I met Clash sometime around 1990 while running parties at the Chicago area sci fi conventions. We served bodacious amounts of booze, played music, filled rooms with young people and generally had a great time.
Certain of the older lit-fic crowd were less than thrilled. We were all about fun, not serious study of blahblah. But quite a few others from 16-90 attended our parties and had a great time. In fact, in 1993 at the Chicago Worldcon, we drank beer with Timothy Leary. He happened to be in town, stopped by the convention, was invited to our party. Our booze tab for that weekend broke 4 digits.
So Clash was a DJ. In short order, he DJed almost every convention dance in the area, and in some other areas, and at several clubs. He had an amazing selection of tunes, including some really outré alternative stuff, punk, remix, hip-hop, proto-steampunk, techno, everything.
His day job at the time was loading cargo for UPS, and he was ripped. He looked more like a wrestler than a sci fi nerd, who was also a beer geek. For at least one convention in San Fran, he and friends flew in a week early to LA, rented a car, and drove up through CA sampling every brew pub en route. I'm amazed they survived.
Like a Time Lord, he always had a Companion. First DJ Sparrow. Then a variety of hot chicks who really did learn DJing from him, then various schleps to haul the gear, then Amy, whom he finally realized he should marry.
Back in 1994, I drove from Champaign to Bloomington to pick up another friend, to Chicago, picked up Clash and all his gear, then we drove to Winnipeg, with a stop overnight in MN, for Conadian, that year's Worldcon.
We first ran into issues at the Pembina, ND border crossing. Despite National Guard plates, military ID, and "vacation," we were directed to pull over for inspection.
Out came some little shortass with neither humor nor professionalism and said, "Open the doors."
I said they were unlocked. He didn't say, "I need you to open them, sir." He just stood there until I realized his type and opened the doors and gate of my wagon.
He dove in like a dachshund after a rabbit, rooted through, found my underwear in my luggage, then found Clash's rolling case of CDs and mix board.
"A mixing board."
Then he found my four guitars, signal processing racks in the travel case, power supplies and amps.
"Are you a musician?"
"What are these?"
"What do they do?"
"Are you being funny?"
"Well, sir, that one's got overdrive, analog and digital distortion, signal compression-expansion, flange/chorus/delay with reverb and selectable hall size and shape with inversion options and noise gates and ADSR. The separate box is an envelope filter, and the rest are stereo imaging mixers. The synth has arpeggiators, sequencers and an external memory module with waveform shapers and both VCO and external oscillator inputs."
Clearly overwhelmed, he started some blather about how I should talk to immigration if I was planning on working.
"Sir, I have right of abode in Canada, so if you really want to talk to Immigration they'll tell me to go ahead. I'm not working, I'm on vacation, and this stuff is for a demonstration."
"What's it worth?"
"Oh…ten thousand or so." (I didn't realize until that moment how much my gear was worth.)
Clash said his was worth about $2000 for the board, plus the CDs, and that, "It's for a demonstration. I throw parties."
Shortass opened a bag and said, "Is this for a demonstration too?" then realized it was full of whips and floggers.
I said, "That's personal" and he decided to drop it and let us on our way. He never actually inspected the grain alcohol and mixers I had. Dumbass.
(Actually, the floggers were for friends to use for costume purposes. Trust me on this.)
So we arrived in Winnipeg, and Clash was out of the car, bouncing around in eagerness. I had to tell him three times to slow down.
We got to the room we were sharing with Prime Slime and a friend's 16 year old daughter (nothing inappropriate happened and nothing was intended to happen, but looking back, and looking at the laws now…yikes.)
Then Slime opened up his cooler, with all his supplies pre-measured. He pulled out the powdered sugar, in Ziploc bags, each containing exactly one pound, for mixing his signature drink of Slime.
Clash said, "Uh, Slime, you didn't cross the border with those, did you?"
"Yeah, why?" Then he looked down at the 1 lb Ziploc of white powder…
Looking back, I am amazed we weren't all in jail by that time.
So we were in Canada, with Illinois plates, which of course meant we were Chicago gangsters. And we had women in chainmail bikinis and high strength booze.
Next, Clash grabbed his gear and got dressed for the first evening, with a kilt he'd borrowed.
"This may not be my size," he said.
I took a look, snickered, decided if I should, and decided he was a friend. "Clash, pleats go in back."
"Are you sure?"
"Where was I born, Clash?"
"Oh, right. Hold on." He went back into the bathroom, while me, Slime and the young lady snickered, and came out wearing the kilt properly, and it fit much better.
After that it was a fairly "normal" SF con, as normal as those get. Until Saturday.
Saturday night, there was a dance. They had a big hall, a goodly number of people, and dance music…most of it 80s pop.
After 5 songs, Clash commented to me, in a shouted whisper, that he wasn't sure if he should comment on their music choice.
What he was asking was if he should create an incident, and as a friend, I of course told him to proceed.
So he hand-signed for permission to approach the podium (he was a professional), got it, climbed up, and said,
"Hey. I'm Clash, I DJ most of the Chicago conventions and some clubs. I have a case of disks with me if you'd like to pick through for some stuff. Some's pretty new and edgy."
Well, these were CANADIANS!
In fact, they cleared a space and offered to let him set up his own board alongside theirs.
Dueling DJs, game on.
So we founds some schleps to get the gear, and in twenty minutes, Clash was set up behind his board, headset on, black villain mask, black poet shirt, kilt, black boots, belt equipped with leashes in case he got lucky, and he had music cued up. Rum may have been involved.
He showed me the first case.
And the host DJ announced, "Okay, we're going to throw in something else here. From Chicago, this is DJ Clash!"
Cue international incident in 3, 2, 1…
Something by Madonna faded out…and in came…(Language warning): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcbZUmLlNEo
By ten seconds, the dance floor was empty, and the Canadians looked as if they'd been head-beat with ball bats. Clash was laughing maniacally.
And within another 10 seconds, everyone was back on the dance floor, as the Canadian DJ looked at the disk case and said, "Oh, yes, I'd heard something about this."
Clash followed that with "The Punk Polka."
I'm not sure what it did for international relations, but it worked okay for the dance. There were no hard feelings, and they went back and forth between 80s and edgy.
If you look at his Facebook page, every photo shows him grinning.
That was Clash. If there was a party, he was there. If there wasn't, he created one on the spot.
He followed that first kilt with others, with Scotch, and with all things Scottish, because if it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!
The last couple of years he appeared to have some health problems, but nothing critical. I was in Holland when another of the pack IMed me, asked me to call, and since I couldn't from overseas, gave me the bad news.
Clash is a year younger than me, far too young to die of mundane causes. There's a whole list of people who shouldn't die anytime soon, and he's near the top. But we don’t get a choice.
The convention dances aren't going to be the same without him. Whoever takes over the task has huge combat boots to fill. And he better bring Scotch.
So let's toast him with high end Scotch, or rum if you must.
RIP—Rest In Party.