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April 26, 2008 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (on Pitchfork.TV for one week, until 5/2/08). Very, very NSFW.

GG Allin previously, wiki
posted by msalt (105 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
More pathetic than interesting.
posted by Xazeru at 4:57 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure this is the same documentary about G.G. Allin (really, how many can there be?) that I saw in 9th grade or so. It scared me. And possibly scarred me. I hesitate to ruin it for folks, but let's just say that msalt's tags on this post--heroin, blood, feces--say it all. Amazing, amazing stuff.
posted by sneakin at 4:57 PM on April 26, 2008


I once interviewed Merle Allen while he was touring with the Murder Junkies about ten years after GG died. Really nice fellow who really loved is brother and missed him. There was no rock n roll bullshit at all. Nicest guy with a Hitler mustache I ever talked to.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:02 PM on April 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow. Color film and video of that sweltering fuck? I didn't know that was scientifically possible. Nice post.
posted by loquacious at 5:17 PM on April 26, 2008


Allin's famous rawk cawk.

Yes, I've decided all my posts to MetaFilter will now consist solely of links to dicks. It's so awesome.
posted by dgaicun at 5:25 PM on April 26, 2008


Poor GG, he was too beautiful for this world...
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 5:31 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't really "get" GG Allin in that I don't particularly feel drawn to him, but I'm fascinated by the people that are. He speaks to certain people and I can't exactly find the common thread. He's a fascinating character to say the least. That said, there's no way in hell I'm clicking on that link.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:32 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fantastic, thank you.
posted by unSane at 5:33 PM on April 26, 2008


I think GG is great fun, but he is far from unknown on MeFi.
posted by TedW at 5:37 PM on April 26, 2008


Awwww, sad.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 5:39 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter loves G.G.
posted by Sailormom at 5:42 PM on April 26, 2008


Thanks. I've always wanted to know more about him.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:49 PM on April 26, 2008


Also, I love how Merle's mustache fits the gap in GG's, like those "best friends" split heart necklaces that you wear in junior high school.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:53 PM on April 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Excellent. Thank you.
posted by generalist at 6:02 PM on April 26, 2008


I'm pretty sure this is the same documentary about G.G. Allin... that I saw in 9th grade or so.

Wow. What school did you go to?
posted by hal9k at 6:11 PM on April 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


Someone want to explain the appeal of somebody rolling around in and eating their own shit? Does this blood-and-shit fetish somehow improve the music?
posted by Justinian at 6:22 PM on April 26, 2008


Hilarious what a goof.
posted by Max Power at 6:22 PM on April 26, 2008


Wow. What school did you go to?

I didn't watch it in school. I was just indicating approximately how old I was when I watched it. Sorry to be confusing.
posted by sneakin at 6:27 PM on April 26, 2008


(I just heard of him but) I think he would have wanted us to have a picture of an elephant pissing on this thread.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 6:43 PM on April 26, 2008


I helped someone interview Merle Allin in his apartment (which looked like a Halloween store) some years back. You can imagine my surprise, having never heard of GG Allin before, to hear all about his brother and stories of the band, meanwhile observing, as Bookhouse did, that this was an astonishingly nice guy.
posted by aletheia at 6:47 PM on April 26, 2008


I've been around and around with the GG Allin thing in my head ever since I saw him perform. I've got one version of his story where he's a rebel and a visionary, and another where he's just a scared little messed-up kid. But when it comes right down to it I really don't get it.
posted by facetious at 6:48 PM on April 26, 2008


At his funeral, Allin's bloated, discolored corpse was dressed in his black leather jacket and trademark jock strap. He had a bottle of Jim Beam beside him in his casket, as per his wishes (openly stated in his self-penned acoustic country ballad, "When I Die"). As part of his brother's request, the mortician was instructed not to wash the corpse (which smelled strongly of feces), or apply any makeup. The funeral became a wild party. Friends posed with the corpse, placing drugs and whiskey into its mouth. As the funeral ended, his brother put a pair of headphones on Allin. The headphones were plugged into a portable cassette player, in which was loaded a copy of The Suicide Sessions.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:53 PM on April 26, 2008


Considering the apparent diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, facetious, I'd say you're most likely right on both counts.
posted by opsin at 6:54 PM on April 26, 2008


He speaks to certain people...

Yeah, like John Wayne Gacy.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:11 PM on April 26, 2008


Anyone know if this is the same Todd Phillips that played bass with the David Grisman Quintet? That would be some combination of weird and ironic.
posted by timsteil at 7:13 PM on April 26, 2008


He certainly did the Jim Morrison/Iggy Pop destructive transgressive rock guy thing all the way. And in a way, it had to be done. To show what a dead end it was.
posted by msalt at 7:24 PM on April 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


As much a dick as GG could be I still prefer him to Geraldo
posted by edgeways at 7:31 PM on April 26, 2008


I'd still count myself as a fan of GG's, even though I don't really often enjoy listening to his music much anymore. For anyone asking "what's the point" or "I don't get it": basically, GG wanted to make rock n' roll dangerous and exclusive again. It was his all-consuming mission, his life's work. It was all he cared about. He was similar to (and idolized) Hank Williams in that regard: all he ever did was travel all around the country on Greyhound buses and play as many shows as he could get booked on. He often just slept where he passed out, and later in his life he often didn't know where he was on a given night. If he couldn't get a band to back him, he'd perform to taped backing music. If he got in trouble with the law, he just left town and kept going.

