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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Spock

spock and al

That photo above was taken a year ago today on my roommate's birthday... that woman standing next to Alejandro Escovedo is my roommate - Joanna Spock Dean, known to those of us in the music biz, and the LA punk rock scene simply as Spock.

So, that makes today her birthday again, and here's a shout out to a person who had more to do with furthering the efforts of so many punk rock bands, indie bands and worthy artists in general than anyone I know or know of. The funny thing is, Spock doesn't remember all that she's done... she's done so much and takes it all in stride just like taking a breath. Some highlights -- together with her all girl glam band from the 70s, Backstage Pass, Spock facilitated the Stiff Records crew in establishing a foothold in LA and became one of the go-to people for the likes of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe back in those days. In fact, Backstage Pass opened for Elvis Costello at the Whisky a Go Go on his first ever US tour. Then there was providing lodging for the suddenly kicked off a tour in the middle of the USA Damned in 1977. Oh, and the ladies secured the Damned some gigs, too. That punk rock mecca, The Masque operated by Brendan Mullen was a room that members of Backstage Pass helped find and lease with Brendan. They were one of the bands who rehearsed there as well.

Like I did, Spock moved to NY and continued her record label work (in A&R and later, video promotion) and we both worked at VH1 at the same time. While I was the first person in the LA punk scene to announce it was time to move to NY following the very quiet exits from the Big Orange by Lorna Doom and Phast Phreddie, Spock was among the first of the big city people to move to Nashville and after seeing her Nashville (as opposed to the one I grew to know in the 80s... Nashvegas anyone?), I moved here as well.

These are but a few tip of the iceberg things that Spock has done... It'll be her birthday all day long, so drink a toast to the Glue of the punk rock paperback book.... Joanna Spock Dean. Happy Birthday!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Lance Loud

yoga guru lance

Click on "Happy Birthday" above for the story....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here's a good read...

Yahoo's List of the Day by Rob O'Connor is pretty damn funny!

Of course, I am biased, but its still a good read....

This one's for you Rob:

Chrissie Hynde

Monday, June 22, 2009

It All Started at Grimeys

debbie postcard

On this date in 2005, I was putting the finishing touches on the first exhibit in what would turn into a 4-year journey across the USA by way of indie record stores and rock festivals, with some bonafide art venues in-between. On June 24, 2005, the first Punk Turns 30 exhibit opened at Grimey's New and Pre-Loved Music in Nashville, TN. Much to my surprise, the Nashville Scene named the exhibit their Pick of the Week!


To my delight, my favorite man from punk rock days, Dead Boys guitarist and Ohio punk rock legend and now Nashville resident, Cheetah Chrome and his family showed up!


It was a combination of the Dead Boys and Grimey's that got this Punk Turns 30 machine rolling...

In 2004, the surviving Dead Boys reunited at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland and in another surprising move, Stiv was represented on stage by 3 larger than life photos... of mine!  Although I was completely involved in exhibiting photos of Stiv and the Dead Boys for the concert, and I knew the show flyer was one of my backstage shots of Stiv with Dee Dee Ramone... I honestly had no idea Stiv's image on stage would be courtesy of me.

Get Hip Records founder, Gregg Kostelich was another key player in this journey.  That night, Gregg told me what those now-giant images of Stiv meant to him and similarly-minded musicians in the Midwest back in the day.

I felt bolstered to carry on something that I'd been wanting to do for years.

Everyone who does something a little bit off the beaten path has supporters who tell them that they should write a book, make a movie, or have a reality show based on whatever thing it is they do.  I'm no different.  For years... ever since the first time a magazine printed one of my punk photos (back in the 70s), or one of my photos ended up as a record sleeve (from back in the 70s), I've been urged to make a book and show in galleries.

stiv pix beachland
Three of my Stiv images at the Beachland Ballroom, Dead Boys Reunion

All easier said than done!  For years, every time punk rock or one of my subjects would celebrate some kind of anniversary, I would make the rounds and hear the rejections... the 10th Anniversary of Punk... the 20th... various calendar markers came and went with a punk rock retrospective deemed not worthy/interesting/whatever.  And then there was the Dead Boys reunion... the 25th Anniversary edition of Stiv's solo record Disconnected... all served to help me connect my dots and Punk Turns 30 began a short gestation period and emerged in February of 2005, with the traveling photo exhibit getting its feet wet as a merch vendor at the 2005 Horizontal Action Blackout Festival, with the Grimey's exhibit following a month later.

These photos, all taken between 1976 - 1985, representing my college years and my post-college expatriate life (in London) and I have been on tour ever since.  I've been able to reconnect with old friends and make many new ones along the way.

