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December 23, 2004



Wanna see my animated film Goopy Spasms this X-My-Ass day? Well then head on over to Montreal's Cinema du Parc (3575 Ave. du Parc, 514-281-1900) this December 25, 26, 28, 29, 31 & January 1, 2, 4, 5 because it's opening for every screening of SPIKE & MIKE'S SICK & TWISTED FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION 2004! What better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Chrysler than by viewing my hand-drawn ode to anal sex & cunnilingus! Let me know how it went! Or get bent!


While you're at it make sure to show up at screenings clutching or wearing your very own Goopy Spasms merchandise now on sale at the Infliction Films online shoppe! Goopy Spasms teddy bears (pictured above), shirts, coffee mugs, etc… The perfect stalking stuffers! As are my Motion Picture Purgatory books, still on sale at Fitchre, Sukubus, Mojo, Chapters, & Indigo for all you late shoppers out there! Deck the halls with bowels of folly! Click here


Check out Montreal underground cartoonist Mister Swiz's web site update full of insane new intricate flash animations! Click here


I regret to inform snubdomizersters that Alex Soria of Montreal punk band the Nils (& Chino) died last week. He was hit by a train in my neighborhood of St-Henri. Plenty of condolences & images from around the world have been posted at the message board. That's where I originally heard the news.

Back in the early eighties when all of us were continually tweaking our spanking new punk or "post-punk" bands writing tunes, exercising for live shows, we often shared rehearsal spaces. At one of these spaces that my band American Devices shared with The Nils I remember every time I'd arrive I'd see the room gradually, incrementally, fill up with the most hideous-looking glazed baked clay knickknacks. On the window-sill, on the chairs, tables, they were everywhere. When it finally started looking like the place was gonna be overtaken by these ugly critters I finally asked what the hell was up with them. What were they? My memory's a little sketchy but I think I was told one of The Nils was taking some kind of art therapy class & it entailed making little sculptures. I imagined one of these poor kids probably got caught smoking pot or an irate parent was maybe distressed over their potentially unhealthy obsession for rock & roll & as a penalty was forced into some kind of rehab or disciplinary action to make these stupid items, deliberately plopping out the most cynical, effortless objects so they could to do their time & fuck off. The Nils weren't very artsy-fartsy. But one of these items caught my eye. It was an ashtray literally shaped & colored like a coiled turd. It made me laugh so hard & they all looked like such obvious throwaway items I confess I had to pocket that one thing. To this day I still have it in my kitchen cupboard to greet any smokers who visit. Over all these years I'd proudly shove it under people's cigarettes claiming it's "my Nils ashtray" & recite the story. I liked to claim Alex had probably made it, I could just picture him convulsing with laughter in anticipation of showing his masterwork to the rest of his band at the rehearsal space. But at Alex's wake last Sunday I cornered Nils' first drummer Terry Toner & he busted my bubble & told me their first singer Anthony Veilleux actually made all those. I know Anthony, we're pals, & he eventually became a talented professional film makeup special effects sculptor, so all that "sculpting" must've paid off. Doesn't matter that my story doesn't quite jibe. I've been reciting it for so many years & had a good chuckle every time. It's still my Nils ashtray (pictured below).

(postscript: I recently contacted Anthony Veilleux to find out if he made this ashtray & he can't remember ever doing it so maybe Alex did indeed sculpt it after all)

In the mid-eighties I remember going into a Harvey's that was near my new plateau apartment behind Schwartz's Smoked Meat on the Main. A bunch of Nils had dropped by my place to say hi & then we went for a bite. I think they were checking out the vicinity thinking of living around there. The fast food joint was bleak & empty & we all quietly scarfed down our burgers. I felt like a tour guide even though I'd just moved in myself, but I was incredibly happy about my new neighborhood. Nobody was saying anything so I broke the ice & blurted "wow, well I know THIS place is gonna be getting lots of MY business." As if this shit-hole should be incentive to move here. A couple of murmurs & no more conversation. In retrospect I remembered that silly answer Alex had given to one of the questions in my Sugar Diet zine a couple of years previous where we asked members of different local bands if they wanted to be rich. Alex, representing the Nils, said "any person that tells me they'd rather go into a Burger King & watch his friends have a burger, you know, & you have to sit there & have a coffee 'cause you can't afford a burger, is full of shit! I wanna have lots of money!" With that in mind, for some reason that utterance of mine at Harvey's reverberated for so long in my head as one of the most supremely stupidest things I had ever said in my life. I dunno, it felt like as if I was condoning this shit fast food just so I could fit in with Alex's Burger King aspirations that I'd read about in the gossip column of some teeny-bopper magazine or something. I felt this awkward vibe like as if I was kissing ass trying to be cool around these guys. Like as if I should know better than to open my yap if it's gonna be about something so trivial. Like as if I should have something more important to say. Maybe they were trying to find irony in what I had just said but they couldn't find any so it hung in the air like a fart. A session of merciless ridiculing I would've welcomed with open arms over ambiguity like that. Truth is I WOULD be going to that Harvey's pretty often. Truth is also Harvey's WAS a piece of shit dump. The phenomenal lack of chit-chat Alex could inspire seemed to lend importance to the slightest throwaway declaration. Whether or not I WAS being scrutinized for every word I was saying, the main thing I remembered was how much I felt I was being made to PERCEIVE it that way around those guys sometimes. Whether I was imagining it or not. It was enough to make you wanna shrivel up. A true testament to the power of Alex's being a man of few words. And over something so silly as fucken hamburgers. He ended up living at his girlfriend's a block away from me & that Harvey's so he probably gave it plenty of his own biz too.

(Pictured right: preliminary portrait of Alex from a record cover idea The Nils had asked me to draw, rejected by their company).

We all came from Montreal's bland suburban South Shore, & mostly went to the same shit overpopulated high school (Macdonald Cartier), so we all had this innate unspoken comprehension how nullifyingly boring being an inconsequential teen in that particular environment could be. And knew we wanted to break out doing something creative. I was in high school with Alex's older bro Carlos & once when I came over (circa late 70's) he told me Alex was making a punk band. We went to their basement & there he was happily strumming away. I showed him my Electric Vomit riffs (my first band) & to my surprise he picked them up in seconds (I was still struggling with them). Later on my other band Devices did a few shows with The Nils billing them on the poster as "Montreal's youngest punk band." I remember after one early scorching gig the pick-guard on his guitar was covered in blood & I wondered what happened. Alex said it's because he was playing so hard the strings kinda opened up his fingers but he wasn't gonna stop playing just because of that. He just sort of shrugged his shoulders like it was a bit of a badge of honor. I wish I took a picture of that blood encrusted pick-guard. Alex's other band Chino opened up for The Devices at our 20th anniversary gig & the last time I spoke to him he told me "how do you remember all those riffs"? I saw them play The Miami mini-bar (!) just a few years ago with Carlos back on bass. I was on a big early bubblegum classics music kick at the time reading all about the history, downloading MP3s, & I thought their tunes sounded like pure punk pop bubblegum & wondered why the hell these guys weren't huge. R.I.P. Alex.

Rick Trembles

December 2, 2004


Wanna see my animated film Goopy Spasms next Tuesday? Well then head on over to Spain right NOW because it's playing this December 7 at the Sitges International Film Festival of Catalonia. Let me know how it went!

