Thursday, November 21, 2013
[NEAR-ENOUGH THANKSGIVING UPDATE OF 11/21/2013: Two of my photos of Burroughs wearing a late-'80s-era "brain machine" have been incorporated into this video (at 2:32 & 3:34) of the song "Burroughs" by Chelsea Light Moving (which features Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth). I like the song and the video so much that I'm not going to sic my entertainment attorney on the videomaker for copyright infringement!]
[ORIGINALLY POSTED 11/25/10:]
A couple of weeks ago at the Starz Denver International Film Festival, I saw the documentary that I’d been eagerly awaiting: William S. Burroughs: A Man Within. Denver’s alternative weekly Westword published a blog about my contributions towards the film’s making--since it features some of my photos of Burroughs, as well as audio (Burroughs talking about his “shotgun art”) from my interview with the writer. In fact, my black-and-white photo of Burroughs wearing a “brain machine” (above) can be seen within the documentary’s latest trailer:
The film offers a compelling look at Burroughs’ history, featuring the affecting recollections and perspectives of Patti Smith, John Waters, and Genesis P-Orridge. People unfamiliar with Burroughs and his work will learn about the counterculture legend from it, and longtime Burroughs devotees will gain new insights. In fact, in its stellar review of the film, the New York Times wrote, "There is not a word or image wasted in a documentary you wish ran an extra half-hour beyond its condensed 90 minutes."
I’m thankful that I was able to lend a hand.
Which reminds me: What would a Thanksgiving be without taking in a viewing of William S. Burroughs’ A Thanksgiving Prayer (also featured within the film)?
Saturday, November 9, 2013
- “I love to work with chance: you don't have to pay him. He's a good partner.”
- “I like to search [for] things; I don't like to find them.”
- “I love mistakes. I think the best inventions of human beings are mistakes: penicillin...Viagra, LSD, etc."
- “I'm a journalist. But in this project I wanted to kill the journalist. I wanted to be another person: more poetical, more creative.” Rejecting his previous TV-work experience, Alegria set out to find a fresher path: “I think we all have to do something called 'Emak Bakia' in our life.”
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Born outside of Chicago, his parents separated while he was a young boy. He was raised by his father, then by a grandmother in California. As a child, he was badly burned, the scars still visible on his neck and face decades later. Somewhere along the line, he also lost an eye (in the fire, as well?) – which has led to the speculation that his limited sight may have contributed to his unique vision upon canvas.
In 1967, he moved to Colorado, residing in Salida, the Aspen area, and finally Denver. An acquaintance of his from the '90s, who remembers him less than fondly, quipped via email, “He reminded me of some itinerant Frenchman from the 1920's somehow caught in godforsaken cowtown Denver.”
The mystery remains: What happened to Vincent's 1970 statue commissioned by the May D&F company for Denver's Zeckendorf Plaza? It was placed beside noted architect's I.M. Pei's hyperbolic paraboloid--before Pei's work was appallingly torn down in the years to come. Where is the statue today?
Throughout the years, his art was sporadically shown – although, across the globe. He exhibited at Maruyama Gallery in Nagano, Japan; at the Blue Man Gallery in Prague; at Quantair Arts in Den Haag, the Netherlands; at Oz Architecture in Denver.
A notable, human interest anecdote: This web site helped reunite Vincent with family members of his, whose online research led them to my previous photos of Richard inside his studio, and allowed them to make contact with him after 50 years. A sense of closure for his elderly aunt, who had always wondered what had happened to her sister's boy. After a cousin's initial talk with him, she reported back to me, somewhat aghast, that Vincent didn't own a TV or a computer! Didn't own them willingly, I'm sure – rather than as an indication of him being the proverbial starving artist – I replied.
“That's the way it goes,” painter and sculptor Richard Vincent resignedly concluded.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Little Fyodor being group-groped by his band mates, including Babushka (far right).
On 7/13/13, a show is being held at Denver's Walnut Room in celebration of a new(ish) tribute CD to singer-songwriter Little Fyodor called The Unscratchable Itch. Quite an honor, given that you usually get a tribute CD (if at all!) only when you're dead or near-death. In addition to Fyodor cover songs by Ralph Gean, Boyd Rice, and the Voodoo Organist, the CD includes one by the author of this blog, in addition to another by the side project that this author co-produces, Reverend Lead Pipe and the Evil Do'ers (my vocals on both cuts).
