Sunday, June 30, 2013

HOW FAR AWAY



At eight years old first viewing the musical film "South Pacific," I marveled that the Lt. Cable character (actor John Kerr with vocals dubbed by Bill Lee) was just so good-looking. I now realize this was a flashforward to my future better half Mr. Twister (pictured above left during his lead singer days with Christopher Milk, photo by John Mendelsohn of same circa 1971) with the same low-slung hiphugger dungarees on stylish, skinny frame. Lt. Cable (above right) mimicked photos seen of Twister's prep school years with shorter blond hair over angular features.

We two (Twister and I, not the actor) enjoyed a beautifully restored blu-ray of "South Pacific" a few nights ago. In addition to the above mental snapshot, the below chorus's message underscored memories to me of our 1970s glitter, glam and punk rock forays...how far away...

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE MOST PHOTOGENIC PERSON I EVER MET 2.0

Bearing in mind my interpretation of "photogenic" encompassing attractive people becoming even more in front of the camera, (see LINK) Carmen Rayburn-Mariani excelled in the pantheon of the most photogenic people I've had the privilege to shoot. She really flirted with the camera, no assistants, no boyfriends present at this session.

Born into a large family related to Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years and the longest tenure of such in U.S. history, she was a rock singer at this juncture, and later married a famous sports arena impressario. I lost track when they started their family. She sang with The Fabulous Sheepskins at one of my Behemoth Festivals (LINK,) bravely dueting with my better half Mr. Twister in his rather lurid, definitely X-rated version of The Troggs' "Wild Thing."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

PAVED MIRACLE STREET



This is a surreal scene for our locale: a perfectly paved boulevard sans potholes or earthquake/disaster movie-worthy cracking. Weirdly, Southern California streets normally are in worse shape than those in American cities with actual weather. Friends on Facebook concluded this must have been a movie set or else knew exactly which streets these were due to innate rarity!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

PAPARAZZI PLAY SET

Actual play set. I loom over reflected but am not of them. The kid with the phone is going to get great shots for posterity...

Nomenclature etymology derives from Paparazzo, character name of celebrity-chasing shutterbug in Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960.) The word sounds like description of buzzing, biting insects in Italian.  Apropos still photo trailer below, bearing in mind that the Rolleiflex twin-lens medium format cameras as flailed by these poseurs used to be my workhorse studio portrait camera. Avedon's and Penn's too.
NOTE: link directly back to http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

R.I.P. JAMES GANDOLFINI

James Gandolfini and Diane Lane as producer/director Craig Gilbert and Pat Loud, promotional still from the film "Cinema Verite`"

R.I.P. James Gandolfini, popular, revered actor and Soprano. My fave of his roles remains the portrayal of producer/director Craig Gilbert in "Cinema Verite,`" termed by the Wall Street Journal "...the real gift beyond price here." First his character reveled in the creative/competitive/pushy streak essential for any commercial artist, particularly a ground-breaking one (documentarian Gilbert invented reality tv with PBS' 1973 series "An American Family" with the Loud clan.) Then Gandolfini drifts into the eventual angst for his role in a sea-change of pop culture that proved as destructive for its subjects as it was informative about them. You believed this was the man who, haunted like Oppenheimer over the terrible power he'd unleashed, did not work in the business again.

Monday, June 17, 2013

R.I.P. PEACOCK(S)


Rest in peace, peacock that I often photographed (LINK, LINK and LINK.)

Today I read confirmation from the Wildlife Waystation non-profit Animal Sanctuary (LINK) that this peacock taken to their premises for treatment after a coyote attack had to be euthenized when their vets found far more extensive injuries than were first apparent. At least he had a chance with them.

The tame peacock and peahen couple apparently walked 3 miles up a dry creek bed under a freeway to live behind my horse's pipestall at the ranch where he is boarded. It's odd, the peafowl ate their food supplements and water under the tall trees next to the stalls and trolled for insects for at least a year and a half at the ranch before the fatal coyote attack. What changed? And I can't imagine that the widowed peahen who then disappeared could have survived solo for too long thereafter.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

THE DOGS LATEST DVD from JAPAN and "Secret Freaks" essay

 
Above, my photos of THE DOGS in the mid to late 1980s commemorate the release of their brand newest DVD/CD/deluxe booklet package set THE DOGS- DOGGY LICKS: THE DOGS UNLEASHED.

