Two months after BETTY BUTCHER was born in San Diego, California, a California rock band named Van Halen played Memphis, Tennessee at the Mid-South Coliseum.
I was eighteen and I was there.
It was the "Fair Warning Tour" and I recall being disappointed that no songs were performed from the "Women and Children First" LP - but it was my second Coliseum show (the "Nuge" being my first) and I remember that night very well. Me and my redneck high school friends spilled out of the black van onto the Coliseum's south side parking lot ... and I took a leak on warm asphalt, stored for 100 miles.
As we shoot the 16mm film portion for our video "EIGHTEEN WITH A BULLET", BETTY BUTCHER (along with JOHNNY ODDSBLOOD, LIPSTICK PICKUP and myself; THIN WHITE TRASH) rock out on the very spot where I peed that night in the Coliseum parking lot 27 years before.
The year Betty Butcher was born.
Two and Seven are Nine. BETTY BUTCHER is a Nine. Nine and Nine are EIGHTEEN.
The youngest and oldest FINGERS separated by EIGHTEEN years. ( I was born in 1963, the year the Mid-South Coliseum opened. Now im 45. Lots of Nines but who cares, right? Sometimes the numbers don't add up and it still makes sense.)
Happy 27th Birthday Betty from all the FINGERS LIKE SATURN!
We are all EIGHTEEN!
Thin White Trash
Now let us step into the world of EIGHTEEN WITH A BULLET where SEX and VIOLENCE meets the historic preservation of an old arena! Where a fictional teenage EVERY-GIRL so doomed to romance at the tender age of EIGHTEEN that she is frozen in time, her brain caught in COMA LOVE by a bullet that cannot be removed, her looming 19th birthday seen from behind the perspective of a piece of lead, a head wound to the heart that Superman couldn't catch and doctors cannot remove. Sign her up for the Guinness Book of Records cause this girl is "gonna be 18 for a long, long time."
P.S.: Concert on a school night: My buddies and I somehow made it to school the next morning with our black Van Halen t-shirts. I regret to say I've since lost mine. But Steve Selvidge pulled his out of the closet and wears it in this video.
"Eighteen With A Bullet" is from the LP "Something Alien". High quality downloads of "Something Alien" available at ITunes after Halloween 2008. Video written and directed by Mike McCarthy, edited and effected by HG RAY.
FAIR WARNING or Happiness is a Warm Coliseum
I requested via the necessary channels that I gain entrance to the premiere rock and roll arena of Memphis: THE HISTORIC MID-SOUTH COLISEUM. I wanted to say that my band FINGERS LIKE SATURN was (techinically) the LAST band to play the still beautiful COLISEUM.
The Ellis Auditorium/North Hall is gone, I was fired from the Pyramid, and the Fed Ex Forum has a 'no compete clause'.) It makes me wish the MID SOUTH COLISEUM had a 'don't tread on me' clause. The MID SOUTH COLISEUM is presumed doomed not for architectural failure (a handicap ramp is all it really needs, despite what the Man will tell you), nor bad acoustics (the place has no 90 degree angles for Christ's sake!), nor lack of history (The Beatles album burning tour, Elvis last Memphis show, Bowie's Diamond Dogs, Big Star, Andy Kaufman wrestling Jerry Lawler, decades of Memphis high school graduations, etc etc).
No, the COLISEUM is doomed by a creative class failure to market what i just described: The sheer market value of ROCK AND ROLL HISTORY as created in MEMPHIS TENNESSEE! This is caught up in good and bad, black and white AMERICAN HISTORY folks! The kind of thing Europeans, Japanese, and any world citizen understands, but can't explain (ironically) to the casual Memphian or Memphis politician overly invested in bulldozer stock.
Can I get an AMEN?
More attention gets paid to the blight of the newer Pyramid Arena downtown because of it's preeminent location near the Mississippi River bridge. Both the Pyramid and the MID SOUTH COLISEUM have been dealt a death blow by the brand spanking new (ala no street cred) Fed Ex Forum and it's 'no-compete clause'. A 'no-compete clause'. Is this America? Granted the Fed Ex Forum has no history yet but it's sitting on plenty! And the way that culture is eating itself these days, let's just say that the Fed Ex Forum is just as doomed and probably sooner than you think. Either by earthquake or greed, it too will fall - and few will care.
Tunica, Mississippi gets our leisure money and the South Haven Arena (also in Mississippi) gets our odd-size attractions - like The White Stripes and the Blue Man Group - which could have been in mid-town at the MID SOUTH COLISEUM.
