Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies: #1004: Lizzy Mercier Descloux RIP
4 Februari 2008 // 17.00-19.00
“Mon alcohol breaking up the secret of the nothing-to-look-at body corso.” • Lizzy Mercier Descloux, “Torso Corso”
[photo of Lizzy by Lisa Genet, 1980]
Jim on the Move > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Rosa Yemen > Rosa Yemen 
Roommate > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Decrypted > Rosa Yemen 
Payola > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Aya Mood 3.5 Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
I Don’t Want To Be Happy > Contortions 
Torso Corso > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Herpes Simplex > Rosa Yemen 
Milk Sheik > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Funky Stuff > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Larousse Baron Bic > Rosa Yemen 
Slipped Disc > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Wawa > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Salomé > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Bim Bam Boum > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
5 Troubles Mambo > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Penelope > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Foghorn Blues > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Confidente de la Nuit > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
One for the Soul > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
My Funny Valentine > Chet Baker
My Funny Valentine > Chet Baker + Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Sounds of Leblon Beach > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Garden of Alas > Chet Baker + Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
I’ll Remember April > Chet Baker
Fire > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Mais ou sont Passees les Gazelles > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Mission Impossible > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Morning High > Lizzy Mercier Descloux + Patti Smith 
Ruminant Plinth > Blurt 
Tumour > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
It’s You Sort of > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Tso Xin Yu Xin > Rosa Yemen 
Cri > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Nina Con un Tercer Ojo > Rosa Yemen 
Torso Corso > Lizzy Mercier Descloux 
Herpes Simplex > Rosa Yemen 
 “Press Color” on Ze vinyl 1980.
 “Rosa Yemen” on Ze vinyl 1978.
 “Mambo Nassau” on Ze 1981.
 “Buy” on Ze vinyl 1979.
 “Suspense” on Polydor 1988.
 “Lizzy Mercier Descloux” on CBS vinyl 1984.
 “One for the Soul” on 1986. With Chet Baker.
 “Hashisheen” on Sub Rosa.
 “Let There Be Blurt: The Fish Needs a Bike” on Salamander.
• Lizzy Mercier Descloux has been one of my fave musician/poet/gals of all time ever since I saw her in 1979 [or so] in NYC at a number of clubs as part of the Ze Records launch of the punk funk sound, which was dancy no-wave, existential jangly beats. And throughout the reign of WTM [22 years] I have regularly returned to her sound. Although I have to say that her later albums were less interesting but never totally without redeemable values.
She had the look, the accent, the gift for ad hoc poesie, a kind of flairful insouciance that convinced me to leave the Catholic torment for chanson Rimbaud. She had a kind of Rimbaudian rough tenderness and world-weary innocence. That she never received her just due is just totally incomprehensible. Her simple/simplistic jangled guitar chords and funky beats easily rival those of James Chance, and ESG. She also had an elusiveness / allusiveness and a sexy face hidden behind punk mopped hair dangling into face that spoke to me back then when style and politics, attitude and transgression, sound and terror all fed off the same backbone marrow.
• I remember in all my recent-immigrant shyness in NY, hanging out at the bar at Hurrah’s in February 1980, during the Ze Records revue nights and trying to come up with the right words, the right approach to just talk with her and have the talk become an interview. I was just so painfully shy that I just never did approach her except to say something innocuous like “I love your sound.”
• I wrote a review of the night and “Press Color” for the East Village Eye. I used to write them as artworks cum poetic run-on flipped consciousness poems, artworks so that the editors couldn’t mess with the text. Small sample: “Rimbaud’s twiggy sister. A fluxus model. Grey turtleneck deshabille ala Highway 61. Like Joey Ramones holey jeans. Like the guitar neck in Blow-Up. James Chance without all of the ego csrgo. Funky Verlaine. Unkinked Arto. Pome ferment. No tune guitar….” It’s painful.
• I had tried to get a hold of her to interview her as part of my “unjustly neglected artists” series for GADFLY [I got only as far as Boris Vian and Lydia Tomkiw] or SANDBOX. That is why I was shocked to learn that she had died 20 April 2004 of cancer!!
