May 27, 2004

Truth is stranger than postmodern fiction.

Miles again.
Sorry I didn't come through with the promised entry yesterday. I had important things to do. Cutting off all of my hair and getting drunk. Maybe not important things, but things. I cut my hair (grown out over the course of two years to reach the status, according to Jim Magas, of "longhair") because of a combination of general life-makeover issues, hanging out with my friend Morgan (who constantly has inspiringly good hair), and Nick Zinner's perfect hair day on the cover of this month's Spin. The drinking was because I'm getting close to the expiration date on the post-breakup grace period where you're allowed to get stupid drunk on a Tuesday night for no reason without your friends thinking you're an alcoholic; you're just heartbroken.
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Did I ever tell you about Purple Dave?
Purple Dave was a longtime fixture in Kamalazoo's music scene. Over-tanned with long, fried hair, Purple Dave showed up at all the shows. He was famous for being Purple Dave and he had permanent guest list everywhere in town. After your show Purple Dave would come up to you and make a comment about your guitar tone. "You've got good tone," he'd say. Purple Dave had a lisp damaging enough to inflect not only his esses, but his eths and (improbably) his evs, and he was obsessed with good tone. Dave engaging you in conversation involved sitting through repetitious diatribes about good tone sparked occasionally by non sequitur sexual confessions. "You ever suck a man's dick? Don't do it. It's awful."
Purple Dave was famous for wearing purple, often purple spandex, and for a personality that reflected spending the 80s mixing mild schizophrenia with serious, omniverous drug abuse. His combination of mental illness and narcopsychedelic damage made him a walking metaphor for Kalamazoo, the former home of a state mental hospital (and current home to hundreds of wandering former patients phasing between halfway homes and the streets) and the halfway point on the 1-94 drug corridor between Chicago and Detroit and on into Canada. Kalamazoo is a small town, but you can find every kind of dementia, organic or chemical, you can imagine.
The 1980s were apparently a magical time for Dave. He wore spandex and a crazed head of frizzy hair for years after the rock stars he emulated moved on. He made music, and a couple of guys from the bar he hung out at the most started a Wesley Willis-like showcase/freakshow band with him. The Purple Dave Experience, obviously. Dave played guitar and sang and wrote the songs. The music that Dave made (best song: "I Need A Woman, Not A Wife") sounded more like Captain Beefheart than Ratt, but you knew that in Dave's mind his shit was straight off the Sunset Strip, right after Crue got big but before GNR happened. His number one idol of all time was Lita Ford. He wanted to be her. Sometimes during one of his schizo episodes he'd start dressing like her. If you saw Purple Dave around often enough as he entered one, you could see the Lita Fordization happen stop-motion style as you saw him night after night at the bar over the course of days or a week. He'd go from regular Dave costume into outfits that involved a little more spandex into makeup, and every once in a while it would go all the way into Dave wandering around in a way-too-big dress, looking like Lita Ford only to himself, but I never saw that happen.
Usually by the time he'd get that far into the schiz someone, and I never knew exactly who, would get Dave some help and make him take his meds. Usually it would work out fine. Not too long before I moved out of town he went too far out. The dress-up/breakdown peaked out with Dave having the cops called on him after being spotted wandering naked around someone's yard at nine in the morning. He got put in a hospital for a little bit to get some work done on his psyche. A couple of days into lockup he called the bar where the Purple Dave Experience played and they guys working there offered to come down and visit. They asked him if he wanted them to bring anything.
"A couple of soft tacos from Taco Bell. And a Diet Mountain Dew."

Posted by Miles Raymer at May 27, 2004 04:07 AM | TrackBack