Saturday, May 11, 2013

NYC, May 9, 2013

photo by Bruce Pross

Met lots of punk rockers last night - ahem… maybe I shouldn't have started with the word "MET".
There's been so many divided reviews of the Gala this week from the Metropolitan Museum's annual fundraiser Costume Ball.
I thought it was a bit bizarre when a presenter on TV actually asked Vivienne Westwood who she was wearing, and they didn't mean her Bradley Manning jewellery.

I read about the Gala in the Costa Coffee lounge at Heathrow.
They have free newspapers.
The Times of London loved it "Crowns are the new Tiara's" they wrote.
The Daily Mail hated it (probably because Lady Diana is dead and couldn't be there).

I was a bit confused about the fuss.
What I understood was some people thought the designer clothes weren't punk. But don't designers use an idea and move forward from there? It's not like the designers were meant to re-create 1976, were they? I thought Madonna's outfit with her signature crucifix on her bottom was trying hard, and please, someone, give Sarah Jessica Parker something to eat.

Anyway - I digress. Thursday 9 May I went to BOOK MARC.
Book Marc is a clean and bright corner bookshop owned by Marc Jacobs.
Yes the Fashion Designer.

He used to work for Louis Vuitton.
Now there's 200 Marc Jacob stores in 80 countries.

JUST CHAOS was organised by Roberta Bayley who invited these fabulous Photographers:
Janette Beckman
Stephanie Chernikowski
Laura Levine
Julia Gorton
Eileen Polk
Marcia Resnick
Leee Black Childers
Danny Fields
Bobby Grossman
Bob Gruen
Chris Stein
and Joe Stevens
to put a few of their punk rock era photos each in the store windows and amongst the punk rock literature inside.

Because I had been a little thrown by the torrential rain in the morning but decided to visit the local thrift shop to see if they had anything interesting, $15 got me a pair of red tartan trousers.
I didn't see a pair of converse at the show but I did have a wonderful time - this included:
John Leyland (nee SPIN now NYT): We chatted about going to the punk show at the Met.
We both hoped the Gala was successful even if the punk exhibit fails.
John with Andy Schwartz

I saw Leee Black Childers (another Warhol Factory man) but we couldn't chat because he was being interviewed all evening pretty much.

I admired Laura Levine's photographic career and she told me how she organises events at her shop upstate called The Mystery Shop, and how much she liked the voice of the singer in Alessi's Ark.
Me Too.
Randy Haecker (Virgo) told me he's working on a Clash Box Set (i forget how many discs but there are quite a lot).
He had a Marc Jacobs bag and when asked to show-and-tell he didn't produce a shirt or a tie, but a book, nicely wrapped.

He'd bought Sheila Rock's photography book.
Sheila just had a book launch in London.

I met a real-life Ball Catcher for the Phillies baseball team: Ms Ronnie Norpel (right).
She's even written a book called BASEBALL KARMA (the book the Phillies don't want you to read!)

I met Howie Pyro who told me his punk rock flyer collection is still up in the Bowery Electric and will be for a few more weeks.

I love Puma Pearl in her lovely t-shirt.

I stood with Jahn Xavier who could name most of the people on the sidewalk from his youth - and I mean YOUTH. He was 16 when he played bass for Richard Hell.. he named the CBGB's waitresses amongst others...
I met a Jewish Norwegian man who had given up smoking three days ago. WELL DONE.
I may have said, it's a bit of a mystery why we smoke, isn't it - and he produced a typed - on a TYPEWRITER - paper - why he liked smoking..

This is Huff Post TV's Mark Sax with Roberta fresh from the studio where were on the sidewalk.

Handsome Dick Manitoba and Handsome son Jake were present.

Just as Roberta was leaving, a young man in a beanie approached her with a clipboard said, "I'm casting for a commercial and looking for interesting people, would you be interested?"
Roberta said yes.
Man: What's your name?
RB: Roberta Bayley
I wrote it down for him as Roberta was holding flowers and so on.
Me: What's the commercial for?
Man: Levi's Jeans.
I thought that was funny since Roberta took that photo of the Ramones on the cover of their first album in their, now iconic, ripped at the knees jeans.

It was warm. It got dark.

Godlis took a last look at the window before heading off to his neighbourhood.

I hopped the uptown train with a good friend. We talked about dylan and people we knew and how we are going to raise some funds of our own, without mentioning google, internet, like it was 1976.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Letter from London - Winter 2013

Letter from London
(With trips to the South Coast)

It was a long dark, very cold Winter here in the UK.

It needed somewhere to go, warm bodies to be next too... some Rock and Roll.

I've been down on the South Coast, Hampshire/Dorset border.
Not a lot of clubs here.
Mostly high streets full of charity shops and supermarkets where a lot of things cost a pound.
Til recently I was leaving in the dark and coming home in the dark, and holding my phone up to light the path.

I've been working for the Royal Lifeboat Charity.
The Charity provides lifeboats for the whole of the British Isles, and trains the crews.

