RICHARD LYONS - CANCER IS STUPID
On their Facebook page, Negativland posted a warm, richly detailed eulogy about Lyons titled CANCER IS STUPID (a twist on the group's "Christianity Is Stupid" track).
Why? I’ve got several dozens of records like this. So many, in fact, that they’ve grown to have their own section of my collection. I’m just about ready to split that section into a section of what’s going to happen when the communists take over records. Why is this one so special? Never mind that it’s currently going for a pretty penny on record auction sites. It’s the reason it is that makes it so special. It’s not only record that spawned the equally batshit crazy Ron Ormand film of the same name (go Google it. We’ll wait.).
It’s also the record from which Negativland sampled from to create the classic track from their best-selling LP Escape From Noise, Christianity Is Stupid, immortalizing Rev. Pirkle forever. In it, Pirkle can be heard entoning ‘Christianity is stupid! Communism is good! Give up!’ over and over, backed by a martial industrial, metallic beat. It got a lot of airplay on college radio. Maybe it’s the first thing you heard by them. It’s probably the closest the band’s ever had to a hit record until the U2/Casey Kasem debacle. I know I put it on a lot of mix tapes for friends for many years in the 80s.
Earlier in the day, Richard had a lively birthday party at his skilled nursing facility, where he was receiving palliative care. Present were current and founding members of Negativland, satellite Negativland members and friends, as well as other current and former members of the group appearing simultaneously on various speaker phones and digital devices. With photos being taken of people taking photos of phones, phone speakers going right and left (with a dog barking on one of them), and some new age harp being played, the afternoon felt like an Actual Negativland Performance for the ages. David “The Weatherman” Wills led the group in singing the now-public-domain “Happy Birthday" (see below for link).
Richard’s mother Evelyn called in a bit later, and her voice was the last he heard before dying. An on duty nurse commented that "I hope when I go that my last day is as good as his was." Known for his role in finding the Estus W. Pirkle LP sampled in Negativland's 1987 "Christianity Is Stupid" track (and, in turn, originating the idea of Negativland’s ax murder hoax), and for taking the wrecking yard photos that inspired the 2002 Negativland project "Deathsentences of the Polished and Structurally Weak," he was also known for such darkly funny and contrarian alter egos as his has-been radio personality Dick Vaughn, righteous religious preacher Pastor Dick, ace used car salesmen Dick Goodbody, master debater Dick Bush, good Christian lady Marsha Turnblatt and crazed DJ Jack Diekobisc (pronounced Dickobitch). His “actions” on our Over the Edge radio show became the stuff of legend, crafting such memorable events as the 1982 “format change” to an all-1970s-nostalgia station (documented on our “Dick Vaughn’s Moribund Music of the ‘70s” release) and a disastrous “live broadcast” from a Walnut Creek bowling alley on Thanksgiving, 2001 (soon to be released on CD as “Ultimate Pinsmack”).