Electric Twilight
Part II

By iggy
Photos by Alex Zorn & Mike Fornatale

This is Part II of a two part frothing rant from iggy.


The air crackles, shedding sparks. It's Electric Twilight. The Westbeth Theatre radiates an incandescent aura, more magnificent than St. Peter's in Rome. The city itself is suffused with a glow. I shine like a 1000 suns.

Tricia looks fantastic tonight. She radiates Swinging London with a Brian Jones haircut and a red vinyl raincoat. Tricia shucks off the outer garment, revealing a saucy black outfit. I squirm uncomfortably. I'd make a pass at her, but it wouldn't be a good scene. Pepper spray's an aphrodisiac for me.

She scans the lobby. Most of the crowd is pale and pock-marked, arrayed in motley attire.

"Garage rock people sure are an ugly bunch," she says truthfully.

A person, who shall remain anonymous, asks me to keep an eye on Dave Day. Dave has an insatiable taste for alcohol.

"We don't want another Munich," the unnamed party says to me, assigning the thankless task along with an enigmatic piece of the Monk myth.

I periodically check up on Dave at the bar. I try to be subtle about it, but he knows what I'm up to. Fortunately, he's good natured about it. He's absolutely overjoyed to be in New York, surrounded by autograph seekers and fans. Dave needs love more than anybody I know. And he deserves it.

"Did you think we'd really be doing this?" he asks me. My only answer is a grin. I have a smile so big that a plastic surgeon will have to scrape it off. He looks at his wife, Irene. "He's so proud of me," Dave says. And I am. He is my rock n roll hero.

"You and Gary talk about hunting?" Dave suddenly asks, his pale blue eyes sparkling.

It seems I have something in common with every Monk. Me and Gary hunt. Roger and me like to read. Eddie and I consider ourselves writers. Me and Dave are Gene Vincent freaks. Larry and I, well, maybe I don't have something in common with every Monk.

Anyway, I tell Dave that me and Gary ain't got a chance to swap lies yet.

"You bear hunt, right?" Dave queries.

The only thing I love as much as rock n roll is bear hunting with dogs. The baying of Plott hounds in the early mountain morning as they track a bear and bring it to bay makes my flesh goose pimple. Especially if I've got a gram of methamphetamine in my system and rockabilly in the tape deck. Bear hunting with Elvis on crank! It don't get no better no how. Anyway, I answer that yes indeed I do bear hunt.

"Next time you kill a bear," Dave suggests. "Shave its head like a monk!"

"Ah, you think like I think!" I whoop.

I wrap my arms around Dave and give him a hug. At this moment, Lucia finally A proud Iggynails me for an interview. I've seen her coming for me a couple times, but I've managed to avoid her. Now, I'm backed into a corner. Literally and figuratively.

"Just a minute," I say. "Is the camera on?"

She answers in the affirmative. I pull Dave's Greek fisherman hat off and plant a big fat sloppy kiss right on his tonsure just for Lucia. I know she is imagining me doing the same to her. I would give her the nicest tonsure you've ever seen. Then I vomit verbal sewage, spouting clichés like the sports journalist I used to be.



Finally, the fabled moment draws near. I hustle a couple of Monks up to their dressing room. Me and Tricia squirm into the main room. A quasi-legendary New York outfit does a short set just before the Monks come on. The Third Bardo are most famous for a garage-psych nugget from '67 called "I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time." With their theremin and disoriented lyrics sending shivers through me gonads, it's vintage psychedelia. Not lame ass Grateful Dead garbage posing as hallucinatory discombobulation. That San Fransisco stuff ain't worth a pinch of dry owl shit. I'm glad Jerry Garcia is dead. I wouldn't piss on his piles if they were on fire. Ever mind. It's Monk time.

The audience screams as a cabinet bearing the legend "Monks" is set up around Larry's keyboards. It's REALLY HAPPENING. Kelley looks like he's about to shit a squeal worm.

Those of us at the sound check now have to share our heroes with the unwashed masses. Struggling through a crowd of 800 to catch sight of the Monks bites. New York is full of major dickheads. Dietmar's made a short documentary film, which is displayed on a screen behind the stage. The crowd is restless.

"Turn this crap off!" they shout. "We want the Monks."