Twenty-one plus years ago I acquired Little Fyodor's cassette Beneath the Uber-Putz, a selection of original, punk-inspired songs that still bring me joy, thanks to the dark, witty vision of the songs' angst-ridden creator. It's an honor to have participated in the recording of "Small Talk" (from side "Uber" of the cassette) and "You Will Die" (from side "Putz") for the tribute CD. And I will be joyfully informing Little Fyodor of this on Saturday, after I perform onstage and before he does, when I request that he sign the sleeve of my precious cassette. (Check for it on sale on eBay on Monday!)
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Rapper Kalyn Heffernan of Wheelchair Sports Camp rolled one for High Times, and I just so happened to be the scribe along for the ride. My article on the hip hop group was published in the magazine's February 2013 issue.
Some of my favorite Kalyn quotes weren't able to be included in the piece. So here they are -- for the first time anywhere!:
On being a disabled rapper doing what she does:
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Pierced Arrows dressed as themselves, Halloween Night 2012. Ash Street Saloon. Portland, Oregon.
A word often used to describe the husband (guitar/vocals) and wife (bass/vocals) team of Fred & Toody Cole is "legendary." After all, Fred Cole has a rock 'n' roll pedigree dating back to the '60s with his band the Weeds/Lollipop Shoppe, and their previous group Dead Moon garnered fans on at least a couple of continents. But I'd be remiss not to add "fun" and "intense" as onstage characterizations for them, as well.
Last night, I re-watched the Coles perform as part of Dead Moon in the 1996 documentary Hype! about the Seattle grunge scene. Although they're certainly representative of a Pacific Northwest psych-garage-punk sound, what's not mentioned in the flick is that the Coles pound terra 173 miles to the south in Portland -- not belly up to Puget Sound. Ah, the days when Portland got no respect!
As for the Coles and drummer Kelly Halliburton--"Much Respect," as the saying goes, for their gritty, gutsy playing, and Fred Cole's switchblade-insightful lyricism.
Friday, December 7, 2012
"Henry Hemp" interviewing Steve Bloom (right) about his book Reefer Movie Madness: The Ultimate Stoner Film Guide. Bloom, who runs the CelebStoner web site, edited articles of mine for High Times magazine, and gave me assignments to conduct feature interviews with authors Tom Robbins and T.C. Boyle.
For Reefer Movie Madness, I contributed a couple of movie reviews: Withnail and I ("Bruce Robinson's film deservedly has as devoted a cult audience in England as The Big Lebowski does in the U.S.") and Oliver Stone's Salvador ("There, Boyle and Rock encounter death squad victims at a mass dumping ground, right-wing paramilitaries, Marxist guerillas, and Reagan-administration interventionists who purposely overlook human rights violations by the El Salvadoran power elites...").
If I were being interviewed for a documentary right now, I'd say, "May there be less Reefer Madness, and more Reefer Movie Madness, in the days ahead."
Cut! That's a wrap!
Friday, October 12, 2012
Never have I witnessed a performer reach so many different types of audiences: whether it be white hipster dive-bar patrons as he plays his original songs like "Homicidal Me," or latinos gamely listening to him butcher the lyrics to "La Bamba" at a blue-collar bar, or old folks at a retirement home as he breaks out a hip-shaking, risque Elvis standard. Ralph has been enjoyed at peckerwood car lots, local talent shows, and Satanist wedding receptions. He has the gift of reaching all manner of people through his muse.
one of his own CDs, in addition to having tickled the keys on my very own, original Gregory Ego sound recording. (See YouTube video below.)
Here's hoping Ralph remains ready, willing, and able to rock and roll all night for years to come.
Happy Birthday to you, Ralph Gean!
Thursday, October 4, 2012
And Simons is also a onetime employer of mine. In the '90s, he headed an HIV and Hepatitis C prevention group called People Engaged in Education and Reduction Strategies (PEERS). From '97 to '98, I helped coordinate the organization's activities. Our non-profit co-hosted a conference on harm reduction that was attended by the health departments of several Western states, as well as Colorado's future governor. (My article on the event can be found here, on pg. 28.) We spearheaded a change in Denver law concerning syringe exchange, and attempted to reform state law in the legislature. And we hosted a regional user's group which solicited advice, on behalf of state funding overseers, from injection drug users on how to best offer services.
I once asked Simons how he managed to be a political outsider, yet still officiate in a very public way within the system.
"Compartmentalization," he shot back.
