Issue 22, Magazine

Jay Reatard: The Ballad of Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr.

Alex Moore :: Monday, November 2nd, 2009 4:00 pm

As much as he obliges to fulfill the role of the punk-rock prankster in chief for his generation, Reatard works doggedly, almost academically, to craft concise pop songs. “I like simple music,” he says, “—songs that that are broken down to a few elements. A lot of people say, ‘You do that because you’re dumb.’ But it’s a choice. I’m trying to write something that you can immediately decide whether you like or not.”

“All right, go pay the bar tab and let’s get out of here,” he instructs me. And as quickly as I’ve fallen into his good graces, I fall right back out: apparently there is an issue with how much I’ve tipped the bartender. “That guy fucking hooked us up, man­—what the fuck,” Jay implores me, as we all walk back to his house. I think maybe he’s kidding, but he’s most assuredly not. Billy intercedes on my behalf with a noncommittal, “Aw, come on…” The conversation drifts elsewhere but doesn’t really get back on track until we stop by a convenience store next to Jay’s house. “It’s cool,” he offers by way of absolution, “you can buy the next case of beer.” I do, and all is right in the world once more.

Jay’s new house is like a teenager’s dream clubhouse come true. Sure he’s just moved in, but it’s rife with a chaos one suspects won’t change an iota no matter how long he lives here. There are clothes on the floor, guitars, ashtrays, and mountains of vinyl records in disarray, which spin on the record player constantly. On the mantle in his living room is a big pile of wadded-up cash, a biography of Adolph Hitler (“A joke,” he assures me, and he means it), and a skull that he’s pretty sure belonged to a dog. “This is disgusting—I gotta get rid of this,” he says, laughing. The skull was a gift from a girl he met at a local metal show. “There was this Mexican black metal band—they had all these skulls and actual animal parts. The best part was, after the show they wheeled off the animal parts and barbequed that shit in their backyard.”

As the evening wears on, more of his friends drift over and everyone gets more inebriated. Jay tells me there’s a guy down the block who sells whip-hits, in case that’s my thing. Someone has dragged the cardboard box that Jay’s new refrigerator came in onto the kitchen floor, and as hip-hop records spin we try our best break-dancing moves. I try a head-spin. At some point, looking to re-enact the chair-fighting scene from Gummo, Jay drags a white plastic chair into the kitchen and starts beating the shit out it, to high hilarity. Someone starts smashing it with a monkey wrench and Jay, going for the mother of all chair-fighting moves, climbs on top of his refrigerator, and like a pro wrestler lunging from the top rope, jumps off and body-slams the chair, smashing it.

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2 Responses to “Jay Reatard: The Ballad of Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr.”
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