Wednesday, June 12, 2024

FRANK ZAPPA DAY 2024, and WHISKY A GO GO 1968

 

Here's original Mothers of Invention bandmember Ian Underwood in the red shirt, sitting in on keyboards with the Mothers' canon-covering band One Shot Deal, playing "Peaches On Parade" for the Frank Zappa Day celebration at the Whisky A Go Go on 6.10.24. One Shot Deal chose their name from one of Zappa's sixty record album releases.

 

Zappa associate Pamela Des Barres of THE GTOs was seen dancing near the stage throughout One Shot Deal's set (although depicted below herein at one of her book signings), and various Zappa offspring made appearances at earlier in the day ceremonies in West Hollywood.

This invitation only event projected rare vintage film footage of the Mothers, and was a good, fun occasion overall, reminding one and all of Zappa's contributions to 60s/70s/80s music, and his own activism against censorship (he took on the U.S. Congress against organizations seeking to censor and ban music of vaunted non-conformity.) Universal will release the original live Mothers' sets recorded on July 23, 1968 at the venue as "Whisky A GoGo, 1968" on June 21st of this year, all three hours of it!  Reproduced below is its original invitation artwork. 

                      Pamela Des Barres



Tuesday, May 21, 2024

REST IN PEACE GIA


Rest in peace Bereton Tanager Gia, Aug. 1, 2014 - May 20, 2024, my beloved Scottish Deerhound who did not survive an episode of cardiac and other systems failures. She was loved by all who ever encountered her, and she loved them back profusely. Gia is shown above smiling, because as a photographer, I want you to see what I saw, a totally sweet dog, a pillar of goodness.

If one ascribes to the philosophy, Mr. Twister, Gia and Annabelle are basking in one another's love all together again, along with their Deerhound pals Eroica, Callahan and Norris from our dog playdates. (All Deerhounds depicted here though are Gia.) (Later blogs will tackle the recent deaths of my soulmate/husband of the last 50 years Mr. Twister, and of my beloved brother Randall; my horse Indiana Jones has already been eulogized. Dedicated readers may have noticed the slowdown of content in the Fastfilm blog. There has been an inordinately gigantic amount of loss, grief and heartbreak within the last couple of years, not to mention countless medical emergencies, caretaking, and difficult treatments that ultimately did not work; there's only so much emotion my heart can untangle at a time...)




Gia always knew how loved she was but... much of her life proved less fun than those of my previous dogs. There were 3 years of lockdowns (California's unique exceptionally long ones unlike every other state, and further restrictions because we humans were ~ gasp ~ over 65 years of age!) meant no outside the home activities like dog shows or coursing (running) events to interact with new canines. These were the same 3 years of her pack co-leader Mr. Twister being frequently disabled with his severe illness, then his leaving the pack forever. So much sorrow for Gia. At least the two younger pups Livia and Bella, seen below with Twister and Gia, always respected her hierarchy position as "first dog." (I reinforced this as well.)

It's appropriate here to mention that thanks to my friends Sherry, Ian and Paul (and occasionally Katrina) Gia enjoyed doggie playdates with other Deerhounds and Borzois every Sunday that we could manage it, and that Livia, Bella and I look forward to a continuation of this, (avoiding the new, permanent nighttime incursion of a baby boom of dog-aggressive skunks.) Gia's rarer visits with Waddy and Annie obviously were treasured as well.

Boy, do I ever miss Gia's constant kisses, from her now vacant place on the couch. One of the above photos is my selfie of same, which I'm glad I have to commemorate her unflagging love. 

As with all mammalian species, the giant-sized sighthounds do not live as long as little dogs. These giant sighthounds' winning ways of total devotion, outstanding beauty and everything good and pure that dogs can be continually keep us in their sway. We who love them (and, dare I add, soulmates) always know the eternal gamble going in: no matter strong that love or how worthy those to whom it is given, the house always wins.


 Below, Gia, having gotten in the mood by dressing the part, watching the film "Oppenheimer." This photo of her appeared in the "The Claymore," the house organ of the Scottish Deerhound Club of America.

Addenda: 1) Over 578 friends on Facebook expressed their condolences of Gia's passing. 2) Gia died on the day before what would have been Mr. Twister's 76th birthday.


