In response to last month’s post about Tom Troccoli, Tom himself has added a Meat Puppets page to his site. There, he describes his first encounter with this odd group of desert punks. He also alludes to the strong feelings those memories still hold for him. Tom’s sharp memory, good eye for detail and quirky use of the occasional all-caps makes for entertaining reading.
Even better, he passed along his collection of Meat Puppets photos and his permission for me to share them. These smudged, aging poloroids document the ten weeks we spent on tour with Black Flag and the Nig Heist back in 1984. I hadn’t seen these pix in two decades, and they really take me back. I don’t recall ever being that young.
These days, I work with a lot of young people. I always encourage them to think hard about their future and not to take it for granted. But there’s not a one of them who wouldn’t quit their jobs in a heartbeat if they had the chance to go on the road for two and a half months. These pix bear out that dream pretty well.
We had only two days off, we slept on the floors of strangers and we were making twenty-five bucks a night. We endured arrests, snowstorms and those annoying huge pots of spagetti the promoters would make to feed us all. (You haven’t lived until you try to serve yourself a plate of overcooked pasta while Rollins glowers over you, making sure you don’t take more than he feels you deserve.) But what 23-year-old could pass up the opportunity to drive across the country, put on eye-liner and pose in front of a Detroit tenement?
Anyway, Tom offered a selection of descriptive comments to go with some of his favorites from this collection. The all-caps have been left intact.
Photo #2: “I’m overhead. Cris has tossed himself backwards into the crowd and is being supported by the fans. Somewhere I have a photocopy of a contact sheet from ANOTHER photog. He snapped one at the EXACT moment I snapped mine, and you can see me hovering over the crowd with Polaroid. This one’s D.C.”
Photo #5 : “We made a gag out of claiming you were Raymond’s model for the My War cover, and here Davo is NOT trying to knife you (yet), but emulating the sleeve. This was the same Denny’s the three of you tipped the waitress by dumping your half filled plates on the rug under the table.”
Photo #6: “Check the expressions on the folks BEHIND you! This is at a McDonald’s at Niagra Falls New York a few hours before crossing the border and we have ingested anything possibly contraband. Clearly, the effects are taking hold.”
Photo #7: “You MADE me shoot this one AS Bostrom being Elvis circa 1972 Madison Square Garden post-gig. This is maybe my all-time favorite picture of you. It PERFECTLY captures the humor and spirit I best remember in you.”
Photo #10: “This is the exact moment I came running out to the van in Atlanta with the latest ish of Rolling Stone awarding you (and The Minutemen) 4 Stars for MP II. YOU may have snapped this one.”
Photo #17: “We each took one of each other being blasted in the head full on by the Surfer. I can’t find the one you took of me. That one’s Atlanta.”
Photo #18: “Right outside Birmingham Alabama. I had just that moment heard the news that Marvin Gaye Sr. had murdered Marvin Gaye Jr., rolled down the window, shouted the news, and clicked the shot.”