Thursday, November 02, 2006

[If you want to comment on this column, you should go to the BLOG version, that allows you to say whatever you'd like about it.]

You're Wrong
An Irregular Column
by Mykel Board (for MRR 284)

"Always go to other people's funerals. Otherwise they won't go to yours.” -- Yogi Berra

ONE: A mosquito buzzes under my desk lamp. I don't actually hear it buzz. My hearing's shot from 35 years of punkrock. Instead I see it buzz. A dark flash under the fluorescent light.

I stand. Slowly I approach the bug. Stopping and starting. Damn! I lost it. I sit down and wait, straining my eyes against the light. Flash! There it is again. I move fast this time. CLAP! Got it! Smashed between my hands. A bloody mess, like a stigmata, in my palm. Then I feel the itchy welt on my forearm and realize the blood on my palm is MY blood. That fucker bit me! Ah revenge. Even sweeter.

TWO: James Harrington aka Jimmy Reject is someone I've mentioned a few times. An early punk fixture, he was pals with DONNY THE PUNK, and wrote about his adventures with Donny (and Me!) He called his book The Enemy's Within. I don't remember exactly what he wrote. I do remember he said-- with regards to Allen-- that I was more of a Woody than a GG.

Jimmy and I have been in occasional touch since the book came out. Sometimes, while ego-surfing, I run into a review he's written about my music or writing. Usually, it's praise with just enough nasty edge to make me like it.

His review of the Artless CD: Mykel Board is the hero of individualists, right wing punk rock reactionaries, and free thinkers everywhere. Mykel Board is the enemy of punk conformos [sic], left wing dogmatics and close minded ideologues the world over.


At the end of 2005, he interviewed me for his short-lived fanzine, Proud Disgrace.

Jimmy: Name the members of your dream rock'n'roll band. Go into detail about each member's importance and then describe your dream gig.

Me: That's a tough one because individual musicians that I like would be HORRIBLE together! For example, Dickie Peterson, the drummer for BLUE CHEER, is my favorite drummer ever. But, could he play with GG Allin? I don't think so. Tom Verlaine is my favorite guitar player. Could he be in the same band as Alan Vega? Naw, they'd be at each other's throats. So maybe I'd just have to say that my dream rock'n'roll band is THE VELVET UNDERGROUND and my dream punk band is THE DEAD BOYS and leave it at that.

Dream gig? That's easier. ARTLESS, SKREWDRIVER and CRASS on the same bill. ARTLESS would open.

In September, I get an email addressed to me and a whole bunch of other people. It it's a one liner: If you are a friend of Jimmy Reject, he died suddenly in August. His Dad.

It's not clear how he kicked the bucket. Some internet gossips say suicide. Most just say "died suddenly." I don't remember meeting the guy. He looks vaguely familiar in his internet pictures. I'm not sure. But just like that. Blam. He's gone.

THREE: CBGBs had its last show over the weekend. Patti Smith was there. Lenny Kaye performed. Blondie too. The shows were sold out in a minute. I didn't go.

It's Sunday, the day after closing. My pal Sid Yiddish is in town. He wants to "pay his respects” to CBGBs-- like dropping in at a funeral. I'm not so keen on the idea, but I agree to go. I'm curious to see what happens. I have a column to write.

I walk inside. Sid wants a T-shirt. I feel nothing. I don't look at the stage and think, Ah, I saw the Ramones and The Dead Boys there. I don't even think, Ah, I played there. I don't feel or think anything.

It's a dingy stage in the back of a dingy club. Yeah, it's the kind of place I love. Small, filthy, layers of graffiti and stickers. I still like the place, but I don't feel sad that it's going away. I don't feel anything.

My friends say I'll change my mind when it's a Starbucks. I don't think so. I'll hate the Starbucks because it's Starbucks-- not because it used to be CBGBs.


If your IQ is larger than my penis, you've figured out that this column is about death. When you get to be 65, you think about death a lot. Most folks my age dread it. They snarf statins and have doctors they know on a first name basis.

I don't fear death. It's not that I'm so brave. There're plenty of things I do fear: incontinence, senility, pain, jail... but I don't fear death. A stroke. Paralysis. Impotence. Being slowly devoured by cancer. Having my kids turn into bankers or vegetarians. Those things are serious. Dying? That's nothing.

Before I went to Mongolia, maybe I feared death. I would have kicked off not doing what was most important for me. But I went-- and returned. So what's to fear? A smack? The stain of a bloody mess on someone's hands? I don't get it.

Our society regards murder as the greatest of evils. It's the only crime they can kill you for. The death penalty is the ultimate punishment for death. Why? Why is it worse to gently put someone to sleep than it is to stick a curling iron up her ass and plug it in? Why does Dr. Kevorkian go to jail for helping people who WANT to die? Why is the call of both abortionists and vegetarians that the people they oppose are murderers? Is that the worst epithet they can fling?

