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Blood Tangent | Sarai Nissan

Photo Credit: Bobby Jones

Stiv Bators was born on Oct. 22, 1949. He was the unsung hero of CBGBs, the devastatingly underrated frontman of the seminal punk band, The Dead Boys and later The Lords of the New Church. Stiv died in the most punk-rock, albeit tragic way. In the mid-1990s, Stiv was hit by a car while crossing the road in Paris. He was taken to the hospital but he left without receiving treatment. He claimed he was fine but died in his sleep later that night.

Stiv died at the age of 40, no 27 club here. It made me feel like I might be able to hold out for that long. You see, I don’t ever want to be old. It terrifies me. The thought of being so decrepit you can’t even take care of yourself; I would rather die.

Dead musicians never feel real. If they died from an overdose, a freak accident, suicide, murder, whatever; they exist in this intangible state of idolization, like an insect trapped in amber. It’s so beautiful to look at, but you’ll never touch the real thing.

I recently learned that my favorite professor (shout-out to Maria Elena Buszek) met Stiv Bators during his Lords of the New Church days. She was a teenager and went with her friends to the Village Inn to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes.

“As one does,” she said. Lo and behold, there were the Lords, who eagerly invited them to sit at their table. She told me that Stiv, probably hungover, barely said anything at all.

In my head, Stiv is like some sort of congenial but cordial wide-eyed cartoon character, with his charmingly bizarre facial features: the thin bridge of his nose that accentuates the tip of it, wide almond eyes, narrow lips, his diamond-shaped face with cheekbones that could cut paper. He was talented, outspoken, a drug and alcohol-fueled genius at times.

I get it. That melancholic brilliance. The notion that you don’t exist in the world, but for it. There is no such thing as being a person anymore, you’re just a character. A character that the world smothers with antagonism or adoration; but why does it matter? It isn’t really you, right?

Anyhow, Happy 68th Birthday Stiv.

Sarai Nissan
Sarai Nissan

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