"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> THE TALENTED MR. DICTOR
THE TALENTED MR. DICTOR
By Dave Dictor
The other day I got an E-mail from two females from Germany named Ute and Olga. I couldn't place them at first. I get a lot of e-mail via MDC's web site that I'm not sure who the hey they are these days. They had referred to me as their "silly generous American friend," and they were from Berlin. Then as I was trying to fall asleep the other night I finally placed them. Silly, ah yes indeed. I'll explain that later. Back in the fall of 1982, MDC, learned that the Dead Kennedys were planning a European tour and so we asked Jello Biafra if we could go. We waited for both Flipper and DOA to decide if they were gonna go or not. When eventually they had declined their invitations(there was very little money in it), we were on our way with the Dead Kennedys on tour that December following them around England, Belgium, Holland, and Germany opening for between 1,500 and 2,000 people nightly. We would get to the shows early and be hanging out in front waiting for them to arrive to be admitted by the security. On the continent, as they say over there dividing Europe from England, while waiting innocently enough, we would be approached by Belgium, Dutch and German young folks. Upon seeing our van and encountering our Americaness they would immediately assume we were indeed the Dead Kennedys. And remember this was 1982, English speaking young people were fewer and farther between back then. There was no internet or easy photo access. Our conversations would go like this, "Hello, you are the Dead Kennedys?" To which we'd reply, "No, we're not, We are with the Dead Kennedys, opening for them tonight." Then they would reply, "then you are Yello Biafra?" I'd reply, "No but he'll be here playing tonight." Then, they would turn to their friends, say something in German, then we would be surrounded by dozens of misinformed non English-speaking Euros with pen and paper being told you are "soooo zuper" and to "pppppplease make autograph." We would try to straighten this all out to no avail. I would end up signing, To Fritz, Best Wishes from a close personal friend of Jello Biafra. I tried to fight it for a while but at a certain point I snapped and when asked, I'd say "Of course,(then I'd mumble),a close personal friend of, (and then loudly again) Jello Biafra." I hugged and kissed hundreds of them. I might be going out on a limb but I think Americans everywhere would have been proud to see how I represented American punk rock and so what if there was a little misunderstanding to the whole thing. My band, on the other hand, started distancing themselves from me and viewed my behavior as some sort of neurosis. I didn't care, truly, I reveled in it.
In subsequent tours, MDC was back on its own, and this was not a problem for my band anymore. But somewhere down the line, I tried to tour Europe as a vegan and remember, this was "back in the day" so to speak, vegan pickings were slim. Somewhere in the 3rd week, after living on a diet of black bread, semi-sweet chocolate and beer, I started losing it again. Young, upwardly mobile, German punk music loving youth had a hard time excepting that after our two-month tour, when we went home to California, that we didn't go back to a better life than collecting food stamps, writing new songs and janitoring weekends in a gay bar. They seemed disturbed by this answer and I found myself wanting to help them through this. So then while doing interviews, I started sprucing up my biography and current going ons. So to the question, What have I been doing besides the band at home?" "Well I've been making movies." "Movies they'd exclaim with a look of satisfaction and awe. "Yes, in the last Star Trek I was the main Klingon. Its amazing what they can do with make up these days." They'd smile and nod their heads in agreement. Eventually I'd find myself saying, "I loved punk music but probably never would have gotten this involved with it except that the chlorine in the pools bothered my eyes so much that I wasn't gonna put up with it for another four years just to win a second round of medals in the Olympics." When they'd ask how many medals I had won, I'd find myself mixing it up to always keep the answer fresh. "One gold and one bronze , I'd answer, " for the hundred meters and the four hundred." "Wow," they'd say slowly. Looking at me with admiration, all the while appreciating my humility. Soon I'd be telling them of astronaut school, my love of outer space and all its challenges and how disappointed I became when NASA announced the plans for unmanned flights. "It's just not the same," I'd say in a low voice, as they looked sympathetic and bowed their heads a bit lower so as not to miss a word.
The only problems would occur was when my band would catch wind of these exploits.. It irked me that they couldn't see how I was doing this for the kids, not for myself as they would suggest on what was becoming our longer and longer van rides as we traveled from gig to gig. Then publicly they started refuting that we didn't own a llama ranch and how at the end of this tour I was not returning to my first love, the stage and the bright lights of Broadway. Why were they interfering with me? As far as I was concerned, they could have said anything they liked and far be it from me to want to ruin these young Europeans' dreams. But no, they had to monopolize every interview with reality and worse, follow me around and monitor all my conversations. Now a days people ask where are the original members of MDC? I reply, "Not here," and think or interrupting my conversations and straightening out my life's facts any longer, thank you very much. But any way I found myself very bored of these controlled interviews. I'd look for the bar or the drinking sections of the clubs or squats we were playing at and avoid my band to the best of my abilities.
One night I met this beautiful young German woman with the greenest, most hazel eyes I had ever seen. It took me a bit of time to warm up but after a little while I had this shy, quiet very attractive woman smiling at my charm. Eagerly she listened to my real passion in this life, surfing and my world wide search for the perfect wave. At one point she excused herself, got up and went to the bathroom. I was sitting there feeling very good about myself, thinking how far I'd come. I remembered how back in high school and college, pretty women like these wouldn't ask me for the time, nevertheless sit, converse and beg my pardon to use the bathroom. Yes, a very long way, I reminded myself. And then another woman tapped me on my shoulder and said, " That her name was Olga and that Ute is her best friend and that I'd better not fuck with her or I'd have to deal with her!" I said, "What, I wouldn't dream of it." She said, "Good, cause her friend was going through some terrible times and didn't need some American asshole to fuck with her head. Her grandmother is very sick and the government had cut off her welfare check and that I better not fuck with her head." I nodded and said okay and when she returned I certainly was a whee bit sobered up. We started talking again and I turned the conversation to her and asked how she was doing? She talked a little bit and her eyes drifted out into space and I could see them welling up with water. "Oh my," I thought and touched her hand. I imagined myself being Humphrey Bogart touching Ingrid Bergman"s hand in Casablanca. That together, self-confident American male reaching out to my female European counterpart. I reached into my pocket and handed her two hundred Deutschmarks and said, "I heard some stuff," and basically wanted her to have the money and to go see her grandmother." She got up and said she'd be back and I saw her and her friend leave. I thought about it all, as I nursed my scotch on the rocks, my drink of choice back then. I was feeling very stoic, I might exaggerate a story or two but underneath it all, I was a good one. This thought held for quite a bit until the bartender came up to me at the bar and said, " hey surfer Joe, don't worry too hard about Ute. She and Olga work all you American dudes." At first it seemed so wrong, but after a little thinking on it I concluded, what goes around indeed does come around. Well you all have a good day and greetings to Ute and Olga of Berlin.