Saturday, June 11, 2011

SHEESH, WHAT A WEEK...FIRST IT WAS SHANE WILLIAMS AND NOW IT IS
IMANTS KRUMINS (1952-2011)

Naw, I don't want to talk about music right now. Considering today's sad state of affairs I certainly don't feel like it. I'd rather talk about Imants Krumins. Now, the name might not mean much if anything to you, but to me it means more than the whole world and a few orders from Forced Exposure combined. And really, I would think that everybody on the face of this earth would know all about Imants Krumins, the record collector, fanzine writer (PIG PAPER, the other TEENAGE NEWS...), raconteur, pub hopper, "scenemaker", "football" (of the sissy overseas variety) and wrestling fan, radio personality (on McMaster University's radio station whose call letters escape me at the moment), hard/grindcore aficionado, and BLACK TO COMM contributor/compact disc cover star. Right now I can hear you saying "Oh, that Imants Krumins." (Not that it wouldn't have been entirely impossible to get him confused with a number of other Imants Krumins including a Toronto photographer and some crooked crony in the Latvian government...none of which are he.)

Anyway, Imants Krumins has just lost his battle with brain cancer this past Thursday. And yes, I am extremely depressed. Not because he was some mighty name/bigtime collector/fan that I could worship from afar, but because I have been in touch with the guy via mail, telephone and computer for almost three decades exchanging letters, cassettes, pertinent rockism information and many times snide asides. And if you can believe it, throughout that time the man had treated me with the utmost respect and all 'round niceness 'stead of  dabbled in petty oneupmanship and general underground snobbishness like way too many "people" I've had the misfortune to come in contact with during those years of bitter struggle. Maybe I will spare you the "It should have been _________" rant and maybe I won't (we'll see what kind of a mood I end up in as the post progresses), but deep down you know that still applies.

I first heard of Mr. Krumins via the pages of BOMP magazine if you can believe that, this being way back in the very-early eighties. And with a name like that (second coolest in the BTC sphere, the first being Oleh Hodowanec) who could forget a fellow like Imants in the first place? In the realm of the BOMP! world Imants could usually be found commenting on something written in a previous issue, something that usually regarded some English rock obscurities or not-so's  making comments about everybody from the Nashville Teens to stating that Meghan Davies from the Applejacks was the sister of a pair of kinky Davies who were very near and dear to Imants' heart. When Kim Fowley wrote in to say that Krumins was in fact wrong about this I don't think the man ever lived it down, because I know I couldn't!  I guess that was one thing that I felt best not to bring up in his presence, and now it looks like we'll never know his reaction which is something that just might bug picayune and petty me 'til the ends of MY days.

Anyway, not too soon after reading these purloined way after the fact magazines, perhaps in the month of December of '81 or so (because I remember reading this issue in a vehicle while taking home a once-live Christmas tree), I chanced upon a huge want list of Imants' in the pages of GOLDMINE which mentioned an extreme variety of wares that I sure would have wanted to own as well. I forget exactly what was on this particular list  (and wouldn't mind re-perusing that particular one for historical purposes), but a Can bootleg he was on the prowl for entitled SUNDAY JAM continues to intrigue me especially since I couldn't find any mention of it outside of his list! To this day I have the lingering hope that perhaps the item does exist albeit in extremely limited quantities and if so I sure wouldn't mind getting my chubby little paws on a copy for my own personal enjoyment, but considering how the age of internet hasn't even dredged this particular platter up who knows if it was for real or just another one of those silly bootleg rumors we've all been hearing (i.e. Thirteenth Floor Elevators on the Rubber Dubber label)  for years on end!

Well, throwing caution to the wind with typical youthful exuberance I wrote to the man, got a letter back, and all of that started a good twenny-nine years of happy correspondence not to mention cassette dubbing and best of all loads of all-important information regarding music and of course the old personal tales straight from the life of Mr. Krumins. Turns out that not only was he extremely knowledgeable about various acts and critics and the like (he was the first one to tell me that Borneo Jimmy was in fact R. Meltzer which I am ashamed to say never dawned on me!) but a pretty with-it fellow himself, a professional in the banking business (who listed "watching TV" as one of his hobbies on his job application) who loved everything from Abba to Flipper and reggae to rap (big Mantronix guy he!) as well as avant classical/jazz and of course most if not all of the music we here at BLOG TO COMM hold near and dear to our hearts. Not your run-of-the-mill fanboy I'll tell ya!

