Friday, August 11, 2006

Lawns & Fish

Plots for blowing up planes in mid-flight with liquid explosives. The fun never stops, does it?

Well, I have no stomach for any of that today. Juan covers it as only he can, so if you want all the behind-the-scenes intrigue of this latest scare, go to him.

Me, I'm presently re-enamored with Suburban Lawns, the art-punk LA band from the late-70s. I was in a serious Lawns stage in 1980-81, had a huge poster of the band on my barracks wall, and listened daily to their self-titled first album. I also had a deep crush on lead singer Su Tissue. Su was the kind of bohemian girl I really went for back then, and watching this clip of her from that period singing "Janitor" brings it all home.

The Lawns appeared on "New Wave Theatre," an early cable show that featured many of the great LA bands of that era. The host was Peter Ivers, part of the Harvard scene of the late-60s that included National Lampoon co-founders Doug Kenney and Henry Beard, as well as playwright Timothy Mayer. Ivers wrote and sang "In Heaven" which David Lynch used in "Eraserhead." The Lady In The Radiator (Laurel Near) lip-synched Ivers' electronically-altered voice.

Ivers was found murdered in his LA skid row loft in 1983, beaten to death in what the LAPD termed a robbery. No one was ever arrested, and Ivers' death remains a mystery.

I discovered the Lawns by watching the first installment of Jean Doumanian's "Saturday Night Live" in 1980, the awful season that lasted 12 shows before nearly everyone was fired. Jonathan Demme directed a music vid for "Gidget Goes To Hell," which I cannot find online, but the audio of this fine Lawns tune is here.

During Doumanian's brief tenure, various odd-punk-New Wavey films and vids were shown, really about the only things worth watching on that show other than 19-year-old Eddie Murphy. Here's one I fondly remember, "Fish Heads," directed by and featuring a young Bill Paxton.

The boy really loves this film. He's been singing the song for a solid day now. I tried to get him into the Lawns, but for him, "Fish Heads" rules. And it does, doesn't it?