Monday, August 11, 2014

Gary (Valentine) Lachman's Esoteric Pursuits and How I Became Un-Wooed

by Rockin' robot-rebel-prankster-author Kembrew McLeod

Remembering Edie Sedgwick

by Adriane Kuzminski:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Death in the (extended) Family

I'm heartbroken for his family and friends. Tom Erdelyi aka Tommy Ramone was all that we know him to have been but also accessible and kind. I was surprised when even as a very young man he knew what he wanted--not only what he didn't want. And he did just that--to our great benefit. All the deaths get to me but Tommy, being who he was and also being the last of the original RAMONES, amps it up to the eleventh power. Spend some time with them here (from the summer of '76), spin a few of your favorite Tommy tunes and TURN IT UP.  
To read, click on the images below:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I wrote this tribute to Lou for the Journal of Popular Music Studies and anyone who ever had a heart:
Lessons from Lou and the Village of Old New York  by Lisa Jane Persky

I didn’t know Lou Reed. I was too young to get into what we called Max’s Can be Shitty in the days of The Velvet Underground. I knew of Lou but only because he was around. Because he looked cool, handsome, pretty, even.  And that’s how we “knew” a lot of people and how we held friend apart from foe. I lived in the world Lou reflected, did my stints at 15 Sheridan Square and 217 2nd Avenue, 87 Christopher Street. The neighborhood was a sleepy small-town burg if you were “street” and as much as I could, I lived on the streets. The freedom was addictive. The squalor had glamour, then. So, I’m just going to go ahead and say I knew Lou.  I know Lou in the way that that you do—because he let us all into his world—which I had previously thought of as mine—and he let us in through his heart.  
The old New York was our Mother. The old New York nurtured and supported play. It didn’t judge. The judging came later. You need time and freedom and garbage to play. Play is the way to discover your own idiosyncratic genius. Being okay with poverty gives you even more time to do it and you play hungry-which sometimes makes you better but also makes you worse. To play was the thing. We discovered, we struggled, we suffered. Because Lou was as he made himself out to be (which was one of us—but moreso), he made everyone want to tell their stories, and not only with music. 

We were affected by his original sound. We identified with it. We made more things from it. This was the spirit of Downtown New York City at the time, where all the living and the dead of our Village would coincide like roots from which new stories grew. Only a moment in time but the thing was, we the people of it, reveled in our play. And we played until we got old. 