He wasn't always like the person you see in "Hated", which was filmed during the last year of his life. In the late 70s-early 80s, when he was with The Jabbers (which is some great fucking sleazy pop-punk and is the best of his recorded output), he was married, had a daughter, and tried to hold down normal jobs (at one point he worked in a nursing home!). The Jabbers' shows became more and more intense and violent, and they were banned from everywhere around New Hampshire, eventually broke up, and GG's wife became sick of him coming home beaten up and covered in cuts from rolling around in broken glass all the time and left him, taking his daughter. At that point, he became totally dedicated to the "GG Allin Mission" and started to become the GG everyone knows.

By the last year of his life, which you see in "Hated", he had become somewhat pathetic. He had been to prison for an incident in which he got a little overly artistic with a groupie's tits and a knife, and was wanted for obscenity or something or other all over the country. His voice was completely destroyed, and most shows became a farce with the Murder Junkies going through their rehearsed songs while GG grunted, growled and flung his feces at the audience before the PA got turned off after the second or third "song". He did shit like appear on Geraldo Rivera, and the "spoken word" appearance you see in Hated where he crams a banana up his ass, craps it out, and flings it at the audience. He had basically devolved into self-parody. After one last incredibly chaotic show which ended in a riot, with GG running through the street covered in shit and naked except for a pair of cowboy boots, he went back to a friend's apartment and died like a stereotypical rock star: of a heroin overdose.

If you want to know more about GG, this is the best interview he ever did, which, despite the poo-flinging, shows him to be an intelligent and even nice man. It's long, but totally worth reading.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:33 PM on April 26, 2008 [10 favorites]


Hey, lumpenprole, remember when you said this?

Anway, remind me to tell you my humiliating story about GG Allin sometime
posted by msalt at 7:36 PM on April 26, 2008


For several years my ex-wife and Merle Allin exchanged Christmas cards. He really is a very nice man.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:41 PM on April 26, 2008


Also, The Jabbers are still around, still recording some great pop-sleaze-punk, and for a while anyway and maybe still had Wimpy Rutherford from The Queers on vocals. They're worth checking out if you're into punk rock. The Murder Junkies are also still around, however in my opinion they are not worth checking out.

Also also, I don't remember if it's mentioned in Hated, but the way GG got the nickname GG is his father had a psychotic religious experience that his next son would be the messiah, and named him Jesus Christ Allin. Merle couldn't pronounce "Jesus", and it came out "gege", which stuck with him his whole life. His mother had his name changed to Kevin Michael before he entered kindergarten so he'd have some chance at a normal life. It didn't work. Their father was a total lunatic who also had graves dug for his entire family in the basement because he had a vision of the apocalypse and planned to kill them and himself. GG and Merle basically never had a chance.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:46 PM on April 26, 2008


I was also, if not a fan of GG, a fan of this documentary. There was this period in late high school and just after where watching that video (and/or Phallus in Wonderland) was my fucked-up prerequisite or initiation protocol for potential girlfriends. Amazingly some of them sat through it! I'm pretty sure I haven't watched either with my wife ('Monster Rain' is about as far as I would be able to get her to go).

I also went on a trip to GG's grave in NH with some friends while living in Boston.

I never saw him live, and probably wouldn't have gone if given the opportunity. Way too frightening. Undeniable on film, though. And I get him singing 'Carmelita' in my head a couple times a month.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:59 PM on April 26, 2008


Sometimes I think this sick fuck is glorified for being some kind of misunderstood genius and it's brushed aside that he was convicted of raping and torturing a female friend.
posted by loiseau at 8:01 PM on April 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


And I get him singing 'Carmelita' in my head a couple times a month.

Humorously enough, for a long time I thought GG wrote "Carmelita". Eventually I found out he didn't, and that's how I got into Warren Zevon. Still one of my favorite songs.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:02 PM on April 26, 2008


GG Allin's cover of Warren Zevon's "Carmelita" from the record Carnival of Excess.

And my personal favorite, Bite It You Scum. (With Dee Dee Ramone. Notice how happy Merle is at the beginning of this video. It makes me want to cry.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:04 PM on April 26, 2008


Save some of that righteous indignation for the inevitable Rick James thread, loiseau.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:06 PM on April 26, 2008


he got a little overly artistic with a groupie's tits and a knife

Nice glossing over there.
posted by liquorice at 8:07 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I think this sick fuck is glorified for being some kind of misunderstood genius and it's brushed aside that he was convicted of raping and torturing a female friend.

He wasn't convicted for raping her. He was convicted for assaulting her, and while that's nothing to be glossed over or praised and while nothing excuses it, this wasn't some normal girl. She was a complete psycho stalker who went around for months telling anyone who would listen that she and GG were in love and were going to be married. When they finally met, she told him "do whatever you want with me". GG being a bit of a twisted lunatic, "whatever you want with me" meant "cut your breasts with a knife". I'm not trying to excuse GG or say that she deserved it or anything fucked up like that, just pointing out that he didn't exactly abduct some girl off the street and sexually assault her.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:09 PM on April 26, 2008


Nice glossing over there.