November 25, 2004


Check it out; here's a crazy new illustrated book review of my own convoluted illustrated comic-strip-style movie reviews done in convoluted comic-strip-style itself, drawn by John Simpson of Al Sex Gore's British online horror zine Sexgoremutants

Also, if you're in the Montreal area Sunday & you wanna buy a Motion Picture Purgatory book from me, I'll be at this year's Expozine signing & selling copies Sunday, November 28, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Click here for more info.

October 28, 2004


(Pictured right: rare photo of long defunct Montreal all-girl band The Army Brats who premiered opening up for The American Devices in the early-eighties. L to R; Anne-Marie & Ava Rave)

Don't miss the RICK TREMBLES HALLOWEEN BOOK-SIGNING this Saturday, October 30 from 4PM to 6PM at Montreal's alternative comix boutique FICHTRE, 436 de Bienville, 844-9550, Metro Mt-Royal! Yes come see me face to face & buy a MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY book straight from yours truly & I'll personally autograph it to you with a free doodle! Check out this week's Montreal Mirror to see the official plug (effective Thursday)!

GOOPY NEWZ #2! Wanna see my animated film Goopy Spasms this Halloween weekend? Well then head on over to Vancouver right NOW because it's playing this Friday October 29 at the 2004 Cine Muerte International Fantastic Film Festival opening for the excellent & eccentric Japanime feature Tamala the Punk Cat! Let me know how it went!

October 14, 2004


(Pictured right: rising scream-queen/supermodel Suzi Lorraine reading my new Motion Picture Purgatory book during a scene in SV Bell's latest film Purple Glow)

Wanna see my animated film Goopy Spasms tonight? Well then head on over to Switzerland right NOW because it's playing this Thursday (tonight) & Saturday at the 2004 Lausanne Underground Film Festival October 14 & 16! Let me know how it went!

September 9, 2004

Special message to MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY fans in the Montreal region!

British-based FAB Press' brand new Motion Picture Purgatory book is slated to make it into downtown shops by this month but I've been around to the major bookstores asking if copies were in stock & got varied responses. After checking their computers & tracking the product number, some clerks told me that despite the major distribution & rave reviews, for some reason they had no indication yet the book was coming & explained that the only way they could guarantee ordering enough copies to fill their shelves at this point is if enough customers actually ask for it.

So please! If you happen to be downtown browsing the bigger bookstores, even if you have no intention of buying a copy of RICK TREMBLES' MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY, take a moment to ask if & when this book will be stocked so that actual residents from the same city the comic-strip originated in can eventually obtain copies! Try inquiring by phone as well. Thanks!

Some of the major downtown bookstores in question are: CHAPTERS (1171 St-Catherine Street, 849-8825), the Place Montreal Trust INDIGO (1500 McGill College Avenue, 281-5549), & PARAGRAPHE (2220 McGill College Avenue, 845-5811).

September 1, 2004

TREMBLES TENDS FAB PRESS TABLE AT TORONTO HORROR CON! (Pictured below, the Motion Picture Purgatory book display with duplicates of my original art to the right & pages turned to my Night of The Living Dead comic strip as tribute to director George Romero's personal appearance. Unfortunately, I was too busy & the lineup at his signings was way too long for me to get a scribble out of him).

Thanks to everyone who came out & bought books at the FAB Press table I was tending at last weekend's Rue Morgue Magazine horror movie convention in Toronto under the Skydome. I had a blast; it was nice to get out of town for a few days & a kick to heckle passersby hyping my new book face-to-face. I got to add some new autographs to my own personal copy of Motion Picture Purgatory, I.E.: cartoonist Joe Coleman signed the page with my Nightmare Alley strip/review cuz I quoted him in it, Lloyd Kaufman signed Troma's All The Love You Cannes, & I got gore SPFX guru Tom Savini to scribble his under my artwork for Day of the Dead! During the zombie makeup contest he was judging at Saturday night's party, Savini announced that filming will be underway in Toronto in the next month or so for George Romero's latest sequel to the living dead movies, Twilight of the Dead! He said Pittsburgh residents are very angry because Romero's breaking tradition by not filming in his home town where all the others were made. Adding insult to injury Romero is apparently insisting that ALL zombie extras in the cast are Canadian citizens! Incidentally, I just received an email from Rufus Butler Seder, the director of this week's movie review Screamplay (after sending him a link to it) in which he says: "Wow! You got that right! Thanks for the best review I ever got"! Kewl.

August 19, 2004


Excerpt from John Griffin film column, The Gazette (Montreal), Saturday, August 14, 2004, entitled; "SHARKS CIRCLING CINEMATIC WATERS: From The Feeding Frenzy Of Serge Losique Dodging Questions About His Leadership This Week At The Unveiling Of The World Film Festival Line-Up To The Upcoming Peril-At-Sea Story Open Water, The Scent Of Blood Is In The Air"...

"In much more upbeat news, we returned to the workplace after brief rural deprogramming to find a copy of Rick Trembles' Motion Picture Purgatory burrowing happily into the desk detritus. Trembles will be known to all who read the Montreal Mirror or who have "dug" the local music scene for the past 20 very odd years as a genius underground cartoonist, gothically astute film crit & card-carrying iconoclast, whose literally gut-busting Motion Picture Purgatory strip has appeared regularly & irregularly in the Mirror since the mid-80's. Now a sampling of that work had been collected between two covers, & made available to what we figured would be an unsuspecting world public. But no. Quotes in a press release claim that archetypal artist outsider Robert Crumb considers Trembles' comics to be "even more twisted & weird than me." Other testimonials from the creators of Troma, Swamp Thing & Spiderman only confirm what his fans already know -Trembles is a wizard, a true star, & an absolute original. Motion Picture Purgatory appropriately had its coming-out during the recent Fantasia film festival. It should be available at better booksellers here come September & is a Fab Press publication (, from the UK."

(article included enlarged inset Crumb quote about Trembles)

August 12, 2004

REVIEWS FOR MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY THE BOOK & GOOPY SPASMS THE MOVIE START MOUNTING! (Yes, the old lady pictured below (photo by Pierre Roussel) is indeed Rick Trembles holding up a copy of his brand new Fab Press book at the official FanTasia film festival advance launch & signing last month)...

Here's a review from The Guardian by Steve Rose July 31, 2004: "There are comic artists, there are movie critics, and then there's Rick Trembles, who's had the genius idea of combining the two to form his own personal dark art - if you need a reference point, Robert Crumb has described him as "even more twisted and weird than me." Trembles doesn't so much review movies as reformat them into comic strips or giant diagrams, drawn from memory, crammed with detail and annotated with his erudite alliterative observations (Phantom Menace is a "cloying coy ploy to plunder parents' pocketbooks"). He's been plying his trade in the Montreal Mirror on and off since the 1980s, and this collection draws together nearly 200 of his finest works. Even if you haven't seen the films (which is often the case as he switches between new releases and cult classics) Trembles' strips are a joy to read and invariably more interesting than the movies that inspired them."

