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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thinking IS Heavy Lifting

darby corner

This is one of the images in a series I call "Pensive Darby" even though it is of a pre-Darby Crash-moniker'd Jan Paul Beahm, who, in this photo would answer to Bobby Pyn.

Use whatever adjective you want for Darby Crash, the guy I knew was indeed pensive.. a thinker.. a young man with a thinking problem. He was fascinated by existentialism, a heavy sort of personal philosophy that some of history's greatest thinkers have used to try to explain and sort out the meaning of life.

In reading the paper of record yesterday (as I do every day), I praised out loud the New York Times' wonderful Op-Ed piece by Nicholas Kristof entitled Obama and the War on Brains. I have often felt that there was a war on brains. I blame the war on brains for Al Gore's defeat in the 2000 Presidential Election... oh, then there was that fiasco in Florida, but who's counting?

People don't seem to like it when someone knows more than they do. Maybe it is human nature, but I rather enjoy meeting people who know more and different stuff than I do whether they are my peers, my elders or from a younger generation less cynical than I.

Today's post is a photo tribute to some of the smartest or most thinking people I know in the punk rock and underground music world...

Kim Fowley as Satan of Silverlake
Kim Fowley

He is the KING of over-thinking. Kim Fowley is known to most punk rock people as the man who created, managed, produced and cracked the whip over the Runaways and who appeared alongside another Sunset Strip veteran, Rodney Bingenheimer in the biopic about the KROQ DJ entitled Mayor of the Sunset Strip. He also has co-written scores of songs with popular musicians like KISS... Say what you will about the man, he IS accomplished and he got there by thinking. And thinking some more. I've worked with Fowley and can testify to his thought processes. He never sleeps because he never stops thinking. Some of his ideas don't make it past his kitchen table - others turn into platinum. We should all be so lucky.

stiv dee backstage 2fixedSMALL

Dee Dee Ramone and Stiv Bators - they might seem, on the surface, to be fuck-ups of the highest order, but they too, thought about stuff in so much detail... Stiv was a well-known conspiracy theorist, and both them had a way with words that revealed neither was the glorious goofball they played in the public eye.

green iggy2

Iggy Pop - known for being a read wild child, but he is thoughtful like a bible. His artistic endeavors go beyond performing; he is a painter too. As a songwriter, he's a poet in league with the best of them... simple and direct - a great American voice telling it like it is.

rock star dq
David Quinton Steinberg

More faces from the wide world of Stiv Bators... David Quinton was a fresh faced teenager, giving us his best cool guy glance, shades and all age 18! Who among us knew that he would become one of the most highly regarded, innovative thinkers in the world of entertainment law? Well, he is. And then there's Jimmy Zero.


Mr Zero is another one of those people for whom the phrase, "you can't judge a book by its cover" fits. He was the "cute Beatle" of the Dead Boys and right in step, he provided the pop element as a perfect foil to Cheetah Chrome's feisty hard driving pure rock n roll. If I were so inclined to have my head shrunk, I'd consult with Jimmy Zero rather than any doctor. He's a most thoughtful man who can put things into focus using the pop culture references most dear to me. And he gives great phone.

tom verlaine looking up
Tom Verlaine

Master musician and the 20th/21st century's answer to Frances 19th century imagist poets, Television's Tom Verlaine is one of the most literary men I've ever met. On the road with him once, we spent off-hours in book stores! He's well read in literature, poetry and knows his way around the world of fine art. Its all painted into his songs... at once both deep and superficial, you have to give props to a man who can write about falling into "the arms of the Venus de Milo" or who can conjure a surreal experience as in his "Souvenir From a Dream," which hearkens on one level to the French tradition and is still firmly planted in American noir.

Patti, Dark & Light
Patti Smith

The godmother of punk poetry and NYC punk rock, Patti Smith. Together with the likes of Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, Smith was on the leading edge of poets who rocked, or rockers who waxed poetic. The poets were the CBGB scene before CBGB was the club we knew it to be (it was in fact Verlaine who convinced club owner, the late Hilly Kristal to turn it into a rock n roll venue).

Patti Smith was my gateway drug. As a college student interested in French poetry as well as rock n roll, who better than Patti Smith to lead me from rock n roll and Bob Dylan and Arthur Rimbaud to punk rock!

xtian in dukes small

Better than a gateway drug, there's the trusted familiar who leads you to the gateway drug. That would be Kristian Hoffman musical director for many and one half of the founding team of Mumps. Kristian Hoffman, the trusted familiar from my home stomping grounds in Southern California was a bit of a role model... the way he and Lance Loud headed off to NYC in search of their goals (and Andy Warhol). I followed suit many years later. It was also Kristian who introduced me to just about every NYC punk rock person I wanted to meet. And the degree of separation between Kristian Hoffman and Patti Smith is but 1 degree: Jay Dee Daugherty, also a Southern Californian and original Mumps drummer was lured away from Mumps by Patti, for whom he continues to play all these many years later.

Kristian's thoughts still inspire me, especially when discussing art and politics and religion - all areas that pretty much start arguments in a crowded room.

These days, I enjoy most of my political philosophizing with Hans Rotenberry, not a punk rock musician, but definitely one of the smartest and most thoughtful people ever...


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