Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MICK FARREN

In the center above, Mick Farren, prolific (at last count-23 novels and 18 non-fiction works in addition to fulltime journalism and multiple daily blogs LINK,) acerbic, genuinely funny and thoroughly modern intelligent author extraordinaire caught in my
photo amid a spoken word with a rock band bridge move betwixt his writing career and that of his music one (The Deviants and precursor The Social Deviants, unfortunately less known in my native United States. Fellow Yanks, they were Brit equivalents of the Mothers of Invention throughout the late '60s with a bit of MC5, Bonzo Dog Band and overall anarchy thrown in. Farren himself concocted Phun City in 1970, mother of all large-scale Euro-summer music festivals. Also his lyrics have been sung by no less than Metallica, Motorhead and Wayne Kramer.)

Once ex-pat to Los Angeles and now re-pat back to England, he's currently said to be recovering from some anonymous but serious malady. Get well soon and for as long as possible: our planet needs all the multi-tasking counterculture/pop culture iconoclasts out there in public that it can muster.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

TALES TOLD OUT OF SCHOOL 3.0: in which we hear a jazz great

(Third in a series of tales told out of school, both literally and figuratively, how my Swiss Cheese brain remembers such events which may or may not be accurate at all. Preface: I attended a girls' private prep school in the 1960s with a student body who often mimicked the creativity of that era with its own high spirits, a pendulum reaction to the heavy course load and voluminous homework from which many of us still haven't caught up on lost sleep some forty-plus years on and from which many of us still retain permanently stooped posture via carrying heavy textbooks. Well, it's not like there existed alternatives to those heavy textbooks. We didn't have personal home computers because no one on this particular planet in this galaxy had them yet. So let's roll back the roiling mists of time to The Pleistocene of my youth.)

Shhhh, I'm trying to reconstruct a memory here, as there's no verification online, nor in the pertinent school yearbooks nor amongst those left alive to tell the tale.

I really think it was Les McCann who gave a performance/seminar on jazz piano-playing for one of our school assemblies (meeting hall-type confluence of the entire student body for mandatory entertainment: "chapel" was the morning intel gathering for same.) It was a friendly, powerfully funky, improv-jazz pianist with massive groove to spare that I recall, the timeline fits, and hey, like, who else?


Further clarification: chapel featured the procession by music of the entire school into an auditorium for announcements, all to live piano accompaniment of Protestant Christian hymns. The one time I was asked to play, I proffered "Mellow Yellow" by Donovan (a very druggy chart hit of the 1960s) in order not to be asked again. McCann aside, school assemblies followed more along the lines of the pictures below (photographers unknown) mixing lectures, travelogues, science talks or humorous skits. Wooly Bully!












Although this was a lilly-white exclusive private school for girls
at the time, Mr. McCann would have been the epitome of a good sport for even showing up much less wanting to entertain us. Or maybe it was his sense of humor at play, as he was associated with the Westlake School of Music (no relation.) He was witty, gracious beyond comprehension, and so very engagingly warm to a student body 98% bereft of jazz knowledge (the percentage reflects the smallness of the school, the 2% sole exception being "Ms. R.F." whose senior yearbook personal profile description included "Yusef Lateef...Pensativa...A Love Supreme...the melodic, lyrical, powerful sounds of jazz" and for bonus points of a good topical, Malcolm X-ish fervor, "...Burn, baby, burn!" [motto of the Watts riots.])

Now you can un-shhhh, turn up the sound and listen: fuckin' A this is great!! Sit back, enjoy, and don't let those uncontrollably stompin' to the beat feet knock over your furniture. There's two Youtubes forthwith for your Eddification ( hah hah, more later ) the first being the actual performance, and the second just a still photo for visuals but with far better stereo sound. ( Amazing backstory follows both. )



The cut was recorded live at the 1969 Montreux, Switzerland Jazz Festival pretty much ad hoc when its promoter brokered a jam combining separate acts. This band had never played together with all heard here--Les McCann: piano, vocals; Eddie Harris: tenor sax; Benny Bailey: trumpet; Leroy Vinnegar: bass; Donald Dean: drums,--had no sound check whatsoever, and didn't know the material planned for the set. McCann really hadn't been a full-time singer in his musical forays at all. And Eugene McDaniels' song of casual frustration from the African-American community boiling over into rage at society at large had been written two years before by a former pop crooner (then Gene McDaniels recording "100 Pounds Of Clay," etc.) turned activist, and only previously recorded as a sincere but plain piano, midtempo ditty by Roberta Flack.

