Def Jams


As someone who is legally deaf and occasionally DJs, I can relate to a movie about a deaf DJ better than most. It’s All Gone Pete Tong (cockney slang for “it’s all gone wrong”), a mock biopic of out-of-control British DJ FRANKIE WILDE, at first seemed like a Spinal Tap homage, but it takes a bittersweet turn midway through when the obnoxious cokehead DJ—in a spot-on portrayal by actor PAUL KAYE—completely loses his hearing.

I got so verklempt watching his character relearn how to make music and match beats through vibrations that when I met Kaye at the premiere’s after-party at Cain on Wednesday, I informed him he was talking to a real-life deaf DJ. We proceeded to have one of those awkward conversations that happen only in a loud club when one of the parties (me) cannot hear 75 percent of what is said. (This is why e-mail was invented.)

I managed to make out that Kaye didn’t do much to prepare for the role—i.e., no clubbing or late-night drug binges (his party days are way past). He didn’t actually meet any deaf DJs either, but he did get a DJ’ing lesson or two so he would look like he knew what he was doing. The movie is indeed the best demonstration I’ve seen of beat matching and—more importantly—trainwrecking.

I told Kaye that he did the arrogant, egomaniacal mess thing really well. I’d just watched Dig!, a documentary about the BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE and the DANDY WARHOLS, which featured one amazing real-life egomaniacal mess, ANTON NEWCOMBE of the BJM (by comparison, Dandy’s leader, COURTNEY TAYLOR, seems downright angelic—and sane!). I said I was struck by how similar the two characters were. Paul replied, but I couldn’t hear a damn thing.

The film’s namesake, PETE TONG, showed up to spin, and I found myself in the role of nagging schoolmarm. Me: “I e-mailed you questions.” Tong: “Yes, I’ll do them tomorrow?” “Just make them funny.” “OK, I’ll do them at the end of the night, then.” (See, I told you this is what e-mail is for.) Nice guy, he wrote back the next day. I wanted to know what it was like for him to have his good name used as slang that equates it with “wrong.” Tong said he was never bothered by it (“I always saw it as publicity, and it made me a bit notorious”) and admitted to using it himself sometimes (“when I’m sending myself up”). He has no plans to go deaf like the Wilde character: “Many of my contemporaries—JOHN DIGWEED, CARL COX—wear earplugs. I got some high-tech ones fitted recently but they haven’t arrived yet. If I went deaf I’d be lost, I love music so much.” Thanks, Pete. You get an A-plus.

The best part of the party was the appearance of the COKE BADGER, who reminded me of the scary Frank bunny in Donnie Darko. In the movie, the Coke Badger—whose snout is covered with white snot and who looks absolutely insane—shows up every time Wilde is tempted to use. The grotesque thing was, not surprisingly, the hit of the party. Everyone wanted a picture with him.

I spent the previous night at Rothko, where Taylor and BRENT DE BOER played a special acoustic set in honor of the DVD release for Dig! True to their name, they showed up looking like dandies, wearing suits and, in Taylor’s case, a fancy scarf and black-rimmed glasses, with a mop-top haircut. The boys sang some BEATLES (“Eight Days a Week,” “All My Loving”), some of their own tunes, and some BJM tunes, one of which Taylor introduced thus: “This is by two of the greatest songwriters I know—MATT HOLLYWOOD and Anton Newcombe.” The only thing marring the performance was the fact that it was so very quiet (I know I’ve got a problem, but still) you could hear the crowd’s murmuring. I split just as THE GIRAFFES went on. They were so loud, I was afraid I would go totally deaf. And that wouldn’t be very def.