Musical Family Tree

Spreading Indiana Music

Part Five: My career as an engineer, Marvin P, Strippers and Pere Ubu (1985)

I actually wrote this a few weeks ago.. pressed send and got some sort of error. My first instinct today is to write the whole thing in MS-Word and then copy/paste it over here....

I had spent my senior year trying to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life... well.. maybe that's not true.. maybe I just didn't care. I really can't remember what I was thinking. I took a bunch of college level courses during my last year at Carmel. Scored really high on my SATs.. and began getting letters from MIT and Rose Hullman wanting me to visit their campuses. Lack of money would prevent me from ever becoming an engineer.. and all I really wanted to do was play music, anyway. I applied to the IU School of Music.. but still there were financial issues.. so one day, I went and spoke to a recruiter for the United States Marines. I'll repeat myself and tell you that I really don't know what I was thinking.. but I was to ship off to basic training in the early summer of 1985. After I completed basic, I would then take my place in the Marine Corps Band. I was assured by my recruiter that after that first 14 weeks, I'd never have to carry a gun or do another push up in my life.. and after I finished my four years playing TAPS or whatever else you play when you're a musician for The Marines, I'd have enough money to go to what ever school I wanted to.

When I was two years old, I had gotten my arm caught in between the rails of my crib. As I pulled and pulled trying to free myself, I ended up pulling my shoulder out of its socket. It never properly healed and since then I have had what I always called a double-jointed shoulder, but what the Marine doctor that performed my physical called a "trick joint." As a result, I would not be allowed into The Marines... Time for my backup plan.. Except I didn't have one.

After graduation, I continued my job in the microfilm department of Marbaugh Engineering. I had started there as a temp and spent about four hours a day removing staples from documents so that they could go through the feeder to be shot onto microfilm. Now, I would work there full time.. during the second shift.. all by myself. It was a pretty sweet job. I learned how to operate all of the different cameras and how to reproduce blueprints on plain paper using toner instead of ammonia. These duplicate blueprints looked like regular photocopies instead of the blue and white originals. If you were booking a show and wanted 60” x 36” flyers, I was the person to call… I supplemented my income by selling LSD to a few of the old hippies that worked the first shift.. And I moved into my first real house...

It was a three bedroom dump on the corner of 36th and Meridian. Don't look for it now.. it's been replaced by a high-rise apartment building.. I lived with Marvin P and his girlfriend, Denise.. Her sister, an aspiring ballerina who was stripping to pay the bills also lived there. My share of the rent was $65/month. Looking back on my life, this was probably one of the best summer's ever.. If I ever get to there , I will also call the summer of 2002 the best summer ever, but let's stay in 1985 for now.

Marvin was booking shows regularly, and there were always bands staying with us. During this year, I got to hang out with The Minutemen, Dead Milkmen, D.O.A., and Die Kreuzen.. I began dating my stripper room mate.. I had lost my job at the microfilm place.. but since my rent was only $65.. nothing seemed to be a problem...

In the fall of 1985, I became a regular at Chainhead Manor. I honestly couldn’t tell you who actually lived in the small apartment in Brittany Woods, but this is where I first hung out with John Early, Dave D’Eath and Terry Hollywood. I think Bam Bam may have been living there, as well. All of us also worked at Cosmo’s Pizza during this time.. This, I guess, is also when our collective musical tastes got really fucked up. As much as I remember about this time, I’m sure I have a lot of details fucked up and the order of things equally wrong.. but we’d drop acid and listen to Voi Vod, Destruction and Christian Death.. or we’d smoke pot and listen to The Meat Puppets, Minutemen and Pere Ubu.. and there were several drug induced jam sessions in the basement of 714 E. 50th.

Johnny and I weren’t 21 yet. Fuck.. I wasn’t even 18.. but we became regulars at The Alley Cat and The Patio. During the next year, I would be kicked out of The Patio for life 3 different times. Each time, a door man would catch wind that I wasn’t legal… and within a few months, he’d either forget or would not be working there anymore and I’d be back in…

We had all moved out of the house on 36th Street. Andrea and I had a cozy little house on Crittenden Ave, and Marvin and Denise lived in an identical house about 4 doors south of us. Anytime Marvin booked an out of town band, it became a block party.. with half of the band at my house and half the band at his.

