Why Darby Crash Drinks Heineken
Don't burn my scalp, Amber!
“Because when you spill it, it doesn't smell like piss when it dries."
That's why he's buying expensive imported beer instead of some cheap domestic. He wants to explain. He cracks open two bottles and hands me one. His cat eyes are deep black, with huge round pupils. Who knows what he’s swallowed. His girlfriend massages bleach into the sheared hair on either side of his tall lacquered mohawk. It’s a Mohican, he insists to everyone. Darby’s a stickler for the right word.
"Don't burn my scalp, Amber!" he cries.
"Relax, Mr. Punk Rock."
"It feels like a conflagration."
I'm 18, and I live on the uncool suburban side of the crumbling hills. On a wet Saturday afternoon I drive to Hollywood in my parents’ car. I park down Franklin St. and carry my guitar over my shoulder, like I saw Johnny Ramone do in Rock Scene magazine. It's more punk without a case. Amber points me to a pillow on the floor of the bare living room. Darby nods, stretches out on the couch with his leather jacket draped over him, staring at the ceiling.
“Go,” she snaps. I plug into my tiny Pignose amp and play "Ritchie Dagger's Crime.” It sounds feeble, echoing off the walls.
She smacks Darby on the leg. “Well?”
"He’s got blue eyes like Billy Zoom." He stands and yawns. "Let's go get some beer." Twenty minutes later we’re carrying those Heinekens back.
Now Amber’s off in the bedroom. Darby and I watch Hell’s Angels on Wheels on a black-and-white TV and drink the fancy beer. Cars hiss by the windows, like Jim Morrison said. Hollywood smells like wet wool socks and diesel fumes.
There's an ad for some truck-driver school. “What do you do for a job?” he asks.
“I’m in college. But I'm gonna drop out, ya know, whatever.”
He rolls his empty bottle into the corner and fishes around in the paper bag. “Why would you do that?”
"Well - um. I dunno.”
He cracks two more beers and hands me one, watching the TV impassively. His gnarly buck teeth push his lips out and his eyes are gentle and unfocused. "Trucker school would be cool."
The movie comes back on and he murmurs, "Jack Nicholson. Look how young he is.”
Jack sidles up to a car and strikes a pose. He looks exactly like Darby waiting for change in the liquor store.
“Wild. He’s the wild card. In every movie. He's the one-eyed Jack.” He drains his bottle and rolls it away. “Or, the suicide King.”
It was 1980. I was a kid and Darby Crash was my idol. I got plenty of bruises and shed some blood at Germs shows. When I got to audition for his solo band it was a spooky dream. He was sweet, at least to me the little time I spent with him. Poor Darby.