Monday, November 11, 2019

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND: perfect first film from 1978 about 1964, comedy that's practically documentary


Today's film fare, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, watched so I wouldn't be tempted to purchase the brand new Criterion Collection re-release of it in Blu ray. It really is a must for music fans and popculture historians of all ages (barring the odd sociopath who despises the Beatles.) This 1978 comedy of the Beatles' arrival and first televised gig in NYC is Robert Zemekis' well nigh perfect first film, cast with engaging young talent, and licensing 17 genuine Beatles songs bombarding the era as would have been real life soundtrack. 

I witnessed the West Coast version of Beatlemania amongst teens and can attest that however outrageous this comedy seems, it's practically a documentary. Why, some still ask? The obvious answer through the ages has been that Beatlemania (a perfect storm of ad hoc promotion and new music worthy of such plaudits) allowed an America still grieving from the JFK assassination to obsess about something obviously good and brand new in their lives. 73 million people watched that live televised gig; in other words 43% of all American households whether or not they were regular tv viewers or not. 

The less publicized reason has to do with Beatlemania's springboard to, yes, sexual awakening for the new 1960s generation of liberated teen girls. Although out of reach (except for some plot points in this movie, and select well-connected girlfriends I knew in prep school) the Beatles had twofold allure. #1 The reinforcement of their music constantly heard on mass media and instantly recognizable, quite unlike anything that came before. #2 Their outgoing, witty personas on the newsbytes was a great introduction to just what these good looking young Beatles themselves wanted to convey in their art: personal sexiness, always the primal ingredient of rock and roll. 

The screen capture herein features actress Nancy Allen as a teen who has broken into the band's hotel suite while they are out, and she succumbs to feeling up all of their possessions strewn about as an orgasmic, vicarious thrill way beyond her fan's expectations. Last factoid- the Beatles aren't impersonated in this film except in longshots, news footage and a few scenes from behind while they're conversing. My friend Rich Correll supplied the voice for Paul McCartney in this film!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

JAMES WILLIAMSON AND THE PINK HEARTS, 2 GREAT LIVE POP UP GIGS 6.29.18 Long Beach and 7.1.18, Los Angeles

 
Somehow the bookers/promoters of a well known mid-sized Los Angeles Theatre lost the plot and cancelled a gig 18 hours before it was supposed to begin (2 weeks is rather more  customary for changes) along with its corresponding San Francisco show two nights later. Heroically, James Williamson and Pink Hearts sprang into action for their fans and played two pop up performances on those very same nights, mid-sized Alex's Bar, Long Beach on 6.29.18 and at Los Angeles' Monty Bar, the proverbial intimate club on 7.1.18.

Both triumphant gigs featured selections from the band's new Behind The Shade album (Williamson's second solo release with all new material) emblazoned with many Iggy and The Stooges' Raw Power and Kill City classics co-written by Williamson.  What's it like see one of Rock's greatest living guitarists ever from about 8 feet away? Well, the Pink Hearts' "Johanna" featured the most intense version I've ever heard Williamson play live, and that includes all the Stooges' shows I've photographed from 1973 to 2013.

Plus, the Pink Hearts are about surprises. All material, from most raucous rockers to alt  ballads is co-written by Williamson and singers Frank Meyer, exhuberant yet tuneful frontman of the Street Walkin' Cheetahs (once the backing band of James' pal Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys,) and Petra Haden, esteemed pitch-perfect vocalist with a pronounced quirky side. To wit she covered the entire The Who Sell Out album a capella, including her singing all the instrumental parts. The male/female trade off then blending in hard rock is a great asset sorely missing in this genre today, and it was Williamson's unique vision that first brought the two together for the first time on Behind The Shade then these performances.

