PIGS MEAT

Chris Isaak, Little Creek Casino 2012

I went to the Chris Isaak show at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton on Sunday. I had never been to a casino show before (the closest I’ve been is probably the Blue Oyster Cult show outdoors in Elma five years ago, in which the musicians seemed strangely oblivious to their locale and relied heavily on the familiarity of their tunes to overwhelm the audience into confusing the aggressive goatee of the young man theatrically playing the bass for part of the organic entity which used to produce great albums), but being quite familiar with the buffet, expected the same type of satisfaction- the kind one gets from stuffing oneself on greasy delicacies scooped with the abandon of an individual drunk on choices from a trough onto an eternally clean plate. But while usually at the casino the sensation of overabundant materiality I get at the buffet ends up quickly dissipating at the roulette table, where I rediscover the true limit to my selfhood at the bottom of my pocket, on this Sunday evening my thirty five bucks bought me a lingering sense of expansiveness. Let me you tell you how my money works.

Chris Isaak was already playing when we got in. He was wearing a blue suit, sequined in what from the distance appeared to be a pattern of some kind of trippy flower, which refracted the many colored spotlights at all times, giving him a self conscious shimmer on stage. Two video screens from the side of the stage provided unflattering closeups. On the screen, his face appeared appropriately old (it seemed like some skin around the bottom of his face was sagging a little, giving his cleft chin a slightly undesirable definition), but he was well groomed and blue eyed and could alternate from looks of distant intensity (while he was soloing) to affable southern familiarity (while mildly cajoling the crowd with various types of innuendo) in an easy, human manner that I’m gonna call sexual. His band was old and they got much fewer close ups. It was really the spirit of old time rock n roll in there. Because they were old, and the first thing Chris Isaak said was “thank you for supporting live music- we play all this”. There’s something about having to note that by witnessing live music you are supporting it (as though, like a frail old rockabilly it needed the shoulder of some confused gawker to lean on as it hobbled back to the green room) that evokes that nostalgic past which rockers are so paranoid about losing that they constantly engage in schizophrenic discourses on authenticity. But Chris Isaak was celebratory. At one point the scurrying stage hands wheeled in a neon sign that said “Memphis Recording Studio” and proceeded to play a series of obscure 50’s rock numbers (“Dixie Fried”- about getting fun drunk in a creaky bar with some poor people is the only one I can remember) that ended with a flaming piano/foot music “Great Balls of Fire”. He was attempting to channel the spirit of the Sun rockers. And although everyone knows that what was dangerous in the fifties appears silly now (street thugs with sweaters? communists? juvenile delinquency? foreign people? please), when Chris Isaak referenced being drunk  or drinking (“I know the show’s running a little late, but we’re going to jam for a bit- so go ahead and call your babysitter and tell her to give your baby some gin”) it was clear from the cheers that people of all ages love to party, and that partying is more fun when you presume that someone doesn’t want you to party, and by partying you are saying fuck you to someone besides yourself. This being said, I can’t say the rebellious spirit of partying ruled the night. The rockabilly numbers would occasionally drag a little, my attention would wander to an image of a puffy hand caressing a whammy bar in spurts on the Diamond vision for a moment before being hoisted back on stage by the blue collar guitar moves (swagger, hop, three men in a row, bow and kick, crouch intently etc.) constantly being executed by the professionals on stage. Chris Isaak is more known for his creamy falsetto, and it was a playful (thank lord) sexuality that kept me interested. I can’t presume to be the only one. At various points Chris Isaak wandered into the audience to sing passionately into a customer’s eyes, sat tenderly on a folding chair near a starstruck fan, hand selected some women to grind his bassist, and made eye contact with plenty in the first row. All without appearing grimy somehow. How much was ok here? More than the workplace, less than the bedroom. Sexuality can be a very clumsy thing in the hands of a bluesy white guy on stage- Chris Isaak reassured me with his smoothness. The smoothness is his trademark I guess. When he held out those notes for over a minute it was definitely tantric.

At these kind of shows the encore is mandatory, and they didn’t make us wait too long before he came out wearing a suit made completely of four inch mirrors. That was really impressive- I haven’t seen someone wear something that fashionable at a rock show for some time, and I go to all these hipster things where I thought people would be taking things like that into consideration. Complete entertainer, getting ecstatic crowd love by giving people what they want. Kind of the opposite of most show experiences I have, because in my scene music is all about art- it’s supposed to be art or anti art or whatever. When I do see bands that focus more on entertainment it’s awful because they’re usually poor and desperate, there’s not enough people usually in the room to get that peer pressure induced laughter that the majority of stand up comedians abuse and they’re willfully excising any shred of creativity from their music because they’re paranoid about art and what it means. Looks like you have to be rich, have at least five gorgeous songs, be able to treat people on stage and on the ground as humans, and be funny and attractive even when old to pull it off. Not so much of a bummer as it seems, because if I was this lavishly entertained every night I’d be so calloused during the day that I’d have to intravenously inject vitamins just to feel real.

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THE BIGAMIST

1953, Directed by Ida Lupino, who also plays Phyllis.