If you live long enough, if you live somewhere long enough, you come to know that places have essence and personality just like people do. Essence is hard to explain, has to be experienced, known in the Gnostic sense. Personality is conspicuous. Both are hard to change. Geography is destiny and it’s always best to be in a position where you can choose where you live. I was and still am a product of Downtown. I grew up there and embraced it fully. Greenwich Village was once a safety net for unusuals. 
Lou made it clear that everything he’d wanted to say to us—all of us—he said with his sounds and his stories, as they occurred to him. And there were things about himself that he didn’t want to say and he made those things clear as well. One of the jobs he gave himself was illuminating negative space. In having his boundaries, he also taught us a thing or two about our own greed. Lou validated, verified and confirmed New York as our mother. And he always seemed so patient while waiting for others to get it, like he was waiting for the next Number 1 train where he was working out the beat listening to the tracks, the narrative wheels grinding against steel. “Every song to me is a highlight.”
He was a biographer, a reliable narrator who loved to tell us in his own rock ’n’ roll patois about the people who figured in and frequented his life. He said that if his works had been a novel instead, they wouldn’t be thought of as controversial at all.  When he made Songs for Drella, he wondered whether anyone had ever done a rock album that teaches you about the life of someone and was befuddled that he might be “an audience of one”(or maybe two, with John Cale) in the passion he had for the biographical rock records idea. But he would have gone right on teaching us—because Lou was a juggernaut.
Everything “new” is built upon what came before. In that sense, nothing is. I was lucky to have been around to see critical mass grow out of several Downtown New York scenes in my lifetime.  Without Dave Van Ronk, there wouldn’t have been the Bob Dylan that we know today, without Dylan, no Lou Reed, without Lou no New York Dolls, without The Dolls, no CBGB. The Ramones were fans of the Walker Brothers as was Lou. With his DNA apparent in Doo Wop, Drone, Minimalism, Pop, Metal, Glam, Neo, Industrial, Noise, Punk and Indie, Lou has only just begun to influence. In the future, I have no doubt that his scope will be wider as critical theorists begin to understand the experiments, and his work fans out into other hands and art forms. “There’s no reason not to have a wide palette” said Lou.  
Making a career of your youthful obsessions is impressive enough but Lou led the way in telling messy truths, harsh,  provocative, unpleasant, discouraging stuff with his music and lyrics. He told the saddest stories of all, and then there were worse ones.  He rendered a kind of musique noir, embracing the contradictions of human nature, the failures in his own. He described his terrors without weakening. He was a wit. He could be a girl. In the Warhol tradition, he was making high art of what were considered “low” themes. Reflecting the culture he lived in, he wrote better about it than some of the best known have about theirs, and probably surpasses Allen Ginsberg in his fearless, dynamic artistry and articulation. 
He loved the literary as much as he did rock ’n’ roll and he intended to write something urban. “…wanted to put Burroughs or Ginsberg, Hubert Selby, Delmore (Schwartz) into a song.”  He gave credit to his mentors, acknowledged that it couldn’t have happened for him without Andy W. who kept asking him why he didn’t write more, telling him he should be writing all the time. It’s okay to skip out on the Academy. The experiment is the thing. Poets are born. They’re fed by the joy of their passions. Understanding comes from hard work. Hard work is done by the body, the head and the heart. Lou was, at first unconsciously but later with sober intensity, intent upon bringing these parts together. And this voice from whom all those parts and pieces form a persuasive, original body of work, speak for and to so many in a glorious multitude of ways. 
There’s a responsibility that comes with having all the time to play that all of time will allow, and that’s to leave a legacy, maps with directions and recipes with instructions and pictures that no one has to follow. If there’s any greater legacy to be had from Lou and the time and place that he and I came up in, by example there’s this: Live outside of convention. Listen to your instincts. Don’t trust your impulses. Go where the conditions are right to create you. Trust that the words, music and the art are inside and will come out in the playing. Give credit to others. Coalesce. Promote one another. Make it stick. Go on to your solo effort. 
(How many times do I have to tell you kids that you don’t have to be able to sing? But you’ve gotta have a voice and that voice must be credible if not completely true.) Be humble. Do it your way. Presumed failure can be a success if you wait. And remember what Delmore Schwartz wrote: “They say time is a fire in which we burn.”
When I first heard of Lou’s passing, I was thirty-two thousand feet above the ground on my way back to our Village. Inflight Wi-Fi sank my heart—and then my favorite underrated Lou song hit me like a flower, lit up my head: Fly Into the Sun from New Sensations. It was more than analgesic.
A week later, I read Laurie Anderson’s description of his passing. She said this: “he didn’t give up until the last half-hour of his life, when he suddenly accepted it – all at once and completely. We were at home – I’d gotten him out of the hospital a few days before – and even though he was extremely weak, he insisted on going out into the bright morning light.”  
“I would not run from the holocaust
I would not run from the bomb
I’d welcome the chance to meet my maker
and fly into the sun”
He meant what he said and he said what he meant: “I never cared about credibility except from me.”
Lou got New York; first downtown and then the whole of it. He got it and it fit him like his leather. And New York eventually put her big hairy arms around Lou. The world at large, as it so often does, caught up to what he was reflecting just as it was sliding away. But it did get him. So many of the things people say about New York can also be said about Lou. Any sighting of him was always electrifying, regardless of his health or psychic temperature. 
He was one of the last people left who made living downtown seem like the greatest luck imaginable. Later as he ached and aged, he seemed to become the streets of his love and his hassle. He took on the look of concrete, asphalt and cobblestone and then he gracefully exited into the essence. If you’re particularly sensitive, as he was, to all the parts of the music and the story, you’ll still feel him around you. You’ll hear him in the street, in your favorite band, in your vacuum cleaner. 
Often I’ve thought the same thousands keep coming back here to Downtown Manhattan; restless ghosts in some dance of eternal recurrence, and we’ll see each other again in this place, but maybe in a different time or configuration. If that’s the case and we do, I know for certain that I’ll recognize Lou.
We played until we got old. And this is not to say that we didn’t work.

