Thursday, December 24, 2015

JIM MORTON - from Incredibly Strange Films to East German Cinema from the days when there was a Wall . . .

Jim Morton at the San Francisco pubic library

Neil Martinson receives his certificate for attending the lecture

This post originally appeared in 2011 on another site.

I met Jim Morton, author of Incredibly Strange Films for Research Books, years ago in San Francisco. He is very nice man who never fails to surprise with his vast ranging knowledge of avant garde cinema but I was reminded of his entertaining wit about life in general when a friend of mine had aired her concerns about radiation from Japan floating over us in California and Jim wrote the following retort -

Stop worrying. You kids aren't exposed to nearly as much as we were. I used to stare into a fluoroscope at the bones in my feet at the local shoe store, play with the lead fishing weights at the surplus store, I grew up in a house with asbestos insulation, brushed my teeth with Hexachlorophene (Stripe toothpaste), and drank Funny Face with sodium cyclamate. For bread, there was one choice: Rainbo white, and all this was in Tucson, Arizona which was downwind from the outdoor A-tests in Nevada. And in spite of all that, I've still been on this planet longer than I had planned to be. Any piddly radiation that may end up in the rain is FAR less than you get every day when you walk out in the sun (which I also did a lot of in Tucson, too, come to think of it).

Recalling how funny Jim is motivated me to catch his last lecture on East German films at the San Francisco Public Library.  His series of talks has covered East German cinema from the 1970s and 1980s (before the Berlin wall fell!) Cal film professor and Voluptuous Panic author Mel Gordon joined me as we listened to Jim recount the difficulties filmmakers encountered while trying to shoot, show and distribute their cinematic creations back in the day. Turns out almost 1 in 10 of East Germany's citizens was a spy for the Stasi and people were constantly being snitched on for creating art that irked the East German government. But, before things turned too dreary Jim showed us a clip of a psychedelic, space age masterpiece replete with Barbarella-esque dancers draped in boa constrictors doing the freeze dance while a proto-Kraftwerk type guy tapped out strange tunes on a keyboard that appeared to be made out of christmas lites (almost as if a lite-brite toy were a keyboard). This must see East German masterpiece is called 'In the Dust of the Stars'.

Jim lectured about many other films including one called Ursula and another about cars called Auto Fairytale which Jim described as a film about an "east German wood nymph possessed with cars and speed." Other films discussed were Island of Swans and the Unknown Brother, a haunting film about Nazis but really symbolic of the East German government.

Artist Monte Cazzazza. Neil Martinson was sharply in a striped suit getting ready for his club hosting gig at Smile . . . we all received certificates for completing our participation in Jim Morton's film lecture series which he kindly put on for the San Francisco Free University. What a radical concept, free lectures on great films! Keep up the good work Jim.

Check out Jim Morton's blog

Carnaby Street comes to Chicago - The Kinks' Dave Davies at Blank Label - 2013

This is a post that originally appeared on another site in November 2013
Mikhema, Dave Davies and Paul Arnow

Mikhema, Dave Davies and Paul Arnow look at shirt fabric swatches
Kinks members Pete Quaife and Dave Davies
 November 2013

Dave Davies stopped by the Blank Label showroom in Chicago for some custom shirts for his current USA tour.  Dapper and fresh faced Paul Arnow and his charming assistant Mikhema assisted as Dave was fitted for some nehru collared shirts and a sharp suit. Dave's son filmmaker Martin Davies filmed the fitting as well. Paul was efficient like a young Mad Men executive as he took Dave's measurements and explained the line's craftsmanship.  

Dave Davies performing at Bergen Pac 2013 in an embroidered Indian shirt - photo by Kathleen Treubig

Paul Arnow and Dave Davies being filmed by Martin Davies photo by Rebecca Wilson
During the Kinks' early days in the swinging sixties, Dave had many custom suit jackets and boots made that influenced mod fashion and menswear. He enjoyed talking about his favorite shops of yesteryear from Carnaby Street in London such as Lord John, John Stephen, Biba where a girlfriend Kim had worked, and Granny Takes a Trip. He reminisced about checking out fashions with Kinks bass player Pete Quaife back then and meeting folks like DJ Mike Quinn. 

