Akashic Books, 158 pages, hardcover, $23.95
It’s hard to be hip while being a cat lover. Even the almighty Greg Ginn of Black Flag seems like he’s been watching “Matlock” when he talks about how much he loves cats. Fortunately, if you’ve been looking for a less embarrassing thing than Cat Fancy to adorn your coffee table, I’ve got good news: David Yow has just the book for you.
I’ve been writing reviews for better than a decade now, but this is the first time that I’ve ever reviewed anything written by a guy who has kissed me full on the mouth. It’s been many years, but some things you don’t quickly forget, and the sweaty, cowboy-booted lead singer of the Jesus Lizard reaching down from the stage, grabbing my head, and giving me a fierce kiss on the lips is one of them.
Jesus Lizard were a pretty hot band alright, but I was always more of a Scratch Acid man myself. Their Berserker EP rewired my head pretty good in mid-‘80s with a brutal rhythm section and Yow screaming his brains out. He was in art school then, and now I have a book of paintings by the man whose lyrics on classics like MARYHADALITTLEDRUGPROBLEM, Moron’s Moron, She Said, and The Greatest Gift rattled around my brain for decades.
He’s given us an odd kind of art book. It consists entirely of about 150 paintings of cats with punning captions. For example, page 50 finds us staring back at a cat with a pacifier in his mouth in a crib with the caption “Cat’s Cradle.” A “cool cat” looks out from a refrigerator, a “catacomb” sits in an ossuary, a “catalog” sits at the end of a felled tree — you get the idea. Anyhoo, it’s kind of a laugh, my three-year old daughter likes it a lot, and you may well too. And I don’t wanna be friends with anyone who doesn’t love cats as much as Yow and Ginn.