Saturday, March 18, 2006

Myspace eMails: Punk and Fascism

I write tons of emails, and felt it time to post a couple I expanded. These are issues I discuss with myself and people every day. The first email is about the art/science behind my photos. Did I have any idea what I was doing? Did I have any experience? Why did I shoot?

The second letter is political. Art and politics are always intertwined.

Artists are true warriors. We speak out via a variety of media, and by doing so, we can change the world. If you are such fans of my work and the people I shot, then do something to save yourselves and us. I much rather be political more hours of the day, but my work calls me. What’s your excuse?

Our society is changing. People are truly living in fear of each other. Not just the terrorist in some unknown spot in a desert somewhere. No, right here in the liberal, cultured west side of LA. We gotta stop this culture of fear.

I’m the eternal cock-eyed optimist. I am still in shock, disbelief and sadness due to a devastating incident at my local health food store. People are far stranger than even Jim Morrison sang about. “Uncivilized wars,” as X sang in “I will not think bad thoughts.”

Many fans, aged 12 to mid-50’s, write such loving and appreciated emails, grateful I not only took photos, but post so many. Now you do me a favor.

Write your political reps, from local, to city, to state to federal levels. Write letters to editors, print, TV and online news. Start there, meet with others, DO SOMETHING!

How do you think those who rule the govt and media got their power? By writing, congregating, gathering together and working to push forward their agenda. You can do that, you’re just as smart and energetic as they. Go for it!

There’s lessons to be learned. Learn from people who’ve seen this before, and life in Amerika is getting tougher. Let’s assert our rights, so we survive!

Date: Mar 17, 2006 2:09 AM
Jenny,
I'm happy to see a lot of your photos of the punk rock stuff and I have to say that seeing those in various books is an inspiration to me. When you were taking photos of bands and people did you have a certain way in which your pictures would come out or did you mainly just do it through trial and error? The reason I ask is that I don't know very much about photography other than just friends and my dad doing a little. However I would love to take pictures of bands and eventually write a book documenting punk and hardcore in the South. Which does not get a lot of coverage because it's hard to dig back really far to find out about older bands . . . I think you know how it is. Anyway I just want to write and ask you those questions and also tell you that I like your work.
Dave

Dave,
I was shy, my camera didn't work right and fucked up more photos than my broken heart wants to count, I never knew if or what would show up when printed. I knew NOTHING about photography, from what film to use to being in a darkroom. I taught myself right there in clubs or in my closet-turned-darkroom. I never even looked at rock photos or rock mags til 1976, having discovered Patti Smith, end of 1975, from a casual, street photo and blurb in then-new “People” magazine.

I totally captured what was in front of me, staging nothing. What you see is what I saw, photojournalism in its rawest form. Cos now people can be online and celebs in minutes. Few ever believed anyone would look at these photos or care.

I’m an artist, I knew art history, I knew punk was a revolutionary art movement. Like a comment, blazing the sky, illuminating for a brief moment, than changes and disappears, almost as fast as it appeared. 4 years is not a long time (1976-1980). But research all major art movements since 1850. Name any that you study in a good art history book and you’d see how short-lived, yet lasting influences are a pattern of important cultural revolutions. Janson’s text, the Bible of college art-history classes, just this year added photography!! When I lived in Hollywood, my most precious movie and art history books were stolen. I replaced my Janson! But no photography.

The cultural shifts come along every few years and life is never the same again. Last night, while listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage Rock on the net, my fave station in the universe, I heard the song that changed my life: “I wanna hold your hand.” Little Steven told the story of the Beatles, not just their first Ed Sullivan appearance, but the history of Capital Records. Just wonderful.

[disclaimer: I knew someone who worked w/LS'sUGR and often spoke disparingly of her former employer. I appreciate what Little Steven is doing! I love his show and guest DJ's -- Joan Jett, Dick Manitoba, Kim Fowley, et al. ]

More stations (Indie 103.1 fm and Rodney on ROQ: are you listening?) should archive shows! But don't charge! It's my lifeblood!

I always thought of punk as the next major event in that timeline (I missed Elvis, I didn’t watch TV when I was that young). Sure there were other short-lived eras, the British Invasion, the San Francisco Hippie sound, horrid metal and prog-rock, and then da brudders from Queens. I missed glitter, although I was a Bowie fan. Then, like now, I stayed home, made art and earned my Master of Fine Arts graduate degree from Cal Arts. So I missed the Dolls and Iggy. Even when Iggy and I slept together, I think that was 1977, I still had no idea exactly the impact of the Stooges. But I knew Iggy’s new releases were gonna be remembered. “Lust for Life” was too great to be forgotten.

Even if you hate or never heard the music, NO ONE in the western and most parts of the Eastern, and Southern hemispheres has not been affected by punk. I knew that would happen. I used to tell people. They didn't have computers and I am a fast typist and need to edit. You can't edit w/typewriters. I only wish I had more written proof of what I told everyone.

