Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rest in peace WANDA COLEMAN

Above, my portrait of Wanda Coleman and Lydia Lunch,
for Freeway Records' 1985 release "Twin Sisters"  

It's called a showstopper, when a performance becomes so thrillingly insightful that instead of bursting into applause, an audience momentarily sits there in stunned silence. I witnessed one such drop-jawed showstopper in Hollywood, 1985 when Wanda Coleman, under the aegis of Harvey Kubernik's Freeway Records spoken word multiple artist shows, read aloud her poem recounting a take on brutally being raped. "Did you come?" "...Yes..." 

Writer and world-class poet Coleman's forte was an almost pathological avoidance of cliche, characterized by her disdain for same wherever she found it. She famously dismissed African-American knee-jerk victimization chroniclers, even deeming a Maya Angelou work "Another traipse to the trough" in a book review. Her contrarian take against Dr. Angela Davis' association with a coterie of thugs even got her fired from the Los Angeles Free Press back in the otherwise free-wheeling late 1960s.

She made her living writing, even scripting "Days of Our Lives" soap operas. She won an Emmy for that one year's effort, underscoring the quality of her life's work in doing whatever you're doing really well. She hailed from a moderate income but education-infused family, and later installed her own in her life, married to Austin Strauss for 30 years, with children from her first marriage. Growing up in late 1940s/early '50s, pre-Watts riots Los Angeles guaranteed a trove of source material on genuine racial prejudice in action.

The above portrait commemorated Coleman's spoken word duets "Twin Sisters" with No Wave icon Lydia Lunch in 1985 for writer Harvey Kubernik's then label Freeway Records, the original oasis of rockers turned slam poets. It was shot in the 10 minute window Ms. Lunch had in her sorti to Los Angeles, wherein she claimed she needed a strong, strong image, but somewhat amused me by eventually preferring the pictures with the most (skin-softening) diffusion. At the shoot, Ms. Coleman was gracious as always, with her ever soothing voice that highlighted rage or reassurance without changing volume. She'd seen it all, and that's real strength.

 Above, Wanda with Richard Berry who actually wrote "Louie Louie" and poet Michelle T. Clinton

Saturday, November 23, 2013

DEATH OF A TREE 2.0

Sad day for our 100-year-old farmhouse in the middle of an otherwise densely packed metropolis: death of our 100-year-old walnut tree, which had threatened to take out others with it in its terminal desperation (two of its confreres had fallen on our automobiles, fortunately inanimate objects.) Photos above taken yesterday. Below, bygone days--another Pleasant Valley Sunday; then, less than pleasant recollections...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

MAMA LION LYNN CAREY singer, actress, Pantherinaephile UPDATE


 

 This month I photographed singer/actress LYNN CAREY, she of the big-voiced rock, blues, jazz, big band, full-throttled vocal stylings. Daughter of the late actor MacDonald Carey, Lynn initally appeared in good roles within 1960s films like Lord Love A Duck starring Roddy McDowell, then changed career into fulltime rock and roller. Her best known band was Mama Lion with its to this day notorious cover of Lynn suckling a real, live lion cub (photo fourth from the bottom.) Lynn also has reveled in a certain wild child persona, expressed in the second and third photos above. 

Interim vocal work took her to Russia, studio work and assorted jazz ensembles. These days and nights still find Lynn singing her heart out live, recording, appearing in webcasts and acting, for which the two demure shots below were photographed. Beautiful Lynn still has great, extensions-free hair!
 



Left, the notorious 1972 "Preserve Wildlife" 
LP cover, fair use photo by Ed Caraeff, from her band 
Mama Lion. '72 was also the year of her Penthouse 
Magazine cover as Pet of the Month: the lion cub 
would have been so proud!  




From Pantherinaephile to equine lover, Lynn later trekked to the ranch where I board my horse Indy and we rode about a bit. She met Lilly the Warmblood and Cody the Arabian in abject mutual admiration while tablet-documenting yours truly saddling Cody and feeding Indy his supplements and meds after the ride.