Dave Davies in his Charles II style coat custom made at Bermans theatrical ware of London

The Blank Label staff enjoyed checking out Dave's custom tailored navy blue silk stage shirt which had been hand embroidered in India. He explained to Paul how he had always had his stagewear altered.  Back in the sixties Dave had tailors make the bottom part of his jackets hemmed to part like an upside down V to give them a different look.  Paul noted that a detail like that would be more comfortable for sitting down and movement in general. Dave talked about his famous Charles II look in a jacket he had custom made at Bermans of London. He had it altered with lowered pockets that had buttons added and tightened sleeves and shoulders. He kept all the gold braid embroidery!
Shirt designed by Dave Davies

The fabric swatch selection was exquisite. Dave chose a dark slate blue for a suit and purple lining. For a shirt he chose a dark navy/black and soft indigo.

Shirt designed by Dave Davies
He also explained how he liked 3/4 length sleeves that could be moved up and down while playing guitar.  Paul thoughtfully adjusted Dave's tailoring on his left arm fitting to accomodate for this.  Little details like this make menswear a bit like couture!  Can't wait to see Dave's new Blank Label wardrobe when it arrives!

Dave in the center in all of his Carnaby Street glory

Monday, December 14, 2015

Angie Bowie - Lipstick Legends reading September 2012

photo by Rebecca G. Wilson 2012

Angie and Rebecca G. Wilson - photo by Gus Bernadicou

This post originally appeared in 2012.

September has been a fabulous month for me.  My fashion blog debuted at LuvCatz and I got to meet one of my alltime favorite style idols Angie Bowie!  I love her books and her insights into the music business from her years with David Bowie, her fashion style, wit, eye for detail, humor . . . I could go on and on about what an inspiration she is as a woman who inspired so much cultural sensation in the 1970s and she continues to inspire with her timeless beauty and lust for life!

I still remember pictures of her in my older sister's Creem rock music magazines, Angie with shaved eyebrows and wildly shorn hair alongside David Bowie in a Zorro hat and pantaloons.  Angie was always experimental yet sleek.

Deborah AP hosted the fun cocktail party for the Lipstick Legends reading at the 111 Minna gallery in San Francisco.  Dominique Leslie, legendary singer from S.F. punk band Animal Things was there along with underground luminaries Joe Donohoe from Specious Species magazine and Punk Globe roving reporter Gus Bernadicou.  Highlights from Angie's great reading included stories about Alice Cooper and Jayne County.  Angie's glamourous long, cream colored sequin dress was from Sparkle Moore's vintage shop The Girl Can't Help It.

From Bowie's muse and copilot in his skyrocket to stardust to captivating author, the sky IS the limit.  Now everyone go out and buy her new book Lipstick Legends!

An autographed copy can be purchased from the following link -

P.S. please check out my new fashion blog everyone!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Artist Chloe Trujillo Profile - Parts 1 and 2

By Rebecca G. Wilson

This piece originally was posted in July, 2009

I met with artist Chloe Trujillo on a sunny California afternoon at the Gallery Concord to discuss her current exhibit there. I was captivated by everything from her Rapunzelian cascade of golden surfer girl Princess Leia braids to her beat up black leather engineer boots paired with a tutu-like floral petticoat to the fantastical paintings surrounding us.

An eerie bulbous head stared out from a neural network of dendrons framed by hands and real stitching on the canvas. Chloe described Alien Invasion, the aptly named painting,

“In this work I viewed alien versus humanity, those bubbles coming from the aliens head are our thoughts, busy with activity(the hands). We lost the source,we are so active, we became aliens to our true nature. We are becoming more and more aware of this, and meditation, yoga, being in nature is back in style!”

Like painter Robert Williams, her explanations are almost as interesting as her paintings themselves!

Chloe knows fine art’s formal rules having studied art at the Louvre in France for four years. Her skill has given her the confidence to break rules. The sewing of the alien piece onto a larger canvas is experimental. Literal and figurative meanings abound in her quilting together of the alien and earthly worlds. Chloe also likes experimenting with her art by ,"recycling objects" for example, by painting over pictures she finds at thrift stores.

She grew up in Paris, near the outdoor sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle she would walk by almost every day. Does art imitate life or does life imitate art because the twists and turns in Chloe’s shapely artistic visions are similar in their liveliness to those of Saint Phalle. She actually has the same birthday as Saint Phalle. Growing up in France influenced her style in many ways as she told me,

“I love the Art Nouveau posters,we have a lot in France,like Toulouse-Lautrec,Eugene Grasset and of course Mucha. I was also raised in Paris that has a lot of Art Nouveau architecture:the metro (Guimard) for example,everywhere! And wrought iron doors and staircases...I also love Gaudi's work.”

