstream comedies like Old School, Starsky & Hutch and Road Trip. Some like to compare Hated to Spinal Tap, but the Murder Junkies are no improv comedy troupe – maybe it’s easier to accept the outrages that Allin & Company perpetrate on screen if one pretends they’re all just actors. Well, these are real people, and Philips trains a very dry eye on his subjects, letting them do their own talking and capturing a wealth of unique characters on the screen, none more compelling than the band’s nudist drummer Dino Sachs or GG’s brother Merle, whose clownish Hitler-style moustache, gargantuan sideburns and shaved pate indicates balls of superhuman dimension.

Hated hasn’t been hard to find over the past fifteen years, so re-releasing the film on DVD must be a marketing ploy. A pre-release contest solicited fan art to decorate the clamshell and first run copies include silly temporary tattoos (“Live Fast, Die GG”). The real difference is in the special features. The earlier version of the DVD included a harrowing hour of raw video from the final hours of Allin’s life as he leads a gang of rioting fans through the streets of New York on his way to one last skag party. It’s missing here in favor of a genial set of interviews with friends and family, shifting the focus from the subject to the people left behind to tell the story.

The lengthy commentary via Merle and Dino casts the most sunlight onto this strange saga. Despite the real-life chaos that must have surrounded them during their days on tour with GG, Sachs recalls being welcomed into the Murder Junkies with a warm “We’re your family now,” and the two old friends talk about their fallen brother with genuine affection – it’s a funny, honest segment that explains how the Murder Junkies were able to continue playing after their leader’s death. A brief moment spent with GG’s mother proves that she supported her boys’ drive to be different, if from afar. It’s comforting to know that despite GG’s penchant for mayhem, there was enough of a person underneath it all to have inspired love and friendship.

Allin bragged often about being universally hated, as reviled by the underground as by polite society, but the truth is that he never could have sustained his career without friends, or at least admirers. He required floors and couches to sleep on, getaway drivers to keep him ahead of the law, drug connections, associates to set up gigs and organize tours. Without people on his side, GG’s antics would have landed him in jail or dead far quicker than they did. As one-dimensional as GG tried so hard to paint himself, as “animalistic” as he claimed to be, his human edges are showing in Hated, and that’s most of its appeal for me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dear Jerks:

My GG Allin article has finally been birthed after many many weeks of gestation. Dig it here. I could complain about them changing the sentence "Allin's threat was metaphor at best" to "Allin's threat was a metaphor at best," but I won't. At least I won't anymore. That's that.

It's gonna be a hell of a weekend. This broad I know is having a birthday and my gift to her is helping to clean up her house. Then said house will host another hotly-contested performance by The End Times (along with Keg, the Lone Ranger of Rock and a third, as-yet unconfirmed act to be announced later). Again, any interested party goers oughta email me for address and directions.

The weekend also holds Geezerfest, a startlingly comprehensive collection of long-defunct Seattle grunge band reunions including Cat Butt, Love Battery and Coffin Break ... I'll miss Saturday night, of course (sorry Brother James) but I'm determined to make the scene Sunday. We'll see how that works out. Anyone with an extra $15 to spend should join me. Why, am I coming apart?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Having Fun With Elvis On Stage

Because everybody needs to hear it at least once ... here's a blog where you can download Elvis Presley's infamous "talking album," in which random stage banter from The King's 1974 tour was edited together into one completely strange LP.

Deming explains it in detail here on AMG.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Friday morning I'm having some gingival grafting done. Clearly, I will do anything for nitrous oxide and vicodin, which I will receive during and after the ceremony. It's a morning operation, so I'm looking forward to a long hazy afternoon on the couch nursing my swollen mouth and taking drugs.

The lingering effects of narcotics should play an important role in the End Times' performance on Saturday. We'll be entertaining fans of glass art at the William Traver Gallery Tacoma between 5:00 and 8:00pm, and I'm anticipating a languid set.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


The End Times August 25th recital will feature a special performance from Seattle's one-man rock revival Keg. This is an explosive young performer who has baffled audiences all over the USA and Europe with his ability to generate high-powered party metal all alone on stage. Keg is inspired heavily by Monster energy drinks, Andrew W.K. and the Misfits, and we're pleased to have made his acquaintance.
Announcing the launch of Still requires a little attention, but it's up and official and will hereafter be updated with songs and lies.

We played an open mike last night. It was a large investment of time, energy and money for the three of us to play one song with two microphones to a boisterous, oblivious audience, but what the hell -- we knew what we were getting into. A few very good acts, including a weird Asian fella in Hawaiian shirt and porkpie hat whose enormous voice shocked the room into silence, but we nabbed slot fourteen out of sixteen so we also suffered plenty of harsh.

The End Times will be playing in Tacoma apparently, on August 11th at an art gallery. Check the website for updates. Did I mention the website?