Today Sick Of ‘Em features a guest spot from Wes Flexner. Wes is a music journalist from Columbus Ohio. He has a regular column in The Other paper as well as his site http://www.donewaiting.com/ . A few months ago Mr. Flexner asked me to share a story about my friend the late Tero “Camu Tao” Smith for Done Waiting. So today I decided to return the favor and feature some of Flexner’s work here. Enjoy…..*originally published as part of this project http://uas.osu.edu/joydivisions
Pain Brings Joy Division
After Columbus rapper Camu Tao passed away in 2008, Cd’s of his unreleased music record began resurfacing. DJ Pos 2 was kind enough to break me off with a burned disc of Serial Carpens which act as perfect capsule of how futuristically funny Camu could be. But before I get in on a minor detail in an artist’s career that showed his sense of humor that was sometimes hidden in his circulated records, let’s get familiar with Camu by reading his Obituary that Hip Hop superproducer EL-P wrote that was published in the Columbus Dispatch May 25th, 2008:.
SMITH Tero Alexander “Camu Tao” Smith, age 30, passed away Sunday, May 25, 2008, at the Ohio State University Medical Center, after quietly fighting for his life, having been diagnosed with lung cancer. To those who knew Tero, he was an almost unrecognizable force of nature: wild, hilarious, proud, loving, tough, outspoken, spontaneous, and brilliant. He wore his heart on his sleeve and he dripped creativity, leaving inspiration and awe in the hearts and minds of anyone who was fortunate enough to see him work. He was an artist on the Definitive Jux Record label, and had been a resident of New York City for many years, where he had gone to pursue his music career. His family and friends have truly had their collective hearts broken by his passing, not only because of the loss of a friend, but because of the loss of his contribution to those who never knew what his friends knew about his talent and his potential. He was the secret that no one wanted to keep, and his friends always knew that one day his vision and his heart could change the music forever, the way he changed the lives of all who knew him. He leaves to cherish his memory his parents…
This obituary is a good summary of Camu. He was constantly creative, even when making silly joke side projects that never saw the light of day like Serial Carpens.
One of the most ridiculous songs on Serial Carpens was called “Mechanical Whores” and was about a fleet of robot sex slaves who were lifelike and had a program installed that consistently solicited sex. Serial Carpens was has happy when one mechanical sex slave took him to a house of robotic dolls. Now like I said, this was a joke song. Camu was funny. This wasn’t his dream. Part of understanding Camu now is that he could make amazing fundamental Hip Hop songs like “Hold the Floor” and then create futuristically silly records from the vantage point of an absurd character. While Camu was creative, he by no means was the Nikolas Telsa of pocket rockets. Maybe the Philip K. (sorry…) However, when laughing to “Mechanical Whores” then and now, I would ask myself this question: Would I have sex with robot?
Obviously the answer is always no because it implies coitus with a fucking robot. But…I mean these days, with our text poems on cell-phones, internets, tanning beds and vibrators–although, as a self-respecting hetro non-metro sexual male, I don’t use a vibrator or tanning bed–none of those things are too far off from what people do these days that synthesize personal or physical intimacy. SO, before we continue, ask yourself this question: Would you fuck an android if it was extremely humanlike?
A family member of mine has Down Syndrome. I went to a dance for Down Syndrome kids the same day that I went to see Diplo (oh….if only my ramble had time to compare and contrast…). As far as the Down syndrome dance went, it was wild because all these kids definitely had libidos. They would simulate sexual acts with the ground and try to partial holler at any girl in distance. It was as futile and as a strange as you would envision, especially in a church that had Faith book posters hanging up, providing good clean humor with mock-ups of Facebook pages for God and Jesus (God’s pet peeve is Ned Flanders).
Now, don’t you think I am clowning anyone.
Imagine what your hormones were like at 15. Imagine what it would be like if everyone treated you like a eunuch because really they didn’t know who would want to fuck you. Obviously loving relationships do exist between mentally handicap people. But I mean dating is pretty hard. Imagine if your pool was that small; it might not always work out.
And the person without Down Syndrome who would fuck someone with Down Syndrome would either have to be a saint or an extreme pervert. I think we can all agree that sexual repression over lifetime could cause great psychological misery, but legalized prostitution for psychological purposes to remedy this problem would be problematic on several fronts, everything from the fact that prostitution is illegal, to the unfortunate probablity of someone falling in love with a prostitute. So, I could see the one humane use for the lifelike mechanical sex partners.
Obviously the above statements I just made about people with a mental disability are somewhat offensive if not taken with a grain of salt and an understanding that I am more using this as a means to highlight two things:
1. Sex is mad real, son. Libido, neurosis…whatever one would want to say…
- 2. As odd as it is imply that a human could have sex with a machine, it’s not as horrific as the idea of a sex slave.
This is where I really don’t understand the Nazi’s sex slave camps. Nazi men were employed, empowered, sharply dressed soldiers. I mean, I have trouble believing in a fascist environment that sloppy attire or being out of shape would be permitted. A true ubermensch should require that a woman be strongly attracted to her before he has sex. That seems very basic. Rape is something that should be reserved for like people in prison for, iono,…child molestation?
House of Dolls allegedly was an inverse, a prison camp of victims run by the metaphorical child molesters, i.e. the most horrifical of the criminals. Unlike a mythical mechanical robot woman, the sex slaves of the Nazi camps were 14 to 19 year old girls. I mean it’s obvious to state cutting the uterus out of a 15 year-old as punishment for uncoopertative behaviour is painful and just plain grotesquely, horrifyingly weird.
Do I need to say that? Government mandated rape is bad. And as much as it speaks terribly of Aryan supermen, imagine being a 14-year old girl, fresh to braziers and fantasies. Do you get to have a crush on Ian Curtis in the movie Control or on some 16 year-old in your art class? No way. No sir, you are captive and subjected during a time period of intense discovery during which sex is supposed to become an incredibly personal an existential vehicle for personal enjoyment.