Since the film is told mostly through narrated flashback, I will also begin at the end by describing the courtroom scene in which this tightly wrought personal black and white narrative is integrated into the justice system. As the judge hears the defendant’s lawyer plea for mercy on the grounds of “love” (being in this case a synonym for the complex interplay of self evaluative epiphanies and the vague desires of one or more superfluous parties to be ‘needed’ once the alienating mechanics of capitalistic self sufficiency have become routinized in their daily being), Ida Lupino cuts between close ups of the bigamist in question, Harry or Harrison Graham, and his two wives- the barren career woman with a tender heart Eve and the lonely, rationalistic Phyllis. The characters’ knit their brows desperately, as though their skin is a stubborn veil between the two types of understanding between which the film oscillates to achieve its dramatic tension: the piteous self love that hides itself while simultaneously screaming to be revealed (Harry Graham is most pathetic when he is begging to “tell you something” only to not do it) i.e. the understanding of the individual, the truth of the character; and the understanding of the world- morality, the courtroom, the office where Harry flees to avoid his drama, the salesman job which provides the possibility of his romantic dalliances. The courtroom is filled with women spectators who remain silent while the judge issues his decision (only Harry cannot bear the flattening of his difficultly achieved status as a subject on the dispassionate lips of the judge and cries out irrelevantly “Oh stop it I’m guilty!” – to which no one, appropriately, responds): “You’re basically a decent man, Mr Graham, and that’s the whole point”. Oh and isn’t it. The Bigamist is revelatory in its investigation into the deceit involved in the most basic act of a male constituting himself as a subject who loves.
The judge goes on: “When a man, even with the best intentions, breaks the moral laws we live by, we really don’t need manmade laws to punish him. He’ll find out that the punishment of the court is always the smallest punishment.” And it’s true, this whole court scene seems like an unnecessary addendum to a story that has already resolved itself. But it’s effective- lest there be any doubt as to the status of the law in regard to alienation which struggles to resolve itself deep in the imaginary, this scene is a formal abdication, a nod toward the footlights and the exit sign. Mr. Graham’s emotional masochism has been laid disturbingly bare, and the judge knows better than to reward his slavering ego with even more, completely formal, discipline. Even, at the last shot, has the filmmaker Lupino discarded this erstwhile protagonist, in the name of ethics she instead lingers on Eve, the character whose lack of emotionalism (Eve throughout the film is Graham’s wife who is focused on their shared refrigerator business and is responsible for its success (and the subsequent leisure time during which Harry plunges excitedly into his narcissistic loneliness) and has no time or physical capacity (she is barren, they are seeking adoption) for children) and sense of self sufficiency has presaged the bigamy which has rendered Harry again irrelevant. That the last shot remains on her while Harry is led out of the courtroom restores this sufficiency, which was lost amidst the swirling drama of ‘a man loving a woman’, to her, and the film retains its careful analytics.
I try to avoid the straightforward plot synopsis for what I hope is the same reason the film does: Harry Graham is pleading for your sympathy, and he wants to tell you his story. But he is an abject narcissist, plodding through a landscape which has no need for him. This is a film noir, where is the crime? The film is constructed in a way, via Graham’s confessional flashbacks to the stalwart and moral Mr. Jordan, investigator for the adoption agency, to give the sense that there is some deeper crime that will soon reveal itself. But the crime never amounts to more than just Harry Graham needing: needing to be loved, needing to be Harry Graham to somebody else besides himself. The skill of the film lies in its ability to demonstrate that the sense of criminality itself comes from the striving of the subject to exist as such within a corrupt system.
Harry is incredibly superfluous. It takes a moment to realize this maybe, but then we realize he’s peddling refrigerators offscreen and the people who work at his office are more concerned with slugging back cocktails at four in the afternoon than anything else. Even Phyllis can’t remember what he does moments before he proposes to her (“you sell water heaters or something”). I don’t know if he’s more superfluous than anyone else who has a meaningless job, but that’s everyone in this movie world. Being sensitive but not smart, he feels this but can’t trace it back to anything. He begins to feel lonely because Eve cares more about the business than him (meaning that she has invested herself in the real world he has chosen to live in more than he has, achieving instantly more integrity, though he never realizes this), and on one of his business trips to LA, this loneliness drives him to board a bus touring the movie stars houses, where he meets Phyllis. He awkwardly hits on her as the bus driver drones movie star names while she remains respectably indifferent (Harry: “I’d like to know where my favorite mule Francis lives” Phyllis: “What’s that?” Harry: “Oh. Excuse me” Phyllis: “That’s alright.”). This initial meeting lays the differences between the characters bare. Harry asks “Don’t you have any interest in how the other half lives?”, pretending as though he himself did, as though he hadn’t just stumbled onto the bus in confused self absorption, which we just saw him do. She answers “No I just like the bus. It gives me a chance to get off of my feet.” She is a materialist. After Harry blandly relates an anecdote about a pianist playing Gershwin (“It was great”), she asks “What is this, the story of your life?” Phyllis, comfortable in her loneliness because she is capable of acknowledging it as part of her life (all we ever really find out about her background during the course of the film is that she is lonely and she works in a Chinese restaurant, which is really all we need to know), never has any need for Harry’s biography, and this is the basis of his desire for her. Knowing the outlines of his character in terms of the society that he lives in (he is married, he has a job, he wants a child- pretty regular) but absolutely nothing else, Harry is overwhelmingly compelled by a person for whom those outlines mean nothing. There is more truth in her indifference to his identity than there is in that identity itself, so Harry (or Harrison, as he goes by in LA) has no choice but to follow her around, despite all the hand wringing about his love for Eve.
And what about this love for Eve? Does he love her? If so why does he neither divorce her nor stop his romance with Phyllis? The question is a red herring. Of course he loves them both. But love in this sense is meaningless. What does he do? He marries them both and promises them children while simultaneously pretending as though he has done neither. He pursues the annihilation of his social character with perverse rabidity, moaning over his own impossibility in sublimated sexual ecstasy the whole time. Explaining the basis of his desire for Phyllis to Mr. Jordan he says “For the first time, I felt as though someone needed me”. It is funny that this is how he defines his relationship with Phyllis- she goes to great lengths to disavow this needing, even when pregnant with his child she is ashamed that her pregnancy could possibly compel him to propose to her. Harry sees the swollen womb and sees “need” (for financial assistance, most of all), while Phyllis sees the fetus instead as her decision that she is proud of with or without the oppressive sense of necessity that Harry excitedly (suppressedly) takes upon himself. Phyllis does not need him, despite the fact that she is poor and he is rich, she merely prefers company and finds Harry’s romantic fussing slightly charming. Eve certainly doesn’t need Harry either, though when her father dies and she becomes aware of mortality she takes advantage of Harry’s capability of providing for a child that will not be his. It is only Harry that needs, in his stalwart role as provider, to be seen as such. These women are self sufficient, and the consternated Harry seems guilty for not being able to provide much. So he sexualizes this feeling. His voice creates swirling tapestries of narcissistic guilt in the narration: “I felt bad for leaving her”. “How could I do that to a woman I’ve been married to for 8 years” etc. At times it becomes disgusting- when Phyllis, sick and bed bound because of her pregnancy, tries to convince Harry not to marry her because he’s probably doing it out of a sense of duty, he goes to great lengths to convince her that he wants her, which is true but only because of the fact that she would be fine if he didn’t want her. It’s pathetic and violent, this insemination of his own desire into the body of another person.
And what is this desire? What’s behind the ‘want to be wanted’? Nothing but the will for desire itself. I hate to return to the flaccid penis analogy, but such is life, especially for an aging corporate man like Harry, frittering away his time on tabloid bus rides and bedroom talk about accounting. Dying to attain the illusion of his virility, Harry constructs a secret for himself. The secret, to him a convoluted mess of social affirmation, yearning and private acknowledgments, to us appears as pretty boring: Harry has two wives who don’t know about each other. But it’s the biggest thing in his life. It’s his story, and he coddles it, whispers in its ear, makes sweaty phone calls about it and juggles his schedule around it. When Harry earnestly insists “I love you” and we believe him, it’s because the sincerity with which he enunciates his “I” and confusion which surrounds his “love”. His “you” is merely grammatical. Phyllis is sensitive to this game: to his “I want you” with a silent asterisk she responds “I do love you Harry”, but knowing that Harry can’t be turned so easily, adds “And I’m so glad I do”. It’s the subjective evaluation and ownership of her love which makes Harry really want to bend in and nuzzle her as a person who really, finally understands him.
But back to the court scene, which turns out not be so unnecessary an addendum. Turns out there is no case. Just Harry, a pathetic man with a secret that is now blandly revealed in all it’s simpleness. The “decent man” brought to justice is Harry absconding out of the back of the courtroom into irrelevancy, no more belabored sexual transmogrification to hide and sweat over. The judge has it right when he predicts that Harry’s future (and that of the “basically decent man” in general) “When he’s once more a free man it won’t be a question of which woman he’ll go back to, but which woman will take him back.” The free man will realize, someday, that his activity and his decisions are irrelevant- the power lies instead in the hands of the woman who actively accepts, on her terms. That both women seem capable of doing this while also seeming unlikely to do so in Harry’s case gives them infinitely more power than the man who absconds guiltily into the curtains before the final shot.

