ASK JOHN LURIE (Arthur, 2003)

Originally published in Arthur No. 3 (March 2003)


We’ve been informed that Arthur’s supposed regular advice columnist, Fat Possum recording artist T-Model Ford of Greenville Mississippi, is too busy facilitating a 10-day workshop-retreat on “Transpersonal Enlightenment and Ancient Wisdom” in Peru to take any of our goddamn questions right now. He’ll be back next issue, no doubt.

Our advice columnist this issue is John Lurie, who needs no introduction. (pause) Right. For the more curious members of Arthur’s readership, here’s an update on Mr. Lurie’s current activities. John claims that he is on sabbatical from music, and is living in New York City while working on an autobiography entitled What Do You Know About Music, You’re Not a Lawyer. Also, he just fired his girlfriend. 

None of this has been independently verified. 

Onto the questions…

Q: I’m 25 and have two children from previous relationships. I met my boyfriend a year ago and we hit it off immediately. He’s 28, divorced with two sons. I find him funny, gorgeous, witty and charming and we are totally relaxed together. 

When we first had sex, it was the best ever. He is a fantastic lover. We were planning to spend our lives together and I want this more than anything but for some reason I have gone out of my way to sabotage the relationship by sleeping with many other men. I go out with my friends and as soon as another man shows any interest, I’m there. I have met men in clubs and gone home with them. The sex is never up to much and I am disgusted with myself afterwards. I decided to stop going clubbing to avoid temptation and started just going to pubs in town with my mates. 

My boyfriend found out about the flings and was devastated. I seem to go out of my way to hurt him but I felt brokenhearted when he told me recently he was seeing someone else. I thought I had lost him but he was back a week later to see how I was and we ended up sleeping together. He still comes round and we have sex but now I am the one who feels betrayed. He says he has feelings for me but he is still with the other woman. I am at my wits’ end about what to do.

John Lurie: You have no business feeling betrayed as you created this situation yourself. You may have to wait a while until he feels he can trust you again. In the meantime, please forward your phone number to our staff.

My daughter spends less and less time with the family since she met her boyfriend. She’s 16 and has just started dating a boy of 19 who we have known for years. He was such a nice boy once but now he is abusive and rude. He has a bad temper and we know he smokes pot. We used to have a good relationship, then he was rude to me. My husband was furious and told our daughter that her boyfriend was a lout who would never be allowed to come into our house again.

Because she can’t now bring him home, the only time we see our girl is at dinner and for a few minutes before she goes to bed. Do you think I’m being too possessive wanting her to spend some time away from this boy? Or should I just leave her alone and hope she comes to her senses?

You are not being too possessive wanting to see your daughter, but I don’t think that is what you really mean. Are you saying you could demand that she spend time with you and away from him? Because that would be a disaster. She is 16 and not supposed to come to her senses for at least another 13 years. One thing you might try is inviting the boy to your house. You must show him how uncomfortable loutish behavior can be. If he smokes a joint, you and your husband could take out your crack pipes and start smoking. Your husband should scream at you constantly, “Smash the pipe! Smash the pipe! We’ll just keep mine. Smash the pipe!” You could suggest that your husband smash his pipe, while you crawl around on the floor picking up pieces of the carpet to smoke. Make sure that you are both hyperventilating. This has been proven to work for many families with teenage daughters.

My boyfriend is perfect for me but he can’t last long when we make love. We are both 22 and have been together four months. I’m multi-orgasmic and self-satisfaction isn’t what I want but most days it is what I end up with. I never tell my boyfriend how I feel because I don’t want him beating himself up over this.

Change the “up” to “off” and have him try it an hour before visiting.

I am 32, my wife is 31 and we already have three girls. We always planned to have four children and would really love for our last child to be a boy. Is there any way we can make this happen?

I would suggest flushing the female kittens down the toilet.

My hubby is 35 and I’m 30. We’ve been married for 12 years and have two children, aged three and six. We have been happy, although things had become a bit dull. We hardly ever went out and only made love at weekends.

Last year two good friends of ours split up. She is 32 and he is 33. They also have two children, aged seven and nine. I should have given them my support but instead I went after the husband, even though I knew she wanted him back desperately. It was exciting at first, meeting in secret and having illicit sex while my husband was at work. We did things that my hubby and I would never do. He made me feel desirable and daring. I felt alive again for the first time in years. Eventually, it all came out and my husband left.

Worse still, I’ve told my lover lots of lies about his wife to keep them apart and he’s treated her terribly because of it. We’ve both neglected our children while we’ve been seeing each other.

