Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Krautmiser - Mr. Miatsu's Deadly Game

In 1995, an album was released that changed a generation: Krautmiser's Mr. Miatsu's Deadly Game.

Everyone remembers how Mr. Miatsu's Deadly Game included the cliffhanger-ending story of how Krautmiser fearlessly challenged Mr. Miatsu in his own lair. But for years Krautmiser scholars have wondered: what actually happened to Julian Dingle, David McMahon, Jack Howard, and James Kennedy, once they entered Miatsu's notorious "Death Pagoda"?

Now, at long last--as an exclusive to South Bend Power 90s--the "lost ending" of Mr. Miatsu's Deadly Game!

First, the original story, from the insert of the 1995 album Mr. Miatsu's Deadly Game:


So shouted the headlines of the Fleet Street weeklies when England's scandal-sheet favourites, Krautmiser, announced their intention to play Mr. Miatsu's deadly game.

"This time they've gone too far," sniffed Lady Agatha Croydon, the ex-betrothed of Krautmiser's notorious playboy drummer Jack Howard, when informed of the band's sensational announcement.

But what is the story behind the scandal? Some wags claim Krautmiser was unwittingly shanghaied into playing Mr. Miatsu's deadly game. But when has Krautmiser ever done anything "unwittingly"--Krautmiser, a band whose every smallest action, down to the flirtatious bat of an eyelash, is precalculated and phase-plotted by a Cray-2 supercomputer for maximum swank and joie de vivre?

Others bandy about allegations that Krautmiser was forced into participating in Mr. Miatsu's deadly game. But how could Krautmiser ever be "forced" to do anything--Krautmiser, the wealthiest and most powerful band in the world?

No, Krautmiser's decision to engage Mr. Miatsu in his deadly game can only be traced to one reason--the same reason for all their actions--that is, the boundless insouciance and devil-may-care sassiness that have made them beloved pop-culture icons the world over. "We thought it'd be a lark to play Miatsu's deadly game," said Julian Dingle, guitarist, at a recent press conference.

But who is Mr. Miatsu? That question is not easily answered. All that can be said for certain about the enigmatic Miatsu is that once every year, this inscrutable 850-year-old mandarin emerges from his inaccessible pagoda deep within the heart of China and issues his challenge: "Who shall play my exceedingly dangerous game?"

What kind of band would throw their lives to the fickle winds of Oriental fate? "We started out with nothing," growled bassist James Kennedy in his raspy Irish brogue, "so we find it much easier to gamble everything." To be sure, Krautmiser did have inauspicious beginnings: in the early years, Kennedy was nothing more than another streetfighting lad going nowhere fast in the pubs of Belfast.

How he fell in with Jack Howard, an Eton schoolboy still in shortpants at the time, and Julian Dingle, a well-heeled Oxford don and the unofficial "bad boy" of orthodox Scholasticism, is still a mystery.

It was not until 1964 the Krautmiser finally found a vocalist. It was August 4, "Rodeo Nite" at the Buckin' Silver Star Saloon in Junction City, Kansas. "We don't have a singer for this next song," Julian called out halfway through the set. "Does anyone here know how to sing?"

"Oh, ah do!" piped up a drunken farm girl from the cornfields of Kansas. It was her first night on the town, and this blue-dressed, blonde-tressed ingenue was none the better for the five gin and tonics that she had downed that night.

"What's your name, young lovely?" inquired a solicitous James Kennedy as he helped her stagger onto the stage.

"Dave McMahon," slurred the young girl. "But I let the nice boys call me Peaches," she added, giggling.

"How old are you, little miss?" asked Jack Howard skeptically.

"Eighteen," said Peaches McMahon defiantly. But she was only sixteen, and even now Ma McMahon was peeping out the window of her farmhouse hundreds of miles away, wondering when her little Peaches would return.

She never did. Even when falling-down drunk, Peaches McMahon managed to bring the house down for encore after encore. That very night she climbed into the Krautmiser tour bus, and never saw Kansas again.

But the lean years were not over for Krautmiser. Who knows what might have become of Krautmiser had Sir Evelyn Hottentot, the eccentric and fabulously wealthy aristocrat, not walked into London's "seedier-than-thou" Black Bombay Club the night of September 14, 1967? Sir Evelyn was immediately smitten by Krautmiser's youthful savoir faire--and yet his heart was broken by the abject poverty Krautmiser endured, their bony ribs sticking out of their lanky, emaciated frames. Sir Evelyn immediately took Krautmiser under his wing, offering the boys a place to stay and hot meals.

But Sir Evelyn turned out to be as dotty as he was generous. He was given to bouts of melancholia and he frequently went skeet shooting in the middle of Piccadilly Square. His weakness for the caresses of supple Malaysian houseboys left him with a nasty case of syphilis that nearly drove him mad. Krautmiser soon took over their daft benefactor's fortunes and, with cunning financial prowess, went on to establish themselves as the best-loved band in the world.

And so now Krautmiser stands at the entrance of Mr. Miatsu's "death pagoda." The door opens. Miatsu emerges.

"Who shall play my exceedingly dangerous game?" rasps the ancient monk.

"We shall," proclaims James Kennedy as Krautmiser steps forward. "We shall play your dangerous game with relish, Miatsu."

"But are your fists of quality much greatness?" questions Miatsu sagely.

Replies McMahon, "Our fists are motorized explosions."

"Your explosions are your own impotence," snaps Miatsu.

"Bold talk," returns Howard, "for a man whose very kimono is a flapping tent of viscera."

"I am that kimono," growls Miatsu, eyes blazing.

"That we shall defrock you of your own substance," muses Dingle. "Mr. Miatsu--or, should I say, my little Peking duck."