Post Tour

What follows is just one perspective amongst the many that I feel about playing music. I found it easier to ride the down escalator to the bottom floor instead of trying to note that there also exists an elevator to the penthouse I ride sometimes. It’s a wild time up there, but its nice view is beyond the scope of present article, which is borne as a result of touring for six months straight and wildly oscillating between ecstatic feelings of liberty and black acknowledgments of the fundamental similarity between playing music and any other endeavor to create a space beyond the logic of capitalism that has insinuated itself into depths of my being- i.e. the compromise. This coupled with the awareness that I have to get a job TODAY. But if “the realm of freedom is established progressively by the development of human powers as an end in itself” and I am freedom rocker, then I have really no other choice but to develop my very limited powers for their own sake and not worry so much about the future and past. Despite indications to the contrary, there’s always an abandon and immediacy in music which destroys time (much like drugs) which is why I keep coming back to both. But, sitting at the computer…

 

“He will have burdened living reality with a parasitic growth: his interpretation.”

 

BEFORE THE SHOW

 

Before the show I have to figure out who I am and what exactly it is I’m trying to communicate. This is much too difficult, with the nauseating pace of change occurring all around me and the instant decrepitude of any definitive statement regarding being. I take my individuality for granted- “I am a person who has had experiences that have shaped me and I desire to share these experiences with others so that they may feel me to be alive and I might see that I am alive from their reaction”. I’m in a band, I have to communicate something- there will be a speaker and a stage, and people will be looking forward at me. But already we’ve got a contradiction. My individuality is a myth. I scour myself for experiences which will have some degree of relevancy, which will distinguish “my band” from ten thousand other “my bands”- the bait ball swimming in the sea of mediocrity, being leisurely consumed by the powers that structure our reality (wanting/money). But my experience as an individual tells me only that there exists something which is not me. Barely aware of what I know, the only solid ground within my consciousness is the boundary at the limits of my experience. As I exist as an individual, I am incomplete- reaching for that which transcends my individuality and mixes it with other people in a consciousness of living that is beyond the mundane variations on the capitalist theme that has created everyone’s precious life story. Plumbing the depths for that which sets me (“my band” “my art” etc) apart from others I find only a similarity- the void at the limits of my understanding of myself is not mine alone. Very good, that’s what I’ll communicate in my rock songs- “yeah yeah i’m not me you are not you lets be beyond us together in the forthcoming ritual of our wednesday night baby”. I reach confidently for my trusty guitar. But my hand slackens as I grip the neck. The orgiastic celebration of collectivity which I wish to induce is prefigured by the need to play songs. Instead of initiating a spontaneous redemption of our alienated lives, I will simply be rehearsing my group persona in public. Is my band an effigy or a jukebox? It’s both, representing an ideal which it can never hope to attain. The idea that a show enables the freeing of the burden of your personality in a wild group mosh is at best a breath held, at worst a feeble lie. The curtain draws back, and the transcendent experience appears to be an awkward gyration before the idol’s altar. There is a dirty and broken mirror tooling around the stage, refracting glimpses of themselves into the eyes of the disinterested onlookers who briefly struggle to decide if they like this experience, that of seeing themselves here for a second. I’ve got anxiety about this. How can I escape myself with you while I’m in the midst of performing myself? Are you blinking or winking?

 

THE SHOW

 

Waiting. Drinking beer during a pause to increase the feeling of immediacy which is perpetually slipping away. Grasping desperately at the escaping moment. Look at Mark’s pants! The eager riff. The possibly feigned enthusiasm. The harrowing exchanges regarding the inconspicuous nuances of some fetishized object- guitars, records, amps etc. The awkward presence of inaudible lyrics. The briefly noted head nods. The inevitable gesture toward the merch table, with all its stifling familiarity- who’d like to participate in this world in a manner identical to the way in which they participate in the world which wants to destroy them? Money, the organizing abstraction. Dancing, the ignominious affirmation. The T shirt. The record. The object which, unable to represent the real depth of the experience, acts as its ludicrous substitute. The interim. The DIY culture clinging to the fringes of a workday finished without it. Fun, but not a joke, that’s the goal. A real fun non joke of an experience. Success.

 

AFTER THE SHOW

 