This man thinks I’m totally in love with him and that I’ve given up everything for him. The truth is it started out as a bit of fun and a challenge and now I want out.

How do I do it without losing face and owning up to all of my lies? And how do I get my husband back? He has now found someone else but I want him back because I’ve realized what a bad mistake I’ve made.

You’ve already lost face. You have no face at all. If you are seeing a face when you look in the mirror it is the same psychological mechanism that causes phantom limb pain in amputees.

I am 21 and she is 20. We have been together for 18 months and I fancy her like mad. She’s beautiful, loving and sex was brilliant at first. I started having problems six months ago. I can’t satisfy her and she thinks I’ve lost interest. But when I’m alone with a magazine or video, everything works normally.

You aren’t explaining what doesn’t work normally when your girlfriend is there. Perhaps you could get a large cardboard box from outside the local refrigerator store. Cut a large rectangular hole on one side, glue knobs to that same side that say “POWER,” “VOLUME” and “CHANNEL.” Then ask your girlfriend to wear rabbit ears and step inside. Go around the house yelling “Honey! Honey I’m home.” But tell her not to respond.

I’ve been married for six years to the woman I thought was the perfect partner. She’s sexy, good-looking and has been a fantastic mum to our children aged three and 11 months. We’re in our early thirties. For several months my wife has said she is suffering from post-natal depression. Then two weeks ago she said she was was seeing someone else and had also slept with her lover’s friend on one occasion. Then she told me about the group sex video her new man wants to make. The idea horrifies me but she seems to be going along with it. She has changed totally. She ignores the children and won’t do anything for them while speaking to her lover on the phone for hours. She’s obsessed with this man. He’s in his forties and well off. Until the other day she didn’t even know his real name. He lies to her and has no respect for her. 

I’m coming to the end of my tether. I know she uses me and walks all over me but she says she still loves me and he’ll never love her the way I do. I’d forgive anything because I can’t live without her.

I suggest an icicle. There is no murder weapon and no finger prints.

Byron Coley and Thurston Moore’s “Bull Tongue” column from Arthur No. 30 (July 08)

by Byron Coley and Thurston Moore

from Arthur No. 30 (Oct 2008) [available from Arthur Store]

This new Little Claw 7” on the Physical Sewer label which they had on their last roadtrip doesn’t even sound like them. But what do they sound like anyway? They sounded like the greatest goddamned fucking band on the planet the time we saw ‘em. Two minimalist drummers, a guitar dude with a nice underhook rhythm rip and a girl with a badass no wave slather tongue tearing hell out of her slide guitar given half the chance. And not all hellbent rage either—some nice licorice melt drizzle crud groove too. Fuckin’ awesome. This 7” sounds amazing but like some other weirdness was at play in the living room or wherever this beautiful session went down. You’re fucking nuts not to locate this—try their myspace roost.

Although the material is clearly posed, the new Richard Kern book, Looker (Abrams), is as voyeuristic as Gerard Malanga’s classic Scopophilia and Autobiography of a Sex Thief. Kern’s volume combines a feel of chasing a subject and photographing her without her knowledge, with some purely 21st Century tropes (dig the upskirt end papers), but the feel seems to also be a tribute to the ’70s Penthouse mag vibe. The nudes and font and the introductory essay by Geoff Nicholson all combine to create a volume with a much more gentle charge than Kern’s last book, Action. On the virtual opposite end of the photographic spectrum is David B. McKay’s Yuba Seasons (Mountain Images Press), which has some of the best nature photography we’ve seen in a long time. McKay has spent 40 years photographing this Northern California river and the area around it, and he has captured something really mind-blowing about the interaction of water and light and stone. The landscapes are great, but the river shots are beautiful, mysterious, fast and deep. You can feel them as much as you see them. Really fine.

There’s been a whole ark-full of gospel comps the last few decades and Lord yes they are always welcome but just when you think the well is dryin’ up along comes this motherfucker of a manic backwoods backstreet romper Life Is A Problem (Mississippi Records, 4007 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland, OR 97227 tel.: 503-282-2990). It’s been out a while and is even in a second pressing (without the first pressing’s bonus 7”) and is compiled by Eric and Warren from the Mississippi record store and label in Portland, OR and Mike McGonigal, who also annotated. It’s a 14-song set with some really raw guitar blowouts, handclap n’ chant fever stomps and sweet as ‘Bama honey singing. Some names on here we know like the lap-steel slasher Reverend Lonnie Farris but there are some straight up surprises. Particularly “Rock & Roll Sermon” by Elder Charles Beck, where he rails against the devil’s music, all the while kicking rock n roll ass. More sanctified sounds promised from this label in the future. Before this LP they issued a comp called I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore 1927-1948 which is also sheer beauty digging into tracks released by immigrants to America delivering early Zydeco, Salsa, Hawaiian slack key, etc.

