Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Old Ang Sign

Alice Bag wrote to me from her new location, Arizona. Another infamous singer/songwriter/artist is moving to Missouri with her husband, now that her son will go to college in NY. Lots of changes amongst my early punk pals.

Alice was my first punk friend. I believe we met in late 1976, before I moved to east Hollywood, Christmas 1976. Little gypsy children robbed me, so in early 1977 I moved across the street from Tower Records, a short walk to the Whisky and Roxy, so helpful all those nights I walked home stoned or always high on the shows, to get into my car and drive into Hollywood and drop off film at two labs: black and white and color, then go to the labs the next day and pick them up, then label and make prints and mail them off, in the often-futile attempt to get punk published, while not making a dime. And you all think being an early punk photographer was so much fun and glamour. It was and continues to be the hardest thing I ever did or shall do. The rewards are so many memories, photographs, friends. And how wonderful when those friends also are talented musicians and artists.

I guess this means it's gonna be a lot harder to get us all together again. But at least we are still alive. I often walk through and around a 19th century cemetery that most don't know exists. The best cure for depression or inactivity or stress is to walk through a graveyard, and see the dates of the little babies and old couples, the flowers and headstones. It's surrounded by ivy across the street from Santa Monica College.

The Brat, an amazing punk-influenced/inspired store, also faces the cemetery. I had a fascinating talk with owner, Nancy, who's been into early punk and art since at least 1976. She knows many of the same people as Alice and the other woman mentioned above, so I asked her why she didn't write a book. We know others are, but her response was she's too busy living in the present.

I agree: nothing is more important than living in the present. I wrote recently of Steven Rascoe, who lives in the past, and steals memorabilia from those early days, and says he was there. The tragedy is he lives in yesterday, and messes up his life cos he can't cope with today.

I'm in-between, eager to see the Dresden Dolls with Janet Klein and her Parlour Boys at the Fonda on Dec 29 and focus on my archive. I'm Janet's guest and I couldn't be more thrilled. Janet's songs remind me of years before my birth, when people were wild in their own ways as we were in punk, the Roaring '20's and a few years before and after. I truly feel Janet is like one of my cousins, Russian Jews whose names start with "J" after my grandfather.

Amanda from the Dresden Dolls sings of wanting a plastic, wind-up boy. And what contemporary woman can't relate to that? Plus the music is so seductive. All the local papers are recommending the show – something unusual for this town, cos the Dresden Dolls aren't exactly heard on the radio. They'll have a treat with Janet and her skilled band. Amanda sometimes reminds me of Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos, the playful piano and unusual phrasing and delivery.

I started reading about the Dresden Dolls (you know I can't call them the Dolls!) last year. I read a terrific blog entry from Alice Bag about them. I think they played the Troubadour, which would have been a great venue to see and hear them. I saw them a year ago November at the El Rey. I hurt my leg, so I was upstairs watching the action below. The opening band were the Ditty Bops, and they reminded me of Janet Klein. So I was delighted to see my dream double bill appearing at the Fonda. I saw the Rock against Bush show as a guest of the Epoxies, a cool Portland band on Fat Wreck.

G8 Xmess at Gary Stewart's beautiful home. I walked home around 1 AM, after a light rain, clutching gift of music from him. I got the boxed set , Shout It Loud, A Celebration of Black Music in America, 6 CDs, starting with a man I listened to in college, much to the ridicule of everyone I knew, the one and only rag time genius Scott Joplin and ending with Coolio. I gave him a Joey Ramone and Kamen Rider print, an Artist's Proof. I've been going to several new labs, and that was a test, meaning it's one of one, always a limited edition.

I won't do limited editions of my most popular, important photos. I don't want someone purchasing these as investments. They are something to look at and enjoy. That's what art is about. I will do limited edition Giclee prints when I make more money and open that market. I worked with the man who helped pioneer digital printing as fine art. What a trill – can you imagine some of my photos on canvas or archival paper?

I'm always putting my money into my art. I've been researching and putting together packing supplies for future shipments. I can use free USPS boxes, but I modify them and it takes forever to do the packaging. I also need interior packing, large chipboard/cardboard to protect the large prints in transit. I've been saving packaging supplies for years, but nothing large enough for the 16 x 20 prints. Ohmygawd, the 16 x 20 prints are amazing, whether in black and white or color. A pal got my color Iggy portrait, and wow, it's very cool that large. Anyway, that's the artist in me, always spending my money on supplies.

I've known Gary, formerly of Rhino and now with i-Tunes, since 1976 as well. I remember Gary and Harold showing me the back closet at Rhino Records, where they had their special stash of records. They also wheeled and dealed at the famed Capital Records Swap Meet, when it was really underground and small.

Gary Stewart: if you don't know that name, you need to pull up EVERY punk, power pop, great ROCK compilation from Rhino, and his name and influence is present. As someone said, he was the SOUL (I'd add HEART) of Rhino. Harold Bronson and Richard Foos played their part in the business end and were of course great music fans, but the artistic burden of producing the packages fell on Gary's sturdy shoulders.

What an incredible holiday season! A couple of years ago I was fatter, married and miserable. Now I go to great parties and hang with the people from City Beat – arts editor Natalie Nichols, Chris Morris whom I met when he came to LA in '77 or '78 I think and Don Waller saw me get so drunk at their party last week, well, shit, I have photos of him being drunk at Phast Phreddie's birthday party at my home, October 1976. A photo of Don and I ran in MOJO in our Halloween costumes, and various Screamers parties and Bomp Record store events, so we go waaaay back.

A punk/old film pal invites me to free movies at UCLA (big Columbia restoration series coming up) and the Academy, cos he works in restoration (my other passion, see the connection between film preservation and my archive??), saw the original "Robin Hood" on big screen the afternoon of my small photo exhibit opening at Shepard Fairey's gallery, Subliminal Projects, and got more holiday emails than I ever believed possible. Lots of art shows, a few rock shows (GANG OF FOUR!!) and too many emails. Best of all, hundreds of wonderful friends, some from long ago and some I just met. Thank you all!

My Xmess/Chanukah gift: L'Chaim, always remember: TO LIFE!!


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