 










Contains professionally shot footage of the entire 8.25.88 DOGS' set at The Metro, at the time considered "a farewell tour" hence the band were on fire and at their wildest (photos of same directly above.) Rare appearances by then teenaged Danny DeMuff and singer Krista Wood are documented at this gig as well. 
Where to obtain DOGGY LICKS: THE DOGS Unleashed click: LINK 

There are dozens of never before heard, early Dogs' songs  from late 1960s/early '70s gigs which never made it to studio recording and that the band itself has quasi-forgotten (!); there's impressively rare film footage both domestic and abroad, archival and new; there's photos galore and assorted recollections by multiple authors/friends of the band, chock full of hitherto suppressed, juicy anecdotes, which is why I present following DOGS memoir by me as it appears in toto, to whet the appetite: there's plenty more afoot within DOGGY LICKS.

THE DOGS' drummer and bass player were sitting around last July (2012) waiting for their guitarist to arrive for rehearsal, shooting the breeze, talkin' trash. Tony Matteucci A.K.A. ToneDog, waxed revelatory pondering a sudden correlation of their group THE DOGS and Iggy and The Stooges in addition to the Detroit roots of these two contemporary hardest rock bands. Regarding entourage, milieu and audiences of both he mused "Walking into the backstage party for the Stooges last December 1, 2011 I realized everybody in the room was a freak. Older, wiser, way better off, but nobody around this band was normal, just like the original core Stooges audience. Earlier in the show Iggy even addressed their audience as 'all you freaks out there' " (Ed.- also a line from a 1970 Dogs song 'Motor City Fever!' -HH) 

"And it reminded me of something. When I first met you guys (Mary and Loren) in Hollywood and jammed with THE DOGS to replace original Detroit drummer Ron Wood, I walked into this louche atmosphere of people passed out on couches, unsavory associates with names like Cajun Panther, one-legged guys, drug dealer backers of the band, live-in hangers on and so on, thinking to myself what a bunch of freaks!" And that's been the story of this band, with whom the band surrounds itself, who their audience is and who still cares about THE DOGS, they're all a bunch of freaks!" (Ed.-But hopefully like the Stooges' freaks, older, wiser and better off...) 

The freak show began so long ago now, in 1967 as The DOGS' driving rock emerged as fully formed as the adult Venus rising on the halfshell in Botticelli's masterpiece painting of her birth. That's the way it always is with major talent, they start out great and get greater, unlike the rest of the world of non-outliers. In the Detroit/Ann Arbor/Lansing nexus THE DOGS rocked hard, fast and precise. Energy-maniacs onstage they may have been, their proficiency as teens cast them practically as rock prodigies for their rabidly appreciative Michigan audiences. 

THE DOGS wrote their own original songs from the get-go, and opened for the likes of MC5, Stooges, Amboy Dukes with Ted Nugent, SRC etc. etc. etc. throughout the late '60s/early '70s. In the mid 1970s THE DOGS moved to NYC opening for Kiss, The Stilettos (proto-Blondie,) Television and all manner of punks watchful of THE DOGS' pared-down but hardcore Detroit rock performed in their own torn jeans and leather jackets ("Our normal street clothes because," laughed bassist Mary Kay, "we couldn't afford stage clothes.") 

Relocation to Hollywood shortly thereafter would find them opening for AC/DC, the Scorpions, and well, everybody, even Guns N 'Roses a decade beyond. Don't you think you might liked to have seen this genuine triple bill --The Ramones, The Dogs, Van Halen-- at the Golden West Ballroom, bands headline-tiered in that actual order? Where's a time machine or TARDIS when you really need one? Their heretofore best-known track, the mighty "Slash Your Face" which became one of SPIN magazine's all-time Top Ten punk singles hails from this golden age. 

Then comes the 1980s. A bit of this dvd's material originates from what some call the band's extended lost weekend, not only for personal hobbies but also for experimentation with multiple personnel changes --female singers, one of the Bullet Boys, a teenaged Danny De Muff on second guitar--outside the Loren/Mary core. They also tried out assorted band name changes to deflect The Dogs' sullied reputations for fomenting rioting audiences (See Daytona Beach, Florida and multiple Detroit locales ephemera) such as Attack, Frightened Trees and gawd knows what that they won't admit to nowadays. The upside was that when Ron Wood segued away into vestigial punk band Channel 3, THE DOGS acquired the master drummer quoted above, Tony Matteucci who remains both an inventive and powerful big league percussionist. 

