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Joey Ramone sings John Cage (and it’s awesome)
01.13.2015
07:45 am

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Heroes
Music

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I’m far from an expert on John Cage, but of the works of his I know, I find “The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs” to be among the loveliest. Since it’s short, simple to perform, and its haunting melody is easier on the listener than a lot of other 20th Century classical music, it’s one of his most oft-performed works, as well, and YouTube is full of fantastic versions. Cage composed it in 1942, limiting the vocalist to three notes and further instructing him/her to sing in a flat affect, avoiding vibrato. The musical accompaniment was written for a piano with the lid shut on its keys, the pianist directed to make percussive taps with his/her fingertips and knuckles in various places on the piano’s outside, including the bottom. This video shows that process quite clearly, and here’s what the notation looks like:
 

 
Musicologist Lauriejean Reinhardt had much to say in her illuminating essay on the history and meaning of the piece. (If this stuff doesn’t interest you and you just want to hear the Joey Ramone rendition, skip all the way to the end, no one has to know.)

Cage composed “The Wonderful Widow” in response to a commission from the soprano Janet Fairbank (1903-1947), whom he had met during his brief appointment at the Chicago Institute of Design in 1941-1942. Fairbank was an ambitious amateur singer from a wealthy family with close ties to the Chicago arts community … Endowed with modest vocal abilities, Fairbank nevertheless endeared herself to critics and advocates of modern music by her tasteful and intelligent performances and her tireless promotion of contemporary music.

Her interest in Cage proved prescient, for the Carnegie Hall recital that occasioned the setting of “The Wonderful Widow” coincided with the composer’s now-famous concert at the Museum of Modern Art, an event that placed the young Cage at the vanguard of modern music.

Evidently given free reign to prepare the song’s lyrics, Cage selected the paean to Isobel from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, a passage that not only gave him a theme, and some lines to lift directly, but also the piece’s title. Frankly, I find the sparseness of Cage’s interpretation a relief from the difficult density of Joyce. From Reinhardt again:

Cage’s song text, condensed and rearranged from Joyce’s original, only intensifies the lyrical dimension of the passage, for it highlights both the sylvan imagery with which the child is described (“wildwood’s eyes and primarose hair,” “like some losthappy leaf,” “like blowing flower stilled”) and a number of key alliterative phrases (“in mauves of moss and daphnedews,” “win me, woo me, wed me, ah weary me!”) that give rise to the passage’s lilting lyricism.

Compare Cage’s lyrics below to the passage from Joyce here.

night by silent sailing night,
Isobel,
wildwoods eyes and primarose hair,
quietly,
all the woods so wild
in mauves of moss and daphne dews
how all so still she lay
‘neath of the white thorn,
child of tree
like some lost happy leaf
like blowing flower stilled
as fain would she anon
for soon again ‘twill be,
win me, woo me, wed me,
ah! weary me
deeply,
now even calm lay sleeping
night,
Isobel,
Sister Isobel,
Saintette Isobel,
Madame Isa Veuve La Belle.

 

 
The 1993 compilation Caged/Uncaged - A Rock/Experimental Homage To John Cage features contributions from punk and artrock figures like Lee Ranaldo, Arto Lindsay, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Elliot Sharp and Ann Magnuson, and is available to hear and download for free on the wonderful UbuWeb. And on that comp, “The Wonderful Widow Of Eighteen Springs” was performed—stunningly—by Joey Ramone. The timbres of his voice are somehow perfect for this song. It may be that I find the familiarity of his singing comforting, but I think this completely dusts some (SOME) versions by trained operatic singers. It sounds like the percussion is performed here on regular drums instead of a closed piano.

