Doug Weston’s Troubadour is the site of the wake for rocker, surfer, Ivy Leaguer Tim Castle after he drowns off Malibu in early 1977. This is Doug”s story of how the ceremony went way off track from the moment Tim’s body was stolen out of the back of the hearse by his punk rock friends and paraded around Hollywood. The show went off but not as planned.
After Tim’s funeral service at St Viktor and his kidnapping, we all head to the Troubadour for the planned performances by his friends’ bands. No one wants to start until we recover Tim’s body. I have to make it an open bar to quell the complaints. Free drinks mean it’s a party and everyone forgets why we’re there in the first place.
“I guess we got carried away. Well, Tim was carried away. There was a whole crowd at Oki Dog, and now we’re at a rehearsal studio with more punks hanging out. They’ve really messing up Tim’s body. They want to come to the show.”
“They’re holding the body for ransom?”
“Okay. Okay. Just stop the defiling. We’ll start when you get here. You’re his friends. Protect his body.”
“He’s dead, Doug. What can be worse than that?”
“Just get it back here.”
“Maybe you better plan on a closed coffin.”
The priests look aghast.
“Should we have the coffin set up on stage?” I ask, “Or, can we just put him in a chair?”
They’re confused. The celebration is not going as planned.
“The chair,” the old priest decides.
“I’ll set it up where the tables are. You can sit there and guard the body.”
I go backstage to set the order of performances. The old guy has his cello and announces he was going play a classical selection from ‘Fantasia.’ John Landis sets up a projector to simultaneously show the movie. A screen is set up behind the stage curtain. It isn’t rock n roll. What do I know. I’ve only been putting on shows for 40 years.
The Boston band, The Neighborhoods, and Tom Petty’s band are arguing about who goes on first. I toss a coin and Boston will go first. Their singer knows the ‘Fantasia’ piece and says he’ll play with the classical musicians first, opening the rock show. Fine. The kid who did the Croc Rock story with Elton John is here. He says he’ll go on when the crowd needs calming down. The only responsible one is sixteen. Joan Jett recruits Tim’s high school and college girlfriends to play some of Joan’s new songs. The rumors about the Runaways breaking up are true. They’ll go on after the Mark Twain act. Tim’s Miami band, False Gods, will follow Joan, and finally Tom Petty and the Hillbillies. I give everyone their marching orders. I’m less than confidant they will be followed.
I have the stage mic turned on and announce that Tim’s body is on its way. Everyone rushes the bar to get ready for the show. Free drinks calm the masses. I stay on stage long enough to see Tony appear at the back door. He sets up a chair onstage and reappears with Jimmy carrying Tim. They drag him to the front of the stage, to the cheers of the fans, rushing back from the bar. I’m shocked at Tim’s appearance. He’s stripped of the white suit he wore at the funeral mass, wearing nothing but the colorful briefs I know so well. Almost all of his hair has been chopped, butchered off. Graffiti is written all over his white skin; his forehead reads ‘KISS ME.’ The calm, beatific expression that the mortician had labored over is replaced by a ghoulish, teeth-bared grin. His eyes are open, each one staring lifelessly in different directions.
I run up to Tony. “What the hell happened? Where did you take his body?”
“There’s a new place on Hollywood Blvd, the basement of the Pussycat Theater. It’s for punks only, called the Masque.”
“They did this to a dead body?”
“Yeah. Yeah. No one is allowed in with long hair. And they’re coming here now.”
“Christ. I’m locking the doors.”
“You’ll have a riot in the street. I can keep them under control.”
True to his word, a motley crew of fifty kids is streaming into the club. I run over and shut off the bar. They spot Tim in the chair and rush down front, lifting him over their heads and carrying him around. The other young people join them as they circle the open space in front of the stage. Tony’s efforts to retrieve Tim are rebuffed. I’m speechless at the mic.
Landis rushes up. “I have a plan. Let me start the show.”