• I was thinking how frightening that Hillary Clinton is seen as a progressive hope by some even though her stances and attitudes toward the world differ very little from McCain’s. And how equally frightening to learn that many people in america view Obama as too progressive, as going to far when I see him precisely as not going far enough or not going anywhere but down the same old tunnel in just a different colored mode of transport. I am a little more than amazed that people view him as a hope when in fact his current relation between hope-future-constituents-views is not unlike that one that Chauncy Gardener uniwttingly cultivated in BEING THERE by Jerzy Kosinksi. The superb new/op-ed site TRUTHDIG made all those misgivings and fears crystal clear in a recent piece by Chris Hedges,Hope for Corporate America. It frightens me to see how far the argument has shifted to the right in the US so that Republican reptiles like rockefeller and even nixon would seem out of goose-step with current ambience. And the dems to represent the nation with a presidential candidate have to basically cower and mimic and trump the republicans at their own games and then like clinton get rewarded and congratulated for outwitting the republicans at their own game by being even more republican than them and stealing their thunder and issues and the disgruntled middle who continue to vote against their own best interests so they can continue to be swaddled in their own disgruntlement.
wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographie
30 May 2005 / 16.45-19.00
WTM #887: Detroit’s Mythic Noise & Rhetoric
We learned new dances like the nuclear bomb
• Iggy Pop, “Nightclubbing”
We want a free world economy based on the free exchange of energy and materials and the end of money / We want free access to all information media and all technology for all the people.
• from the White Panther Party Ten Point Program
Among my goals in life are 1) Never handle a firearm 2) Never going to any Disney product (other than Fantasia).
• DrDr. Jazz
Angel of Nothing / Barry’s Dad at a Kid’s Party > Nightcrawlers 
The Beast / Behemoth Rag > Nightcrawlers 
Abu Sinun: Father of Teeth [-8 rpm] > DrDr. Jazz 
+ The Connecting Links / Black Panthers & White Panthers > John Sinclair & Comrades 
+ A Lot of Shit is Going Down > John Sinclair & Comrades 
+ The Music Scene is Happening > John Sinclair & Comrades 
Calling All Girls > Nightcrawlers 
Radio Ethiopia > Patti Smith Group 
Eternal Now > Monster Island & John Sinclair 
+ Weather Report > Bernadine Dohrn 
+ Letter in Exile > Pun Plamondon & David Sinclair 
Monk in Orbit > Monster Island & John Sinclair 
Off-Ramp > Trout Pomeroy 
Mojo > Nightcrawlers 
Motor City is Burning > MC5 
My Money or Cromojoc > Nightcrawlers 
I’m Not Iggy Pop > Ray Johnson [1a]
We Will Fall > Stooges 
Sleeping Bulldozer > Nightcrawlers 
I Am A Cloud > Monster Island 
Staid Too Long > Trout Pomeroy 
I Love Gorillas > Monster Island 
Drop The Bomb > Destroy All Monsters 
It’s Getting’ Kinda Chilly > Slim Gaillard 
Nightclubbing > Iggy Pop 
Matzoh Balls > Slim Gaillard 
Jail Bait > Andre Williams 
Yo Da Lin in the Valley > Kid Rock 
Big Chief Yodel > Big Chief Redbird 
The Passenger > Iggy Pop 
Kick Out The Jams > MC5 
Hob Goblin > Monster Island 
8, 9 and 10 / Ferdinand the Bull > Slim Gaillard 
Shampoo Mumble & Saginaw Missing / Take a Toke > Nightcrawlers 
 “Third Mind: Nightcrawlers 1981-1990” A basement DIY tape manipulation set of secret communiques with parties and forces that at that time were still unnamed. Annotated liner notes of these charmingly illuminating pedestrian peeks into the lives of ordinary explorers of the extraordinary mysteries found in everyday life based on Dada leads and the divining walking stick extended by William Seward Burroughs. Liner notes: “Poems jaywalk around shopping centers, looters race in and out, existence as if it were Paris.”
 “Dental Machine Music #7” on Party Beach . This man sees the revolution as something that will occur as a consequence of “radical root canal jobs” and that proper dentition will no doubt lead to a realignment of the world’s power. He is also of course the same man who once whistled the oeuvre of Sun Ra in an Ann Arbor Ben & Jerry’s and performed the entire Lou Reed “Metal Machine Music” on a retuned ukulele. The Jandek of Michigan! The Shaggs vs Sun Ra in sunny in sunny Hawaii. From a 2004 email: “[Cary] loves to talk about Destroy All Monsters. A band I was in (Trainable) opened for the Niagara/Ron Ashton version and (if I may say) according to all accounts (including some in print) we blew them away. They were nice though (much nicer than Jonathan Richman was when another band of mine opened for him).”
 “Music is Revolution” on The End is Here . A strange blend of hopeless idealism, of macho posturing, of the enduring nobleness of struggle… strange recordings that recall those heady days when the US was about the cringe and crumble in full out civil war between the crewcuts and longhairs. From the liner notes: “A sound leader’s aim is to open people’s hearts, fill their stomachs, calm their wills, brace their bones, and so to clarify their thoughts and cleanse their needs…” Lao Tzu / “How to subvert a culture: first of all recognize no authority, police, parents, teachers, any ‘respectable person’. They are all sick and should be avoided at all possible costs.”