Dramatis Personae:
James Williamson, guitar
Frank Meyer, lead vocals
Petra Haden, lead vocals
Andrea Wasse, backing vocals
Gregg Foreman, keyboards
Jason Carmer, bass 
Michael Urbano, drums
"The Pink Horns," Geoff Yeaton, saxophone, Mark Pender, trumpet
 

 

The closest you'll get to a deserved smile of satisfaction from ringmaster/guitar virtuoso James Williamson.
~ ~ ~
Downtown Los Angeles' Monty Bar featured funky ambiance, bison head taxidermy above the shelf they call a stage, absolutely no stage lighting, and a wildly enthusiastic crowd, many of whom were there for the opening act Medicine Bird (pix later) and of course were uproariously pleased at the surprise headliner.  Monty Bar live shots: 



Andrea and Petra made a lovely eyeful of excellent singers, Petra in the same blue frock for this gig that she wore for our photo session for Blues Jumped The Rabbit by Petra and James, outtake from the session at left.

Openers Medicine Bird, the ostensible headliners were only to happy to have a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Stooges' guitarist magically appear and play after their own set. Medicine Bird featured acclaimed singer/songwriter of The Blessings Jeremy White with his Nashville friend guitarist Tobin Dale on guitar. The twosome wrote and recorded an EP of all new material, much of it reveling in their respective, authentic Southern roots so handily showcased here.

Jeremy remains known for the rootsy, bluesy, Stonesy, countrified sounds he blends into Blessings' songs (which feature over a decade of recorded material that sounds impeccably A List) so Medicine Bird plied the same strengths with a different gloss. The band had debuted live earlier that same week, not that one could tell. GlitterTrash drummer Boomer Bearman, a popular musician on our local scene, can be spotted 
herein as a Bird.
  

PHOTO OPS from Alex's Bar
 
Above, James Stolz and Amy D'Allesandro Stolz, cinematographer and director of The Making Of Re-Licked documentary accompanying James Williamson's first solo album Re-Licked, and esteemed rock photographer Kurt Ingham, who photographed The Stooges for one of their first magazine covers, Creem in 1970. He is also my beloved better half. ↓Below, Jenna Talia, singer of GlitterTrash and Donna Balancia, California Rocker editor.
 
 ↑A live shot photo op, with, left, David Arson, singer of The Raw Power Rangers, 
a Stooges' tribute band, showing support for anything Stooge by fondling Frank's shoe. David is also in longtime L.A. favorites the Insect Surfers.
  
PHOTO OPS from Monty Bar
 ↑Evita Corby, rock and roll couturier/animal rescuer backstage
with James Williamson, two very longtime friends. 

That's Evita whom you see on the back cover of the original Kill City album by Iggy Pop and James Williamson, recorded circa 1975 but awaiting release until 1977. Kill City now has been remastered, remixed and restored by James himself correcting the duo's original poverty regarding its recording. One of the best re-do's you'll ever hear, with lots of photographer Suzan Carson's outtakes for the album included.

You need the Merch!
 James Williamson and the Pink Hearts- Behind The Shade available at LINK* and all retail and streaming outlets. Try their Facebook pages as well as straightjameswilliamson.com

 You can get Medicine Bird's EP at LINK**

Full frontal disclosure:
--Yes, I did the art direction for James Williamson and the Pink Hearts Behind The Shade with Joel Pelletier and drew the logos for the Pink Hearts and Leopard Lady Records. Also co-art-directed everything you see in the above photo...
--Yes, reflecting nothing on the superbness of these bands, this has not been published in a timely manner.  'Happens...



*https://www.amazon.com/Behind-Shade-James-Williamson-Hearts/dp/B07C8ZPL87
**https://www.medicinebirdband.com/music

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

R.I.P. KIM SHATTUCK, GONE WAY TOO YOUNG

It's hard to believe that someone so young and full of life suddenly has passed away. Rest in peace Kim Shattuck, age 56, gone this morning (10.2.19) of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. The horrible news was confirmed by her husband Kevin Sutherland.

C.V.: Bassist in first era of the Pandoras, the Mach. 6 or so one with her close friends Melanie Vammen and Sheri Kaplan Weinstein; singer/guitarist of the last reunion of The Pandoras; singer/guitarist of The Muffs; briefly bassist of The Pixies replacing Kim Deal (Shattuck reputably was canned for stage diving); and as of 2019 singer/guitarist of The Coolies with her chums Melanie Vammen and East Coast icon Palmyra Delran, favorites in rotation on Sirius XM radio. Kim was one of the most active performers onstage I've ever photographed, bouncy and attentive to both audience and band members. She had a deceptively girlish soprano (given her mischievous lyrics) that she molded into whatever garage-punk form she required for these assorted groups.