I resignedly anticipate opprobrium from the purists.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
They have Nick Cave skateboards now? I want one
01.06.2015
07:34 am

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Art
Heroes
Music
Sports

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I was not cut out for skating. I tried, but no dice. In the mid ‘80s I had a G&S Neil Blender deck, the graphic on which I still think was freakin’ awesome, a friend of mine had a half-pipe in his back yard, and I had a ton of friends to go street skating with (this in the era during which, contra the assertion on the bumper sticker, skateboarding often WAS a crime, at least in Ohio), but I never got terribly good at it, and when I watched a good pal take a spill and saw his badly broken ulna sticking out of his bleeding arm I was pretty much done. Ten years ago, that friend and I attempted a misguided relive-our-youth tour of skate parks in Oregon which, though it was a great time, resulted in an ankle injury I still haven’t recovered from. Yeah, I was not cut out for skating.

But if I wasn’t cut out for that scene—which, in my experience, was mostly just a way for dudebros in the hardcore scene to flex their jock impulses without crossing tribes into school-sanctioned team sports (another reason I was a bad fit)—where could Nick Cave have fit in? The music of a tall, lanky, heroin/goth figure like him was anathema to the adrenaline anthems skaters tended to favor (still another reason I was a bad fit). But though Cave was never even remotely associated with the skate scene I knew, that hasn’t stopped Australian company Fast Times from making a really gorgeous Nick Cave deck.

True legend of Australian music, Good friend and Customer Nick Cave has teamed up with us to produce an exciting and rad collection! After discussing lyrics and a theme, It was agreed Nature Boy best suited the Melbourne Skate Scene and vibe of Fast Times. The Lyrics are taken from ‘Nature Boy’ A track from’s Nick’s Abattoir Blues album which also features on the accompanying Fast Times Skate clip.

Once the mood was set Artist Chuck Sperry hailing from San Francisco worked with us to come up with a design, One of Chuck’s dames is seen tangled in her long golden locks wrapped in a psychedelic bed of flowers. The Boards feature a full wrap metallic graphic which feels and looks like an amazing piece of art.

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The astonishingly incompetent superhero art of Fletcher Hanks
12.11.2014
10:48 am

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Art
Heroes
Unorthodox

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The other day I was trying to describe the work of Fletcher Hanks to a comics collector friend of mine, a fan of Spider-Man and the X-Men and Daredevil, and I made the following analogy: Fletcher Hanks is the Shaggs of superhero comics…. they have the same combination of fascinating (ahem) “excellence” and off-putting weirdness, the same feeling of a direction very much not taken, the same outsider status, the same fervent adoption by devotees.

Hanks drew superhero comics for a terribly short time—1939 to 1941—before dropping off the map altogether. It’s a bit of a miracle that we have so many of his comics in print, and much of that is due to the heroic labors of Paul Karasik, a former RAW employee of Art Spiegelman’s who also collaborated with David Mazzucchelli to create a graphic novel version of Paul Auster’s novel City of Glass in 1994. Hanks first became known to contemporary readers in Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969 edited by Dan Nadel, a fascinating delight for comics lovers, experts, dorks from 2006. In 2007 Karasik published I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets! and in 2009 You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, both of which are highly recommended if you like what you see here. The first volume contains a 16-page comic by Karasik about discovering Hanks’ work and meeting with his (it turns out) estranged son.

Hanks was born in 1887. We know he was married and had a son but then packed up and left around 1930. According to his son, who is named Fletcher Hanks Jr., he was an alcoholic and physically abused his wife and son. We know that he was found, frozen to death on a park bench in Manhattan in January 1976, at the age of 88. Hanks’ work had two primary characters, “Stardust the Super Wizard” and “Fantomah the Mystery Woman of the Jungle,” and a host of less interesting characters like Space Smith, Big Red McLane, and Whirlwind Carter. Hanks used pseudonyms like Hank Christy, Barclay Flagg, Bob Jordan, and Charles Netcher. As Karasik points out in the video below, part of the fascination Hanks exerts is that he is a rare early case of a true auteur, a comics artist who “wrote, penciled, inked, lettered, and, I think, colored his work.”

Stardust is a well-nigh omnipotent space traveler who has prodigious strength, can read people’s thoughts, can control objects with his mind, produce all manner of anti-gravity rays from his body, and generally do whatever he wants. On the page he seems a lot like Magneto of the X-Men but in truth he has a whole lot in common with Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. Fantomah was similarly prodigiously powered and whenever she used her powers, her face would transform from that of a normal human woman to a blue-skinned skull-like visage with a blond locks of hair, an arresting voodoo-like image.