Chloe’s household was sophisticated and creative - her grandfather was an opera singer and her parents were fashion designers. Although blessed with beauty and brains, this woman did not take the safe route in life. Before she got, not one, but two college degrees (math/matter structure and fine art) she was a wild child! When she was twelve, she broke into the infamous French catacombs where she spent the night amidst skulls and skeletons. She also squatted with street punks as she grew older. Chloe says of her punk rock days,

"I was craving adventure,I lived many different experiences and living in the streets with punks was one of them. I love the music, I love the danger, living on the edge. It was also like family for me, I felt free and accepted, we supported each other. We went through rough, very rough times, but the music and our group kept us going. I think I really discovered the power of music then."

This search for excitement and thrills can be seen in her wildly exciting and vibrant paintings.

Seeing a raw, punk look and street influence in some of her work I asked her if she liked graffiti and she replied,

“I love graffiti, there must be some influence then.”

I love the confluence of street and elite in Chloe’s paintings - the raw punk street vision and appreciation of earthy nature conveyed with a masterful stroke revealing her formal university training.

Although Mrs. Trujillo seems to have lead a charmed life she suffered a near death experience some years back when she was assaulted by a serial murderer and rapist and fought for her life. It was her survival of this tragic attack that brought her back to art and singing and, Chloe added,

“it brought a spiritual dimension into my work. Where first after this I used my painting as a therapy a lot and if helped me because I kept everything inside and I needed to let it out somehow so I painted, I painted, I painted and after the healing was done then my work changes and became more like a meditation. . .” because “I could not breathe after that experience,” and, “singing and painting were my therapy.”

Before the attack she had drifted away from art since she was questioning her motivations and had gotten in the rut of a 9-to-5 job. Her hopefulness and new appreciation for life can be seen in her vividly lit paintings.

Chloe has a wonderful use of light and color experimentation (for example - the cool blue face in Face of Darkness). Her work has evolved from technical still lives to more free form and loose shapes emanating a funky and jazzy feel.

Chloe elaborated on her innovations,

“Yes it's great to learn all the techniques,methods and tools for a start and then free yourself from them, try to forget it all so you find your own voice,your own expression. My early work is very technical, I mean it still came through me, so it had my "touch", but now I am so much more connected to my work, I let it freely come to life, and the technique lies there in the background, but it is really my own vision that comes to life.

You can always make a portrait or something like that’s technique and skills or whatever what’s harder is really to express yourself. I think I was hiding myself before.

Of course the French impressionists were using light in their work,but light is primordial in giving a sense of 3 dimensions to the work,a lot of painters before them were famous for that,look at Rembrandt's use of light!!

I learned to view subjects as shapes,those shapes had to come from the contrast between lights and darks. So the answer is yes,they teach light portrayal. Lines are not really needed as long as there is a sense of light.”

Her work reminds me of Frida Kahlo with its organic themes emulating life’s curvy shapes and plants and the human body. Her appreciation of nature is seen in her art and love of travel. Chloe explains,

“I travelled a lot and every place enriches me. Nature is always spectacular to me,anywhere. I had the chance to see some of the most amazing sites on earth,like the Pyramids of Gizea,or Temples in Bangkok, or the Grand Canyon...”

I assumed there was a science fiction influence in Chloe’s work so I was surprised when she told me,

“No I don't read sci-fi or fantasy books,I actually read a lot of scientific books (that passion hasn't left me) and a lot of esoteric or philosophical essays. Right now I am reading The Elegant Universe, it's about the string theory and it's fascinating. I guess those subjects,like imagining 11 dimensions, activates my brain cells and maybe I get creative like that?”

Wow, she relaxes by reading science books!

Along with French influences from having a French father and growing up in Paris, she has a German mother which perhaps contributed to her appreciation of the work of German expressionists like Edvard Munch, Otto Dix, Gustav Klimt, and Egon Schiele. Chloe also likes 60s psychedelic Fillmore posters. Other favorite artists are Albrecht Durer, Hieronymus Bosch,Van Gogh,Van Eyck, Beckmann, Pollock, Dali, Picasso, Da Vinci and she added, “but they are so many artists I love...”