Although I'd been sufficiently fortunate to witness the explosive 1977 DOGS at the Whisky a Gogo, this lost weekend decade is when I actually met them, once I deduced that their band name was now Attack. 'Saw them, just as magnificent as my original epiphany at the Whisky. Yet for being so mega and meta, they still hadn't cracked the industry, unlike once-co-billed under them Van Halens or Ramones. I proposed the rare for me free studio photographic portrait session to the band, offer accepted, and photographed all their live gigs from then on when my schedule permitted. 

And what a bunch of freaks, self at the time most definitely included as I emerged from my cancer sabbatical behaving rather more reckless than before (healthy obviously hadn't worked in this twisted logic.) "That's why we like you Heather, you're not normal," offered one Dog backstage, (not my habitual realm since as press, I generally entered the front door with a camera, not the back entrance with the band.) We all had bone-headed persistence and belief in our respective art in common, plus a preference for true hard rock in an era of twee New Romantics, boy bands, arena-rock conformity and cookie-cutter similitude of hair-metal wannabes. 

Two great things emerged from THE DOGS' '80s: for me, an enduring friendship with their remarkable bassist Mary Kay, and for the world, some of the band's best material born of singer/songwriter/guitarist Loren Molinare's introspective ruminations on ambition, love, persistence and outright despair. There's that line in the film "Field of Dreams" that always punches me in the gut when a ghost character forgoes his baseball stardom for a more practical vocation and another observes something to the effect of "He saw his lifelong dreams die right in front of him. This drives most people crazy." THE DOGS saw their so-called peers attain fame and fortune while they still gave their all live to their fans night after night, unrecognized and undistributed by a heedless music biz. 

Instead of insanity, pre-clean-up Loren turned these queasy emotions into lyrics outlining both the dark side -- "You love it, you hate it, dancing on the edge going way over the top..." from selfsame "Over The Top" -- but also offering sublime redemption if one stays the course somehow, dreams or reality immaterial. From that era's "Rainy Wednesday Afternoon" we hear "I'd rather be sailing on a magic sea, wind in my sails, my heart set free, I tell myself I'm free to go, why I stay God only knows..." Pretty fucking good for the traditionally non-verbal guitarist, eh? 

The '90s remained the chill out decade with Loren poached by Geffen artists Little Caesar (fronted by the admittedly astonishingly voiced Ron Young, a true hard rock hero himself) for his song-writing as well as guitar prowess, Mary off to assorted Metal bands like SHE ROK (fronted by Motley Crue's Nasty Habit Emi Canyn) and Tony heard drumming in huge Metal Festivals in South America and the like. The 2000s ushered in conviction to do what they've always done best and reunite (amidst ongoing other musical projects. Fortunately the 2000s and beyond accepts this as the norm for musician lifers.) 

But then the amazing occurred. The classic Detroit sound was vindicated though hundreds of thousands of hard rock fans and bands, continuing to this very second. Iggy and The Stooges even made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after seven consecutive tries. And THE DOGS' reputation via the emerging internet had accelerated their doggy tale into its present, deserved status of bona fide, singular, committed, hardest rock/power trio/punk rock true legends. Europeans paid outlandish sums for long ago 45 rpm singles on THE DOGS' self-released Detroit Records. The Midwest reclaimed THE DOGS as native sons (and daughter) of Relevance, bookings and live dvd "Purity Not Perfection" of same ensuing, plus Future Now's iconic "Doggy Days" live in Japan dvd and this most recent treasure you now hold in your hands. 

