Essay- RICK POTTS (Meeting Monitor)

On Halloween 1978 the Joe Potts’ LAFMS noise rock supergroup Airway played aparty at LACE gallery in Downtown Los Angeles. After arriving and hauling
car loads of gear in, Juan Gomez and I were approached by a brainy looking
guy, the Poindexter type, from one of the other bands. He politely asked if
his band could use our extention cord. At first I was a bit hesitant but
Juan said they were cool so we let Michael and his group Monitor use it.
First, Non played. They were still a two-piece outfit and I was impressed
with Boyd’s electric guitar with spinning fan blades apparatus.
The absurdist improv. chamber ensemble, Fat and Fucked-Up, played that night
but I only recall the presence of Josie Roth and Michael Intriere with their
respective viola and cello.
Next ,I remember watching Monitor. They were stiff and wore matching dark
blue worker uniforms, long sleeve shirts with the top buttons done and
matching pants. There was some genuinely strange about them. I am reminded
of the Twilight Zone episode where the polite bikers are evil aliens in
disguise. They started playing and my first thought was “These guys are a
Devo rip-off”. As they played their set I soon decided I liked their songs.
They were odd yet kind of catchy. They showed a film loop of cheerleaders
that was pretty funny, too. By the end they had won me over.
They were much subtler than Devo (who I also like). They weren’t weird for
weird-sake.
Michael was really friendly. He returned the cord and gave me a copy of
their Computer Buddy booklet. It was really great. The collages of old
clipart and graphics with captions were surreal and funny. It reminded me a
little of some Mail Art I had seen except this was really meticulously done
and had a more professional quality that made it all the stranger.
Airway played and it was crazy. Joe’s ‘come hither’ subliminal messages,
played behind the noise rock cacophony lured the drunken audience into rude
interactions with the band. They were grabbing at instruments and at one
point some guy hoisted Vetza, our petite vocalist, into the air. At the next
show, Joe used ‘stay back’ subliminal messages. That might have been the
show where the audience ended up listening from downstairs and across the
street. (Airway was also extremely loud.)
Lastly, the Young Nazis played. It was a pre-Nervous Gender ensemble that
Michael Ochoa and I think Geraldo were in. It was quite a night.
As we packed up and shuttled our gear down to the street we saw a
bodybuilder type, painted green and dressed like the Hulk for Halloween,
nursing a bloodied nose.

The next summer LAFMS spin-off rock bands Human Hands and BPeople were
doing shows around town. Michael, Laurie and Steve came to a Hong Kong Cafe
show. Human Hands played and we hung out in front after the show. They were
really fun and charming. They each had a smartly twisted charming sense of
humor and they told us they really liked our band. They liked the ‘carnival’
sound we had. They were so cool, mostly because they were having fun and
weren’t interested in being ‘cool’. I found it impossible not to have a
crush on Laurie.
Over they next year Human Hands ended up playing quite a few shows. Often
BPeople, Monitor and/or Non would be on the bill. This coincided with all
of us collecting skull knick-knacks and jewelry. In these Pre-Gothic days
skull stuff wasn’t at as prevalent and mostly vintage items were around. We
would admire each other’s doodads at gigs. Somebody came up with the idea of
the Associated Skull Bands or ASB. We were friends whose bands did shows
together. I thought it was a joke, like the Los Angeles Free Music Society.
That year, LAFMS started collecting tracks for a new compilation record
titled, Darker Skratcher(sic). 45 Grave started up around that time.
They gave us a tape for our new comp. and were added to the ASB roster.
Monitor submitted a track, ‘Guardian’, which was included.
This was the only time Monitor was on a LAFMS release. (Pet Wedding and Beak
were included in the 10 CD box set put out by RRRecords and the Cortical
Foundation in 1996 but that doesn’t count). Steve submitted an amazing
collage to be used as the cover. Before it could be used it was unsubmitted
because Monitor unanimously objected to the intentionally misspelled
‘Skratcher’ in the title. They despised perpetuating illiteracy. I suspect
that it had to do with the fact that they worked at the CSUN library and
were sensitive to the issue. Steve’s artwork was used for Monitors LP
instead. We ended up using some crappy drawing for Darker Skratcher.

There were other problems with the collaboration. The tape that Monitor
submitted to us had no leader tape. It was a reworking of an earlier song
“Panic at Northridge Mall” that was reversed and tracks (cymbal crashes)
were added on top. When it came time to splice it into the master reel with
the other songs Chip Chapman, the main man behind the project, cut off a few
moments of a click track at the beginning.
Unfortunately, those clicks were considered part of the song. The ticking
had been at the end of the original song (now the beginning) and represented
the ticking of a bomb. The record was already mastered and we couldn’t
afford to redo it. Also, confusion lead to Non’s inner groove loop being
given the wrong title. These problems probably lead World Imitation to
decide in the future they would rather do it themselves where they have
control over the situation. I figured they had their own record label and
didn’t need us to screw things up for them. Despite the mistakes I’m still
really glad that song is on that record. Darker Skratcher was like the
Apollo-Soyuz mission. Explorers from different societies meeting up.
Differences brought about some problems and some mistakes were made.
Adjustments and compromises were made for the good of the mission.
Aside from those instances, World Imitation was not affiliated with the
LAFMS. They were friends but they had their own very different thing. It was
a homemade do-it-yourself record label, not like ours. The esthetics were
quite different.
Monitor was my favorite local band and in some ways I thought they were
scarier than the other bands. They weren’t punk posers but seemed more like
a mysterious isolated cult with their own rules and regulations. I didn’t
always understand them. They were disciplined and smart and serious despite
the fact they were fun to be with. They were constantly creative and
voraciously made and collected amazing things. Their group was smaller and
more tight knit then ours. They worked as a single organism with duties for
each member that took advantage of each one’s unique talents. I think that
maybe the library inspired them and helped them be more organized while the
LAFMS which was comparatively really a big mess. We were big, free and
unruly, constantly trying all sorts of things. They were fiercely focused
like scientists.

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