Yeah, that was in poor taste. Sorry. Anyway, here is an interview with the girl in question, pre-assault, where she talks about how she's going to marry GG. She was basically an obsessive stalker who got in over her head. Again, this doesn't excuse the assault, and I'm not going to make some big deal about trying to defend him because he was clearly guilty, but again, this wasn't some random girl that he lured home and attacked.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:19 PM on April 26, 2008


For me, the best of his recordings (and the ones that make the otherwise baffling comparisons to Hank Williams Sr completely explicit) are the acoustic ones: in particular Liquor Slicked Highway, When I Die (which plays at the end of the documentary), and Sitting in This Room. I found them on the Troubled Troubador EP in a record store in Liverpool in 1991 but it's now been rereleased on CD. If all you've ever heard of GG is his punk wail, it's quite a revalation.
posted by unSane at 8:28 PM on April 26, 2008


one note - the first song in the documentary is "you're goona die" by destroy all monsters with different lyrics
posted by pyramid termite at 8:30 PM on April 26, 2008


criminally violent sociopath, narcissist, convicted rapist, megalomaniac, GG Allin fulfilled a certain cartoon version of punk rock as ultimate transgression that seemed shallow and misguided even when I was 14 and was listening to punk rock.
posted by ornate insect at 8:33 PM on April 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


As shocking as GG Allin's schtick was, I found the documentary remarkably tame... I blame the Internet. (Although I couldn't watch the shit-eating at the end)

Allin would be remarkably hilarious, except for the bit where he visits John Wayne Gacy in prison and develops a relationship with him. That takes all the enjoyment and interest out of the equation. It's shocking, but more akin to finding a maggot crawling around a countertop.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:39 PM on April 26, 2008


Humorously enough, for a long time I thought GG wrote "Carmelita". Eventually I found out he didn't, and that's how I got into Warren Zevon. Still one of my favorite songs.

This is all true of me as well. It made me make some very wrong defenses of GG's songwriting skills for a few years.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:46 PM on April 26, 2008


He was convicted for assaulting her, and while that's nothing to be glossed over or praised and while nothing excuses it, this wasn't some normal girl.

He plead down to assault. The charge was rape and torture. And I've known some pretty abnormal girls, but I have yet to rape or torture any of them, and don't think I'll ever get around to it. But I'm not a misunderstood genius who is trying to make rock and roll dangerous again, either.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:53 PM on April 26, 2008


I saw the Murder Junkies at a warehouse party in Philly maybe a year or two after GG's death. That super sloppy, ultra violence type punk was never my thing but I decided to stick it out as long as I could. I got to the part where they started stuffing drumsticks up Dino Sex's asshole and was like, there's my cue.
posted by The Straightener at 9:05 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Uh, your cue for what?
posted by whir at 9:33 PM on April 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Wow, I can't figure out how far I am from the edge, but far enough I can't even see it from here. It's cool that some find this stuff appealing, I guess, but I cannot fathom it.
posted by maxwelton at 9:35 PM on April 26, 2008


Pretty much with ornate insect here. Even as a nihilistic teenager (i.e., a coward), myself and all my nihilistic teenager friends thought GG Allin was a tool.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:38 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


My memories of this come from reading magazines like MRR in the mid to late 1980s, and it seemed like ever month or two there was some article about GG promising to kill himself on stage, but then ending up in prison on the promised date, or not showing up, etc. Like the Straightener, that sort of drugs/violence/live hard/die young thing wasn't for me, but at the same time I liked it better in some ways than the militant straightedge thing that was going on at the same time. Certainly it was much more self-aware and ironic than those humorless straightedgers I remember.

I'm partway through the documentary now (I saw it before, years ago), and what is really jumping out at me this time is the overt manipulation by GG of masculinity, gay iconography, etc. I don't know what his personal, private preferences were, but I think the deliberate use of gay and ambivalently-gay activities in his performances was a major part of why he was so controversial. The overlay in the '70s and '80s between punk and some aspects of gay culture was much more pronounced than it is today, but that gets forgotten in a lot of very heteronormative histories of the genre. Anyway, thanks for posting this, I'm really enjoying the trip down memory lane.

Here is an article about the film maker and the promotion of the film.
posted by Forktine at 9:49 PM on April 26, 2008


I know the guy who made this film. He told me about it at my brothers wedding years ago this is the first time I've seen it.
posted by stbalbach at 10:15 PM on April 26, 2008


I have been afraid to watch any GG Allin stuff, but yet I plan to watch this doc tonight...

I would never ever want to be in the same room as a guy Like GG Allin, but I find it fascinating how he managed to make a name for himself.

Perhaps a small part of me wishes I had 1/1000th of his fearlessness, or perhaps his foolishness. Yet here I sit, safely in front of my computer, and never once have I smeared feces on, um, anything.
posted by newfers at 10:18 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


never once have I smeared feces on, um, anything

I find your admission to never wiping yourself with toilet paper after having a bowel movement to be very brave, and I'd like to make a documentary with you as my subject.
posted by item at 10:45 PM on April 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


I poop into thin air. I make no apologies for that.
posted by newfers at 11:16 PM on April 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


misunderstood genius who is trying to make rock and roll dangerous again

There are so many things I just don't get about it. First of all, some sick fuck shoving bananas and drumsticks up his ass while hitting himself over the head with a microphone just does not sound all that dangerous (to bystanders, that is). Gross if one gets hit with flying shit, but quite survivable. Secondly, "dangerous AGAIN"? Was something like that commonly done in the 50's, or whenever rock came to be?
posted by c13 at 11:51 PM on April 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


For the record, GG was sentenced to prison for injuring the young woman so seriously by burning one of her legs with a cigarette lighter and cutting her that she required 12 days of hospitalization for skin grafts and other treatment.

