November 1, 1980

Bogus Punk Night at Bullwinkle’s.

After dinner we killed time until the “No-Wave Dance Party” began at Bullwinkle’s. The event appeared to be sponsored by a bunch of frat men, utter jerks who kept leaping onstage in between acts to make meaningless and unnecessary announcements. The first two bands were so god-damned abysmal that it was offensive to have to sit and watch the proceedings. They weren’t even punks, or New Wavers, but appeared to be college types faking it.

…The Cigarettes finished setting up—or “The Beep Tones,” as I should say. Now we understood why they were going under alias, for the entire remainder of the entertainment that evening was so inferior in quality that it was easy to see why the Dancing Cigarettes would want to have nothing to do with it. They were all wearing especially funky dress, ragged shirts with the words “Beep Tones” splashed across the fronts with crude paint. Michael Gitlin had cut up a jacket so that one entire side at the front was missing except for lapels and seams at edges, an arm was amputated at the elbow, and a hole cut over his heart on the other side. Don had put the words “Beep Tones” down his pants-legs with different colors of electrical tape.

The first song, an unfamiliar “Beep-Tones” number, began with the band striking all sorts of phony attitudes with their instruments, as if in mockery of the bullshit which had preceded them on stage. Emily stood with dark glasses and a cigarette clenched between her teeth, a haughty sneer on her features, idly strumming the strings of her bass with one hand, the other hand not even touching the neck of the instrument. Jackie struck fierce postures with her sax, while Michael and Don with their guitars leaped in the air doing splits, jumped around the stage frantically, waved their guitars in the air, humped the instruments, and were otherwise wild and outrageous. Butch, the drummer, threw his sticks up in the air and went at the drums by hand, and ended up knocking over his drum set and fell upon the floor twitching. The music continued through all this, seemingly unhurt by the theatrics on stage, and I marveled “What control!” until I realized it was a pre-recorded track that they were playing. I laughed at their antics until tears came to my eyes.

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