Stardust bears some resemblance to Superman but in fact ends up being an unwitting critique of Superman, in that a creature who has so many powers ends up being less than interesting. Stardust never faces the slightest resistance in any of his plots. A typical Stardust story features Stardust becoming aware of some nefarious scheme by some gangsters or “fifth columnists” and then zeroing in on the malefactors and stopping them and then either depositing them with the federal authorities (who have done nothing to assist Stardust) or else consigning them to some horrible fate that somehow, poetically, serves as a just comeuppance. The best-known example of that comes in “De Structo & the Headhunter,” in which he punishes the ringleader by reducing him to nothing but a head, while stating “I’ll punish you according to your crime, De Structo. ... You tried to destroy the heads of a great nation, so your own head shall be destroyed.” In another story he turns the head honcho into a rat with a human head.

Here’s Nadel on Hanks, as quoted in Tom Spurgeon’s Comics Reporter blog:
 

Fletcher Hanks I like graphically. Some people might call him a primitive, but what’s so great about him is that he took this idea of superheroes as gods literally, even before anyone articulated the idea. He made these moving statues. You have characters carved out of granite, moving around the page, and then maybe he got lucky with whomever was coloring the Fiction House stuff. There are these clunky outlines of bodies and this gorgeous flat color laid over it. Icons moving across the page. Granite statues. It’s really intriguing. Every single Fletcher Hanks comic I’ve seen is like that. They’re just these incredible visions of statues in motion. The writing is just bizarre, so intense and vicious—maybe one of the more visceral comics in there.

 
Hanks’ stories are full of un-nuanced plots and schemes with bad guys who are constantly trying to “enslave” or “destroy” something. Even adjusting for the pre-WW2 atmosphere of fear, these stories are just silly most of the time. What sets Hanks’ works apart are his remarkable compositions and use of color—Karasik is quite right in observing that these strips are so fascinating because they so CLEARLY emanate from one mind. All the compositions are defiantly 2-D, and as Karasik establishes in his second Hanks volume You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation!, he frequently reused entire pages in different stories. Hanks’ comics are wildly inert, improbable, at times ugly, yet always bountifully colorful and arresting and distinctive. Hanks showed great imagination in his tropes, which frequently involve Stardust or somebody suspending a phalanx of tanks suspended in mid-air, or rocketing every human being in existence away from planet Earth simultaneously before Stardust can set it right. The vitality of Hanks’ expression isn’t on a par with Winsor McCay and George Herriman but does have something of that flavor of strange distant fever dreams from long ago…...
 

 

 

 

 
More amazing Fletcher Hanks frames and a Q&A with author Paul Karasik, after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Hablar mucho: Talk Talk live in Spain, 1986
12.11.2014
08:40 am

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Heroes
Music

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The evolution of Talk Talk was probably the greatest New Wave story every told. That journey, from their beginnings as purveyors of slightly more sophisticated than average skinny tie synthpop, to their final form as astonishingly artful, soulful, post-rock trailblazers is astonishing to listen to over the course of their five studio LPs.

Smack in the middle of those five LPs was The Colour Of Spring, their first album on which they jettisoned the synthpop tropes that made their name, and the last on which they had actual pop songs. Working with producer Tim Friese-Greene—who, after working with the band on their It’s My Life album went on to become singer Mark Hollis’ chief collaborator and a de facto member of the band in-studio—Talk Talk brought in a host of guest musicians and partially constructed their songs out of improvisations. As a result, Spring was flexible and organic, a huge creative leap from their earlier output (which itself was fine stuff, it should be stressed). It was their biggest seller, and the last album for which they toured. As Friese-Greene’s improvisational composition and recording methods came to the fore on the band’s increasingly impenetrable and uncompromising subsequent LPs, recreating many Talk Talk songs in concert became totally impractical.
 

