Like many of you, I’m still trying to process the sudden death of Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell last week. Here in Seattle, where Cornell was born, there were several memorials held around the city including one at the site that inspired the band’s name—A Sound Garden—a musical sculpture park where twelve 20+ foot structures outfitted with organ pipes emanate with sound whenever the wind blows. After Cornell passed, Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron posted a heart-wrenching comment on his Facebook page saying “My dark knight is gone,” a sentiment that hit entirely too close to home for those who knew Cornell as well as those who often suffer in silence—forever searching for ways to deal with their own depression and anxiety.
At an impromptu memorial held at the radio station KEXP on the day of Cornell’s death, 400 people showed up to collectively grieve at the station’s gathering space. While addressing the crowd, long-time DJ John Richards said that “part of the city (of Seattle) had died” that day. Often, music is something that can be hugely helpful and cathartic when you’re trying to make sense of unfathomable events such as Cornell’s impossibly sad, untimely passing. And that is exactly the purpose of my post today—to share Soundgarden’s legacy by way of their sonic, ear-smashing music.
Though I know your social media feeds have likely been filled with news about the legendary vocalist, I really wanted to support as well as spread the idea of celebrating Cornell’s life and his work with Soundgarden, who are/were without question one of the greatest rock bands of the last 30 years. A large part of their appeal was, of course, the animal magnetism of Chris Cornell’s stage presence and his immaculate four-octave vocal range. Cornell was also the primary lyricist for Soundgarden, which helped solidify his deep connection to their fan base.
One of the many signs I saw and photographed during the Seattle ‘Women’s March,’ January 21st, 2017.
On Saturday I spent the better part of the day walking the streets of Seattle with a few of my “delicate snowflake” friends and approximately 175,000 other like-minded women, men and children during our Women’s March. The event, which was the largest protest in the history of the city, was by far one of the most powerful and empowering things I have ever personally experienced in my life. And while it’s not an alternate fact that our work is just beginning, judging from the numbers of people who collectively participated in the massive march in Washington DC, and the local support marches around the globe, there is still room for hope.
Many of the images of the signs in this post, were taken by yours truly and by friends of mine, old and new, who I walked with in Seattle. Others were culled from the Facebook page Pantsuit Nation and I’ve done the best I can to attach locations to each photo. While I have plenty to say on the subject when it comes to why millions of people took to the streets all over the country and the world, I’d much prefer to let the images of the protest signs that marchers carried with them on Saturday do the talking. So to the new administration and our new Commander-in-Grief, get ready because you haven’t seen anything yet. Viva la VULVA!
Seattle Women’s March, January 21st, 2017. Photo taken by a member of my marching group.
Seattle. Photo by Cherrybomb.
A 91-year-old retired doctor protesting in Los Angeles.
I have to say this is one of the many times I’ve been proud to call my transplanted home of the last seventeen-years quite possibly the greatest place on earth. One of my favorite Seattle landmarks (which I drive by on nearly a daily basis) is a home with a giant mural of Bettie Page painted on it. She’s been joined by an equally humongous portrait of Divine all decked out in the famous red dress worn by the great Harris Glenn Milstead in 1972’s Pink Flamingos.
“FILTH IS MY LIFE!” The giant mural of Divine that now resides alongside Bettie Page on a house in Northeast Seattle.
The mural of a nearly two-story topless Bettie Page (whose naughty bits are obscured by the home’s rain gutters) has been visible from traffic on I-5 in Northeast Seattle for a decade. Then a few months ago some morons who just don’t get it vandalized the much loved mural with gray paint and even took the time to leave a nasty note on the home where the mural resides saying the following:
AUTONOMOUS SEXUALITY IS EMPOWERMENT. TELLING A WOMAN TO COVER UP IS OPPRESSION.
The message was written entirely in capital letters so I guess the roving gang of confused “feminists” wanted to be sure they knew how angry they were. The good news is that the owner of the house, Jessica Baxter didn’t let the incident get under her skin. And even when donations came piling in so that Baxter didn’t have to take on the expense of having the mural (and her house, mind you) restored, she declined and instead asked that people wanting to donate send their money to RAINN (the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network). So why did Baxter pick Divine to keep Bettie Page company for the long foreseeable future? Here’s one of my favorite residents of Northeast Seattle on that:
Really it’s just people who inspire me and make me happy that they existed, and were individuals who didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought, and who were just themselves. I’m going to feel inspired every time I look at it.
The mural was just finished this past Tuesday by Two Thangs (aka Seattle artist Matthew Brennan IV) and it is nothing short of fucking glorious. Brennan, a self-professed John Waters devotee felt very strongly that the Page and Divine belonged together especially since the vandals who tried to ruin Bettie felt that the image was “exploitive.” According to Brennan (via Two Thangs FB page) the addition of Divine makes a clear statement about choice—specifically making a decision to present yourself “how you choose.”