“The memory of gratification is at the origin of all thinking, and the impulse to recapture past gratification is the hidden driving power behind all thought”. It’s strange how much this subculture exists in retrospect. As banal as many shows can be (i.e. every show at a bar), they can occasionally sparkle in their retelling and whole scenes periodically re emerge (disfigured. Inauthentic?) from hazy myth into the present moment. It seems as though every band that has ever existed has reunited to perform their dimly recalled time-essence (“hi, we’re Pavement, we’re from the 90’s”) in order to get a slice of the crumbly cake. Nostalgia permeates the bedroom. It is much easier to see the meaning in music when it is set against the backdrop of a simpler (i.e. flattened by memory) time. Living bands that do not immediately draw upon a recognizable vibe or sound flail pathetically against the contexts until their wild flailing is gradually perceived as deliberate.  ‘Authentic’ appreciation is conditional- a person has to know the band personally, or to to be able to situate them within a musical lineage, or to identify their politics in order to recognize them as relevant. In Olympia we know this, which is why we avoid the humiliation of self promotion and instead rely on an obscure kind of cross referencing to convey the secret knowledge of who we are to each person on their own terms as a result of their own labor. So many bands in the world. Authenticity has become the most valuable trait in the new music landscape. Unfortunately, it is meaningless. The authentic understanding of our current time involves the acknowledgment that microcosmic self awareness (a condition created by the expansion of the market into the mental realm- breaking us down into ever smaller units, to individuals with ever more specific needs to satisfy) has rendered the kind of naive performance of an unadulterated self onstage nearly impossible (those with some sort of brain damage- Roky Erikson, Daniel Johnston etc. fondly excepted). Bands in Olympia pretend to ignore this and are accurately perceived by outside sources as deliberately retro- not so much in the sound but in the notion that there is a progressive continuity with the musical scenes of the past. It’s a savage time.  I try to abscond to the velvet suite with self affirming positivity tucked gently in my arms, but though I knead and poke it lustfully, it refuses to touch me back and I’m left feeling cold. Alienation creeps in under the door. I turn to my partner and goad it into protecting me “we are creative people, creating, in a safe space outside the purview of the terrible processes which abstract me infinitely from myself and others, right?” but its neck appears slack, and the nodding a result of my own tremulous hand upon it. There is no protection, least of all from a generalized yay which celebrates creativity in and for itself- on the margins, during the fifteen minute break, for the time being. How long can you sustain it? Because it will never sustain you. Someday you will have turn some form of your  labor into an abstraction. And people do make money off of music after all. But the transition between art and art for profit is tenuous at best. The money you receive will never correspond to the emotion and experience you put into the creation- there will always be an overabundance of one and a lack of the other. The cup is too small. The social forms which the ‘successful’ rock musician participates in are closed. The money earning gig is no different from the cubicle- the range of possible human action is limited, and everyone knows the rules. Ego affirmation, stupors of all sorts, hints of the mystic or bizarre, qualified consumerism- all of these are encouraged. The inevitable return to work hangs overhead, and it is from this authority that the temporary license is issued. And so here I am after the show trying to figure out what happened. I thought I was being a real dreamer, following my dreams into the pit, grabbing a few wispy strands of freedom’s hair here and there. Oh but here I was in reality all along, immersed in the same symbolic existence as everyone else until suddenly I turned around and Dad was in my room! And I was like “get out of here Dad this is MY ROOM!” but he wasn’t going anywhere and just him being there reminded me of all the fucking shit I had to deal with that I was putting off.

 

 

Quotes are from Marx, Lefebvre, Marcuse, Malkmus in that order.

 

 

 

KLUTE’s Done

What do a fake cop do?
Starring Zeb Clinton, Kanako Wynkoop, Reid Urban and David Harris.
Cinematography by Jean Nagai
Direction, scenario and editing by Dylan Sharp
75 minutes, color, DV
Original music by White Boss etc.

Indian Classical Music Performance Circa ’06, Backyard, Lacey, Wa

 

The Accord spun slowly through the rows of bland one story houses (ramblers), very safe looking, as though a concerned superintendent had a personal hand in rounding the edges and softening the impact. Children, faces contorted into a taut grimace, lips quivering, eyes darting around in search of some custodial face toward which their welling wail may be directed, can be saved and appeased if their trauma might be forgotten, if some force (“look, there`s an indian!”, or a saliva stiff Elmo, shaken to boogie by an infirm parental hand) may be employed to cause the source of their tears to fade indistinct into that haze which overwhelms them at other times, such as when they dully blink into a fat stranger mom`s puffed and grinning face, all grubby and blank and full on french toast triangles, a torpid half squirm in a corduroy and plastic car seat. Into such a haze the houses I was presently passing thrust me, suddenly the tot, and it was with a slipping comprehension that I blinked forward, doubtful, scanning the blur for the address that would pull one cul de sac forth from the background.  They blurred by, the anticipation I had been nurturing toward this evening of Indian classical music began to seize and contract; my observations of the cul de sacs, witnessing the improbability of my satisfaction all around, was like salt on the embryo- my expectations withered and died, my heart beat at the same pace as my left hand turn blinker as I slowly parallel parked the Accord. Very well, it is said that ashes enrich the soil, let my expectations catch fire and burn, a roaring flame as I unwad a tendo note and thrust it into the palm of a distracted middle aged woman at a card table in the back of her garage, the scorched and fallow interior reflected in the eyes of the clean hippies who cluster cross legged in folding chairs and blankets on the yard grass in front of me, munching stoned wheat thins with artichoke dip, disdaining small tacos, sober, with slow heartbeats, quietly chuckling at nonjokes, forgetting what bored is, making space and brushing aside pinecone fragments; from this soil may the most nutritious corn rise, the most succulent elderberries grow, the stoutest potato dug. Expect nothing, that you might receive something, and, forgetting, call it much. 

I had memories of dew dampness creeping through my pants as I sat down on the patterned blanket (the polite older set had called cowardice etiquette, and, plopping their khaki shorts around the perimeter of the stage, ringed us with squints as the we took the center seat, becoming the trashy old gourd, fake leaf and hornaplenty centerpiece to the anticipated cultural feast), I thought I might feel something akin to cold urine sticking to the contours of my pasty thighs. But it was summertime- the blanket remained dry, my equilibrium remained off and I looked blearily toward the staling treats on the card table. I had begun to adjust my hopes for the performance in accordance with what I perceived. A crude psychological trick; since I had felt no creeping dampness, since I had instead experienced the most mundane ultrarationality and called it “relief”, I was ready now for whatever normal thing this makeshift stage might squeeze out. Presently, nothing but two ornate sitars. The flyer advertising the event had mentioned a PANDIT performing, and thinking of Pran Nath (the only Pandit with whom I`m familiar) spiritualizing the sine tone, I picture a withered old man clutching the mic, moaning me to another realm. Scanning the faces of the human cheese snacks around me (you are what you eat), I detect a similarly exotic portrait dancing through their hopes as well. It is possible, it seems, to look both lazy and braced- the contradiction is resolved by stiffening the arms and thrusting out the crotch. Slack and stiff- they are the show, a rerun, with commentary. Eventually a bald man wearing a long flowing muted cornflower robe of neofleece, takes the stage and begins nervously introducing us to our environment. 

“This is my home” And although he looks the most uncomfortable of anyone, though I feel awkward because the mic is not screeching with feedback as it seems it should be when he draws his lips near to it, I`m not surprised that this is his home. The soft robe flows down to his feet. Inside, nude muscles, slackened by frequent massage, quiver in anticipation beneath the garment. Clearly, he`s right. This is his home and the forthcoming show must happen within it. In this cul de sac: a deformed gay mulatto preemie clawing through white grandma`s womb. Onlookers, hearts filled with affection and pity stare disgusted at the writhing shape on the sidewalk. “I didn`t like it” “It was weird” everyone says afterwards. 

