In the ongoing debate (which shoulda been settled years ago) of whether 70s punk started in New York or London, I think Joe Strummer in this performance is sending the message that it started with four guys from Queens, New York. I know in the big scheme of things this ain’t a whole lotta much of nuthin’. But for some of us old punkers, it is a bone of contention. And punk is all about contention
And this should shut the mouth of the idiots who continue to claim punk originated in England.
Case fucking closed. The Ramones started it. The Clash took the energy and ran with it. The Pistols pissed it away.
These are the kinds of tattoos that could drive a clinically sane person into the awful act of chewing their own arm off. Yes, self-amputation is the better alternative to a life with these abominations on your flesh. Or a full-body flesh peel is an option. It’s agonizing but so are these tattoos.
“I said I wanted a tattoo of my baby small, not Biggie Smalls!”
At a mere 77 minutes in length, Chris Bagley and Kim Shively’s Wesley Willis’s Joy Rides manages to do a solid job of encapsulating the life and energy of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s true originals.
I love Willis’s extraordinary punky odes to the ordinary and the most excellent blurtations that spin out of his brain and off his tongue like those wobbly tinfoil UFOs in Plan 9 From Outer Space. Willis was Antonin Artaud in a black Michelin Man suit. Had he lived in Paris in the 1920s he would have been embraced by Andre Breton and his posse of divinely intoxicated poets and dreamers. Instead he was born in Chicago in 1963 and in his forty years of travelling down the streets and through the canyons of the Windy City managed to leave an indelible mark on everyone who came in contact with him. He brought the magic and the madness and the mysterious space in between the two where music, art and poetry are compressed into star-like objects called words that rattle like rocks in the shoes of reality.
I’ve been an admirer of Curtis Harrington’s film making ever since discovering Night Tide (starring Dennis Hopper) many years ago. Night Tide has an eerie surreal quality that recalls the films of Val Lewton and B-movie mindfuckers like Carnival Of Souls. It’s an experimental movie in the guise of a horror film in which the horror doesn’t manifest in overt shocks as much as is in the unsettling sensation of the senses deranged.
Harrington’s film work has been getting increased attention over the years as critics and film buffs have come to the revelation that his vision was unique, compelling and subversively avant-garde. It was with great relish that I opened up the pages of his posthumous memoir, Nice Guys Don’t Work In Hollywood, which is being released on June 18 by Drag City. It’s a fascinating read that anyone who has tried to maintain their integrity and sanity while working within a corporate-controlled art medium will find both amusing and painfully familiar.
Here’s some background on Harrington from Drag City’s bio:
What other film director has a) created avant-garde films and was part of Kenneth Anger’s inner circle, b) directed critically acclaimed and cult-adored horror films like Night Tide and Games, and c) directed episodes of Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty? The answer can only be Curtis Harrington.
Starting in the midst of film’s 1940s avant-garde heyday, Harrington made two deeply intuitive and evocative films: Fragment of Seeking, and Picnic, which were heralded by the likes of Maya Deren and Christopher Isherwood. He became a Hollywood insider, working as assistant for Jerry Wald while still keeping a foot in the world of experimental film, collaborating with Kenneth Anger on Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. As a director, he made the cult classic Night Tide, worked in the Roger Corman stable, and helmed several distinctive horror films including Games and What’s the Matter With Helen? In the 1980s he began what he called his descent down the “slippery slope” of television work and soon found himself directing episodes of Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty. [I think they mean the 1970s]
His career was a constant struggle between his belief in the art of film and the demands of the movie business. He was one of the only directors who survived both worlds and lived to tell the tale.
For more info on Nice Guys Don’t Work In Hollywood check out Drag City’s website.
In this episode of 1980’s cable TV show Sinister Image (aka Cult People), film historian David Del Valle interviews Curtis Harrington.
And here’s the wonderfully wacked-out Night Tide with a semi-dazed Dennis Hopper wrestling with all kinds of mumbo-jumbo. In glorious black and white and featuring Marjorie Cameron in an extremely creepy cameo role.
Fun with Ron and Russell Mael, interviewed by Julie Brown on Music Box in 1985. Ron (as one commentator notes) is particularly “perky,” perhaps due to the excellent review in Sounds that claimed he was a better song-writer than Lennon and McCartney. Ron disagrees, but admits he is maybe a better song-writer than George Harrison.
For a brief period of time I had a job that required me to descend deep into the bowels of DIY crafting website, Etsy, in order to look for soap and lotion makers who might purchase raw materials from my employer. Even more annoying than crazy craft people were the steampunk aficionados. While I appreciate a good bit of subtle anachronism as much as the next girl, there came a point where the sight of bronzed iPods and Wii Remotes adorned with superfluous cathodes started to annoy the living hell out of me.
Steam-powered YouTube makes up for that. The website is something of an interactive filter, wherein you embed a video, and are then forced to “adjust” the audio and visual elements, manually, as well as regularly release the pressure. Why do I enjoy what is essentially a more laborious way to view YouTube videos? Because it reminds us that older technology isn’t used anymore because it’s damned impractical! Steam is a terrible power source! It’s volatile, and usually a horrible pollutant! And you did have to constantly adjust pressure and dials, precisely because it was so volatile!
So go ahead, try out what is a reasonable facsimile of a steam-powered machine in the context of something as awesome and convenient as YouTube, and remind yourself that luddites are suckers. And as steampunk gasps its dying breaths, let’s step on its throat to quicken its departure.
In George Trow’s marvelously observed New Yorker article from 1974, “The Biggest Event This Year,” the writer tells the tale of Sly Stone’s wedding at Madison Square Garden:
On Friday, May 3rd, in the late afternoon, Sly Stone, the sleek black singer, called the office of Epic Records, his record company, and talked with Stephen Paley, his main man there. During the conversation, Sly announced to Paley that he planned to marry Kathy Silva, a striking young Hawaiian girl, who has been an actress in California, and who is the mother of his eleven-month-old son. Sly said he planned to marry Kathy almost immediately. “I might do it in Hawaii,” he told Paley. “Or I might do it when I come to New York.”
“Why don’t you do it in Madison Square Garden?” Paley asked facetiously. “Before your concert.”
“Yeah,” Sly said. “I could be my own opening act.”
There were over 21,000 fans present on June 4th, 1974 as Sly and his bride took about four minutes to exchange their vows. Soul Train‘s Don Cornelius was the master of ceremonies and Geraldo Rivera was an usher. Edgar Winter, model Penelope Tree, Andy Warhol, Amanda Lear and Diane Von Furstenberg were among the guests. A reception was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.
Within two years, Kathy Silva would leave Stewart. She later told People magazine:
“He beat me, held me captive and wanted me to be in ménages à trois,” Silva says. “I didn’t want that world of drugs and weirdness.” Still, she remembers, “He’d write me a song or promise to change, and I’d try again. We were always fighting, then getting back together.” After Sly’s dog mauled their son in 1976, however, Silva left.
We all know what happened to Sly… angel dust and cocaine.