Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Time When Things Worked

The Cramps were playing Larry's Hideaway in Toronto in the mid-1980s, and it was so crowded that anybody who wasn't immediately in front of the stage had to stand on their cocktail tables to see, reaching up to the low ceiling to steady themselves. While Ivy retuned after breaking a string, people shouted requests. Lux responded, "Maybe" to each request until I barked out "Drug Train." He said, "Okay" and they rolled straight into it.

I never saw a bad Cramps show, and any event touched by the Cramps turned entertainingly strange. When I tried to photograph them at the Concert Hall in Toronto, a phalanx of people 5 and a half feet tall and shorter formed around me to keep me from being jostled. After a friend's girlfriend paied our bar tab at one club, she took us to Nuts and Bolts, a new wave dance club that was three-quarters empty. When "Garbageman" played, our drunken dance took up most of the dance floor. With Bryan Gregory, they played a place in Hamilton, Ontario that I always assumed was a money laundering joint because whoever booked it seemingly had no idea what he was doing, booking cover bands three nights a week and the Cramps in their most disturbing incarnation on the Friday. And I can't remember how many nights of drinking on the roof started with Songs the Lord Taught Us. Lux will be missed.

... and here's "Garbageman," from the days when videos weren't boring.

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