And yet...this erupted. Wowza! Lashing, slashing, hunk of funk stabbing staccato beats born of righteous indignation and talent delighted to be playing with fellow superstars. So instantaneously classic at its inception that the album of same, "Swiss Movement" charted bigtime immediately and this cut became an improbable crossover singles hit. This was the first mainstream radio broadcast song I for one ever heard with curse words left intact within. And I even love it despite its stray anti-dog-owner lyric. Such remains the power of its torrid groove.


McCann, much constrained by the infirmities of old age, still performs live with a band, bless his heart. And now, for some conjecture concerning the late Eddie Harris (no relation.)


Insofar as we visual artists often try on another's style to see how it's done, I've always suspected musicians do the same. It can be unknowingly ( i.e., George Harrison having to cough up royalties to "He's So Fine" for his similarly tuned "My Sweet Lord," ) or completely unsubstantiated, obscure, subjective speculation such as my contention that "Sister Ray" by the Velvet Underground might have been influenced by Eddie Harris' "Listen Here." Again, the timeline certainly fits. The Harris' also improbable crossover singles hit here:

and below, for brevity's as well as humor's sake (the original V.U. "Sister Ray" runs about 17 minutes) is the clever Lawrence Welk mashup with the Velvet Underground (with John Cale a much changed man...)


NOTE: link directly back to http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

EXTRACURRICULAR PHOTOGRAPHY ASSIGNMENTS




Housecleaning unearthed a whole trove of photographs I took for real, live assignments while I was still at university (we creative pros always start young.) This 1971 print eventually illustrated a satirical piece on West, the "lifestyle" magazine of the Los Angeles Times from 1967-72 and its assorted provincial ilk. People-wrangling courtesy of yours truly; yes, at one point I knew all these folks, attrition and relocations winnowing it all down to but a handful today.

It was shot at then new-ish Marina Del Rey in coastal west Los Angeles, easily accessible to us students of Westwood's UCLA. Within this mass of oh! the humanity, there's a biker/attorney, a Confederate scuba-diver, a roller-skating, southpaw guitarist (my roommate and fellow art school student,) a future Century City litigator, his trendy girlfriend with an antique press camera, assorted sports implements, the biggest sombrero anyone had ever seen, and an actual child. Yeah, and someone in swimfins holding a chicken.


Someone pointed out that this represents an awful lot of people for a little sailboat, that we were lucky not to capsize it, and that the modern parlance for our nautical flash mob now would be called a "takeover." And now for something completely different, as our fixation with the then spankin' new Monty Python's Flying Circus would have dictated quoting...

The academician in her laboratory below was Dr. Thelma Moss, Psychology Professor and head of the Parapsychology lab/clinic at UCLA (yes, such went the '60s and early '70s) with the unseen interviewer at left most likely the writer Don Strachan (Feb. 12, 1942 - Oct. 14, 2011) contradictorily dressed in "straight" mufti and waist-length blond ponytail. He was a fulltime alternative press journalist, author, bon vivant and hippie raconteur extraordinaire (many of his stories remain unprintable unfortunately for Fastfilm readers, as there's much drug content.) My photograph probably graced either the Los Angeles Free Press or its spin-off The Staff (such bisections also were symptomatic of the '60s and early '70s.)

Dr. Thelma Moss, former screenwriter (this was L.A.) and onetime participant in LSD therapy pioneered the era's serious studies of Kirlian photography, a voltage-induced corona effect of living things or any solid matter in photographs likened to "auras," a popular '60s obsession. Also much enamored of Kirlian photography over the ages were: David Bowie, the scientist whom Bowie later portrayed in the film "The Prestige" Nikola Tesla himself, the Journal of Applied Physics and even the modern IEEE, as the process itself was precursor to xerography.
Kirlian fingerprints of either Don's or mine

I did and do consider the shot below a very good, sober, professional photojournalism in situ portrait for me, considering it emanated from my early 1970s' far crazier self.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2 favorites, THE MICHAEL DES BARRES BAND and THE RAW ROWER RANGERS together at last

From Silverhead to Silverlake (LINK and LINK,) the rollicking Michael Des Barres Band rocked and rallied in full cry at the Silverlake Lounge with harmonica sitter-in Jimmy Wood, headlining a 9.8.11 show opened by, amongst others, our favorite Stooges' tribute band The Raw Power Rangers.




