Policeband was a one-man act—the man being Boris,? ?a New York City kid and a classically trained musician who picked up on performance art while studying and teaching at Cal Arts in the early70s.Boris became Boris Policeband after a live performance in? ?1976? ?during which he monitored,? ?on headphones,? ?police communications from a scanner and recited their chatter while he accompanied himself on electric violin.? ?Boris was fascinated by cop culture and the often prosaic and sometimes poetic reality of law enforcement.? ?Over the next couple years the cop-talk and violin-screech coalesced into discrete songs.? ?His live performances were extremely loud/edgy/aggressive/dissonant,? ?and even though most songs were under a minute long and a set rarely exceeded? ?10? ?minutes,? ?Boris could quickly empty a room?; ?and that was something he took pride in.? ?The rooms he cleared included CBGBs,? ?Max’s,? ?and the Mudd Club?; ?as well as artier venues like The Kitchen and Artist’s Space.? ?
Boris,? ?a self-proclaimed Materialistic-Socialist and Antidisestablishmentotalitarian,? ?was a character and downtown club fixture.? ?His days were spent combing through thrift and pawnshops for material to add to his collection of used books,? ?sunglasses? (?which he was never seen without?)?,? ?and wristwatches. ? ?Every night he was in the clubs where he leaned against a wall while listening to classical music with an ear plug on his transistor radio and bouncing his pink Spaulding off the walls and deftly catching it?; ?all the while engaging in snappy repartee and/or swapping insults with passersby.? ?Boris put Policeband down in the mid-80s to pursue his classical viola practice.? ?His present whereabouts are unknown.
Dike Blair,? ?2006
I believe I first saw Boris “Policeband” Pearlman, the whole stringy ultra skinny 6‘ 3“ of him, all in black, leaning, ever so appropriately considering his pool mastery, just like a pole in a corner at Barnabus Rex, dark glasses, looking very punk, in 1975. How perfect that such a skinny guy would become my pool teacher. We hit if off at once, Boris quick as a whip... was a classically trained violinist who had a punk act, Policeband, and he became my pool teacher, occasionally not just at bar pool but also at a billiard parlor, on Park Place is one that I recall; and 14th Street. Boris was a product of New York City, but must derive from a middle class family, and perhaps attended Stuyvesant High or the City’s Arts Highschool before heading out to a California art school, as Dike Blair notes above. I did not know too many people who had grown up in the big city, my oldest and first really long time friend, from 1954 as Freshmen at Haverford College until Frank split for Nantucket in the early 70, and another writer at Haverford, who then odeed on Heroin, were from the big city, as were a bunch of kids at Oakwood School, a Friends School outside of Poughkeepsie which I attended because my stepfather was in Korea and my mother in Japan shortly after my arriving at the Brooklyn Port of Embarcation in October 1950. My background was much more country, and “in country” I flourish, and so I had to sit by the river on the then landfill to recover, or take a walk through Central park during my first 15 years in the city before I finally managed to move to where I had wanted to live all along.
I got very good at bar pool, especially when I played partners, either with Boris or with “Black Bobby”, an NBC camera-man who called me “nigger,” but the best partner of all was someone known as “Happy Hank," who worked for the telephone company in that magnificent building around the corner from Barney’s - an irregularly multi-tiered, terraced, building - perhaps 25 stories high - that occupied an entire city block, a block that was not square, a trapezoid since - it stood between Hudson and West Broadway and Jay and another crosstown street whose name escaped me at this moment in Seattle - these thoroughfares, Hudson and West Broadway, diverged, and I don’t think the two side streets ran exactly parallel either. I think that building’s name at the time was ITT, and if there ever was a golden chapel to capitalism the glistening walk through its first floor from West Broad to Hudson was it. The ITT had been constructed of the best Italian burnt brick, and glowed when the sun hit, especially in the late afternoon, as did Duane Park too, the sun shooting into it across the Hudson. The ITT also had magnificent details, in brass. “Happy Hank” loosened his tie and took off his coat when he came in to play, he had a family at home and during the vacation piled the lot into his car and drove all over the country, happy kids I expect, and I recall once holding the table at “Ace” Nowara’s Raccoon Lodge for four hours straight one night! Hank was the kind of man I might have had as a partner in other matters at that time. Boris I don’t think ever got quite that fanatical with pool. And I don’t think Boris drank anything stronger than a coke and lime, perhaps “Ace” can comment on that, whether because he did not like alcohol or because it did not agree with his health or the sharpness of his mind I do not know. It was not an issue of any kind or a noticeable abberation as it might have been in other cases.
Pool was my relief from my job as co-publisher of Urizen Books. Boris had a congenitally bad ticker, and so it was always touch and go whether he would survive a cold, his health was that fragile. However, the way he dressed, all in black, motor cycle black leather jacket, some chain work, kept potential muggers at bay, although the signaling function of his mode of attire, might frighten others, such as Handke whom I told Boris to look up, at the Rue Montmorency in the Marais, at the time he went to Paris in the mid-70s, to do some busking - that is when he played the viola or violin - or he survived there busking a bit, and that was the second time he saw Handke, when he was busking, and perhaps Handke also saw him, on the Champs or some major public place of that kind as Handke walked past, the dress mode was also a “style.” Dike just reminded me with his piece that Boris’s “shades” changed on a near weekly basis, and now that I have been reminded a vision of Boris in white plastic glasses, the kind Marilynn Monroe might have worn in SOME LIKE IT HOT, comes into focus. I imagine, in his understated way, Boris was playing at being “camp.” I myself wore jeans either with some kind of safari or worsted jacket. Here in Seattle I was able to hook back up with the kind of jeans I had discovered while in Alaska, the original wide bottoms, so they would fit over a boot of a gold rush fellow, made of the black denim that tents were made off during the gold rush days, Ben Davis.