 
But though it worked out to be their last, that 1986 tour was a doozy. Talk Talk played to massive, appreciative crowds, their core trio augmented by five additional musicians. The tour was pretty well documented, too: an officially released DVD, Live at Montreux, came out eight years ago. It’s still in print, and is an essential view for even casual fans of the band. But another complete show was captured on that tour, in Salamanca, Spain. It was filmed for television, and you can watch a 2006 rebroadcast right here. Audio bootlegs have turned up, but they’re reputedly of sketchy quality, some full of dropouts, some even transferred at the wrong speed! And that’s unfortunate (such a shame…); while it’s arguably not quite the equal of the Montreaux set, it’s absolutely a worthy performance nonetheless. I’ve indexed the video for those of you who like to jump around, and you might want to pass by the first song, a tepid, we-had-to-play-it rendition of their signature debut single. I wouldn’t skip the lesser known songs, though—the versions here of the It’s My Life tracks “Tomorrow Started” and “It’s You,” and the Colour of Spring deep cut “Give it Up” are particularly awesome. And obviously there’s not a whole lot wrong with the de rigueur cluster of hits at the end.

00:00 Talk Talk
03:38 Dum Dum Girl
07:25 Call in the Night Boy
14:07 Tomorrow Started
21:55 My Foolish Friend
26:39 Life Is What You Make It
31:02 Mirror Man / Does Caroline Know
39:16 It’s you
43:11 Living in Another World
51:10 Give It Up
56:44 It’s My Life
1:05:38 Such a Shame
1:16:58 Renée
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Talk Talk’s ‘Talk Talk’ pre-Talk Talk
The reticent soul of Talk Talk

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Muhammad Ali recites his poem on the Attica Prison riot: ‘Better to die fighting to be free’
12.10.2014
01:28 pm

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Heroes
Politics
Sports

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In July 1972, Muhammad Ali traveled to his ancestral homeland of Ireland at the invitation of Michael “Butty” Sugrue, who had put up the purse for Ali to fight Detroit contender Alvin “Blue” Lewis at Croke Park, in front of 25,000 fans. Ali won the fight with an eleventh round knockout.

It was The Greatest’s first visit to his maternal great-grandfather Abe Grady’s birth country, and he made a special point of visiting the Taoiseach (the Irish Prime Minister) Jack Lynch and the republican socialist politician Bernadette Devlin to discuss “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Ali also discussed the civil rights issues in the north of the country in a long TV interview with RTÉ’s Cathal O’Shannon. During this interview Ali also commented the brutal murderous events carried out by the authorities after the Attica prison riot.

On September 9th 1971, after hearing news of the execution of Black Panther George Jackson at San Quentin, around 1,000 Attica inmates rioted and seized control of the prison. The prisoners had taken hostage 42 guards and demanded political rights and better conditions. Negotiations progressed until September 13th, when at 09:46 hours tear gas was hurled into the siege area which was followed by two full minutes of non-stop shooting by members of the NYPD and troops from the National Guard. Forty-three were killed—33 inmates and ten staffers.

Having explained the events of the slaughter, Ali then recited his poem:

Better far from all I see
To die fighting to be free
What more fitting end could be?

Better surely than in some bed
Where in broken health I’m led
Lingering until I’m dead

Better than with prayers and pleas
Or in the clutch of some disease
Wasting slowly by degrees

Better than of heart attack
Or some dose of drug I lack
Let me die by being Black

Better far that I should go
Standing here against the foe
Is the sweeter death to know

Better than the bloody stain
On some highway where I’m lain
Torn by flying glass and pane

Better calling death to come
Than to die another dumb
Muted victim in the slum

Better than of this prison rot
If there’s any choice I’ve got
Kill me here on the spot

Better far my fight to wage
Now while my blood boils with rage
Lest it cool with ancient age

Better vowing for us to die
Than to Uncle Tom and try
Making peace just to live a lie

Better now that I say my sooth
I’m gonna die demanding truth
While I’m still akin to youth

Better now than later on
Now that fear of death is gone
Never mind another dawn.