Below,
birthday
boy
bassist
Paul Ill

Above, David Arnson dances
to
the Barres band, having
transmogrified
back into himself
from his earlier persona

in the Raw Power Rangers.


As "Iggy Pop," the silver opera-gloved Arnson was obsessed with the floor for much of the evening, an amusing take on the legendarily unpredictable antics of his namesake circa 1970. Don Bolles (the Germs, countless others and normally this combo's drummer) became guitarist "Ron Asheton" for the Raw Power Rangers' offering of Funhouse, the Stooges' second LP. Andrew Scott as "James Williamson" sat in to do his blistering version of "I Gotta Right" as the set's big finish.
Still obsessed with the floor.

PHOTO OPS Section:
Above, Andrew Scott ("James Williamson" of the
Raw Power Rangers and Evita Corby (one who would know.)

Below, Kim Fowley expounds in front of
the young lady who toted MDBB bassist
Paul Ill's birthday cake onstage.

LOOM-WOVEN SILK SCARF

Maria Damon, Poetry Professor at the University of Minnesota and Stooges' fan extraordinaire made me this gorgeous, loom-woven silk scarf/muffler. Thanks so much!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

STRAY PHOTOS from the '70s and '80s

Above, the still beauteous to this day Crickette posing on astroturf outlined to resemble the apartment complex's missing courtyard swimming pool, rare in non-ghetto SoCal communal living. This remains a good example of location shoots I'd put together when so inspired between jobs. (I've always seemed to have good looking and compliant friends to model.) We hauled in all missing pool accessories. Circa the mid-1970s.

Above, all this brother and sister wanted was a photograph of themselves together. Somehow this is what we ended up with. She was a photogenic, very animated rock singer who then married a quite well to do local sports arena owner. The life-sized dinosaur was cardboard, later utilized in a campaign portrait of a local political candidate who then won.

Above, hot air balloon in which Mr. Twister and I later were aloft, the Antelope Valley, Calif. circa the mid-70s.

Above, for my photo feature in Crawdaddy Magazine on Japanese monster toys, beloved of the era's punk rockers. This assortment was gleaned from the respective collections of writer Paul Diamond and myself. My own did not survive the terrible 1994 Northridge earthquake whose epicenter was a mere three miles away and killed our across the street neighbors. Except it was via the destructive proclivities of the unsupervised children of the
builder we'd hired to repair quake damage, and he was livid as well. At least the quality work made up for it.

De rigueur rock photo, Paula Pierce of The Pandoras (LINK) circa 1984 just after the band's bisection.

Vaguely haunted-looking for daylight train scene, Tennessee, '70s.

Above, my "tourist" photo of a Communist rally at the Colosseum, Rome, Italy, October 1978. The next time we were in Rome for Chainsaw's Euro-tour in 2003 (LINK) they still were demonstrating, this time against the then spankin' new war in Iraq, "Pace! Pace!"
Above, my "tourist" photo of Pompeii, same trip, 1978.
Mr. Twister rises above it all, Rome, 1978.
Someone really rising above it all later in the 1980s, affecting Bruce Dern's frequently psychosis-prone film characters.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE




















By the whimsies of the fates I recently photographed, for their respective promo purposes, these two seemingly philosophically polarized bands on the very same day. Though opposites in matters of faith, they shared far more traits than one first might suspect. Both sang with conviction and performed with finesse while remaining thoroughly entertaining with just a soupcon of Retro-cool. And both espouse, through their art, human decency through personal actions.

The young lady above is Reesi Rocca, whose energy, drive and moxie I genuinely admire. Her touchstone is Michael Jackson and similar bigtime shows of chart toppers: her singing delivery and moves certainly match them. It's a big show with a full band, backup singers, costume changes and well-performed modern hiphop choreography. One family of fans drove approximately 150 miles to witness this show, carting one very happy little boy who presented Reesi with long-stemmed red roses.

Husband Darryl and she are practicing but non-proselytizing Christians, content to be decent people in show biz, letting their actions speak for them and exclaiming "God bless!" when they're especially pleased.

BONUS photo op from the shoot: pictured below, Reesi and MJ, the family Golden Retriever who, as a certified Service Dog is allowed to come into clubs and venues serving food to add bonus promotional contact with Reesi's adoring public after any show.