See my home page:
for one page devoted to Urizen Book’s grim history, also the Urizen Note at:
I gave Boris, or rented him for the allowance that SSI provided, $ 100 [?], a slither of a room, on the fourth floor, I may be wrong on this but it seemed to be the first room he had had in a long time, I did not inquire where he had stayed before, next to my spacious corner office at the southwest corner of 66 West Broadway and Barclay, three blocks below Chambers, three north of the WTC. I had a loft vis-a-vis at # 65, and Boris’ ears must have absorbed some of the treats of occasional fervor in my adjacent office: the walls could not have been more solid, but there was a thin connecting door to his slither, it was sealed but did not seal out sound. I never I don’t think heard as much as a peep from Boris, I think he listened to music on headphones, and did not practice there; did he have a TV??? He certainly had a hotplate. Although I had a key I never looked inside his room that I recall, so don’t know whether he lived messily or not. There was a bathroom down the hall of this uniquely shallow but nearly block long commercial building, which of course had one of those great facades of the turn of the 19th century commercial culture.
Boris was not only very good at pool and billiards and as a musician, he was an excellent reader. The last author we discussed, at the time of my last seeing him in summer 1986 was Stefan Zweig, we agreed that Zweig’s stories dealt with inferiority complexes, and wages thereof.
Dike Blair, the assembler of the American part of the Punk book that Urizen imported from the UK, also produced one record of the “Policeband” act [see above], these were one minute or minute and a half takes, Police sirens, the sounds that might be transmitted on the police band between cops in cars, i.e. harsh sounds, brutal, no concession to the melodic there, atonal, which is why I liked it. Dike Blair’s description is far superior to mine. The one or two minute brevity of these pieces were all you could stand, was their perfection. I did not know that Boris was proud when he had managed to clean out a place after a short time. I saw Boris do these succinct pieces at CBGBS, and Dike Blair, whom you can find among my facebook friends on may still have some records left.
Boris was one of a handful of people I really missed on leaving NY for good in Summer 1986 - I had returned after a year in Billie the Kid country and then found a great rustic loft in the St. Monica Mts. near L.A. As was to be expected, Boris passed - truly passed it sounds like from what Edo tells me, faded away - some years ago, the congenitally back ticker was not up to another cold or flue. Edos facebook page:
Aside the fact that Boris’ ex-girl friend, a fine floozy, and I once spent one night in each other’s arms, Boris and I never had the slightest misunderstanding, or tiff, and when Boris called me a “male slut”, I failed to mention the 100 times I actually said no or did not seize the day. That one night with the dirty blonde floozy made for such a major all around hubbub in our socially integrated environs in the Tribeca of the 70s I eschewed sex for six months! It was just too impossible! I had just left Laurie Spiegel, the composer, with whom I had lived at 173-5 Duane [Duane Park] for two years, which dates the event to 1977, but still lived in the same building, three floors down, on the second floor, which belonged to GP Winter’s carpentry outfit that also had the first floor and loading dock. This fact, that I had just left Laurie and was still living in her vicinity upset the floozy to no end when she heard of it, as it did Laurie when she heard of my and the floozie’s hooking up, at Barnabus I think, but had gone to her place, near Houston Street, that, fresh upon walking out from the harridan, I had already slept with another woman, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet combined, small scale, and Boris, too was upset - I never slept with employees or students unless they slipped into my bed at night, and I think this was the only instance where I slept with a friend’s ex, but had not really known that that was what she was. I managed to get into enough woman trouble even while observing these few rules. Kurt Vonnegut correctly observed that U.S. politics is forever stuck at high school level, the same can be said for romance in this godforsaken madhouse, and though we may all have been bohemians and urban pioneers of one kind or the other, the breakups of couples that you had seen turtle-doving that you thought only death would them part was one of the more amazing feature of the high romance that existed side by side with an easy sexuality that made sex like breathing, and kept your skin well toned and made for an all around friendlieness. Long live Wilhem Reich! I don’t recall Boris having another girlfiend, but a year or so ago Dike mentioned another ex whom I did not know.
Via Boris introducing me to her, Rebecca Johnson, the “Blueberrry Queen" from Michigan, via the Rhode Island School of the Arts [oh what the art schools poured into downtown Manhattan!], a young lower East Side film maker, became “publicity" for some years at Urizen. On being introduced to her, at Barney’s or course, right by its small coat rack to the left of the bathroom, I recall taking Becky instantly into my arms and kissing this tall strawberry, flat chested, blonde willow, that wore the glasses of an intellectual, somewhat pock-marked, acne-scars [?], definitely a first time for me on the score of kissing, I was in the mood, I happened to be in the mood, but that was as far as it went [see above]. “Becky" is famous in my memory for two matters:  A then young Brit film maker, Seth, one morning showing up at her office, she too lived and I mean lived at Urizen Books [!], to film Becky “playing Bataille" - talking about living the books you published [!] STORY OF THE EYE, and , on welching on the 4 k thousand dollars that I had my friend Ruth Kalkstein lend her to make a film, when she in fact was in a position to repay on having briefly struck it rich as a screenwriter in Hollywood in the mid-80s; and  having intestinal agues that were connected to guilt, conflict, and for which she refused to see a shrink. “Becky" was another of that Lower East Side crew who would sell at the drop of serious money. I doubt that Boris would have if it had ever offered itself. One of the few people I dearly miss, Boris Pearman, do your act for God and waken him!