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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Me, Mork, Butterflies and the Show

With Robin Williams' demise my very own Mork bubbled up in the ol' brain pan. This was originally posted in December of 2011.
 It was 1979 and Morris, my carnival boss of giant spliff and Jackson Brown by way of young Keith Richards fame, had us booked into a show playing the south side of Chicago.  We played a different neighborhood, a different set of projects each week.

Almost immediately upon hitting the midway, fellow carnies told me of this ride jock who had gone to college. It was really sweet. While I was still the outsider in a world of outsiders and still, most certainly, the College Bitch™ they were trying to find me a friend — someone I could relate to. That just warmed the little cockles of my tiny misanthropic heart.

The crew called him Mork after the Robin Williams character on the show Mork and Mindy. He had a rapid fire, somewhat surreal, comic communication style and something else which totally intrigued me — the tattoo of a butterfly on his schmeckie. C’mon, who could resist checking out that stunning, hopefully stunning, example of self abuse/art in the face of excruciating pain/sideshow attraction splendor?

I went over to the Trabant and introduced myself. What followed was a half hour long, back and forth conversational free range riff on music, art, the absurdity of...well, everything and music. Doug, Mork’s real name, asked me if I’d like to hit O’Banions, a punk club, after the show shut for the night. Of course!

O’Banions was at the northeast corner of Clark & Erie in River North — at that time a decidedly gritty neighborhood. The bull necked, leather clad doorman was supremely intimidating but the bartender was 20 kinds of divine. She was tall, lithe, fierce and spike haired — wearing nothing beyond a large, clear plastic drop cloth which she periodically had to open and re-wrap as it slipped down in the heat of the club. As we made our way to the back room (dance floor/stage area) a leashed man being led around by his, presumably, girlfriend passed us by. I was most certainly not in small town American any more — mega cool! We sat on the floor, watching the parade of intriguing, creative punks while absorbing the sonic storm from the speaker stacks.

 A few years later I saw the movie Liquid Sky and felt certain O’Banions had been the inspiration for the club scene — eerily similar.
(trailer video for Liquid Sky here)

I eventually did get to see the butterfly tattoo. I’d love to say it was all that and a bag or three of chips but tatts just weren’t all glorious and awe inspiring back then. This was a proficient but wholly uninspiring line drawing with ink faded to that nasty navy blue/greenish old color.

Ah well, we can't all have a Tintoretto tattooed on our lovely cazzone.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that my Mork had shuffled off this mortal coil as well. He was a wild man, a total free spirit and a reckless adventurer. Grittily incandescent. I wish there was a way to learn his fate but, ya know, I never knew Doug's last name. It was a carnie thing...yo?

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