It’s now been verified. The long lost Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink video has indeed been found.

Ok, so remember how I mentioned a few weeks ago that an oddities collector in Oregon had written to inform me that he’d somehow procured the world’s only copy of “Fears of Practice”, the 1993 performance video of my band, Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink? Well, apparently he was telling the truth. It looks as though the mythical video, thought to have been destroyed decades ago, has indeed been found. I just now received word from self-described “professional writer” Dustin Krcatovich, who I’d sent over to visit the man at his home and examine the tape, confirming its authenticity. What follows is the review Krcatovich submitted to Rolling Stone, as well as the two photos he was able to capture. [The man had apparently told Krcatovich that no photos would be allowed, but the wily journalist was able to snap two as the man turned to cough phlegm into a bucket by the side of his bed. [The man, who is apparently bed-ridden, was, according to Krcatovich, projecting the film on a filthy sheet nailed to the ceiling at the foot of his bed.]]

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[above: A young Mark Maynard and a younger Peter Larson sit on the latter’s filthy couch 25 years ago, documenting the story of Skink, which had disbanded just a few months previously.]

Years of Practice begins with a young Mark Maynard behind the video camera, goading Peter Larson’s toddler-aged son Miles into picking his favorite Prehensile Monkey Tailed Skink song (he finally settles on “Alright”, though Mark basically picks it for him). It’s pretty cute, doubly so if you know the depicted toddler as an adult. Some two decades later, Miles Larson is considerably less hesitant to talk — just ask Rick Snyder — but Skink has long fallen silent.

As an upstanding (code word for “square”) member of proper Ypsilanti society, the modern Mark Maynard would prefer to keep Skink’s history silent and invisible. He wants this video under wraps, in hopes that he might keep his sources of shame mostly current and his path towards a career in public service unsullied by trash. He shouldn’t worry, though: while most of Fears of Practice isn’t as cute as harassing children with a video camera, it is nonetheless exactly the kind of thing that would rock the vote in his favor. Hell, if Hillary Clinton’s campaign leaked video of her fronting a band like Skink tomorrow, I’d turn a blind eye to the decades of disappointment and criminality and get in the damn booth tout suite.

Fears of Practice is a compilation of video from several different Skink live appearances, touching on all of the hits that have long enraptured dozens. “Wierd”, “Anarchy is Stupid”, “Teenage Love and Murder”… they’re all here, in glorious garbage fidelity. The sparse credits and liner notes do little to indicate where each song was shot, but some of the best footage very clearly takes place at the Blind Pig (I’d know that fake brick wall anywhere, and besides, there’s a flashing sign for the 8 Ball in the background). Those hallowed, weird-smelling walls serve as a backdrop for my favorite Skink song, “Face Like a Piranha”, which is mostly slayed here (save for a recalcitrant guitar cable knocked loose during one of the song’s noisier sections, a recurring issue which would continue to plague Mr. Larson during his tenure in 25 Suaves); it is also the scene of a chaotic climax wherein a bunch of local dweebs rush the stage to “aid” the band in a “cover” of “We Are The World”. The bedlam that ensues during the latter, more than anything on record, is illustrative of the band’s freak energy and its sway over an elite cadre of local dorks, even if everyone else was probably sneaking weed on the railroad tracks behind the club like sensible people.

Not all of the footage is as good as all that. There’s a whole section that looks like it was taped in a completely dark room, with only slivers of light to indicate that my VCR wasn’t busted (my least favorite song of the tape, a willfully cruddy cover of “Gloria” retitled “Skinkia”, is part of this section). Still, contrary to the hype, most of the tape is much better than this.

The video ends with a hastily-assembled ad for the defunct/immortal Bulb Records and a candid video of Mark and Pete on a couch doing their best impression of the “Nobody Likes Us” guys from Kids in the Hall, thanking the purchaser for their interest while implying that they’re actually too bummed out to care.

