Saturday, April 09, 2005

Kid Congo Powers



Kid Congo Powers. I always knew him as Brian Tristan, but have become accustomed to calling him Kid. He's the one person from the 70s that I never lost touch with. We saw each other in London when I lived there and he was there variously with Jeffrey Lee Pierce, the Bad Seeds, the Cramps or any number of bands he has been involved with. We lived in NYC at the same time as well, and it was always a pleasure to run into him on the street. Currently, Kid fronts the Pink Monkey Birds, but has been an integral part of groups such as Knoxville Girls and Congo Norvell.

This is not a photo I took - it is one that Kid sent to me recently. The one photo I have of Kid that I would like to share is a portrait of him and Pleasant backstage at a Blondie concert in San Diego, CA in 1978. I haven't printed a new copy of that yet, nor had it scanned - but I'll have it before the month is over.

I cannot remember a punk rock moment that didn't involve Kid. He was a solid fan -- I remember seeing so many shows with him -- The Ramones, Patti Smith, X, the Mumps, and the Cramps, who he later joined.

I think Kid learned to play guitar while he was in the Gun Club. Jeffrey Lee Pierce always encouraged people's musical endeavors - especially if he wanted to collaborate with them. I think he created a band specifically to back Pleasant way before she had any inkling she might want to be a performer some day.

I have two vivid memories of Kid that involve the famous Lobotomy apartment.

The Famous Lobotomy apartment, as it was called, was my residence at 7231 Franklin Ave., which is on the "West Hollywood" side of La Brea Ave. "Hollywood" proper lays on the other side of La Brea. We hosted many a party there for our favorite bands. Because Mumps drummer, Paul Rutner was my couch guest for many a week during one Mumps LA visit (to record "Muscle Boys" among other things), we hosted quite a few parties for them. At one such party, Kid wanted to get a breath of fresh air and thought a floor to ceiling window was a door. This window had a 20 foot drop below it! Don't know who pulled on Kid to bring him back in the room, but whoever did it is a hero! That would have been a nasty fall and a real joy-kill. I wish I'd taken photos during those parties - but I was too busy with the lasagne or spaghetti. I remember Gary Valentine escaping the hubbub in a closet, and he was calling NYC from in there!

The second memory involves Paul Rutner too. It was Easter Sunday, and Pleasant, Kid and I did what we often did at night. We went to the Hollywood Cemetery, where all the old movie stars are buried, to commune with the likes of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. We actually smelled Douglas Fairbanks's memorial! We admired the Easter lilies that many people left on the graves, and probably loudly enough that some low riders who were also in the cemetery decided we probably meant some disrespect. They harrassed us and followed us to my car - the 1978 Honda Civic Hatchback - a lawn-mower with a roof, essentially. Anyway, I unlocked the car and we all piled in faster than lightning and we sped off across Melrose Avenue with the low-riders in hot pursuit. My little car had a tight turning radius and I was able to lose their 50's Impala pretty quickly. We arrived at my apartment pale as ghosts and Paul asked us why. When we told him, he knew we weren't making it up. He said our voices were trembling.

Just some punk hijinx on an Easter Sunday, folks.

oh, and by the way --- today is French imagist poet Charles Baudelaire's birthday (1821). He was quite an influence to Patti Smith and my fave, Bob Dylan. His most well known work is Les Fleurs du Mal, and he was often referred to as the French Edgar Allan Poe. Baudelaire translated Poe's work into French.

1 comment:

Jenny Lens said...

Jenny Lens writes:
Tons of pix, first w/Joey Ramone, 8/76. Joey, so tall, Brian maybe 15, still growing. Lovely person! Said was dancing in crib b4 he walked. Thanx 4 starting thread. Haven't seen since 1980, great pic! Re-read "Neutron Bomb." Jeffrey & Plez detail he pushed her to sing. Saw Brian w/Cramps. A thrill!