A Farewell to Dave Brockie

I had a different Final Word written for AwesomeTalk season 2, episode 7 (well, halfway written… like half a page… like three sentences), but then this happened. I woke up around 4 in the morning on Monday, looked at my phone to see what time it was, and saw rumors circulating all over my social media. I spent the next two hours constantly refreshing, hoping that it wasn’t true. Sadly, it was.

A Farewell to Dave Brockie

In eighth grade homeroom, a kid named Alex handed me a tape. On the back, crudely written in pencil, were a list of songs titles: Penis I See, Have You Seen Me?, The Salaminizer, and Saddam A-Go-Go to name a few. This was a GWAR mixtape, and with it came the following verbal instructions – stop listening to your pussy grunge bullshit and listen to GWAR.

I took half of his advice. And like most things you discover at an age when time and boredom are endless, I became a scholar of everything GWAR. The characters, the mythology, the direct-to-video movies that were at once the cheapest looking and also the most original things I had ever seen. I learned that if you inject crack into a dinosaur egg, the hatchling will grow to the size of a skyscraper, and you’re going to need gigantic swords and warhammers to stop it from destroying the world that YOU were sent to destroy.

dave-brockie-oderus-birthday-cakeAs an adult I look back at what drew me to GWAR besides the gore and the metal and the endless decapitations. They were underdogs. They were art school dropouts that created a world in which their characters, as godlike and powerful as they were, were always foiled by their own shortcomings. They dressed as barbarians from another planet, and no matter how hard they tried to escape it, they found themselves endlessly stuck on Earth.

Now I don’t want to be all, “OH GOD GWAR CHANGED MY LIFE” but in a sense they did. Kind of like how people love super heroes because they’re outsiders dealing with a world that doesn’t understand them, that was GWAR for me. On the surface, they were carting a bunch of foam rubber celebrities and politicians on stage and hacking them to bits, but if you dig a little deeper, there was an honest-to-god sense of right and wrong. It also helped that they had lyrics like “If you’re really lucky I’ll vomit on thee, shit in your stump and then bathe you in pee.”

Unfortunately, I’m referring to GWAR in the past tense. Their lead singer and lifelong member Dave Brockie was found dead on Sunday afternoon at the age of 50. Old members have come and gone, and since they all wear costumes they’d either slip a new person in or create a new character. But Dave’s armored, fish-phalluced killing machine Oderus Urungus will be impossible to replace. You could tell from his appearances both in and out of the costume that GWAR was his disgusting, boil-covered, puking baby.

So I’ll  miss going to GWAR shows. I’ll miss the blood and spew covered selfies that I’d take when I got home, from a time before selfies were a thing. I’ll miss buying a physical GWAR CD only for the lyric sheet, and trying to decipher what a “suck a dick a lick a log” really meant. And I’ll miss Dave. I never met the guy, but we were all lucky enough to see the world through the eyes of his one-of-a-kind, demented, and hilarious creation, and that’s what I’ll miss more than anything.

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