If this is, as Mark claims, the only copy of Fears of Practice, it’s a shame for Skink’s remaining adherents. Still, part of me think it should never be seen by anyone… it makes it feel more special. I’m not sure if virgin eyes would know what to do with it, anyhow. It’s true that this certainly isn’t the stuff of Big Indie reunion tours, and thank G-d for that: the standard bearers of 1990s college rock mostly sucked then, and they really suck now. Those boring-ass shows only sound good if a given song was playing in the background while you were clumsily scrumping on your dorm roommate’s futon way back in your chicken finger days. Unless we’re speaking strictly in terms of conventional musical technique (and really, who cares about that?), Skink did not suck. They were ace exponents of gleefully obnoxious noise-as-rock gunk, an unabashed exercise in weirdo group ritual in the proud tradition of vintage ½ Japanese and Happy Flowers, well in line with peers like Harry Pussy, and undoubtedly a primary inspiration for the genius idiocy of Mitten State mutant children like The Rainbow Vomit Family Band, Orphanage Rats, and The Telephone Callers (among others). It’s silly, stupid, pointless, fantastic stuff, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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[above: Dan Richardson, Matt Krizowsky, Peter Larson and Mark Maynard perform on stage at Ann Arbor’s Schwaben Halle before three onlookers.]

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23 Comments

  1. Peter Larson
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    No one will comment on this post.

  2. anonymous
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Now send Dustin back to kill the old man, destroy the tape. and leave evidence implicating Dr. Larson.

  3. Mr. Kim
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    This is like that time someone found the first Velvet Underground recording at a garage sale.

  4. Katherine
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    If you’re going to frame someone why not Rick Snyder?

  5. Eel
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    This is way bigger than the VU reel. This is on the same level as “The Day the Clown Cried”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_the_Clown_Cried

  6. Joe D.
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I played the Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink record on the radio at WCBN just so I could say the name.

  7. XXX
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    It should be destroyed for the good of all humanity.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I wish someone would make a YouTube type site that only accepted old grainy home footage. I would watch it endlessly. Even as a child I loved watching other people’s home movies and vacation slides. No on else seemed too… Still there must be more people like me who would rather see evidence of someone else’s life than hear the tale told. Put the tape up.

  9. Posted March 3, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I won’t kill for beer. I know a guy, though. His work is nice and clean, but he only drinks Coors.

  10. Sarah Tongs
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I gave at least three people VD at that Schwaben Hall show.

  11. Peter Larson
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I think there were four of these, outside of the one copy I own.

    I’m trying to think of how we edited it, but I think that we simply rented a VHS player from Blockbuster and just put it together at my house with my own VHS player.

    I’d like to see this. It must be pretty bad.

  12. Peter Larson
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    My couch wasn’t filthy. It was kind of nice. You couldn’t sleep on it, but it was fine for reading.

  13. Stupid Hick
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    What was the name of the puppet show you opened for at the Halfway Inn? Now that’s footage I would like to see. The puppet show, I mean.

  14. Peter Larson
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Could it have been something like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OnjgOcE1eQ

  15. Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Were there seriously only three people there? I would have gone if I’d known you back then. Then there would have been four people there!

  16. Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Wait, what? What’s this about a puppet show? Did it involve the MM puppet?!??!!?

  17. Posted March 3, 2016 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    To my knowledge, I never opened for a puppet show. And, for what it’s worth, Patti, I think he’s just making reference to Spinal Tap.

    As for the Halfway, I don’t think I ever went, which is odd, given that I know they put on good shows. I have no memory of ever having been there. I wasn’t even at the historic GG Alin show.

  18. Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Pete’s right that his couch wasn’t filthy. His apartment on North Campus was clean. It was, truth by told, one of the cleanest couches in my universe of couches at the time. As for VD, I likely would not have been a candidate at the time, as I typically ran away from ladies that expressed any kind of interest.

  19. Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    As for there having been multiple copies of this video, I’m not sure. I’m hoping, however, there was just this one. The thought that there are five in circulation that need to be destroyed is too much for me to comprehend.

  20. Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I like that this story ran on the day that Metromode came out with a story about me being a serious journalist.

  21. Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    As for video documentation, I’ve asked Dustin to go back and ask the old man if he could copy a few minutes of the tape. I’ll keep you posted.

  22. Doug Polgardy
    Posted March 3, 2016 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    I’ve also heard rumors there’s an unreleased Skink album. True?

  23. scrapebox footprints
    Posted March 27, 2016 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    I have never in my life been so engorged. Seriously, the meet of my cock actually tore through its casing when I saw this.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] received word from Oregon that a 25 year old video of my band, Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink, had surfaced? Well, it would seem as though the tape is now in the hands of someone who intends to torture me […]

  2. […] surfaced in Oregon, and how music journalist Dustin Krcatovich had made it his mission in life to track it down? Well, he was apparently successful. After teasing me with a few still shots, and a provocative […]

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