PILE OF SHIT: An Oral History of The Neal Pollack Invasion's Punk Rock Show and Book Signing, October 12, 2003
MONICA FITZPADRICK: The last time I saw Neal, I wore a T-shirt that read, "Neal Pollack Is A Son Of A Bitch." I knew I had to top myself this time. So I had Sean write on my stomach, with a black Sharpie, "Neal Pollack, You're Still A Son Of A Bitch!"
SEAN KEANE: Monica was pretty mad when I used an exclamation point instead of a period, but then again, it was almost 6 PM, so she'd been drinking pretty steadily for nearly seven hours. She took a couple of half-hearted swings at me, and then calmed down when I promised we could take some bourbon on the train with us.
MONICA FITZPADRICK: Sean really wanted to write on his stomach as well, but I told him it was a bad idea. Because he's a little heavy, you know? It's for his own good. And mine. And Neal's.
EVERY GODDAMN BOSTON FAN IN THE WHOLE CITY: We decided to get on the same train as Monica and Sean to ensure that neither one of them got a seat and that they were as late as possible to the reading/punk rock show, even though our game would be rained out. And it worked.
NICO: I didn't go to the show, because I'm dead, but if this had taken place thirty years earlier, I would have attended. Afterward, I would have seduced Neal and given him the clap.
COMMENT CARD #1: The only thing worse than the band is the singing.
SEAN: Neal was touring with a band to support his rock-and-roll-themed novel, Never Mind the Pollacks, which is relatively unprecedented in the literary world. Sure, John Updike used to do readings at New York Dolls shows, and Elmore Leonard lived and toured with the MC5 for nearly 18 months, but this is different. This tour is funded with website donations.
NEAL POLLACK: I do it to promote the books, sure, but I mostly do it for the music, for the kids out there who need to be rocked, the dads and moms who have forgotten how to rock, the comparative literature majors taking off their tops during our encores. And, of course, the smack.
MONICA: When I first saw Neal, I was enthralled, and a little afraid. Then I noticed something odd. Neal appeared to be wearing sweatpants, and in a non-workout environment. I was a little more afriad, but somehow, even more enthralled.
FRATTY-TYPE GUY WHO CAME TO THE BAR TO WATCH THE BASEBALL GAME ONLY TO FIND A FOOKIN LITERARY ROCK BAND: Hey, you suck!
NEAL POLLACK: We were in New York City last night, and most of it went up our nose.
MALCOLM MCLAREN: The Neal Pollack Invasion was fascinating. Not since Bow Wow Wow had I seen a band with this kind of panache, and raw energy. I knew immediately I could get Neal signed and fored from record deals with four or five major labels, no sweat. If I could get them to dress in Communist uniforms, the sky might be the limit.
SEAN: When he did "Pile of Shit," the audience just erupted. New York City is a pile of shit/ Blah blah blah is a pile of shit/ Blah blah blah blah, pile of blah. I'm paraphrasing here. Monica was so enthralled she almost spat out her mouthful of nachos, right into her beer. Man was she drunk.
WOMAN IN THE FRONT ROW: He took money out of my purse. I thought it was part of the show, just a gag or something, and I'd get it back later, but he just pretended not to hear me when I asked for it. Then after the show, he gave me back a one, even though he and I both knew he'd taken a ten. He wouldn't even make eye contact with me. I tried to argue with him, but one of his goons pushed me away. Neal Pollack, you owe me nine dollars, you son of a bitch.
COMMENT CARD #2: I thought I knew what hell was.
FRATTY-TYPE GUY WHO CAME TO THE BAR TO WATCH THE BASEBALL GAME ONLY TO FIND A FOOKIN LITERARY ROCK BAND: No-mah! No-mah! No-mah singing!
MONICA: The enthrallment kept coming, and it didn't stop coming. Neal was radiant, a sweaty, fleshy ball of literary rock star celebrity that absolutely owned the stage in a way I hadn't seen since the Dropkick Murphys played Norfolk my sophomore year of high school. I drank a whole bottle of NyQuil and made out with a community college professor. Watching Neal sing brought back a lot of those same feelings.
LOU REED: Neal who?
NEAL POLLACK: I asked if anyone wanted to see me take off my shirt. No one responded. Then I asked if anyone didn't want me to take off my shirt. No one responded. So I bit the head off of a live bat.
SEAN: The bat thing was alright, but I was most impressed by this other dude in the band who did a cover of the Modern Lovers' "I'm Straight". Good stuff.
HIPPIE JOHNNY: Look, I've gone to rehab, worked on a lot of the issues from my childhood, and it pains me when people claim I'm "always" stoned, or "never" straight. The fact is that recovery is a process. "One day at a time" is not a cliche - it's a description of the daily struggle that is sobriety.
BOOK CRITIC: Neal's raw passion, both for literature and music, were breathtaking. At one point, he electrified the crowd, shouting, "This is the sound! This is the sound of me wiping my ass on your novel!" It was simply electrifying. Echoes of Salman Rushdie and Motorhead at the United Nations in 1987, more than anything else. Of course, when I later realized he actually had wiped his ass with a novel belonging to me, well, I was less pleased.
MONICA: The show was over, so we finished the nachos, and the bourbon, and went to greet Neal. He was dazed, barely intelligible, and attempted to lick my stomach when I revealed the slogan. Daily newspaper accounts claimed Neal's drooling and slurred speech were due to the massive number of Quaaludes he'd ingested, but I knew it was simpler. He'd left everything out there on the stage in the performance, with his vocals, his self-flagellation, his occasional vomiting. I posed for a picture with Neal and we headed home, a little older, a little wiser, and about five sheets to the wind.
WAITRESS: I don't think those little fuckers paid for their drinks. Goddamn rock-and-roll literary bastards. I'd like to whack 'em all upside the head with a copy of Mcsweeney's with a promotional CD inside. That'll learn 'em.