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The Misfits, Bruce Carleton & one nutty Scotsman
BC vs. The Misfits

You remember in grade school when you’d get in a fight with some guy and somehow end up being friends? You remember later getting in a fight with some guy in Junior High School and all you ended up with was a fat lip and an enemy for life? Somehow the former scenario was the one that applied when I met The Misfits.

I was upstairs at the Mudd Club sitting at a booth with some folks, among whom was Steve Maas, the owner. The upstairs was the “exclusive” area that regular people were not supposed to be allowed into, but the way it worked out was that probably more people got up there than didn’t. My being there attests to that. Anyway, Steve was complaining that nothing exciting ever happened at the Mudd Club. I said, “You want some excitement?” He nodded. I spied a group of guys on their way to the exit; one of them happened to have long hair. I handed my glasses to Steve, stood up, and shouted across the crowded room “Hey YOU!” He looked around a little puzzled. “Yeah YOU!” Seeing that I had his attention, I zeroed in: “Get a haircut!

I can’t remember whether he was mad or amused or what, but I tend to think it was a combination. Anyway, he came strutting over to our booth, and we were face-to-face ready for our showdown.

Marshall Matt Dillon

Now it was time for somebody to make his move. Both of us adhered to the Marshal Dillon tradition of not drawing first, so there was a momentary pause. Dilemma: What next? The question was answered in the twinkling of an eye by a guy that had been sitting at our booth. I don’t know his name, and I never saw him again…all I remember is that he was from Scotland. At the time this didn’t mean much to me, but later in life I came to realize that it was all I really needed to know about him as regards this equation. There he was literally flying from his position at the inside corner of the booth, over the head of whoever was sitting next to him, and landing right on top of my foe.

Immediately, of course, there was mayhem as the longhair’s buddies joined in, etc. But it was short-lived and relatively mild mayhem. Steve’s bouncers were right on top of things, and nobody had been too serious to begin with. I remember one of the bouncers telling me I ought to shake hands with the other guy. (Do people do that kind of thing anymore? Did people do that kind of thing then?) I smiled and said “Sure!” I put my arm around him and offered him a beer. Everybody started laughing and all was congenial.

The Misfits Bullet EP cover

It turned out the longhaired guy was the road manager for The Misfits, whoever they were. We learned they had sent Punk one of their singles. It had a picture of JFK’s head exploding--I had thought it was from the Dead Kennedys, whom I had heard of at that point but didn’t know anything about. Nobody had listened to it yet. [Historical note: it was the Bullet EP containing the songs “Attitude” and "We Are 138,” among others. When we got around to putting it on, it turned out to kick butt. We never actually read the name of the songs, though, and thought they were singing “We are one dirty ape.” “You got some fuckin’ attitude,” however, was harder to misunderstand.]

And, as these things tend to go, Patricia Ragan, who was at our booth, was already friends with a couple of them. (She had understandably not taken part in the events up to this point.) So we ended up hanging out for the rest of the evening, and many other evenings after that… although I never saw the longhaired guy again that I recall.

The Misfits: Shit, not that guy Carleton again!

That was my last fun grade-school-style fight. Since then all the ones I’ve been in (and I’m happy to say I haven’t been in any for a long time… I guess it helps that I don’t go out and get drunk at sleazy bars much anymore) have been totally stupid, with endings that were far from satisfactory. So the moral is: choose your fights well, especially if you’re over twelve.

[For a review of a latter-day Misfits record, go to Listening Party 14.]

Joe Cahill
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