Ali returned to Ireland in 2003, when he took part in the opening ceremony for the Special Olympics in Dublin, and again in 2009, when he was given Honorary Freeman of the town of Ennis, birthplace of his great-grandfather Abe Grady. A film When Ali Came to Ireland documented the boxer’s trip and the “huge impact [it had] on those Ali met and, some say, on the man himself.”
 

 
Via Open Culture.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Johnny Cash at San Quentin: Ten newly released photos
12.03.2014
07:54 am

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Heroes
Music

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1968’s Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison is surely one of the greatest live albums of all time, but just about a year later, Cash recorded another stellar live album for an audience of prisoners, At San Quentin. I don’t think this is a terribly controversial opinion: for my money, San Quentin is the better of the two. Cash’s longtime guitarist Luther Perkins passed away in a tragic house fire in between the two recordings, and absent that familiar mooring, Cash’s sound feels wild, like the band’s ever teetering on the edge of coming unglued on San Quentin. With new guitarist Bob Wootten, Cash is energetic, loose, gnarly, and just much closer to primal rock than he’d been on the preceding LP. The version of “Wanted Man” on that album just goddamn flattens me every time I hear it, and it’s impossible to deny the classic status of “A Boy Named Sue.” But whichever prison album you prefer, this much is surely true: those two concerts probably saw the most raucous upswells of cheering and applause at the line “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” that Cash ever got out of any of his audiences.

That San Quentin performance was filmed by England’s Grenada television, and ten never before seen B&W still photos from the production have just been released by ITV. Prints are available for sale via Sonic Editions.
 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
William S. Burroughs buys a parrot, 1963
11.24.2014
08:51 am

Topics:
Animals
Books
Heroes
Literature

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Today’s adventure in obscure video centers around an innocuous 85-second film shot by Antony Balch called William Buys a Parrot. In the movie, the “William” is William S. Burroughs and the parrot is actually a cockatoo. It’s in color and has no audio track—it resembles a home movie to some extent but it’s just a shade more orchestrated than that, although it might just have been something shot to test a new camera. In William Buys a Parrot we see Burroughs, wearing a white suit and a dark brown fedora, approach a door in some exotic desert setting—either Gibraltar or Tangier, it seems. He raps on the door knocker, a man from inside comes out and they chat for a moment or two. Cut to a some kind of a coastal veranda, where Burroughs confronts the bird. Then the fellow comes out and the two men sit at the table and enjoy an adult beverage. The last third of the movie is the bird jumping around in his cage with Burroughs in the background. End of movie.
 

Burroughs and Balch in ‘Tony and Bill
 
In Wising Up the Marks: The Amodern William Burroughs, Timothy S. Murphy has this to say about the movie:
 

William Buys a Parrot demonstrates that even when silence eliminates the specific word—the external word of mundane narrative interaction that is susceptible to technical reproduction and animal mimicry—it leaves intact the general, generic, internal Word—the structural Word of addictive subjectivity that allows the viewer to provide her own narration for this film.

 
Well… sure... Why not? To me, though, it just looks like a famous writer buying a bird and enjoying some daytime spirits with a chum…

William Buys a Parrot was probably shot in 1963, but edited in 1982 by Genesis P-Orridge who is said to have rescued it and many other films from a trash dumpster after Antony Balch’s death (including Balch’s other collaborations with Burroughs and painter Brion Gysin and some prints of Kenneth Anger’s films).
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
David Bowie’s early appearance as Ziggy Stardust, 1972
11.19.2014
09:49 am

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Heroes
Music
Pop Culture

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1dbzigstar234.jpg
 
RCA records paid $25,000 to fly the “cream” of America’s rock press over to see the label’s up-and-coming star David Bowie perform at the Friars Club, Market Square, Aylesbury, England, in July 1972. The record company hoped the scribes from Rolling Stone, CREEM, New York Times, Andy Warhol’s Interview, and the New Yorker, would be sufficiently impressed to spread the word about Bowie back home. It certainly worked as Bowie, along with his Ziggy line-up of Mick Ronson (guitar), Trevor Bolder (bass) and Woody Woodmansey (drums), delivered a blistering set, which been a source of mythical tales and innumerable bootlegs ever since.