Here's one from Film Threat by Jeremy Knox August 3, 2004: "How did I get so anal?" Trust me folks, he doesn't mean "anal retentive", he just means anal. With this animated short film, Rick Trembles has created an epic ode to his ass and whatever lies in that most terrible of orifices. This of course leads us down the deep dark path of relationships, cross-dressing and sticking things up your butt. Sensitive viewers should take heed that there's a heavy gross out factor at times, but this is not unexpected coming from a man that Robert R. Crumb has deemed "Even more twisted & weird than me." However, Trembles doesn't come off as some crazed agent provocateur, but a soft spoken man telling a series of amusing anecdotes about himself. The gross out bits are a set up to the jokes, not the punch line; and they never feel added on for shock value. Watching the short, Trembles seemed to me like one of the last beatnik poets; with Goopy Spasms playing like William S. Burroughs' "The Man Who Taught His Asshole How To Talk". So if you didn't get Burroughs dry type of sarcasm, you're not going to get Trembles'. Rick doesn't jump up and down like a jackass and fling shit at the screen. He just tells you about himself and lets the natural humor innate to the things he says make the viewer laugh. So is it funny? Oh yeah, just make sure you don't watch it anywhere near suppertime."

Here's one from Creature Corner by Johnny Butane July 21, 2004: Now that the internet is the largest meeting place in the world for film geeks, it seems like anyone with even the most basic grasp of the English language considers themselves a movie reviewer. But how many people actually go the extra effort to make their reviews entertaining and original? For over two decades, Montreal's Rick Trembles has been doing just that with a weekly column in the Montreal Mirror called Rick Trembles' Motion Picture Purgatory. But this column is different from the usual op-ed pieces because Rick combines his seemingly endless knowledge of all kinds of film, from the most obscure to the most mainstream, with his signature artistic style. Comic strips. Much like the opinions he expresses, these aren't your typical comix. Blood, dismemberment, gratuitous nudity, and explicit sexuality combine to give readers a very different way to learn about movies new and old. The artwork is simplistic, but that doesn't mean it's not powerful. Depending on the film, you could have a wild, almost Escheresque landscape of images to plow through filled with Rick's thoughts and synopsis of the film in question or, as in the case with his review of Life, traditional sequential panels showing two men rotting way in prison, free of all that pesky dialogue. Basically, you've never seen anything like this book before. Yet another of the quickly multiplying reasons I wish I lived in Montreal. Every week readers are treated to a new review, be it of the latest blockbuster churned out by Hollywood or a rarely-seen art film playing at one of the city's fantastic repertory theaters, and even if it's a film you may have zero interest in at first, Trembles' skills in both art and the English language is enough to make your eyeballs move from beginning to end. FAB Press has realized the man's genius and has collected all his reviews from the past 4 years into this fantastic collector's book that is a must-have for any one who considers themselves fans of the most obscure (as is the case with most of FAB's output). It doesn't hurt that Rick knows more about movies than I'll probably ever forget. His obsession is with any kind of special effects, but more specifically the lost art of stop-motion animation. To this end he delivers reviews of movies I had no idea ever existed but now want to hunt down for the simple sake of seeing just how bizarre they really are. This love of effects also manages to give the reviews something of a skewed perspective occasionally, allowing shitty movies a little more credit because of their eye-popping "spfx" as he calls them (The Matrix: Reloaded is the most shinning example of this). But his childlike enthusiasm for the masterworks of Harryhausen and O'Brien show you that underneath the jaded movie-goer he comes across as in most of his reviews lies a kid that plain and simply loves movies. The fact that all the women he draws look pretty much the same, with maybe a slight variation on hair color, that his men are just as similar (unless he's drawing himself…), and that all the characters look like they constantly have boots on only adds to the overall charm of the comix. It makes reading a review for Salo enjoyable (something that can rarely be said), and a review for Valentine funny as hell. The additional fact that Rick is a gifted writer (and when you have to condense some plots as small as he does that helps) gives his reviews a validity that you just can't get when you read some Johnny Moviegoer's review of the latest Harry Potter film (a series that remains curiously absent…). All in all, this is a great book, just make sure your eyes are nice and healthy before giving it a go, though, case some of the print can get downright microscopic when Rick's got a lot to say."

Here's one from Video Crypt’s FanTasia Report Part 2 by Chip Lamey with Bruce Anderson & Karen Lamey August 3, 2004: "Prior to A Journey Into Bliss we got to see Goopy Spasms, a short directed by Rick Trembles and produced by Mitch Davis for Infliction films. In Montreal, Rick Trembles is best known for his newspaper column, Motion Picture Purgatory (genre films reviewed in “Comic book” style). This short is based on his one man show, How Did I Get So Anal. Mixing animation with live action, Goopy Spasms is a joyfully twisted look into his fascination with masturbation, cross dressing, and every fluid/cavity the human body offers. Obviously this is not to be screened for the “PC” crowd or a George W. Bush fundraiser. But, for those who like to laugh at something outrageous, Goopy Spasms should be sought out. Until then, FAB has just published a collection of his Motion Picture Purgatory columns. This, too, comes highly recommended. "

June 3, 2004


Yes, it's true… I've been very VERY busy the last several months preparing these projects JUST FOR YOU. Fab Press has compiled a 192-page paperback anthology of the best of Rick Trembles' Motion Picture Purgatory! Comes with a 4-page written intro & a sexy shiny chrome silver cover with embossment just like those cheesy horror paperbacks they sell at airport magazine stands! Get your copy directly from the FAB PRESS WEB SITE now or else wait for the official book signing & launch at Montreal's FantAsia Film Festival, Saturday July 17th! More details to come!

I've also been hard at work completing my animated film GOOPY SPASMS based on one of my self-published comix entitled HOW DID I GET SO ANAL, & it's premiering at the Fantasia fest too, July 15th! Keep visiting this site for upcoming details, but in the meantime check out Infliction Films for all the info you could possibly want on the topic, including frame-grabs, essays written by me on the concept, & interview excerpts!

Here are the full blurbs for MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY: THE BOOK...

"Motion Picture Purgatory is always hysterically funny, always thoughtful, always goes in interesting (true) directions, & is always fascinating to study. It bears re-reading, which is rare in any cartoon product." -Joe Bob Briggs, author of JOE BOB GOES TO THE DRIVE-IN

"Toxie & I love Trembles' art. If Troma movies did not move, they'd want to Tremble. He is a hilarious & profound genius & an excellent dancer." -Lloyd Kaufman, creator of THE TOXIC AVENGER & president of TROMA ENTERTAINMENT

"Rick Trembles is a man who is not afraid to flaunt his obsessions whether you like it or not -in these intense comic strip/movie reviews aptly called Motion Picture Purgatory. I personally have always liked his jagged, detailed drawing style, & the unique layouts of each one of these strips is a marvel to behold." -Peter Bagge, author of HATE (FANTAGRAPHICS), & SPIDERMAN (MARVEL COMICS)

"Rick's comics are funnier, more observant & entertaining than most film criticism today, not to mention more so than many of the movies themselves." -Michael Gingold, FANGORIA MAGAZINE

"Comic strips and films are unique art forms that were invented at the same time. Both tell stories with images & words. There has been a lot of back & forth between them; many comic strips have inspired movies (Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy, Blondie, Spiderman, etc.) while great film directors such as Truffaut & Fellini got their start directing fumettis (photo comics). MAD magazine's finest moments were its film parodies. Rick Trembles' work fits right in there. His 'Motion Picture Purgatory' comic strips are the first-ever regularly published comic strip movie reviews. This makes perfect sense, really. You learn a lot more about the movies from his comics than you would from an Ebert & Roeper TV show or a NY Times review." -John Holmstrom, creator of "PUNK MAGAZINE" (the first of its kind) & illustrator of several early Ramones albums

"Hilariously acidic comic-strip reviews from the mind of a Montreal menace." -Howard Cruse, author of STUCK RUBBER BABY & WENDEL ALL TOGETHER