The second photo above shows her hugging 1960s historian author/gig compère Dominic Priore at a show wherein The Pandoras opened for the reunited LOVE Revisited with original guitarist Johnny Echols. Shattuck was an extremely popular musician with her peers and fans alike, and will be missed notably from the L.A. scene.



Above, The Pandoras -- Kim Shattuck, Hilary Burton, Melanie Vammen and Karen Blankfeld -- at a Rodney Bingenheimer party in 2016.  Below, proof sheet frame of Melainie and Kim in the earlier version Pandoras helmed by the late Paula Pierce (Do click LINK*.A longtime fan wrote that Kim's demise was yet another horrid jaw-dropping surprise in the saga of The Pandoras, whose singer/songwriter Paula Pierce dropped dead of an aneurysm at age 31.)
 
  One must note that all of the proceeds of Kim's newest release, the EP Uh Oh It's The Coolies! goes to the ALS Association Golden West Chapter. Kim Shattuck's own seriocomic quotation, "Caretaker or diseased it (ALS) is not something I would wish on anyone, even Trump."  You can purchase the Coolies' EP with its free 3-D sunglasses here: LINK**. Kim's friends and admirers also are urged to contribute in Kim's honor to this Facebook fund to the very same ALS foundation to find a cure : LINK*** 

 *https://fastfilm1.blogspot.com/2010/07/lost-tale-of-paula-pierce-and-pandoras.html 
**https://thecoolieswcr.bandcamp.com/album/uh-oh-its-the-coolies
*** https://www.facebook.com/donate/391407704870919/

Monday, September 16, 2019

SOUTHERN GOTHIC FOND REMINISCE

These were from a 1928 book, "My Pets at The Maples" by my great-aunt Eva drawing and musing about her childhood animals in the 1890s. They included her brother/my grandfather's Borzoi (then called Russian Wolfhound) named Vodka, her pet raccoon who tried to ride him, her ponies, dogs, cats and assorted birds. The idyll of this rural reminisce of a Tennessee farm at the turn of the previous century was frequently broken by sad ends 
to the smaller pets, but overall, what a fun childhood she experienced...

This is the home in which my grandfather and his sister grew up. In the typical yin-yang of Southern Gothic, it burned to the ground the night his wife/my grandmother gave birth to their first child...
For more of the stories of these relatives and their times, go to LINK*, LINK** and LINK***.


*  http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com/2010/03/adventurous-relations.html
** http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com/2011/03/grandmothered-tales.html
***http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com/2010/11/tennessee-death-trip.html

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

ONCE UPON A TIME... ON FACEBOOK; or THE WHOPPER regarding Keith Richards

Once upon a time...on Facebook. This is a hearsay tale of hearsay, impossible to prove anything. The blameless will remain nameless, but also the blamed. Keith Richards will remain uniquely himself as he has been for over a half century. (Photo below Keith's solo album cover fair usage © Mark Seliger.)
Image result for public domain photo keith richards under the influence
"R.C." spilled her personal fantasy of being part of Keith Richard's life into Facebook. The adopted persona was a music tour photographer who had taken over her obsession's inamorata role from his actual adored wife Patti Hansen, the timeline for the fabrication being the last four years. The drive shaft that initially made it run was attention to minute details.

R.C. posted obscure Instagram pix incorporating a real, present day photo diaries of the Rolling Stones' current 2019 touring, of Richards' kids, grandkids and assorted insiders in his life like his guitar technicians, not to mention plus the interiors of his many homes plus current tour hotel rooms. Vacation pics from his Jamaican and Parisian homes popped up sporadically. There appeared an explanation of the British tax laws which precluded his fulltime residing in his stately British country home. 