After the community minded property owner graciously absconds into a ball of tension atop a stool in the back of the stage, another neofleece robe, this one beneath a floating bald mustachioed head, ascends the stage. Toward the tablas this decontextualized cop head sternly bobs. From a black fibrous polymer case he takes a golden mallet of a specific size and begins tapping lightly on the taut heads of his exotic instrument. When a person gets older, they tend to get self conscious tugging away at their ever limpening dick and turn instead toward a more sturdy tool to bang upon; the bald mustache had chosen the tabla as his source for therapeutic release, and he concentrated on the soft taps of the gilded hammer with all the vigor he had wasted on the memory of hard nipples in his past. His robe hangs lax in the limpid summer air. A tear wells in the corner of the audience`s eye. The bald head. The mustache. Boiling testosterone coursing through the pulmonary artery on its way from the balls to the head. The whiteness of his pate becomes heart wrenchingly symbolic; humiliation seems immanent. Performance of any kind is more than a touch disgraceful. It is as though you have encouraged your infirm father to “try, just try” to get out of his wheelchair. His knuckles whiten and his arm quivers as he attempts to lift himself out. Immediately you regret urging him. Regardless of the outcome, it is the effort he has expended which saddens you. So too does bald mustache refute the apparent essence of his being by concentrating so hard. His mouth closed, eyes looking down, the audience can`t help but see the emotions flitting across his face. Fine for any normal human being, but for bald mustache untenable- he is being devoured by eyes which thirst for temporary transcendence (and after thirty five minutes of sitting in backyard cul de sac land, have started to Need it) and his white face and cop look have elicited the kinds of associations that do not fare well when they are forced to struggle for their dignity. And while the expensive golden hammer comes gently down on the tabla head and the ear turns to hear indecipherable but presumable very important nuances in tone, the hammer of judgment falls heavily upon his cocked head and people to look politely away. 

Soon though, reprieve arrives in the form of the brown musicians. Thick and coarse eyebrow hair. They mount the stage and grab the shiny sitars from their plastiform stands. A younger man and an older man – one presumes a relationship between the two. Will a bizarre familial dynamic complement the unfamiliar scales and slippery rhythms of their country`s exotic music? The cold senior glowers calmly at his drawn and pliant backyard audience. The son begins stretching tones with his wooden pear. Bald mustache tinks away, attempting to retreat into his nutsack, but the Pandit catches him and begins making directing his confused tuning. Because the Pandit`s english is presumably weak, no discreet words can be uttered, instead come a series of exaggerated gestures at which bald mustache looks in confused horror. Up! Down! Trembling in his neofleece, the deaf ear submits to the confused eyes and the trembling hand. Meanwhile, the younger of the two Indians is letting long, dry notes writhe around in the Washington air. Soon, harmonized moaning accompanies them, and the gawkers begin to feel a sense of contentment- this is sufficiently musical, we can all relax (some people get too relaxed, their lax eyelids drooping over their eye balls reminds me of genital skin, and soft meditative moans don`t help), bask in the foreign sun. Ahhh, shimmering scales. Then it stops and they explain that that was just a warm up. Anticipation builds. 

It begins to get weird when the concert begins in earnest. The songs are very long and consist almost entirely of wild orgiastic soloing. They begin with synchronized sitar, the bald mustache tapping cautiously on his apparently poorly tuned tablas (between every number the father looks toward the white infant and makes frustrated gestures which serve more to degrade the poor man in front of his lazed out peers than to make any discernible difference in the sound) for quite a few minutes, during which the audience alternately stares in throbbing expectation and looks dumbly at the grey siding on the back of the house or at a pill bug struggling over a few blades of grass. The effect is like Acid Therapy class in high school, Mr. Harviston putting on some Bach and dimming the lights, encouraging you to feel the cork, you not being able to take it and just looking at the asbestos bumps in the ceiling, getting restless for a second before really hearing the fugue for a second and thinking about Ginsburg, getting it and then pulling out a piece of paper and drawing a crude spiral that turns into an eye. The bizarre context throws people off. When the solos begin about halfway through the numbers, the look of the performers changes abruptly. The long gray hair of the father begins flying around and his face contorts into a purposeful grimace. His eyes open very wide, and he stares at the audience with an intensity that`s difficult to take. He`s unbearably hammin, and the solos look really easy. The concept “Indian classical music” dissolves into the more familiar and potent image of desperately busking bum. The father, wildly enthusiastic, smiles and tensely nods, craning his neck around to meet every sprawled out member of the audience full in the increasingly embarrassed face. The music during these solos no longer seems mythically complex, but very crude and improvisational. It`s too much. I have to turn away, much as I would mumble and trot from the hoarse aggressive pleading of tin can man in pioneer square. No one really wants to engage the contorted face, not simply because it transparently reveals the clenched kegels deep beneath it, but because there`s more than a little hint of angry sarcasm. The blankets become the focus of attention instead. Looking over into the neighbors yard, two children play obliviously with soft foam whips, hitting each other in the shrunken balls. This is not the transcendence that was expected. It`s a totally different kind. Instead of escape it`s imprisonment. The environment becomes painfully visceral, people struggle not to look towards the stage the same way they would avoid looking at a video of themselves masturbating. The confused intentions are very unpleasant. Children in the neighbors yard squawk and it`s painfully inappropriate to laugh, unless it`s in the form of a stifled chuckle into a sweaty palm, disguised as a very quiet cough. The son takes it all in stride, inscrutably competent, less aggressively forthright than his non english speaking dad. This goes on for a very long time. “Here I am, here I am” is all anyone is thinking. Finally it stops, and once more the father and son go into the harmonized singing that, being much more resplendent of their ruined expectations, eases the gawkers back into the fantasy world in which this excursion seemed appropriate and in which they normally dwell. The applause is hearty, far from rote. People hastily get up and attempt to dust the dampness from their jeans, unsuccessfully. The unpleasant residue will have to remain.

Charles River Medical Theater

It was only after several fits of petty desperation that, fortified with a morbid depression, arrived in the waiting room at Charles River clinic. Considering it beneath me, at this stage in my life, to work for near minimum wage at the Westside Olympia Target or any equivalent job, I followed instead my predilection for depravity and decided to sell my body to corporate medicine. The drug being tested, for diabetes, had never before been used on humans, and preliminary to admit it required a set of unique restrictions- no cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cabbage and the like- a restriction I violated by rabidly gorging on D. Harris’ carnitas tacos the night before), no alcohol or drugs of any sort and an eight hour fast- conditions which predisposed all the incoming itinerants to a weary blandness. Punctuating this blandness, in the waiting room that afternoon and all through my stay here, would be loudly exclaimed inanities; the cackling voices of medical mendicants failing to suppress the reality of the existence we shared.

