Tag Archives: Josh Burdette

Remembering Josh Burdette

This article originally ran on BME’s MODBLOG on 09/02/2013.
It has been edited slightly. I still miss Josh.

“i had a dream a while back. in it, i met myself. the me that i met greeted the dream me in a way that i often greet people, with hands raised together as if in prayer, a sign of coming in peace. in this dream, the other me had scars shaped like arrows on the heels of his hands. one pointing up, one pointing down. i woke from the dream with this image burned into my mind. over time, the symbolism became clear to me…
….as above, so below. the sacred and the profane. heaven and earth. good and evil. black and white. brain and body. what goes up, must come down. there are a million examples and ways to describe the idea, but it all comes back to balance. none of these things would exist without the other. they may occupy opposite ends of a spectrum, but they are inextricably linked to each other. my goal is to maintain that balance in my life. to have one foot in each world. these scars will remind me of that.” – Josh Burdette, Scarwars.net

The first thing most people thought when they met Josh Burdette was usually “that’s one big mother fucker.” OBMF. That’s how I first got to known Josh, back in the glory days of the late 1990s Body Modification scene of rec. arts.bodyart and the IAM.BME community site. Josh was a larger than life presence all around- a fixture in the D.C. Music scene as the Manager and head of security of the 9:30 Club since 1997, he stood as the WALL OF BEARD at countless shows. An imposing figure, Josh could have relied on his size to intimidate people, instead, in 2006 he had this to say about ‘bouncing’ to the Washington Post:

“A bouncer is looking to bounce people. It’s a reactive way of doing things. We’re the face of the club, and we have to do our best to be as friendly, polite and accessible as we can. Some of us look big and scary, but we’re just people, too. We’re just working our jobs.”
I saw him, not too long ago, at the Stay Calm memorial we held here in Philadelphia for Shannon Larratt; we hugged like we always do, gave some colorful commentary on the state of the world and the Body Modification community, and finally getting to the point of why we had all come together that day as a community- remembering our friend- he laughingly told me that we were going to have a moratorium on any of our friends dying till at least 2015, to spread the word to the people we love that they’re to stick around for a while.

I wish Josh would have been able to keep up the pact.

Josh Burdette passed away in Washington DC on Sunday September 1st. He was 36 years old. I’ll miss running into him backstage at LUCERO shows, chatting about our lives instead of watching the opening acts. I’ll miss bitching about ‘these kids today’ with him, reading his latest ‘Wall of Beard’ comic strip adventure and getting one of his epic bear hugs. I’ll miss Josh.


Nostalgia and Inspiration

earhand01Directly or indirectly, I’m not sure the Sacred Debris project would have happened without these two gentlemen. Last year was a rough one, losing Shannon Larratt and Josh Burdette within a few months of each other. The memorial that we put together in Philadelphia for Shannon brought out lots of old friends; some of us are getting to the age where nostalgia is starting to take a more important role in our lives, and sitting back with Josh Burdette, telling stories about the old days and how soon enough our exploits back in the ‘middle school’ of body modification would likely be forgotten or never known.

Several months later I’d get the call that Josh had exited the world on his own terms.

His passing took a lot out of me and I booked myself a bus ticket to Toronto, heading up to the Toronto International Film Festival to see a movie about my favorite director- who Shannon and I once contacted about shooting a ModCon documentary- and before I knew it I found myself standing in front of Shannon’s old house. The one he lived in when I first met him. The one that hosted the original BME/BBQs that drew friends from all over the world who often got together in the freezing cold of winter or blistering heat of summer to have fun, do modification work and just relax being surrounded by people who understood.

2000jbleftSaying goodbye to Shannon and Josh- being comforted by nostalgia and fearful that our memories- and the memories of the generation(s) that came before us- was a big motivator in starting this blog. That just gives us all another reason to thank these two really amazing souls.

Shannon Larratt in Detroit 1998: The first time I met him in person, the girl I was traveling with wanted to put her hands through his lobes. We did this in a Detroit hotel- a few hours later we had created what would become the MODCON events.

Josh Burdette in Philadelphia 1999: Erik ‘the Lizardman’ Sprague invited us to see him perform- as AMAGO- with the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow at the Electric Factory. Afterwards, Josh and I, along with a few friends, decided to keep the fun going at the South Street Diner where we played the always popular “what can fit in my lobes” game to the delight/horror of the rest of the restaurant.

I’ve been lucky in my life to have spent time with some truly inspiring friends.