Yesterday we said goodbye to one of the family.
Tim "Temo" Watson (aka TMO, T-mo or Timo) was an essential part of the original ragtag gang of art punks and ditch skaters who had staked out mid-'80s Deep Ellum as the blank canvas where many of us would eventually leave our mark.
Last week he lost his life after a motorcycle accident in Austin.
Back in 1985, Watson's sister Lauri lived in a tricked-out loft space above the backstage at Theatre Gallery on Commerce Street. T's big sis was a professional gypsy who would juggle flaming bowling pins on the front sidewalk, and also made amazing belts out of leather and snakeskin. She would read our Tarot Cards and did naked yoga on the roof in the middle of the night. Lauri's younger brother Temo was always there to look after her. He had this thing about protecting the people closest to him.The two of them were deeper than purple: courageous souls dedicated to a pure aspiration of experience. They regularly did the kinds of things that nobody else would do.
The guy was large and in charge; he lived for the concrete ditch. At Theatre Gallery, the Watsons were Our People.
Temo and I always had a bizarre, unexplainable relationship. We would rarely speak using the traditional English language. Instead, he and I would make odd faces at one another in passing. I'm not really sure how it ever started, but that was always our thing. It was usually a case of each of us trying to out-weird the other; twisting our faces into contorted expressions, a competitive action/reaction dynamic. Of course, I never really stood a chance. One second he could look like D. Boon from the Minutemen, the next, he was channeling Curly from the Three Stooges.
I couldn't compete with that shit. Not with the animated mug this kid was sportin'.
Besides his gig as the bassist in local performance art/noise group called Sofa Kingdom, T-Mo should have been an actor. He was a presence. You never saw him dressed the same way twice. He had a definitive sense of style; Tim was a punk rocker who could wear a pink tie-dye shirt and a grass skirt and totally pull it off. I was never surprised by anything he happened to be wearing. Any garment was apparently an option.
Yesterday afternoon, his extended family got together and poured a little love out on the curb for our brother. It was a standing-room-only affair; probably the most leather and tattoos I've ever seen inside a church at one time. His two bass guitars were displayed just outside the chapel doors, right next a photo collage of his many exploits at the Clown Ramp and the Whip and Dip.
The following people wanted to chime in here as well. In honor of the original Dallas longboarder, a brief roundtable discussion about Tim Watson:
Robert Wilonsky (Unfair Park): "Tim Watson and I were a year apart at Thomas Jefferson High School. His family lived two blocks over from us. Tim was always the first one in on everything; whether it was Oi!, reggae music, hardcore or whatever we happened to be into at the time. It was Temo who introduced me to Jodie Foster's Army. In the same way that George Gimarc's Rock and Roll Alternative turned me on to New Wave music, Tim was the one who introduced me to hardcore punk rock."
Brad Albers: "We would spend our days and nights shredding the Whip and Dip. If it wasn't happening there, we would go on to the Clown Ramp, or maybe the Panchos all-you-can-eat-buffet that was right by his parent's house. We started skating together as kids and it never stopped--[we were] the kings of the all-night sessions in parking garages all over Dallas. We would shred until the security caught up with us and then on to the next spot. T-mo was the fastest guy I have ever seen on a longboard."
David Mabry (Homespun Remedies/End Over End): "I first met Tmo during the Theatre Gallery days, in the summer of 1985. I can honestly say he was one of the funniest, most creative and loving people I have ever met. When I say that 'the world has just lost one of the true blue good guys', that is not just exaggeration or hyperbole; we will all feel this for years to come. I can still see him riding up on whatever mode of transportation, be it skateboard, Vespa, bike or motorcycle; just smiling that Tmo smile. Cheers to Tim Watson."
Jim Heath (Rev. Horton Heat): "I got to hang around Temo and his sister Laurie at Theatre Gallery and they were always very nice to me. I wrote the song "Love Whip" because of these crazy beaded leather belts that Lauri used to make. She called them 'Love Whips' and I always thought it was a great song title."