Medical testing demands routine. All experience must be controlled. In service of this effort long questionnaires about medical history must be repeatedly filled out, food intake must be closely monitored by bored nurses (“First bite is at 9:25, last bite at 9:45”), exercise forbidden and doors to the restroom kept closed. It’s strange how the nurses enforce this dictate. No forks must be raised to glistening lips until the second they are permitted to, as though the variations in metabolism in human bodies responded to clock time.  As a result of this obsessive attention to procedure everything feels a little… unscientific. It feels more that the workers here are enacting a very dull ritual than collecting valuable results. Human existence, boiled down to this type of pulpy routine, acquires a false, commercial shine.  The protocols become law once, just to say that it happened, and then the subjects squirm off to their disarrayed lives in which the reality of the pill will perhaps someday manifest, to be forgotten, swallowed hastily with a Red Bull or taken two at a time in a sudden guilty recollection. But I suppose that’s the idea of the control group- to test an experimental medicine on a “normal person” so as not to have to deal with the unpredictability of disease. That the space in which the control group comes into contact with the pill is completely artificial, a stark medical theater in which mannequin people shuffle into their recliners in strict abeyance to some poorly understood formalist theater, isn’t relevant. This is medicine, not philosophy.

Which brings me to the incessant, inane declamations of the patients. I happen to be assigned to the “funny guy” corner. Directly to my left sits RLS (we are all called by our initials here- another formalist gesture towards medical privacy, but one that is quickly foregone when people- and this is common- fail to recognize their new names and must be shrilly summoned to snack by their first names instead), a heavyset forty something year old black man who shaves in the piddly, motion activated stream in the faux marbled plastic wash basin every morning. To my right is ARJ, a grizzled middle aged white man with whom I consistently avoid eye contact. Each has their preferred type of weird antisocial outburst. RLS, who “is used to a higher calorie diet, don’t ask me to move no furniture”, loves to reminisce about chain restaurant bargains- the Applebee’s Tuesday All You Can Eat Ribs for $10.00, the Changs Mongolian Grill in Kent near the Big 5 and Target; he could “get down with some Carl Junior” and “loves me some Family Size Pizza”. These affirmations, spoken to no one in particular, come when he’s in a good mood. At meal time, when the unappetizing repast brings these lofty dreams to earth, the vibe changes. Suddenly it’s all restrictions: “I don’t eat eggs, except boiled”. He also doesn’t eat peppers, cheese (except on pizza) or greens. ARJ’s themes run more to the morbid side- he’s repeated his lame joke about losing a kidney as a way to weight loss three times over the course of 12 hours. “They’re going to take your body and hang it on a meat hook” etc. Macabre themes such as these I’ve been known to enjoy if delivered in an understated way, but ARJ punctuates every statement with a high pitched, self affirming cackle that reminds me of a neurotic thirteen year old on nitrous oxide. These aphoristic statements, if people are feeling sociable, collect into grotesque swirling conversations that morph from belief in God to necrophilia to nurses on Harleys to clit piercings- a nauseating cocktail garnished with manic cackles where periods should be. Sometimes, when excitedly discussing which of the nurses are the hottest, both RLS and ARJ get up from their recliners and stand for one purposeless moment before sitting down again. I’m convinced that none of these statements serve any purpose than to simulate the feeling that they allude to. RLS talks about food because he wants to summon the appetite that made him feel alive. Sex talk about horse faced nurses alludes to a virility that can only be completely dead. Popping up from the chair? Human boner marionettes dancing to the beat of a struggling will.

The facility itself is a sterile taupe monstrosity, windowless to avoid the fluctuations of natural light. A giant commons area, called ambiguously “Conduct”, is divided into four distinct quarters. Towards the back a 52″ TV towers darkly over rows of leather chairs populated by zoned out “participants” covered in thin beige blankets. Old issues of People, Woman’s Day and Popular Mechanics (“I hope GM doesn’t go out of business” a chubby older participant says sadly to himself) litter the chairs and floor.  The TV churns on and on, shifting seamlessly from “2012” to “24” to the 10:00 news- no one seems to take control of the remote. The sound of TV makes it impossible to think; especially maddening is a Burger King commercial featuring an adult baby in a sandbox failing to comprehend the world- a commercial that seems way too cynical to sell anything besides self hatred, which everyone seems to have plenty of already. Behind the theater are a few tables with incomplete puzzles, board games missing pieces, and the eternally occupied internet kiosks. Glancing furtively over the shoulders of the surfers while waiting for a turn, I find that they are a)indiscriminately downloading pictures of volcanoes and pyramids onto their shared desktops b)browsing Safeway’s website for coupons c) reading the online sports page. At the darkened card tables in the back I’ve seen two different people idly reading the yellow pages.  The procedure area extends outward from the leisure quarter, carpet turns into off white linoleum set off by mottled olive squares. Three rows of ten recliners each face forward toward a blank wall. These chairs are where all the research gets done. Phlebotomists scoot rolling blood extraction, vitals and ECG stations along in office chairs, taking blood in staggered five minute intervals from restless patients. Some lie fully reclined, laptops on their chests, punching the keys of some Flash game. Others phlegmatically discuss God or women with the underpaid nurses, who cast anxious glances at one of the 10 synchronized digital clocks that scatter the upper part of Conduct’s ceilings. A row of airplane like bathrooms line the right wall. Along the left wall is a mess hall, set apart by a clear acetate screen, affording a slight respite from TV chatter. Meal times are so anticipated by the participants that this dinner area has an exclusive vibe. Only a chosen few sit in here at any given time, and conversations around the table seem somewhat more animated.

