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Goodbye, Goo-Goo Muck: R.I.P, Lux Interior

February 4th, 2009 by Jeff Simmermon

I wear a three-piece suit to work every day now. Now punk rock’s a prepackaged dream, a preservative-riddled batter you can spray out of a can and into your lifestyle, cook it up and presto, instant rebellion. Music’s not scary anymore, and when people howl and flail at their guitars it’s an animatronic history lesson, not the real thing.

Also those damn kids keep running on my lawn.

I don’t mean to be cranky and morose. But Lux Interior died today, and the world’s a lot more boring without the Cramps.

I made this photo in the Sleeveface style as my own little R.I.P.

cramps-sleeveface

Bonus points if you see that I’m wearing the album cover on my t-shirt, too.

I wrote a little story about my relationship to Lux and the Cramps — check it out after the jump if you like.

No matter how much Frank poked or I procrastinated, nothing was going to delay Monday, the due date for our final project in tenth grade history. We had managed to spend most of our research time together drawing Batman as a vampire, Batman as a guest star in the Lost Boys, and our English teacher bound and bleeding in a burlap sack, lowering slowly into a shark-filled pool.

It was rainy autumn Saturday two weeks before Halloween. I flipped quickly through Frank’s V for Vendetta collection, waiting for him to get his slow self out of the bed and ready to go to the library. “I’m going to take a shower, and then I’ll be ready, I swear,” he promised. “Here, check this tape out,” he said, nodding to his boom box as he flipped a cassette across the room. “I can’t stop listening to it.”

The cassette was The Cramps’ ‘Bad Music for Bad People’. By the time the chorus to ‘Garbageman,’ kicked in, I had forgotten all about deadlines. With his haunting shriek in the beginning of ‘Love Me,’ Lux Interior reached through time and straight into my mind, temporarily deleting my entire concept of education. By the time ‘She Said’ ended, I was changed.

On the one hand, the Cramps sounded like something on one of the three oldies stations that passed for radio in Hampton Roads. But there was something else to them– something dark and joyous, brilliantly primal, and gleefully retarded. I couldn’t tell if I loved the tape or hated it, but I had to hear it again and again.

A rash grew between the folds of my teenaged brain that day. It smelled like marijuana and had a soothing, itchy voice that said to me: “ From now on, things are going to be different.” That burning life-changing itch flares up so much more rarely now, but it’s so sweet and precious when it does.

Frank and I decided to create representations of medieval torture devices for our history project. We lovingly inked the rack, an iron maiden, a cat o’ nine-tails and a pair of thumb screws onto the back of brown grocery sacks and carefully burnt the edges of our drawings with a candle, listening to the Cramps the entire time.

Fueled by the power of one of the world’s greatest history projects, we stayed up late into the night and earned and A from our teacher and confused looks from our classmates. That project secured our reputations as the weird, scary nerds, and locked us right out of any homecoming activities that fall.

A year later we started taking acid — shortly after Psychedelic Jungle made it into our heaviest rotation. We’d buy it from drag queens at the Rocky Horror Picture Show, mostly. I can remember watching the guy who played Frankenfurter pull two tabs out of his garters and turn to us, saying “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, boys.”

I was already peaking pretty hard at that point and definitely remember Frankenfurter’s cheesy thighs extruding through his fishnets in a million pasty little tubes. We ran shrieking through the night, back to Frank’s place, where we sat up and listened to Voodoo Idol over and over until the sun came up. Some guys we were hanging out with were chucking pennies at each other and one guy caught one square in his dilated pupil, sprayed blood everywhere.

He had to spend that whole summer sitting in the dark with a patch over both eyes in case his blood clots erupted and made a beeline for his brain. He listened to the Cramps that whole summer too.

Things couldn’t have turned out any better, and we owed it all to the Cramps.

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