Jeff “Mister Clinical Depression” Schneider of Arab On Radar reads from “Psychiatric Tissues — the history of the iconic noise rock band Arab On Radar” at Peter D’s bar in Clairemont Mesa, San Diego, on the night of June 29, 2019, during Lisa Carver’s I LOVE ART mini-tour. Unfortunately this was shot wit my cellphone and not a proper video camera with a directional mic. So you have to listen to the ambient crowd noise over Jeff’s lightly-amplified yet compelling Soprano’s-style reading voice. After his turn on stage there were skits from Lisa’s new book by an ad-hoc ensamble of amatuer thespians, then there was biker karaoke. Fun for all!
Lisa Carver is legendary in the indy music and alternative-literature world. She’s toured and been written-up all over the planet, is known to readers of The New York Times, has been a columnist for Vice News, and authored perhaps a dozen or so books.
I first became aware of Lisa Carver 25 years ago — 1994 I think — through a publication called Factsheet 5, which had chosen Lisa’s self-published fanzine Rollerderby as an editor’s favorite. Factsheet 5 was a magazine published as a compendium of reviews for the hundreds of independent publications during the early 1990’s desktop-publishing revolution as home computers became initially affordable widespread. From her provincial backwater hometown of Dover, New Hampshire, Lisa interviewed up-and-coming pop stars and/or strange and obscure ones such as Fabio, and Courtney Love, Vaginal Davis, Cindy Dall, Boyd Rice, Nick Zedd, and GG Allin, among others. I think Beck was in there too.
Lisa became famous in the indy music scene starting with her band Psychodrama in the mid-80’s and then Suckdog during the early-to-mid-90’s. By the end of her night’s performance in Suckdog she would often be nude on stage. Suckdog consisted of her husband the French performance artist Costes and Dame Darcy, a graphic artist, banjo player and cartoonist, and Cos the Shroom. There were often ad-hoc band members Lisa would pick up along the way to fill out the ensemble cast of punk rock sceneters. What she would do onstage was not really music so much as a kind strange of opera where her band would work out obtuse psychological issues with the help of the audience’s entertainment. Since it was rumored Lisa would get naked during the show people would show up just to see this crazy skinny blonde-haired blue-eyed girl with a nice body do her thing. There was always plenty of drama in her song-skits, whatever you’d call them. You can buy a book called SUCKDOG, A RUCKUS which details the band’s complete history. It’s got lots of photos (adults only, please) and by the way I’m selling copies of it HERE.
Lisa Carver’s days of being naked on stage might be behind her but the drama and energy of her live performances remain. See it for yourself on June 29th at Peter D’s, a neighborhood karaoke bar on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, San Diego, where she’ll be performing three short skits with audience participation from her latest book I LOVE ART. Jeff Schneider from Arab On Radar will also be performing as a 15-minute spoken word reading of passages from his book PSYCHIATRIC TISSUES about his time in the band.
Watching Lisa’s career through her various marriages, relationships and artistic endeavors has always been entertaining and educational for me. She’s around five years younger than I but I’ve considered her kind of an older sister type due to her steadfastly independent focus on publishing, performing and being a writer no matter what life throws at her. She’s an author, a mom, and a free-thinking individual that’s difficult to hem-in. Seeing her again will be nice.
A bit of background on the venue: the man who started the bar Peter D’s in the 1970’s was an iconic San Diego barman and a legend in his own right. Don Luster, who named the bar after for son, Peter, was “the singing bartender” in San Diego in the 50’s and 60’s. Earlier in life out as an aspiring singer-songwriter on the East Coast, after serving in Korea with the U.S. Army, he had the chance to sell one of his songs to Elvis Presley who offered to buy it from the emerging crooner. Don turned down The King in favor of keeping the rights to “The Lonely G.I.” as he planned to launch a singing career of his own. Fate intervened and as Don’s young family grew and working cocktails lounges behind the bar afforded more consistent income than the music business.