She also mentioned writers and philosophers she has read,

"I love Jean-paul Sartre, I read all his books. Like I said, I read a lot of philosophers: Confucius, Lao Tse,Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Kant, Hegel, Bettelheim, Nietzsche, Freud, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Descartes, Plato,...list is endless”

I was not surprised to find out that the multi-faceted Chloe was also a singer and songwriter and asked her what she listens to,

“As far as music goes,I listen to a lot of different styles, from Grindcore to Blues to Funk, even Classical...Carcass, Big Mama Thornton, Death, John Coltrane, Brel, Mistinguett, Chaka Khan, Schubert, Judas Priest, etc... Now I like to work listening to my own internal vibrations. I sometimes hear my husband practicing in the background.”

Oh yeah, her husband Robert Trujillo is the bass player for Metallica. She did a pyrography (woodburning) design of a Mayan calendar for him on his bass. Robert Trujillo is the former bass player for Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves. Chloe’s best friend in Paris introduced them 17 years ago after a Suicidal Tendencies show. Years later when he heard she had moved to Los Angeles, he called her from a pay phone while on a surfing trip in Tahiti in a determined effort to reconnect. They have been together for the past seven years and are now married with a 4 ½ year old son and a 2 ½ year old daughter.

Apparently, being married to a rockstar has its perks. When Chloe accompanied her husband to Saint Petersburg, Russia she was thrilled to see:

“the Hermitage Museum, which has an impressive Matisse collection!!”

After the visit I asked my niece to describe Chloe in three words and she said,“she’s kind, she’s genuine, she’s unique.” I let my niece interview her at one point when I went to check on something and Esme asked her why she painted hearts with eyes in them.

Chloe said it came from a French saying, “we can only see well through the heart,” or On ne voit bien qu'avec le Coeur .

How ironic that she envisioned her painting titled "Aztec" of a Mayan figure before she reconnected with Trujillo. Her husband bears a resemblance to an Aztec god when he plays bass! Lucky for him he married a goddess!

Check out more about Chloe and her work at: 

Catching Up with Chloe Part 2
by Rebecca G. Wilson

Chloe Trujillo is an amazing woman who undertakes creative projects while gracefully living a life of mystical pursuits and globetrotting with her children and rockstar husband Robert Trujillo of Metallica.

I caught up with her recently over the phone and in an email interview and she told me about her latest projects.

Chloe in front her paintings at an S.F. art gallery opening.  Photo by RGW

RGW - I hear that you are playing music and singing nowadays? What are the names of your current music projects and with whom are you collaborating?
CT - I was invited by Gail Zappa to record a Frank Zappa cover, I picked "The Torture never Stops" and it was released December 21st, 2010. I recently released two songs in collaboration with healers/artists, one called "Imago" co-written with Healer Carol'ann and another one called "Light" with words channeled by Tia Crystal, which is the introduction of a meditation CD. I have a Hang, an Indian Harmonium, some Dilruba and sagat in it. I am also working with Craig McFarland, bassist for M.I.R.V. We are about to finish the album and are still currently giving this project many many different names. I am also finally putting all the songs I've written for the past 2/3 years in order and am currently recording them. This is solo for now, but I might get some help. . .who knows? All my music can soon be heard (and purchased) via my website, which is currently being updated!

RGW - How was Burning Man this year?
CT - During that time, I was unpacking boxes, moving furniture and watching the kids at the same time for the week. . . We were moving back to LA. . . .I burned the man in my kitchen.

RGW - What subjects are you painting lately?
CT - I just finished another surfboard, today actually, and started another bass guitar. I'm also working on this huge wall piece. I've had many many visions lately and subjects are diverse. They represent a metaphoric world of predictions, of dream-like states and energetic fields. I also started working on soul portraits. I should prepare soon for a show I am doing in Paris, with an old friend from artschool. I had a few of my works photographed, so I will soon sell prints and accessories with my work on it. The drummer from "the Dukes" asked me to paint his kit and I got a new bass to wood burn for Robert.