Also in the crowd that fateful night were Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor of Queen, who were just starting off on their career. Taylor later recalled the gig for MOJO magazine in 1999:

...Freddie and I saw the first Ziggy gig at Friar’s Aylesbury. We drove down in my Mini. We loved it. I’d seen him there about three weeks before in the long hair and the dress. Suddenly you saw this spiky head coming on stage. You thought, wha-a-at??? They looked like spacemen.

The band’s appearance was not just a shock to the audience as Bowie later explained:

Woody Woodmansey was saying, “I’m not bloody wearing that!” [Laughs] There were certainly comments, a lot of nerves. Not about the music - I think the guys knew that we rocked. But they were worried about the look. That’s what I remember: how uncomfortable they felt in their stage clothes. But when they realized what it did for the birds… The girls were going crazy for them, because they looked like nobody else. So within a couple of days it was, “I’m going to wear the red ones tonight.”

 
froatrghknd1223.jpg
Bowie’s performance at the Friar’s Club was voted the greatest gig to be held at the venue.
 
While Glenn O’Brienn described the concert in Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine:

The Aylesbury town hall is the size of an average pre-war high school gym…There were perhaps a thousand peers in the hall when we entered. At first I thought it was remarkable that RCA had spent at least $25,000 to bring a select group of writers to a concert at which there were no seats for them, save the floor… David Bowie did not come on unannounced. He was in fact preceded on stage by a handsome Negro and his attendants who attempted to work the audience to a fever pitch by tossing them balloons, pinwheels, and hundreds of Bowie posters. The audience needed little prodding, though, and anxiously awaited David Bowie and The Spiders From Mars, while the giant amplifiers sounded a recording of old Ludwig Von’s Song of Joy from the Ninth Symphony. David appeared on stage with his band to what could fairly be called a thunderous ovation. And he deserved every handclap… His hair was a vibrant orange… And the band played on… And David proved himself to be a unique performer.

 
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Bolder and Bowie on stage at Aylesbury, being filmed by Mick Rock.
 
The Aylesbury gigs was a key moment in Bowie’s career and photographer Mick Rock filmed it all on 16mm. This footage was apparently thought lost until 1995 when it “discovered” and transfered onto video by MainMan. It has not been made officially available although it currently circulates amongst collectors.

While the footage available on YouTube is raw, the camerawork sometimes iffy, and the sound, well, about what you’d expect from a concert, but as an historic document of early footage of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust it is a delight.

Track listing: “Hang On to Yourself,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Queen Bitch,” “Song for Bob Dylan,” “Starman,” “Five Years,” “Waiting for the the Man.”

The color footage is believed to be from the July 15th gig at the Friar’s Club while the b&w footage is from the June 21st gig. Audio taken from July 15th performance.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Young, loud, snotty: Famous punks just hanging out
10.31.2014
05:57 am

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Heroes
Punk

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Jello Biafra at Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1978 by Jim Jocoy
Jello Biafra at Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1978
 
Jim Jocoy and his family left their home in South Korea and arrived in the town of Sunnyvale, California, when Jocoy was only 17. He enrolled at UC Santa Cruz, but later dropped out once he discovered the burgeoning punk scene that was exploding all around him. Jocoy got a gig at a Xerox store, hung out at punk clubs by night and started up a punk zine with his friends called Widows and Orphans. That’s when Jocoy decided to pick up a camera and started shooting photos of his friends and bands whenever he happened to find himself someplace interesting. Jocoy found himself in lots of interesting places.
 

Olga de Volga of the San Francisco band VS. Geary Street Theatre, SF 1980 Jim Jocoy
Olga de Volga of the San Francisco band VS., Geary Street Theatre, SF 1980
 
Jocoy’s remarkable photos ended up in a book in 2002 called We’re Desperate. I reached out to Jocoy in an email, and the photographer graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions about his days growing up as a young punk in California.
 