I still find that to be particularly helpful advice.
UPDATE: The photo above of Wayne Kramer was recently included within the book Feeding Back: Conversations With Alternative Guitarists by David Todd. It’s a book of interviews, which are as much about several, unique musicians’ takes on life as it is about their relationship with their instrument. For instance:
David Todd: Are you still a work in progress?
Wayne Kramer: Well, yeah. I haven’t pulled over and parked. I guess we’re coming back around to this idea of ambition, and I actually feel like I’m just getting started, you know…That’s why I’m grateful that I’m alive, I’m enthusiastic about every day. I know that my time is finite, but it’s enough time. It’s exactly enough time if you’re using it as best you can.It’s time to express my gratitude. I was tickled pink – or, perhaps, red, white and blue (like Wayne’s axe) – that the Kramer organization directed Todd towards my photo, and suggested it be used as the one representative shot of the guitar-slinger that would be included in the book at the start of the interview.
Wayne Kramer makes ready to perform a most incendiary version of "Kick Out The Jams" with Rage Against the Machine, across town from the Democratic National Convention. Denver Coliseum. August 27, 2008.
Here's my Huffington Post interview with Kramer that took place prior to the event. Kramer relates his experience with the MC5 at the violence-soaked '68 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
(Click here for my other Wayne Kramer photos.)
Thursday, April 12, 2012
ed fROMOHIO and Mike Watt of fIREHOSE. Early '90s. Where and when exactly...it's all a mystery to me today.
Having seen Mike Watt's previous band, I can attest that fIREHOSE were no Minutemen. But, then again, the Minutemen were no fIREHOSE.
Here's to fIREHOSE's present-day reunion -- and to Mike Watts' continued low-end endeavors.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Cheers! Wishing the always energetic Slim Cessna's Auto Club another 20 years of activity. The band celebrates its double-decade existance this week with three gigs at the Lions Lair in Denver -- a rare treat. Those shows I'll be missing. But luckily I've seen the band at the venue, in the past. The photo above, though, was taken in Fort Collins in the late '90s.
Monday, March 26, 2012
The photo that I took above accompanied my feature interview with Tom Robbins ("The Green Man") in the June 2000 issue of High Times. The same interview was recently reprinted in a scholarly work published by the University Press of Mississippi: Conversations with Tom Robbins. Nice to know that a state-affiliated publisher in Mississippi would concern itself with Mr. Robbins' thoughts concerning pyschedelics.
My favorite exchange:
HT: Why, in your opinion, is fiction still an important art form?Trip out on that! In Jackson, no less!
TR: Much more than an entertaining set of exaggerated facts, fiction is a metaphoric method of describing, dramatizing and condensing historical events, personal actions, psychological states and the symbolic knowledge encoded within the collective unconscious; things, events and conditions that are otherwise too diffuse and/or complex to be completely digested or appreciated by the prevailing culture. The human race has always defined itself through narration. That isn't going to change just because we've gone electronic. What is changing is that now we're allowing corporations to tell our stories for us. And as I write in my new novel, the message of the corporate story is always the same: "To be special, you must conform; to be valid, you must consume." Real fiction will prevail, however, because at its best it's an enchantment that refreshes the wasteland of the mind.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The first cannabis reviewer that I ever read was a fellow who went by the initial “R,” while penning for High Times back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
These days, the anonymous – yet notorious – critic William Breathes writes for Denver’s alternative weekly Westword. Here’s a piece I wrote for Kush Magazine on Breathes (pg. 52).
As I state/ask in my article:
But Breathes can proudly face-off against other critics in the world of media. Let’s face it: there are a host of reviewers out there who note the aesthetics of a variety of commercial products – like wine, cigars, beer, food – and often use the same language, focusing on the terpenes that they detect in the nose or on the palette. Why not cannabis reviewers, as well, being considered as serious and distinguished trades people?
Little Fyodor, Boyd Rice, and Ralph Gean gathered together in fellowship at the Lion’s Lair in Denver. Franksgiving Celebration. 10/8/2011.
Friday, November 18, 2011
A mixture of humor and bluster. Bark and snark. Singing about White Demons and White Castle hamburgers. Cartoonish. Playing with sedition in the classic, American tradition, like a Charlie Chaplin or Abbie Hoffman. A self-referential, all-brown, Cheech and Chong meets the Three Stooges meets the Beastie Boys.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Babbs was there in '64 on the festively-painted bus Further with fellow writer Ken Kesey and crew: a journey spotlighted in Tom Wolfe’s novel The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and a new documentary film Magic Trip. The first public Acid Test was held at his place, as well.