And for being a member of the running dog capitalist system of exploitation 'n all that Imants was a pretty un-stuffy guy as well, listening to and championing acts you would think, given their rather pinko outlooks, would have turned him off faster than a gift subscription to THE DAILY WORKER. He was also an extremely generous guy too, of course making copies of his various tapes and later on burning Cee-Dees for me and (get this!) sometimes asking for nada in return! Many times he'd even surprise me with like, say, the sixth issue of DENIM DELINQUENT which was rotting away in his expansive collection because he didn't like the thing and knew I wanted to read it BAD...Lord knows how much that ish is now going for on the black market but Krumins actually gave me the issue totally gratis! Frankly I feel that I got the better end of the deal (especially since I sent him nothing but a hearty thank you in exchange!) but he did seem more than happy to get this particular fanzine off of his own hands. Sheesh, the less materialist/dosh-grubbing people I've also been in contact with have been way more demanding of what they got in trade for various items as have I, but given that Imants would have been considered the typical capitalist banker type by most of the communists he was undoubtedly in contact with he sure knew how to SPREAD THE WEALTH AROUND!

And, unlike your typical p-rock fan who as the years rolled on seemed to be decaying along with the music he most certainly took to heart, Imants was a man of class in a rock fandom filled with some of the most barbaric specimens passing for multi-celled life that I've had the displeasure of coming in contact with. Let's face it, I've run up against more than my share of cheaters, liars, false promisers and throat-cutters who were more than willing to do complete 180's on me when the time was most opportune. Not Imants. He was totally cool, friendly and copasetic with me, and what's more he might have just been a life-saver the time he called me during one of my extreme lows (post ish #22, late-spring 1997) when I was just on the verge of doing a little psychic wrist-slitting myself. Perhaps I did do a lot more psychic mutilation on myself than should have been warranted, but boy was I feeling horrible with the pressures of work, life and an all-consuming fanzine which ended up looking like total shit enveloping my every sense of being. But hey, what should happen (other'n a whole slew of congratulatory calls from people who were so turned off by my depressed nature that I never heard from them again) was a call outta the blue from none other than Imants, and the bloke really seemed cheerful and uplifting telling me that this total disasto magazine was really great in what seemed like a valiant attempt to keep me away from the cutlery drawer! Dunno if Bruce Mowat's the one who tipped him off that I was about that close to a self-imposed exile away from the harshness and realities of life (and music) but if he did well, I guess his blabbermouthing did me quite a bit of good because Krumin's call was something that helped get me outta the hole and maybe back on the oft-derailed train ride of life with me forever searching for the next station down the ways. So friends, if there was anybody out there who made sure that I did not give up on writing, or listening, or LIVING for that matter it was Imants! Blame him, not me!!!

