I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Halloween than by invoking the great spirits of the Top Hatted Eyeball-Headed Countenances themselves, the Residents. My life has never been the same since their “Intermission” EP walloped me upside the head and followed me home one day. The cover absolutely terrified me (the cleverly contrived headless old woman enveloped by that looming overstuffed chair, the screaming baby, the repeated rictus grins with their obscenely protruding nails) and the music fit it to a T —it was like fingernails raking repeatedly across a chalkboard.
I was hooked. Sometimes against my will, but let’s face it: the pull of the Residents is unmistakably strong. (MoMA must think so, too, as they just honored the Freakish Anomalies with a 30-year career video retrospective of their own. Pas mal, eh?)
The band was my gateway drug to musical oddity of all stripes. And they’re still going strong, 30+ years after their wayward inception in small-town Louisiana. (Shreveport? Slidell? The answers are shrouded in mystery —or is that swamp gas? Hard to say.) The band member’s secret identities have been carefully guarded since the beginning by mysterious management entity the Cryptic Corporation, and if rumors (or Matt Groening) are to be believed, their past ranks have included Frank Zappa and JD Salinger. (Oh, what the hell —let’s throw Pynchon in there for good measure.)
Hats off to you, O Residential Ones. Long may you reign.
PS: The trick-or-treaters didn’t seem to like Duck Stab too much. Lightweights. Maybe next year I’ll try blaring Diskomo instead.
Your life is leaning downhill
Sloping off the outer edge.
Your undetermined oyster beds
Were found to be a hedge.
You cause the kids of Elmer Fudd
To fee the farmer whose
Cadaver’s filled with onion rings
And feet are filled with glue.
GRAPHIC BY DANIEL SILK from MEDIUM CONDENSED [Howski Studios, 1985]
The Residents, “Death In Barstow” (from Fingerprince AKA Tourniquet of Roses, 1976)