Make Sure There Aren't Any Squares at My Funeral

Punk hero Matty Luv passes on

Life is cheap, but living is expensiveWakes tend to be somber affairs, in which people in suits suck down weak drinks and gnaw on snacks that, no matter how well-prepared, taste like chalk. There's a lot of hand- and head-shaking, which often feels unsatisfactory, too little too late. Matty Luv -- the much-loved guitarist and singer for local punk bands the Fuckboyz and Hickey who died of a heroin overdose on Oct. 5 -- deserved better. For more than a decade he was an inspiration through his music and anti-establishment adventures.

So it made sense that his memorial took place in a public space. And certainly, a man with his ironic sensibility -- he titled a song "Make Sure There Aren't Any Squares at My Funeral" -- would've seen the humor in conducting the event in Dolores Park, near a crowd of shirtless men practicing flag dancing to techno music. There, on a recent sunny afternoon, nearly 200 mourners gathered, clad mostly in black jeans and T-shirts. One-time Hickey bassist Chubby (no last name) handed out the remaining copies of the band's singles compilation, Various States of Disrepair, while Luv's longtime bandmate Aesop Dekker distributed a 44-page zine of remembrances he'd put together the night before.

The outpouring of affection for Luv was not surprising; he'd been a local hero almost since his arrival in San Francisco in 1989. Aaron Muentz -- who published The Probe, one of the best Bay Area zines ever, as well as released Hickey's sole, self-titled LP in 1996 -- wrote in the memorial book, "Some of the people who had never been at a punk show in their life still remember Matty Luv and the night the Fuckboyz rode in to Hap's Bar and ripped the town of Pleasanton a new one."

In 1994 the Fuckboyz morphed into Hickey, a darker and more politically driven group. Luv may have suggested in one song that "Hickey Is About Long Hair and Gettin' High," but a tune like "Revolution," with the lyrics "It's always the same, the bosses, billboards, buses, and all the superstructures/ Traffic jams full of dumb motherfuckers," was more appropriate to the group's disenfranchised vision. Luv's droll, downbeat view was perhaps best exemplified by "Bad Things Will Happen," which declared, "All the sterile gauze and seat belt laws/ Can't circumvent inherent flaws/ You're still gonna die/ And there's no Santa Claus."

Luv was prone to fits of depression, and, when Hickey broke up in 1997, Dekker worried that Luv might become lost in drugs. Instead, the musician and his then-girlfriend, Ro Giuliano, formed the San Francisco Needle Exchange, a program devoted to helping stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis in the Haight's teenage drug-user population. At the time, needle exchange was illegal, unless you were involved with the S.F. AIDS Foundation; Ro and Luv were arrested and harassed on a regular basis. In the end, however, the Exchange garnered funding from the likes of the Beastie Boys and served as a model for similar programs all over the country.

Luv continued playing music with Dekker -- in the Jewish rap project Dr. Dre Del and in punk outfits Yogurt and Miami -- and started up a series of free, illegal shows on Mission Street. When a Leed's store put up a gate to keep the bands and the homeless people out of its entryway at night, Luv and others grabbed construction-worker outfits and electric drills and calmly removed the bolts securing the gate. He was fiercely proud of his neighborhood: When Luv heard that a cop was blatantly bragging about corrupt practices, he tried to tape the officer's boasts, using a recorder hidden in his gym bag. (Luv ended up capturing a Van Halen album playing on the jukebox instead.)

In the end, Luv's depression got the best of him. "We all have seven layers of skin, Matty had six," wrote Giuliano. "Life hurt Matty more than it hurt the rest of us." Dekker, for his part, takes comfort in the image of Luv in heaven, playing cards with Huey Newton, talking revolution and laughing about their farts.

Corrections In the SF Weekly Music Awards Program last week, we wrote that the band Numbers is from Oakland, when actually it's from S.F. Also Bruce Ackley should've been listed as a founder of Rova Saxophone Quartet, not Steve Adams. Finally, Gold Chains' first EP came out on Orthlorng Musork, not Tigerbeat6. We regret the errors.

 
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