Mark E. Smith, "Hot dog's in the far-out zone"
New Musical Express, July 30, 1988, pp. 14-15.
[Thank you to the SEAT OF PLAQUE for posting this article]
I asked this bloke why there were no historical things in Munich and he kindly showed me around. I asked him where the 1923 Putsch was and he pointed it out and then he took me for a drink in the place where the Red Rose was, that was the student underground against the Nazis - the same street where the Nazi party was formed strangely enough.
He then took us to the Spear Disco at the old Nazi Party Headquarters, it was really hard to get in but we were with him so we were OK. It was fine until they knew we were British.
It was very sub-Gothic inside and all made up in the style of 45 years ago. No flags, but pretty much what the Hacienda wants to look like really. The people who run the disco are very protective, they don't let British rock groups in. I don't blame them either.
Bavarian hotel staff are the rudest in the world. They make London hotel staff look almost human. Almost good mannered.
In Austria we came across the 1938/88 sculpture which is very smart. When you first see it, it looks like a workman on a ladder fixing the date, then you realise it's just a statue and the first half of the eight is permanently slipped to make it read 1938. Otherwise Austria is very weird. Nobody goes there any more, a lot of people boycott it after that Terence Trent D'Arby thing.
Like Russia, the USA regards any genuine artistic creativity as serious mental illness. Both countries' bands sport clownish uniforms. Both countries contain vast multitudes of bourgeois-like, bored white-collar types balanced off with equal numbers of uneducated meat animals.
The slimy peasant reptile Gorbachov is on everybody's lips. As Brix's Russian grandparents once pointed out, it's the Russian peasant mentality that... like in a Yorkshire town, the guy that's most admired is the guy that's toughest, best at sport, or most handsome; well in Russia it's the guy who can get away with the biggest lies. It's true, anyone will tell you, it's the man who can get away with the biggest bullshit. I'm not saying it's an evil thing, just that it's the way they are.
As in Britain, in America the only stimulation to be had is dwelling over hideous and cowardly crimes and inventing new ones like two and a half million dollar fines for possession of a roach. Culturally moribund Homestead records. Big Black are crap, dude!
Met the in-laws, drove all night. Walked all night. Walked right into the black part of Cleveland with Brix's parents and all the bars are full, loads of Jesse Jackson posters. And the in-laws were saying 'We shouldn't really walk down here' and this big six foot six guy jumps out of an alley with a leather jacket on, and I'd been going 'It's alright the English can walk anywhere' and then this guy jumps out and it looks like he's ready to mug us and I go 'Uuuuurgh!'. And he goes 'Mark E Smith, my maan, 'Repetition''. He'd just seen me through the bar window and turns out he'd been a fan for years. He was quoting from Zig Zag in '78 and asking me about members of the band who I couldn't even remember.
As is rapidly becoming the case in the United Kingdom, the US is composed of fine unique people with infinite talents ruled and bullied by indecisive publicity seeking political incompetents who are allied with the hopeless and un-intelligent media, bullshit academics, and a Martian like led civil service.
There's a senile generation existing and a Pete Townshend one entrenched and still coming in. Inadequate, irreligious groping about in Eastern liquefied thought, 'health' adoration, bastardised conservatism, filtered through Catholic/German religious hang-ups. Devoted to only one cause: the equalisation and standardisation of the human into some form of meat animal. This is only how I see it sometimes!!!!
Back ten hours in England. Off to the shops I pass the butcher and painter & decorator fixing a car. "How are you?"
"Not bad, I'm knackered, I've just been on tour for ages."
"You liar" they said. "We know you're really off to the pub."
I am seriously moved. It's nice to have someone be seriously nice to you, because in the States you have to pay them to be nice to you. I don't mean that, because I like Americans, but you get this 'soul' thing.
We tour with Luxuria who are a fine bunch of men if too obviously Brits in America. I avoid conversation with them as they talk about Oscar Wilde, Kerouac and Julian Cope in loud voices. They're forming some sort of beatnik alliance with Phil and Marcia from our party. In trying to re-educate these victims of hippie lecturers I leave Lenny Bruce scripts, and Franco and Gogol biographies around but to no avail.
There is continual media moaning and harping on about 13 year old crack dealers. the media doesn't seem to realise that we are in a scoff-law situation here, and if they relaxed their drinking laws people would errm... well I don't know what people would do. In bars, as is the usual, all the band were asked for ID. I saw bald people being asked for their ID. No ID, no drink. Explaining that you are one of HM's free subjects usually ends in threats to call the police - the Fascist/Irish Gestapo that passes for a police force in Boston, that miserable city.
I hear the drinking age has been hitched up by another two years in most states, some as high as 23. But again a lot of Yanks don't leave school until they're 32 (i.e. Big Black, Sonic Youth). Brix is classed as a dropout because she left college at 21!
Due to the usual hygiene frenzy accelerated by AIDS the US now finds that voyeurism and masturbation is in. And in otherwise excellent magazines like Forced Exposure pacifism is touted as some kind of alternative. The views and opinions in this article are not necessarily concurrent with those of other FALL members.
Nice Commonwealth type people, good to eat real food, but also here as in Britain, there's an exploitation of crime and danger. However, one of the most interesting things about America is the danger, death, excitement and improvisation of the place.
After seven days in the US, THE FALL is sober from rank beer, joke-less and palate-dead. I like the USA, I like the old USA, Buggs Bunny etc.