Fly Into the Sun / © METAL MACHINE MUSIC
I would not run from the holocaust
I would not run from the bomb
I’d welcome the chance to meet my maker
and fly into the sun
Fly into the sun
fly into the sun
I’d break up into million pieces
and fly into the sun
I would not run from the blazing light
I would not run from its rain
I’d see it as an end to misery
as an end to worldly pain
An end to worldly pain
an end to worldly pain
I’d shine by the light of the unknown moment
to end this worldly pain
And fly into the sun
fly into the sun
I’d shine by the light of the unknown moment
and fly into the sun
The earth is weeping, the sky is shaking
the stars split to their core
And every proton and unnamed neutron
is fusing in my bones
And an unnamed mammal is darkly rising
as man burns from his tomb
And I look at this as a blissful moment
to fly into the sun
Fly into the sun
fly into the sun
I’d burn up into a million pieces
and fly into the sun
To end this mystery
answer my mystery
I’d look at this as a wondrous moment
to end this mystery
Fly into the sun
fly into the sun
I’d break up into a million pieces
and fly into the sun

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Blondie lyrics are me; "I Know But I Don't Know"Fast Company brings you my (streaks and) tips for issues of focus: combine and blend.

Many thanks to Evie Nagy who knows how to whip it into shape.

                   Photo of me by Kenneth Dolin

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

In-Laws, Rules, Levant, Legacy and Napping.

Attending The Oscars with S. (my first time ever)
Part 2 - For Part 1, scroll down. 

Our dressed-to-the-nines behinds were in the seats with a few minutes to spare before the countdown so we took the opportunity to check our phones for precious Facebook and twitter moments. In a stunning 21st century social media turn here’s what we found: my mother-in-law had spotted us on “E” Entertainment TV in the way-back of the split red carpet situation, several layers deep, far beyond June Squibb and Jared Leto as he was proposing to Junie. Eagle-eyed and sharp as she is, Barbara managed to get off a thoroughly modern screenshot of this moment, send it to my husband who sent it off  to S’s husband. Both husbands then tweeted the pic and who can say, really, how twitter managed to not crash right then. Said photo is now known as “The shot seen ‘round the house.” I share it with you, here (with thanks to my mother-in-law):

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome your host, Ellen DeGeneres!” and the 86th live telecasting began. Then the show went as well as you saw it with little difference other than size based on distance and a scant few regrettable passages of time taken up by genuine breathless concern over who may or may not have had a stroke or be having one live on-camera and also, this guy:

You're probably wondering, so I’ll tell you; I did as told. I was a guest, after all. I did not applaud for my dead friends and acquaintances or those I knew only by reputation and contribution to the industry, those whose work I so admire who passed away this year. But I wanted to. I really had to sit on my fancied up hands. Let the Academy hide the fact of our applause from you by pulling the audio plug if they must, but the fact that we care, feel moved, sentimental, reverent or however we do about our colleagues often comes out in the form of spontaneous applause for the wonder of their work. It’s a last and maybe only chance for us to celebrate in a room together the lives of those lost to us. For the health of the community, AMPAS, let your people clap. There are already too many ruley rules. And Eileen Brennan, I will love, love, love you forever and I’m clapping now. And for you too, Joan Fontaine—and not just because you are the fave of Self Styled Siren’s Farran Smith Nehme, who for me is the only and last word on Kim Novak’s appearance: 

Among some of my friends there is snark and cynicism when it comes to OSCAR™. I’ll admit that for me, a true fan and sometime-member of the community—if not the Academy—the nominations, the show, can irk, over or underwhelm. I’ve always loved the movies and OSCAR™ is part of that love. Warm. Statuette.

My first Oscar will always be Oscar Levant who said “Strip away the phony tinsel of Hollywood and you will find the real tinsel underneath.” I’ve always liked tinsel. He’s one of the first movie stars I loved (in An American in Paris!).
I love the movies and the people who make them and OSCAR™ (and also Oscar) and I love The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for preserving the history of film. Getting to dress up and go to The OSCARs with my friend Sharon Mizota, one of the responsible crew of archivists and librarians at A.M.P.A.S Margaret Herrick Library who go to work every day with a sincere appreciation of all that is encompassed in the world of film—even caring for my small contributions—was a special honor, indeed. Shout out to the preservationists: “Alright, alright, alright!” That’s my report.
Photo by Andy Zax

Monday, March 03, 2014

Guys, Dolls, Guns, Pancake and Penicillin

Attending The Oscars with S. (my first time ever)
Part One

It's just as you would think. It is way more fun to dress up and be there than  to watch it on television. Having said that though, S. and I both remarked that you can see the suits and dresses better on the broadcast and television seems to obliterate a lot of wrinkles—but only in fabric—not skin. Up close and in-person you can see every wrinkle and tear and all the supposed fixes in the fabric of the human and also on the outfits that you might manage to ogle. This is only one reason why Sidney Poitier’s daughter looked more put together than anyone else. Her dress was made of (silver) leather and must have weighed quite a lot, so it stayed in majestic shape throughout the night. That dress and Cate Blanchett’s were my flawless favorites of the ones that I truly saw. And yes, dresses get torn because women without nominations actually wear dresses with trains as if they’re nominees or maybe brides, even. I don’t know. Academy and Dolby Theater employees urge the crowd ever forward toward the theater throughout the carpet-walk and with haste: Attendees Beware! The risk of uncoupling a doyenne or two from her prized caboose is not to be underestimated. Enemies were made.

