It being International Talk Like a Pirate Day and all, today I dusted off a record I haven’t listened to in years: Pussy, King of the Pirates, the 1996 collaboration between the Mekons and the late writer Kathy Acker. I wrote a long review of their performances at the MCA in 1997--which I enjoyed thoroughly, though as it turned out they took place very shortly before Acker’s death from breast cancer. (Full disclosure: I also asked photographer Marty Perez for some group photos as a present for my dad, who’s a Mekons fan. He’s got them framed in the room with his guitar collection.)
The thing about the record that made it stick with me even more than the book was its infectious catchiness--I probably haven’t listened to it in half a decade, but it all came back to me immediately, and I’m going to have “Sheets as full as well-sucked tits / Pirate girls will sail ‘em” stuck in my head all day. Its cheerful foul-mouthedness, and its evocation of pirates almost as filthy and violent and rapacious as real pirates actually were--but considerably more female--still fills me with bloodthirsty delight.
I miss Kathy Acker for a lot of reasons, not least of all because sometimes with her wild sidewise thinking and fearlessly grotesque sexual and violent imagery she beat that grand ol’ man of posthuman machismo, William S. Burroughs, at his own game.
But this isn’t to promote a new holiday, International Talk Like A Pomo Feminist Surrealist Day. It’s to ask: what’s your favorite pirate-related musical infliction?
Also: In his book Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates, David Cordingly notes that pirate captain Bartholomew Roberts captured and compelled musicians to join his crew along with other more obviously useful tradesmen. He writes: "In [fiddler Nicholas Brattler]'s defense at trial it was said that 'the prisoner was only made use of as music, which he dared not refuse."