I personally want to see the film. But some chicken zit in front of me keeps up a running dialogue through it. At one point, Dave Day is on the screen, reminiscing about when Gary discovered feedback. The rocket scientist in front of me shows off his erudition.

"Wow, feedback," he says sarcastically. "Do you remember the first time you guys hit a drum?"

What a fuck brain. Doesn't he realize that Gary Burger is one of the very first people ever to use feedback, one of the Pilgrims To The Mecca Of Distortion? Of course, that's the beauty of rock n roll. It's totally topical, showing no respect for the past. But still...

"Hey, asshole," I whisper in his right ear.

I reach up and grab his other ear. Hard. I twist it until he begins writhing in pain.

"Those are my friends you're talking bad about," I drawl. "I don't know how you'uns do it here in the city, but down South it takes nine pounds of pressure to rip somebody's ear off."

I let go. He turns around, face screwed up in fury. He sees the gleam in my eyes that only somebody still pissed off at having lost Gettysburg can get. He says not one word.

The crowd continues to hoot and holler, jeering the film. The Monks finally take the stage. They are beautiful and sublime in black robes and rope ties. The audience loses its collective marbles. The band takes off their robes and arm themselves for battle. Mike takes the stage with his idols. He walks stiff-legged and sweat beads up on his forehead. Mike is dressed all in black like the other Monks. He scurries off, hiding in the wings.

"I hate you, baby, with a passion," somebody in the audience screams.

"We hate you, too," Eddie replies.

The crowd howls with delight. They're totally fascinated, like they're watching backwoods preachers handling snakes. The guys rip into "Monk Time." And they're off. Gary's voice is shot, but he manages to rasp his way through the lyrics. The crowd is stunned. It's one thing to hear the Monks on a stereo. Live is another matter. Atoms ricochet off my head. The song finally shudders to a halt. Gary brings Mike on and introduces him as the son of a Monk. Gary announces that his voice is gone and Mike will be filling in for him. The audience accepts this without a murmur.

Next up, is "Oh, How To Do Now." The song structure teeters at times. In the old days, you couldn't have slipped a credit card in between the chord changes. The Monks aren't that tight anymore. Occasionally, somebody muffs a key for a few measures, but their enthusiasm and energy make up for it. There's no doubt that they played this stuff six days a week, eight hours a night. After 32 years, the machinery is a tad rusty, but you can tell it was well oiled once. Their instincts take over. A modern band could never come close to approximating it.

For the past few years, I've kept Gary supplied with a steady dose of cassette tapes in the mail, everything from the Drunk Thumbs and the Sonics to the Butterfield Blues Band. He said it's reignited his passion for rock n roll. Gary's been bragging to me that he sounds better than in the '60s. And he ain't lying. His tone has grown hair, like a herd of woolly mammoths on Rogaine. I hate Gary Burger. He gets sounds out of his guitar that I want to get out of my writing. There are rubber scorch marks inside me cranium. Gary plays much looser than on record. He uses the original versions as springboards, hurtling past the bridge and hurling himself into gales of feedback. His hangnail solos are wildebeests on tricycles.

Offstage, Gary and Eddie act like two kids, posturing to see who's the toughest one on the block. They love to push each others buttons. That's imperative with Monk music, though. It's a highwire act, balancing tension and egos. When they're playing, the two work off one another to a degree that borders on the psychotic, I mean psychic. The friction is replaced by a chemistry that the two had better realize they will never find in another musician. They're like tag-team wrestlers. Eddie pins the song to the mat, allowing Gary to kick it in the head. Repeatedly. iggy has strange vision of them entering the WWF as the new championship duo.

Roger is the essential ingredient in their foreplay. Currently, Roger is not as in practice as his bandmates, but he still has that jungle groove hardwired into his genes. He and Eddie make up the most unique rhythm section in rock n roll. It's impossible to understand over-beat until you actually hear it in person. Roger is louder than Jesus stepping out of the Book of Revelations with a hangover and a hard on. He grips his sticks upside down, punishing his kit. His tom toms bellow in protest.

Gary can't sing at all. Mike sings for GaryThe audience accepts Mike as lead vocalist, no questions asked. Mike nails every song, including the high parts Gary isn't able to do anymore after thirty years of cigarette smoking. Gary channels his frustration into playing guitar. I used to think Link Wray was the greatest live guitar player I've ever seen. No more. Gary Burger Is The Man.