Sid Vicious. San Francisco, January 14th, 1978 by Jim Jocoy
Sid Vicious, San Francisco, January 14th, 1978
 
Tell me about your now infamous photo of Sid Vicious.

Jim Jocoy: The photo of Sid was taken after the last Sex Pistols show in SF. They performed at Winterland on Jan. 14, 1978. He took a cab to my friend Lamar St John’s apartment in the Haight-Ashbury district. I was outside as the cab pulled up. He was alone and got out and pissed in the middle of the street before going into the apartment. I ran into him in the hallway and asked if I could take a Polaroid photo. He nodded yes and that was it. He spent most of the evening in the bathroom with a couple of “fans”.
 
William Burrough's at his 70th birthday party in SF, 1984 Jim Jocoy
William Burroughs at his 70th birthday party in San Francisco, 1984

I understand that you presented a slide show of your photos to William Burroughs in honor of his 70th birthday. How did that go?

Jim Jocoy: The party was held at a warehouse in the Mission district belonging to the artist Mark McCloud. He was known for his (real) LSD postage stamp art. Burroughs allowed me to take a photo of him that evening. He wore an nice blue suit and had his briefcase in hand.

What’s your favorite memory of a show you saw back in the day that really blew your mind?

Jim Jocoy: I would have to say it was the first Ramones’ show in SF at the Savoy Tivoli on August 19th, 1976. It lasted about 30 minutes without a break, only “one, two, three, four!” between songs by Dee Dee. It was such a sonic boom of pure rock energy as I had never heard before. It was in the tiny back room of the bar/restaurant. It was like ground zero for launching the punk rock scene in San Francisco. A few weeks later, many of the seminal SF punk bands started performing regularly at the Mabuhay Gardens, the first main punk rock venue in the city.
 
Punk girl in leather SF 1978 Jim Jocoy
Punk girl in leather skirt, SF 1978
 
Jocoy’s photos were only shown in public twice (one of those times was at Burroughs’ birthday party), and then were stored away for almost two-decades before seeing the light of day once again between the covers of We’re Desperate. So here’s a glimpse of what punk rock looked like back in the late 70s and early 80s, through the lens of a simple 35mm camera with an oversized flash taken by a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Many thanks to Jim Jocoy for the use of his photos and captions (written by Jim) in this post.
 
John Waters at the Deaf Club in SF, 1980 by Jim Jocoy
John Waters at the Deaf Club in SF, 1980
 
Johnny Genocide Geary Street Theatre SF, 1980 Jim Jocoy
Johnny Genocide, Geary Street Theatre in SF, 1980
 
Poison Ivy of the Cramps in the dressing room of the Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1979 Jim Jocoy
Poison Ivy of the Cramps in the dressing room of Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1979
 
More young punks after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Blackout! The mysterious story behind Black Sabbath’s first US gig
10.30.2014
07:26 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

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Black Sabbath 1970
Black Sabbath, 1970
 
On this day 44 years ago, Black Sabbath played their first-ever show on U.S. soil. However, as the headline of this post insinuates, the actual location of the gig is some debate, depending on the sources you choose to believe.
 
Black Sabbath London 1970
Black Sabbath, London 1970
 
Riding high (quite literally) on the huge successes of their first two albums, Black Sabbath (released on February 18th, 1970) and Paranoid (released on September 18th, 1970), both Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and vocalist Ozzy Osbourne historically credit the location of their first U.S. show in their respective autobiographies as legendary Manhattan club, Ungano’s. In his 2012 autobiography, Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath, Iommi recalls showing up to Ungano’s and was horrified at what a “shithole” the club was. Their roadie plugged their Euro gear into Ungano’s U.S.-only sockets and subsequently blew the club’s fuses. After a short unplanned pre-show intermission, the power went back on and Black Sabbath’s first gig was history. Or was it?
 
Black Sabbath at Glassboro Esby Gymnasium, October 30, 1970
Black Sabbath jamming at Esby Gymnasium at Glassboro State College?
 