Earlier in the day I photographed a Hollywood concert by
The Heathens, an ensemble of atheists who are also professional musicians. The venue, owned by a local atheist society, can't display its appellation on its own building (and instead is named after a famously intellectual tv star from the 1950s of similar mind) since such would be eminently in danger of oppositional fanatics vandalizing it.

The Heathens included fine artist/web designer/videographer/ chamber music arranger/rockin' tribute band member (LINK) and
Fastfilm colleague Joel Pelletier who sang many numbers solo self-accompanied on guitar and keyboard before the band assembled onstage. His own deconstruction of the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields," a famously orchestral avant garde piece for a chart hit of the '60s, remained a wonder of arranging economy as well as of insight to its emotional context.

Other Beatles' material remained relevant such as John Lennon's "Imagine," somewhat of a hymn for atheists with its calm, quietly optimistic, secular take on equality for all humans. Otherwise much of the Heathens' repertoire reminded one of Tom Lehrer and the early 60s' folkie era with satire aplenty. They fervently sang of their philosophy, and as the society chairperson reminded the audience, they made sure they always endeavored to do good to highlight same. (The society's next project was participation in an AIDS walk.)

BONUS photo op from the shoot: a Heathen's glorious, custom leopard-printed Gibson guitar and ukelele, seen below.

NOTE: link directly back to http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

MY (heretofore) LOST DOGS PHOTOS

Newly excavated photos of punk legends
THE DOGS
circa 1988, discovered in the archaeological dig that is our domicile. Left to right, Loren Molinare, Mary Kay, Tony Matteucci.
See LINK or search within this blog for their numerous, fascinating tales

1988 MYSTERY BAND


Housecleaning my photo files remains akin to archeology chez nous. Take this recently unearthed find. I shot this photo circa 1988 in the foothills of L.A. at night with two movie lights powered by a generator. The fellow far left was David, proprietor of the Hollywood nightclub X-Poseur; otherwise, it's fill in the blanks. Anyone have any clues?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

WHITEY KIRST & THE WEB OF SPIDER

California hard rock fans had been destined to witness brand new supergroup Whitey Kirst & The Web of Spider open for Iggy And The Stooges this September. Fate fabricated other plans, breaking Iggy's foot onstage in Romania (up on Youtube already LINK) just
before the U.S. leg (hah!) of their 2011 tour season. As this happened within days of W.O.S.'s planned Hollywood appearance, the band suddenly found themselves gigless en ro
ute (a long one as some trekked all the way from the Great White North.)

Enter fun lovin' attorney, fellow Canadian-born, full-time Disney-employed, part-time guardian angel Annemarie Sulatycky. She rustled up some ad hoc gigs (two of the three) which provided fans of bluesy but metal-esque hardest rock a chance to espy these superstar players in rather smallish clubs instead of the arenas which might better contain their massive sound. L.A's respective Three of Clubs, Skinny's Lounge and Redwood Bar were the lucky venues, and anyone who made it to these shows saw a helluva good band. My shots were taken at the Sept. 5th one at Skinny's.
The band's pedigree as follows: W.O.S. singer/songwriter/guitarist Whitey Kirst was axeman for Iggy Pop's solo outing band known variously and vicariously as The Trolls or The Fuckups, from 1990 through 2003 along with his drumming brother Alex Kirst (recently killed by moron hit and run driver.) He recognized, on my business card, the spiffy Star-Spangled Banner, redwhite&blue leather jacket worn by Iggy at our 1990 studio photo session as belonging to a friend of his. Even at the time The Ig had admitted he'd borrowed it just for our session, impressing me with his resourcefulness. When I apologized online for misspelling Whitey's last name as "Hirst" he graciously wrote that he hoped the typo would get him into the San Simeon, California Hearst Castle.Bassist Stefan Adika was same for the L.A. Guns and an ensemble I'd seen (obviously before its figurehead's passing) the Dee Dee Ramone Band. Tommy Clufetos drums heavily, showily and passionately for Ozzy Osborne as well, having gigged with Rob Zombie, Ted Nugent and Alice Cooper heretofore.
Tommy Clufetos


Stefan Adika
Leap of
faith
from
drum kit by
Whitehorn
Kirst

Photo Ops section:
Left to right, Whitey Kirst, Stefan Adika, Josh Kirst, Jimmy Recca, Anne Marie

Below, Anne Marie and Jimmy Recca (formerly bassist of the 1971 vintage Stooges and the post-Stooge/post-MC5 Ron Asheton/Machine Gun Thompson enclave The New Order.)
NOTE: link directly back to http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.
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