BILLY SANDERS, Ich bin kein schöner Mann, 1958

Almost two weeks ago our Internet and our telephone at home were suddenly gone. They went dead at the same time that a film-crew from ARTE came to our apartment. Lurker from Klang & Kleid had brought them to interview him about a new “Tiki”-book  in my room. It was nice meeting Lurker and the film people were really nice too, but for two weeks I thought that ARTE had killed my Internet. I felt bad but Julia was furious and kept bugging me to call ARTE and charge them.

I imagined that by putting their big stage lights into the same socket that the Internet box uses, they had somehow broken it. Now today almost as suddenly it was working again. Okay, we had to call the company  a thousand  times and reaching them was not that easy. Each time you call them they put you on hold and let you navigate through a tricky combination of numbers and words. And when you finally get to talk to a real person, they tell you to check this and check that and basically tell you that you need to be an expert yourself. Anything but send somebody to fix it. But now miraculously it works again. Apparently they had somehow disconnected our telephone number with another number. It was the Internet-company`s fault all along!

Anyway the Internet was gone for two weeks. At first I felt like I was on vacation and went to a Internet cafè. But I missed having the Internet at home and after a while I really felt the addiction. I didn`t have Internet for the longest time in my life but this involuntary break was irritating. After a week I got over it, but it opened my eyes about how much the Internet occupies my time.  It shouldn`t be like that. It was even worse for Julia because she is quite addicted to the telephone. I didn`t really miss that…

While I was writing my last post at the Jungle World headquarters, I got the news that Lux Interior had died. Now, I`ve never been a big fan of the Cramps, but  I`m not a big  fan of anybody really. I`m pretty fanatical about Rock`n`Roll, but not about any artist or group in particular. I know that`s a contradiction, because I should acknowledge the people that are making the stuff that I love so much. And I do. I just don`t like to call myself a fan.

But of course I really love the Cramps.  I`ve seen them three times: back in 1986, again in the late 90`s and then the last time in 2003. That`s two more times than I`ve seen most bands. The Cramps also inspired my collecting habits. Lux and Ivy are collectors themselves, dedicated to the most obscure and wild popular culture.


Maybe it`s not fair to blame the Cramps for collecting the kinda garbage that I present here, but they did lead me further off the beaten path…

That  show in 2003 at the SO36 in Berlin, Kreuzberg  was side-lined by a group-exhibition of Cramps-inspired artwork curated by the Knoth & Krüger gallery: “Things The Cramps Taught Us”. I took part in that exhibition but two days from the show I had still not finished my last painting. Like most participants I had done portraits of Ivy and Lux and I had four more detailed paintings but one piece was still not finished. The characters I had painted on that canvas were  boring and clichè and not worth to be hanging in a exhibition dedicated to the Cramps! But then it hit me: I took a copy of the German pressing of the Trashmen`s “Surfin` Bird” 45 that I had and nailed it onto the canvas! That looked better.

The next day after we had set up the show Ivy and Lux arrived and took a quick look around. They were dressed very casually and inspected the artwork closely. Lux even took some photos with his 3-D camera. They seemed very humble and honored by the pieces that were dedicated to them. I asked to have a photo taken with them but they declined, because they were worn-out from the long trip and didn`t think they looked presentable. Then they went off, but returned shortly after with the rest of the group for a autograph-signing . This time dressed in their stage outfits. They all sat at a table and a line built outside the gallery. Meanwhile I was spinning records but when  fellow Berlin cartoonist Reinhart Kleist stood in line to have his painting signed, I followed suit.

When it was my turn Lux looked at the piece and seemed appalled. As a record collector he must`ve thought it was a shame to destroy that beautiful old record. But then he got in the mood and signed it and even wrote Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa , the chorus of “Surfin`Bird”, all around the record. All of the band members signed it and I was happy, because with all the magic-marker on the painting the piece was now finally finished. The most personal Cramps souvenir I could wish for.

(The photos and illustrations first appeared in 2003 in the Berlin music-magazine Wahrschauer.)

For no other reason than that I really like this song,  here`s  Billy Sanders doing “Ich bin kein schöner Mann” ( I`m not a handsome man ) from 1958.  Billy Sanders 50`s Rock`n`Roll sides have been compiled in the late 70`s  by Bear Family Records and later re-issued on Cd.

One of the finest German Rock`n`Roll songs ever recorded…

BILLY SANDERS, Ich bin kein schöner Mann, 1958