And Dave. Well, Dave's just Dave. Wind him up and let him go. Larry is far more tentative. He sticks to his original solos, even though Eddie goads him to get loose and nutty. Guys who retire from IBM at 49 as multi-millionaires just don't get loose and nutty anymore, though.

Roger shines on one of his two showpieces, "Drunken Maria." He's the Buster Keaton of the group i.e. the Great Stone Face. And not just his visage. His vocals are deadpan, sounding exactly like the recorded versions. He's beyond bored. His vocals don't even suggest "So what?" They say "Big fucking deal."

Dave hates being just a sideman. Sometimes he gets down on his knees, doing an Elvis impersonation. Nobody, except those well-versed in Monks' lore, understands what he is doing. He steals Eddie's lead vocals during "Boys Are Boys." The bass player glares at his bandmate. I hope to see a fist fight on stage. It doesn't happen, though. That would be really cool.

Most of the crowd haven't heard the two unreleased songs from "Five Upstart Americans." "Pretty Suzanne" doesn't go over well. With its caesuras and slow tempo, the crowd gets edgy. For one thing, there's not enough banjo clacking through it.

"What the fuck is this?" somebody shouts. "Blue Oyster Cult?"

I have no idea what that means, but it strikes me as hilarious. The guy's a couple cousins short of an Appalachian orgy. Unfortunately for me, I understand the non sequitur. Understand it in me bones not my head that is. The roots of my raising run deep to quote Merle Haggard.

The other new song, "Hushie Pushie," is another matter. It's electric ragtime, Scott Joplin on speed, waving an icepick. It's strange and goofy enough to instantly enter the canon.

Then, the song I've been waiting for, "Cuckoo." It's beyond transcendent. Roger sings it like he's reading the stock market returns and he has no money invested. Mike's falsettos are Xerox copies of the originals. How does he get that high? Somebody would have to wail me in the nuts with a pool cue.

During "Monk Chant" Dave and Gary cross the necks of their respective instruments, conjuring shards of feedback. It puts dueling banjos to shame. The crowd roars its appreciation. Kelley looks at me and just shakes his head in awe.

The crowd yells the chorus to "Shut Up," raising fists and pounding out the beat in mid-air. I pinch the fire out of myself. I can't believe this.

The show finally ends. The Monks toss their rope ties into the audience. People eagerly grab for them. The boys've come through with flying colors. With some help from a guy from Jersey. Go figure.

Obviously, the audience demands an encore. The guys have kept "I Hate You" for the occasion. Roger sits back down and begins thudding out the beat, bearing Armageddon on his back like Atlas with a second wind. Anything more would be indulgent hyperbole.



Saturday sucks. I'm sick. I don't leave Tricia's apartment all day. The flu crouches in the corner like a wet dog. My head throbs. I wish I could grab a new pain killer. Maybe a double barreled shotgun. We watch terrible movies. I bombard Tricia with twisted emotions, mixing misogyny and regret in some sick psychodrama cocktail. She finally takes to her bed, exhausted by four days of the iggy experience. Hell, I'm exhausted by a lifetime of the iggy experience.



I still haven't met the girl of my dreams. I thought she would be here, if anywhere. This is the Monks' debut gig in the United States, the first time all of them have been together in three decades. I was convinced that would attract my soul mate. I'm thinking she will hitchhike from Weberville, Arkansas or somewhere like it just to see the show. And then We Will Meet. Finally. I've been waiting for her for my entire life. I need a chick who digs the Monks. As observed in my semi-mystical essay, "The Day of the Monks," Monk music is mainly masculine music. A woman who digs the Monks one half as much as I do . . . well, if she understands and loves Monk music, she will understand and love me. But so far, no luck. The Monks are huge in Germany and Sweden. When Gary and Roger were still Monks, they met two Swedish girls who became their wives. Maybe I'm looking on the wrong continent. Me thinks a Swedish girl would accept me for the deranged rock n roll citizen I am. And cherish it. Where are you, Hushie? I hate you, but e-mail me. In case you haven't figured it out yet, this is a personal ad posing as an article.