Participants quarters are accessed through a horseshoe shaped hall running all around Conduct. My quarters consist of four single beds arranged economically in a cross stitch pattern. The room offers no relief from the incessant TV info flow. My roommate, who’s initials I haven’t bothered to learn, loves to have comedy central on while he pecks infrequently at his inexpensive laptop.  Thought is cancelled out. Periodically, a voice on the intercom reminds study 076 to come drink their water. A single window looks out into the morgue next door (ARJ wildly asserts that he witnessed an autopsy through the window last study to couple of skeptical phlebotomists). Most bizarre, however, is the slow, futuristic flange sound that constantly hums through the walls 24 hours a day. No one comments on this dystopian sci fi sound effect, and the restless brain, lying untired in the stiff bed at 11 pm, imagines a large machine swirling urine and blood into a complex spiral, sifting Fajita waste from valuable data. For all the attempts at control, for all the studied blandness, the environment leaves an imprint. Beyond the slimy residue and the strange, lithops- like pattern left by ECG leads on forearm skins and the wrinkled imprint that tight gauze strips leave around the elbow are the mental imprints left by repetitious actions in a confined space. The funky keyboard outro that every daytime show uses to segue into commercials. The ungrammatical instructional sign for clean catch urine collection in the bathroom that I stare at every time I urinate reading “Hold Labia Apart With One Hand Until Finished Urinating Container”. The inarticulate anxiety, manifesting as lower back pain, that comes as a result of not being able to move the body in any manner besides slowly shuffling from one chair to another. My unnamed roommate tilts his head upwards at a visibly uncomfortable angle, to pore over a commercial for 5 hour energy featuring a man riding a mountain bike. We conform slowly to the environment, emphasizing again the absurdity of representing a “normal human”, that which they are constantly testing to see if we are, in this setting. The skin receives the needle, over and over again.

There’s a lesson to be learned somewhere here. Although the evidence of economic hardship is everywhere, it seems more like people come to medical studies like these because the idea of being able to veg out and watch movies is more appealing than work. Charles River clinic simulates a prison in the sense that it forbids people to leave and exercise, but the manner in which people spend their time, beyond that, is up to them. The fact that so many people choose to float in a TV haze, room to room, is weird. Either it’s a haven for leisure addicts or it’s Stockholm syndrome on a huge, culture wide, scale. You tell me?

Bloating Carcasses

With the news today of the six NYPD officers under scrutiny for steroid abuse after a raid on Lowen`s Pharmacy yielded their names among the thousands of customers for America`s most popular non-euphoric drug (see NY Times 10/17), it appears as though the time is right for chatter and speculation. To me it comes as no surprise that this appearance altering substance (dispersed as supplements and drugs various legalities across the popular consciousness) has been enthusiastically embraced by another subset of America`s heroes. There seems to be a semirational affinity for tight bloat, large head and windedness amongst the country`s most symbolic males. This affinity extends beyond the realms of the obvious. Steroid use is rampant. The image of a buff man, it is safe to assume, is the image of a wrought brow and a clenched jaw as the syringe of d-bol (or its analogous counterparts) piercing the tricep and flushing the tissue. This is not hyperbole. Brief perusal of Bodybuilding.com, for example, yields many articles on how to stack, cycle and pyramid different steroid cocktails to yield maximum growth over time, with no hint of the shame that mention of the actual word “steroid” (there are many synonyms) would presume. It is the concept of “Natural Bodybuilding” itself which seems to be more controversial; the image of organic toning is that of the flexed weakling, and its embrace seems to implicitly regarded a fetish.
It can no longer more than dullest naivete to look at the engorged tissue of a professional wrestler, bodybuilder or pro football player and see something other than encroaching death, the sputtering of the heart, the weezing of the liver. The ethical debate regarding steroid use becomes dumbshit when the drug is tested for so randomly, if at all, by the agencies which simultaneously promote and condemn its use. The sluggishness of MLB, for instance, in responding to the controversy (not to mention the reactionary and reductive nature of the discussion itself) reflects nothing other than the dim awareness of individuals to the processes by which capitalism shapes and forms their understanding. In every instance, steroid use is proportional to the relative size of investment in a particular sport. As attention (I shouldn`t have to add the qualifier “financial”, since internet entrepeneurship takes “looking” as the primary action of the consumer in the marketplace; the idea of “hits” has forever negated the potential of disinterestedly browsing) to the masculine image grows, so do the sizes of the bulges in that image, until the deep gulfs between the apparent (historicized with a thin narratives of exercise routines, rationalized by misdirected fretting over issues of legality and legitimized by capital gains) and the experienced (puny will, disparity between effort and outcome, the abundance of chemicals) mirror the ocean between the logics of the market and of ecology. Like anorexia, steroid use and abuse can be traced directly to the funhouse mirror effect of the human being gazing at itself through the prism of capitalism.

All well and good, were the effects of steroid use at all euphoric for the user. Perhaps if they were the hapless gawker could vicariously tap into some of the death trip nihilism within much other drug use and experience in some (useless) sense the doom incipient in the system. Instead, steroid use implies positive outcome, and there is a sheen of success and very real achievements that come with masked abuse (and use can be masked in many ways, from institutional non compliance (the International Federation of Body Builiding, who run the Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and are directly responsible Schwarzeneggar`s ascendence to power, has not once tested a contest winner for the presence of anabolic steroids, and WWE owner Vince McMahon is openly against drug testing of any kind, knowing full well such policies are antipathetic to his business model), to cowering behind issues of legality (Mark McGuire broke Maris` single season homerun record while under the influence of “andro”, a substance which became illegal two years after his success, and strength trainers have no problem with compounds and supplements chemically similar to anabolic steroids as long they are not the banned substances themselves), to the willful obfuscation of the mythmakers (Lance Armstrong, after winning the Tour de France seven times, is in no danger of having his titles stripped as others who went to the same doctor but lack the lucrative sheen of his triumphant battle with quicker death; Barry Bonds` natural ability to crush a ball is enough to relegate his steroid use to a sidebar)). But death hastens onward, the heart pounds harder, and this false positivism is the rigor smile on the corpse`s head. Athletic success always comes at the cost of the body; in most cases, the tradeoff is equitable. But steroid`s arena is more that of the image than of the body itself, a doublefold alienation, which unsurprisingly infers suicide. Success, as always in reality, refuses to correspond directly to human action in the same way in which it refuses to correspond to happiness. Steroids and “performance enhancing drugs” embody the rhetoric of achievement, growth and expansion. In doing so they physicalize the schizophrenic logic of capitalism, claiming these concepts as self evident when in fact they are only the manifestation of their opposites (failure and decay). Another needle plunges into the ass of human understanding.

So i surprise that cops are buying into the action. What anticipates fraud better than a police uniform? Possibly this is just a latent desire for coherence (oh I do sympathize) on the part of individual officers. The flexing arm representing domination, success and authority has finally detached itself from the last thread of viscera that connected to the weak and meager frame and become an end in itself. This is a process that has been at work for a long time now. Men who grew up in the eighties did so swallowing Hulk Hogan chewable vitamins, not knowing about the knot of scar tissue the size of a baseball on the Hulkster`s hip. People have gradually acceded to Schwarzeneggar`s will to power without acknowledging the fraud of the IFBB (founder Joe Wieder admits to awarding Arnold the 1970 body building trophy because “if I put Arnold on the cover (of Muscle and Fitness) I sell 3x copies”) or of his own (disavowed) drug use. The current debate around steroid use in sports is disingenuous- the drug has been here and will continue to be here. If this article hasn`t convinced how depressing this all is yet, I encourage you to read aloud the following list of sacrificial lambs of the entertainment industry, the professional wrestlers who have died as humiliated as they lived as result of the industry`s implicitly encouraged drug use: (Name, age, date of death, cause)<>

Jay Youngblood, 30, 9/1/85. Pancreas failure following a match.

Rick McGraw, 30. 11/1/1985. Heart Attack

Andrew “Bubba” Douglas, 42. 2/13/86. Heart Attack

Gino Hernandez, 29. 1/30/86. Cocaine Overdose.
<><><>El Solitario, 39. 4/6/86. Heart Attack
Mike Von Erich, 23. 4/12/87. Suicide.
Scott “Hog” Irwin, 35. 9/5/87. Brain Aneurysm
“Bad Bad” Leroy Brown, 38. Heart Attack
Ed “The Bull” Gantner, 31. 12/31/90. Gun Suicide. Both of his kidneys had failed due to steroid abuse.
Chief Thunder Mountain, 33. 8/91. Heart Attack.
Chris Von Erich, 21. 9/12/91. Gun Suicide.
Lance Idol, 32. 9/26/91. Heart disease
“Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer, 32. 2/7/92. Cocaine Overdose.
Kerry Von Erich, 33. 2/18/93. Gun Suicide
Oro, 21. 10/26/93. Brain aneurysm during match.
Larry Cameron, 41. 12/13/1993. Heart Attack during a match.
Ray Candy, 43. 5/23/94. Heart Attack
Tiny Anderson, 42. 94. Kidney Failure.
Love Machine (AKA Beetlejuice, AKA Art Barr), 28. 11/23/94. Heart failure brought on by alcohol and painkillers.
Jerry “Crusher” Blackwell, 45. 1/22/95. Pneumonia.
“Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, 33. 2/13/95. Heart Attack
Big John Studd, 47. 3/20/95. Liver Cancer.
“Mr. America” Don Ross (AKA Ripper Savage), 48. 6/2/95. Heart Attack
Black Venus, 47. 9/29/95. Heart Attack
Dick Murdoch, 49. 6/15/95. Heart Attack
Neil Superior, 33. 8/23/96. Died in a long, wild altercation with police. The pathologist ruled the nature of the death as “undetermined” and the cause as “multiple drug use and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease”.
Big City Mike, 38. 1/3/97. Heart Failure.
Plum Mariko, 29. 8/16/97. Brain aneurysm from a blow to the head during match.
Jeep Swenson, 40. 8/19/97. Heart Attack.
Brian Pillman, 35. 10/5/97. Heart Attack.
Big E Sleaze, 22. 10/26/1997. Gun Suicide
Louie Spiccoli, 27. 2/15/97. Choked on own vomit after mixing alcohol and soma.
Shane Shamrock, 22. 8/18/98. Shot by police during domestic disturbance.
Dan Curtis, 12/29/98. Heart Attack
“Ravishing” Rick Rude, 41. 4/20/99. Heart attack. A bottle of prescription painkillers was found by his body.
The Renegade, 33. 2/23/99. Gun Suicide.
Yuel Lovett, 28. 7/31/99. Heart Attack
Brian Hildebrand, 37. 9/8/99. Stomach Cancer.
Tony Rumble, 43. 12/19/99. Heart Attack.
Gary Albright, 36. 1/7/00. Heart Attack during match.
Mr. Ebony, 46. 12/19/99. Heart Attack
Bobby Duncum Jr., 34. 1/24/00. Overdose on painkillers and alcohol.
Jumbo Tsuruta, 49. 5/13/00. Complications from liver surgery.
Harlem Warlord, 32. 6/28/00. In surgery.
Chris Duffy, 36, 8/25/00. Seizure.
Canadian Destroyer, 41. 9/10/00. Heart Attack.
Yokozuna, 34. 10/23/00. Heart Attack
Rick Bolton, 49. 12/5/00. Heart Attack.
Sombra Negra, 30, 6/1/01 Heart Attack
Terry “Bam Bam Bigelow” Gordy, 40. 7/16/01. Heart Attack
Monster Ripper, 40, 7/27/01. Suicide
Russ Haas, 27. 12/15/01. Heart Attack.
Mike Davis, 46. 12/25/01. Heart Failure
Jeff “Rattlesnake” Raitz, 38. 2/9/02. Heart Attack.
Big Dick Dudley, 37. 5/16/02. Kidney Failure brought on by painkillers.
The British Bulldog, 39. 5/18/02. Heart Attack.
Billy Joe Travis, 11/22/02. Heart Attack
Curt Hennig (AKA Mr. Perfect), 44. 2/9/03. Acute cocaine intoxication.
“Bullwhip” Danny Johnson, 49, 7/20/03. Kidney and Liver Failure.
Joe Powers, 41. 9/3/03. Liver Disease
Anthony “Pitbull 2” Durante, 36. 9/24/03. Oxycontin overdose.
Road Warrior Hawk, 45. 10/19/03. Heart Attack.
Crash Holly, 34. 11/6/03. Choked on a pool of his own vomit and blood after taking more than 90 soma pills.
Jerry Tuite (AKA The Wall AKA Malice AKA Gigantes), 36. 12/5/03. Heart Attack.
Mike Lozanski, 35. 12/18/03. Heart Condition.
Danny Fargo, 44. 12/26/03. Heart Attack.
Hercules, 47. 3/6/04. Heart Attack.
Victor the Bodyguard, 38. 6/20/04. Heart Attack.
Big Bossman, 42. 9/23/04. Heart Attack.
El Texano, 47, 1/15/05. Lung and respiratory failure.
Chris Candido, 33. 4/28/05. Blood clots (common steroid side effect)
Eddie Guerrero, 38. 11/13/05. Heart failure brought on by high levels of steroids and narcotics.
Lord Humongous, 36. 1/29/06. Kidney Failure.
Johnny Grunge, 39. 2/26/06. Complications from sleep apnea.
Earthquake, 42. 6/7/07. Bladder Cancer.
Tiger Khan, 33. 6/26/06. Heart Attack.
Jimmy “Hustler” Alicea, 33. 11/21/06. Heart Attack.
The Lovely Elizabeth, 42. 5/1/03. Choked to death on own vomit after mixing alcohol and painkillers.
Chris Benoit, 40. 6/24/07. Double murder/suicide.

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