"Among the few real innovators of comix and movie critics (now there's a mutant hybrid!) is Rick Trembles, whose unique work shouldn't really be all that unique: in the best of all worlds, communication on a primarily visual medium like movies would invite fusion with a primarily visual medium like comics. But only Rick has put this primal perception to work with bracing wit, clarity, and no-shit honesty - and he's been doing it for over two decades. Some of my Montreal confederates turned me on to Rick's work back in the mid-80s. Sure, the internet has provided wider access (though the monitor screen isn't an ideal venue), but Rick deserves a much wider audience. Thankfully, FAB Press has seen fit to put the best of Rick's work between two covers at last, and another of Montreal's best-kept secrets is out. Move over, Chas and Joe Bob; Howl, Gorehounds; Wake Up, Cine-Whores; Tremble, Hollywood hucksters! Rick Trembles is entering the braincells via the optic nerve - and you'll never be (or see) the same again!" -Stephen R. Bissette, SWAMP THING

June 3, 2004

STORYTIME: "SNUBBED PART SIX: OCCUPATION: BOUCHE-TROU" BY ROB LABELLE OF THE AMERICAN DEVICES! (Pictured below: audience mesmerized by a larger-than-life Rob projected onscreen performing live at the Sadie Bronfman Center for the Arts)


Every once in a while an event comes along that demands full attention. Life-changing, life threatening, earth shaking, earth shattering, here may be the key to what's been keeping us afloat, or submerged; it's what has made us into winners, losers, or sometimes winners, sometimes losers. In other words it's the origins of that squishy, organic mechanism that makes us tick. It could come early on and be as dramatic as the sudden death of a family member-a parent, for example-and in its aftermath the wonder at the vacated easy chair, the shuffling of places at the dinner table, an older brother coming back home and for the first time offering a cigarette. Or it could be a more day-to-day kind of childhood trauma, such as a best friend, a trusted friend-as only an eight-year old can trust-who jumps off the opposite end of a see-saw. It could be love, or the attempts at love: smoldering, quaking, with sweaty palms, watching someone in a crowded room while standing safe against a wall. Or it could be a simple conversation. Not even. Just a one-way exchange, a comment. A message with no accompanying actions, no deaths, no pitfalls. But one that sticks forever. A rusty fish hook stuck on a lip, always jangling, stinging, reminding.

"T'es un bouche-trou." This was the barb that caught me. And it came neither from a close family member nor a would-be lover, but from Jocelyne Leclerc, one of the long parade of bosses from my scarred workaday life. She had just handed off to me a fax from a client (back before e-mails took over). It was a copy of the MacGillivray, Clark, White Funeral Home advertisement for the NDG Examiner I'd sent off earlier in the day. It had been done, so I'd thought, entirely to their specifications, but was missing, according to the angry scrawl, the correct font for the logo's signature line, 'Rest Assured'.

"Est-ce que tu veut être un bouche-trou pour la reste de ta vie?" she continued, wanting to make sure I'd understood what she was saying. And at first I didn't. I was mesmerized by her eyes-big and framed in extensive maquillage and in possession of a consciousness of their own. They refused to blink-as if they intended to prevent even for one micro-second-any interruption in the rays of truth they were firing at me. But my own shields had already gone up, a haze of denial, as I obsequiously nodded and took the sheet from her hand. My own little missiles shot out in unspoken thoughts: "Aren't you overdoing it, you hot little account exec, current girlfriend of the president?" Our work place was an ad agency made up of about a dozen people, half of whom were freelancers. Demeaning little romantic liasons appeared overnight like mushrooms and just as quickly disappeared or were quashed by the very closeness of our situation. I comforted myself in the thought that I had never formed such ties. Even if you were at the top of the pile, I said to myself, it wasn't a very big pile, and you weren't, after all, very high up.

Still, Mlle Leclerc's poison-tipped dart had struck home. She'd hit the teeny, tiny bull's-eye at the centre of my being. It stuck. The damage registered, but only just. And now, I have apparently reached that time in life when the effects of events such as these, like shrapnel, resurface, prompting those preliminary sum totals of accomplishments and expectations weighed against expected years left. Joselyne Leclerc's words suddenly emblazon themselves like Abu Ben Adam's name in the Book of Gold. A kind of signature line for my ultimate CV: "Bouche-Trou." Hole stuffer.

It's true. All my jobs have been gotten through friends, or friends of friends, or acquaintances of acquaintances, mainly as a replacement to burn-outs, maternity leaves or just unexplained absences. I am never hired anywhere solely upon my own merit, only as a sort of stop-gap measure. The phone rings and an unfamiliar voice will call out to me, a long stream of twine coming out of the receiver, wrapping itself around my ankle: "Your former roommate told me you might be interested in..." And inevitably, I am drawn in. We all know why, so I won't get into that: the fears of those of us who must pay rent, that and our gnawing addiction to food. And then there's always the hope that this job will be "good experience," will lead to something. Another shot in the dark, another space probe launched toward a distant planet. Jupiter, perhaps: very spread out, but made up of a mixture of frozen gases, enormous but unable to bear any weight, a vast, toxic Slush Puppy.

But all around me, others stand tall. Wherever I've worked, all my 'colleagues' seem intrinsically better suited to playing the role of superior, while I myself never get to be anybody's boss. Student apprentices brought in for two weeks during the summer have me running for coffee. Young, disinterested secretaries have me under their desks, choking on dust bunnies (I have a severe dust allergy) to rearrange their power bars. Even during my longest-known working stint-seven years-I was never moved from a 'temporary' work station which doubled as an overflow space for the communal photocopier, while I saw others enter and move directly on into private spaces with views, bookshelves, large potted plants and doors that closed. I'm sure it'll be the same story at the end of my life. I'll be one of those forgotten people in hospital hallways, passed on by while patients with more 'pull' get seen to first, or are at least granted the dignity of dying behind a screen.

It was this last thought that really triggered off the import of Mlle Leclerc's phrase. And when I began to replay the scene in my mind: her wide eyes, the paper in her angry, trembling hand, her summing up of me, it was only then that the scene expanded in my memory. She'd said something. A little sermon of advice, which at the time I completely ignored but somehow now plays back in my mind like a catchy song recalled from another era. "When I was at HEC (Collège des Hautes Études Commerciales)," she said, "and was given a project by one of my profs, I would never do exactly what was asked of me. Instead, I would always start out by asking myself this question: how can I take this one step beyond the requirements. And from thinking in this way, I always got an A-plus!"

At the time, of course, as I've said, I just nodded my head, thought up some belligerent unspoken come-back, and shuffled back to my desk (in this case, as I recall, placed at the edge of the hallway to the bathroom- a spot which I thought ought to have been equipped with a stand of condoms and combs), to correct my work, following as best I could the client's angry instructions. Now, though, in the spirit of a final, far-flung hope, a gasping, late-in-the game effort, a chance at glory, or if not glory then at least existence-an address!-I am willing to give Mlle Leclerc's philosophy a shot.

This implies an entrenched interest, one strong enough to spark some sort of drive. I know, of course, that this is what's always been missing. I'm like a car without a spark plug; I'm not a self starter. But, I figure, if cars can be hot wired, so can I. Perhaps there never will be a compelling interest to guide me, but if I just play at it, simply adopt the role, maybe I can pull it off. That's all success is, really, a chosen role played well.