This was no Angelina Jolie bloodplay folks, this was brutality, plain and simple. He was a fucked up crazy person. He wasn't a genius, he wasn't a misunderstood martyr, he was a fucked up crazy person that was enabled by a nihilistic sub culture that encouraged him to get even crazier.

He was a sad, crazy man with a teeny little penis. Props for being willing to wave that little thing around though.
posted by dejah420 at 12:27 AM on April 27, 2008 [12 favorites]


The Night G.G. Allen Came to Town
By Drive-By Truckers

We were bored, there was nothing going on.
Might as well stay at home and drink until we pass out again.
Then drink some more when the morning comes.
Memphis was sinking into the Mississippi.
We were doing our best just to ride it down.
Till the night G.G. Allin came to town.

"Honey, I dont believe this,"
the old man at Ferguson's Cafe kept saying to his wife.
As he read aloud The Memphis Star and their account of what went down that night
"It says He took a shit on the stage and started throwing it into the crowd.
But He was gone before the cops could come and shut him down."
Gone before the shit came down.

The Night G.G. Allin Came to Town.
The Night G.C. Allin Came to Town.
Antenna Club, Memphis, 1991.
Punk Rockers Paid $12.00 to be Shit On!
The Night G.G. Allin Came to Town

"It says He took the microphone and shoved it up his ass!"
The old man and his wife were aghast
The Night G.G. Allin Came to Town.
The Night G.G. Allin Came to Town.

lyrics by Patterson Hood (c) 1998 Soul Dump Music

I dunno. I've often said that I like the idea of GG Allin more than the man himself, and it's also true that I've walked out of exactly two rock shows in my life: GG (poo-flinging), and the Butthole Surfers (penis surgery videos interacting negatively with hallucinogens). The filth and the futility and the pointlessness of it all -- it's not often that members of our coddled culture get to see real nihilism in action. That it turns out to be stupid and ugly and lame should come as no shock. I don't think the man was a genius. I don't think he was particularly talented. I think he saw the way the culture was headed and got way way way out ahead of it, in a bad way. It's a weird combination of bravery, honesty, stupidity, and willingness to engage in the most extreme forms of self-debasement that makes his career interesting.

The sad fact is that GG Allin was never about the music, he was about the spectacle. He probably could have made a much better living as a conceptual artist.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:33 AM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


GG Allin was useful in that he showed the truth of the rock 'n' roll lie. All those endless pictures of four unsmiling guys with big hair in leather, the "trangsressive" face of the hugely profitable rock industry, are the lie. They market themselves to teenagers who want to believe themselves to be, but actually are not, radical.

Unlike most pursuits that have a happy medium, if you're claiming to be transgressive and radical and out of control, it really means nothing unless you take it all the way. And, as GG Allin so deftly proved, when you take it all the way it really does become disgusting, pathetic, and sad.

GG Allin helped me to realize that what I really like is stir fry, crossword puzzles, and walks in the countryside, and to give up any illusions that I was particularly radical and frightening.

I am a less pathetic person than I used to be, thanks to GG Allin. *sniff*

Also, he was from Littleton, New Hampshire, which is wicked good.
posted by crazylegs at 12:35 AM on April 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


They market themselves to teenagers who want to believe themselves to be, but actually are not, radical.

And this market is different from GG Allin's fans how, exactly?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:01 AM on April 27, 2008


When I first saw this film over ten years ago, I'd never heard of GG and was pretty convinced it was a mockumentary.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:20 AM on April 27, 2008


I don't really get the rhetorical technique of saying "Not that it matters, but..." before you point out that the victim of the assault and rape was a possibly-mentally-ill obsessed fan. It either matters or it doesn't. Me? I feel it doesn't matter. There's no such thing as rape and torture in self-defence.

You can consider it axe-grindy or whatever, I don't care. I have just been around too many punks who laugh about GG like he's just a hilarious/gross "ha ha, stuck the mic up his ass" trainwreck who was only harmful to himself, and the fact that he raped and tortured this woman (and admitted what happened, just tried to say it was all consensual -- the court disagreed, evidently) deserves to be a part of any thoughtful conversation about him.
posted by loiseau at 1:20 AM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


He was mentally ill; deeply psychologically damaged by his abusive, religiously insane upbringing. No question. Possibly toxically (likely) or organically schizoid, to boot. Horrible to be around for most of the time, a violent nutcase. But he was also highly creative, arguably brilliant. Conundrum wrapped in a diaper slashed with a razor blade.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:26 AM on April 27, 2008


What strikes me the most about the documentary is how lucid he comes across as. You'd think the years of slamming a microphone into his head alone would be enough to make him a vegetable, but that he endured that on top of every other excess and self-inflicted indignity and maintained his... sanity isn't the correct word... his.... no, charisma doesn't really work either... The same batshit razzamatazz he started with?