By the time you read this, G.W. Bush will have easily killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein. Guess who will be executed for their crimes. Too bad.

But these massive deaths: Ten thousand. A hundred thousand. Six million. How can we understand them? Except in number, how are they any different from the mosquito I smashed under my light. Why are they any sadder?

A person is there, walking around, la-de-da changing a tampon, scratching his balls, taking a shower, and then POW. She's dead. Lying in pieces on the ground, or as part of a pile on the gas chamber floor. Now you see it. Now you don't. What's so spectacular? Why the fuss?

I can't just dismiss it though. It's too ubiquitous. Every culture has special rituals and ceremonies connected to death-- even if they don't have ceremonies connected to birth. More cultures celebrate DEATHdays, than BIRTHdays. Why?

In Mexico, they have El Dia Del Muerte. In America, it's Halloween. In Japan, it's Obon. In most cultures, the dead come back. Revisit. Dance around. Scare a few people. Protect a few others. Is it a way to welcome back those we miss? Why do we need such a day? Is there a human need for death not to be final?

It would be nice if we could accept death. It's just another part of life. A bunch of cells assemble at birth, change awhile, then disassemble. As normal as a fart. There must be something I'm not getting. But I look around.

How many books, TV shows, movies have no deaths? Someone I know dies, I donno, once every three or four months. On TV, it happens every half hour. Are there commercials with death? Does death sell dish-washing liquid, or beer? I don't know. What is death and what's its hold over us? I don't know that either.

I'm reading this book, The Poet of Tolstoy Park. It's a true story about this guy who was dying of TB in the 1920s. He moved to Alabama and started building a round concrete hut. He built the whole thing himself and lived there much longer than his doctors expected.
When he thought about death, he pictured it like the ocean. He tells the story of a wave-- a ripple actually-- in the middle of the ocean. The wind blows the ripple into a gradually bigger wave. The larger wave sees his fellow waves ahead of him. They're blown larger and fiercer until they reach shore where they smash against the rocks and die.

"Oh please stop blowing," shouts the wave to the wind. "Why are you doing this? Creating me just so I can die?"

The wind answers.

"What would happen if I stopped blowing?" It asks.
"I would disappear into the void of the ocean," answers the wave.
"And if I don't stop blowing?" asks the wind.
"I would make a loud splash against the rocks and disappear into the void of the ocean," says the wave.
Suddenly understanding, the wave stops begging the wind and sails forward strong and hard to smash into the rocks.
Makes sense to me. As long as the smashing isn't too painful. Death can be spectacular. The exclamation point on a long series of periods and semi colons. I'll buy that. But is that how everyone else thinks? How come death is so special?
Albert Camus wrote a novel called The Stranger. It begins, Mama died today. Or yesterday maybe. I don't know. The protagonist of Camus's story later goes on to kill an Arab. In those days, that was a crime.

During the trial, they prosecute Camus' hero more for not grieving for his mother's death, than for toasting a fellow human. For the court, not responding to death was a greater crime than murder. Why?

Of course, death has its funny side. As long as there have been comics, there have been jokes about death. In Romeo and Juliet, dying Mercutio taunts, “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.” These days, Six Feet Under and other TV shows still make fun of death.

Death is always around us: horror movies, Halloween skeletons, Misfits logos. It's not a taboo like kiddie sex. (Try to find a TV comedy about that!) Why?

One more thing strikes me as strange. The belief that you should respect the dead. You shouldn't make fun of someone who recently died. If a person has a last wish, you should follow that wish. Why?

If a live person has a wish and you make it come true, that person will be happy. She may reward you. She may just feel a thrill. You can be happy you created that thrill. That, I understand.

If a dead person has a wish and you make it come true. (Bury me under the oak in Lonesome Dove.) What the fuck? Nothing will change. No one will be better for it. Why not buy me a beer instead? I'm still missing something.

My parents are old. Someday soon they're gonna kick off. I don't think I'll be as cold as Camus' hero. I'll cry. Be depressed. Think back and tear up again. Heartbreak.

But why will I cry? My folks sit all day watching TV-- that's all. They're always sick. Mom hardly remembers how to eat. Dad's in and out of the hospital-- always hurting somewhere. Is death so bad? When they go, it'll break me up. How come? Maybe I'm writing this column to find the answer.

Here's what I've got so far:

1. Death has special meaning in most every culture.

2. In our culture, causing death is the worst thing one person can do to another.

3. In our culture, death, although extremely serious, is something you can joke about.

4. Many people believe that our tribe's death is more important than your tribe's death. American TV news reports U.S. war casualties first. The other side much later, if at all. Dead Jews in WWII were big news. Dead homos less important. And few Americans talk about the dead citizens of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

5. You should respect the dead-- and the wishes of the dead.

6. The dead are not gone, but in suspension someplace. They come back as ghosts or reincarnated as cows or mosquitoes.

Okay, that's death in our culture. Much of it is world culture. Since culture is the way one group of people is different from another group, death is not really culture at all. It's life.

