The Fast Times and Short Life of
Darby Crash and the Germs
by Brendan Mullen with Don Bolles and Adam Parfrey
Since this book is co-authored by Brendan Mullen of We Got the Neutron
Bomb, there is some significant overlapping. Lexicon Devil, however,
focuses on the persona of Darby Crash (born Paul Beahm; aka "Bobby
Pyn") and the legacy of the Germs. Darby and Pat Smear (born Georg
Ruthenberg) were an odd couple, but provoked each other to new heights
of confrontational behavior. Both were gifted, hyperintelligent kids, and had
a tolerance for consumption of massive amounts of LSD, which they
gobbled before hitting "Innovative Program School," at Uni High, spawning
ground for many of the young faces in L.A. punk. This bizarre and twisted
program for "exceptional" students used a self-determined curriculum
combined with mind-control techniques from cultish California self-therapies
like "est" and Scientology, which Darby would then turn and use for his own
benefit and amusement Darby (then still just Paul Beahm) said: "They threw
us out of IPS for having our own religion... we renamed it Inter-Planetary
School... everyone wore 'Certified Space Case' silver stickers. We
convinced about half the other kids that I was God and Pat was Jesus, this one girl almost had a nervous breakdown
..." (Later on, Alice Bag would kick Darby's ass after a disagreement about "leaders" and "followers.") Darby enjoyed
Pat Smear found his own diversions. Their friend Will Amato recounts Pat's homage to the song "Halo of Flies" from
Alice Cooper's Killer album: "It was a necklace made of flies, some alive, some dead ... the flies would remain alive
for like three or four days. It was a really disturbing little relic, like a shrunken head or something." Pat and Darby
together haunted the Hollywood rock scene, and met up with future co-Germs Lorna Doom and Belinda Carlisle while
stalking Queen. Lexicon Devil tracks the forming of the Germs, through their recording session for the landmark G.I.
album--Joan Jett producing--to the gigs that became punk lore.
The story's anti-climax, Darby's heroin suicide, is well known. And Darby was a direct model for other punk "icons"
who found (and still find) themselves in a similar struggle of ego/persona versus self. Says Slash's Bob Biggs: "The
'downward spiral' was Darby accepting a role that he had trapped himself in and had started believing in. He created
this Darby Crash cult ... and maybe it had begun as a huge joke ... but now it had all become real, and now how was
he going to get out of it? There was just no way out."
The book is well laid out graphically, the design reflecting the minimalist look of G.I. There are rare and amazing
photographs throughout, as well as transcriptions of interviews and graffiti, a discography and complete lyrics, and
the usual glossary of quoted players. Interwoven are more details and sagas from the history of the music and harsh
personal realities. The book illuminates the chaos and confusion fueling raw charisma; the eternal Faustian duel of
self-sacrifice and immortality. Notoriety and fame in the Land of Treason. Lexicon Devil is a foray into the dark side
of the '70s, a slash-and-burn of the smiley-face mythos.
Christeen Aebi 2003 (Reprinted from BACKFIRE Magazine)
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