RGW - Tell us about the connection between your painting and world events. Recently you felt there was a connection between one of your paintings and the recent tragedies in Japan from the tsunami and the earthquakes?
CT - I had goose bumps when I realized. . . . it is the second very clear prediction I have seen in a painting . . . Today, as I was driving back home right after my mom called from France, warning me about the radioactive radiations coming from Japan and asking me if I needed some iodine sent, I suddenly got a vision of a painting that I created in 2009, All Seeing Eye for Peace. This is it, the second very clear prediction: Japanese tsunami, nuclear radiation disaster, it's all in there: "Hokusai"style wave (Japanese) coming over, the peace and love signs (nuclear disarmament), piling of skulls (disaster) and many more symbolic meanings are to add (the redness of the All-Seeing eye-anger? Pollution? Japanese flag?) I'll leave it to your interpretation . . .

RGW - How do you balance creating art, making music and being a mom? Does your husband babysit too?
CT - Ha ha, well I just had a show in NYC and for once Robert had to stay with the kids for a whole week! And he did a great job! Who knew? Maybe I should do this more often . . . No, it's never easy leaving the kids! You know I stopped "creating" when I had the kids. They were babies and I wanted to take care of them, but soon after I started feeling very depressed, waking up with knots in my stomach, so instead of ignoring the pain, I looked deep and understood that my job on this earth was also to share my creativity and visions with others. There you go, it's a lot of work to do it all, but so important and worth it! It's so easy to disappear, hide behind your children. I want to be there for them as much as possible and they are my priority no question, but it is also important to teach them that mommy needs her own time. I noticed that I am such a better mom when I do that. I am happier, everyone is happier!

RGW - Tell us about recent exhibitions and do you have any upcoming gallery shows?
CT - I did a show in December in Venice curated by a woman named Alicia who created an artist group, which I am now part of. I also painted two surfboards for Billabong, one will be displayed in their new store at the Universal Citywalk, and as I painted the other one, I started channeling images and it is now a Andy Irons tribute art piece. I have some tattoo designs for a show called Burning Ink that is up in NYC. Wow, April was sooo crazy with shows. I just had four this month in all different parts of the US! Right now I have a couple of shows lined up for LA, but with a fellow artist, we are preparing a huge one for Europe. . . more info to come.

RGW - What do you think of upcoming cosmic 2012 Mayan events that some people are predicting?
CT - We are all going through a shift, a planetary shift, but also a shift in consciousness. I don't believe in the end of the world, but in the end of the world as we know it today. Mother Nature has not been taken care of the way she deserved. We have thought of ourselves as separated entities, but we aren't. We are all energy, all connected, and we need to learn respect, Love and Light.

Check out Chloe's website for updates on her projects.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Interview with Alice Bag On Her L.A. Punk Autobiography Violence Girl

This article first appeared in 2011

By Rebecca G. Wilson

I recently caught up with Alice Bag, singer from legendary Los Angeles punk band the Bags, during her book tour for Violence Girl. Violence Girl - From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage is Alice's explicit memoir of her life from her Mexican American roots to her glam rock days to her punk days in late 70s Los Angeles. It was published by Adam Parfrey's Feral House in 2011.

Any chance of a Bags reunion?

Alice Bag:
Craig Lee and Rob Ritter are dearly departed and Patricia lives in England. I don't think a reunion is likely but I won't say never because I would love to jam with Terry and Patricia if we all happened to be in the same place some day.

You mention the ups and downs of punk friendships in your book. Are you still close with any of your friends from back in the day? Which ones and why?

Alice Bag:
I keep in touch with most of them off and on, mostly online these days because I live in Arizona. I think we'll always have a special bond because we went through such a special time together.

You mentioned to me in Oakland that you enjoy writing and want to continue with it. What are your future writing plans?

Alice Bag:
I enjoy writing when I make time to do it. Lately it's been difficult to find time to sit down in front of a computer without life interrupting me. I don't mind. I love being busy especially since much of my work is related to the book. I am often reluctant to start writing but it's like exercising, I feel so good after I do it!

How do you feel about the book banning law in Arizona which has resulted in writing by Native American and Latino authors being banned in schools in Tucson?

Alice Bag:
I think it's un-American! Fuckers! I heard that in Tucson they even banned Shakespeare's The Tempest and any book that deals with race, ethnicity or oppression is at risk of being banned. History has always been biased, I think it's just more obvious now because we live in an age when information is so readily available. It just makes the one-sided history advocates look bigoted. I always think that people who are afraid of different points of view must have a very tenuous grasp on their own beliefs.

What are your thoughts on the drug war tragedy affecting Mexican towns like Juarez where you visited relatives as a child?

