Monday, December 27, 2010


Revolting seniors, commie
books and protest signs in hand,
identities protected,
photographer unknown

(First 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 their 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.)

(And you've probably forgotten the original sub-title by now, it was A BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION: COUP D'ECOLE - ONE DAY THAT SHOOK THE SCHOOL.)

Yes, we had our own 1917-style Russian Revolution at the school, a successful Coup d'Ecole that imprisoned the administration and faculty while liberating the students. Its genesis sprang from myriad complaints from the John Birch Society contingent of the Parents' Club. Then as now, the mega-rich proved mega-alarmist. (The whole era anyway reeked of protests amid placards decrying Failsafe Doomsday being nigh, the Viet Nam war still existing, and/or Bob Dylan going electric.)

They'd complained bitterly of the inclusion, nay, even the mention of communism in the school's new modern history curriculum which outlined the Bolshevik Revolution's place and consequences in 20th Century global affairs. They were terrified that private school girls somehow would be influenced by the innate commie-ness of it all and foment their own revolt.

That year's senior class decided obligingly enough to prove their fears well placed and correct. They then overthrew the school.

They picked the day of an all administration/faculty meeting, and locked the latter inside. Re-editing the October Revolution's slogan into a more applicable mob chant of "Peace! Land! Bread! Sleep!" the seniors then called an emergency assembly of the student body wrested from their classes, declared a successful Coup d'Ecole or overthrow of the school and pronounced that we were liberated from academic tyranny and could all go home.

Which we then did.

To stifle the embarrassment of it all, the administration censored any account of the prior day's activities and school proceeded as usual the next day. No mention was made thereafter, save the lone photo commemorating the revolution (see above at top) that appeared without explanation in the yearbook and a very anti-climatic French Revolution staged somewhat later, sloppy seconds indeed involving little activity except very malevolent glowering while knitting tri-color mufflers.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

PATTI SMITH LIVE across two of her decades

Patti Smith Group beckoned as a must to be photographed in those proto-punk morphing into punk halcyon days (or rather nights.) The evening I could, her debut album "Horses" producer/mentor John Cale joined her onstage in this impressive lineup from 1976, left to right: Cale, co-songwriter Ivan Kral, Smith and (hero to every rock scribe who ever dreamt, Walter Mitty-style, of making the leap to rock star) Lenny Kaye (who did just that.*)
Above, I was pleased to shoot her genuine happiness at the audience warmly welcoming her mid-90s return to onstage performance after a long hiatus. This and the shot below were from the 1995 Long Beach, Calif. festival "When Words Collide" wherein Smith read her poetry and performed with, among others, her son Jackson, then sufficiently teenaged to get off on riffing "Smoke On The Water."
The last photo was taken in Long Beach as she was making some tech adjustment for her song co-written with Ivan Kral "Dancing Barefoot," whereupon I posited that her gauzy, backlit silhouetted profile matched the dreaminess within the myriad components of this song, one of her most complex lyrically yet most accessible musically.

Her 2010 book "Just Kids" about personal incubation into poet/performer via her teen and beyond friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe rightly has been acclaimed as the now mature work it represents. She's learned to bridge the chasm between her world and the rest of the universe in far easier to fathom self-edited bytes as well as manifestos, taming the subjective into fascinating narrative. It's an altogether terrific read. Then again she's always fashioned her art from being brave.

*for the record yours truly has never entertained any Walter Mitty fantasies of rock stardom or what have you, whatsoever anywho. I love what I do when I'm allowed to do it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I photographed fewer punk rockers than you'd suspect, reviewing and writing about same more than shooting them: in true DIY spirit, their friends normally had that end sewn up anyway. Alternate cred: I wrote the first book on the subject published in the U.S., "Punk Rock 'n' Roll" which went to press the week the Sex Pistols broke up, and am personally thanked in the quintessential punk rock flyer book "Photocopied and Fucked Up."

Here, however, are Philly's The Dead Milkmen, vintage era. To get a photo like this I would stand on a chair (since I'm short), open the aperture, have a slower exposure to get stage light on the performers, then shoot the flash to get the audience comme ca. Audiences remain rowdy, and one has to hold camera still despite "the ambience."
Worst, oddly, was one Smashing Pumpkins' audience, whose mosh pit so tossed me around that half my pix were of the ceiling insofar as I normally don't take photos of ceilings. Below, a non-ceiling shot of same with lighting mimicking the 1966 Velvet Underground live performances.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