For those who wondered if the pipes persisted, here's a snippet from a performance earlier this year, video below and of course, hell yeah:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

CIRCUS ANIMALS

 

100 mules trekked right past the doorstep of my friends Don and Marijke in Shadow Hills CA commemorating Los Angeles Aqueduct's 100th birthday on Nov. 10th, but look what I found near our digs today! Exotic ungulates! And for those who care about such matters as I do, the circus animals all appeared to be in good health, well fed, muscled even, unstressed and definitely accepting of humans. The zebras were bright-eyed and the camel came right over for his closeup... The 18 hand Percheron (a giant, now rare-ish draft horse breed) needed a bath but horse-people know you never bathe a horse until right before his show appearance, else risk a newly muddied equine. There were American flags aflutter everywhere, but the red and white tent stripes reminded me of the Rising Sun flag of Japan, a great graphic element.


BLUES PORTFOLIO, guest photog Virginia Parks Williamson

 Above, guest photographer Virginia Parks Williamson: David "Honeyboy" Edwards, legendary bluesman who performed with his friend the immeasurably influential guitarist/singer/songwriter Robert Johnson the night the latter was murdered in 1938...
 
The artist Virginia Parks Williamson (first cousin of yours truly) is seen 11.1.13 at a group show in the Julia Dean Gallery, Los Angeles CA next to her own photos installation, and with her daughter Sally Williamson. Alongside the portrait of Edwards are Virginia's shots of Pinetop Perkins, Pat Thomas, Mr. Tater and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, all denizens of her native Memphis/West Tennessee/Mississippi music circuit radius. Thomas remains the only bluesman from this portfolio still amongst the living, so these indeed are important documentations by my extroverted cuz whose photos highlight her strength of an immediate rapport with her subjects. I honored her preference for black and white herein.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

TEACHER'S PETS

Guest photographer- photo (C) 2013 Kurt Ingham. Literally and figuratively, Teacher's Pets. Mr. Ingham's third grade class came as Scottish Deerhounds and Golden Retrievers for this last Halloween...

Friday, November 8, 2013

SUNSET STRIP movie

What do you want in a movie? If it's verisimilitude, you must have subjective overview for the context, or else it's just another period piece as distant and impersonal as The Napoleonic Wars. If it's a character study, you must accept this as the basis of the filmed entertainment. Sunset Strip should be viewed as a character study companion piece to Almost Famous with far more accurate verisimilitude. Famous is a wondrous pastiche, lotsa entertaining bang for your buck. But Sunset Strip represents the real shit. I know. I was there. And here's why you should take my anonymous word for it. 

When I first saw this year 2000 movie I was astonished that I didn't recognize the name 
of its writer, for I recognized every one of his characters, literally as well as figuratively. The writer obviously was exactly the same age I was, worked in the exact aspects of the entertainment industry that I did, at the exact same time in the early 70's at the exact same spots in Hollywood and knew the exact same people I did (or knew of.) Anna Friel was Genie the Tailor, who did in fact die in an auto accident with several members of British band Fairport Convention. The geeky manager was seemingly an early Geffen-esque clone. The disolute songwriter was a Warren Zevon-alike, while Jared Leto was, dare I say, a completely interchangeable popstar type of the era. My own future husband, actual popstar of that era, lived in the exact same Laurel Canyon mountain aerie depicted in the film (replete with benevolent landlord), while I worked as a music photographer alongside the main protagonist's doppelganger. 

And I did know who he was. He was one of the names you'll recognize on photo credits of classic shots of the era, who now owns a major restaurant here. But he didn't want his name on the writing credits, so I'll respect that. Sunset Strip is a highly entertaining character study that is unbelievably accurate in its depiction of an assortment of characters on the perimeter, or the earliest stages of ascent, of the music scene in Hollywood CA in the early 1970's. It's all true. And we did go out there every night. . .


Above and below, some vintage photos of friends of mine from the same era. 
The scarf-wielder is Risa Hurowitz: then my brain cells screech to a halt.

Friday, November 1, 2013

RETRO MAKEOVER

 Above, "Richard Avedon treatment" of my photo of Kizzy Kirk, fearless lead singer of the band Feral Kizzy (LINK.) Thoroughly modern Kizzy with now flaccid microphone below, in the original shot from last year's studio session for Paraphilia Magazine.

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