A Flea on Mother Earth’s Back

Butthole_Surfers_-_Double_LiveGod keeps me riding like a flea on Mother Earth’s back for some reason. I keep hoping what good I am to be used for will be revealed in a more open picture, I know I am taking this all in for a reason but it’s yet a complete concept I can appreciate. For now, it’s just little snatches…that sometimes I catch. But, generally…I am too wrapped up in life to really appreciate them or discern their meanings.

It was the summer of 1988. I was living in Austin, Texas…it was a vastly different town. It could be in California now for the way it is. There was still a real small town there. The heat, the poverty, the moral bankruptcy I was wading through was crippling, but somehow I remember it very fondly.

I love the memory.

I was in a Ryder truck…this is how much of a different time it was…I was in a Ryder truck, the exact variety Timothy McVey used to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City not much later, my scraggly ass sitting for a couple of hours directly in front of the airport terminal on the curb. It was a tiny affair. A paved oval surrounding the small parking lot on a flat plot with a squat, one storey building plopped on one side. Big yellow box, just sitting there like a dadbleen magpie on a fence. The security guard, an unarmed black man in his late twenties never acknowledged me beyond a nod. I sat. I waited. I sat. I sweated. I itched…I sweated some more as I sat…and waited.

In the back was dizzying array of electronic gear. Straight terror tools.

I was on my way from Austin to Dallas. Or Houston…entrusted with the Butthole Surfers full touring gear. Solo. High, twenty-one.

I don’t think I had a driver’s license.


I was making money. Something ridiculously grand….maybe fifty, perhaps even seventy-five bucks a day. Just incredible sums!

I had a Panasonic jam box back at the pad with the Beastie Boys only full length cassette, “License to Ill” in full auto-reverse mode.

Livin’ high.

Up she bounded. Short and round. Effervescent. Bald. Wait…is that a tattoo? On her face? Hmmmm…never seen a woman outside of a National Geographic with a delineation on her chin for any reason. Just a fat black line running from her lower lip to just below her jawline.

How could a swipe of a Sharpie be so goddamned radical? Just a huge separation. That small line cleaved society’s values quite simply, quite economically. Genius.


Seriously, her name wasn’t “Ashtray Babyhead” or “Liz Ard”, nothing clever, acidic, biting, or achingly hip….it was Kathleen.

Kathleen was the band’s iconic, world famous dancer.


She was talking a little, so it was ’88. She had done a tour with the Buttholes previously where she didn’t speak for at least six months as I recall. And collected trash. She was sweet, and musky with deep, wild eyes and a wide grin that bespoke a freedom and madness I could only pretend to understand. She was from New York. This was again, a different world…motherfuckers just didn’t go to New York. I never saw anyone after they left for New York…ever again. It was all a big Lou Reed urinal flume ride to hell down endless iron fire escapes in cacophonous pathos.

It was.

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