I love you Seattle. Never change.
The famous Bettie Page mural on the side of a house in Northeast Seattle.
See the defaced Bettie Page mural—and the note left by ‘SOME FEMINISTS’ after the jump…
The Serial “hipster ninja masturbator” of Seattle is on the loose!
In an effort to keep things as weird as possible in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle police say they are are trying to identify a man who has been observed masturbating outside of a home in the University District neighborhood on multiple occasions.
Night vision image of the serial “hipster ninja masturbator” currently on the loose in Seattle.
Footage of the man, who was caught on a surveillance camera on the property, shows the perverted perp dressed up like a ninja, clad all in black (the night vision camera make him appear to be dressed in white), from head to foot. According to the police reports filed on the case in January, the female resident of the home reported hearing “suspicious sounds” outside her home. When she looked out to see what was going on, she saw what the Seattle PI described as a “hipster ninja masturbator” (ahem) hard at work sharpening his pencil right outside her front door.
So far the creepy night vision images of the chronic trespassing masturbator have not led police to a suspect, but I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before this slippery ninja meat-beater gets identified. How hard can it be to locate a guy dressed like a hipster version of a ninja in Seattle you wonder? Apparently it’s quite difficult as the report also says that the depraved ninja has likely pleasured himself at least four times at the same address since November of last year.
Layne Staley, his amazing hair, and his date attending the Shorewood High School prom, 1986
Now here’s something you don’t see every day. The video below of Layne Staley (the late vocalist of Alice in Chains) performing with his band Sleze was shot in 1985 at Lakeside High in Seattle. It was one of many local high school gigs the band would perform, fully two years before Alice in Chains would come to be.
According to Johnny Bacolas, the founding member and guitar player of Sleze who uploaded the video, the band mostly stuck to playing cover versions of Slayer and Armored Saint songs. As a matter of fact, the video captures Staley looking rather glam in a ripped-up shirt and striped blazer, while banging out Armored Saint’s 1984 knuckle cracker, “False Alarm.” The drummer (James Bergstrom) is wearing dark lipstick and a choker, and the bass player (Chris Markham) is shirtless and wearing striped spandex pants and some sort of skirt made out of what looks like plastic. It’s first-rate, car-crashy heavy metal goodness.
Layne Staley on stage with Sleze, 1985/1986
Sleze never played many clubs due to the then-recent passage of the notoriously awful Teen Dance Ordinance, which made it nearly impossible for clubs to accommodate underage clientele (the law was repealed in 2002), so most of Sleze’s gigs took place at local high schools. Despite the fact that Staley didn’t actually go to Lakeside (He went to Meadowdale in Lynnwood, about fifteen miles away from Seattle), it’s still a pretty incredible snapshot into the past life of the greatest grunge-era vocalist ever.
How could this get any better? Maybe the fact that the name Armored Saint is spelled “Armoured Saint” on the bottom of the screen? How fucking adorable. Oh, high school…. how I miss being high in high school.
Full disclosure: The video sadly cuts off just as Sleze breaks into an excellent jam called “Burning Star,” a song recorded in 1984 by the Texas metal band Helstar. To make up for that, I included a quick clip of Staley and Sleze in action in the straight to Seattle Public Access TV cable movie, Father Rock. Also, the audio isn’t the best, but it’s still a must-watch.
Sleze performing “False Alarm” on June 4, 1985, at Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington
Layne Staley and Sleze and their huge hair making their “acting” debut in Father Rock
KEXP steps inside Paul’s Boutique, June 24th, 2015
Independent Seattle radio station, KEXP will be digging deep into the Beastie Boys celebrated 1989 record, Paul’s Boutique during a marathon twelve-hour broadcast on Friday, July 24th.
The broadcast starts bright and early at 6:00 AM PST with the much loved KEXP morning DJ, John Richards who will start the Beastie Ball rolling with the first few tracks from Paul’s Boutique, as well as some of the 100+ songs that were sampled on the record. The meticulously curated broadcast will continue until 6:00 PM, running through both KEXP’s Mid-Day and Afternoon shows.
During the course of the broadcast KEXP will air brand new interviews with the co-producers of Paul’s Boutique, The Dust Brothers (John King and Mike Simpson), as well as exclusive archival chat with the Beastie Boys. KEXP has really been hyping this broadcast, and it’s not hard to understand why. I spoke to John Richards via email and asked him some questions about the Beasties, and the experience of pulling the twelve-hour marathon together.
John Richards - Morning Show Host & Associate Program Director of KEXP
Dangerous Minds: KEXP is known for its massive music library and I know that DJ’s routinely bring their own records in to play on their shows. Given the depth of musical knowledge that KEXP collectively possesses, how difficult was it to track down all the music that was sampled in Paul’s Boutique for the show?