He motions to bring on stage an older man with a cello, the crazed Boston teenager with a MOOG, Jack with a guitar, a jock at the drum kit, and a hippie-looking long-hair on a bass. Jimmy is helping them set up the mics and amps.
“We’re going to play the Mussorgsky ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ excerpt from ‘Fantasia.” He draws back the stage curtain and reveals a 35 mm screen. The action on the floor continues unabated. Once the performers are set, Landis motions to the projectionist to start the film. There is no sound. Landis puts on headphones and raises his arms to conduct his quintet on stage.
As soon as the image of the Devil appears, a long-haired blond boy jumps on stage. Raising his arms and mouthing a nonsensical oath at the swirling mass of bodies carrying Tim around, the crazed punks stop, see the Devil on-screen and a live devil directing oaths at them. They deposit Tim on the left front of the stage. The writhing mass of bodies mimics the screen vision of hell and souls being tossed to and fro. They follow their puppet-master’s directions. Landis continues leading his quintet, the amplified orchestra music echoes throughout the club. The adult patrons find seats well back of the crazed punks, enjoying a live performance of the classic Mussorgsky, with punks acting as a dance company. The demon worshiper turns toward Tim and utters more oaths, exhorting him to wake from the dead. The dancers on the floor scatter to opposite corners of the club. The oaths draw them slowly back to the stage, collapsing as the efforts to raise the dead fail to work. Eventually 100 kids are at Tim’s feet, exhausted, while on-screen, the flames of hell burst upon the lost souls as demons and orcs torture them. The battle for the souls rages until a peaceful clarinet melody sneaks in on cat paws; the MOOG can reproduce any instrument. The image of the Devil on the screen returns to its original shape, the peak of Bald Mountain. The long-haired bass player steps forward, playing and singing ‘Ave Maria.’ The live devil lays prone in front of Tim. The adult fans in the seats burst into applause. The rictus of a toothy grin on Tim’s face recomposes itself into a pleasing smile and his eyes close. There’s a collective sigh. The players and Landis stand up and bow. The curtain closes and the quintet disappears behind it.
“I want to read my poem that I performed with Tim at St Patrick’s.”
I merely nod. I’m not in charge here. He pulls out a couple of sheets of paper and stands at the mic.
“I’m Bill Burroughs. Tim found me in my hovel at the Chelsea Hotel in the Bowery two years ago. Since then he got Doug to sponsor my writing in Hollywood and rescue me from obscurity. I read this poem at the show he organized for a Beatles reunion, that is, half of the Beatles.
‘Turgid itch and the perfume of death
On a whispering south wind
A smell of abyss and of nothingness
Dark Angel of the wanderers howls through the loft
With sick smelling sleep
Morning dream of a lost monkey
Born and muffled under old whimsies
With rose leaves in closed jars
Fear and the monkey
Sour taste of green fruit in the dawn
The air milky and spiced with the trade winds
White flesh was showing
His jeans were so old
Leg shadows by the sea
On the sky light of a little shop
On the odor of cheap wine in the sailors’ quarter
On the fountain sobbing in the police courtyards
On the statue of moldy stone
On the little boy whistling to stray dogs.
Wanderers cling to their fading home
A lost train whistle wan and muffled
In the loft night taste of water
Morning light on milky flesh
Turgid itch ghost hand
Sad as the death of monkeys
Thy father a falling star
Crystal bone into thin air
Dispersal and emptiness. ‘
Originally published as William S. Burroughs, “Fear and the Monkey,” Pearl 6 (Odense, Denmark: Fall/Winter 1978). Collected in The Burroughs File, City Lights, 1984. Republished by RealityStudio in August 2010.
He receives polite applause. So far nothing has gone as planned.
“This is my song, Jack. We’re going to bring Tim back with it. His role in False Gods is the White One. I am the Drinker of the Blood. My role is to protect the White One. I need the Earth Mother to bring this off.”
He motions to one of the back-up singers. She initially resolutely shakes her head at him but eventually comes forward reluctantly. He tells her to lay in front of Tim. She shakes her head more decisively.