Sunday, me and Tricia hustle down to the WFMU record show. Jerod's here. He's got the flu now. Apparently, so does Larry. iggy comes to N.Y.C. bearing contagious gifts in the form of a virus.

I missed the Chocolate Watch Band on Saturday night. They're going to do a set at the record show, though. I browse through the dealer's bins. I find some overpriced Small Faces albums, going for $400 a pop. There's one I really want, but not at that price. I don't understand collectors. Who wants a framed album displayed on their wall? I want it on the turntable where it belongs.

The Chocolate Watch Band play for a while. Their new tunes are a let down. Nobody came to hear that stuff. Things start to cook when they churn into "Let's Talk About Girls." Unfortunately, it's too little, too late.

Gary, Eddie and Dave are here. Mr. Burger has his voice back. He sounds like he's been gargling with thumb tacks. He has the Coolest Voice Ever. The trio do a live interview on the radio. I've heard all the stories before, so I just look for a Wanda Jackson country album I need. I find it, but it's $200 dollars. Sheesh.

Finally, me and Gary catch a cab across town.

"I'm going to sing tonight," he says. "Give the crowd some undiluted Burger."

I love it. Gary refers to himself in the third person just like General MacArthur used to. Anyway, Gary is in rare form. Our cabby is one of the few white boys in New York driving a hack. He has no idea who he has in the back seat i.e. the man who has a legitimate patent claim on feedback and frenzy. All he wants to talk about is what makes the best cab. Me and Gary try to talk football, but the cabby keeps interrupting us.

"See, now that's a good car," he says. "Bigger back doors. More leg room."

"Is that right?" Gary queries.

He points to different cars, sarcastically asking if that would be a good cab. He keeps nudging my leg and grinning. I giggle like a conspirator pouring gasoline into a bottle. Gary is one of the original rock n roll revolutionaries. Propaganda by deed. Lying is the art of pleasing others.

We get to the hotel. Roger is watching football. We sit around, discussing the Detroit Lions' surprising season. Me and Gary stretch the truth, swapping hunting stories for a couple hours. Soon, it's time to return to the theatre.



Me, Jerod, Jo and Kelley and his girlfriend accompany three of the Monks out to eat. Sherrie comes along with Eddie. Jerod announces we are going to the place where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death after consuming something like 39 whiskeys.

"That's it? I'm going to drink 40!" I declare.

I order water along with my burger. I don't want to die quite yet. I want to see tonight's show first. Then I'll die fulfilled. Gary, Eddie and Larry chat away. To them, it doesn't seem like it's been 32 years since they parted ways in Germany.

"It's just like we played Hamburg two weeks ago," Eddie says. "Took a break and now we're playing another gig in New York."

Monk stories swarm like a hatch of mayflies splattering on your windshield as you zip down the highway.

"What the hell does 'Oh, How To Do Now' mean?" I ask.

This is something that's always bothered me.

"Well, we were sitting on these five adjacent toilets. And I said 'Oh' as it came out," Gary says, raising his finger. "And Ed then said 'how' and . . ."

I'm just a Southern cracker. Jerod and Jo are sophisticates. They should know better. But none of us do. This is A Story We Haven't Heard Before. Our eyes shine. We are being let in on a piece of the mystery. Eddie nods empathetically. Gary is full of shit, but so earnest we swallow it. These guys could sell us the Brooklyn Bridge. Gary finally cracks up.

"I'm putting you on," he says, chuckling.

Our faces drop. We wanted SO much to believe. We eat our dinners. Larry leaves first. He is the Monk who is sufficient unto himself. The rest of us relax for a while. Me and Gary make plans to hunt in Minnesota. Finally, we get ready to depart. Gary pays for me and Jerod and Jo. Somehow, Eddie ends up getting ripped off again.

We get to the Westbeth Theatre. Tricia doesn't show up. She's iggy-ed out. Can you blame her? Anyway, I have a Japanese friend who has come from Connecticut to see the Monks, but he can't get in. The show is sold out. He stands at the door for an hour until they take pity on him and sell him a ticket.