 “Radio Ethiopia” on Arista, 1976. For someone so overwhelmed and so infatuated with the presence and attitude, and the punk sexiness of PS I am amazed at how unlistenable some of the records have become. They probably have to do with the transparency of her own fanaticisms and affections, her own issues spelled out. I still greatly admire her and yet can’t bear to put any of the records on except this one, which seems to be the closest she ever came to a tone poem version of her beloved Rimbaud. There is something dense, exploratory, unresolved, decidedly non-pop determined, something drug-impressionistic that makes this record hold up. She, of course, eventually married Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith of the MC5, not in an effort to save money on her business cards [same last name], not to extend the progeny of noise revolution but because [and this is why PS remains such a tender soul] she was in love with the guy. She has, of course, experienced an inordinate amount of personal loss over the past years including the passing of FSS.
 “Peyote Mind” on Monster Island . Reprises the eternally interesting drug peyote as a mechanism to transform and transgress our current reality. The music is lovely and on some tracks are accompanied by the 1960s texts of John Sinclair on the subject. Some are Detroit area studio recordings, some are live as recorded in Detroit  and Rotterdam . Good companion to similar explorations by Trip Tech.
 “Road Scholar” on TP <firstname.lastname@example.org>
. TP is that strange figure floating in a cloud of weed smoke, emerging from the Detroit of the 60s-70s fairly intact of spirit and has written a picaresque novella/journal called DAY GONE BILL, which features a lot of musing about the mysterious effects and powers of yodeling. It reminds me so very much of the most charming of Richard Brautigan books, Trout Fishing in America. He accompanied me at my reading at Bookbeat by reading a short excerpt from his book. We were serenaded that day by the yodeling talents of Michigan-native Donah Hyland [Check out her “Yodelin’ Country” on Heritage].
 “Kick Out The Jams” on Elektra, 1971. Back when hope could be formulated as politics + long hair + mind-bending drugs + noise = the instrument for progressive post-hippie utopian change. And, of course, Fred “Sonic” Smith was to marry Patti many years later and become part of the Smith band.
 “The Detroit Oratorio” on Compound Annex, 2003 . This record seems to do battle with an inordinate amount of post-historical consciousness. Something they seemed refreshingly free of in their early years. Although despite the artsy contextuality, some real gristle still comes out of the meatgrinder. DAM [named after a horribly-delirious horror movie. DAM started in Detroit in 1977, eventually adding Ron Asheton [the Stooges] and Michael Davis [MC5 bassist]. They were made combustible by Larry Miller’s unflappable experimental saxophones & Ben Miller’s guitar to become the template upon which Sonic Youth have in their own ways laid their bodies and souls across to imitate and be inspired by.
My earliest experiences with things Michiganian was getting my first stereo at the age of 15[?] — a thing that acted and vaguely looked like a stereo system but was really Montgomery Wards version of something one step above a toy. It played records and with this X-mas gift I got my first — the wrong one! — record, an LP by Grand Funk Railroad. Who would have predicted that we would end up in Burton, a spillover of Flint, just beyond the Eastland Mall, where Mark Farner grew up. My brother having the same teachers as Farner had had some years earlier. I listened to GFR incessantly — their I Am Your Captain being pure poetry of the wandering spirit and drugs and hippiedom. The double live album catching the raw inarticulate energy of youth that did not know precisely which way to turn. It is records like this that I wish I still had. Many of these albums of questionable taste were purged [sold at places like Schoolkids] during the early punk days, which were really the West’s version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Long-hair and sensitive anything went the way of the pyre, the garbage or the used record store. One had to suddenly locate oneself in the growing dissatisfaction with commercially-sold-out hippiedom for some newer idealism [which was punk nihilism, its affectations really being VERY similar to the details of hippie trappings — looks as badge and membership — and the punk cynicism was really just like dewy-eyed hippie idealism turned inside out.]
I also turned to Iggy and the Stooges, although they and the MC5 would become later [intellectual rather than instinctual] interests just as Patti Smith emerged into my life. I wrote a novel with a character that greatly resembled her. I dedicated a poetry-cum-fan-zine called Darkroom Techniques to her, met her in Chances Are [Second Chance] in Ann Arbor, had a sexual liaison with an incredibly sexy coed at one of her concerts during a 4-night gig there, as we were stimulated by our mutual infatuation with Ms. Patti. This was an honestly strange turn into sexual licentiousness, which was a fine response to the prim and proper and careerist side of life that was my academic side. Yikes! A Career! I mean I was majoring in words, in poetry, in love letters, in vague dreams of novelistic roman a clefs — living Kerouacian-style and then putting it down for the illumination and entertainment of those with larger vicarious streaks… That is how I portrayed myself — a sexual adventurer. Actually I was one VERY shy guy who REALLY appreciated the affections and FELT the emotional intensity of women too much to be a Casanova. Oh to have been capable of cavalierness.