And what's with the man's wang? Did he de-vein it like a shrimp as an encore or what? There are housecats that pack more dong than that man.
posted by bunnytricks at 3:30 AM on April 27, 2008


A woman-basher who rolls around in his own shit? What a hero!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:50 AM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


never once have I smeared feces on, um, anything.

i have - i was about 2 years old at the time - my mother was NOT pleased
posted by pyramid termite at 4:36 AM on April 27, 2008


gypsy motherfucker.
posted by mds35 at 4:46 AM on April 27, 2008


I saw him at Gumby's back in the day. He inserted several SM57 microphones into his arsehole. After the show, a local dumbshit invited him and the junkies back to his flat to stay the night.

They stole everything he had. Even the cutlery.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:21 AM on April 27, 2008


Again, I feel I need to point out that the poo-flinging and cock-slinging stuff you see in this documentary only went on for the last year or so of his life, after he was released from prison and when he was with the Murder Junkies. At this point he was pretty much a parody of himself and was just being exploited by guys like "Unk" in the documentary. Before that, his shows could be and usually were violent and bloody, but they weren't the same lame, predictable "performance art" night after night. In the Jabbers/Scumfucs days, he was really just a more extreme, amplified version of Iggy Pop or Darby Crash.

This is all true of me as well. It made me make some very wrong defenses of GG's songwriting skills for a few years.

He was no Warren Zevon, but he wasn't as one-dimensional as much of his output suggests. Listen to the acoustic stuff on the Troubled Troubadour EP mentioned earlier in the thread, in particular "When I Die".

Secondly, "dangerous AGAIN"? Was something like that commonly done in the 50's, or whenever rock came to be?

No, but at that time rock n' roll was feared by polite society. "DON'T LET YOUR CHILDREN BUY NEGRO RECORDS" and so forth. By the mid-80s, when GG dedicated himself to the "mission", we had Van Halen and glossy stadium tours. Even bands like the Ramones et al., who had originally set out to return rock to its roots, in GG's view had "gone soft". David Johansen, who he once idolized, had become Buster Poindexter. It was basically a more extreme version of the original punk rock ethos: tear it all down and build it up like it used to be. Did he succeed in this? No, by the end he succeeded in little more than becoming a spectacle, and died like any other bloated rock star. But there was a reason for it all, even if just in his own mind, beyond hurf durf poo flinging.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:31 AM on April 27, 2008


I saw GG at the old Lizmar Lounge in NYC in the early 90's (or late 80's?). Me and my friends arrived an hour early because one of my friends was a DJ at a local college radio station and had arranged to interview GG for her radio show. When we arrived, he was doing sound check with his band and actually sounded pretty good. Richard Kern, the famed photographer, was playing guitar for GG during this time. During his interview with my friend, he was drinking a laxative to get ready for his performance. This troubled me so I chickened out and left early, deciding not to be a part of the spectacle. From what I was told, GG was constipated and could not defecate during the performance. He did however eat my friends used tampon on a dare.
posted by cazoo at 6:26 AM on April 27, 2008


I've said it before, but I'll say it again, Wild Man Fischer mad more or less the same point GG did but with far less bloodshed and far more endearingly.
posted by jonmc at 6:49 AM on April 27, 2008


Rolling around naked in your own shit in front of an audience is just a pratfall for a culture desensitized to pratfalls. This man cannot be seen as anything more than a clown seeking new material for his act.

I'm really pretty happy to learn that someone has done this. It means we can check it off the list. It's been done. No one ever needs to squander the gift of life in this manner again.
posted by rlk at 8:35 AM on April 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm really pretty happy to learn that someone has done this. It means we can check it off the list. It's been done. No one ever needs to squander the gift of life in this manner again.

Unfortunately, there was a period from maybe 1995 to 2000 where at least one band at almost every show I went to had a frontman who got naked, bashed himself in the face until he was covered in blood from head to toe, and the proceeded to randomly assault members of the crowd. It was a real low ebb moment in extreme music.
posted by The Straightener at 8:53 AM on April 27, 2008


Small dick, small mind. Pull my strings & i'll go far.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:20 AM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


During his interview with my friend, he was drinking a laxative to get ready for his performance. This troubled me so I chickened out and left early, deciding not to be a part of the spectacle. From what I was told, GG was constipated and could not defecate during the performance.

It's interesting to note that if GG was constipated everyone knew that it was going to be a shit show. (I come for the music, but I stay for the poo-poo!)
posted by ob at 9:58 AM on April 27, 2008


metafilter: Conundrum wrapped in a diaper slashed with a razor blade.

What annoys me most about GG is not that he wanted to create a self-inflicted shock spectacle out of himself, nor even the fact that that spectacle was so predictable, but rather that that shock spectacle so often included and involved a lot of explicit violence directed towards the audience. The comparison someone made upthread to Iggy and Darby Crash does not seem to acknowledge that those two performers never sought out violence: whatever violence ensued at a Stooges or Germs gig was driven from the audience, and not towards it.