“You are the Lover of the Mother, the only one with the power of the Earth Goddess. It won’t work without you.”
They argue back and forth. Finally Jack steps up to the mic.
“This is our band song, ‘False Gods,” and he rips into a heavy metal lead. It gets everyone’s attention. The kids are pressed against the stage and back several rows. The adults are standing up from their seats, trying to hear what was being said on stage. After the guitar leads, the bass player from the Fantasia act struts across the stage, ripping strong bass rhythm notes. The drums finally come in, and Jack’s vocals blast clearly through the sound system.
‘Where others feared to tread,
they gave us up for dead,
memories linger eternally,
as Lucifer’s proud plea,
a world of our own,
on high a black throne,
sing to make them see,
happy for eternity
…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…
a world so meek and blind,
we laugh at all of mankind,
we’re Satan’s band,
a world of endless flaws,
facades and miracles applause,
eulogized but despised,
shed your false disguise,
fall to your knees,
utter useless pleas,
…we are False Gods, we are False Gods…
pray in foreign tongues,
shoot your useless guns,
sacrifice hallowed sheep,
shun cold, dark streets,
you’re just nasty fleas,
Set your minds at ease
…False Gods, False Gods…
we live eternally,
we hear your painful screams,
keep cold certainty,
know just what we mean
…False Gods, False Gods…
We will live eternally
To hear your painful screams
Just wait 20 years or so
You will know just what we mean
….We are False Gods, False Gods..
… False Gods’
Again with the devil worship – ‘Lucifer,’ the demon worshiper starts chanting incomprehensible oaths, finally throwing Tim’s body on top of the prone back-up singer. Raising hands above his head, he invokes all the evil deities he knows, finally throwing himself on top of the two bodies. Nothing happens.
‘Don’t fuck with me
I’ll take ya down
Gots ta be free
Hate makes me drown
Can’t seem to breathe
Yer arms on me
I gots ta be free.
This ain’t the place
To make a stand
To be a man
My knockout punch
Will put ya down
La La Land bound.
They repeat the song to make sure everyone understands. Jack pulls the demon worshiper off Tim and the girl, kicking him away. ‘Lucifer’ sits down on drums set up beside the original set. The girl scurries out from under Tim, who lies there, face down on the stage, still lifeless.
Set you’re your buddy on fire,
Better buy a rug.
Send your friends to hell,
Beat up a bully,
Look before you leap
Better to say no
Then end up in a heap
No place to go.
You friggin’ freak
Leap, leap, leap
Strip and streak.”
Get new friends
You won’t get far
Dis some sweet lass
A beating comes fast
Better to say no
Then end up in a heap
No place to go.
You friggin’ freak
Leap, leap, leap
Strip and streak.”
All the punk kids are whooping and hollering as they bounce around before the stage. Joan Jett comes on stage with her all-girl pick-up band. Her coterie of girl groupies cheer and run down in front, pushing the boys aside.
“Hey, LA. This is my new band. We all loved Tim in our own way. This is Angie and Amy, his twin sisters from Iowa, Jill and Carol his dorm mates from Hahvahd, Flo and Edi, backup singers in False Gods, and I’m his only Hollywood girlfriend, as far as anyone knows. He was quite active in the pleasuring department. He called himself the Cracker from Alaska. This song is how I knew him. He was a firecracker.” She lights into ‘Cherry Bomb.’
“Tim taught me exactly how to deal with a ‘Bad Reputation’ – I wrote this song for him.
Out walks Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers, kissing Joan and sneering at the crowd. He nods at the demon worshipper.”
“That piss ant cain’t bring back a fly, let alone a rocker. I remember the second Tim screamed at the death of his dog in the middle of opening for Skynyrd. Y’all got no special powers, Robby, so jist stick to drums. But now we all’s gonna sing our songs which Tim says were his anthems.”
They rips into ‘Won’t Back Down.’
The slow rocker gets all the adults on their feet and waving from the seats. The kids calm down until Tom sings Tim’s next favorite, “I’m so Bad.’
