Monday, February 13, 2012

Nine Years Gone - Ian Kruske (Part Two)

started getting strange.  Ian started keeping odd ours - it wouldn't be uncommon for him to just casually drop by at 3 in the morning.  I guess he was doing a fair amount of LSD - a drug I wouldn't really recommend for everyone.  He'd go through Amusement-Park-Pirate-Ship sized mood swings, and often nobody would know where he was for days at a time.  He seemed to exist on a plane of existence that was oblique to normal people, with their "jobs" and "sleep schedules".  His vocabulary also started expanding in the same mercurial fashion as his consciousness was.  To this day, I have a framed piece of paper he gave me, calling me "the prestidigitational proficient."
Ian was briefly the drummer for the band Sistersound (more on them earlier), but his erratic behavior ended up cutting his stint in that band short.  Eve (their guitarist) said that at band practice, he would sometimes just sit behind his drumset and not even play.  This must have been some time in 1995.  He wrote this essay about his time in that band here.
Later that year, the unthinkable happened: Ian joined the Army.  How someone who would record themselves reciting passages from Buddhist texts and walk the streets of Richmond at night in a psilocybin dream-state could suddenly join the armed forces was way beyond my understanding.  Oddly enough, I thought it might be good for him - maybe he needed a little structure in his life.
Ian's military career did not last very long, but it did seem to have something of a positive impact on him.  He seemed a little more serious.  We didn't talk too much about what happened there, but he did say something about how it was his job to type latitudes and longitudes into computers for bombing targets.  I'm still not sure if he went AWOL.
In the late 90's, Ian lived at the Henry Street Gallery - a converted warehouse with 2 or 3 "bedrooms", a makeshift kitchen and something in the corner that functioned as a bathroom.  It was also a venue for bands to play at.  I had many happy memories watching bands like The Plumbers and Sparky and El Presidente with Ian there.  For some reason, I feel like he didn't live there for too long before moving back to his mom's house in Newport News.  We kind of lost touch, and I moved to Austin. 
My contact with Ian was scarce in the earlier part of the 2000's.  I had heard that he was going to school again and doing really well.  What I didn't hear was that he was feeling more and more suicidal.  If I had known, I would have gotten in my barely-working 1983 Honda Civic and driven up to get him.  Or would I have?  I had just gotten married and had a baby daughter.
I don't remember who told me that Ian had died in February of 2003.  Matt Gross maybe?  John Swart?  It was only a few weeks after my sister died of brain cancer.  I felt like I lost 2 siblings that month.  If you've ever seen that Jimi Hendrix documentary from the early 70's, one of the Ghetto Fighters described Hendrix as a "short fuse" - a description that unfortunately fit Ian also.  Prank calling people with his brother and beat-boxing/rapping "My Adidas" by Run DMC.  Driving from Virginia to Minnesota to meet a girl he only knew online, stealing gas the whole way up.  Writing amazing reviews about Qabalism. Working at Busch Gardens and getting caught stealing from the cash register, but somehow getting asked to return the next summer.  And of course, my favorite memory of Ian.  At Burger King, a 15-16 year old Ian asked for "an order of fucking onion rings".  The cashier became enraged, and told him he had to leave.  On the way out, Ian asked for a job application.  Now, apparently by law, Burger King had to give a job application to anyone that asked, so they gave him a job application.  What kind of person knows about laws like that?
5 months before Ian died, he got together with Neale Shaffer and recorded some informal jams.

Ian Plays Piano #1

The next two tracks also feature Jason Strickland on bass.
Rainy Delay Pedal Jam
Yea... is that recording?

Ian Plays Piano #2
Your Angel
Ian Rocks the House


  1. Did he pronounce his name "Eye-an"? If so, I remember him. We sat on the floor of Henry Street Gallery one night during a show and talked about Aphex Twin. This would have been 1997 or so (maybe earlier?). I remember him describing experiences of being high on hallucinogens as "being a space cadet." I think that was the only time we ever really talked, but he made an impression on me.

  2. That's him. I should mention: his parents named him Ian after Deep Purple singer Ian Gillian, but for some reason they pronounced it wrong.

  3. I worked at Busch Gardens at the same time as Ian. He worked at the front counter in Scotland (I think it was Heatherdowns) and would offer all of his friends free food. Our lunch breaks would sometimes occur at the same time, which at first got me excited, until I realized that he preferred to take his lunch breaks alone reading the dictionary. Thanks for the free food and the memories Ian.

  4. I grew up with ian and steve in stoney brook we used to skate together we had a big crew. Thinking back it was an amazing childhood. It sucks to see him go out like that. RIP homie