Friday, January 11, 2008
When Punks Congregate...
Dave Parsons, Jan Berry, Stiv Bators
This photo, taken in the hallway of the Gramercy Park Hotel in NYC in 1981, is the only photo in the Unguarded Moments: Backstage and Beyond collection that's hanging up at Magnetic Field right now (and through the end of January) that was NOT shot in Los Angeles. New York is my second home town - the one I adopted in the mid 80s when I moved from LA via London/Paris and my last stint as Stiv Bators' roommate.
So as an LA Native with New York I decided to represent West Coast punk and Stiv both in this particular installation.
Imagine my surprise when friendly ghosts of punk rock days/LA and Stiv past came to celebrate the opening last night!
The man hidden behind Sex Pistol Paul Cook and Slit Viv Albertine is Rory Johnston, back in those days known as the Pistols man in the USA... he's also worked in a managerial capacity with The Avengers, Blondie and others. Late last year, when my tour started, I spoke with Rory on our respective cel phones while I was in Memphis and he was in LA with a band. I had to tell him that the Taliesyn Ballroom, where the Sex Pistols played in Memphis is now a Taco Bell...
Sid's blurry because I was balancing (not well) on a chair at Winterland
Rory was one of the management angels behind the scenes who helped Pleasant, Randy and me make Lobotomy the zine it was... with cover stories that grew out of interviews with Blondie... the Avengers... he actually carved out time for us to spend with our friends that he was at the same time, grooming for success.
Rory in the center, Pleasant and Danny Avenger in the back, and Jimmy Wilsey on the left
When we took Lobotomy road trips up to San Francisco, we were usually going to see Blondie, Mumps or the Avengers...
Randy and Pleasant in San Francisco, 1978
It was like 1978 all over again as Rory and I took a walk down memory lane with some of the photos... These photos (which are in the show at Magnetic Field) could not have been taken without a little help from Rory.
And Lobotomy would not have had this cover without Rory's help either...
This was at a time where Blondie were a huge underground and cult favorite and had just recorded Parallel Lines. Little did any of us know that the silly "Disco Song," Heart of Glass would change the world for us.
Of all the punk rockers represented in the Magnetic Field installation, Stiv Bators has the most face time. One of my dearest friends, Stiv was the one with whom I spent my first solo adult sojourn in New York, as well as many other NY visits before I moved from LA to NY. The photo at the top of this post was taken in the Gramercy Park Hotel, where we all stayed in one suite during the Wanderers tour. Dave Parsons then and now, the guitarist for Sham 69 and Stiv met surf pop vocal icon Jan Berry there. Jan was the one in Jan & Dean who did come back from Dead Man's Curve (for those not in the know, that was their biggest hit song, about the dangers of drag racing).
But Jan Berry was not the only legendary musician we would run into...
When we (me & the Wanderers) arrived in New York City in the Summer of 1981, The Rolling Stones were getting ready to go on the road. They were just releasing Tattoo You and on our first day traipsing around the East Village, the band was shooting the video for Waiting on a Friend on St. Mark's Place.
Little known fact: Rolling Stone Keith Richards is a friend to the punk rocker. Punk Magazine mascot, the late John Spacely pictured below, was one of the group of us hanging around that particular August day. John Spacely and Keith Richards were friendly... and John had told us that afternoon of running into Keith "around the corner."
Me, Keith, John Spacely
Dave Parsons, as any guitar player should, had a healthy respect for Keith and wanted to know if we might meet up with him. Stiv said that was no problem... Keith would come by.
A man that Dave believed to be Keith Richards did come around and hang with us... only it was not Keith, but a friend of Stiv's who bears (still to this day) a striking resemblance to Keith... the video director/producer and photographic artist, Marty Abrams. Stiv was always doing this to Marty... having him come by at a certain time... and Stiv would tell whomever he was playing the practical joke on that "Keith is here." Of course, if you drag the non-Keith on stage with you and you're playing "Tell Me," the Stones song... suggesting that this guest should know how the song goes... well, that was just Stiv... a practical joker of the highest order.
The biggest surprise for me this week from hearing from Marty Abrams... and he came to the show and we shared our memories of Stiv. Yes, we had a total laugh riot!
Last night's opening party was almost a high school reunion for me with Rory and Marty in attendance. Then of course, Phast Phreddie was spinning records and there were incoming "how's the party?" phone calls from 70s/80s punk rock era friends like Eddie Munoz of the Plimsouls and Kim Fowley. The 90s punk rock era was also in the house with New Bomb Turks frontman, Eric Davidson, whose latest credit is "scribe." But that's Eric's news to break... you can also read his writing in CMJ. I was happy to see new dad, Michael Galinsky who is one half of Rumur, a fine documentarian and co-director/producer with his wife, Suki Stetson Hawley of Half Cocked, Horns & Halos, Radiation and other fine filmed works. Click on the Rumur link to see the cool downloads Michael & Rumur have going (including Half Cocked!)
I realized at the end of the night that I forgot to send a personal invite to my neighbor from back in the day, Joan Jett, who is represented in the installation by this popular image:
A note for my NY-area readers: The photos will be hanging up at Magnetic Field til the week of the 21st of January. If you're in Brooklyn Heights, swing on by! Everything is for sale from the framed prints on the wall, and there is a box of unframed prints (which cost less) behind the bar. The friendly bar tenders will handle your transaction. If you want one of the BIG $100 prints but want to pay with a credit card, you can also ask the bar tender to "hold" the print and Paypal me(send to: firstname.lastname@example.org). At Punk Turns 30, we got you covered!
Now... let me go reach out to Joan...