Currently I am no longer in the graphic arts game. My drifting patchwork of jobs has lead me to other branches of society. My employ at present is that of part-time cashier and towel dispenser at one of Montreal's oldest Turkish baths, commonly known as Les Bains. Here, real steam rises from an ancient boiler up through worn, wooden planks which have supported white-toweled males in search of the healthful benefits of steam, as well as the possibilities of furtive, not-so-hidden gropings, for six generations. Upstairs, a large dorm-like room with rows of couches on which patrons relax after their steam, was in the 50's and 60's the scene of several historic decentes policières by the vice squad. Now the area is divided up into over twenty small, cubicles, miniature hotel rooms, possessing all the legalities of any rented, private space. How I got here was similar to any of my other jobs, except in that, I must confess, my links with the place were not originally those of the disinterested onlooker, but those of occasional client. Implementing Mlle Leclerc's philosophy here will be, I assume, more of a challenge than that of the 'regular' office world, but I'm willing to give it a try. I have, after all, a series of tasks to perform, and each one of these I will elevate, as if they were parts of a project for display at the Collège des Hautes Études Commerciales. Creativity and flair will be my modus operandi.

Week One: With each action habitually taken to start my shift-turning on the lights, checking the water temp in the whirlpool, counting my cash float, making sure I have a good stack of folded towels-I try to add an extra unnecessary flourish. I let the water heater raise the temperature just a little higher than is necessary. In the large shower room, I set the dimmer switch on the lights down to a romantic glow. Normally, as each client arrives, I place on top of the folded towels, one packaged condom-compliments of the volunteer group, Séro Zéro. It occurs to me, however, that the little red cellophane envelope acts as an unspoken comment, an unnecessary acknowledgement between myself and the client of some private act. So instead, I insert the little package into the folds of the towel and add with it what I think will be a comforting personal touch: a Wurther's toffee.

At twelve noon the buzzer announces the first customer. Many are regulars, older gents who demand the same room-though all the rooms are almost identical. But today as Marcel makes his appearance (I now know many of the clients by name-first name only of course), I refrain from automatically handing over key number 26, and instead lay out four other keys in a row along the counter. "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" he asks in his usual gruff tone. "Une spéciale!" I sound almost musical with enthusiasm. I explain that each key represents one hour of room time, and that he must switch rooms after each hour, or else share the room for the following hour with whomever is then given the key to that same room. Marcel isn't amused. "C'est fou, ça. Je veux ma chambre. Vingt-six." I insist in the same sing-song voice. "Je ne peux rien faire, Marcel; c'est les règlements d'hôtel!" He doesn't reply but pays his entry, picks up the four keys and his towel. Today I do not receive a tip. He gives me one last look before going on through the turnstile, the type of look reserved for lunatics who must soon be reported, and I can tell he's thinking about how he'll take it up next time with my boss. I don't care. I feel a sudden, intoxicating rush of power. I have, for once, devised and implemented a plan completely of my own invention, without direction from a supervisor. I watch as M. Marcel makes his way across the hall to the stairs that lead up to the rooms. As he fingers and jingles the multiple keys, trying to figure out which one to use, the Wurther's toffee drops to the floor unnoticed.

Week Two: A meeting with the boss. The impromptu encounter occurs just before the beginning of the second week of my renewed working self. Here is my chance to explain my initiatives. Would there be a raise in salary for me, I wonder? Concerns, perhaps? I am just not quite ready for the anger. A little flustered I stare down at the floor and try to find the strength to face his question for what it is: a cry for help from a threatened adversary. In my head I translate "What the fuck are you doing?" to "I have concerns that the innovations you have made will make my traditional superior position at this establishment redundant." "Don't worry," I reply. "From now on, at les Bains there's room for everyone."

Week Three: I've dispensed with the handing out of keys and have placed them all in a bowl beside the register. Les Bains is now the largest ongoing "key party" since LA in the 1970's. Clients pick and choose at will, establishing themselves in a room and placing their key back in the bowl for others to fish from. Other innovations: The institutional white towels have been turned into swirls of color, achieved by randomly adding fabric dye to the establishment's industrial washers. To colour, I've added sound. In spite of a fairly hefty personal expense, I've rigged up a series of speakers pumping an endless loop of the Café del Mar 'club' series. I've also done away with the outmoded porn videos in the TV room and, instead, have hooked up the monitor to live-feed web cams positioned in each of the rooms. So far the only downside to all this has come as a result of the dimmer lights in the shower room. Some of the more aged customers, claiming they couldn't see their way, took a tumble down the fourteen steps leading to the area. I have since heard, however, that the accidents may have been a blessing in disguise, as at least two of the mishaps have led to much-needed hip replacement operations. All in all, things are going swimmingly.

Week Four: Employment Canada. Last time I was here the name was Unemployment Insurance Canada. With this change, I sense a kindred spirit. I walk in like visiting royalty, or rather like a visitor at a hospital-not one of the patients-though I grasp in my hand the walking papers from les Bains. I pick up the requisite forms and am told to fill them out and wait to meet with "un agent." As I sit, number in hand, my life-once again-passes before me. The reception desk facing the twenty or so chairs in this waiting room strikes me as the gates of heaven. Will I be judged on my work record? Were the changes I'd so recently made enough to make a difference to whoever decides which way I go? The Buddhists say to meditate on your own death each day, imagining your absence. Right now, this is easy to do.

"Vingt-six." My number, and, I muse, Marcel's favorite room number. I'm directed into a small cubicle where a young woman is seated at a computer. Without taking her eyes from the screen she lifts a hand to take my filled-in form. She begins to enter the information. Finally she gets to the square I've failed to fill in: most recent occupation. My experience is so vast, or rather, so varied, "towel dispenser" hardly seems to sum it up.

For the first time, the agent turns to look at me. I recognize the eyes. They are those of Jocelyn Leclerc all those years ago. It is as if the eyes themselves, having discovered their own talent for seeking out slackers and wastrels, decided to leave Mlle Leclerc's head and move on to where they could best serve society, here at Employment Canada. And they bore into me now. When the agent finally speaks to me, almost timorous and too polite, not matching at all the stare, it only proves the eyes are operating independently. "Occupation?" she asks, and the eyes fasten on me even more, pulling with a kind of science-fiction magnetism for the correct response. I feel myself melting; I'm Margaret Hamilton in the Wizard of Oz. Or rather, I'm being ground into powder, a pillar of salt sitting there on the chair. But then, a drop falls from high above, straight down onto the top of my head, like a drop of condensation falling from the ceiling of the steam bath at les Bains. Pure resolve. Not manufactured, not a pose or a game, but something all my own. My powdered being reconstitutes itself. Like a baby's first words, two burbled syllables rise out of me, the truth proudly fired back at those eyes. I answer her question: "Occupation: Bouche-trou."

© 2004 Rob Labelle

April 22, 2004


HEY KIDS! Before the month's over, drop by ANY Famous Players theater in the Canada & pick up the latest English version of their glossy freebee "Famous Magazine" (they have stacks of 'em available on stands in the lobbies) 'cause I got a full page in it covering, Motion Picture Purgatory & my artwork. They reproduced my review of Bowling for Columbine in full color & asked me the 5 double-yous; who-what-where-when-why. See me covered alongside the likes of Nia Vardalos, Quenton Tarantino, Matthew Perry, & Ben Affleck! According to their masthead, 500,000 copies of the mag get distributed monthly through Famous Players & Alliance Atlantis cinemas, and other outlets!