This all girl group of Japanese girls play. They're called the 5, 6, 7, 8s. What they lack in technique, they make up for in sheer chutzpah. They're these tiny slips of girls, clad all in black leather. They're stunning. Maybe iggy needs a Japanese girlfriend. Anyway, they butcher some cover songs in the most ravishing manner, skewing the lyrics in a way only people who can't pronounce their "L"s can. Gary and me watch them for a while. Mr. Burger is clearly delighted with them.

We go back upstairs to the dressing room. Dietmar and Lucia are still at it. They have documented the Monks' every waking moment. I wonder if they've caught any of the Monks picking their nose. Finally, the 5, 6, 7, 8s OK, so it's only Iggy and Rogerend their set and come upstairs. They are introduced to the Monks. The girls giggle shyly. It is probably the high point of their rock n roll career. They pose with Gary and Roger for photos.

"I believe you could have some Japanese poontang if you wanted some," I whisper in Roger's ear.

He just shakes his head in confusion. The Monks really are overwhelmed by New York's reaction to them. It's going to take them several weeks to digest everything.

Finally, the Monks take the stage. Tonight's show is just like Friday's. But more so. The Monks are much more comfortable tonight. Gary handles most of the lead vocal chores. Wisely, they decide to keep Mike around to replicate the original high parts. The set smokes Friday night's. The Monks play every song on their set list before stalking off. The crowd is still insatiable, stomping and shrieking. The Monks return to the stage. They don't know what to do. Gary turns to Roger.

"Lay down a beat," he growls.

Roger Johnston gives him a look that translates to "Yeah, whatever." But he does. It sounds like workmen dropping cinder blocks down a flight of stairs. Eddie instantly locks down on top of it. He knows exactly what to do with this shit. He's a jazz man. It's improv time. Gary summons feedback, casting the Morning Star out of the heavens. Fiery the angels fell and as they fell, deep thunder rolled around the shores. He takes his guitar off and swings it like a razor-sharp pendulum in front of his amp. It shrieks like a Bosnian war bride raped by Serbians.

The song goes where it wants, roaming like a pack of starved wolves. The crowd froths. This is magic. We are seeing a New Monk Song, one that has never been heard before. Does it get any better than this? Finally, it screeches to a halt, a train wreck colliding with a school bus. The Monks have laid waste to New York.

We all bolt upstairs. Kelley staggers around, having no idea what to do. He slumps on a bench. Eddie grins at me.

"So, were we better than the Pretty Things last year?" he asks impishly.

I grip his shoulder and we lock eyes. That's all the answer he needs. Jerod approaches me. Last year, we had argued about whether the Monks should reunite or not. He thought the myth was best left intact. Jerod is so swept up in the moment he drops his customary New York cool.

"You were right," he says.

Reservations of not, he believed in the Monks enough to help coordinate and fund the festival. For the moment, he is no promoter, though. He is just a rock n roll fan who has seen the Monks. He's like a five-year-old who got a rocket launcher for Christmas. 'Nuff said.

Gary grabs me by the arm.

"Let's get a beer," he says.

We go downstairs to the bar. Gary buys me a brew. He is accosted by fans demanding his signature on CD jackets.

"Get the other guys down here," he says. "They need to be signing autographs."

I round them up and we troop downstairs. It is the closet thing to Beatlemania I will ever see. Each Monk is surrounded by dozens of fans. Dave beams. Larry, of course, squirms uncomfortably. He doesn't understand why people like this music. He would rather play "Green Onions" for them.

The Standells' set is anti-climactic, despite delivering the goods. Their versions of "Medication," "Try It" and the garage archetype "Dirty Water" are impeccable. But it doesn't matter. The Monks own New York, heart and soul. The Standells are as legendary as the Monks, but the crowd came to see the tonsured ones . The Standells are just icing on the cake.



I wake up early. I've got to leave today. My parole officer only gave me five days out of state. I go to Eddie's apartment and hang out for a while, saying my good-byes. Eddie hands me Monday morning's newspaper. The New York Times has delivered the verdict. Usually, the cynical city journalists crucify middle-aged white boys who want to play rock n roll. It's funny that they never slag a 70-year old Bo Diddley. But he's black. That's off limits. Anyway, the newspaper actually lavishes praise on the guys.

32 years after breaking up, the Monks have arrived. Some are born posthumously.

editor's note: iggy is unsure of whether he actually attended these shows or if it was a dream.


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