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Friday, December 21, 2007

Lance Loud
June 26, 1951–December 22, 2001

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2001 was a rough year... I was living in NYC, inspired to be there by my friends Lance Loud and Kristian Hoffman, whom I idolized during my teen age years... they were on the first plane to NYC from California as soon as they were out of high school. (I was there on the first plane out after my 30th birthday, but it was truly because of the Lance/Kristian influence.)

Lance was an inadvertent reality TV star before that was even a genre... he was famous simply for being Lance Loud. In 2001, Lance was dying, and succumbed to the combination of long-term HIV infection and Hepatitis C on December 22, 2001.

It was just 3 months after the 9/11 attacks, and upon the first full day of Winter (the year's shortest day) that Lance passed away... one more sad and tragic thing in a year with so much senseless tragedy already.

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I've often called Lance the Mercutio of punk rock...and to be sure, he was indeed a character. But to call Lance a character without praising his accomplishments is giving him short-shrift. Mumps, his band with high school friend and ally Kristian Hoffman were more than also-rans at CBGB. Probably one of the greatest under-rated pop/punk/glam outfits to grace the Bowery's punk rock club, Mumps were loved or at least appreciated by their more famous punk rock counterparts. Without Mumps, the scene would have lacked its distinctive sense of humor that was a delicate balance of all things ranging from camp and cartoon to dead serious muso-socio-political poetry. Few punk bands boasted the level of musicianship of one Kristian Hoffman (in the early days, only Television really compared).

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If Kristian was the music meister, then Lance was definitely the Master of Ceremonies and Celebrity. He was a showman who gave 200% - yes, he 'sweat like a hog' in his own words. He was clever and funny, witty and urbane... part Truman Capote, part Andy Warhol, part Ethel Merman crossed with NY Doll David Johansen.

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The fun times I had with Lance and Mumps were unique and cast the mold for the rest of my life. Beneath the buffoonery were some pretty smart guys who were serious about their music and who knew what they were talking about. Did they know that they were on the leading edge of something? Perhaps only Lance knew... after all, in the 1990's, when I was working at PBS and Lance learned of that... it didn't take much more than one "please" from him to get me to duplicate enough broadcast quality copies of his favorite American Family segments to take around on talk shows he was appearing on for the 20th Anniversary of the program, much to his mother's chagrin. It felt like high school all over again...

And now, 30+ years after it all started - the television - the fan letters to Andy Warhol (which are in the Warhol Museum) - the punk rock ... we ALL know just how far ahead of his time Lance Loud was.

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Rest in peace? Lance? Hardly. He and Warhol have been causing quite a stir...

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