Worthless Fucking Noise
by Chad Beattie
This article is focused, for better or for worse, on hometown noise legend Todd Harrington, 31, who has roamed the streets of Baltimore for years upon years, rummaging around like a sponge, directionless, constantly thoughtless, unshaven, and fully unaware of the tragedies that might beset him in this formidable journey. The modern Neal Cassady, only dimmer, and much less hyped by Kerouac's glamorized curse. The raw embodiment of the helpless drifter in it's truest form. The unspeakably distant and unintentionally awkward scenester. The misfit, the coward, the leach, the loser. The withering truth of the American noise dream.
Harrington, who currently resides on his friend Gizmo's pull-out sofa, has been attending Baltimore noise shows for eleven years. Many of these shows he remembers attending, but most he sadly does not. He remembers Tarantula Hill, the Bank, America, Floristree in it's A-day, yet he remembers them only as concepts, not as individual nights. He has witnessed the birth of the Crown and the death of Club K. He has given his fair share of nickels to the hopeless pedestrians that wade him by. He has read every goddamn city paper front to back in the past decade. Yet for all the sweat and blood and booze he has dripped and dried, he has not one ounce of hope to show for it.
“I'm not exactly sure where to go from here,” Todd admits, sipping his natty boh tall boy, wiping the grease-soaked strands of hair from his pimpled face. “But I hear my favorite band The Dickless Gerbils are playing Tribel tonight. So maybe I'll go. And I hear Lenny's having a party that's supposed to be dope. I donno. Fuck it.”
Tattooed on his knuckles read his surname in bold Arial font. “Todd.” A gentle reminder of the thoughtlessness from which he came.
“The scene ain't what it used to be, sure,” says Todd, shrugging. “Everything changes. Everything dies. Foot Your Eye Lens no longer perform in abandoned warehouses. They're on Letterman now. Dandy Can's trippy green skull no longer sits on his throne. It's long since vanished. The spontaneity of their creations have diminished within the hearts and souls of their prey. Such is the dismal turn of reality. Everything is fake, without purpose. Truths that I once believed in have proved to be false. There is no God.”
Todd chuckles ironically and high-fives his friend, Gizmo, who is so far out his soul has long ago washed away.
“The noise scene sucks now,” belches Gizmo, long-haired, sucking on his unlit joint. “It's full of shit noise wannabes who don't understand noise at all. They think noise is about the music and that's fucking stupid.”
“Yeah,” snarls Todd. “All those fucking turds think noise is about the music but it's totally the opposite. It's about who you know, who they know, who knows them, and who they've slept with. You feel me?”
Todd and Gizmo exchange high-fives for the second time in twelve seconds. Without notice they ambitiously proceed outdoors into the open Baltimore smog where they catch the 3 bus going east. They get off at 41st and walk the couple blocks to Tribel where the opening band, Cum Suckers, are just beginning their act. Inside the venue two middle-aged male artists stand, totally naked, revealing their saggy tattooed flesh. Harsh distorted computerized loops blare chaotically through the PA while the two men smash lightbulbs on their heads until they're sent to a state of unconsciousness. The act lasts twenty-three minutes. Sixty-nine lightbulbs were smashed.
“This was an early night for Cum Suckers,” Todd confesses, pouring the remainder of boh down his throat like butt water down clogged pipes. “Back in '07 I saw them at the Bouncing Testicle. They played for seven hours straight.”
“That show was the shit,” agrees Gizmo. He high-fives Todd. The overhead lights slowly dim. An ominous shadow collides with the descending darkness from above. A deep curtain of shame subtly washes through Todd's face, revealing a transparent gash too infected to heal.
By the time The Dickless Gerbils get on, Todd is so inebriated he can barely stand - let alone watch, listen, or absorb. The existential discontent he chooses to continually neglect has inevitably led to his increasingly dependent drug addiction. He shields these negative realities through unhealthy mechanisms, such as drinking way too much. “Future apologies,” Todd has somewhat sarcastically titled these nights.
Bits of vomit dangling from his hairy nostrils, Todd exits the venue, mid-set of his favorite band, The Dickless Gerbils. Gizmo follows him. Outside the noise dissipates as the stillness of silence expands like a sea. Todd and Gizmo exchange incoherent thoughts all the way down to 39th street where Lenny's supposedly “dope” party is kicking into gear. Todd steps into Lenny's home, Gizmo following closely behind. A musty diseased rug covers the chipped wooden floor, tripped out with a hypnotic space design, and the walls are covered with multi-dimensional landscapes that shatter the retinas and challenge the coherence of the world within. Two disheveled mid-fifties punk-rockers who never quite hit the cliff lay on the spermed-out sofa, trading lines of off-brand cocaine. A shifty beatnik cackles hysterically in the far dark corner. Second wave black metal sped down rumbles from the speakers. It's so slow you can hear the individual bass notes. Bum bum be dum. Be dum bum da bum da bum. Be dum de bummmmmmmm.
Elegance has no home inside Lenny's fortress. There instead exists a pure mixture of unfulfilled lust, hard-ons that never shifted into shape, dreams never lived. Inside Lenny's home resides a cold aroma that once ingested might never digest.
“Music's all the same, man,” mumbles Todd, drunkenly, digging into his coat pocket for a cigarette. He pulls one out, lights it, and grins. The tattoo embedded into his knuckles has long ago determined his pointless fate.
“It's all the fucking same, man. Everywhere you go. Everyone you fucking see. Worthless fucking places and worthless fucking people. And the music's no different. It's just noise. Worthless fucking noise.”
Gizmo, to Todd's right, nods his head and reaches for a high five, but Todd, unaware of his present surroundings, pays no attention to Gizmo's longing for acceptance. He instead stares abysmally into the laughing darkness, dissecting each and every painful memory that has led to his current situation, every task unfinished, every opportunity missed, and wondering for what purpose he continues to exist in such a drab world. Todd closes his eyes as the shapes and colors dissolve and the sadness within his blackened heart shrivels like a dried-out pepper. He leans his head against the sofa as
the wick of eternity burns softly in the cold dark distance.