Other sources claim that the band’s first gig took place at Glassboro State College (now known as Rowan University) in New Jersey. And the story is quite similar to Iommi’s. Claims made by rock promoter Rick Green, the brother of Stu Green who with his brother ran Midnight Sun an influential music promotion company that started out in Pennsylvania in early 70’s, has been quoted as calling himself the “promoter” of Black Sabbath’s “first U.S. gig” at Glassboro. On the surface, it’s not hard to believe. The Greens booked everyone from Lou Reed and Alice Cooper to the Patti Smith Group at the historic Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, not far from Glassboro State.

In aninterview that Rick did in 1992 with The Philadelphia Daily News, he spoke about the gig in strangely similar detail to Iommi’s recalling that Sabbath blew out the power after plugging in their amps into incompatible sockets. This caused the gig to be rescheduled until the end of Sabbath’s inaugural tour. Hmmm. So what about Glassboro? Was it real, or was it just a bad memory? Here’s another version of the Glassboro story, according to an article from The Seth Man, a journalist who writes over at Julian Cope Presents Head Heritage. The post also cites Rick Green’s Daily News interview as a source, but includes more detail:
 

The band’s (Black Sabbath’s) passage through customs at Kennedy Airport in New York proved to be “a day-long trauma that left the group tired and humiliated,” causing them to be three and a half hours late for the gig. Finally appearing onstage at 1:00 in the morning, the power to their sound system cut out during the first song. It was fixed within a few minutes, but once they recommenced they caused a second power outage that not only knocked out their sound system but the power to the gymnasium, the campus and “...most of the power in the neighborhood. The street lights were out and there was darkness.” Appropriately enough, the date was Mischief Night: exactly half a year away from Walpurgisnacht on October 30th.

 
Is this Black Sabbath? The SG Gibson may provide a clue
Black Sabbath, perhaps snapped during the Esby show
 
As I mentioned earlier, there are many resources, some trustworthy, that credit Glassboro as Sabbath’s first American gig, including British author Garry Sharpe-Young (specifically in the book, “Metal: The Definitive Guide”) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s timeline on Sabbath. I’ve even read accounts that seem legit that tell the tale of a young Ozzy Osbourne, allegedly so distraught during the Glassboro gig that he wandered off into a messy pile of tears in corner of Glassboro’s Esby Gymnasium (where the mythological gig was held), while shouting “I hate America and I want to go home!” Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that said article spelled Ozzy’s name “Ozzie” and also notes that Ozzy was 20 at the time, when he was actually 22. I’m probably nitpicking here, but for what it’s worth, I’d like to present another piece of this very weird puzzle.  Below is a strange show poster for the Glassboro show, supposedly created by promoter Rick Green’s little sister. The poster went to auction at Christie’s in 2007. The auction item’s bio states a bit of maybe-history noting that after the power went out during the first song, Sabbath wasn’t able to continue and the show was made up later at neighboring Montclair State University.
 
Black Sabbath Glassboro show poster Christies
Black Sabbath show poster for Glassboro State College. Christies auction 2007.
 
So what to believe? In my mind, it’s hard to conceive that Tony Iommi’s recollection of Sabbath’s first gig would be incorrect. I mean, he was there, man. And despite the fact that it’s nothing short of a miracle that Ozzy remembers anything from those early days (although in his book “I Am Ozzy,” which I’m currently reading, he remembers a lot), the fact that he corroborates Iommi’s heavy metal history lesson just adds credibility to the show taking place at Ungano’s. So let’s put an end to this folklore once and for all. In the pages of the the Fall 1998 issue of Rowan Magazine the University historians took a look back at the many famous visitors they have hosted through the years such as Blondie, Elton John and Jane Fonda. The publication, that the University publishes itself, makes no mention of Black Sabbath. So there you have it. Black Sabbath’s first live U.S. show PROBABLY took place in a small, skuzzy club in Manhattan on October 30th, 1970, not some upper-crust college in New Jersey that was more accustomed to the stylings of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The END (or is it?).

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