 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

2024 FAIRGROUND ATTRACTIONS. ONE COMES TO ME ; ONE WAS LOST FOR 33 YEARS AND FOUND IN SHIPPING CONTAINERS




For once, an hour of happy came to me. A carnival fairground sprang up 2 blocks from my house, with genuine diversity in its themes like a German/Austrian Beer Haus, little green folks from outer space, New Orleans Mardi Gras, Chinese dragons, etc. It also was gratifying to see denizens of my neighborhood having fun instead of their usual resentful desperation.


I was impressed with the high caliber of the graphic art of the attractions. Behind the beer maiden are the Katzenjammer Kids, a very popular 1920s comic strip, Arnold Schwarzenegger and some cool draft horses hauling the beer. The analogy of the elephant in Leiderhosen escapes me (perhaps reference to German milita
ria, as in the elephant in the room?)   

 

 




Carnival fairs are important entertainment to smaller, rural communities, while they remain an urban rarity. Usually the art is over the top kitsch, which is why this vivid, well-maintained batch surprised me. I no longer can ride the rides because of vertigo, but I liked everything else about these: they succeed in their manufactured fun. There was even a full-sized Ferris Wheel, like in Luna Luna.




 

Luna Luna, the world's first fine art amusement park once graced a Hamburg, Germany park in 1987 and was supposed to tour, then was lost in litigation of its investors, then genuinely lost until it turned up 35 years later in 44 shipping containers in Texas of all places.  

MAJOR, MAJOR fine artists of the day designed these fairground attractions, half of which have been restored to viewability, and two of which have been restored to proactive participation. You can step inside the Salvador Dali hall of mirrors in a geodesic dome, and you can get genuinely lost in the Roy Lichtenstein hot pink maze. Otherwise one can admire the Jean-Michel Basquiat (full-sized) Ferris Wheel, the Keith Haring merry go round, and the David Hockney spinning ride where the floors drop away as the colors change the artwork walls, plus plenty more.

It was set up for a paying public in April and May 2024 in the "fashion district" of downtown L.A., right next to Skid Row. It needed an airplane hangar-sized space within which to put a full amusement park, hence was found in this commercial warehouse area with no retail, no restaurants, no nothin' per se around it. It should be mentioned that hip hop artist Drake spearheaded the foundation that restored and ultimately displays Luna Luna once again to art and fairground fans.




Wednesday, April 10, 2024

CATCHING FIRE: the story of ANITA PALLENBERG, a take by a lesser mortal, moi


                                    

 

Friends and friends of friends knew Anita Pallenberg, although I never was in her company. In those crowds, I would have been ignored anyway as "non-model material," as a pal euphemistically put it.

She nonetheless fascinated me because she was a complete checklist of everything that I wasn't, with exaggerated versions thereof: blazingly confident, unquestionably beautiful, tall, well-connected, multilingual, thin, manipulative, financially secure, instant object of desire to all, physically strong, reckless, intimidating, hollow leg for substances, etc.etc.etc.  We did, it turns out, share a trait somewhat invisibly: a large mix and match wardrobe of highly interesting clothing of generally unique textiles so that we rarely resembled anybody else in the room, fashion-wise. Hey, I'll grasp at any straw I can get!
 
Therefore one expectedly and happily anticipated liking the new documentary by Magnolia Pictures "Catching Fire: the Story of Anita Pallenberg," produced by her son Marlon Richards. And one does, despite the puzzling choice of actress narrating Pallenberg's own words, my fellow American Scarlett Johansson. Pallenberg's own voice was a mashup of Marlene Dietrich's smoky German sophistication and Joan Greenwood's* seductive purr, were it a bit more Eurocentric. The narration is jarring, but doesn't inhibit enjoyment of the film. The home movies footage throughout is nothing short of incredible.
 
The screen captures herein of real life and real role-playing are unannotated and presented for your viewing pleasure to whet the appetite: watch this documentary, directed by Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill in the comfort of your own home when it's released May 3, 2024.  In selfsame screen captures (emblazoned with my email for "security," so don't reproduce) we see her evince a complexity far beyond her libertine persona familiar to music fans from her years with Keith Richards (and Brian Jones.) 
 
Make no mistake, Pallenberg's absence in the band history would have begat a far different Rolling Stones. No matter how superior the music is in and of itself, do not underestimate the importance of strong visuals in modern popular music. We have five senses, and they all work together. And she plugged her volcanic life force directly into the Rolling Stones at just the right minute of the 1960s, which indeed helped codify The World's Greatest Rock And Roll Band.