John Richards: There are some specific songs that have been a challenge for sure but I’d say between KEXP’s amazing library and DJ’s libraries that 90% of it was found in the early planning of the show. After that we were able to get the other 10% within a few days. Our goal was to play as much in its original form as well so for sure you’ll be hearing the snap crackle and pop of vinyl on Friday. KEXP on a daily basis will play vinyl, CDs, streams, wave files, mp3s in any given show. I’ve had to mix a YouTube stream with a record into a mp3. I’m surprised we don’t mix reel to reel and cassettes while we’re at it.
What were your first impressions of Paul’s Boutique back in 1989?
John Richards: Like a lot of people they discovered the Beastie Boys first when “Fight For Your Right…” came out. I remember getting the tape at a very young age based on that song and it putting in the rest of the songs on there blew my mind. It was nothing like that novelty song and really was a gateway to me for them, for sampling, even hip hop. So when I got Paul’s Boutique it made sense to me listening to the other songs from the debut that this was the next step for them. I didn’t know sampling like this was new as it was just new to me at the time. It was radically different then anything I had heard and really those first two albums were “where were you when you first heard them” releases. In both cases I was walking through the soccer field next to my house studying the liner notes, art work and song titles and thinking I was the only person on earth listening to this right now. It was one of those rare moments when a release changes your entire thinking about music and how its made.
While you were culling artifacts for this incredible undertaking (such as interviews, sound-clips, etc), did you discover anything about the record that as a fan, was new to you?
John Richards: I learned a lot talking to The Dust Brothers about the record. One thing was that they were really trying to make a hit with the Beastie Boys (and said they easily could have) but that the Beasties were against it, they wanted a cool record that people would discover years from when it was made. Turns out, that’s exactly what happened and continues to happen. Maybe not in crates but for sure on stations like KEXP.
Paul’s Boutique mural at the corner of Rivington and Ludlow on the Lower East Side of Manhattan by Danielle Mastrion
There are not many artists who inspire the nearly universal reverence and adoration from music fans that the Beastie Boys do. Headbangers, alt-rock kids, electronica geeks, classic rock relics; you name the genre of choice, and I guarantee that the vast majority of the people who cling to them will also be fans of the Beasties. Perhaps nothing speaks better to this point than the huge assortment of diverse samples the Beastie Boys used in the recording process for Paul’s Boutique.
From the score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, to music from the 1974 film Deliverance (not to mention the dozens of pop-culture references mentioned throughout the record including a hilarious and timely swipe at Donald Trump on the track “Johnny Ryall”), if it appears on Paul’s Boutique , you will hear it during KEXP’s broadcast.
If you’re not in Seattle, don’t worry. You can stream the broadcast live via your mobile device or computer. KEXP also archives its wide variety of content, so if you miss any part of the broadcast on Friday, you can come back and stream it whenever you want. And I for one can’t think of a better way to spend a few (or twelve) hours than listening to a magical record that almost killed the Beastie Boys’ career back in 1989.
It’s going to be tastier than a “5-Piece Chicken Dinner.”
“Ain’t it Funky” James Brown (from Ain’t it Funky, 1970). One of the 100+ samples on Paul’s Boutique
It’s called Streetwise. Directed by Martin Bell and shot by his wife Mary Ellen Mark, it was inspired by an article on homeless youth from Life magazine written by Cheryl McCall. At times it’s harrowing, but it’s really very good, and was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1984.
It follows the exploits of a few different children living on the streets of Seattle, at that point apparently the States’ “most livable city”. There’s the tough, smart Rat and his older mentor Jack, who live in an abandoned hotel, sell drugs, scam pizzas and raid dumpsters. There’s teenage prostitutes Kim and Erin, waiting to get picked up off the kerb by older johns and discussing which local pimp is better to work for. Erin is also known as “Tiny” and has a troubled relationship with her alcoholic mother, who knows she is a prostitute but describes it as a “phase”. She thinks she may be pregnant after having unprotected sex with a john - that’s her in the picture above. Like Paris Is Burning this film deals with people society regards as the lowest of the low - and what on paper looks like being a major celluloid bummer is actually funny, insightful, tender and at times uplifting. Surprisingly a lot of these kids are still alive, though not kids anymore.
Mary Ellen Mark was also the photographer for the original Life magazine article, and has built up a large portfolio of stunning photographs of these kids, like the one above. She and her husband still see them occasionally too. From Steve Lafreniere’s excellent interview with Mark for Viceland (well worth reading as she’s a brilliant photographer who’s had an extraordinary career):
I’m still in contact with Tiny. A few years ago, Martin and I went back to Seattle and we updated her life. And I’ve been photographing her—I haven’t been back there in three years—but I have been photographing her. I photographed her after she had her ninth baby but we couldn’t make it out there for her tenth.