It is thoughts and memories like this that were jostled loose by my recent trip there, making my experience both richer, clausterphobic, and bittersweet than my other destinations on this trip.
When I first heard DAM it was like a sonic joke that you immediately had to start taking seriously or vice versa. I saw them in Ann Arbor [or not? Maybe I was just so happy to get their first single that I experienced it as a live gig!] at some point and Niagara [front-femme vocalist] was a siren from just the right dank basement, a waify, fragile, yet jackknife-like hazardous quantity of beauty-as-weapon. It was avant garde punk at its smirkingest and dadaistic-tomfoolery. It basically wreaked havoc with the entire relation of club-goer-consumer and musician as entrepreneur selling product. First of all, all expectation and presumption was trampled upon instantly. They were loud, snotty, beyond Patti Smith in that they had no problem mashing song frameworks, they built upon the Futurist/Dada notion that noise was a necessary antidote to slumberiferous and clogged synapses. Here is a manifesto [edited] written by cary loren, DAM band member [and owner of the fantastic Bookbeat bookstore <email@example.com>: “a manifesto of ignorance; destroy all monsters (1996) — destroy all monsters began as an anti-rock band. our menagerie of words, images and sounds were an attempt to thumb our noses at the pretentious circus of rock-star bullshit and musical emptiness that filled the air-waves during the early to mid-1970’s. the images that moved us then were a strange combination of film-noir, monster movies, psychedelia, thrift-shop values and the relentless drone of a crazed popular culture. our influences were a combination of audiovisual stimuli such as man ray, the velvet underground and NICO, the hairy who, silver apples, captain beefheart, stanley mouse, SUN RA, comix, stooges, beardsley, and the mc5. we were midwest art student loners flying through time in a blur of art and noise. It’s predictable that it would take twenty years to gain some perspective. our music sometimes contained a narrative or storytelling direction that was never well explored. a sense of gloom, disaster and apocalypse mixed with doses of anarchy, comedy and absurdity kept us together and were some of the major themes which colored our small scene. our alienation and heightened anxiety was a PSYCHOTRONIC view of life we each shared to various degrees. i felt we were creating sounds we wanted to exist but weren”t to be found in the slick desolate landscape around us. with virtually no audience and little support, we continued expressing our end-of-times messages and outsider beliefs; a sort of paranoiac-critical garage band. emerging from the detroit rust-belt stained our activities with an industrial psychedelic patina…”
Johnny Forgotten of trakMARX – How active were DAM 1 & who played alongside Niagara & Cary Loren in this line up?
Ben Miller – As far as I know, like any art band of those days, Destroy All Monsters played “in the basement” and an occasional party. Along with Cary and Niagara, Mike Kelly played drums and Jim Shaw played guitar. I saw them once at a party. It was very sparse. An odd mix of noise and songs. Occasionally Niagra would play some violin or say a few words and then leave the stage. Mike would dabble on the drums while Jim played guitar through an Echoplex. From time to time Cary seemed to try and get the set off the ground.
trakMARX – DAM 2 was basically an amalgamation of EMPOOL & DAM 1. How did this come about?
Ben – Destroy All Monsters was going through a transition late 1976 into early 1977. Of the original band only Cary and Niagara remained in Ann Arbor. At this time, Lar had a band called EMPOOL which was mostly psychedelic free improvisation (guitars, electronics, tapes, saxophone, occasionally drums) along with a number of other musicians including myself and brother Roger (the original version of Empool was just Lar and Andre Cynkin on guitars and electronics). Empool played a couple parties, but otherwise stayed ëin the basementí much like Destroy All Monsters. As far as I know, these two bands were the only weird things happening in Ann Arbor at that time. Compared to where Destroy All Monsters were coming from, though, EMPOOL was more music-related. Some of our improvisations were structured around notated compositions. Cary and Niagara would drop in unannounced at our jam sessions and request we do their stuff; two and three chord songs with lyrics — the exact opposite of what we were doing. Perhaps by default from the fact that we were all outcasts of the music scene, the two groups eventually fused together into the second incarnation of Destroy All Monsters; a plodding garage punk sound with a lot of psychedelia hanging on the outer fringe. This was the fun version of the band where artistic intention was high. Band members were interchangeable and “songs” were not nailed down.
trakMARX – How did Cary Loren talk Ron Asheton into joining DAM 2 (spring 77?)