Long time readers know that this is where I take all these points, put them together, reach a conclusion. Like the final mate in chess. The problem is I don't have the move. That rook keeps knocking off my pawns, and I don't know how to stop it. It's killing me.

  • ENDNOTES: [email subscribers ( or website viewers ( will get live links and a chance to upload comments on the column]

    -->You can read Jimmy Reject's review of the ARTLESS CD at: Let me know if the site is down-- since Jimmy isn't there to maintain it.

    -->Unplanned-for-dangers dept: Was it Kesha who sent me the story of Natasha Timarovic? She was brushing her teeth at home in Zadar, Croatia. Here's the rest of it, condensed from the newspaper article:
  • Apparently, Natasha suffered severe burning to her anus after being struck by lightning which hit her in the mouth and passed right through her body.
  • She said: "I had just put my mouth under the tap to rinse away the toothpaste when the lightning must have struck the building. "I don't remember much after that, but I was later told that the lightning had traveled down the water pipe and struck me on the mouth, passing through my body. It was incredibly painful I felt it pass through my torso and then I don't remember much at all."
    Doctors treated her for burns to the mouth and anus.
    "She was wearing rubber bathroom shoes at the time. So instead of earthing through her feet, the electricity shot out of her backside," a medic told a local newspaper.
    Must've felt like the day after good Mexican food.

    -->Once a goy dept: Israeli's chief rabbis have stopped recognizing conversions and divorces performed in other countries-- even if they're performed by orthodox Rabbis. It used to be Israelis only refused to recognize reform ceremonies. Now they're tightening the rules. They refuse ALL non-Israeli ceremonies. As for divorce, you need written permission from the husband or there's no divorce. What's next, the veil?

    -->More on the Jew front dept: On September 14, 2006, Germany ordained its first rabbis since World War II. The ceremony took place in Dresden, location of the American created Slaughterhouse Five holocaust of Germans. Congratulations to the new rabbis. Let's just hope they don't try to perform any conversions or divorces.

    -->Jew of the Month Dept: I've been negligent in this lately. But I just finished reading a book called Don't Think of An Elephant by Jew-Linguist George Lakoff. It's an eye opener. I disagree with much of what he suggests, but his analysis is on target. It has to do with the “framing” of various arguments. Once an argument is framed, the conclusion is “logical.” The way you frame a picture changes the way people see the content. Read the book and learn something new!

    -->Fallwell is right dept: According to Reverend Jerry, "What happens in South Dakota will literally affect the future of America." He's right.
    South Dakota recently enacted a complete ban on abortion. Pro-abortionists forced a referendum to kill the law. This is a test. If the referendum fails and the law continues... you can bet your fetus there'll be more laws in other states. NOW is the time to move to South Dakota and vote. Free ARTLESS CD for the first postcard from Sioux Falls. (Send to Mykel Board, POB 137, Prince St. Station, NYC 10012.) I'm doing my part. Whoops, I just realized that by the time you read this, the election will be over. Oh well, I'll STILL give a free CD to the first postcard from Sioux Falls. It takes balls to live there anyway.

    -->War will set you free dept: I've written about how Google and Yahoo censor their search engines in China. Yahoo is worse, it reports forbidden searches to the Chinese government! Well, the May issue of This World Magazine reports a scheme to let search engine victims find the real facts. One plan is to distribute Google-defeating software applications via email. My favorite is to let characters in The World of Warcraft game pass forbidden information to other players inside the game. Since the players are anonymous-- or have fake "game" names-- this allows free info flow that's untraceable. Now, that's a crusade worth burning!

    -->Sid Yiddish dept.: He's the guy I went to CBGB with. Another Jewpal. He also joined me for some NYC readings and NYC's DRINK CLUB. He's a fan of j...j...j...jazz, but we all have our faults. I took him to a mercy gig at DRINK CLUB. Not bad really. But it was Sid who was the hit of the night. He performed Mykel Board Weasel Squeezer, right from the throat-singing depth of his koshered throat. Yowsah! Check out his poetry/throat singing CDs. Email him at for info. Or check out the performance on You Tube at

    -->Speaking of YouTube dept: It was a service you know had to be there. I found it: PornoTube. An amazing collection of the stuff that YouTube is missing. Let me know which ones you like the best. So far the Japanese homo bukkake is my favorite. Dozens of naked young Japanese guys standing around jerking off in the face of one blind-folded guy. Yowsah!
  • -->Help me out dept: In March of 2007, I'll be going to Australia and New Zealand. Part book promo tour, part adventure. I'm looking for places to read (preferable between punk bands at shows) and people to hang out with. Email me at: if you've got any ideas.


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