Me & Clem, 2004
With Clem Burke at the Underground Garage Festival... friends since Blondie days... 1977!

tk and monsieur
In Memphis, I got to meet the awesome & legendary Jeff Evans who performed at my opening party at Goner Fest 2

Being able to exhibit at Goner Fest 2 was a big deal to me. The whole Goner ethos represents what kind of stamp my generation of punk (from the 70s) left to the next generation (90s punks). Also, as the calendar did march forward to a real generation and epoch defining kind of birthday for punk, more eyes looked our way.

The 30th Anniversary of Punk in 2006 opened doors for me and others from the 70s. Filmmaker Allison Anders organized a fantastic slide-show presentations of three LA Punk Photographers with the emphasis on the HERS, letting us tell our side of the punk rock story in an intimate panel during her Don't Knock the Rock Film Festival, which that year debuted the long-awaited documentary on Gun Club founder, the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce. For more on that, read this.


Jeffrey was one of my friends who was the most encouraging, not only to me, but to others, famously Pleasant and Kid Congo Powers, cheering us on and challenging us to make our dreams realities, and our fantasies goals.

Kid Congo and Pleasant - Jeffrey Lee Pierce turned them into performers

As I traveled and did more of these shows and worked with experienced and accomplished people such as Allison Anders, and authors such as Holly George Warren, in whose Punk 365 I have a few photos, I learned how to apply what I learned throughout my film and television career to my first love - the still image.

The Cramps - this shot is in Holly George Warren's book, Punk 365

So, four years later, on the anniversary of being chosen as the event of the week... some of those very same pictures I exhibited in public for the first time, at Grimey's, are going on the auction block at Christie's in their Pop Culture Auction which will be held on June 23. I think it is an auspicious coincidence.

Punk turned 30, and now punk images are collectible as Art.  I found my way into that milieu thanks to the fans of this blog, to the writers who helped spread the word about my tour, to the writers who used my pictures to illustrate their books and articles, and thanks to Gregg Kostelich, who introduced me to the Metropolis Gallery's Angelo Madrigale who got Christie's to pay attention to me at the same time I was trying to track down my old friend Johan Kugelberg who was working on the punk rock auction...

It makes me genuinely happy that in (most of) our lifetimes, those of us who were ridiculed for the art we created are being celebrated.  Seeing Dee Dee Ramone accept his Rock n Roll Hall of Fame introduction was one of the wildest, weirdest and gratifying moments I can think of. Ours is a generation that by and large rejects the Institutions, the hegemony and the mainstream... but at the same time, while making our mark as outsiders who knew we were outside, we like it that our work... our endeavors and efforts are recognized, and the fact that we could speak to our own generation effectively is recognized. None of us, I don't think, hates money, because things like money make it possible to continue to make art and of course, to live. What we hate is mediocrity and moreso, the rewarding of mediocrity!

Punk rockers... we are the kid who proclaimed "the emperor has no clothes!" I feel like that a lot... Hans Christian Andersen never told us in his tale what became of that truth-telling child. All we know is that the unclothed Emperor continued to hold his head high and walk about unclothed.

Some things never change.

large darby
Darby Crash... bid on him at Christie's

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Know You Fine - But How You Doin?
Oblivians and Gories...Gories and Oblivians

There will be some fine house-rockin' in Memphis, TN this weekend and two garage-rock-legends-in-their-own-time bands perform on the same bill in one of their hometowns.  This garage rock n roll extravaganza takes place at the Hi Tone (which did you know is at the location of Elvis's former Dojo.  True.)

Soul Man

The distinguished man pictured above is Mick Collins, a legend in his own time within garage rock circles. He is one-third of the Gories, a trio from Detroit that was instrumental in kick starting the garage rock renaissance of the 1990s.  Dan Kroha, whose Demolition Doll Rods made a name for themselves in the later years of the garage rock renaissance, with their outrageous stage clothes (or lack thereof) and gospel-driven thrash, was the other guitarist in the Gories, and Peggy O'Neill their drummer.

Also in the 1990s in Memphis, the Southern alter-ego of the kind of music town Detroit is, the The Oblivians were garage rockin', and doing that Memphis thing of combining it with their own brand of rock n roll n soul n gospel to create a genre-defying music of their own.

Both the Gories and Oblivians set (or revived, as the case may be, depending upon your point of view of rock n roll chronology) a standard for all-guitars and NO BASS in this genre of relentless fast furious rock n roll that always sounded as if it could fall apart at any moment, but was played so in the moment that you, the listener, as well as the band, could make it hang together.  (Other Detroit bands with no bass:  Bantam Rooster, White Stripes....  70s bands with no bass:  The Cramps and sometimes Led Zeppelin, although John Paul Jones played the bass parts on his Hammond organ foot pedals...)

Greg Cartwright (pictured at the right), Jack Yarber and Eric Friedl, in Ramones fashion, adopted their group name as surnames and then proceeded to rock the world as Greg, Jack and Eric OBLIVIAN.

Also like their punk rock precursors, The Oblivians launched their recorded music career in true DIY fashion, forming their own label and self-releasing a split cassette with another local band, Impala.  Thus was born Goner Records - which has turned into a sizeable culture and lifestyle.