April 1, 2004

AMERICAN DEVICES open up for OLD TIME RELIJUN & LENINISHUNOV at Casa Popolo, 4873 boul. St-Laurent, Montreal this Sunday April 4th!

No this isn't an April Fool's Day gag, The Devices do indeed wanna rock your socks off this weekend at the Casa so do indeed drag yer sorry butts on over. That's an order. The B&W ad excerpt pictured above is yet another fine mini-masterpiece from local silk-screen poster-makers Seripop. Visit their web site & buy some original prints off them. Old Time Relijun sound nuts; download this free sample MP3 of theirs from the following link & hear them for yourself: Amphibian Factory. This is gonna be a great show.

February 26, 2004

February 19, 2004

Inside this installment of snubdomizer random blather: RICK TREMBLES' band THE AMERICAN DEVICES launch a brand new 4-song "DISTROBOTO" mini-cd at CASA DEL POPOLO February 22! Plus, RICK TREMBLES ART in brand new DEE DEE RAMONE documentary dvd "HEY IS DEE DEE HOME"! And, DEVICES NYC road-trip diary: ROCKIN' OUT THE LEGAL ACTION COMIX 2 LAUNCH AT CBGBS!

American Devices are doing a triple "Distroboto" mini-cd launch with The Other Thing & Esther B this Sunday, February 22, at Casa del Popolo, 4873 St-Laurent. Distrobotos are discarded cigarette machines tinkered with so they can dispense local artifacts at 2 bucks a pop. The machines are installed at various Montreal venues like the Casa & we'll also be selling the minis at the door during the night of the show. Email me at for more info how to acquire our new mini-CD via snail-mail if you can't make it into town for this MOMENTOUS event! Come to the show early 'cause we don't know what time we're supposed to go on (we might be on first for all I know). Admission is 5 bucks.

I'm proud to announce that the makers of recent Dee Dee Ramone doc HEY IS DEE DEE HOME have included a giant full-color blowup of my Motion Picture Purgatory comic strip preview/review of the film as a bonus inside each of their newly released DVDs. Director Lech (D.O.A.) Kowalski is a longtime fan of MPP & wanted to be sure to include my take on Dee Dee in the package. Each purchase also includes the original movie poster & groovy free stick-on tattoos, reproductions of the same ones that the late great Ramones bassist had covering his bod!

Pictured above: The front-cover of THE AMERICAN DEVICES' brand new mini-CD is an original B&W Rick Trembles acrylic painting. Back-cover photo of the band was taken live last December at our gig at the Sadie Bronfman Center for the Arts by John Levine (as were the rest of the photos in this installment of snubdomizer blather). The cds are about 3 inches wide & fit in most standard cd players (in the center of your cd player tray there should be a circular depression where the minis are supposed to go). The 4 songs took 3 afternoons to record in a friend's basement for 200 bucks (Canadian). Below are the lyrics to these songs, followed by a road-trip diary of our recent CBGBs gig...

bunco unction (rick trembles)

i'm going to invade you, and you're gonna like it too, from my candyglass-bottomed boat in a moat, my bottom feeders can cope, I'm going to invade you, and you're gonna like it too, from my candyglass-bottomed boat in a moat, where "bigger is better" is rote, open your mouth & close your eyes and you will get a big surprise, american device. can't see the forest for the trees, what my brain thinks it sees, from my fishbowl built to appease, makes me quite ill at ease, open your mouth & close your eyes and you will get a big surprise, american device. bunco. I'm going to invade you, and you're gonna like it too, from my candyglass-bottomed boat in a moat, close up the drawbridge & mope, american device. can't see the forest for the trees, solution is a breeze, hair of the dog that bit if you please, and then get on your knees, open your mouth & close your eyes and you will get a big surprise, american device.

big brown world (rob labelle)

everything's crumbling around me down into the big brown world, everything's become a jigsaw brownie ever since i started, tried to be a part of, had to be a part of this world, and i've been floating on a sea of faces in the land of the setting sun, though i know we're all quite replaceable, something tells me somewhere's gotta be the one. emmanuel said to danté get out of the underworld, danté said i can't, I'm non communicaté ever since i started, tried to be a part of, had to be a part of this world, and I've been floating on a sea of faces in the land of the setting sun, though i know we're all quite replaceable, something tells me somewhere's gotta be the one. and it's not really cloudy, it's hazy, but rainy in my mind, and I'm not really happy, despite my education, gimme, gimme all the time. everybody's trying to tell me something, pointing to the end of the world, sending tiny cracks through the rock of gibraltar ever since i started, tried to be a part of, had to be a part of this world, and I've been floating on a sea of faces in the land of the setting sun, though i know we're all quite replaceable, something says this summer's gonna be the one. And it's not really cloudy, it's hazy, but rainy in my mind, and I'm not really happy, despite my education, gimme, gimme all the time.

fifty/fifty (Rick trembles)

my prized possession isn't following me home anymore, the walls are closing in on all those puckering open sores, we're only stalling for highs & lows, we got the gall nobody knows, excuses, excuses; fatal blow. my prized possession isn't following me home anymore, the walls are closing in on all those puckering open sores, stare at the wall the doors are closed, think of us all like you're supposed, excuses, excuses; fatal blow. used to think i was transparent so i could never tell a lie but that was all before we learned to die now i lie

two (rob labelle)

one can't get very far, two of us, ready to blow the whole thing down right from the start, two of us, ready to go the whole way, they used to say we're on the way to a new tomorrow, i don't mind; i still can't find today, people tell me: one can't get very far, two of us, ready to blow the whole thing down, right to the ground, two of us… when you're on your own you're only half of one conversation, always on your own you can't get behind a cool situation, a jet plane wrote your name across the sky but nothing was signed; all we saw was the thin white line, disappearing, one can't get very far, two of us, ready to blow the whole thing down right to the ground, two of us, ready to go the whole way, one can't get very far, one can't get very far, ready to go the whole way

AMERICAN DEVICES at CBGB's (gallery) January 7th, NYC road-trip diary...

Reinforcing just how off-the-radar my band is, I keep joking how this "big" recent gig in the states had absolutely nothing to do with any connections of ours to the music industry (because we haven't got any), but rather had to come about from my involvement in the comix scene; namely Danny Hellman's latest anthology of underground cartoonists; Legal Action Comix 2. When he sent out his call for submissions, I included an American Devices tune on the space I had left on the CD burnt with my proposed comic strip that I snail-mailed to him. When the time came for booking bands at the gallery the launch was taking place at; CBGB's, he asked if we'd like to play & I jumped on it.

The carload full of other Montreal contributors to the book who were also exhibiting sample art at the show (Rick Gagnon, Eric Theriault & Rupert Bottenberg), along with my fellow band-mates (Rob Labelle, Andre Asselin & Chris (Crackpot) Burns filling in on drums for Howard Chackowicz because he couldn't get out of work) all met at the car rental place at 7 in the morning, barely conscious. I sure didn't get any sleep the night before, I was officially in bed for 2 or 3 hours but all I could do was toss & turn, anxious about making it across the border. We decided to leave extra early because of all the bullshit post 9/11 "new normal" hype about customs being a nightmare these days & the fact that we had to get our guitars registered on the way in so that on the way back out they wouldn't think we'd bought them in the states & charge us duty.