Alice Bag:
It makes me really sad. I can't look at that photo in my book, the one that I labeled Don't mess with the little girls of Juarez. I can't look at it without thinking that it could be one of them or one of their daughters that has gone missing. I wish I could fight back with them like I did when we were children.

You discuss your friendship with Darby Crash in the book. Did you see the Germs film and what did you think of it?

Alice Bag:
I did not see the film. I moved out to a somewhat remote part of Arizona when the film was first released and then I just never got around to seeing it.

Is punk dead?

Alice Bag:
Not at all. I think at some point in my life I might have answered that question differently but I was just looking in the wrong place for it. It's generally not found at the mall or on top 40 radio. The spirit of punk is very much alive. I see punk as iconoclastic and rebellious, so it takes many forms. I can detect punk in innovative teaching, creative cooking, subversive hacktivism, defiant protest and of course in music that is challenging, unpretentious, and daring!

Your eye for detail and description of color and style gave your book a magical realism feel. Do you enjoy any Latin American authors such as Isabel Allende or Gabriel Garcia Marquez who are known for this and have they been an influence?

Alice Bag:
Thank you, I love Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. House of the Spirits and Love in the Time of Cholera are two of my favorite books. If you detect even a shred of their influence in my writing I would consider it an enormous compliment. I'm just a fan.

Do the fortune telling birds still exist anywhere? Where?

Alice Bag:
Yes, I think they still do exist. You'll just have to take an adventurous journey south to find them but perhaps they'll reward you with something you need to hear.

I was surprised you didn't mention Darby Crash being gay but mention him having girlfriends. Do you think his sexual orientation contributed to his depression and confusion? Were you and Darby ever more than friends? I couldn't help but wonder because you were both attractive punk rockers and so close!

Alice Bag:
When I met him I think he was still exploring his sexuality. Darby and I exchanged a few drunken sloppy kisses one night. I don't think it felt right for either of us. We had grown apart by the time his depression set in so I can't really say what caused it.

Are you still a Cosmo girl?

Alice Bag:
No, but whenever I see one of my daughters reading Cosmo I have to smile inwardly. I think I've been very open with my girls about sexuality in ways that would make my mother blush. Sometimes I preface my talks with "tell me if this makes you uncomfortable or if it's too much information."

I loved your exploration of your Catholic religious upbringing, Mexican folk magic influences and existential philosophy debates with Darby Crash. It was refreshing to see that your punk world view was not nihilistic. How has your spirituality changed? How do you see God?

Alice Bag:
I see God everywhere, I see all humanity and nature connected. I don't believe in inanimate objects. I think everything has a life force. I think my welfare and the welfare of every other being are interdependent. We are God.

Any plans of resurrecting Elton Jane?

Alice Bag:
Not quite, but I have been covering an Elton John song during my recent readings.

I love your Cholita band project with Vaginal Creme Davis and Fertile Latoya Jackson. Does Cholita have any recordings out or shows coming up? What do you think of Vag Davis' success as an art star in Berlin?

Alice Bag:
Ms. Davis is mega-talented, as is Fertile LaToyah Jackson. Fertile was my TA in my early years as a teacher. It was through Fertile that I met Ms. Davis. Fertile (whose real name is Greg) and I had gone to a faculty party, where we started drinking. Greg told me he had to leave early because he was performing that night with the Afro Sisters and he invited me to the show. When we got to the venue,
Ms. Davis stuck an Afro wig on my head and invited me up on stage. After that, I was hooked.

Which Rocky Horror character did you dress up as?

Alice Bag:
I was a Columbia but I think I would have made a better Eddie. I still tend to sing and act out "my" parts when I catch the movie on TV now and then. I used to know all the dialogue, I don't anymore.

Did you ever meet Cherry Vanilla and have you read her book "Lick Me" ? That was nice of you to devote a couple pages to her in Violence Girl. Her correspondence must have really had an impact on your friend and you. Any more thoughts on the fabulous Cherry Vanilla?

Alice Bag:
I've never met her in person but her letters and poetry were so honest and wise that they made a big impression on me. I didn't know that Cherry has a new book. I can't wait to read it, if it's Cherry Vanilla, I'll take two scoops!

Your book deals a lot with violence, both the domestic violence in your parents' marriage inflicted by your father on your mother and also in the punk scene. What are your views on violence today? How do you think women should handle domestic violence? Do you think your mother should have left? Can violent men be rehabilitated?

