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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of All the Obits for Lux Interior...


Sixteen months ago, I started the doubled-headed tours Unguarded Moments: Backstage and Beyond and Punk Rock Day of the Dead in Oxford, Mississippi (One Night Stand at the Ole Miss Motel - part of the Motel Art Show series created by the brilliant Erin Abbott) and in my favorite cultural corner of the South - Memphis, Tennessee at Goner Records.

Images involving members of The Cramps as individuals and as a group figured prominently in both exhibits.

The eerily prescient image above, so funereal, was installed in its old wooden black frame perched atop a stack of Gideon's Bibles placed on the nightstand next to the bed at the Ole Miss. I wanted to invoke the "Songs the Lord Taught Us" theme and spin off the concept of "style the Cramps gave us."

Featuring The Cramps so prominently in the Motel Art Show was a no-brainer. My most cherished punk rock photo session ever was the one that took place in 1978 at the erstwhile Tropicana Motel with The Cramps. To be able to showcase both a favorite band with a fave motel hangout in an ad hoc motel room gallery was just too good an opportunity! Carpe diem indeed.

small  trees

I am hoping that Pleasant Gehman writes a memoir-styled obituary of our beloved Lux Interior so you can read for yourself how we met him. (Thanks to Kristian Hoffman) Next thing you know, these classic group portraits were created. The noir lighting was my idea, but the props and b- and monster movie scenarios/poses were all courtesy of Lux and Ivy, who personified that particular bit of culture and parlayed it into a wonderful way to make a living doing what one loves.

classic cramps outtake

I am not at all surprised at the outpouring of honest emotion surrounding Lux's passing. He touched so many people and influenced generations of listeners and players alike. We always talk about how unique our idols were, but Lux had unique in spades. A fearless beast on stage, off stage, he could be the polar opposite. Not meek/mild, but definitely approachable, eager to talk about music and movies and imagery. He shaped the vision we have collectively in punk rock, garage rock and underground cinema.

We have all read a great many memoirs and obituaries of Lux over the past week. They go from superficial to opinionated to ill-informed to well-written.

Rob Miller, co-owner of Chicago's Bloodshot Records wrote the memoir/obit that says it all for me. You can read it here:

Lux leaves behind not just a world-wide legion of fans and friends, but a wife and true partner in every sense. Lux and Ivy's marriage was one of the rare ones that death did part. So was my parents'... how's this for a numbers game? Death did part my parents after 36 years of marriage (and they are or were old enough to be Lux's parents...). Lux and Ivy had 37 years together. That's just simply rare. But it speaks to true love, and to the notion that there just might really be such a thing as soul mates.

Dear Ivy: thank you for sharing your soul mate with us for all those years. While we share a grief and a loss with you, we too share a love for Lux and I hope you find solace in knowing just how well-loved he was, and that together, you and Lux turned so many people on.

ivy portrait

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