I guess that's a condition of the epoch in which we live:  The Postmodern.

Jack Yarber, Oblivian

As culture grows, it is both cumulative (and therefore derivative) and diminishing (thanks in large part to it being derivative)...  there's nothing new under the sun.

However...  if future generations can get turned on to Memphis or Detroit rock n soul or vintage garage rock or punk because of bands who were influenced by the Oblivians and Gories, then that's OK with me...  as for how you come to appreciate the Ramones, however...  there's a better backwards path than Green Day.  I would suggest listening to Oxford, Mississippi's Black and Whites... like the Ramones meet the Real Kids in the South.

Jack and Eric
Eric Friedl, Oblivian

Detroiters can look forward to this awesome double bill on June 27 at the Majestic Theatre.  Europeans can look forward to a 2-week Gor/Blivians tour starting July 3.  

Considering the date... maybe 2009 with the Gories and Oblivians hitting Europe, there will be another surge of good new music from The Continent, reminiscent of recent history when the Ramones invaded London on July 4, 1976, showing UK punks how it was done (and don't you know that none other than Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer were BOTH in that audience!), gabba gabba hey.

Now, that's postmodernism for ya!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Half a Million Punks Rule!

whos who at joans house small

Of all the lyrics Billy Idol was responsible for either writing or singing, the one that endeared him to many of my g-g-g-generation was "one hundred punks rule." Like Paul Weller, whose "In the City" hearkened back to Britain's first best musical invasion and teen sentiment, Generation X's "100 Punks Rule" also elevated youthful sentiment and turned it into an anthem.

I am saying 500,000 punks rule because today, this blog has reached the half-million views mark! Thank you fans and followers of punk rock!

Thirty years after the first sloppy power chord broke through the disco doldrums, punk rock has reached a respectable status as a musical genre and epochal movement - a generation's benchmark that sees its lasting contribution to pop culture on a daily basis. And speaking of Pop Culture.... the experts at Christie's Auction House have identified the phenomenon as collectible. Spurred by the critical and probably material success of its November 2008 Punk Rock auction, (which was covered HERE), Christie's is doing it again!

On June 23, Christie's will conduct its Pop Culture auction and some images from the Punk Turns 30 archive are included!

That's right! Lots #49 and #50 in Christie's Pop Culture auction are sets of photos by yours truly -- Belinda Carlisle and The Germs.

forming 2
outtake from The Germs "Forming" picture sleeve photo session is part of the Christie's Pop Culture auction on June 23

I think its a wonderful combination -- considering that Belinda Carlisle and the Go Gos may be the biggest success out of LA's homegrown punk rock bands, and the Germs LA's most notorious... with Belinda being an original member of the Germs... those curators in Pop Culture certainly know their punk rock family tree and how to connect dots in a most sophisticated way.

Several of the images that are in the Christie's auction have not been published, exhibited or seen before! A few of the Germs images and a couple of the Belinda Carlisle images were included in the last stop on my Unguarded Moments tour at Metropolis in Lancaster, PA.

At this very moment, there are some photos of a young, pre-Go Gos Belinda Carlisle hanging up at The Groove record shop in Nashville, TN. The photos were installed to celebrate Record Store Day and will be hanging up for a little while longer as I introduce the next traveling exhibit I'll be doing: Locals & Legends.

Tell your rich, collector friends to check out Christie's!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Thirty Years Ago Today in LA: Hong Kong Cafe Opens

Diane Chai of the Alley Cats
Alley Cat Dianne Chai

On June 7, 1979, punk rock got a new venue in LA's Chinatown. Sure, Madame Wong's, the kitschy restaurant turned rock club was thee place to play in downtown LA by '79, but some of the harder, punker acts couldn't get booked there. Esther Wong, the Madame herself, was particular about who graced her stage, and more important, about how the audiences treated her real estate.

Enter the Hong Kong Cafe, across a courtyard from Wongs, they offered up another stage for local bands. The Plugz from LA and UXA from San Francisco initiated the club on this night, 30 years ago. On this same night, across town, on the west side (where Madame Wong also had a restaurant & club), The Go Gos were playing at Club 88.

hausfrau for the web
Always this year's model, Belinda Carlisle, before she Go Go'd

The Alley Cats, featuring the sultry Dianne Chai (pictured above) played the Hong Kong Cafe's second night, and played again later in the month, lending the club some credibility early on, which was cemented by performances by local heroes, such as X before the month was out.

john and exene96
John Doe and Exene

In 1979, the cure for the Summertime Blues was a new club in town, for sure.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Stiv Bators
October 22, 1949 - June 4, 1990

goth stiv for blog

I read this on a fan blog - a clip from The Youngstown Vindicator - - an obit I've never seen before... thought you might like to see it too...

stiv ravenscourt pk small