WHY THEY CALL ME CRABMEAT...
I was always a difficult child.
When my father got home from the war I was two, and he marched into the house and picked me up and I cried. He cut off his moustache, and took off his uniform, but every time he touched me I would bawl. During my first two years I had been around only women and the mailman Mr. Ralph, who was in uniform. It was 1946, and all over the U.S. fathers were coming home, scaring their kids, who thought they were mailmen.
We lived in Ardmore, PA, outside Philadelphia, and my father often went on the road selling dynamite to the miners up in Tamagua or Allentown. Then I was once again the little man of the house, which my mother and sister filled with their sweet singing as they rustled in the kitchen. I played in the basement a lot, and I had my comic collection down there.
The fathers who were coming home from Europe were proud of whipping the Jerries, as they called the Germans. The Nazis were taut soldiers, though they had wrongly killed a lot of Jews. Nicknaming me Jerry in 1944, when on my birth certificate it says "George Walter Thompson, Jr" was maybe some kind of joke? I don't know; I just know everybody always called me Jerry, and my dad’s nickname was Tommy. So it doesn't seem that strange to be Crabmeat.
Later, when 1 entered school, we moved to Seattle for five years. My memories of that town are of the heartbreaking sunsets over Mount Rainier, which we could see from our house; of light showers on the playground which never drove us indoors; of the octopus at Ivar's; and of sawdust, which the Langtons burned in their furnace after it came down a chute, as coal did into my grandma's basement, in Philly.
Sawdust in my shirts, sawdust in my pockets and my shoe. We played hide and seek in the sawdust. They used timber byproducts for everything in Seattle, even putting sawdust in snow tires. That sawdust worked about as well as kitty litter, and the cats seemed to have an affinity for it too, which we found out sometimes playing hide and seek.
One day Sissy Crawford, a skinny girl with pigtails who lived up the street, said to me: "I bet I can beat you up with no hands, " and I laughed. She brought her knee up into my nuts as hard as she could, and I saw the white light for the first time. I told my sister about it and she was curious but would not avenge me. She had always wanted to be a boy. Now she wasn't so sure.
This led me to wonder, when I could stand up again, why God had put men's testicles on the outside rather than hiding them up inside, as is the case with elephants. A feminist author has postulated that it is because God wanted men's sperm to be quicker so they could compete at swimming to the egg, female humans being promiscuous. Hanging in the air cools the sperm and makes them more active than those of elephants, who are monogamous and needn't compete.
I'm not sure this is true, though it would explain some things about my first wife. I'd believe it more likely that God put them in such a vulnerable spot because of Her weird sense of humor, which is also why she put man's prostate up his butt and all of our primary sex organs where we pee: I mean, why not be like Ferenghis, and use our ears? Now there's a nice neutral zone, and surely pleasant sounds can be soothing and sexy at the same time. Then after sex you could just lounge around swabbing with a Q- Tip, rather than running like a monkey to the bathroom with a bruised bladder.
Anyway, when I got my own band, in California, I lobbied for a name I had seen in a dream "Rock Macho and the Country Felons." Somebody said that was too obvious, but in 1975 it wasn't; especially for hippy bands playing country rock in Mexican bars. So in Tahoe some people still call me "Rock.” Rock doesn't suit my disposition, though—it was just part of a hell of a name for a country group.
And I never liked "George" that much.
So when I was playing four or five nights a week in the 80s, I resurrected "Crabmeat," a name given me in college—when I accidentally soaked my clothing with Crab and clam juice after a long, long, weekend—by Don Woods, a ne'er do well who has since faded into oblivion, though I’ll probably hear from him now.