Yet one gets the distinct opposite impression from GG: he seemed positively itching for a fight, for physical confrontation, and even if that was just towards the end of his life (I have no idea if this is true, but let's assume it is), it still seems to miss the spontaneous spirit of performance that made Iggy and Darby so great. It's a subtle difference, perhaps, but it's worth noting. Any threat of violence at a Stooges or Germs show was not from the performers, but from certain unprepared audience members who were too thick (or drunk) to understand the spirit of what was going on.

Even Henry Rollins, towards the end of Black Flag, as menacing as he was, did not seem like he wanted the violence, although God knows he attracted it like a magnet, and the violence in the air at Black Flag shows became almost all consuming. Punk by that point (the mid 80s) had attracted lots of people who were into it for the possibility of violence. For instance, that guy Jack Grisham, who fronted Vicious Circle and then TSOL, and then ran for Governor of California, talks about torturing a guy in his basement just for kicks in the book "We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk."

If you look at Boyd Rice (NON), who flirted with fascism, or Hermann Nitsch, the head of the Viennese Action Group in the 60s who sacrificed animals and smeared their entrails on himself, and then got into trouble for pedophilia, or some of the other "extreme" performers in the pantheon of the avant garde, of punk,of industrial, of death metal, what have you, one concludes that one does not have to be a prig, prude, or conservative to realize that there is an ethical limit where subversiveness and transgression simply becomes an excuse to flirt with evil and perpetrate violence under the mask of "making mischief".

Defining where exactly that limit is is not always easy (although some intellectuals have tried--see here and here and here), and to attempt a formula for what crosses that line is probably counter-productive. But it is worth considering that such a line does, in fact, exist.

A performer like GG makes one acutely aware of this question: that is, the question of at what point does the desire to subvert and transgress society through performative and ritualistic acts cease being cathartic and revert to something that is in fact simply regressive, demeaning, and ultimately playing dangerously close to the very forces (institutional violence, racism, sexism, oppression) it ostensibly seeks to "overcome." I think GG's insistance that he was just testing the limits rings remarkably hollow: any fool can claim to be testing the limits when they do something puerile, aggressive or borderline psycopathic. To walk that line is not nearly as revolutionary as it's often made out to be.
posted by ornate insect at 10:21 AM on April 27, 2008 [14 favorites]


I'm trying to decide if there is a valid distinction between self-conscious transgression, true creative performance that creates danger, and people who are so damaged that they create danger and spectacle spontaneously. There's a definite allure to people such as Sid Barrett or I guess Wild Man Fischer who arguably combine all three. But maybe every damaged performer does -- you have to be pretty far gone not to notice the crowd's reaction and respond to it.

The image I keep getting is of playing with fire. Every performer has that choice, but some don't have the perspective or self-control to keep the flames from spreading.
posted by msalt at 10:43 AM on April 27, 2008


G.G. muxtape for anyone who wants to hear instead of see. I don't know how long it will last because it violates the TOS. But thats how I roll.
posted by Sailormom at 10:57 AM on April 27, 2008


gorgor_balabala writes "Small dick, small mind. Pull my strings & i'll go far."

I don't think Jello Biafra was thinking of GG Allin when he sung those words.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:20 AM on April 27, 2008


The image I keep getting is of playing with fire

msalt--it may be the crucial yet extremely fine-grained difference here is between the playful spirit of eros and the menacing spirit of thanatos. In other words, a difference that can turn and dissolve in a moment's notice--depending on the contaxt, the act, the performer, situation.

One thinks of the Mentors, the Meatmen, Karen Finley, Carolee Schneeman, John Waters, Psychic TV or the Sun City Girls: I was familiar with or saw enough acts, performers, and multimedia artists who were all consciously walking this line, some succesfully and some unsuccessfully, some subtly and some predictably, to get a sense of the limits of the shock performance: and there are no hard and fast rules.

I do think that we underplay the degree to which images and sounds actually effect things like our adrenaline, heart rate, etc. Recently I tried to watch an early performance on youtube of Throbbing Gristle and had to turn it off: it seemed positively demonic, and I just don't like things that are feeding off that kind of negative trance element. Extreme deathrock bands like Christian Death never appealed to me.

I think a lot of this tension stems from Nerval, Baudelaire, and the late Romantic symbolist period of French literature that followed them--and that includes Huysmans (his novel La Bas in particular), Lautreamont (see Les Chants de Maldoror), etc.

These writers, like Nietzsche, were trying to fuse Christ and Dionysius (to borrow an image from Pound). Writers like Bataille, Blanchot, Klossowski, Celine in the modern period seemed positively locked in this struggle between the rationalist Enlightenment tradition and the disruptive anti-tradition of the Romantic and the avant garde. They felt they had to take a side with the latter: because to do otherwise was to admit that human freedom has its limits.

Paz, in his book "Children of the Mire," traces this tension to the French Revolution and to the tension between libertinism and rationalism. Shattuck, in his book "Forbidden Knowledge" traces it to Marquis de Sade and to the transgressive fascination with the monster Gilles de Rais.

