Monday, December 20, 2010

This Ashtray Heart Is Still Beating

Reader CJ Marsicano wrote of my blog post from yesterday that I was using the occasion to "eulogize Captain Beefheart" (or words to that effect). Actually, I was more eulogizing "RADIO NAPALM" as it's entered suspended animation, and wishing to reanimate it to pay radio homage to Beefheart!

Honestly, I've been reluctant to write about Don Van Vliet upon the occasion of his death. He and his music meant, and still mean, a lot to me. And it seems an impossible task to sum him up in death. There's others infinitely more qualified than I. Such as Lester Bangs, as I noted yesterday (click here again for St. Lester's 1980 Village Voice profile). Or even Magic Band alumnus Gary Lucas, who posted a wonderful appreciation for his former boss in (of all places) The Wall Street Journal(!!!)! Or dig the painterly homage one of my former editors, ex-Jet Lag wag Tony Renner, posted on my Facebook wall the other day:

T. Renner, "Portrait of Don Van Vliet (After Anton Corbijn)," 2010, gouache on paper, 4.25" x 5.5"
The one thing I can do is recount an anecdote I used to caption a Beefheart video I posted the other day, which I think succinctly sums up two of my favorite artists of all time, including Beefheart: Former New York Dolls manager Marty Thau once told me of an early '70s bill in Boston which paired the Dolls with Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band. Beefheart sent a note to the Dolls' dressing room, for David Johansen. Upon opening it, Johansen saw that Beefheart had scribbled a solitary word:


Johansen took a pen to the note, crossed out Beefheart's scribble and added his own scribble beneath it:

"Andy Warhol."

Johansen then sent it back to Beefheart. No word on if the good Captain replied.

Don Van Vliet
AKA Captain Beefheart

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