*Other agree: Joan Greenwood was in fact the dubbed voice of Pallenberg's Black Queen/Great Tyrant in "Barbarella!" Same tone and timbre, just done by the then entertainment world's sexiest plummy voice.

Monday, April 8, 2024

DON'T LOOK DOWN by JAMES Y. WILLIAMSON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book cover photo above left © Seth Tiven; photo on right of the very last moment of the very last gig ever by Iggy and The Stooges, © Heather Harris. 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist and composer/performer of Iggy and The Stooges' iconographic 1972 sea change/game changer "Raw Power" (which begat all hard rock/punk/metal related genres) James Williamson just released a biography by his son James Y. Williamson. It is available on Amazon, and is lavishly illustrated with photos from his entire life, many of his most important Stooge and solo occasions documented by me. 

Besides detailing all the astonishing events and correcting misconceptions, son James Y. presents his unique perspective of having had a superhero for a father complete with a secret identity, as Dad was first the Stooges' legend, then a Silicon Valley technology executive who worked his way up to Vice President of Technology Standards for the entire Sony Electronics company, then post-retirement back to being a Stooge and playing his unique music, both old and new, all over again. 





 

Monday, February 19, 2024

BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE review

For distraction, I deliberately went movie-going on Valentine's Day to avoid the reality of the recent loss of my soulmate of fifty years. Happily enough, it was the first day release of biofilm "Bob Marley:One Love." A recommend!!  Bigtime!  Firstly, hearing superb reggae played in a good theatre sound system will lift anyone's spirits, it's built into the very construct of reggae. Like African-American gospel, it lifts you up musically before any singer even opens his or her mouth.


I was a trifle hesitant about the lead Kingsley Ben-Adir beforehand since he has absolutely zero resemblance to Marley, but his natural sense of command, musical performing style and ease in conveying creativity won me over. His acting for the writing of the song "Exodus" is a marvel. It's hard to convey "creativity" in films because the act of thinking usually is not very cinematic. Jeffrey Wright's depiction in "Basquiat" worked, and Bob Dylan in Scorsese's "No Direction Home" doc where he stops in front of some random poster and starts lyrically riffing on its contents is fun insight into how artists create. Few other scenes in all of moviedom come to mind.

More pluses-- "One Love's" Rita Marley actress Lashana Lynch is nothing short of phenomenal, completely inhabiting the character. Without any stylization of same, she is the Greek chorus reminding the protagonist of hidden adversities, as well as his living inspiration in addition to his spiritual ones (or as Harvey quipped, "Keith to his Mick.") Also, the montages of the eventual success of The Wailers has a few LOLs for observant, longtime reggae followers: note a photo op with a Mick Jagger lookalike!

Old home week subjectivity: I recognized a lot of names in the credits of people I worked with in 1976 writing my book "Rastaman Vibration: Bob Marley & The Wailers," like Island's music true believer and promotional whiz Jeff Walker. His wife Kim Gottlieb provided the book's wonderful photos she had taken in Jamaica of Bob, his family and the band. Island admitted they were puzzled about new audiences' initial hesitance for reggae in the U.S.A. African American music fans of the '70s seemed to prefer their music heroes to be glitzily successful like Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, not hardscrabble Trenchtown. So Island suggested to try appealing to college audiences, whose very job it used to be to embrace the new. And I did: I was the first to find and write of the tie in to Rastafarianism in the works of Kurt Vonnegut, who was the national darling of college readers everywhere at that time. Even if it was Vonnegut's signature morbid satire, hey, any bridge in a storm!

I quite like that the film is doing so well in its initial release, particularly for a music biopic. Most reviews have been snobby, such as "People" magazine's accusation that it plays it too safe. "One Love" is important as well as entertaining: it is this current generation's mainstream introduction to the legend behind the cool music they've heard all their lives. As such, it's a very good narrative depiction. Marley really did come from nowhere, really was that prolific (than goodness, given his short life) and really did beat the odds in inventing a sea change in popular music, fashioning a regional variation on Motown R&B into the gold standard of World Music, beloved to everybody all over the globe. Because to hear reggae music for the first time is to love and embrace it. Thank Bob!


 

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