THE DOGS' recording session, 12.18.10

I photographed legendary Detroit/L.A. power trio The Dogs (see amazing history here LINK) in the recording studio (and brought them pizza) yesterday, Dec 18th, 2010. Tentative title for this new release is "Hypersensitive." Above, listening to playback with Paul in his studio. Below, belying her rapidfire chops, kickass bassist Mary Kay lounges as louchely as an odalisque.
Below, drummer Tony Matteucci in his natural element.
Below, singer/guitarist Loren Molinare pauses between takes, rendering photography far simpler than during his always frenetic song delivery live in performance. Detroit trivia: yes, not only is Loren's Sonic's Rendezvous Band t-shirt original, it once belonged to SRB and Rationals singer/guitarist Scott Morgan himself.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Nice Thing#1. the writing on the oldskool tv series "Taxi" for actor Christopher Lloyd. His character, a burned-out homeless hippie turned marginal cabbie, once pondered whether his recently deceased father who continually voiced disapproval at him had ever loved him at all. Going through the latter's pockets on a suit jacket he inherited, he found an audiocassette (again, oldskool,) played it in wonderment at this song selection from his martinet father, sat back, silently listened and enjoyed it. The song was "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" by Stevie Wonder. There was no exposition nor dialogue. You get the picture of wish-fulfillment emotions that he was loved, whether real or a random accident of the dry cleaners, without need for dialogue. Perfect.
Nice Thing#2. The real Stevie Wonder bought and still owns a radio station in Los Angeles, KJLH, an investment that employs the local community, provides the pleasurable free service of music to all, and, because it's his football, can get his own music here and there to new demographics beyond his own age group. Perfect.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

more of my ART

I drew this for the ABC Records house organ in 1975 and was told to use certain buzzwords in the balloons, which I fashioned into war-related non sequiturs. This is an uncharacteristically butch drawing style for me, but hey, I'm versatile. Insider jokes at the time were the cockpit resembling a recording studio, General Nuisance obsessed with Coke, and the jagged slopes of the sales wall chart sporting its own skier down them.
I always preferred to photograph people and draw animals. Above two dik-diks, below, an impala.
Media? the dik-diks: ink drawing with watercolor infill. In art school classes I used to love squishing the linseed oil into the oil paints on the palette, but then I'm a closet sensualist. However, my alltime favorite medium was a hugely soft pencil brand no longer made that had so dark a black (Spinal Tap's None More Black?) that it was completely uneraseable, and I used to like showing off that I didn't need to erase. The impala drawing is an example of same.

CHUCK BOYD collection: Photog On Photog

Left to right, Julia 'Lady J' Gerard of LadyJ Fashion Designs, fellow music photographer Jim Steinfeldt cannily attired as 1965-era Bob Dylan (Cate Blanchett "I'm Not There" inspiration,) Sirius Trixon once of Sirius Trixon & the Motor City Bad Boys, all at the opening event for (late, lamented multi-decade rock photographer) Chuck Boyd's collection in a one person gallery show in Culver City CA on 12.11.10. Much more info on the show which closes in early 2011 at LINK
Above, show curator and promoter Jeff Schwartz alongside Rodney Bingenheimer with a vintage 1970 Uncle Sam-top-hatted Mick Jagger peeking out from the photograph behind them. Rodney remembers Boyd pix of the Beatles and Rolling Stones first U.S. tours for our local KRLA Beat music newspaper as do I.
Above, Powerpoint montage at the show. Chuck Boyd photographed most all the top-tier musicians between 1964 and 1979 for assorted instrument companies and media, hence the impressive access to these rarefied beings. His archive only became available to the public this very year.
Below, author and music insider Harvey Kubernik (in shades) surveys the collection. As event photographer, I lined up Chuck Boyd's surviving family for the photo at bottom: they were very grateful finally to see Chuck's archival legacy recognized and respected.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Jimmy Recca, one of two surviving former Stooges, and former Texan now local guitar powerhouse Andrew Scott were caught jamming and singing at Gallery 800, North Hollywood last Sunday
(12.12.10.) at a covers' gig similar to this one LINK. Appropriately enough trouble ensued when the pair honed in the zone on the instrumental "Sparks" from The Who's "Tommy" and were told to turn it down. How teenage!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


 Left, singer, cinema enthusiast, Krista Wood, right, author Catherine James
Totally blurry snapshot (it wasn't a pay gig, just fun) of the event's panel, L-R: Pamela Des Barres, Catherine James, Lori Mattix, Jenna Rosher, Michele Overman

Let's Spend The Night Together: Confessions of Rock's Greatest Groupies directed by Jenna Rosher premiered 48 hours before its first launch on VH-1 television (to be heavily rotated, as the evening's compere Michael Des Barres dryly noted, "ad nauseum.")

The documentary follows author, groupie and Michael's amicably ex Pamela Des Barres interviewing the real life characters of the film and her eponymous book about their recollections of good times, favorite positions, full access passes, gloopy teenage crushes, gloopy mature obsessions, personal high style and fashion, memorable sex, just how big, just how many and the occasional delusion/buzzkill.

Co-presented by VH1 and movie director Allison Anders' Don't Knock The Rock Film Festival, the event evinced its own festivity with a cadre of vicarious-thrill-seeking young wannabes, music fans "of a certain age" and a lively (and fairly graphic) Q and A panel of special guests seen in the documentary: Pamela Des Barres, Lori Mattix, Michele Overman, Catherine James and the film's director Rosher.

Collective c.v.: Ms. Des Barres successfully has instituted a cottage industry from her own colorful groupie past authoring four books on rock music, culture and personal history. All four subjects stunning to this day, the other three women started their careers as pro fashion models before life launched its surprises in store one grenade after another. 1970s Glam Sunset Strip denizen Ms. Mattix had garnered fame as a teen model and pal of Sabel Starr, the NY Dolls and Iggy and the Stooges when she caught the eye then private parts of Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page; Michele Overman paralleled the same arc with Zeppelin's Robert Plant and managed to retain the rare true friendship afterward. Kudos to Lori for exhorting the film's audience to encourage new generations to rock hard instead of embracing (Michael Des Barres' fave sarcasm victim that night) Good Charlotte.

I retain a special admiration for Catherine James, author of the book "Dandelion: Memoir of a Free Spirit." Immortalized with her baby son via Baron Wolmans' 1969 photos in Rolling Stone magazine plus a renowned beauty who intoxicated the likes of actual Rolling Stones, she was not only the product of the gorgeous genetics of a Hollywood entertainment-enmeshed family, but also of absolutely off the charts family dysfunction, so vile that it seems part Charles Dickens, part Edgar Allen Poe, all Hollywood Babylon, and hardly something you'd associate still happening in the 20th century of her childhood.

The journey away from horribleness remained the heart of her story via assorted redemptions: she fled the orphanages within which her mother dumped her despite custody pleas from other family members; she became the toast of two coasts et al. in the Andy Warhol '60s and L.A./Great Britain 70s; yes, she lived with Mick Jagger and other notables, but she also stopped the destructive James' family cycle with her own child receiving her primary attention and devotion.

I found a strange, personal recognition in her tale of the Mother From Hell, insofar as it showed me even if my own troublesome family had been as creative in the arts as hers, there still would have been the same friction: toxic is toxic, and unconstrained selfishness in parents is poisonous to children.

Returning to lighter matters, besides Michele's pug's antics, two of the film's characters (and they truly are characters) prompted the audience to drown out the soundtrack with raucous LOL guffawing: Cynthia Plastercaster's contemporary plea to commemorate a young subject with extreme parental reservations, and the inimitable "quantity not quality" monologue musings of Sweet Connie Hamzy's approach to serial blowjobbing. Somewhere there's a true, natural-born comedienne/ female mensch with deadpan delivery lurking beneath that slutty exterior.
Miss Pamela and Patti D'Arbanville at recording session for their respective contributions to the spoken word album Hollyword circa 1990.
Spotted communing were Pamela's compatriot Miss Mercy of the GTOs and Dee Dee Keel. Anyone not already familiar with all these famed femmes via their own local scene's past probably was astounded by their camaraderie both onscreen and off in what heretofore had been hyped as a competitive metier. What a shame that, as the decades rolled forth, the requirements for the position of rock star consort shifted away from diverse, vibrant, creative extroverts like these women into the current stasis that only 6'1" anorexics with multiple plastic surgeries i.e. international supermodels need apply.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I photographed the two day First Annual Bel Air Indoor Arena Polo tournament this December for them at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Those of you athletes who participated in same, go to LINK to see all 700 or so photographs of this event and ordering information.

Friday, December 3, 2010

LITTLE CAESAR, THE HANGMEN- LIVE at the Cat Club, 11.27.10

L-R: Joey Brasler, Tom Morris, Ron Young, Fidel Paniaqua, Loren Molinare
Double Trouble! No, not the late Stevie Ray Vaughn and Lou Ann Barton of the original ensemble, but a rare fabulous double bill of terrific, enduring, hardest rock bands- Little Caesar (see links) and The Hangmen, appearing at Hollywood's The Cat Club Nov. 27, 2010. Little Caesar (photos above and below) feature genuinely strong, tight players and the genuinely strong, soul-drenched, emotive vocals of singer Ron Young who proved to be in a playful mood as follows in my devolving photos of their set.