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There’s a limited supply: Arthur No. 3 (pub’d Feb 2003) aka THE JOE STRUMMER WAKE ISSUE


We’ve got 50 copies left of Arthur No. 3 (cover date March 2003, pub’d February, 2003). This one’s from the original incarnation (read: best) of Arthur—the pages are gigantic (11×17) and the paper is reasonably high-quality newsprint. Some color, some b/w. We’re selling our remaining stock for $5 each over at the Arthur Store.

Notes on this issue…

Joe Strummer died on December 22, 2002. His death received some notice, of course, but since he’d left us in the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year—when glossy music and culture magazines are basically shut down—real coverage of his passing, and the life that he lived, didn’t happen in the pop culture magazines of record. Big-budget American publications like Rolling Stone, Spin and Blender had already finished their January 2003 issues, so major features couldn’t fit in there without major expense (pulled features, pulped magazines, etc.); and by the time their February 2003 issues rolled around, the news of Joe’s passing would be (to their market-minds) “stale,” and thus to be deserving of only an obligatory page or two. Which is absurd for someone of Joe’s stature, his body of work, and commitment to The Cause.

At Arthur, we decided to pull the cover feature that we had in progress. Working together, with no editorial budget, the budding Arthur gang was able to put together something of substance very quickly, and get it out to the people, for free, in mass quantities (50,000 copies), within weeks of Joe’s passing.

Our wake for Joe Strummer would not have happened without journalist/archivist Kristine McKenna. She had a recent, lengthy (3800 words), and yes, poignant conversation with Joe on tape—a really great conversation, of course (this IS Kristine McKenna, after all) that the LAWeekly had used just a bit from in a feature earlier in the year. Kristine had witnessed The Clash at the top of their game, so she could offer some real historical perspective. And, crucially, Kristine knew that her friend, the L.A. photographer Ann Summa, had a trove of gorgeous photographs of Joe, few of which had ever been published. And Kristine got us permission to reprint a Clash-related page from Slash, the crucial late-’70s underground L.A. magazine. Meanwhile, my old colleague Carter Van Pelt, a reggae enthusiast, offered a new interview about Joe that he conducted with Mikey Dread.

Soon we had reports from all over. People were picking up multiple copies of the magazine and redistributing it. The golden centerfold of Ann Summa photo of Joe (worked on with a great deal of care and attention by Arthur’s brilliant art director, W.T. Nelson) was being torn out of the magazine and posted on record store walls, in dorm rooms, in clubs. There are other strong pieces in this issue—the John Coltrane book excerpt, especially—but it’s Joe’s issue. As it should be.

Here’s how the contents page read:

JOE STRUMMER, 1952-2002

Arthur holds a wake in print for a man who mattered. In addition to stunning photographs by Ann Summa and excerpts of back-in-the-day Clash coverage from Slash magazine, we present reflections on Joe by Kristine McKenna; a lengthy, poignant interview with Joe from 2001 by McKenna; a consideration by Carter Van Pelt of the Clash’s embrace of reggae, featuring insights from Clash collaborator Mikey Dread; and a brief on Joe’s legacy: a forest in the Isle of Skye.

At the height of both his popularity and his artistic powers, JOHN COLTRANE went for something deeper. An exclusive, chapter-length excerpt from A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album by Ashley Kahn.

The intrepid Gabe Soria connects with every single member of THE POLYPHONIC SPREE, the cheeriest 24-person pop symphony on the planet, in addition to chatting at length with Spree leader Tim DeLaughter about the “c” word, the Spree’s next move, and the sadness that remains. Portrait by Paul Pope.

“ASK JOHN LURIE”: He may be in self-described “hermit mode” but this longtime Lounge Lizard is eager to lend a helping hand to his fellow man. And woman too.

In the work of artist SHIRLEY TSE, plastic aspires to more than Pop. Mimi Zeiger reports.

COMICS by Sammy Harkham, Jordan Crane, Johnny Ryan, Sam Henderson, Marc Bell and Ron Rege Jr.

Byron Coley & Thurston Moore review underground music, film and texts.

And more more more

Arthur No. 3 is available from the Arthur Store.