She concocted Facebook personas to write back to her like his son from his long relationship with Anita Pallenberg and or his daughter-in-law with all the grandkids, not to mention KR himself "explaining" his contentious onetime collaboration with Chuck Berry. She edited soundbytes of Richards' "Life" audio book and played them back as "voicemails" to an early doubter.

Her FB page attracted actual people who knew the Stones (self definitely not included) as well as fanboys and girls. She chatted with the daughter of one of Keith's late friends with whom he'd genuinely enjoyed a warm, close friendship. Two journalists from both the West and East Coasts contacted me privately saying many fishy things which R.C. was starting to spout did not add up in real life, and none of their press friends saw hide nor hair of her on this tour. I replied I'd dig a bit too.

R.C. had posted many, many live shots of this tour plus previous ones and claimed they were her own photographs. Most of the current press are attributed to agencies, but I finally found some hard evidence. On her Facebook page, R.C. claimed she took these rather stunning shots of the Stones live in New Orleans which actually were taken by a NOLA.com staff photographer Chris Granger, click LINK*
Keith Richards Photo Jerzy Bednarski.jpg 
fair usage photo © 2018 Jerzy Bednarski, Warsaw, Poland, from Wikipedia public domain.
  Then other friends from Facebook contacted me with more exasperation. The punk rock writer to whom she played the "voicemails" called her out privately and left. Others who questioned her publicly were "blocked." One pal even contacted the photographer Chris Granger who as you can imagine was not at all pleased, and who then called a really close relative of R.C. by telephone. Bingo.

The close relative alleged R.C. was schizophrenic and had been institutionalized but presently resided in her condo digging up dirt on Keith Richards on her computer. The close relative had not been aware that R.C. had been posting her fantasies as reality on Facebook. Assurances were offered that R.C. didn't have sufficient personal transportation to be a stalker. I do feel very sorry for this close relative.

This made more sense, a music fan turned super obsessive born of the desperation of mental illness, which no one can help having. She spends all day and night finding obscure, present day Keith references online and inserting herself into them. I knew a sad parallel. I once asked a friend of mine who was, unfortunately, terminally ill and has since passed away why she posted photos of the Stooges all day and night. She answered that there was nothing else she'd rather do than immerse herself in the Stooges for what time she had left.

R.C. since has removed incriminating attributions of her own authorship of photographs by other people, nor is using names any more, just pronouns, "following" along the tour in real time. Before this, I was briefly on her Facebook page, discussed non-Stones music, photography, British pop culture of the 1960s/70s, and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright with her, then sent her an unsellable photo (I am casually generous sometimes.) I felt like the Maysles Brothers studying the Big Edie and Little Edie Beale in Grey Gardens, easier to do when the subject is intelligent and genial as well as disturbed.

Eight years ago I really put some thought into what was the adult version of being a rock music fan, and came up with that angle for my reportage on the tribute to Ron Asheton by Iggy and The Stooges in Ann Arbor in 2011, click **LINK I don't ignore fans; their viewpoint on FB has been helpful to bolster my work. One fan at the Ann Arbor gig said I was the only photographer who still made Iggy look dangerous.  I interviewed three of them for that piece, and pondered on some of the weird variables of adult fandom and fanfiction like "slash fiction" (writing about any fave, literary, film, music or otherwise in pornographic situations.)

Some fanfiction was quite good, like that proffered by Alan Rickman fans online, and a Beatles-based one from 1966, graphics/selections/addenda at bottom in red font. I wish R.C. had embraced fanfiction instead of what she's doing now, which had a potential for cruelty to real people and endless liability to her...what a whopper! 