First thing Rick Gagnon slapped on once we were all piled in was an old 60's guitar band instrumental CD to get us in the mood for rolling along. The rented minivan was extra comfortable. Chris & Andre were able to share the back seat with a space empty in the middle. Rupert brought his inflatable wraparound neck-pillow to sleep on (I was jealous at the wind he could emit blowing the thing up, cuz I'm asthmatic). Antsy & paranoid as usual at customs (get the wrong official on the wrong day & we can get sent back home for nothing, apparently), when registering our guitars on the Canadian side we got a chatty cop woman taking our info down who kind of put us at ease by humorously displaying more knowledge about our guitars than us, 'cause she taught lessons on the side. She was able to date my classic strat within seconds. US customs was a breeze, the guy looked stern but we were overly prepared with papers he didn't even look at. All he asked was if we were bringing any meat in (mad cow being in the news lately) & he told Rupert his passport was about to expire. We said we were going to an art party. I said we were gonna perform; but he didn't even quiz us about our equipment. It was so damn cold out, maybe that made things go quicker. No lineup whatsoever.

The ride was nice & smooth, lotsa golden oldies on the stereo provided by driver Gagnon. I refused to eat at a McDonald's on the way because I'd just read the book Fast Food Nation all about the junk food industry. I'd tell anyone who'd listen that according to the book, there is (literally) "shit in the meat" (from exploding entrails splashing all over slaughterhouse assembly lines). I ate trail-mix power bars & bottled water. Eric Theriault was brave enough to take the wheel into NYC rush hour. He had to borrow my oversized "fit-overs" (black wraparound shades) to wear over his glasses because the sun was still out when we got in. That means we made good time. We parked the car overnight at a commercial lot conveniently a couple blocks away from CBGBs & walked over to the club marveling at how fucken cold it was even out here in NYC.

Inside, Danny Hellman was still arranging artwork on the walls. The place kind of smelled like a sewer, we were thinking maybe because of the new anti-smoking laws. At least cigarettes used to tend to act as a fumigator of sorts. We tucked our gear in a corner near the lady who ran the gallery with her laptop. The cartoonists dispersed. Chris & Rob stayed at the club, & I thought I'd show Andre around to kill an hour or so & stretch some atrophied leg muscles. Since it was as cold out as Montreal we didn't venture much. We wandered over to St-Marks Place nearby so Andre could browse through some jazz records & I could check out some bookstores. Bumped into Rupert at Kim's Video & told him we gotta stop meeting like this (at the last Hellman launch we also bumped into each other in this city of millions coincidentally walking towards the same coffee shop). I wanted to buy this new book on trash culture by Jack Stevenson & one of those old mini Hanuman books by Richard Hell but I figured I should save my money because I have a lot of bills to pay once I get back home. Andre also figured a lot of the stuff he saw he could probably find in Montreal if he tried hard enough.

When we got back the place was already packed. Rob told me Paul Giamatti, the actor playing Harvey Pekar in the American Splendor movie, had already come & gone. The guy who played Robert Crumb in the movie was one of the night's slide-show voices. I guess since Crumb & Pekar themselves couldn't show up, these 2 fake versions of the cartoonists would have to do instead. So now we play the waiting game. I wandered the club for a while, said hi to John Holmstrom, the only person I could recognize off the bat. His contribution to the exhibition was the gorgeous cover of Punk Magazine he did in the 70's of Joey Ramone but it looked fishy so I asked him if it was the original art & he said no, the original's in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Wow. Couldn't recognize anybody else much, there were some vaguely familiar faces but everybody seemed to have aged or changed to the point where I couldn't tell who was who anymore. The free vernisage wine sure hit the spot, especially after spending the day on the road, but I started getting worried about being too tipsy to play by the end of the night so I paced myself. Ex-Crackpot drummer Will Glass, recently relocated to NYC, was already there gabbing with Crackpot's frontman (our drummer for the night; Chris Burns).

The slide show finally came on & I was kind of disappointed at how low-tech it was. They used a white sheet instead of a screen. It was all in B&W & most of it didn't seem to be created for the sole purpose of making a slide show (like I've done in the past). They seemed like rehashed comix for the most part. Underground comix legend Kim Dietch's art was too densely detailed & projected too small to follow properly & sometimes he'd go out of sync with what was shown because he wasn't facing the screen & couldn't tell what page he was on. But it was great to hear him actually sing some of the passages. I wish someone would have told me I might've been able to get in on it. I knew there was gonna be a slide show but I figured, hey this is NYC, it's probably gonna be some slick production with all the performances locked in & no room for last minute additions. I was also trying to avoid any extraneous fretting aside from band duties. I would've had to find a corresponding carousel to pre-insert my slides into & bring that along but there was barely enough room for the guitars in the van as it was. Still, it would've been nice to have been asked to contribute. Doesn't the WHOLE WORLD know I do slide shows too? I might pursue the guy that does these "carousel" shows & see if I can come to NYC & perform mine sometime at a future show. By then, maybe my filmed, animated version of my slide show Goopy Spasms will be ready too (I'm aiming for Montreal's next Fant-Asia Film Festival). I remember Michael Kupperman doing some funny slides, then a grating Marvel comix satire with deliberately infantile drawings of Spiderman, Dietch of course, & Kaz, who made me laugh so hard with some of his Underworld gags it almost helped work the kinks out of my neck from the 7-hour drive. As Kaz passed me by later, I told him "that was very funny, Mr. Kaz," & he smiled & answered "thank you sir." Then I fatalistically barked out "Rick Trembles, Montreal," as if to give him my credentials & find out if he'd recognize my name from anywhere. After all, Fangoria's Mike Gingold (also in the audience), who says he knows Kaz, told me he'd try to give him one of my Motion Picture Purgatory compilation book mockups for a potential endorsement. Ex-Devices bass player Dave Hill & his girlfriend Margot showed up. They've been living in Queens for years now & offered to have us stay overnight (I stupidly forgot to put them on the guest list so they had to pay 5 bucks entry each, something I only realized when I got back & apologized via email, telling them I'd pay them back. They said, "it's ok, it's for a good cause").

I wasn't able to pay much attention to the first band Flaming Fire because I was too restless & preoccupied about our own set, but I thought it was funny that the fact they were all dressed in red was rendered useless by the red stage lights they were bathed in. They could've been dressed in white & gotten the same effect. Chris told me the singer reminded him of a Jack Black/Al Warnock hybrid (ex-singer for defunct Montreal hardcore punk band Schlonk). They had 2 sexy girl backups that gave them a professional, more soulful, party atmosphere sound. I watched Mz Pakman for a while because I was trying to collect my thoughts & get psyched for the show since we were on next. Cartoonist/singer Jenny Gonzalez did some sword-swallowing & her breasts kept threatening to bounce out of her low-cut dress. The band was fun & funny; nice trashy garage sound. They played the last launch too. Fangoria's Mike Gingold was disappointed that my girlfriend, scream queen Isabelle "Necrophilia" Stephen wasn't with me. He was getting ready for the big New Jersey Fangoria horror convention that weekend & was expecting her to show up as she always does for these cons, but she was too busy back in Montreal. As I was getting ready to set up, I gave him the Motion Picture Purgatory original art he'd asked me to bring along to buy off me (of the film LEECHES, which he wrote the screenplay for) but he didn't have the money on him so we arranged to discuss payment at a later date. Fuck. I was hoping to come home with some more US dough. At one point before we started playing I made sure John Holmstrom got one of our new mini-cds & asked him if he still did those Punk Magazine "listening parties" on his web site & if we could maybe be reviewed in there. He said sure.