But remember, a lot of these people either knew me or could tell from my antique/thrift shop kimonos, jewelry, purple hair, makeup and energy and passion I was no average photographer. It was hard for everyone to reconcile this wild woman who actually got her photos published and talked to record company publicists.

Was I a crazed fan or part of the publicity machinery? No publicist wanted to hang with me and I had no time for that kind of brown-nosing. What other photographer put music first, turned down paying gigs or shooting Pink Floyd to get high at X, dance and shoot all night, something I did night after night? After seeing X thirty-forty-fifty times, why not shoot Pink Floyd and make some money? Cos I found the music that made me go bang!

I am an artist, a fan, and a photographer last. It's just the tool I used to express my art, one of many media I used. The one that mattered to more people and in ways most visual artists can only dream. I knew this era was important, but I never dreamt my photos specifically would mean so much to so many and change my life in ways unimaginable to most, including myself.

Every day I learn something new and I change in so many ways. I am blessed I have so many friends. Our connection starts with our mutual love of the music, that early punk era, and appreciation of these photos. I only wish I had time to compile all the great emails to post and share. Lovely sentiments.

Few artists receive so much validation and acclaim.

What more could an artist want? (well, enough money to service her car, buy fresh produce every week from the farmer's market, pay her bills, etc). Enough money to keep this going, and the going gets rougher every day.

Back to it, waaaay behind in deadlines and need a new room-mate. Dear God, give me strength and time, health and some money.
jenny


I wrote several emails to a Myspace Friend who used Anne Frank’s face for his photo ID. But there was nothing on his page to indicate who this smiling, young girl was. Anne Frank must be remembered. Her story is your story. She and her family did nothing wrong, but along with 6 million others, not just Jews, but scientists, artists, rebels, and society’s “outcasts” were robbed, raped, tortured and killed, while local residents had “no idea.” Yeah, right. Amerikan Punks must know her story. It is happening here, right now.

Dear Jenny,
I still can’t figure out why I chose Anne Frank and now it’s starting to bother me. When my grandmother was a young girl, she was torn from her home and forced into concentration camps because of the fact she was Japanese. My family had their business and their home taken away by our fascist society, so I am quite aware that concentration camps are no laughing matter.
Ian

Ian,
In 1965 or so, when I was probably 14, I remember the Stones hit, “Satisfaction” was on the radio. We were studying for mid-terms or finals in high school. I totally remember dancing and singing along, I couldn’t concentrate. I was practically a straight- A student, worked hard at it, but darnit, the music devoured me. This shy loner surprised people she loved to rock, just by herself. I went back to studying by myself.

I was at classmate Karen something like Yamaguchi's home. I was admiring a fabulous silk embroidery. Before I picked up a camera, I made lots of arts and crafts, excelling in all, in college art shows, museums, galleries. My art was acclaimed in school since I was a child. I never knew what to make of it, I didn't realize how talented I am. I never saw what was the big deal. No matter my media, my art excelled compared to others. It resonated with so many. I knew about art and the hard work involved in embroidery, the beautiful colors and design.

Karen’s mother told me she embroidered it while in the camps, using 1, just ONE, thread. Embroidery thread comes without 6 slightly twisted strands, and I typically used 3 at a time. But thicker cotton, not thin silk. She worked on the piece for months and months. One silk thread would drive most of us crazy.

We were never taught about Japanese-American internment camps right here in California and other Amerikan states. I was in high school and it had been HIDDEN from us. It was my first introduction to the horrors of this country. My mother also told me many stories about how England and US turned away boatloads of Jews in the 1930's. History relates we Jews were too stupid to leave Europe. Reality is JKF's father, Joseph P. Kennedy, ambassador to England, and other rich white men prevented them from landing.

I think it quite appropriate you chose Ann Frank. She represents a recognizable figure you and your family totally relate to. As do I.

I think it would be a loving tribute to your family and other Japanese-Americans, and Jews from everywhere, to say, very clearly in your home page:

Anne Frank, like my grandparents, was robbed and killed by the countries they loved and called home. It happened right here in Los Angeles and across the nation. It is happening now.


Towards the end of her too-brief life, Anne Frank famously wrote: "deep down inside, I believe people are good."

Everyone should read her diary and remember, similar injustices happened here, on a lesser level. It's happening right now. And we are doing it to ourselves. Not just Washington, but the news media and large corporations. They are stripping us of our rights, censoring news, and passing laws that will make it easier for frightening scenarios again. We do it at work, stores, everywhere.

We don’t trust each other. We don’t listen. We fight. We don’t explain. We don’t apologize.

"The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Wise words from FDR, my fave President who created programs for artists, musicians, playwrights, actors/directors, architects – all the arts were represented in government work. Build a building w/govt money and include murals.

Keep art and artists alive.

oh, I think I just wrote today's blog!!
take care,
jenny

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