Ben – I don’t know. Cary can be inspiring, though I think Niagara was the lure. This was early Spring, 77. Ron had recently come back from LA. His band, The New Order, hadn’t done as well as he’d of liked and I think Ron was just ready to dive into it again. The definite prospect of doing a single prompted him I’m sure.
trakMARX – How long did DAM 2 function as a 2 guitar unit?
Ben – Well, with Cary it was a 3 guitar unit. Sometimes Cary just sang and played the tambourine, but usually Cary thumped out the basic chord progressions, Ron beefed it up and added his “rock” lead solos while Lar played a more texturous and melodic effects-driven background to it all. My alto saxophone also ran through various electronics and so this initial DAM reincarnation was quite the mess.
trakMARX – Why was Cary Loren voted out of DAM?
Ben – Niagara, Cary’s long-time girl friend, hooked up with Ron. Shortly after that Cary went to New York for a short spell. When he returned he wasn’t quite the same. He was having some drug-related issues and communication had disintegrated. When the band voted him out, it was very difficult for Lar and I to agree to it. We felt that Cary had a big part in the creative element of Destroy All Monsters.
long gone john xx: What is neither unusual nor remarkable is that she [Niagara] was given a nickname by her older sister, who discovered the little girl would cry prodigious amounts when locked in a dark closet. Flash forward to Ann Arbor, Mich. – circa 1973. Hanging out at “Gods Oasis” was a group of future museum artists… Niagara just returning from art school in Banff, took up residence with Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Cary Loren and a revolving group of hangers-on that would form the art-noise group DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. … This group practiced in the basement with either homemade instruments or ones they found in the trash. They also made art films. Their single live “performance” was at a Halloween party where DAM† unwisely set up and began “to jam” for all of ten minutes before they were quickly dispatched by a group of jocks.† No one would know of this embarrassing episode had Thurston Moore, of Sonic Youth fame, not dug up those practice tapes and declare them the “world’s first noise band” deadpans Niagara. Says Mike Kelley of the same era, “We knew how to look like a band, we just couldn’t play music, and we certainly didn’t have any ‘fansí.” Niagara adds, “the band would play along with the record, but when the record came off the turntable, the music would veer into a strange place. That became our ‘signature sound’. … Niagara became Punk Magazine’s first centerfold. “The Band toured England and the states for about a decade, have about four ‘hit singles’ … and it’s what people think of when, in the rare event, the subject Destroy All Monsters comes up.” Niagara quips…. I discovered her in an article in Punk Magazine about her band of Detroit art/music terrorists, Destroy All Monsters and black and white photos had never ever been as seductive before. She was everything that I liked about Bridgit Bardot but was ofcourse much more menacing and therefore appealing. She was catlike, mysterious and deliberately dangerous: equal parts Ronnie Spector and Lizzie Borden with a Barbarella twist…”
 “The Stooges” on Elektra. The snotty, nihilistic and post-Catholic scarification and shambolic side of noise abuse. Still sounds relevant although not as … great or glorious [as in the sound will set you free] as I remember.
 “Dream Tiger” on The End Is Here . Post DAM music composed by Loren and sounding like a cross between Seeger children’s songs and lullabyes and the Swans during a tender moment. Quite moving, even though the songs deal with their fascination for monsters and goblins…
 “Laughing in Rhythm” on Proper .
That Detroit-native SG was a yodeler and the inventor of the hipster’s esperanto and that he did it with a kind of jovial bon vivant-ness makes him a guru of jazz surrealism and scat as mantra that unlocks the basic simple pleasures of life. Although cited and sighted by Kerouac [
“One night we went to see Slim Gaillard in a little Frisco nightclub. In Frisco great eager crowds of semi-intellectuals sat at his feet and listened to him on the piano, guitar and bongo drums. … Now Dean approached him, he approached his God; he thought Slim Gaillard was God.” On the Road
], he has remained under-regarded, although this 4-CD set goes some way toward settings things right. In Detroit’s airport waiting a loooong time for a flight on May 9 I saw a poster that touted Detroit’s musical legacy as Motown. All the names were up there except Slim Gaillard’s. The more I listen the more I sense he had a far greater influence than has been thus far admitted. When listening to Dylan during the Big Pink amphetamine-driven poetry era especially “The Basement Tapes” I hear Gaillard’s Dada-esque scat and inspiired nonsense and vocable trickery.
 “The Best of Iggy Pop” on Virgin. It’s not really the best of the best but it does mark off significant bandmarks and sound stages.