No sound check. It was all off-the-cuff & last minute. While setting up with the other bands' equipment Andre asked me to move my guitar amp away from the drums so he could have a place to position himself. Chris said I should elevate my amp onto a chair & if I could bring it closer to him so he might hear it better, but I told him Andre didn't want me to so he should ask Andre what to do about that. I was too panicked worrying about setting up my own shit to bother. This would prove to be a major problem later into the set (actually, early into the set). Also, it was too dark with the fucking red lights to wear my usual shades.

So we get up onstage & go into our first song, Meaning of Life & my guitar is slightly out of tune. I tried to tune it up discreetly during Rob's monologue where I stop playing but I didn't have time. I don't think it made that much difference. Then I actually spoke into the mike (an extreme rarity for me). I said "Hi, we're the American Devices. We're from Canada. I'm a proud contributor to Legal Action Comix 1 & 2, etcetera... this song's called Sudden Dearth." (I thanked the bands for letting us use their equipment somewhere in there too). Then Sudden Dearth went completely upside down after the intro so badly I had to skip a verse. It was a complete nightmare mess. All I could think of was; OK, the crowd's already thinning out because it's late for a vernisage, nobody knows who the fuck we are & we're not as glib as the other bands were. We're already asking a lot from whoever's left & now we're gonna play the songs fucken ass-backwards? Immediately after the song I asked what the hell was going wrong & Andre pointed his fucken finger at me saying everybody was together but me. Bullshit. Thanks a lot, Andre. He was assuming all I wanted to do was lay blame when all I really wanted to do was find out what was wrong so we could fix it before we fuck up some more. We were told later that it turns out Chris simply couldn't hear me at all throughout the whole set & was virtually guessing his way through any parts I ordinarily give musical cues to. Well why on earth didn't he say anything about it then? It could've made me try to move my guitar amp after all. So in this humiliated state of dread, I charged through the rest of the set. My extra-long hair (since cut a touch) kept getting in my face so I could hardly see what I was playing on my guitar neck, let alone whoever was left in the audience. But I did hear applause after every song. I had to insist we restart 2 songs; Womb Service & Party Pooper, because they got off on such a bad foot they would've turned inside out in no time straight through 'til the end. In Womb Service, the rest of the band was unaccustomed to my countdown (which was actually conventionally correct for a change but they're used to my jerky staccato pre-count where I prepare everyone by giving a false alarm by pertly barking out "one, two" to see if everyone's awake, then restarting the normal "one, two, three, four." This time, unannounced, I just went straight into "one, two, three, four" & threw everyone off. My bad). And Chris fudged up Party Pooper with the tricky cuckoo-clock simulation percussion intro. At the end of P-Poop I ripped the strings off my guitar to make a god-awful noise & then rubbed the neck against a drum rim & mike stand to get a demented slide sound. The stand started falling over but I caught it just before it could crash into the drums once I realized none of this equipment belonged to us so I sure as fuck better not break anything. I was happy with the majority of the set.

When I asked how our performance went, Rob's friend Mary Martin (who wrote an article about our 20th anniversary Montreal show for The Hour that couldn't even get the name of our LP straight) said it was very "pretty." "Pretty?" I asked, perplexed. What the hell is that, sarcasm? I had a giant zit on my face that the NYC air was helping scab up 'til it looked like a black wart. Was that what she was referring to? Maybe it was the red lights. Maybe the warm red hue genuinely made us look "pretty"? There was this funny guy that kept looking at me close up to the front of the stage during our set. He came up after & told me we were like the MC5. How nice. But then he started going on about how much more he knew about my guitar than I did, just like the customs lady, except that we were under the gun at the border & had to comply... with this guy I was looking for an excuse to break away because I don't know a damn thing about guitars. I was glad to see John Holmstrom still there afterwards. That meant he must've caught our set. Dave Hill told Chris he was pleasantly surprised that "it didn't suck" as if he was expecting it to. The next day when I asked Rob what he thought of the set he told me he "wasn't depressed about it." Now there's a morale booster. Danny Hellman eventually came up to me after the show to give me a few bucks we weren't expecting (it was legal defense benefit for him after all), a 3-way split from extra dough that was made, divided evenly between bands. As we were chatting about vegetarianism (he's veggie) he pointed at my hand & said "I'd wash that off if I were you." I couldn't see anything on my palm; I thought he meant my thumbnail which was covered in dried blood (the skin around it had bled in the van because it was so dry from the electric heat that it broke). But then I turned my hand around & saw a drop of fresh blood on it. He'd had a small cut somewhere & it dropped on me as he was giving me money. I joked & pointed at my dirty nail crust & said "oh, it's OK, look, we're almost blood brothers now," referring to how close our blood came into contact. I was just kidding & wiped his blood off.

"Did you know CBGBs was named after Chris? It actually stands for Chris Burns Goes Bananas." …That was some stage patter we actually worked out on the way over in the car but I'm afraid that in all my 25 years playing pun crock, I've never been one to yammer onstage. I shoulda introduced all the MTL people that made the trip to the crowd (cartoonists included) but I'm too stage-shy, "sorry if we might've come off a touch more sullen & less personable than the bands preceding us, but that's just what we do: we like to plug 'n' play & charge thru no fuss no muss," I explained on a cartoonist's internet message board thread someone else had posted days later on the topic of the launch, "hope we didn't drive most of the crowd away (I couldn't see the audience; my hair was in my face). We finally got to play CBGBs (or at least its next door annex)! It was kind of a pilgrimage for us, being such fans of the early CBGBs stuff for so long. The sound had so much OOMPH! We were surprised it sounded so big & rockin' 'cause we were told at first we couldn't play that loud & might have to use brushes for drumsticks. Since it was slapped together kinda last minute (no soundcheck -we weren't expecting one) we had a few false starts & the occasional song parts'd turn inside out & gobble themselves up like a cancer but we'd recover OK & manage thru. The art on the walls is mind-blowing. I'm jealous I couldn't manage to get anything of mine alongside those pieces this time around (I was too paranoid to bring my dirty pictures across customs). All in all, we had a major blast. Thanks for the fun. Big gigantic thanks to Flaming Fire & Mz Pakman for letting us use their gear! The book looks AMAZING! It's so packed & varied. I got my contributor's copies at the show & can't wait to dig in!"

Well I have dug in by now, & I must say Legal Action Comix # 2 is unbelievable. It's so crammed with diverse, unbridled artwork it reminds me of those classic old underground Zap Comix anthologies. Buy yourself a copy NOW. My 3-page contribution is actually a personal project storyboard I did a while ago for an animation idea called "The Wheels of Bureaucracy." I turned it into a silent strip where a futile chain of events is set in motion via McGuffin, to commemorate the legal entanglements Danny Hellman's found himself hopelessly embroiled in the last few years (the supposed topic of the books). I originally adapted the McGuffin in question (simple instructions on a piece of paper) to contain the words "Dirty Danny" (Hellman's nickname) in order to make it topical, but he emailed me back asking if it could be changed to something else 'cause he felt his name looked too tacked on. So I revised it & substituted his monicker with the word "Cock."

Hey, I just realized this so-called "road diary" of mine has practically fuck-all to do with any "roads." Oh well...

© Rick Trembles 2004

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