On a wet and windy day, you can be in Brighton, Skegness or Galway Bay at the butchers, say, and if the siren goes off - look out! your shopkeeper's gonna run out from behind the counter and dash down the seafront to man the lifeboat. Even in the Winter.
(I guess you pay for your groceries later.)

Next day, you'll hear they rescued a tourist cut off by an incoming tides or righted some fishermen who couldn't get stable in the treacherous seas; sometimes people "fall" off cliffs, sometimes they haul in drunk hooray henry's who mistook the starboard from the port... And these heroes are volunteers.

The Charity has a lot of supporters from the Countess of Burma to Miss Swann in landlocked Middlesex.
They do a lot of valuable fundraising from hosting afternoon teas, organizing raffles at galas, or they die and leave the whole of their estates (including their premium bonds, national savings certificates and gold rings).
(In fact, the Charity gets so much money, I'm surprised they don't start their own bank. The ROYAL NATIONAL LIFEBOAT BANK.)

I was working in their Legacy Department, which got busier around Christmas, sadly.

There's a lot of work to be done when people pass on.
I had no idea.
I'd never seen a Will before and no, here I was, facing cabinets full of them.
The Wall of Wills.

I did a bit of filing: Bird, Bishop, Blackwood, Blade, Blair, Bliss, Bloodworth, Blott, and in the 'C's Carter, Cave...

I typed letters to solicitors and estate agents and Stofforths Chartered Accountants, One Jubilee Street, Brighton. I noticed a cold afternoon draft when I got the tray for the tea-run.
The British call it air-conditioning. I drove myself home from the train station.

Probably wouldn't be a good time to meet Nick Cave in my car park by surprise.

Last time I saw him I think, was the Dig! Lazurus Dig! Big moustache era...
Do you like Nick Cave?
I bring him up because in the bleak mid-Winter, Gary woke me up playing that new Nick Cave single.
We No Who U R
"Look at that spelling," I said, "Who does he think he is, Prince?"
Gary said, "yeah, Prince of Darkness"

It was a nice enough song.
Not sure who died, but..
After an argument one day, Gary played it to me.
"There is no need to forgive."
We kissed and made up.
One Friday, it snowed.
Gary couldn't go to work.
He thought he'd try to get tickets online to see Nick Cave. An early Valentine's day present. He couldn't believe his luck.


I saw the Tour dates reading like big strides around the world.
Not a lot of gigs in London.

Apparently the show was going to be another one of those ALL OF THE ALBUM START TO FINISH-and-then-some-other songs shows.
"Right," I said, "let's hear the album then." You know how it is, you're going to the gig so you better start listening to the new songs, right?
The album wasn't out yet.
You could pre-order it on the website at 3 prices, like upper class, middle class and lower class. The most expensive is 90 pounds in a deluxe box.
Or you can opt for the 16 pound booklet (with lyrics) and 2 bonus tracks, limited edition.
Or the regular 10 pound CD in the plastic jewel case.

We went for the 16 pound booklet.

I happened to chat with Marianne, who lives in Brighton.

M. told me she sees Nick Cave in restaurants & coffee shops in his suit with his executioner-style hairdo. Hard to miss. She pointed out that he'd drowned Kylie in a homage to the Pre-Raphealite Orphelia.


But he hadn't drowned PJ Harvey.

Apparently, PJ got Mick Harvey in the split.
"Who's he?"
"Only Nick Cave's best friend and writing partner for 20 years."
I wondered if that explained why the single was lacking in guitar but heavy on watery atmosphere?
I noticed it sounded good on the 7:53 train to work, just outside Christchurch, where the river Stour had broken its banks and turned the farmer's field into a swan pond. The river was black and inky cold.

Marianne told me there was a secret warm-up gig before the tour. Brighton buzzed. It was amazing. Apparently he goes to an office early each day.
He knows he can't work at home with his wife and children in the house.
Apparently his wife is Susie Bick, a model. She's the goth on the cover of this Damned record:

The photo on the cover of the new record was an accident.

Apparently, that's their bedroom and, apparently, Mrs Cave had some photographer over doing a photo shoot when Nick happened to pop in.
The photographer clicked the photo and that became the album cover.
Apparently, Nick Cave dresses like that at home.
He says he goes to his office every day to write.
Sometimes the songs don't come.
Sometimes he just sits there.
He drove his car too fast, had a bit of an accident and had to go on a driver's awareness course
(This means he will get education instead of points on his license).
His friend said something rude about his office looking like a psychiatrists office in Miami.
He didn't talk to that friend for a while.
He knows he can't be creative at home.
He knows he has to get up early.
He doesn't do heroin anymore.
At the office, he let's his creativity do what it likes with him.
He has a piano at the office.
He has books
And pictures
He knows that sometimes it just doesn't come
and then when it does - he's very grateful
and then he takes the record out on the road and has to talk about it and he's aware that that seems to dampen his creativity.
But then he goes back home and, like Sisyphus, he rolls the rock.
And he just keeps pushing the sky away.
This is his Fifteenth album.

Brighton is also known for it's pebble beach.

It was still a few weeks to go before the gig when they put Jubilee Street on the website. I thought it was corny. A man falls in love with a Prostitute. He's pushing his love up the hill. Sounds like Sisyphus.

He's got a foetus on a leash. Yuck.

A ten ton catastrophe on a 60 foot chain.
However, I do like the Cowboy Junkie guitar sound and i do like the flying ending.
And that morning at work I'm typing: Stofforths, Chartered Accountants
One Jubilee Street
AGAIN. On Sunday I get in my car and set the sat nav for Brighton.
I have to see this Jubilee Street.
I have to see Brighton.

I drive through the New Forest, dodge the wild ponies, past Portsmouth, round Arundel Castle, drop onto the coastline to Worthing and up into Brighton.
I get lucky and park two streets away.

I'm walking.
I see a cinema called the Komedia on Regent Street.

I pop in to use the restroom and on the landing, just in front of the ladies room, is this photo of Nick Cave.

Out of the window I see there is a shop selling Vegetarian Shoes.

At the top of Regent Street is a guitar shop.

I walk round the corner and down Jubilee Street.

It is on a slight hill.

There is a Starbucks.

There is a nail salon.

There is a big piazza, Pizza Express, a library and a restaurant called The Chilli Pickle.

In the piazza there are these standing stones.
On one side is advertising and on the other some kind of tombstone community art.
I am very soon at One Jubilee Street
There it is Stofforths Chartered Accountants.
I have a flashback to this movie called Being John Malkevich. Have you seen it?
I can't figure out why Nick Cave is writing a song about this street but suddenly - I am IN Nick Cave's head. I'm walking from the Chartered Accountants back up the hill to the guitar shop and I have a walking pace tune in my head.
I'm humming Girls on Film. Duran Duran, and then I'm humming Jubilee Street.
It's not ABOUT the street. The song is from Nick Cave's HEAD. Maybe this street could be WHERE the song gave him the IDEA

I do not have to experience the place. I connect to his imagination.

I drive up the hill in the dark.
I look back at the lights of Brighton in the valley below.

On the day of the Nick Cave concert, I'm looking for parking in the swirling snow.
It's not settling.
Apparently, I didn't hear the man say, "you can't go in" and I end up in the Guest List lobby.
Loads of people on the guest list. Not a lot of goths.
We go upstairs.
Another little Victorian Musical Hall space.
The bar is packed and stays what way during a film called "how we made the album"
It's a bit dull.
What I remember is a man with a long beard has at least 50 floor pedals that he manipulates. There's a lot of records on the shelves at the recording studio.
Then it goes dark.

And then dim lights come up on a stage FULL of instruments. Crowded with drums and percussion and off in the back there's a 5 piece string orchestra and a few little heads way off in the back.


And then here's himself.

He comes on, dressed in silky black shirt, black suit, shined shoes - and sings We No Who U R.
He sings Jubilee Street.
Ok. The end I like...
He sings about Mermaids and hopes the kids don't hear him say "I was the match that lit her snatch" I am like, "Do Mermaids HAVE snatches?" He sings about this and that… He calls up "How am I doing?" and says, "I can't tell down here." That's not good.. I can't tell, either. Nick Cave has a corridor along the front of the stage he paces about on.
I would have said, "seems crowded up there, Nick." The album is over and he gets a respectable amount of applause.
He sings a few songs from the past. After a wild and jerky song he tells us he would jump in the audience but there's a sign saying something like, "Beware of Jumping Into the Audience"
I didn't expect to laugh.

Someone calls out for Kylie.

And then, it seems sudden, the piano.

And he sings the Hymn that is Sail Your Ships Around Me
And he's singing flat, and i don't quite know what he's saying but i hear

Come sail your ships around me
And burn your bridges down
We make a little history, baby
Every time you come around
Come loose your dogs upon me
And let your hair hang down
You are a little mystery to me
Every time you come around

and I burst out crying.
I don't know what happened. It's like I'm in another world. I'm on the other side. He hasn't got Polly Harvey to sing with.
She's playing with his best mate, Mick Harvey.
The atmosphere is prayerful, like a man visiting a cathedral, at a wedding or a funeral.
He's got a wife with no clothes on back in the house, and he's going on a global tour.
* * * * *
It was still cold last week.
But I heard that Wire were going to play a little club upstairs, in a pub called The Lexington, with its red flock wallpaper.
They weren't the headliners.
They were late.
It was freezing out.
But we went because as the Brits say, "if you let the cold stop you, you won't do anything"
The lad is from a sea-side town.
The spirit at most British Beaches is, even if it's raining, "We're going IN."
They had a coat check.
One Pound.
From the second they started playing, I found myself dancing and dancing and at the end I couldn't stop myself in a mad dash to the front to shake hands with Graham Lewis. I understand we held hands for at least a minute. I was gushing.
I don't know what I said.
Something stupid probably. I know. I know.
I really meant to just shake his hand.
But I love them.
What can I say...
When I got up and went down with the dew in the morning to the sea, I got a lot of white pebbles for the path.