TRIP FROM VANCOUVER TO SAN FRANCISCO
Me and Simon in quite a weird state chanting 'Squid Lord, Squid Lord' beating fly swatters and demanding the sacrifice of Ed, the monitor slag, for working with Marc Almond and Morrissey in the past. And daring to wake up and interrupt our continual playing of the Hairspray soundtrack. We stop after a 16 hour drive on a sun drenched beach. Euphoria. The coach driver is nuts as he left England in 1962, and he still has that attitude. Really ancient British attitudes. Really weird how people change. Like another race. Talking about 'Bloody Huns' and 'bloody' this and 'bloody' that, steak 'n' kidney pies.
It's a shame for the Americans because it's like being on one long ferry crossing for the rest of your life. I've got some great mates there, but you don't feel enriched in any way for going there.
On arrival write vicious anti-dog rant, although I haven't seen one in ages. What actually sparks it off was hearing English cricket commentary on hotel's TV. This was depressing after bliss of six weeks of TV in foreign languages, where you can make it up yourself. Was convinced in Austria that the US and Iran were at full scale war. From past experience do not ask questions about politics in Holland, all you get is deep world psychiatry of the situation, and its relevance to Holland's world role.
SLOPPY GUIDE TO FOREIGN WRITERS AND MEDIA
The KRAUTS, like me, also make it all up - World War III and penguin's eating habits are of equal importance. All their press men have a healthy nose for pretension. With ruthless mockery their mags take any opportunity to reprint the dafter excesses of UK rock mags, i.e. "The NMEMMSOUNDS says 'this group will resound for years to come' - the man is a mental hermit!" or my personal favourite: "Typically, Smith's play was greeted with incomprehension by the obsolete British bourgeois-liberal art critic establishment!" Yeah! And I don't even know him!
AMERICANS, quite rightly, avoid or can't grasp any form of news except for their superb sports coverage and mind-bending ideas of the finance scribe, who is fused on the astral plane with false real values. Liquid hollow room projections and indivisible well devouring and/or disobedient real estate. US rock interviewers are on the whole stimulating, but also tiring, being too nosy by half.
GREEK news and its reportage is always perceptive. Their hacks most of the time being intellectual superbrains that often leave me gasping in awe. Somehow the typical British Record Mirror etc. pop lad is in need of basic speech and thought therapy, who thinks that all words are the same thing anyway and join together easily with HA HA HO HE and strings of dots is not in the same Spartan class.
CANADIANS write about interesting detail and seriously worry about British rock and pop morality.
The AUSTRALIAN mainstream writer thinks you've got a cheek messing about putting words on vinyl etc. 'What's all that about?' they ask when they could be out pulling some pools racket or in NEW ZEALAND's case re-reading Jane Eyre for the 50th time.
Honestly, all FRENCH hacks start by repeatedly saying how unknown, unsuccessful, irrelevant and doomed your career is, in world-leading, modern, Universe-creating frogswamp, and ask you to explain the lack of beatnik imbecility in your Reaganite-Stalanistic English-thick 'lyric statements'. Walking out or punching out does not work, as they do the same or phone the police. Best action is to ask them what's the bees-knees and then suppress tears of laughter as they gush for hours on the Cure/Bolshoi/Damned's deep, root-tapping of something that is deep inside them, as literal, artistic scarf-wearing frog-spawn - something beyond all words, my pupil Anglais.
The ITALIANS, with true style, only have soccer-news. Their journalists are so cool they have not heard of any group ever, yet know everything about mad obscure artists like their own lot and Lewis, Celine etc. Quite right.
On tour if alone at night, I knock out lists of things to do - these quickly become hysterical enraged notes packed with vicious unkeepable equipment and spiritual demands of my compatriots. These make hilarious reading in the sober morning i.e.:
6) EMPHASIS NARRATIVE
NO SPACEY HI-FI CRAP
UNFORMULATED AS ON US TOUR
Or the unbelievable
7) BAND excellent - 100 per cent improvement in sound, group and crew imperative.
10) WHY no change-over? PUNISH
Or: Trevor (Long, tour manager) pop-in and out keep EVERYBODY else out. We do not work for them.
On a night off have a convoluted discussion with an acid-house type bloke about merits of Dutch 'freedom' and British 'oppression'. I even broke my 'no talking to men in cycle shorts' rule for this. I've had to hint strongly to our party that 'pot banned on Dutch tour-dates' rule still in force. (Due to worst, and first, Fall show ever in Eindoven circa 1980). Send potential rule-breakers on useless errands and tasks. Mainly for our up and coming ballet here. Am deliberately being vague about visual theme, mainly because I've no idea, and with clothes, my concentration evaporates after 15 seconds. So, categorically and firmly state: black, white, brown, Amish.
Force Andrew (Berry) into this rule - he is perfect, disappearing 10 hours at a time returning with square metres of useless, cheap material. he is this weeks honorary Fall Stylist - hiding any spare clothes out of sight and mischief.
We catch a six am ferry with a group who are fronted by a superstar from a famous group (Queen). They shout, and like all Covent Garden rockers try and be rebellious in public. My Armani pullover is some kind of fashion faux pas to these Canterbury Revenge middle class hard rockers.
Hilariously and without any prompting they launch into rabid defence about playing with this star, saying how talented they are in their own right etc. how great he is - he even comes on their bus sometimes. We ask if they have an oxygen tent for these occasions and say he sounds like a fine leader of men.
They are insolent in the main though, me and the lads ashamed to be in the same business, but we're tired as we actually did some work in Europe, and have slight revenge as the young Customs lads appear to be Fall fans and examine us quickly, while HMC detain this mentally retarded other group and search their ridiculous rock steel suitcases and cassette holders. We leave Dover 30 minutes before the justifiably angry seamen of Britain descend and paralyse the port.
God is fond of The Fall.