Listen, there are many people out there whose passings I certainly will not note in these pages, and many people whose departures from this world might just cause me to do cartwheels up and down the street. I'm not "supposed" to have these feelings I know, but sheesh, it ain't like I can always help it! Maybe I should be sorry, and in some ways I am for harboring such opinions towards these people, but in the sage words of Eddie Haskell you'd think differently if you were pushed around as much as I've been. Maybe that's why Mr. Krumins' departure hits me in the spiritual 'nads all the harder. Really, I am extremely sorry to see  a gent such as him go, and in such an agonizing way so undeserving of him as well. We may have gabbed on the phone a whole lotta times and exchanged tapes, and you made me aware of more than a few worthy acts like Simply Saucer and all of those English anarchists, but for which I will be eternally grateful. Loved those tales you spun about how you went to school with Edgar Broughton (you being 12 and freshly enrolled, he being 16 and getting kicked out for long hair, smoking and bad attitudes!) and the time you were on holiday in London and you were staying next door to Skrewdriver and thought they were really nice guys 'n all! And how about that really long letter you wrote me about hanging out with Edgar Breau and the rest of the old Simply Saucer guys and getting into all of this esoteric stuff about your hero Paul Morrissey and how he thought jazz was for junkies, something that I gotta say made me feel kinda distorted when I read the thing even with all of the references to Lyman and the Process Church. You later denied saying that Morrissey was your hero but I still have the letter which I really wanted to print during the height of my Saucer fact finding excursions and you certainly emitted a huge "ulp!" because of it!!! Of course those PIG PAPER contributions were always top-notch. In fact I'm still cracking up over the SURFING WITH THE VILETONES one, or was that REQUIEM FOR R. BULB which had such stunning Kruminisms abounding in it such as the mythical song titles "R. Bulb Washes Socks" and of course "Sleeping Beauty's Fish Tank"??? And hey, everytime I listen to the Kinks, T. Rex, the Afflicted Man, the Apostles, METAL MACHINE MUSIC, Leslie Gore, the Association, the Jesus and Marychain, Rose Tattoo, Suicide, Tall Dwarfs, the Only Ones...  you know I'm gonna be thinking of you. Of course whenever I pour through a box of old fanzines still in their original mailing envelopes or letters and come across one with your return address  I will  be shedding a tear or two just like I always seem to do these days of bleak futures and the rampage towards the new barbarism coming to a city new you. Let's just say, without me getting TOO lump-throated, you were a real pal and definitely one of the good ones, and considering how the world becomes more and more of a cesspool as the days roll on that certainly is an honor! As you used to say at the end of every letter, "cheers".

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Super nice guy and a GIANT In the fanzine community in the 70s and the TORONTO music world in general after that, His visits to Buffalo were always fun and he was a great guy and all knowing about the Pretty Things and million other topics!!!! A true loss right up there with the passings of Alan Betrock and Greg Shaw....B Kugel, Buffalo NY

Anonymous said...

Great tribute Chris. Only knew of him through BTC but still a damn shame. A real loss. Best, Phil D.

Dude Behind The Record Counter said...

Nice tribute... a man with a very articulate point of view... my condolences!

Christopher said...

STRANGE ADDENDUM TO THIS POST THAT JUST POPPED INTO MY MIND---THE STUPIDEST THING IMANTS EVER DID!!!: sell his copy of THE COUNTRY SECT!!!

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Sorry to hear about this. I enjoyed his Phudd/BTC contributions.

Mark said...

Always enjoyed his writing and gotta tip the cap for bringing Simply Saucer into my life. Almost forgot that I first spotted his name in Bomp! Great heartfelt eulogy/memoire. Sorry for his family's loss and yours as well. Rest in peace never to be forgotten.

Christopher said...

While re-reading this post I must say tha I should be ashamed of myself for repeating a number of Krumins factoids that I've mentioned frequently in past posts amongst other venues such as the obscure if in fact existent SUNDAY JAM bootleg as well as the graciousness of Mr. Krumins in giving me his sole copy of DENIM DELINQUENT. Apologies for re-re-re-repeating myself as usual. I will admit that reading some of the other online Krumins tribs were rather enlightening, such as the heretofore unknown fact that the man was a roller derby fan and in fact could often be seen at the nearby rink whenever a battle royale would be in session. Sure wish I know about this particular passion of his because it sure would have livened up some of our phone conversations I'll tell ya!

Jalmo said...

Just came across your loving tribute, Chris. Nah, he had the cooler name and I don't have even a sliver of his immaculate hipness. I first came across his name in Bomp and thought it was put on. And I should talk! RIP Imants!
--Oleh

Christopher said...

Oleh-You get divorced??? I thought your wife made you give up your rock & roll lifestyle!

Jalmo said...

now that I'm long in the tooth and AARP bait, my rock and roll lifestyle is essentially in and between my ears, old pal.. I turn my hearing aides up really high every now and then just to dose myself with refreshing feedback scree. The missus and I are going strong. And for the most part she tolerates my music snobbery, even the music itself. Although she did ask me today to turn down a Guru Guru disc I was going all high frequency with.