Jenny Monesson Loza (friend): "Theater Gallery was a small group of friends who all knew each other, but eventually the crowd expanded. One night Three on a Hill was playing, and some guy that I had never seen before was using the surging crowd movement as an opportunity to get too close to me. The crowd was so tightly packed there wasn't much I could do about it. Suddenly, TMO appeared between songs, then leaned into him and said, 'You don't want to be that close to my sister now, do you?' The guy looked ready to fight until he got a full glimpse of who was speaking to him, and then he backed off. Tmo politely suggested that it was perhaps past this fellow's bedtime and he should hurry along home. After he left, I got a patented Big TMO Hug and the night went on. Just like that. It was nothing, and everything. Because once you were TMO's friend, you really WERE family. He remained as close as a brother to me right up until now. Nothing will ever change that."
Steve Shein (Theatre Gallery/Arcadia Theatre): "I'm sorry to say that I hadn't heard about what happened to TMO. This is just terrible news. I do remember that Tim had a great attitude about life. He always had a great smile. There were many times that TMO came to me at Theatre Gallery pleading the cause of one of his many friends: 'Dude, my friends only got five bucks. If you let him in, we'll help clean up and shit.' True to his word, after the show TMO would be there bagging up trash. It was very much a punk ethic thing. I'm so sorry to learn of his passing. Since I couldn't be there to attend his memorial, please give Lauri and his family my condolences."
Johnny McNabb: "Such a lovely guy. He landed on me at a Mentors show while stage diving and cut half of my finger off. I still have the scar. It was a wild night, like so many others. I hadn't seen him in a long time, but every time I ran into him he was so great. I remember him singing 'Golden Shower Power' at the top his lungs quite often. Being at that show with Tmo kind of made it. He really loved The Mentors."
Bob Scanlon (Friend): "T-Mo was the first complete stranger I ever met in Deep Ellum. It was my first visit ever to The Twilight Room. After bypassing the bar because I wasn't old enough to be in a club in the first place, I walked up the stairs where some unknown punk band was playing. The only person upstairs was T-Mo. There he was marching around in circles lifting one arm up, then the other, slam dancing all alone. He was pretty crazy-scary looking to me at that moment and I was a bit intimidated by the whole scene. After the song was over, T-Mo stopped dancing immediately and started walking straight at me. He gets right up in my face and pulls a warm can of beer out of his pocket at said something like 'Here, you some of want this?' I have never forgotten that, and never will."
Thor Johnson (Sofa Kingdom): "In '92, we had a late night show scheduled on Halloween at Dunebuggy HeadQuarters. Tmo came down in the afternoon to our practice space at the Mitchell Building, and said that we could play a show for the Scorpions MC Halloween party at Flagpole Hill in the earlier part of the evening, and then still make our gig at Dunebuggy. We thought that would be weird and fun--the Scorpions were paying, too--so we decided to do it even though it meant an extra hassle of moving shit around town between shows. Tmo was dressed as a medieval executioner with a big hooded cowl robe and an executioner's axe that had a handle that was as tall as he was. He looked pretty scary, actually. One of our songs included a fake guitar being smashed, and unfortunately I mistakenly smashed a small hole in the stage at the Scorpions party. The Scorpions pulled the plug and then Tmo somehow saved us from getting our ass kicked by this angry motorcycle gang. Then we went to our show at Dunebuggy HQ and it was awesome; everyone was tripping and there was day glow shit everywhere! Tmo is such a rock-steady player and a personality of the highest caliber and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to play with him. We did so much awesome music, not just in public but just playing and freaking out at the Mitchell Building."
Johnny McNabb: "For me, it was more about raging with Tmo. Lots of us were at that Twilite Room show, and I remember at the time that (club owner) Charlie Gilder had put a few 4x8 sheets of ply in front of the stage. Anyway, we were circle thrashing and Tmo went up, and I had learned to get out of the way when he dove. I miscalculated and pushed forward to the stage and grabbed the 4X8, he came down; a direct hit on all 90 lbs. of me--and the edge of the 4x8 cut me up pretty good. He gave me a bit of his T-shirt and told me to not be a pussy. I remember thinking it was all pretty radical at the time."