Once upon a time in mid-'70s Los Angeles, THE DOGS surreptitiously had been lumped into the Do It Yourself ethos of the nascent punk scene, ironic since they had zoomed past all that before they even relocated there and started their High Times rehearsal/recording commune and Detroit Records label on Gower Street in Hollywood. They'd already fashioned same as teenagers in the late '60s without industry connections, blowing the locals and visitors alike offstage in all the important venues of the Detroit/Ann Arbor/Lansing radius, later accomplishing same in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1974. Their immediate apartment-neighbor Patti Smith and pals in the punk community sure noticed what THE DOGS were doing, even if the rest of the entertainment world remained deaf, blind and moronically obstructionist for decades. D.I.Y.? Old hat much? For THE DOGS their enduring credo was Do It Anyway, come hell, high water, or the foremost enemy of rock and roll, the passage of time. Just... Do It Anyway. My all time favorite trangression. 

CODA and Freaks Alert: Back in those 1980s I was warned with all sorts of contradictory slurs that THE DOGS were hardscrabble, rough and tumble addicts from Detroit, hardcore abnormals yet slick careerists, rock and roll Luddites--"meat and potatoes" was one term bandied by an influential writer in print-- skull-sporting, black leather-clad untrustworthies, and what the hell was I doing not only touting them but hanging with? 

Well, explanation for one slur tumbles from their arrival from Detroit to NYC then Hollywood as full time musicians with their own P.A. systems/trucks not to mention arena-worthy amps augmenting the onslaught that blew rivals bands offstage. Jealousy? Um, er, uh, yeah! They still were contemporaries to their peers but way tighter and harder-rocking from their own Detroit trials by fire. See Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" book for full explanations. The Luddite pejorative happily caved to newfangled appreciation for same via the arrival of Punk Rock. And sure there was bigtime drive: after all, even as starving young musicians they'd uprooted themselves moving lock, stock and smoking guitars to strange new urban centers, just to catch those big city breaks that we L.A. locals complacently took for granted. 

Finally, there was indeed the same obliterating substances phases as the bigger boys and girls (now fortunately buried in the past.) But always, always, always... there was THE DOGS' music: louder, harder, faster, tighter, always with the finesse of The Bigs but with the soul of true freedom fighters. "Us against the world" was the rallying edge I picked up when I first saw them in 1977, thinking to myself that I could watch these people for hours and still be fascinated. So what was I doing there, drawn into THE DOGS' lair of weird times and out-there hardcore rock music? Despite the restrained exterior, I guess I've always had a wild heart... 

And thankfully, the entire world still can share all the excitement in the music of THE DOGS to this day. Enjoy! Massively! Really! 

--Heather Harris 
Los Angeles, California 
September 19, 2012


 
Some of my latest photos of THE DOGS, live at the Redwood, downtown L.A. Feb. 2013 and during a video shoot the previous year.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tales Told Out Of School 6.0: the professional teen model

(Sixth 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.)

I googled the name of a onetime Westlake School for Girls classmate, and found these. At the time I knew she was a professional teen model and she seemed quite worldly, as opposed to faux mature, with her sultry voice and scenester presence alongside known musicians on the Sunset Strip of the mid-1960s (a good place to be in the world then.) I admired her retaining her ultra-long-haired, hipster signature look in a business that mandated cookie-cutter similitude of ultra-square beauty queens thought to appeal to Middle America, even in the swingin' '60s (think teenaged Sally Field. Not her fault, Ms. Field wanted to work. And has.) 

It indeed is she, Denny Howard (not Sally Field,) in the above photo (photographer unknown) plus the first actor seen in this music video below and go-go dancing throughout. She sports brunette pigtails to look more "wholesome" although belied by the arched eyebrows over those smokey eyes and her longer than surfer-girl hair. Both the video star and subject matter remain, strangely after 47 years, still relevant. I have no idea what became of her after her singular semester at Westlake in 1966. Behold, a video starring a well-known Vulcan with Denny and the Malibu-ettes frugging and ponying their shingalings off in the tv show "Malibu U," a clip that is both groovy and awful...
NOTE: link directly back to http://fastfilm1.blogspot.com if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

ANOTHER DAPPER LITTLE CHAP

Another dapper little chap visited us this week, this fancy pigeon with matching white flecks and hooded crest, above.
We feed birds you see, not only to make them happy but to attract these little photo subjects. It's my better half's new obsession, photographing them digitally with his collection of 50-year-old lenses (see his terrific bird in sprinklers shot here: LINK.) Therefore it's his purview, but I couldn't resist, results herein...
Above, sporting very 1980s green and red leg bands.
The last fancy pigeon to visit was this gent last year, see LINK

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