In Feb of ’86, I turned 18, which made it legal for me to get into bars in Ohio and Kentucky.. so there were several random trips to Sudsy Malones, The Jockey Club and Bogarts… and at times, I wouldn’t even know who was playing… it was just a place to go.

It has now taken me a couple of weeks to type this out.. and it is nothing like what I had originally drafted as my recollection of May 1985 – April 1986… and now I’m realizing that because I don’t really remember much about this year except for the drugs, booze and music.. that I sound like some middle aged man rambling about a time that he thinks were the good ol’ days, but was way too fucked up to remember most of it.

In the summer of 1986, I met these guys in a band called Stevie Stiletto and The Switchblades from Jacksonville, FL. They had moved up here so that they could be managed by Bill Levin and I became their road manager. We spent most of our time that summer at a bar called Muggins on College Ave. The band practiced above the bar during the day and hung out there and drank at night. During this clubs relatively short life, the bands that come to mind are Scratch Acid, Agnostic Front, Black Flag, Fang, Aggression, and Discharge. We all stayed at Bill’s house in Broadripple. I still had the house on Crittenden, but was rarely there. After a few months, Bill grew tired of babysitting just stopped coming home. By this point, the house probably should’ve been condemned. It was only a matter of time before the utilities began being shut off and the band decided to return to Florida.

The following spring, Stevie Stiletto came back through the Midwest on tour. I had my first job as a computer programmer at the time.. and my life somewhat resembled that of a stable person.. Andrea had quit stripping and enrolled at Columbia University in Chicago as a dance major. I was living by myself in a nice house on the north side of Indianapolis. I had credit cards, a car payment and a career. Then one drunken night in Muncie, I decided that I’d rather go out on tour than sit in a cubical.. two days later, I called from Columbus, OH to quit my job.

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Comment by John Early on June 20, 2008 at 6:51am
I have to agree, tripping balls on LSD and listening to Pere Ubu was a profoundly beautiful experience in those days. I've always regarded Modern Dance as a very psychedelic record in fact, which probably isn't the adjective most people would attach to their music. But seen through the eyes of punk rockers on acid, psychedelic is a quite fitting description in my estimation...remember that time we discovered lyrics on a hitherto instrumental song on The Art of Walking?

Incidentally, there were 2 Chainhead Manors. The first one was in some shithole dowtown a bit west of the Hoosier Dome. I remember hearing the Pointer Sisters playing there while having a small backyard bonfire. Tim Thomas lived there with us for a time. White trash mom across the street didnt take to kindly to Bam Bam giving a mohawk to her preteen son. They place was infested with bees at one point, which had to be routinely swatted and sprayed. Cindy (Queen of Siam) came over in those days and did very naughty things.

Various people lived at the Brittany Woods version and nobody seemed to have a job or pay rent except me. Bam Bam, Dave D, me, a fuckbunny here and there, and my sister even lived there for a time. Some redneck stole my triple beams while living there. This is where Dave D'Eath coined the phrase "Shut your mouth or lose it!"
Comment by pseudoboober on May 20, 2008 at 10:10pm
i remember those days...singing Louie Louie with Henry Rollins. you forgot to mention Father's Day Mondo. i think that was in May or June of '86.

good times. was it Richard that was dragged out by his hair from Muggins?
Comment by Steven Pratt on May 19, 2008 at 3:59pm

It was on the same street just a few blocks north of that house...
Comment by mike whybark on May 17, 2008 at 7:07pm
"Bill grew tired of babysitting just stopped coming home."

LOL. Was this the place that Yukki and Jonee lived with Bill in for a while, like right before Yukki split town?
Comment by Steven Pratt on May 17, 2008 at 12:13am
it was at Muggins.. (which was next door to the vogue)

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