Brad Albers: "There was his old beater Vespa that he rode everywhere; once even to Turner Falls, Oklahoma (on the I-35 service road the whole way!). T-Mo came up to me one night at the Orbit Room, back in the days when I rode a Motto Guzzi and said 'Hey Brad! Come check this out...' Well, now he had his Big Wheels--a sweet California 2! After that, there was a many a night just cruising. I stepped up to a BMW motorcycle and so did he. We were always moving to same direction."
Lydia Russell Albers: "He used a 'yard stick' skateboard as a regular skateboard for a while, because of his size; I saw him skate that thing on ramps and ditches. It was nuts. Whenever I see a longboard, even my own, I think of him. For me, personally, T-mo has simply always been there. I first met him at the Clown Ramp back in 1983. Used to see him there and also at Whip-n-Dip. That was when Twilite Room was "the" place to go. Lots of punk rock goodness. T-mo was always out and about, seemingly at every show that I went to. He knew everyone and everyone knew him; and, to know him was TRULY to love him."
Stace Maples: "My favorite story is the one about his first driver's license. He showed up at the DMV with a 1.5 ft blue mohawk, did the deal and got his pic taken. Weeks later, when his license arrived in the mail, the words "Valid Without Photo" were in the place of his mug shot. He loved that ID, and I loved that story. I'm really bummed about his passing. He's one of those guys from the old days that I just NEVER heard a cross word about, and always made wherever he was more fun."
Jim Heath: "I was shocked one time driving down Abrams near Belmont. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a car slam into some poor guy on a motorcycle. I thought for sure that he got the worst of it. But almost as soon as he landed, up comes the guy on the motorcycle, fighting mad. It was Temo! I pulled over and stayed a little while to make sure that he was OK. I wasn't much use as an eyewitness because I didn't see whose fault it was, but I'm pretty sure that the car ran the light. Anyway, Temo was a big strong kid who has cheated death before. I'm sad to hear that he's gone now."
Jason Cohen (Forbidden Books): "My favorite memories of Tim were hanging out at Forbidden Books, back when it was also a coffee house around 1993. Tmo would come and spend many hours hanging and playing bones. The guy loved dominoes. He would drink tall strong coffee and we would just chill. I can only imagine that it was the closest thing to hanging out under a tree with Buddha thousands of years ago!"
Lydia Russell Albers: "T-mo was a beautiful soul. Someone so generous in spirit; he was goodness and grace wrapped up in a big smile. I do believe everything happens for a reason. We were saying how great he was and how it all sounds cliched, but all we have to say about him being so great is really true. We talked on and on about T-mo, and it hit me that if there is a reason for him to have to go, if there is a reason for his dying--a lesson per say--I think it must be to remind us to show the love you feel for others, to take no one for granted. Tell your friends and family that you love them because you can never know when the opportunity to do so will be yanked away from you. Life is not fair. Neither is death."
Yesterday would have been Tim Watson's 42nd birthday. Friends and family flew in from all over the country to remember the extraordinary trajectory of his life experience. His enormous circle of friends were well represented: among the many familiar faces were skater Craig Johnson, painter Cabe Booth, photographer Mouse Ramone, Theatre Gallery employees Perla Doherty and David "Dude" Adriance, Loco Gringos drummer Don Foote, David Mabry and Barry Boyd (from Homespun Remedies), DJ EZ Eddie D, and former Snatch Lizard lead singer Jeff Boley.
I saw faces in the crowd that I haven't seen since the mid-'80s.
There were references to the many years spent putting over 200,000 miles on his BMW motorcycle. The specter of a 360 lb. man leaning back on a longboard brought smiles to all of our faces. We laughed out loud at the idea of Temo's propensity to wear women's clothing on special occasions. Some broke down in tears while relating simple stories about hanging out with him just last week.
Death is abrupt like that. You don't plan for it when you're in a state of perpetual motion like he was.
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One of his friends talked about a road trip they once made across country in a pick-up truck. Tim had walked into a gas station, purchased a cinnamon roll, then placed it on the dashboard. After a while, his friend reached over to grab the roll and eat it. Temo placed his hand on top of his friend's hand, then said, "No way, dude! That bun is our only hope if we get pulled over."
He was already planning ahead about how he was gonna bribe a cop with a cinnamon roll.
Always thinking ahead.
Keep us in the rearview mirror, kid.