By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Until 21 years later. In January, Steve, who since his Maids days has become a prize-winning documentary filmmaker (Academy Award for Days of Waiting), phoned me to say Bruce Lancer had called him. Someone wanted to re-release the record. He‘d be contacting us. A day later, I had a phone call on my machine that asked if I was the John McCormick from “Richmond, California.” My only association ever with Richmond was that P.O. box the Maids had there, which I had never visited. Spooky. Then my agent’s office called saying it had also received a phone call from a guy named Roger Mah, who was trying to track me down. I called him back, and it was pretty scary. He knew more about the Maids than I did. Extraordinary details. E.g., he had found the writer of the review in Trouser Press, spoken with him and gotten the Maids‘ original correspondence to the magazine from him.
Like some punk grand inquisitor, Roger interrogated me at length. Did we have any more copies of “Bataan”? Was there unreleased Maids material? Did we have any posters or memorabilia from the old days? I told him I thought Mark probably still had hundreds of records, that there was unreleased material (the rehearsal tapes) and that we probably had a lot of stuff from that era, as Mark never threw anything away. Roger characterized himself as an extraordinary fan of the band and asked if he could have copies of all the stuff. I said it wouldn’t be a problem. He also said he had a friend in Texas who would probably be willing to take some of the records off our hands. I told him it was probably best if he got directly in touch with Mark, as he was the bank.
I hadn‘t talked to Mark in a few years, but Roger’s call prompted me to check in with him. Many, many changes had gone down at Parker Street since the days when the Maids practiced there. The commune flew apart and Mark and Patty inherited the Brown House and the cottage. They got married. They had another daughter, Isabel. And Patty got cancer. After a long and lousy fight with her illness, Patty died in 1993. The Maids lost their biggest fan, and everyone she knew got a big hole in their lives where she used to be. It was good to talk to Mark again. I forgot about his wizened sense of irony, his sage appreciation of life‘s rich pageant. He enjoyed hearing about the new interest in the Maids. He told me he spent a lot of his time folk dancing now. He said he’d talk to Roger Mah.
Roger‘s inquiry made me curious. Was anyone else interested in the band? I had been selling a lot of art books on eBay recently, so I thought, What the heck, I’ll throw one on there just to see if it goes. As I‘ve recounted elsewhere, it went. That initial surge in bidding gave me an incredible rush. For 24 hours I was giddy. But that feeling was soon eclipsed by a sensation of dread. It was like finding a valuable, then being encumbered by the responsibility to take care of it. The other overwhelming sensation derived from the eBay auction was one of ignorance. What did the bidders know that we didn’t know?
Mark phoned back after he had talked to Roger. I think he found this sudden attention as perplexing as I did. Because I‘d written a lot of the songs and come up with some of the ideas for promo copy, he said he’d feel more comfortable if I distributed the Maids material. In the coming weeks, he‘d put together a package of stuff from the archives and send it to me.
The initial auction on eBay apparently fanned an existing prairie fire in the punk-record-collecting world. I began receiving a shitload of e-mail inquiries about the band. A Russian kid from Oregon requested that I complete a detailed questionnaire about the group for a punk encyclopedia that was being compiled in Europe. He in turn put me in touch with a guy in Italy who wanted to pay the Maids a $400 advance for any unreleased material, which would then be pressed into an edition of 500 LPs. Further e-mails revealed that the Maids’ reputation had been prompted by a series of bootleg records that originated in New York in 1988 titled Killed by Death. Apparently “Bataan” appeared on KBD Vol. 7 and “I Do I Do” on Vol. 18.
Because many of the bands featured on the Killed by Death records were unknown apart from their songs, detectivecollectors like Roger Mah have gone to extraordinary lengths to track down and identify them. We are talking methodical, FBI-like work here. Roger‘s cohort in Texas, Ryan Richardson, has documented his search for the historic Jesus, excuse me, I mean his quest to find the band Peer Pressure (on KBD Vol. 12), and it reads like an Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine story (see www.break myface.com, then go to Peer Pressure). Given all this effort, I couldn‘t help but think: What motivates these guys? Passion for a lost music or simply a lust for notoriety and lucre that owning a “rare” item engenders?
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