In this current sad environment - with the Mid South Fairgrounds now VACANT after 152 years, Midtown's theme park Libertyland (which contains the wooden roller coaster the Zippin Pippin and our hand-carved Carousel) plus plans of big box retailers howling at the gates, I was given the news by the necessary channels that without city approval and hundreds of dollars in insurance my FINGERS LIKE SATURN video just wasn't going to happen on the inside of the Coliseum.
Very well, then THAT would be the point of the video. Never mind being the LAST band to play the COLISEUM, FINGERS LIKE SATURN would be the last band to play the motherfucking PARKING LOT; to be denied access, success, but not EXCESS (which is inherent in our song EIGHTEEN WITH A BULLET if you read the excess in the left column). So by imposed limitations my vision for my band's message becomes BETTER. More superior, let's say, than someone who is merely handed the keys to a location. Yes, they call me the "Godfather of Independent Cinema in Memphis" but very rarely do I get any breaks. And I don't really expect any, therein lies the definition of street cred and punk rock and all that other bullshit that is ALSO inherent in a grand old beautiful building that opened in 1963, the year I was born: The MID SOUTH COLISEUM.
So listen up dear creative class reader with money to burn in your italian suit or leather jacket, with your rock and roll soul and gospel history book probably written by a New Yorker: You have been given Fair Warning! If the MID SOUTH COLISEUM is destroyed, then you have one less reason to live in Memphis, or for that matter to bring us up in conversation. Don't hold your breath waiting for folks to be elected in Memphis who understand it as well as you, the outsider, the Pop Culturalist, the person who found Otis Redding on your own, without much help - because he reached outside our city limits - and found you waiting. You are a Memphian - and most who wield power in Memphis are not.
SPOILER: This quick time movie is raw 16mm footage shot by Brent Shrewsbury, whick will be incorporated into the complete video edit by HG Ray. The film was kept in my fridge for 10 years then thawed out at the last minute under the hood of Sumit's Jeep right before we shot. (TWT)
No Fingers on hand:
JOHNNY ODDSBLOOD helped me realize a video plot to explain the realities of our problematic band schedules. It explains why CELLO has a gun and no instrument in the video and why CELLO is playing drums for our live BLOODBATH performance at Earnestine & Hazel's (not KINGS DEN).
BETTY BUTCHER was in town only for a few days. Band members KINGS DEN, CELLO BIAFRA and MID SOUTH CON could not be present at all for the main shoot at the Coliseum parking lot on Sunday, March 30th. Four FINGERS were shot anyway (in the rain) ON 16MM film (thanks to BRENT SHREWSBURY) and videography, editing, and effects by HG RAY. Additional help provided by SAMMY CREWS, STEVE JONES, and SUMIT; true friends of Guerrilla Monster.
Drummer KINGS DEN would play drums on the West side, the front entrance of the MID SOUTH COLISEUM, underneath the bad ass decaying letters that scream "FIX ME I'M HISTORY!" ... while CELLO BIAFRA (hidden just behind the peeling white pillars) looks on in envy, relegated (exalted?) to the role of Murderer of History, gun in hand to assassinate KINGS DEN and take his place for the figurative BLOODBATH to follow at Earnestine and Hazels (a gig Steve could not attend!).
Meanwhile LIPSTICK PICKUP, BETTY BUTCHER, THIN WHITE TRASH, and JOHNNY are locked out on the South Side, singing in the rain. We are the Mid-South Rejects. We are old enough to know better but we waited too late. Meanwhile KINGS DEN keeps a beat to a song about a head wound while CELLO draws a bead on his beating brain ...
Never before in the annals of Rock & Roll History (Jerry Lee Lewis came the closest!) has a band member KILLED another band member to gain position in the band.
Not to fret, dead KINGS DEN is reborn through the silver top of the Coliseum also allowing all FINGERS transcendence through the domed roof!
Happiness is a Warm Coliseum.
Did someone say 'Rock & Roll History'? Did someone say "Assassination?" Don't assassinate History. Assassination is a theory as much as it is an act. Stay tuned to the ongoing documentary "DESTROY MEMPHIS" for details on when the Coliseum (home to the pop culture's proudest moments: Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman, The Beatles, Bowie, and Elvis' last Memphis performance; succeeds or loses in the redevelopment cluster fudgesicle at the Mid-South Fairgrounds.
You have been given FAIR WARNING!
October 14, 2008
Note: According to DAVID COLLIER (Mid-South Coliseum Engineer Maintenance Man and caretaker of Coliseum History), the last band to play INSIDE the COLISEUM was the ALL AMERICAN REJECTS in November 2006. The Mid-South Coliseum ceased operations and closed it's doors on January 5th, 2007. The last official function there was the Liberty Bowl Party January 1, 2007.