Sex, Drugs, and Monoman
I’d have only sketchy memories of what I was doing when I was twenty without Facebook and Google. It was a long time ago, yes, but that’s not why I don’t remember much — I’m mostly blank because, from 1982 until 1988, I was in a constant state of inebriation. With Google, I can sort out where I was when, based on who was playing where, and with Facebook, I can occasionally figure out what I was doing and who I was doing it with. Last night, through a stream of semi-related comments on Facebook, I figured out out that at some point in 1983, I was doing a show in New Hampshire, and I was doing it with Jeff “Monoman” Connolly.
Monoman was (and still is) the Lyres. There’s been a score of guitarists, bassists and drummers since the band started in 1979, but the Lyres were always Jeff’s band. In 1983, they were garage rock heroes, frenzied and all over the place; Jeff would simultaneously pound his tambourine, hammer his Vox, and look over his shoulder and berate his band. According to some people, he was an asshole, but, to most of us, he was just batshit crazy. (A review in the Boston Phoenix put it this way: “Monoman is by no means a saint, but goddammit, lookit the Lyres RIGHT NOW. Their shows… have set new friggin’ levels o’ sheer g’ damn GREATNESS.”)
I’d totally forgotten that Jeff and I had a thing; I repressed the memory in the same way I repressed memories of childhood inoculations — I knew that it had happened, but fuck me if I was gonna think about it. My “relationship” with Monoman would have never once crossed my mind if my friend John hadn’t reminded me of it on Facebook last night. “I recall you had some mono e mono action going on,” he wrote.
I managed the Lyres for a while, but I wasn’t sleeping with Jeff for long; if my mind’s eye and a Google gigography of Lyres dates are accurate, we got together and broke up in less than six months. Jeff was difficult, but that was ok; my problem with him was that he was flagrantly and extravagantly unfaithful.
I finally decided I’d had enough when I walked in on Jeff getting a blow job in a bathroom at the Rat. “It’s just Stella,” he wailed, and I’m not making that up: the woman on her knees was named Stella, and Jeff was mournfully yelling her name, not mine, as we both stormed out of the bathroom and into the club. Where, no doubt, I picked up someone else.
I was heartbroken, but Jeff was fine. He was eight or ten years older than I was, and he understood the transactional nature of our relationship in a way that I wasn’t yet ready to grasp. Jeff was with me because he wanted me to manage his band, and it was no more noble that I was with him because he was a good lookin’ fish in a small Boston pond. It was simple. That was that.
I continued managing the Lyres after Jeff and I broke up — I always loved the band — but by 1984, I was done. The Lyres had released their second album, On Fyre
, and I got the ax after I suggested that Jeff promote the album with a video in which he set himself aflame. “Think of the publicity,” I said. “It’ll be the first ever snuff music video.” I was serious. He was pissed.
When I left Boston in 1987, Monoman and I weren’t exactly friends, but we were cool. Jeff got a better manager, I hooked up with better fish in bigger ponds and, when I ran into him on the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave in 1998, I was happy about it. He wasn’t: he took one look at me and ran the other way. Jeff probably thought I still wanted to set him on fire, which, in a repressed kind of way, I probably did.
My friends did less drugs and they remember more, and, unless I’m willing to open up an 80’s can of punk rock peas, I’ve gotta be careful about what I post on Facebook. I’m traumatized today, but I know that, like Jeff, the trauma will fade, and in another year or two, I’ll be ready to listen to the Lyres again. For me, the music lasts forever, and — thankfully — the memories don’t.