Here’s the psychedelic captain in July 2011 at his spread near Eugene, Oregon, flying both his American flag and his, so to speak, “Freak” flag.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Sun Ra excited my ears, entranced my mind, and awakened my own interest in and exploration of jazz and its history. The late bandleader promised the stars. And, for many who still revel in his brand of joyful noise, Sun Ra keeps keeping his promise.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Here's what I remember about the Fluid: high energy, raw power, long hair, great presence, great drive. They were the band that served the image of Denver well on the Sub Pop roster -- the first non-Seattle band signed to the label.
Regrettably, I never got to see any of the Fluid's reunion shows, which took place about a couple years ago, but I did get to see 'em a few times back in the day, back in the mid to late '80s. (And I also didn't get to see them a time or two when the fire department, for instance, would shut down a show before it began or midway into it.) Heck, I even opened up on a bill for them with my compadre Kirk Gill, both of us playing electric guitars, no drums, no bass, when I helped organize a couple of their appearances on the Auraria Campus at a club called the Mission.
I didn't know guitarist Rick Kulwicki, personally. But his recent death at age 49 felt like a chapter closing. He not only left behind great rock 'n' roll memories, he left behind two teenagers, who are carrying on his legacy: singer Richard and rhythm guitarist Roman of the band Purple Fluid.
The Kulwickis performed this past weekend with Purple Fluid at a benefit intended for them. They did a stand-up job of displaying their sonic lineage. Enhancing the event (and adding a heaping helping of Fluid to Purple Fluid), they were joined onstage for their set by two of their late dad's band mates: namely, drummer Garrett Shavlik and vocalist John Robinson.
Missed the Kulwicki benefit shows? It's not too late to contribute here.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Bassist Horace Panter and vocalist Terry Hall of The Specials. I'd add that the band was opening for The Police at the Rainbow Music Hall in Denver in 1980, when I took this photo -- but, actually, it felt more like The Police closed the show for this legendary, British ska amalgamation (and it wasn't like The Police had a bad set, by any means, either). The Specials were so hyper-manic (like watching a ping-pong match), with a purpose (think black-and-white, inclusive, "2 Tone" movement), it was hard to accept that they fizzled out after only another year. Perhaps it was a case -- to quote one of their songs (albeit, one about teenage pregnancy) -- of them doing "too much, too young."
Back together, more or less (more if you count Terry Hall returning to the band; less if you count the lack of keyboardist and founder Jerry Dammers), the band continues to play shows. Just as long as they're not "too little, too old," I say...hell, they've never needed my encouragement to "go for it"--frenetically or musically.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Recently, I had the chance to visit Thompson's Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colorado, accompanying other attendees of NORML's 2010 Aspen Legal Seminar at a cookout at Thompson's place:
Wishing to appease the Spirit of Gonzo, I offered to read from one of the late Thompson's works. (I understand that Thompson used to enjoy hearing his own writing read aloud to him.) I didn't know beforehand that Anita Thompson would respond to my request by picking the beginning of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (one of my all-time favorite openings) and inviting me to recite it in front of the group of people gathered in the cabin's living room:
Visiting Owl Farm was a dream come true, but for one thing: the late Thompson wasn't there in the flesh to chide me or nod in approval at my recitation -- whichever the case may have been -- while taking a slug of Chivas Regal.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Jack Herer in Lakewood, Colorado in 1991 with his friend "Captain Ed" Adair.
Cannabis and the Dead
Cannabis was an integral part of the Scythian cult of the dead, wherein homage was paid to the memory of their departed leaders. After the death and burial of their king, the Scythians would purify themselves by setting up small tepee-like structures which they would enter to inhale the fumes of hemp seeds (and the resinous flower calyxes surrounding the seeds) thrown onto red-hot stones.
In a famous passage written in about 450 B.C., Herodotus describes these funeral rites as follows:
...when, therefore, the Scythians have taken some seed of this hemp, they creep under the cloths and put the seeds on the red hot stones; but this being put on smokes, and produces such a steam, that no Grecian vapour-bath would surpass it. The Scythians, transported by the vapour, shout aloud.
Hopefully, there have been enough smoke signals sent up, in order to lead Jack along on his journey. Hopefully, he's getting a send-off worthy of a Scythian king!