Nine times out of ten, rock n’ roll memoirs are terrible, but that’s usually because they’re written by washed up one-hit wonders.
From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry (Soft Skull) was written by a musician who is anything but washed up. Justin Pearson has, and continues to be one of the most relevant and boundary pushing musicians I can think of, and his memoirs are anything but boring.
“I Stepped in Rocking-Horse Manure”
The night after I got back from a long run of tours with The Locust, I went to see Year Future play at the Che. This was right when they first started playing out as a band. Just after they were finished I walked up to Rockey and was telling him how I really enjoyed the performance. As I stood there talking, I heard this swoosh. It felt like I had jumped dimensions, or was underwater, and suddenly one of my ears popped. I asked Rockey if he heard “that.” He had no idea what I was talking about. I felt really uncomfortable, abruptly ended the conversation, and made my way to the door. Just before I got outside, I fell over. My equilibrium was shot. I could not stand up, or walk straight. I eventually got to the parking lot outside of the Che and I felt like I was spinning. I was flipping out, slapping myself, trying to make sense of what was happening to my head. I grabbed Allysia and hit the ground again. She immediately started freaking out and was trying to pick me up to walk me up the hill to the parking lot. All these people outside had started to notice me on the ground, and Allysia started really freaking out.
We eventually got to the top where my car was parked. Allysia got in the driver’s seat and we headed back to the Che to get Em, whom I was dating at the time. Luckily, we found her right away and were off to the hospital. I crouched over and every few seconds was compelled to slap my head and shake violently. We arrived at the hospital a few minutes later and made our way into the waiting room. I was still falling over, slapping the side of my head and my ear. Luckily, a nurse saw me pretty fast. From my reactions, they realized that there was something on my eardrum. I was taken into a room and the nurse made small talk. I was just trying to keep my cool and not freak out as my head pulsed and twitched. It felt like I had literally gone insane. Eventually two doctors came in, and one held my head while the other used super-long “alligator tweezers” to reach deep into my ear for whatever was in there. Just as they inserted the utensil, the doctor told me not to move or else they’d puncture my eardrum. Whatever was in my ear moved, and I screamed and wanted to smack my head, but couldn’t. It took three tries before they grabbed it and pulled it out. It was a baby cockroach that had flown into my ear as I was talking to Rockey at the Che, just after their set ended. It went all the way into my ear canal and got stuck to my eardrum. The doctor asked me if I wanted to keep it as a souvenir. I passed because I really wanted just to get out of there. But I was instructed to stay so I could finalize some paperwork. As I sat there, the nurses asked me twenty questions about my band, my haircut, if I liked “punk.” I looked over and saw a dead body on the next bed. I asked the nurses just to make sure: “Is that guy dead?” They said yes, and went right back to the questions.
A few days later, one of San Diego’s crummy local papers decided to write a story about the scene I caused. They said that people thought I was on drugs and ended with some obvious comment about how a Locust was attacked by an insect.
Copyright © 2010 by Justin Pearson from From the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry. Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint.