Wednesday, October 31, 2012


 Guest photographer Kurt Ingham documented yours truly when we stopped at an ad hoc petting zoo. It was erected in a parking lot to lure jack-o-lantern pumpkin buyers for Halloween, as livestock remains a rare draw in the inner city. He observed that the alpacas had faces like fashion models. We both agreed Babe and Eeyore were the friendliest, as they still liked us long after the food for them had run out.



Immediately above, my favorite scene (all 12 seconds of it) in Shadow of the Vampire. For the entire sequence which is a great satire of Hollywood production crew hierarchies, see LINK. Despite our enjoyment of romantic vampires like Edward, Spike and Frank Langella, the species, were it real, probably would be more like Dafoe's interpretation here: disgusting, and unreliable for anything other than complete self-interest.  At top, yours truly celebrating Halloween 42 years ago.
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Friday, October 26, 2012


 I happen to know two Leslie K's, both of whom remain stunningly beautiful to this day. Above, Leslie Kenhart, was/is an inventive stylist as well as great model: she made the cuffs and collar/lace ruff (no James Bond jokes, please) just to go with those stunning Italian silk stockings. She still works in media in Northern California. Below, singer/songwriter/guitarist Leslie Knauer formerly of Precious Metal and Kanary, currently of The LovrBombz will be featured in a forthcoming issue of Paraphilia Magazine soon. Note that both ladies prefer to sit somewhat in the same manner...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

SALLY and THE KINKS in 1969

A 1969 photo I took in my college dorm room of friend Sally McMahon. I'd just started writing for the UCLA Daily Bruin entertainment sections* hence the access to promotional items like Queen Victoria in the background that accompanied the press pack for The Kinks' Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire.) Onetime Beatlemaniac Sally was as much a fan of great British rock music as me, so it all seemed visually apropos. 

Seen above fondling my wind-up walking bunch of grapes (after all, it was the '60s) still teenaged Sally was not a model. She had utterly unfounded issues about her own good looks although she somewhat resembled a natural blonde, buxom Liza Minnelli. I knew she photographed as well as any great model since she simultaneously could project wide-eyed innocence and deliberate worldliness (now known as "hoochie.")


 These two 1969 shots above were taken with natural light from a nearby window. I was still bereft of a studio, a condition that persisted until well into 1978.

*Not chopped liver: the publication at the time had a circulation of 40,000, its staff worked closely with all the major film studios and music companies of Hollywood and Burbank for its reviews and content, and a passel of its editors and writers became industry and creative media bigwigs. Eventually attaining editorship of these selfsame entertainment sections, I notably broke the pattern...

Monday, October 22, 2012


Preview of some pics in forthcoming Paraphilia Magazine photofeature on important female singers. This are some of my photographs of Kizzy Kirk, fearless frontwoman of band Feral Kizzy. Just because they haven't toured close to you yet doesn't diminish her importance...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE live at the Hollywood Bowl, 10.17.12

Forty-five years after I photographed Buffalo Springfield live, I got to see Neil Young triumphant at the Hollywood Bowl last night for my birthday, courtesy of Evita Corby. Many, many thanks! (Meanwhile, my better half was in dental hell.) Below, my pic of Neil with the Springfield live at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, 1967. 

Playing with his original solo outing backup band Crazy Horse, Young handily demonstrated why he has kept his audience and his appeal going so strongly lo these last four decades. He remains a quirky but catchy songwriter lyrically while his sui generis musical interests are timeless and cover a lot of territory in his voluminous discography. 

He sounds the same as when he started, known for his quavery-voiced balladry alongside quavery-voiced if urgent hard rock protest. However, Young obviously was a punk/techno fan long before cladistic terminology of same via his stylistic experiments in loud, choppy, heavy chord riffage, noise for noise sake. Aided by rollicking, still crazy Crazy Horse in this setting, "Cinnamon Girl" came off like "Smoke On The Water!"(and boys and girls, chronologically quite preceded same.)
'Rockin' in the free world, or at least 17,500 of them in a sold-out Hollywood Bowl. Hey hey, my my indeed!

 Above, Neil Young and Crazy Horse pledge allegiance to the National Anthem, are seen to belt it out, or just maintain Canadian-ness. As the oversized Claes Oldenburg-esque objects on stage attest, the whole tone of the NY and Crazy H set was extremely playful. Note roadies in lab coats labeled "alchemy."  

Whereas this touring ensemble has utilized the giant props heretofore, band, crew and production values entertained themselves as well as the audience with a newfound Pee Wee's Playhouse mirth with same. 45 years later, Neil Young remains loud and eccentric as ever. God bless him!

Worthy local legends Los Lobos opened, showcasing personal fave singer David Hidalgo, he of the phonogenic voice...

Monday, October 15, 2012

FORGET IT, IT'S CHINATOWN . . . the loss of the gorgeous Hetch Hetchy Valley forever

There used to be two separate Yosemites. The above composite photo circa 1900 depicts the Hetch Hetchy Valley that was flooded under waters to a level of half way up those majestic mountains and waterfalls, drowned by the O'Shaughnessy Dam built in the 1920s. Southern California was not the only water pirate in our state's history: this one is entirely the infamy of Northern California. 

Hetch Hetchy Valley by Albert Bierstadt, oil on canvas, some time before 1902

John Muir, who considered this valley even more beautiful than Yosemite, and his nascent Sierra Club fought the municipal project for seven years and lost, as did we all. Dammed and damned (my headline refers to another water rights squabble ending badly in the film Chinatown.) Click the top photo to see a panoramic enlargement of the full, beauteous valley floor.

 Multiple waterfalls visible in John Muir's photograph
Post script: San Francisco voted against planning even to consider restoration of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in their November 2012 civic elections despite many proposed, realistic plans on file that would retain the exact same amount of S.F. civic water. Too bad for our entire planet that S.F. still called the shots on an entire park that was, after all, inside actual Federal, not State, lands.

Below, beginning the destruction with clear cutting of the entire old growth forest... 

***FLASH NEWS ALERT July 23, 2018***
I awakened to wonderful news for a change in the Wall Street Journal. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is consulting with the Restore Hetch Hetchy braintrust to further the aim of restoring the onetime "second Yosemite" to its former astounding natural beauty. This park on Federal land was, uh, "borrowed" by a municipality and destroyed utterly to make O'shaunnessey Dam, drowning the forests, numerous waterfalls, meadows, streams and rivers to make a reservoir that even in 1923 had numerous other options extant along the Tuolomne River. For many decades, these plans have perfected how not to change a thing for Bay Area water users and still restore the smaller, one-time twin to Yosemite. Because the geology is granite, silt under the waters will not be a problem in its restoration, unlike other projects. Said Secretary Zinke, "I think anybody should be inspired by restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley to the American people."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

DAVID GAHR, influential master music photographer

 The above scan is from my own treasured if tattered copy of the book "The Face of Folk Music," photographs by David Gahr, text by Robert Shelton, 1968. Granted, Gahr's own definition of "folk music" remained sufficiently elastic to have included Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, partial (and bad) scan of entire 2-pp. double truk below of the best representation ever of an early Mothers performance/"happening."

Or...folk music was Janis Joplin in Big Brother and the Holding Company, or any number of rockers he was hired to document live, on location or in the studio. His C.V. was whomever represented the pinnacle in modern music or was eminently interesting. The recent U.S. postage stamp featuring Mile Davis arched in an extreme but naturalistic pose wailing on horn was David Gahr's portrait.

When asked which photographers have influenced my own work, the reply is short, sweet and mainly oldskool high fashion practitioners:  Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Hiro. (not that I'll ever achieve their league. ) For overall technical expertise no matter what attempted, it would be Kurt Ingham. 

For live action/music photography, it's only David Gahr. Why? Because of what his body of work in the above book instantaneously taught me, my take, not his words, as follows.

Flatter the subject even while extracting all the excitement possible in action gestures. Shooting natural light onstage is always superior to flash (when possible.) Make sure your timing is impeccable, no microphones covering most of the face. Document what's there without editorializing: your own P.O.V. can be deceptively candid, as will be the subject's. Trust your fine art background (which I had) to get unusual but perfect composition. Make sure your photos are the right value/balance/contrast to reproduce exactly as you expect. (I've seen his photos in person: they look precisely as they appeared printed in books or other media.) His Mimi and Richard Farina shot above encompasses all such lessons.

There's no online verification of this, but I seem to recall reading that his studio and archive for the shots in this book were destroyed by fire, every photographer's worst nightmare, which explains why more of this work is not in museum circulation. He spent his last years in a sumptuously large 5-story townhouse (with lots of natural light!) in NYC with his family and passed away in 2008. Read more from his website LINK

Friday, October 12, 2012

JAMES TO THE POWER OF 3: W. James, James W., James S.

My photo above of Wendy James was taken a whilst ago amid her Transvision Vamp pop group daze during a television show taping. Nowadays she's photographed by all comers as a beautiful woman who resembles an haute couture fashion model. Given a shot, I'd like to photograph her as a beautiful woman who's unmistakably a musician. 

She's just reaffirmed same bigtime with her release of double single "You're So Great" and "It's Alright Ma," powered by the mighty James Williamson (pictured above right with his snakeskin-patterned Trussart custom guitar last year in a recording studio,) guitarist extraordinaire of Iggy and The Stooges and James Sclavunos, drummer of The Bad Seeds and many more who matter. 

"You're So Great" was written by the late MC5 guitarist Fred Sonic Smith for his Sonic's Rendezvous Band, prompting Ms. James to ask Mr. Williamson to add his touch for just the right, Detroit-hard panache. He in turn suggested they tackle her favorite Bob Dylan song, "It's Alright Ma." 

Both songs are, indeed, so great, but "It's Alright Ma" is also startling.  Listen to/obtain "It's Alright Ma" first to have mind well blown. (Its author is reported to be pleased with it as well.) Amidst tribal pounding loud enough to waken the entire African continent, James W. channels "Beck's Bolero" for anthemic ax-wailing while W. James drops an octave to give this rendition all the bite of the original with modern blasts of aggro.  Everything roiling our eardrums for seven minutes! (an interval touted by softcore director Russ Meyer in an eponymous film as the average length of orgasm. Apropos.)

 I absolutely adore "startling" whenever this quality pops up in any of the Arts: that's what usually endures.

Get double single here: LINK
More info on same here LINK


The Pretenders live in Los Angeles, 1994 left and 1980 right; rarer still, Chrissie Hynde in a skirt!


This is photo I took in 1968 when I first started borrowing friends' 35mm single-lens reflex cameras. Karin S. was a school classmate, and we are still somewhat in touch.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


In 1974, Kathi McDonald provided the single greatest entrance to the stage in a small club that I've ever witnessed. She was carried on a divan/litter by The Cockettes (the San Francisco transgender troupe renowned in the late 1960s,*) parting the audience like the Red Sea while torrents of glitter rained down from the ceiling of the Roxy Club, West Hollywood. And me without my camera! (ad hoc invite after work.) 

Her Official Capitol Records photo at top illustrates her innate flair for outrageousness which so endeared her to fans, transsexuals and Glam glitterati alike. She even penned a song, "From Bogart To Bowie" noting such evolution or for spurned heteros, devolution.

Kathi McDonald was considered, along with fellow former Ikette Claudia Lennear, the premiere back up singer of the rock scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, see Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen film and LP et al. She parlayed same into a reputation as a dynamic frontwoman and blues belter, such that she was the sole contender to replace Janis Joplin in the latter's Big Brother and The Holding Company. 

She was considered a sufficiently important artist by her record company to warrant big bucks promotion for her first solo release, Insane Asylum which featured jams with Sly Stone and other luminaries of the day (sample of press pack with expensive papers and multi-color printing below.) I also considered her sufficiently important to have saved this ephemera.


 This week she passed away of indeterminate causes at the age 64, an age when she still had her powerful voice and great figure intact. Rest in peace Kathi McDonald, singer extraordinaire.

 video above
*See LINK for saga of Cockette Goldie Glitters starring in "Garage Sale" featuring music by Mr. Twister and Sunset Blvd.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012


I just finished reading one of funniest books I've ever encountered, yet it's a travelogue by a onetime war correspondent. Martha Gellhorn daubs arch asides right and left pointillist-style to construct fully formed tableaux of marveled wonder or abject misery, depending on which apparatchiks were summoned or evaded.

Her admitting to lack of memory on some destinations and inability to read her own scrawled reporter's notes made me love her all the more subjectively. Bonus for actual travelers: her observations ring both true and novel, as few writers nowadays admit to the misgivings of assorted national character worldwide. For all others, you'll spend time with one smart dame who's damned good company. 

P.s. the "another" is onetime spouse Ernest Hemingway, reduced to the appellation "Unwilling Companion" much as literary history wrongly has marginalized witty yet perceptive non-fiction writer Martha Gellhorn. Now to locate her war dispatches! 

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