While I would never completely correlate sexually slavery and an icon with a health concern, there is a joy division of being able to make history, whether personal or worldwide, but having to have a violent seizure or horrific convulsive sex every time you do. Similar to a sex slave camp…
Sex should be enjoyable but it’s not because you are sex slave.
Similar to performing if you are an epileptic.
Now, one would state that Ian Curtis could easily have quit making music. He wasn’t a direct hostage during one of humanity’s worst periods. He didn’t have to kill himself. He wasn’t obligated to have a baby mom and a girlfriend. He could have chosen to never perform again. But then who can say that those precautions would’ve kept him from his eventual demise.
I never met Ian Curtis so I can’t state what that man was thinking. But a can apply a personal experience and guess. I remember when Columbus producer DJ PRZM suffered a stroke right that acted for a foreshadowing of his impending death. When the doctor said that he should stop having sex, drinking, Deejaying, and performing, the local Hip Hop community knew the end was soon.
When DJ POS 2 made announcement June 10th, 2007 on www.undergroundhiphop.com,:
im just spreading the word to those who have lost touch with przm thru the years or met him thru touring or what not…
przm passed away this sunday afternoon. since his birth, he had a heart condition that made him very tired, weak, and unmotivated at times but he was still able to bless yall with some bangers.
camu tao – hold the floor
copywrite – ten times
sa smash – smash tv and a few others on the lp
illogic – off the clock ep
spitball was the crew he established when he came here to columbus. he also started a hiphop night here(bernies) that ran for 6 consecutive years and brought cats from akrobatik, c rayz, breeze evahflowin, rack lo and thirstin howl, supastition, and many others.
przm recorded material with copywrite and jakki in ’99-’01that was called “foulmouf dux” that never seen the light of day but some tracks are floating around columbus and maybe i can put some up.
spread the word. przm will be missed by many.
if anybody needs some information or would just needs to talk in general, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
not one single person questioned why PRZM, even in his weakest state, didn’t follow direct advice on how to not die. Now, whether we are discussing DJ PRZM, or Ian Curtis, a choice exists between death or your greatest passion. While Ian Curtis was most certainly experiencing a Joy Division, and it would be wonderful to say that he read House of Dolls and named the band accordingly, much like the nature of this art show, the origin of the name is more abstract.
Bernard Sumner, Joy Divisions’ guitarist and keyboard player, in the 2007 documentary stated something the effect of that he had only flipped through the book when he can came across the name. He said they liked it because it was very “punk sounding”. Remember Joy Divison got their start after seeing the Sex Pistols play in Manchester.
What makes this Punk? Obviously Joy Division wasn’t a fascist group hoping to rekindle the days of state-enforced rape. What makes fascism fashionable is first off, it always has composure and composition. That’s just one layer of it though. When a punk rock artist appropriates a fascist image for non-fascist purposes, they imply that while this looks cool, there is an underlying horribleness in the way humans treat each other. There is an absurdity to it that transcends morality that is darkly funny in a neither sadistic nor masochist form, although it does comment on how sadistic and masochistic people can be.
Let’s take another localized example.
Daymon Dodson died in 2006. He was popular locally as a rapper and personality under the name Racist Joe. He was a good friend of mine. Daymon’s obituary in the Dispatch described him as thus:
Daymon William Avery Dodson, age 29, suddenly went home to the Lord Wednesday, August 16, 2006 at his residence. He was born June 24, 1977 in Columbus, OH, and was a life-long member of Rhema Christian Center. Daymon was a graduate of C.A.H.S., had attended Columbus State Community College, and was working as a contract artist for Abercrombie & Fitch apparel. His artistic gifts included design illustration and music. A trained musician, he played the violin and piano, and was also a celebrated local emcee and DJ.
Racist Joe isn’t usually a moniker of popular African-American community figure. Daymon took the name from a local skinhead of the same name. Dame thought it was so impressive that someone could be perceived so racist that word racist would be attached as a primary description. Kinda like “Fat Joe”, “Big Pun”, or Notorious B.I.G.,but more fascist and confusing coming from a gigantic African-American. Daymon knew it would bother people, so he went with it even though his music or lifestyle didn’t promote racism or fascism.
Daymon died from complication from seizure stemming from Temperal Lobe Epilipsy. Ian Curtis, Doestovksky, Abraham Lincoln, Philip K Dick and many others all suffered from Temperal Lobe Epilipsy. While there are studies saying that people with this problem experience mystical “god center” feelings during the seizures. Obviously, things like that are uncertain. Daymon’s passing did elicite an ethereal effect.
Daymon’s existence is celebrated every by his friends with a parade. There have been murals, basketball tournaments as part of this celebration. The initial parade was intense because it was a on a football Saturday on the OSU campus. That makes campus like the population density of Manhattan, but filled with suburban Ohioans that really love Ohio State sports. Graffiti writers, skaters, bike messengers, rappers, metal bands, bar owners, Daymon’s family, and his church congregation marched in the middle of road with a police escort through a sea of drunken Buckeyes. Daymon had a huge afro so the images of people were carrying startled everyone. It looked like a Black Panther Rally mixed with a Hipster music festival. Skateboarders were doing kick flips behind police cruisers.
People were chanting and spelling out Racist Joe, which was probably extremely confusing to the sports fans that were toasting a Buckeye victory. I am sure people turned on the television expecting to see a horrible police brutality scandal involving an Officer Joseph.
When the parade ended, the marchers stood there for a while and realized the strangest and saddest joy imaginable. I would have to say a public death turns communities into organisms and a can have feeling and more intensely personal than orgasms at times.