Sunday, August 29, 2010

DOGS IN SPACE film: no dissonance


Illustrating my contention that there is no cognitive dissonance* in the arts, consider the 1986 film "Dogs in Space," well restored and soon be re-released in dvd and assorted files. It was fashioned by its scene's insiders to celebrate something very geographically site-specific-- the emergence of punk rock in the late 70s in Australia via an ensemble cast set in a squalid rented house -- yet its many fine attributes place it universally global, echoing nascent and emerging punk scenes anywhere and everywhere. It certainly mirrors all written tales of famed communal punk rock hovel Disgraceland in my own metropolis.

Its splendid casting certainly churns it all up effectively. Standouts in the large cast (all of whom are meant to represent genuine folks): as the beautiful blonde punkette, actress Saskia Post (happily still working) will break your heart by the film's end, while her love interest (and that's to taken very literally, as he straddles her to the floor each time he sees her no matter what the setting, a very cute continuing sight gag throughout the film as both actors are quite appealing) was none other than the now late but then extremely young Michael Hutchence (of INXS chart hittery.) Yes, he does his own vocals throughout.

Applicably enough, even the film's name derives not only from its fictional punk band, but also, with televised space exploration and falling Skylab debris of the era as Greek chorus throughout, from the sad plight of the real dogs in space, unfortunates like the U.S.S.R.'s Laika, who was elevated higher than any sentient Earthling had ever been beyond the stratosphere and into the heavens, then left up there to die. Metaphor, ya see.

The right music helps as well. Do I know this very specific, regional Oz discography? No. But despite my own geezerhood, I did write the first book published in the U.S. on the subject of punk rock which went to press the week the Sex Pistols broke up, and can accurately assess the intended veracity here. Which would be a resounding "yes."

Except for a final song that narrates the growth of one of the characters, the film is bookended and served well by Iggy Pop via "Dog Food" and "Endless Sea." Do note in the film's special features a section on the real musicians depicted, the real Oz punk scene and its real influences, in which all agree on the standard Velvet Underground, New York Dolls and Iggy and The Stooges triumvirate. But when each is asked for specific songs special to their group, each separately repeats as if by rehearsed mantra "Raw Power," "Raw Power," "Raw Power" etc. etc.

Below ~~spoiler alert!~~ Saskia Post breaking our hearts to "Endless Sea" by Iggy Pop, produced by James Williamson, co-writers of  "Raw Power" and "Kill City"
 


*See LINK Yet artists can be both personal and universal, wild and disciplined etc. simultaneously. 
Addenda: "Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings." - W. H. Auden, "Sometimes A Great Notion."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

JEFF BECK live

There was a time, say, 1967-2004, when any photograph of Jeff Beck from any era therein was interchangeable with any other photograph of Jeff Beck from any era therein. Not only was he one of the most influential guitarists ever, he also was one of the most consistent in his own image. Therefore when assigned to photograph his landmark tour with Stevie Ray Vaughn (photo: click LINK) I wanted to turn in something really different.

The above image, besides being black and white for the magazine's purposes was solarized, that is, a darkroom trick of allowing extra, all over light briefly to hit the photo paper after the initial visual was exposed. This develops areas that weren't supposed to be chemically developed. It was supposed to be a difficult to control process, but I banged out multiples of this image getting exactly what I wanted each time.

Besides showing Jeff Beck playing in the zone, my photo also has an otherwordly cast to its stage lighting from the oddness of the solarized black and white tones. I think it suits this most amazing of guitarists very well, and gets that zone thing down.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

SWAPPING DETROIT ROCK AND ROLL WAR STORIES amid the inner circle

I've only been able to take off one night all summer long to go shoot a band (luckily a seriously excellent one, Little Caesar, see LINK) due to continuing circumstances. The only other planned excursion was canceled at the last minute to substitute an E.R. visit instead, so no more were even penciled in.

Fortunately, I got my (albeit non-participatory) rock and roll fix big-time yesterday, taking onetime Stooge bass player Jimmy Recca (above left, fondly perusing the Authorized Stooges book) (and see LINK) to meet current Stooge on-staff photographer, author of Authorized Stooges book, occasional producer Robert Matheu (above right, in full cry of narrative mode) and listen to these two Detroit former reprobates trade war stories from the 1960s and '70s Ann Arbor/Detroit (and L.A. by default) hard rock nexus of The Stooges, Iggy and The Stooges, the MC5 and The New Order.

Wowza, such tales of degradation, dear readers: it's a good thing yours truly isn't prone to gossip! Their improv imitations of assorted Stooges' band members though, mainly enacting physical routines worthy of the late John Belushi (or even John Cleese's Minister of Silly Walks,) waxed truly hysterical and they cracked one another another up repeatedly.

Jimmy commented that Robert is a lucky man, and Robert urged my written declaration of how incredibly cute his three little daughters are. Although we professionals in the creative fields know that hard work, drive and follow-through always remain corollaries to mere happenstance/right place, right time luck, both conclusions could be deemed truthful.

