Post Hoc

I keep telling myself I'm going to write a big post about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, which have occupied a huge part of my brain for the last week or two, but every time I start trying to say something that holds together, there's a new development that makes me newly enraged and incoherent, and I'm back to square one. Maybe next time.

To keep myself from wallowing in inchoate rage, luckily, I've had old friend Tony Plutonium helping me recall more pleasant days, thanks to his recent series of posts about Rhythm Alley, the Chapel Hill club that he and his bride, Jenny Slash, used to own. (The retrospective begins here in mid-1985 and continues on through August of 1986, when they sold the club.) I was actually working at the Alley before they bought it, serving as bouncer (yes, honest) and sometime bartender for Judy, who had bought the place from Dave Robert when he moved his own Cat's Cradle club from its location up the alley behind Mama Dip's (just across the alley from Tijuana Fats restaurant). Tony & Jenny were regulars at the Alley and at the C.H. club scene in general, so I knew them and was excited to have them take over the place when Judy bailed out.

By that time, I'd more or less quit working at the club except as a musician. My various bands had already played a number of shows there; Terminal Mouse performed first as an opening act for the Pressure Boys (October and New Year's Eve of '84) and later as a headliner. Though our guitarist, Ronnie "Buck" Parks, was a professional graphic artist, I took on a lot of the work making posters for our gigs--probably because it was my senior year at UNC and I was the only one in the band who didn't have a day job. And when Tony did his retrospective and casually asked whether I had any posters from those days... let's just say the answer was yes.

May 25 PC 001.jpgThe above is, obviously, a complete rip-off of the classic National Lampoon "Buy this magazine or we'll shoot this dog" cover, but it does demonstrate the general level of smart-ass whimsy that I brought to the job of publicizing Terminal Mouse and my other groups, such as the world's only Wall of Voodoo tribute band, Great Wall of Doo Doo. For that, I put on my cartoonist hat and devised the artwork below, which both showed the band members' aliases (though no one has ever actually called me "Spittoon" to my knowledge) and provided reasonably accurate caricatures of Bryon Settle, Dan Munger, Mike Beard, John Plymale, and me. I believe it was Mike who insisted on including "Hence" on the poster:

Sep 28 Wall 001.jpg
I made use of anything I could find as far as collage and lettering went, and any posters that I didn't put up might end up serving as raw materials for the next one. Sometimes I'd be inspired after making one poster and make another one for the same gig, as I did here for our show on Friday, September 13th, 1985:

Sep 13 001.jpg

Sep 13 Jason Crop.jpg

As you might expect, that particular change reflected TM's creation of a new song, "Cows from Hell," which rapidly became our signature tune. It also led me to incorporate cows (and Hell) into our promotional materials wherever possible, even to the point where they may perhaps have obscured the overall point of the posters, which was to let the general public know about this particular musical act that was performing at this particular place on this particular date at this particular time and how much they would just LOVE for members of that public to drop what they were doing and come to the show, preferably bringing large sums of money to spend on food and beverages at the location where the band was performing. Here's probably the most egregious example of that, advertising one of our shows at Halby's, a delicatessen in Durham that probably didn't have much business trying to be a venue for live music:

Mar 14 Halby's 001.jpgAs things progressed, however, Terminal Mouse was starting to fall apart--I'm not sure we ever officially broke up--and I was heading off into such things as married life. Tony & Jenny had become good friends with both Kelly and me by then, so when we needed a place to throw a combined bachelor/bachelorette party, they graciously offered us the Alley, where we gathered on Thursday, July 10th, with a host of our friends, some of whom had brought instruments. The expected jam session never really materialized, largely because I got into the beer rather early and was unable to do much more than wander onstage, pick up my electric, and amble through a drunken version of Robyn Hitchcock's apocalyptic country anthem "Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus." From there it was off to Tijuana Fats, where Wes Naprstek and T Davis plied me with mezcal until I ate the worm, and then later to oblivion, and then eventually to the altar.

But that didn't mean I quit playing music, or making posters. Bryon and I assembled a music-and-sometimes-performance-art duo (called, creatively, either "Elmo & PC" or "PC & Elmo," depending on the day) that elevated eclecticism and indecision to art forms, and I like to think our posters accurately reflected our aesthetic principles. Also, I got to keep putting on my cartoonist hat, which I considered quite handsome:

July 5 Hardback 001.jpgI even managed to arrange a few solo shows, probably because Bryon was still playing with the Pressure Boys and actually bringing in audiences and maybe even making money, and those posters ended up becoming some of my favorites. My first solo show prompted me to provide a resume, for some reason, but at least it also inspired me to draw myself in an inflatable suit:

May 26 Hardback 001.jpg

And then there's this one, which I love almost purely because of the dog photo. I swiped it from (I believe) an issue of the Washington Post Magazine, and if I knew who the photographer was I would praise his name to the heavens, because it's just a fabulous picture.

June 27 Hardback 001.jpgSo, thanks to Tony, I'm in a considerably better mood now than I would have been otherwise. Perhaps soon I'll be able to offer a cogent critique of American society and its enduring legacy of racism, but for the moment, I think I'll just have to think calming thoughts. Maybe I'll imagine myself in a pasture. Oh, look. There are cows.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on August 21, 2014 2:08 PM.

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