Normal History Vol. 216: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 29-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Obliterating History—a guitar-making mystery, domination and submission in a small town garage re-invents the history of the electric guitar, crediting some unlikely characters with a feminist link between Jimi Hendrix and riot grrrl. Rewriting the sacred chronicles of rock music by inserting fictional origins of a mid-’90s social movement, gives young Carol the opportunity to take a Greyhound to Olympia, Wash., to attend the International Pop Underground where Tae of the band Kicking Giant encourages her to start a band of her own. If only it were true. If only she’d gone and not stayed at home in Nazareth, Pa., home of the Martin guitar factory.

For all that, current-day Frank is a kinky, middle-aged man cheating on Carol; original interpersonal dynamics reveal clues to his inclinations. Delving into family backgrounds to illuminate psychological proclivities, the reader travels back to Frank’s childhood. With an actress for a mother and his father a self-absorbed art director—an original Mad Man—at Manhattan’s Ogilvy & Mather, was anyone considering how young Frank’s exposure to deception might shape his world? In 1964, his father was inventing a phenomenon of storytelling where household products played in starring roles on TV sets across America. Meanwhile, his mother had a part in a Broadway play—Stop the World I Want to Get Off—but, as far as four-year-old Frank was concerned, she was onstage pretending to be another lady—one too busy to make him his pork and beans with wieners on toast just the way he liked it.

“Cyclone,” from Sitting On Snaps (Matador, 1995; Smarten UP!, 2009) (download):