This tension has never really resolved itself b/c it is at the heart of modernity: in some sense, this tension IS modernity.
posted by ornate insect at 11:20 AM on April 27, 2008 [9 favorites]


I like where you're going with your argument, ornate insect, but let's remember that we're talking about the guy who wrote, "Suck My Ass, it Smells."
posted by The Straightener at 11:32 AM on April 27, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sometimes an ass masquerades as an artiste.
posted by paddbear at 1:27 PM on April 27, 2008


..and masquerading as an artiste can sometimes get you some ass.
posted by jonmc at 2:08 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was a senior in college and living in New Hampshire in 1989. I was dating a slightly legendary punk rock guy - at least legendary in the extreme microcosm of punk rock in NH in 1989 (though I understand that now he is similarly legendary in the Minneapolis punk scene). I spent a lot of time with him where he lived, at the local "punk rock house." Lisa Suckdog lived there for a while, and if I recall correctly, she made a drunken video about how much she loved G.G. Allin.

One of the other girls who lived there also had a tremendous crush on G.G. So for a treat, one of the guys (G.G.'s friend and possible bandmate - it was never clear) came over to my house with her and used my phone (they didn't have one) to call G.G. She and I got on the other line and listened silently to their conversation. We had been warned not to make a peep, because it might freak out G.G.

It was a tremendously boring conversation. But judging from the footage and other stories I've heard, I think that's as close as I needed to get.

During that period I met many people who adored G.G. and shared his viewpoint. Sadly many of them are dead now. It's a shame, because I saw in them the same thing that I see in the G.G. Allin video - intelligence and passion marred by frustration and anger, where drugs, alcohol, and violence were the only escape.
posted by suki at 4:01 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is nothing good about GG Allin.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:30 PM on April 27, 2008


suki--I remember Lisa Suckdog as a name, and used to think she was married to GG Allin, but then googled her name yesterday in the wake of this thread and saw she was married to Boyd Rice for a spell--which in turn triggered me to mentioning him.

A lot of the punks I grew up w/down south are also dead, including an ex-girlfriend, so I can relate to your comments. One of the characters from the scene I grew up in was named Ricky F**khead, and he had been in a band called The F**k Ups briefly in SF (a band fronted by Bob Noxious). When drunk at parties, Ricky used to slash his arms for shits and giggles, just to be shocking. It was that kind of scene.
posted by ornate insect at 4:32 PM on April 27, 2008


Also by Todd Phillips
posted by auralcoral at 4:35 PM on April 27, 2008


So, you have a mentally ill man of minimal talents, and exploit him by paying him to harm himself, and that's okay? Doesn't that make us enablers, or at the very least some very sick voyeurs?
posted by Chasuk at 4:54 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


And then there was Frank Discussion of The Feederz, another punk malcontent known for outrageous stunts: albeit one who was conversant in situationism (scroll down the wiki link just linked to and click on the band's official website to see what happens).
posted by ornate insect at 5:03 PM on April 27, 2008


I once saw GG Allen live. My main memory is when he jumped into the audience. the audience scattered so quickly. All of us pressing up against the walls, moving as far away as possible from the entertainment.
posted by mkim at 5:06 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Allin not Allen. Still feeling is the same.
posted by mkim at 5:12 PM on April 27, 2008


the tension between libertinism and rationalism... has never really resolved itself b/c it is at the heart of modernity: in some sense, this tension IS modernity.

I see the significance of GG Allin in a much smaller contradiction -- the confusion of novelty and originality in modern criticism. Attention and success often follow media coverage, which is generally based on novelty (in the "man bites dog" sense). The person who goes to the furthest extreme, or transgresses most shockingly, is always the most newsworthy. Poo flingers, flag burners, etc.

But quality comes from originality, and is usually indifferent to, if not hurt by, novelty. Novelty is social, originality is personal. For example, in rock, these albums were not at all novel but very original: Exile On Main Street, Exile in Guyville, Viva Last Blues. Arguably Nevermind, too.
posted by msalt at 5:52 PM on April 27, 2008


msalt--quite true, but even in terms of shock performance, being novel is, strictly speaking and especially after 1980 or so, probably impossible. In the old days GG would have been in a carnival freak show, as someone in the documentary suggests. Furthermore, the various late 19th/early 20th Century avant garde movements had their fair share of extreme performers, and certainly by the time of the 60s happenings, or Fluxus and related groups in the 1970s, everything (including not just flinging poo, but selling it: see Manzoni, for instance) had been covered.
posted by ornate insect at 6:02 PM on April 27, 2008


He probably could have made a much better living as a conceptual artist.

I thought that's all he ever was.

When I was first introduced to GG's work all those years ago, I was very much prepared to like him and be amazed at his antics. Like many, I enjoy a good spectacle, and whilst hardly being a fan of punk music, love the spirit on display at live shows.

But GG seemed to have an Axl Rose-like ego, this need for attention that drove him to transgress social bounds. One on one in (what is portrayed as) unguarded interviews he seems interesting enough, but get him in front of a crowd and this generic 'look at me' assholery seems to take over, surpassing any message or mission he might have had (indeed detracting from such, as others have commented).

When I see him in that light, I am reminded of that one kid who always had to poke the bloated corpse of the dead cat because it freaked everyone else out. All they had was antics and novelty, a string of shocking 'moments' that never quite made a tapestry of a life but rather a never-ending appetite for notoriety that they somehow equated with success.

