October 10, 2002

From The Horse's Mouth

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Olive calls at 6 a.m. to report that she’s come down from some really strong ecstasy, bought her first Dead Boys record, and wants nothing more than to meet me for one of her mom’s omelets. Congratulations on the purchase, fuck you on the awakening, thank you on the invitation. When I wake up on my own terms I’ll come over. Half an hour later the phone rang. “How about now?” Two and a half hours later I sat in a small Queens kitchen looking at the liner notes to Olive’s freshly purchased Young, Loud and Snotty. My left eye would occasionally catch a glimpse of the tattoos on the shoulders of Olive’s mother flinch as she cracked each egg. She was a heavy-set woman with a case of extreme attention deficit disorder that made conversation beyond a few exchanges difficult. “What happened to the Dead Boys after this record?” Olive asked thumbing the CD case. “I believe they broke up. Their singer died recently. What was his name, Stiv B. or something? Yeah he was hit by a car in France, walked home from the accident, and died in his sleep. It’s a shame though ’cause this record is as good if not better than anything that came out of CBGB in 1977.” I noticed that Olive’s mother froze holding an egg, mid-swing, tense arm not daring to follow through with the crack. I stopped talking and the egg cracked.

She watched us eat while holding her eight-year-old Jude in her lap. Jude ran off to watch television. She watched him leave and then turned to me and said, “You were saying something about Stiv and the Dead Boys?” I repeated my uncertain story of his death. She picked up the CD and looked at the picture of five boys standing in a dilapidated and dimly lit alley. “Mom, I’m totally impressed that you know who the Dead Boys are?” Olive laughed. “I knew Stiv. I lived with him at St. Mark’s hotel for about a month. We lived in a tiny room and hardly ever left. I used to bathe him all the time, that skinny naked body in a rusty tub. The last time we spoke was about ’78. He was wonderful. Can’t believe he’s dead.” She was perfectly calm; her words so uncharacteristically focused and fluid. Looking down at the picture she began crying quietly. Her heavy body shook leaning on the table. From beneath her shoulders came a high pitched cry, consistent, never wavering in intensity. The climax of an aria with the heroine’s last breath transformed into a magnificently pained release. Olive put a hand on her mother’s shoulder and said “Thank you, mom.” I got up and began collecting the dishes.

Peace, “the dark horse”

Archived article by Maxim Pozdorovkin