P.S. I later warned select Facebook friends who had quoted R.C. therein of her real identity, forwarding this blog piece. Imagine my surprise when one of the most influential American drummers of the 1960s in one of the most influential American rock bands of all time immediately wrote back that she (like me) had delayed ceasing the online FB friendship with R.C. and blocking this person outright because she the drummer (like me) had quite enjoyed seeing all those current, intimate Rolling Stones photos not readily available to American media!  It was great to know that this icon who had changed the direction of all American rock could still be a Stones fan herself retained the same curiosity about them that I did. Example: R.C. daily had offered obscure shots like this one with its seemingly personal slant of Keith in his lovely English digs going to enjoy an al fresco meal with his family. 
 (actual photographer not cited of course, please count this as Fair Usage)
P.P.S. Mental illness, delusional personas, a terminal illness, this is all so negative! I'd like to end with a tiny, positive silver lining. The plight of the real, terminally ill Stooges fan found its way to the real Iggy Pop, who promptly reached out to her in time before her passing away from cancer. This very nice story is here, click ****LINK


Addendum Fanfiction # 1 Article by the late Janey Milstead, great stringer for the L.A. Times and assorted teen mags of the '60s and first editor of the first periodical for plus size women, BBW, writing under the pseudonym Shirley Poston in 1966 for the house organ for its radio station, the KRLA Beat.
This is an example of fanfiction done correctly as well as entertainingly. The below is of its era and therefore incomprehensible to those who weren't teenage girls who liked the Beatles in the mid-1960s, as stylistically it is written imitating the whimsy of John Lennon's first book "In His Own Write." To save this over-long, cryptic explanation, here is John Lennon reciting his own "writty" from his second book of whimsy, "A Spaniard in the Works," click LINK***

Related image
Addendum Fanfiction #2--Magda Grantham from AlanRickman.com "Flights of Fancy" 2002 wherein the original storylines based upon and within the confines of the Rickman characters' period timelines of his movies has been changed into film sequences with the same characters, all of whom are continued by all of the members of this group. Her chosen character was George, Sheriff of Nottingham, Rickman's portrayal of same remaining the primary reason ever to watch Kevin Costner's version of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Promo pic of his appealing villainy above. Magda added his good lady girlfriend Joya early on:  Joya placed one hand on the railing and looked down into the water with a grim scowl. Then she froze, her hand tightening until her knuckles were white. A series of thuds could be heard, then one hand appeared, flailed the air and then grasped the railing. Someone was panting heavily, drawing in gasps of air almost painfully. Joya laughed with delight and tossed the facemask aside. Crew members ran forward to seize the hand and pull as hard as they could. A tousled black head of hair, now soaking wet and stringy, followed and soon George was on the deck being attended by most of the crew.

He lay for some moments, breathing deep and often. Joya set her oxygen tanks aside and fell to her knees beside him. Her long fingers stroked his hair tenderly and a sweet smile curved her lips. 

Finally he opened his eyes and stared at the sky above. At a sign from the captain, two of the crew gently lifted him to a sitting position. George examined them curiously, as if he could not understand who they were or where he was. Joya sat back on her heels and smiled fondly when he finally looked in her direction. He eyed her from her hair to her knees. She stroked his arm, her hand trembling slightly. He blinked, his breathing becoming more erratic, as he struggled for speech. Joya leaned forward, her lips parted. With an herculean effort, he finally managed to talk.

"Are you out of your mind? What happened to your dress? Get down to that cabin and put some clothes on! Immediately!!!!" He whipped around to face the stunned observers across the deck, shoving a crewman forcefully aside. "And all of you animals better just put your eyes back in your heads! She's spoken for already!"

Joya frowned. Lightening flashed from her blue eyes. "George. Look at me."
"Eh? What?" He glanced back at her. "Why haven't you gone to change -"
WHAP! The sound of the slap echoed in the silence. Joya rose to her feet and crossed the deck to the ladder. At the top, she glanced over her shoulder. "You no longer have any right to express an opinion on anything I might do. We are finished, George." She turned her back with finality and disappeared into the cabin area. 

Behind her, the crewmen rushed away to other tasks that were safely on the other side of the boat, the FOF actors grinned at each other and some pumped the air with their fists, and George sat with his jaw hanging open, staring at the place where Joya had stood only seconds before.


*   https://www.nola.com/multimedia/photos/collection_b627816a-a78a-11e9-8f5b-976570d44a23.html#11
**  https://fastfilm1.blogspot.com/2015/12/iggy-and-stooges-live-tribute-to-ron.html
*** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVkkNKQCJEA 
****http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com/2016/02/iggy-pop-honors-suzette-copeley.html
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