Here’s a kind of timeline beginning with our arrival  Dolby Theater adjacent: Because there are many street closures, there’s a map to the Dolby furnished by the Academy. Once you’ve figured out how to get onto Hollywood Boulevard via the assigned route, there’s a police checkpoint. They use what, in effect are giant shoe mirrors on the undercarriage of your car and then check the trunk and sometimes the glove compartment. Our experience: Not at all sex-ay—but police were professional and polite. Next, you drive around a medium sized SWAT-type unit set up in the middle of the street, guns out. Guns were HUGE. I’m not talking about biceps. I’m saying, maybe Heckler & Koch MP5’s. They were definitely intimidating. Hurricane fences line both sides of the street at the sidewalk’s edge and people stand behind these hoping to see celebs, however unlikely it is in that location. When you get to Highland and Hollywood going west, you give the car over to the valets. There are scores of valets and also even more cops. From there, you get out your ticket and I.D. and if you’re like us, you arrive exactly as Jared Leto is arriving so as not to be noticed by anyone at all and to be afforded an in-person look- see to determine if Jared is “all that.” I’m still thinking about the man-tan pancake-makeup he had on.  It worried me in my two hours of sleep. I dreamed about Picrin and how to remove pancake from your standard white cotton jacket. Was I a dry cleaner in another life?

When you get out of the car, you’re already on a piece of the red carpet which for a few yards crosses the road and is The Red Carpet which then branches out into two sections. The employee carpet or non-celeb side of the same red carpet but divided by stanchions and velvet rope from the carpet that carries the famous. There, in spite of a wide berth, everyone unknown and less known understandably crushes toward the ropes to get a look at the nominee’s backs and an occasional front as they’re interviewed by the international press corps. That’s damned neat. I didn’t mind it one bit, but one of the good people working to keep our side of the crowd moving confessed to me that he was soooo over it. I was bumped into constantly and as you can see, this results in less than stellar iPhone photos. 

Once inside the building we had our picture taken-for the record-by the friendly Employee photographer. Ah, posterity! Then up the long stairway to mingle with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and the crowd. By the time we got to the bar they were out of Champagne so we chose to go with the signature cocktail which was The Penicillin. Good choice. Here’s the recipe—or something very close to it.:
I ignored the snacks other than to note that among the selections were pork rinds and fried kale (you-go-get-your-salty-crispy-fat on, Wolfgang Puck.) I could not have fit a slivered almond into my gut without having to remove my dress (by Isabel Marant.)

S. and I lingered over our drink, people-watching and chatting with a co-worker or three of hers. As we made for the elevator to Mezzanine 3-which is somehow also Level 5—I saw Benedict Cumberbatch. And I wanted him to be slightly different than he was. He looked awkward and uncomfortable with himself and who he was with. Maybe it was a weird moment where he’d just forgotten someone’s name or face and had to pretend that he knew them. Or is that just my nightmare? I saw him in an un-suave moment and had to work my way up (or was it down?) to feeling that this vulnerability made him cuter. He was also, like almost every actor—let’s all say it aloud and in unison—smaller than he looks onscreen.

We made it to our seats in time to avoid the 20 minute penalty (you can’t go in until the next commercial break if you miss the curfew.) We landed center stage Row L Seat 46, but so high, in seats so raked, that the perspective flattened Pharrell's hat. When he got happy, I couldn't tell that he was wearing one. There are teevee screens up top but just two very small ones. My suggestion for the people of Dolby: install another few giant screens, care more about the entire audience being able to see the lit-up faces of winners and performers on stage. That bliss is to be shared, not just for the people on the first two of levels.
Before the show began, in a Hunger Games moment, there was a short speech from the announcer-voice-over dude about the kind of off-the-cuff impassioned speeches without notes the Academy was hoping the winners would bring. Hint-hint, comply. There were other moments like that, most notably when we were repeatedly told not to clap for the dead people we so miss and revere during the in memoriam montage.  Turned out they were super serious about this and they cut the sound feed completely due to a few hands that couldn’t stop themselves from coming together.

