Loving Lydia Lunch

I've been in an awful mood this afternoon. Tuesdays never fail to bum me the fuck out. One of the many possible ways for my day to be MADE, though, is that my sainted mother ("Style Icon: My Mom" forthcoming, just you wait) just mailed me a bunch of my records from my high school days, now that I have a new record player. I got her to send the old Need, Heavens to Betsy, and CeBe Barnes Band 7"s, and some old Swans stuff. But really, I wanted my Lydia Lunch records.

I don't even have the energy to write a STYLE ICON report on Lydia Lunch. It could be a master's thesis, really. She's just done so much, and on so little. Hers is an art using very old technology.

And it's sort of pointless to write a fanboy letter to / about Lydia Lunch. One of the most consistent aspects of her work, the dominant theme across all of her output and the message of her iconography is there there is no iconography. Burn the motherfucker down. Take rock and roll and gut it. Push past the point of ugly, push through the point of fear. Pay attention. Fuck off.

My homegirl from our Cali suburb days Cotton and I went to go see the Teenage Jesus & the Jerks reunion show last summer. In between songs (Lydia would "end" a song whenever she felt like it), Lydia would interrupt our applause, screaming "Fuck You!" and "You have no idea how much I hate this fucking city and everyone in it." It was perfect. Inexact but pretty close quote: "Thurston! Play the fucking song! Uh oh-- he has to TUNE HIS BASS! I guess that's what happens when you get a member of Sonic Youth in your band. FUMBLE! I'm kidding-- I love Sonic Youth. We love Thurston. We love Kim. We love Lee, because Lee is Free. And Steve... we just love." Then when the band attempted the next song, Lydia would register her dissatisfaction (artistic, existential, political) by simply turning her back to the microphone and screaming to her drummer "AGAIN!!!"

I was entranced. It was a dream come true.

I have a very vivid memory of turning 16, in my parents' house at midnight. I remember thinking to myself that by 16 Lydia Lunch had already destroyed punk rock. Basically by herself. And what did I have to show for myself?

Her books Paradoxia: A Predator's Diary, and Incriminating Evidence (written almost entirely IN CAPS, YOU UNGRATEFUL FUCKERS) deeply shaped my thinking when I was a teenager. I wish that all 15 year-olds had to take a mandatory class in 'Lydia Lunch Theory & History' in high school.

Here is a video of Lydia Lunch after she moved to NYC and began hanging out downtown, but before she became the Lydia Lunch we know her as today:

Freaky, huh? Fast forward a few (very few) years:

Lydia Lunch is significant. This is where these ideas come from. If I had watched everyone in the world rip me off for the last 30 years I'd be pretty pissed-off too. Here is the trailer for her glorious video "The Gun Is Loaded". Be amazed.

She made Queen of Siam, a totally classic, scary, and I guess kind of lounge-y cabaret album at AGE FUCKING 20. What the fuck have you done?

I can't wait to spend springtime making out with boys listening to Hysterie and learning and re-learning the teachings of Miss Lydia.

Blessed Be.

1 comment:

Jasper said...

Hey, I enjoyed this. Lydia is the best (like fucking BEST). Never seen that early interview clip, thanks.