"I shall consume you as I consumed General Ch'ung Kiang before you!" booms Mr. Miatsu as storm clouds rumble. "Enter, young Krautmisers, into my 'Death Pagoda.' I have spoken."

Krautmiser enters. The door closes.

Oh, do be careful, reckless youth of Britain! Oh, do come home safe, beloved boys of Krautmiser!

And thus ends the story of Krautmiser as of 1995. But what happened to Krautmiser in Mr. Miatsu's "Death Pagoda"? Now, finally, the truth is revealed...



"A springtime shower of illustrious blessings to you, Mr. Miatsu," said Jack Howard politely; "and to the she-goat who bore you from its rancid womb."

"Your feeble contumely holds no terror," said Miatsu from his alabaster throne, "for a man who suckled at the teat of Dag Na Goga, the silver dragon who even now slumbers beneath the soil."

"A cunning jade statuette, Miatsu," said Dave McMahon, plucking up a centuries-old idol. "It will look quaint on me mum's window-sill."

"Even now I curse that window-sill; wild boars shall befoul it."

James Kennedy shot back, "Be it so, but I shall violate every orifice you possess with those selfsame boars."

Miatsu whirled. "This from a man whose dishonorable underclothes have been the scorn of his generation!"

The curtains parted, and Julian Dingle alighted, borne by a rickshaw.

"So enters the prancing monkey of the Western world," observed Miatsu. "And now, who will play my exceedingly dangerous game?"

"The game has already been played... and won," said Julian coolly. "For, unbeknownst to you or your sad regiment of ill-fed monks, I have paid a visit to Beijing... and the Imperial Library."

"Thrice a bungler, thrice an oaf," gloated Miatsu. "What piffling words did you scrabble up, backwards scholar?"

"Only this: that you once loved a woman, Miatsu," said Julian boldly. "And, yea, unbeknownst even to her own sister, your betrothed, you dallied with her, and tasted delights in the shade of the cherry blossoms; iniquity in your heart, and shame on your lips, you fled to this miserable temple; and here you have moldered for 850 years, a man who is not a man, but a shell, who possesses not a heart, but a lump of dung; for you cannot love, Miatsu, and that is your deadly game."

But even as Julian spoke, Miatsu grew smaller and smaller; the gold and red robes that once enfolded him now hung loosely about his diminishing frame; the alabaster idols, the proud banners, the shining kanji on the crimson cards, the granite obelisk, the dice of bronze and ivory, the pods and chits and spangles and coins--indeed, all of the apparatus of the deadly game, crumbled to dust; and then, all at once, the boys of Krautmiser found themselves, not in the arid wastes of Red China, but in a leafy glade, alongside a babbling brook, under a spreading chestnut-tree; the delicate "twoot-twoot" of the thrush could be heard--

"England," cried David, clasping his tiny, pale, puffy hands together in infantile delight--capering spastically into the sunrise--"Oh, oh, oh my beloved England!"

--James Kennedy


see also:
Krautmiser on MySpace


chris o said...

Krautmeiser was my favorite ND campus band by far. Glad to have these songs again!

Anonymous said...

A few historical items left out here by James

1. He never mentions our successful chain of "Krautmiser" laundromats established in second tier cities across the midwest.

2. He fails to mention the successful launch of our Soyuz rocket, and subsequent internment in an Iranian prison.

3. Further, there is nothing in this post about our our made-in-England line of "powdered, flavoured dried kraut"

4. And finally, he owes to the world an explanation for our little known tour of juke joints and vaudeville stages with the Christian Temperance Union Troupe.


Mike L. said...

Still sad I never saw Krautmiser play. How about a reunion tour?

Julie McCoy said...

Can someone remind us where the name Krautmiser came from?
And does Jack still have the video from senior year? What was that bar? Was it DV8 or some other clever combination of letters and numbers?
Does anyone else remember the girl that got up on stage and asked them to play Nirvana?

James Kennedy said...

Origin of name "Krautmiser": Cripe Street, Jules' old band with Brian Muller, was playing at some benefit that had the theme of "Polish wedding." It a dinner and dance held in a South Bend school gym. We were served by schoolchildren. Lael Tyler was in attendance, and since he was a vegetarian, the only thing he could eat was the sauerkraut. Someone served Lael too little on his plate, and thus he accused them of being a "kraut miser."

Possibly the worst and most ludicrous "creation myth" for a band name ever.

Oh and the bar where we played a Nirvana cover was "Jazzman's." That place was amazing and insane. I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist anymore, or if it does, it is redecorated and thus ruined. Sic gloria transit mundi.

Anonymous said...

My favorite comment about Krautmiser has to be from Larry Livermore, who months after playing in south Bend with the potatomen said he alternated between loving the tape, and wanting to throw it out the window...also, for the record, my wife was a fan of the band before she knew any of us, she loved trophies and cash, and plugged our perfomance at nazz, probably partially responsible for our seventh place "finish" and now we have two more fans, age 6 and 4, my kids who freak out when they hear krautmiser and also brag to their friends, "my dad has a tape." how very sad yet gratifying. get used to it james....


doug said...

Somewhere I have a VHS tape with footage of Krautmiser's last show, which was in my parents' basement in Pennsylvania. The occasion was my sister's high school graduation party, and a number of the pictures in this post are from the same show.

Stormy said...

Love the new look of the blog. So much great music. I'm hoping some live Brian, Colin and Vince will make it's way onto here eventually.


JMitchell said...

i do believe we recorded some of this album in my living room at Campus View apartments in the spring of 1995 --- Recorded on my Tascam 4 track. Justin M.

James Kennedy said...

Yes, credit where credit is due! Justin Mitchell did record this album (except for "Trophies and Cash," which was done at the studio all the bands got to use for Sfumato),