the guard was a really great guy, he just seemed kind of lonely. I guess that;s what all night security guards are like, having to wander around the places all night long with nobody to talk to. Plus they are probably asleep through most of the day when everybody is out and about and interacting, so they don't really have the same human interaction.
Kyle was like that - he had kind eyes, even if a little sad, Bad teeth, but that looked more genetic than from hygiene, and he kept running his hand through a big mop of dishwater blond hair that kept falling over his eyes as he talked. He told us about his days as a studio musician in Austin before he moved back here to take care of his brother, and he told us about the Ardmore Gongmongers, starting off as though we should know who they were.
Apparently they were a local band back in the late 80s and early 90s - and yeah, I know what you're thinking. Yes, I know that this is 1985 when I'm talking to you and making these tapes, and I know that this - all of this - is probably going to make you guys keep me locked behind those doors - but you guys asked me to tell you this story and so I'm telling it, and I'm just giving you what Kyle Staedelmeier said to Acsa and me. ... And McCartney. Like you should probably know by now, he couldn't see Kit.
Kit was, by the way, curled up around Kyle while Kyle spoke. Kit seemed to like listening to him talk about his band.
They were originally going to be named the Electric Slits, but then they either found out there was another band named that or close to that, or they thought they wouldn't be able to get shows with the name "slit" and they came up with the Gongmongers because that was an old 18th century title of a job for a guy who went down the streets of London, shoveling the shit off the streets. Because those were the days when people threw their chamber pots out the window onto the street, so somebody had to clean it up, right?
At this point, it reminded me that I'd read where James Joyce had written a collection of poetry called Chamber Music, which he always referred to as "Chamber Pot" music. Kind of the same way he called "Ulysses" "Useless-ees" - which truly, I always liked about the guy. I mean, when you can make stupid puns putting down the titles of your own books, that shows that you really know how language can work, how it can be twisted.
But yeah, back to Ardmore Gongmongers - Kyle said that no one in the band was actually FROM Ardmore, but it was a town close by, and they liked how it worked with Gongmongers, and then when they found out that town was named after a town in Pennsylvania and that the word was Gaelic for "High Place" they knew it fit - because all in all, they said that Ardmore Gongmongers gave the image of those who shovel shit from the top of a hill - meaning that they are throwing it DOWN on all the people at the BOTTOM of the hill. Plus, musically, they could do Irish trad, American folk, mix it all with punk and see what shook out.
I loved his explanation and I told him that I'd love to be in a band like that, and that's when Kyle said something weird to me, "Actually, you remind me of the screamer of our band. We called him the screamer, not the singer. His name was Matthew Laycox."
That's when I froze. Acsa and I hadn't said our names to him, and for a second I had not idea what he was on about. Was he a Collector who was just getting ready to nab us? What was going on here?
But then he started talking about how I looked like I could be the guy's son, or how I looked like HIS Matthew Laycox, only a few years younger, and it really did seem then that he was just going on through his memory. He hadn't seen Matthew in over 15 years, after the band broke up. He wouldn't say why. I got the feeling he didn't really want to tell us.
Acsa asked him, "Even if you haven't seen him in awhile, do you know anything about what he's doing now?"
"He had a woman he knocked up, and from what I hear, he's still married to her and she's making him work three jobs still, and their kid should be about your age" (pointing to me) "or about. That's why it's so weird that you look so much like him. Weird."
I didn't know what Acsa was getting at, but she seemed to want me to know about this OTHER Matthew, but then it was getting about time for the morning shift to get here, so Kyle told us we better be moving on. But before we left, he gave me a little shiny slim box, fit right in the palm of my hand. I asked him what it is, and he said, "You haven't seen an iPod? Where are you kids from, anyway?"
"Let's just say we're not from around here," Acsa said.
"Well, I want you guys to have my iPod, because it's got all the Ardmore Gongmongers songs on there, plus a few of my own over the years. I always just made music that I wanted to listen to, myself, but I'd be happy knowing that some people out there are carrying it to places ... not from around here."
He was smiling through those bad teeth and some part of me suddenly wanted to shake the guy's hand and tell him that I was sorry. Sorry for breaking up the band.
Sorry for something I hadn't even done. I knew that feeling very well. Always that.
But this time, I was sorry for something bad that I hadn't even done YET. That was a new feeling.