Sunday, August 3, 2008

the ruts: cracked and stained

rut 1: a random draft resuscitated.

"No, I haven't lost the plot, and I know Friday night looms like a greasy moon waxing for kicks and wholehearted immersion. I should be cueing up Big Star and looking out a freshly ironed shirt.

Turning a cheek in the bathroom mirror and attacking that spot.

Some months back, Joe Stumble announced on Last Days Of Man On Earth that Paul Fox of the Ruts had succumbed to a cancer some 27 years after Malcolm Owen's fatal overdose. I was genuinely saddened by the news. Not least because it almost made me mourn for my youth in a way nothing else could touch.

There were only 1000 copies of this 45 pressed and I have one of them.

Several years back, I bumped into a roadie in a bar in Glasgow. He was taking a break from rigging a tent for T in the Park. I despise T in the Park. The only thing remotely appealing about this event is that it's sponsored by Tennents, a Glaswegian brewery. I told the roadie this and he concurred good-naturedly. He was a decent bloke. I asked him who was headlining in this tent and he grimaced and looked away. Travis, he replied. Bad luck, I said. We both laughed and ordered another drink. A pint of lager for him ; a Jack Daniels for me. He took out some rolling tobacco and I offered him a cigarette. On his left arm he wore a tattoo of his young daughter. We swapped stories regarding tattoo parlours and the perils therein. Above the newly inscribed tattoo I could make out something much older, indelibly reposing in the folds of his shirt. I squinted and gasped.

The Ruts D.C. was the partially obscured legend, an open invitation to a brotherhood of tainted blood and a sibling regret."

It's Sunday morning. The weekend is dead.

THE RUTS: IN A RUT from "In A Rut b/w H-Eyes" 45 (People Unite) 1978 (UK)



Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Don't play my 45s often any more. Thought I had the Ruts record in the collection but I had to check to see if it was there. Three other Ruts 45s too. Good to know I did not spend all my money on dope and beer. There were lots of good record shops in Dope City way back. The punks 'round here were Sonny Bargers with better record collections and worse hair-dos.

ib said...

Hey, Beer. I have just this minute returned from my local Off-Sales. I have a fresh bottle to open here. Glad to know you have those Ruts 45s still. Glasgow, too, used to be almost bursting at the seams with good independent record retailers back then. Listen ; Bloggs ; Bruce's, and more. Now it is all homogenized pap. I believe Jon used to have this 45 too, but donated it to charity along the road. I've always cherished my 45s. Don't feel the same way remotely about CDs, though.

An interesting point you raise there. I wonder just what's in Sonny Barger's record collection now you mention it. Grateful Dead stuff, almost definitely. But what else ? If you're out there Sonny (or close associates, even) drop off a comment. I'm curious, oranj.

Your driver said...

Yep, this was one of the '45's that went to Maximim Rock and Roll's epicenter zone- youth center, venue for all ages shows, record store and punk rock historical library.

Certain people used to sneer at The Ruts. They were loutish. An old girl friend from those days once called me "churlish". I thought about that for a second and said, "Yeah, thanks."

Sonny Barger likes a lot mainstream country music. I was once at a shitty Willie Nelson show that was disrupted when the Oakland HA's took over the stage. I lost all respect for Willy for some time after that show. He was so drunk he could barely stay put in front of the microphone. Several band members didn't even show up for the gig. The HA's had a block of shitty seats in the mezzanine. They decided to get up and walked out on the stage. They were standing around the musicians, which seemed to make them nervous. Willy led the band on a meandering blues jam that went on and on and on and on and on and on and on. It was the most horrible thing I'd sat still for since Hot Tuna in New Jersey. I had taken a girl, who I was trying to impress. That wasn't working either. I had also saved up all of the best drugs I had access to. My little stash wasn't much, but I was counting on it. The drugs sucked. There was some guy in front of us who was wearing a floral print polyester shirt. He had elaborately permed hair. Every couple of minutes he stood up and combed his hair. I was looking at my watch. I had to get up early and go to work at my job as a weldor. I worked in a factory that made ice making machines for fishing boats. I was a trotskyist. It was the absolute low point of the seventies. It sucked.

Unbeknownst to me, while we were on our way home from the show, punk rock started. I didn't notice at the time. Not very many people did. Thank you Jesus those awful days are in the dustbin o' history, as Leon Trotsky used to say.

Willy redeemed himself. Sonny Barger is retired and living in Arizona. The Ruts are crowned in glory.

ib said...

Thank the gods for the advent of punk. Herod had no real clue as to where to look first. The shearing of all that hair automatically stripped decades off the herd.

I suspected Sonny Barger might have a soft spot for shitkicking country & western but it's good to know for sure. Merle Hagard, presumably, must be high up on his list too. Sad to hear about the Willy Nelson incident. It seldom pays to piss off your hard core fan base. A small stash of bad drugs is often worse than no stash at all. The first time I even got close to pure MDMA was a good few years after the market got saturated with counterfeit pills stepped on so much they held all the potency of a mildly psychoactive aspirin. What a blast that was when I finally got my lips around the real thing.

I once owned a polyester cotton rich shirt which looked like spiders had crawled over it and spurted out the last of their silk. It was pink and black. I loved that shirt. Some things are too fragily resplendent to see out many years, alas.

Only ever look at your watch as a last resort.

Your driver said...

Going all the way back to Beer's first comment, I ran into a few Dope City punks long ago. In fact Beer and I had some acquaintances in common. Dope City punks were some serious tough guys; not chickenshit though, good guys. In keeping with my practice of posting all of my best shit at other people's blogs, I posted the story of my first MDMA experience at Mick Farren's Doc 40. MDMA wasn't even illegal at the time. It didn't have a name. The guy who sold it to us called it "This new shit". When we asked him how much to take he said, "Fuck, I don't know. Take enough to fuck you up." It turns out that, for about ten dollars, we got enough X to give one of those little disco doses to every raver in 1990's San Fran. This was the 1980's and my girlfriend and I spent 13 hours, naked on the floor of my apartment. I couldn't make any of my muscles move. I felt as if my bones had dissolved. We were sort of tangled up with each other and every once in a while one or the other of us would say, "IIIIIII llloooouuuuuuuvvvvvv yyyoooooooooouuuuueeeeeeewwwwww before lapsing back into silence. In retrospect, it was a bad drug experience.
I was born to drive buses. I check my watch every few minutes and have done so since I was about ten. When I find myself in a shitty situation, I like to make sure that time hasn't stopped.

ib said...

I lost my best watch some time ago. "Mislaid" is what I'm hoping. Inkeeping with my own sad penchant for time-checking, I replaced the strap on my father's wristwatch - he died many years back - in an attempt to keep things running smoothly. It stopped. A spring must have sprung. It predates those battery powered watches which are now all the rage. I admit I feel uncomfortably naked without the benefit of a time-piece on my wrist; on the other hand, I am all too aware that I am often anally retentive so I try to persuade myself that by living dangerously (ie, free of the burden of frequent time-checking) I am somehow voluntarily undergoing a form of therapy.

MDMA was good, though I no longer indulge in it. It made me feel incredibly chilled, but even in healthy doses it never catapulted me into a nodding state of narcoleptic euphoria.