LITTLE CAESAR: this time it IS different

Little Caesar, live at Brixton's, Redondo Beach CA, 7/31/10. Why they remain one of L.A.'s greatest bands elaborated here LINK but live they so kick it up unlimited notches, sounding even better than they did twenty years ago, which proved pretty motherf--king fun back then!
Now freed from corporate fetters (they released three major label albums back in the day, and were terminally misunderstood by TPTB who tried to slot them into interchangeable hair metal,) they can showcase their real strengths: world class singing, all monster players, individuality of appearance, great original repertoire laced with a smattering of worthy soul covers, and much onstage camaraderie and playful banter, making them the bad-boys-next-door instead of glum/pretentious metal gods. This is why the ladies always were right there for Little Caesar as well as the Kerrang guy crowd, and these happily married family men still get propositioned on Facebook to this day. (So much for the major label dismissing their collective image.)









LINK is where you can obtain their all new material cd or downloads for "Redemption."
Check the normal avenues for their classic releases.































The ladies always love Little Caesar!







"Supersonic," an ultra- catchy, upbeat hard rocker one could envision as the rare likeable song in a major television ad campaign, is the standout of an already excellent set and one of their newest compositions, always a healthy sig
n...

Monday, August 16, 2010

ETHAN JOHNS, CHRIS STILLS

An outtake of mine for a magazine cover circa 1998, this shot featured offspring of famed music personages who carved out their own styles as well as careers. Left: son of Glyn Johns (producer of the Stones' Sticky Fingers) Ethan Johns, himself now the acclaimed producer for Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams and slew of popular artists with actual taste; right: Chris Stills, singer/songwriter/guitarist with several major label releases, son of Stephen Stills (see
LINK and 1967 LINK) and tres famous, beautiful French pop chanteuse Veronique Sanson (hers a wondrously alliterative name for a Gallic singer, as Sanson rhymes with "chanson," French for "song.") Chris kindly suggested that my lost skills in the French language would reappear were I reunited with native speakers thereof on a more regular basis.


Check out the way cool guitars they brought! Chris said his was gift from Dad.

Veronique Sanson, still gorgeous, performing:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

RECKLESS PHOTOGRAPHY! THE PIXIES, LITTLE CAESAR, and SWIMMING FAMILY MEMBERS













Mr. Twister, my better half and onetime photographer of Jim Morrison, Elton John and The Stooges for Rolling Stone and Creem amongst other periodicals, claims I am a reckless photographer who treats my cameras as if they were hockey pucks. I disagree insofar as my recklessness has extended beyond mere continual photographic equipment repair bills.

I permanently lost hearing getting the first two shots displayed here. Photo on the left is singer Ron Young of Little Caesar during the band's early '90s video shoot for its Geffen/DGC single "Chain Of Fools." Besides being a superb singer, he was (and remains) a highly photogenic individual what with the tattoos that landed him that part in the bar scene of "Terminator 2, Judgment Day" futilely attacking Arnie and a sense of drama in his song delivery that's never artificial. Video shoots are wondrous for having enough light to tackle anything a still photographer could dream for, and I was able to manually focus on his eyelashes (a physical trait now gone with the wind) to get this action shot, and I'm proud of it. The downside is one must stay out of range of the cinematographers, which dictated this be photographed by my crawling onto the 8" space in front of the P.A. system looping the song for the band's benefit. Loudly.

The second photo is an illustration born of frustration. The Pixies, a band obviously to my liking, had lit their Hollywood Palace show as if solely for military night vision goggles. There was little if any green light at all, and my only chance to capture some to fulfill the assignment was to repeat the trick of crawling on the 8" space in front of the P.A. system to get closer to obtain the shot. In this case I'm angry it cost me some hearing, as it's not that great a photo. But I'd had tinnitus diagnosed some 20 years before that, so what the hey cumulatively.

I lept into the water with my then Nikon to get this P.O.V. shot below of the aforementioned Mr. Twister and our Golden Retriever Crystal swimming in a swank Holmby Hills pool. Why not, it made for a memorable pic of two family members in the same position of doing the same dog paddling. The camera emerged unscathed, unlike one decades later that succumbed to intense audience gobbing at a double bill of The Zeros and The Hangmen, though that technically couldn't be termed me being reckless.

Friday, August 13, 2010

THE MOST PHOTOGENIC PERSON I EVER MET...



... and had the pleasure to photograph was Suzie Mathers, sister of Jerry Mathers (star of the "Leave It To Beaver" television series.) In person she was a cute, not terribly tall, highly extroverted blonde in the cheerleader tradition. But to the camera she transmogrified into some parallel universe, Americana Brigitte Bardot. It's all about perfect bone structure, high-style personal fashion sense combined with a genuine ease in flirting with any photographer, gender unimportant.
She briefly was my apartment roommate while I attended UCLA, and she might have been all of nineteen when these photos were taken utilizing our furniture lighting fixtures directed to simulate studio lamps. This was probably thirty nine years ago and I haven't seen her since, due to a misunderstanding involving a mutual friend and dangerous liaisons...

I can't really fill in a "whatever happened to" for this reason. Since I know her married name, I've read online that she's remained not only happily married but was elected Mayor of her California burg, and still looks terrific. The past proves easier going: she starred in "This Is My Love" with Linda Darnell, William Hopper, Dan Duryea and her brother, who obviously had more movie moxie & drive. His next film was for  Alfred Hitchcock's "The Truth About Harry," then on to television stardom. 40 years ago, Suzie told me that she quit the biz upon reaching pubescence when everyone started hitting on her rendering it all no fun...

Above, the most casual shot I ever took of her, with the mutual friend in question.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

CIRCA 1968

From a continuing or indeterminate series of my drawings from a troubled teenaged past, this one circa 1968.
Yes, things were meant to be askew.
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