More to come…

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Book of Face May Burn

I've always been intrigued by the library at Alexandria, so while I was on a small team building what was to be a literary archive, I listed Alexandria as my Home on my profile on the book of Face. I left it there for another reason. I began to get Egyptian advertising which obviously is in another alphabet, making it easy to distinguish between my friend's (and acquaintances and other people I've allowed onto my page) posts and the ads themselves. A couple of people recently asked about it in "message" function. They pointedly asked if I live in Egypt. One of them is someone I don't actually know but who had asked to be my "friend" a while back. I explained the above to two, maybe three people total over the last  few weeks (answering in the "message" function.) You guessed it, right?  I'm no longer receiving the Egyptian ads. You can decide for yourself whether or not this means anything. Thought most of you would like to know. Please read THIS too (by Michael Daly):

Friday, May 10, 2013

A February Entry From My 1976 Journal

Stephen Sprouse was living in a now famous loft building having been invited to stay by the temporary  landlord, Benton Quin who had also previously invited Chris Stein and Debbie Harry. We were all still playing well together. (See some pix on my website here: Blondie "266 Loft" ) Stephen was experimenting with Color Xerox. It was new to all of us and too expensive for most. We loved the high contrast you could get from Xeroxing a photo and the new bright colors. They had an influence on his clothes to come. He gave me this picture (I wish I could remember the name of the model who looks like one of "Antonio's Girls") and I think I folded it. We didn’t know that it took these forever to fully dry. The two sides got stuck together but I peeled them apart so I could paste it in my journal. I didn’t know about archival glue and preservation methods in those days. Then I took my Journal to Washington, D.C. where I was in previews with Divine, et al in Tom Eyen’s "Women Behind Bars" and I wrote on it. 

I try not to judge my callow self.

Here's what it says.


Some People Should Never Leave New York City

Maybe I'm going out on a limb saying that Taylor Mead died the other day because he'd been chased out of his lower east side home by developers; that his finally giving up and giving in to such an alternative landscape as Colorado led to his system giving out. Having a fight to play to is good for some people. Particularly so if you were still the Taylor I met back before 1975, the year this photo by Anton Perich was taken. I'd see Taylor around. We were acquaintances. I'm assuming in some ways he remained that Taylor Mead, the man on the right with a drink in his hand and probably Quaaludes or something more in his system. The head he achieved freed him up to poet himself, to rant around. He was in a constant state of improv.  

There were a lot of guys who spoke only poetry in those days. There were few to no girls, so Patricia Smith became the famous one not only because of her words but because of guys like Taylor (though no two were exactly alike.) We took for granted that the next crop and the next crop would appear in this style of unique but they haven't. They're becoming extinct. I would marvel at how stoned Taylor could be or seemed to be and he scared me, in that way that clowns can. He was sweet--or not. I never witnessed a middle. That was his radiant being in 1975 - or at least it was the one I saw. 

Jackie Curtis invited me to a party at Taylor's apartment. Or at least, I think it was his apartment. It was a loft with an elevator that opened up into it on the second or third floor of a building indirectly across the street from The Factory.  I went and brought Blondie bassist Gary Valentine. That's what we all did then. We heard about a party, everyone invited everyone and everyone went. All and everything below 23rd Street was reaching critical mass at Taylor's place. I liked being there. It was "fresh," as the kids say. Now that I think of it, I don't even know if Jackie was invited by Taylor himself.  The party was huge. It was hard to move from one room to another. It was a most exciting thing to see Viva up-close. At the height of this mongo-bongo-throng-o, Taylor started screaming at the top of his lungs, "GET OUT! GET OUT, EVERYONE! IT'S MY BIRTHDAY AND I INVITED YOU HERE AND NOW I'M THROWING YOU ALL OUT. GET OUT! GET THE FUCK OUT!! Gary and I thought this was cool and scary and kind of sad all at the same time. Who knew it was his birthday?!

This was the native state. Try stuff. See what happened. Only hurt yourself. There was a horrible crush for the elevator and people were trampled but they liked it. 

This (ca. 1920) painting by Hugo Scheiber, appropriately named Shouting, Self Portrait has always reminded me of that Taylor.  He may have died in Colorado but  I’ll bet he was back in Manhattan by nightfall.

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