Below, Fidel and Loren (also of L.A./Detroit's legendary The Dogs see links ) fill out Little Caesar's vocal assault

Below, worthy new guy, Joey
Below, Ron tries the direct approach to the sound crew regarding perceived inadequacies of the singer's microphone volume level
Hey, that's my job! Below, Ron outsources live band photography from onstage

Next three shots: The Hangmen (see link,) another great L.A. band from back in the late '80s day, photos featuring singer/guitarist and damned good songwriter Bryan Small with bassist Angelique Congleton

After the show, left to right: neighbors all (unusual in L.A.,) rock couture designer Evita Corby, Jim Sellars, Angelique Congleton

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Above, the house built by my maternal grandfather (see LINK for his unusual adventures) in 1923 in a compound of three homes near the family farms. One remains my uncle and aunt's residence and the other two (like the one above now owned by my mother) occasionally find members of the family temporarilyvisiting therein.

Above, the original house that burned to the ground on the day my grandparents' first child was born with a troubled delivery. Its ad hoc caretaker (a trusted, close relative) had gotten blind drunk and knocked over a lit lantern.

The sunken garden with the children's wading pool, formerly canopied and surrounded by irises. Frog seen from the back was a fountain, sundial at left, bird bath on right.
Above, view towards the small town from front yard.

Above, some of the long driveway entrance.

Above, two views of the porte-cochere (definition: carriage entrance through buildings,) first looking towards the back yard which used to have a log cabin museum and livestock pasture, both now part of my uncle's estate, and the vista via the driveway through the front yard of the estate.

Abandoned gazebo

I stayed in my grandfather's separate bedroom, above. Nothing was changed after his death on October 17, 1989 (which was my birthday.)
Above, the parlor, much changed by my mother since my grandfather's death. Below, hand-painted vellum lampshade showing original house before its Southern Colonial facelift via
the front porch columns

Comestibles once were served by cooks like Fruzie Chambers and maids with names like Diora in the formal dining room (above, with a mirror filling in for the large oil painting of wild ducks that once was there) or in the breakfast nook.
The photos on the nook's back wall feature the house's only full-time residents, my grandparents. I photographed the one on the right of my grandfather who outlived his wife by 25 years, reaching 104 years with his health pretty much intact. Dachshunds helped.

More Southern Gothic: William Faulkner was our distant relation, and used to take the train up from Mississippi and sleep on the front porch of this very house. Drunk. My grandmother was an unconditionally forgiving, generous soul:
she quite liked him.

Below, children's playhouse shaped like original house, now next to a very large annex built onto one of the original houses enclosing a baronial great room.

Below, the dogs' graveyard, with four of ours--Crystal Scarborough (Golden Retriever,) Phaedra (Borzoi,) Morgan Le Fay (Scottish Deerhound) and Lucretia Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound)-- in the front yard of the estate under the holly tree.

One bookshelf of Parksacres contains an encyclopedia from 1879 with sad entries that made this amateur zoologist teary. It described the Quagga and the Passenger Pigeon as contemporary, living, breathing animals, not extinct victims of heedless destruction. Read the copy I enlarged on the quantification of the latter species (2 pp.)

Late '60s folk troubadour Arlo Guthrie sang of the City of New Orleans train, and as seen above, this very one rumbles along noisily and twice daily betwixt the estate's large front yard and the small town. My uncle the Civil War buff likes to fly Confederate flags and does so undeterred as he owns most everything in sight within the small town except the two other homes in the compound and assorted churches. At least the flag from the victor in the "War of Northern Aggression" gets equal billing on the plantation flagpole.

In 1973 Michael Lesy wrote "Wisconsin Death Trip" which instantly proved a counter-cultural favorite and eventual bestselling book detailing the nostalgic trevails of ordinary 19th century Americans of all strata born, working and dying in rural Wisconsin. This Tennessee death trip was to bury my father in my mother's family's private cemetery in the pouring rain. Like the book, the visit prompted reflection on what has gone before. I photographed some of it with my inexpensive snapshot camera for anyone reading this, for myself and for posterity.
A funerary addendum:
Aforementioned rain prevented my photographing the "family black sheep" who was buried upside down without her full name on a tiny headstone in the family cemetery, far away from her relatives. She was my adventurous grandfather's real mother, reputed to have run off with the farm foreman and never mentioned again, although it was her own inherited legacy that provided the basis to all the family farms. Pure Southern Gothic.

Time warp flashback above relevant to the third photo down from the top: how the children's wading pool appeared in the 1960s with my two cousins, one now sadly gone, two canine friends, and myself. More at LINK
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