As for the discussion of novelty; it really only depends on the observer. There are some sections of society for which, thankfully, shit-slinging will always be new and shocking practice. This kind of stuff re-invents itself, and indeed unless you go out looking for such you may find society becomes re-sensitised to it through the 'sanitisation' of life (as with the corpses of the dearly departed, for example, which modern society has no stomach for; or incest, which has been more acceptable historically and is taboo now).
posted by cosmonik at 6:17 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree that all of the stunts have been pulled, the extremes pursued. And I also agree that there are always younger people unaware of the past, but this is a dwindling market. YouTube is just one of many ways in which the web has made past events (at least those that were filmed) timeless and universally available.

So the press is trapped, stuck on a model of newsworthiness that's increasingly useless and not even that novel. How can we transition to some where where art and performance can be judged on originality and quality rather than being new? I shouldn't single out the press; it's an issue with art criticism generally. Would a strikingly powerful narrative/figurative painter have any chance of critical acclaim today?
posted by msalt at 6:27 PM on April 27, 2008


I for one disagree with the notion that 'there's nothing new under the sun'. There's plenty of frontiers left, it's just that they're not as 'basic' or primal as they once were because a) as you've said, the basics - e.g. bodily functions - have been covered; and b) life is a lot more complex, and as this complexity grows, so too do the options for fucking with it.

I'm not going to give any examples (since, you know, I may want to start a band one day)...but a few minutes with a little imagination can come up with things which nobody - let alone the jaded public - has seen before, and which 'breaks all the rules' legally, socially and ethically.
posted by cosmonik at 7:24 PM on April 27, 2008


Recently I tried to watch an early performance on youtube of Throbbing Gristle and had to turn it off: it seemed positively demonic

The stuff Genesis and Cosey did as Coum Transmissions was far worse and even beyond what GG did: they would inject each other's blood into themselves, give themselves milk and blood enemas, drink it, and then give themselves vomit enemas, and so forth. Of course, they called themselves performance artists, as did Karen Finley et al., so when they did it they were making an important artistic statement, but since GG called himself a punk rocker, he was a talentless poo-flinging idiot, amirite? Not necessarily directed at you, person I'm quoting.

And then there was Frank Discussion of The Feederz, another punk malcontent known for outrageous stunts

Henry Rollins mentions him in Get In The Van. Once when Black Flag shared a bill with them, Frank killed some sort of animal onstage (a rat, I think), and Henry ran from backstage to try to save the animal, but was too late. He emphatically says "I thought it SUCKED." in the spoken word version.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:26 PM on April 27, 2008


December Boy--thanks for the reminder about TG; now I remember why I never liked them. And regarding Frank Discussion, I lived in Phoenix for a while and heard a lot of stories from folks there who knew him that were tres crazy. I think he ran off w/Jello Biafra's wife at one point, and the rumor is he's down in Mexico now living w/the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional.
posted by ornate insect at 8:31 PM on April 27, 2008


thanks for the reminder about TG; now I remember why I never liked them

This was Coum Transmissions, which was the performance art collective that Genesis and Cosey started and was the precursor of TG. TG did some outrageous shit onstage, but nothing nearly as extreme as what Coum did. As for TG, whether you like them or not, you have to respect people who created an entirely new form of music/subculture from scratch in the late 70s, when most everything had been done. Genesis and Monte Cazazza came up with the music, the aesthetic, and everything related to industrial music, which not only spawned industrial itself, but harsh noise, power electronics, EBM, neofolk/martial music, and so on. Plus, Genesis is a dude with tits and doesn't care what you think about it, which is awesome.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:12 PM on April 27, 2008


DecemberBoy--Yeah I've met him/her. CT grosses me out. I think I had a Monte Cazazza record once, but I could be wrong. Mostly I find industrial self-indulgent and boring, but that's just me, and it's been years since I heard any of that stuff. Thanks for the post.
posted by ornate insect at 11:20 PM on April 27, 2008


Anyway, y'all are talking out of your collectives - if it ain't Swans, it ain't rock.

(My favourite band is better than yours, subjectively.)
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:08 AM on April 28, 2008


Jeees. GG Allin thought throwing poo was progressive. Obviously he never saw a baboon at a zoo. BFD, GG. BFD. We're glad you're gone. What a waste of cells.
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:42 AM on April 28, 2008


I'm not going to give any examples (since, you know, I may want to start a band one day)...but a few minutes with a little imagination can come up with things which nobody - let alone the jaded public - has seen before, and which 'breaks all the rules' legally, socially and ethically.

I think it's generally a better idea to focus less on "breaking the rules" and concentrate a little harder on "learning to play a goddamn instrument," but I'm kind of old-fashioned that way.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:14 AM on April 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think it's generally a better idea to focus less on "breaking the rules" and concentrate a little harder on "learning to play a goddamn instrument,"

Plenty of good music has come from people who hadn't learned to play their instrument, but --why do you WANT to "break the rules"? What's the point?

Most truly outsider art (of value) comes from people who are incapable of coloring within the lines and invent a new way that works better for them. But it's about getting some music inside of themselves out for others to see. Self-consciously breaking rules belongs in performance art, not music.
posted by msalt at 10:02 AM on April 28, 2008


If G.G. were alive today he would certainly shit in this thread and not think twice about it.
posted by Sailormom at 9:01 PM on April 29, 2008


Or maybe he'd shit in this thread, and think about it too much....
posted by msalt at 9:02 AM on April 30, 2008


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