I met up with rock & roll icon Jimmy Webb at the legendary punk shop he manages, Trash and Vaudeville, to rap about music, friends, and his life in NYC. Well, that is until a stranger started snapping Jimmy’s picture (without asking permission). To escape the paparazzi, we relocated to a coffee shop down the block.
A found photograph contracts and at the same time expands, confined to the moment of its composition while possible narratives endlessly play out in our imagination. That’s the fun: to end up accidentally in someone’s home and be allowed to speculate as an outsider, to create fictions, to fill in the blanks. Finding a photo of strangers, who are sometimes in strange positions doing strange things, reminds us that history is never simply the background against which things occur; history provides the tableaux within which people live and act as products, as well as producers, of history. We look at a found photograph from an older era and, if there’s no date-stamp, make plot-line guesses based on hairstyle, clothes, color of the shag carpet, shagginess of the shag carpet, the make of the car out the window in the driveway. Who’s President?, we wonder. What’s on Top 40? How have the people been shaped by history? Do they fit in to their times, or do they rebel? One can speculate wildly, but all speculation is tethered to the very real — and, in its own modest way, historic — stuff in the photo. The figures in found photos are redolent of an era because they’re living it, right there in front of us, their anonymity endlessly curious.
Very sweet duet between Debbie Harry and Kermit the Frog called, “Rainbow Connection.” Alice Cooper, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson make up the rest of these vintage clips with muppets. My favorite is Elton John’s live puppet food! So fun!
Gangsta’s paradise! Some molls are attracted to the dangerous and exciting life being associated with a mobster can Margaret Kelly and Frank Palumbo as the two are arrested and held for a dance hall holdup and murder in 1932.
The way that I met Greg Ginn was through his younger sister, Erica, while I was working at this record store, Rubicon, on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach in 1975. The gentleman who owned the record store, Michael, had a mad crush on Erica. So Greg Ginn would walk down to the record store with his sister—and Erica and Michael would go off to do whatever young lovers do—hold hands and watch the seagulls fly or the surfers on Hermosa Beach. You know, they’d get lunch or beer or cigarettes, and I would be left to run the record store while Greg Ginn hung around, waiting for his sister.
Iggy Pop announced Fat White Family as “Everybodies favorite family, ” recently on his BBC radio show. Ironically, our friend Danny Fields, who managed Iggy & The Stooges, said singer Lias Saoudi “moves like Iggy onstage.” Sean Lennon has been a friend and fan of the band for years, even letting them use his upstate recording studio. The great thing about these guys is that none of this hype gets to their head.
I was lucky enough to witness the 70’s avant-garde punk rock band The Pop Group kill it at Rough Trade in Williamsburg a few months ago. I wasn’t expecting much since the band hadn’t played together in 35 years, but I was blown away. They had the energy of 19 year olds. Continue reading Q & A WITH THE POP GROUP’S MARK STEWART!→
A few months back, I had the pleasure of sitting down at Bob Gruen‘s apartment and listening to a few of his many stories of life with the band. Funny thing is, when I was a teenager, I used to rip out these great color photos of The Sex Pistols from a large photo book in-between the shelves of the library and take them home to hang on my wall. Twenty years later, I’m sitting down with the creator of those shots. Bob is seriously one of the coolest guys I know. He has that great New York realness about him paired with a very relaxed attitude. I always feel like i just meditated while talking to him. Maybe this great quality of his contributed to the reason why many artists, like John Lennon, opened up to him and let him into their personal lives. He has an uncanny ability to catch an image of a musician in their natural state behind the scenes, just as well as the rockstar persona onstage. He captured troves of artists with his lens, including Johnny Thunders, Iggy Pop, Led Zeppelin, The Ramones, The Clash, Tina Turner, Blondie, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, The Sex Pistols, Joan Jett, etc…
Around two, Dick and I met up at the old Venus Records on West 8th Street and 6th Avenue. I was feeling grumpy because a bearded old beggar had singled me out for abuse on the subway.
The old man, gin-blossomed, toothless, and reeking of human waste, looked a lot like Popeye’s father.
His salt-stained baseball cap had ‘Disabled WWII Veteran’ embroidered over its distorted bill.
The man had hovered above me for three stops. He’d repeatedly called me a faggot after I’d refused to give him the dollar he demanded.
“Venus Records was a cramped little second-floor shop staffed by arrogant former Max’s regulars. There were always dead horseflies laying about, but they were never disposed of. Perhaps they were considered part of the decor. But Venus carried the best selection of punk imports in the city, so we shopped there anyway.”
I had a pair of brass knuckles in the left hip pocket of my jeans. They’d been purchased in study hall from my classmate Charlie Eng. I could have pummeled the bum into jelly with a modicum of effort, but something inexplicable about him terrified me.