The Gaslamp Killer's Near-Death Account
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]
Credit: Kevin Scanlon
The doctors told The Gaslamp Killer that he was three hours away from dying of internal bleeding. In the bedroom of his Mount Washington house, the resident DJ and breakout star of Low End Theory is retelling the story of his near-fatal scooter accident that occurred early last Tuesday morning. A dozen staples suture his chest from belly button to breastplate. His spleen is gone. There's a savage gash on his left hip. To quote Warren Zevon: his shit's fucked up.
GLK's been out of the hospital for three days, after spending that much time incapacitated--with a half-dozen IVs in his arm, unable to eat solid foods or walk. Due to the massive wounds, he's still unable to wear regular clothes. Prescription painkillers are at arm's length. Normally a blur of frenetic energy, he'll be bedridden for the duration of summer.
This was slated to be the biggest summer yet for the psychedelic beat producer and DJ, who covered the Weekly last year. The serious injuries forced him to cancel dates at Low End Theory Europe (and Low End Theory L.A.) and prestigious festival gigs across Europe and Asia. But even at his weakest, there's a sense of triumphalism. He plays his latest compositions--ghoulish sci-fi synth stabs in the vein of Vangelis. He's still in pain, but understands the importance of re-channeling it into something productive.
In the meantime, there is a long recovery ahead. While drinking homemade soup, GLK spoke to me about the crash, the inadequacies of the health care system, and his plans for the future.
How exactly did this happen?
I'd gone to [Hit + Run art collective head] Brandy Flower's house to watch the Superman bootleg. Everybody fell asleep and I decided to call it a day and get my scooter out of the garage.
I started going down this hill and the wind took my hat, so I removed one hand to grab the hat and tried to squeeze the brakes--but I was squeezing the front brakes and flipped my whole shit.
I was literally driving three minutes away. I don't use that scooter for anything other than recreational Highland Park visits. It's not like I'm some fucking motorcycle speed demon. The thing is electric; it goes forty. But, it's pretty fucking heavy. It flew on top of me and I was going downhill. And it felt like when a super villain pounds the superhero into the concrete, and it breaks. I felt pummeled underneath the pressure. It could have bent me in half.
It was the most intense pain ever, but I dragged myself out of the middle of the street because I didn't want to get run over. It was pretty dark in Highland Park and I rolled onto the grass and reached for my phone and called Brandy Flower. I was only 30 seconds from his house. And I called him and said. 'I just crashed.' He said, 'I know I heard the screams.'
Did you immediately know the extent of the injuries?
That's the crazy thing. [Flower] said it only looked like I had a few scrapes. My elbows and my knees were bloody, but my face was fine. My head was fine, my neck and my back too. But I felt my left shoulder was dislocated, I didn't know what the fuck was going on.,
Two firemen dudes showed up in an ambulance and were very unsympathetic. They kept moving and jerking me around and they were like, 'man, you're fine, you just have a few cuts.'
I told them my shoulder felt like it had been ripped apart and my stomach feels like my organs are scrambled up inside. They said: 'Well...did you eat dinner tonight? I'm like, 'Yeah, at 9:00 p.m. They're like, "Well, maybe you need to shit.' You know, making jokes. I'm like, 'Just get me to the fucking hospital. Please!'
So we get on the fucking road and the freeway is shut. The 110 is shut. So they're blazing down the back streets. We get to the USC-County medical hospital and there's gunshot wound victims, all these people around, and nobody's fucking helping me. And finally, they get me into this back room, I was screaming, 'Please god, help me,' the whole time. Well, not screaming but more whimpering because I had no air in my fucking lungs.