Hoards of the over twenty crowd descend from the seats, pushing aside the punks or grabbing their girlfriends to swing dance with them. Up from the dance floor and onto the stage, next bounces up Jim and the Crowd. Their Mod songs are perfect for both demographics.
‘Right Time, Right Place’
“Tim came to HB and terrorized the old surfers with his own style. He went to Zuma and the ocean took him from us. This is our song for him, Tim is a Surf Rocker.’
Next they played ‘Modern Machine.’
Once finished, OC Jim goes over to Tim’s body and sticks a joint in his mouth. The fans cheer. As soon as the Crowd exits the stage, three teens jump up from the floor in front. The skinny one is the same kid who had played the MOOG in the opening ‘Fantasia’ sequence. He grabs the mic.
“I’m David. We’re the Neighborhoods. When ya come ta Boston, ya gotta go to the Rat. That’s where we always play. I wanted ta join Tim and Jack in their Harvard Standing Band, but old Tim made me get my high school friends together. That was good advice, I guess, since he’s dead now. Here’s the song we always open with, ‘Roxanne,’ she done me wrong and left me for some other high school jerk.”
He raised his middle finger to the heavens.
With punk energy and angry lyrics, the kids in front recognize their soul mates, thrashing and jumping around as David does the same on stage.
“Now settle down and chill,” he orders. Walking over to Tim’s body, he plucks the joint from Tim’s lips, lights it up and passes it to out-stretched hands from the floor. Back at the mic he plays the opening leads to a regular rocker.
“This is ‘Pure and Easy,’ for you Tim,” as he bows to the body on the side of the stage.
All the girls rush forward, swaying and waving their arms about. The punks make room for them, dancing to their wiggling butts.
“Thank you, ladies. Calm these boys down. This is a song for my one and only, Carol. ‘Prettiest Girl’,” he bows to a thrilled girl, watching from the edge of the stage, standing next to Joan Jett. He runs over, playing long leads. She is totally embarrassed. She modestly kisses him. He spins away, looking sad, and plays what may pass as a punk love song
As he finishes, Carol runs over and wraps herself around David and his guitar, yielding to his lip lock and deep french kissing. He breaks away and goes crazy on stage.
Two boys jump on stage, picking up Tim’s body and thrashing along with David. Like lemmings, a dozen or more kids are suddenly on stage. Maybe they think it’s Arrowsmith or the Ramones. Tim’s body is lifted above their heads and passed to those bouncing in front. He is passed around over heads until someone drops him to the floor. Rising up like he is ascending to heaven, someone has him by the shoulders. A conga-line forms behind the shaking dead body as it snakes its way to the back. As it passes a table with older adults, I recognize Tim’s dad. They are beyond shocked as their dead son shakes and bounces past them. Once the body approaches the stage again, Joan jumps down and socks the guy holding Tim. Her band mates catch the dead body and drag it back on stage,holding it up next to the singer.
David stares out at the crowd, “Yer all a bunch of fools. Tim’s dead. He changed my life from high school dropout to Harvard honors student. Yer just arrogant and selfish fools. This song’s fer youse. ‘Arrogance.’”
Everyone calms down. They’re not acting normal. There’s a sigh of relief as the energy drops.
“Come and see us at the Rat when you come to Boston.” The singer has everyone dancing. The temperature in the club is rising. The band strips off their shirts.
“This final song is about meeting Tim and Jack at the Rat. I mocked them, but then they got me in and bought me beers. I passed out and woke up in their dorm at Harvard. And I ain’t never left.”
Stuck at the door
There I sat
Out came two fags
I just had to rag
They didn’t care much
They bought me a beer
Made me their pet
Standing off-stage, Tony comes over.
“Well, you got your wish,” he laughs. “He’s all yours now.”
“This is not what I intended.”
“All he ever wanted is to be a kid. He’ll never grow up now.”
“Think he enjoys seeing himself carted around the club while the bands play.”