Tough as Nails

For a year or two this band captured that elusive magic found in song. A quartet of arts school grads joined with a rhythm section that played on sessions at Sun Records. They had what lifts a live show, musical abandon. They took turns on instruments, mixing recital piano, French horn, a heavy ass vibraphone, all manner of percussion, saw, banjo, and a rock combo. They played their CD release party on the big stage at the Southgate House, blasting harmony at us with vintage aerial footage running on the giant cloth projection screen behind them.

A photographer named Thomas Condon was given permission by the city coroner’s office to shoot a documentary in situ there. In the course of this work, with only himself and an assistant coroner in the living mise-en-scène, Condon snapped photos of the deceased, bare to their origins in preparation for eternity, DMT trip hopefully ongoing. In poor judgment of his responsibility in this project, Condon dropped off some of these photos for development at the local photomat. Employees of which called city police.

This is where the urge to retaliate resides in common with both the conquerors and those they have divided. This was the city that at the end of the last millennium prosecuted an art gallery for obscenity. It had shown Robert Mapplethorpe’s touring exhibition of the spanky spanky. The gallery owner gambled with the river valley’s Pilgrim isness, turned down a plea bargain, and went to trial. In an example of civics a conservative jury found the gallerist not guilty. Cincinnati was roundly ridiculed and Mapplethorpe kept working where it was more interesting, in pre-Merritt New York.

Ten years after this a judge and prosecutor absolved their colleague the coroner, but sent the artist Condon for three to five in jail on the Medieval, artless charge of gross abuse of a corpse. For a documentary they’d allowed him in the morgue to make. Local executive and judicial branch officials beamed like colonels doing arms deals. They advanced their careers and took the 2001 Black riot off of the front page of the lurid press. Employing a judge who fancied himself so highly that the robe he always wore was blue. No black robes for this sort, your honor. The unicellular pejorate who prosecuted Condon was later fired for mogul-raping his employees. Brother you know he served no time in our for-profit prisons. The picture taker went to jail for years.

At Readymaid shows the heavy set young man behind the mic would throw himself belly-first onto the floor when the live music overcame him. The other guitarist sang through a megaphone and then left to get married. The french hornist moved to the east coast. The band didn’t last long as a four piece and split up. The pianist went on to play keys with some major label guys. The drummer Zippy kept doing sessions at Sun Records.