Alice Bag:
Violence takes so many shapes. I think of it as a destructive force, I think of it as a dangerous yet powerful act that can be offensive or defensive. It's not always physical either, it can be psychological, emotional, financial. Anyone involved in a situation where domestic abuse is happening needs to get out and get help as soon as possible. My mother should have left, it would have been better for all of us.

I'm going to be very honest with you and tell you that if anyone hits me, they can expect to be hit back, and harder. I never turn the other cheek because in my experience that doesn't work. We are animals and some of us are more predatory than others. If you're near a predator, they can smell weakness, they can spot their prey coming a mile away. It's not a rational process for me - you hit me and my fists start flying, it's automatic. I think all women should take some type of self defense training. Violence, when directed at an attacker can be a very positive thing. I do think violent men can be rehabilitated, did you see the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? She's got a great success rate!
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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Coffee, Tea and Dave Davies in NYC Coffee, Tea and Dave Davies - interview and photos by Rebecca G. Wilson June 2013

This article first appeared in 2013 when Dave and I first got together.

I caught up with Dave Davies from the Kinks in NYC during his weeklong stay here playing at the City Winery.  His current U.S. tour backed by members of the Jigsaw Seen is a triumphant return to the stage to support his new album "I Will Be Me" on Cleopatra Records.  His shows became progressively more amazing starting with his reading lyrics from a music stand that disappeared as he got his groove back after the first shows.  Some highlights were his performances of tracks like 'I'm Not Like Everybody Else' and 'Living On a Thin Line' that seemed to warm up to a seamless smokin' performance at June 4th's outdoor show.  Songs like 'Healing Boy' from the new record sounded great also.  He brought many crowd members up to the microphone throughout his shows to sing with him.  It was quite a thrill when I got to gogo dance onstage to his wild guitar during 'You Really Got Me' on his last evening gig.

DD in Soho photo by Rebecca G. Wilson

Jonathan Lea, Dave Davies and Tom Currier May 2013 photo by Rebecca G. Wilson

While in NYC I met up with him for an impromptu interview, photo shoot and discussion of a book project we had been working on for a while.  We walked around and got lost in Soho (since neither of us knew our way around once we wandered below Canal Street).  People did double takes at him and one guy walked by with a female companion and exclaimed, "That's Ray Davies!"  Ever the gentleman, Dave ignored or didn't hear the comment.  

He may be 66 years old but he has the energy of a teenager. It is hard to believe that he suffered a massive stroke in 2004.  He seemed a bit anxious about his upcoming first gig. At one point he turned and looked at me with those dandy bluegreen eyes and asked,"Can I cut it?"  I realized no matter how famous and respected the star, anyone can get performance anxiety.  We stared in shop windows and ogled Chinatown doodads while I muttered, "where are we?" and he queried an existential, "who am I?"  It made sense that his new album is titled "I Will Be Me".

photo by Rebecca G. Wilson

me and DD lost in Chinatown . . .
After finding a cafe he ordered a cappucinno, "one coffee a day," he said was his limit.  I had a cuppa tea.  Dave is a vegetarian and we split a mushroom cheese quiche and a chocolate rugelah pastry.  "Too sweet," he remarked.  We talked about all sorts of subjects including the internet.  His nickname for facebook is fakebook.  I noticed how much attention he receives online and asked him if he worried about over zealous fans and he replied simply, "They don't know where I live." 

Jonathan Lea, Tom Currier, Dave Davies May 2013 photo by Rebecca G. Wilson

Jonathan Lea, Teddy Freese, Dave Davies at City Winery 6/4/13 photo by RGW
We also discussed random questions that are part of an upcoming book project.  Here is an excerpt from those conversations from the past year.

RGW - I think there's something magical about appearance, you know, putting an outfit together, it's like an artform -

DD - Well of course it is!  But also, what were we trying to dress up as?  I think the hardest thing is to realize that we really need to address what we are inside first and then we can wear anything - we can wear a tree on our head!  You know, or wear, trousers, shoes, I don't know, it's like that's what we have to really find out - who the hell we are (laughs) and then we can wear anything!

RGW - Yeah

DD - I mean, that was the idea behind the punk thing in the late 70s
in England anyway.

RGW - Is that you in drag in the blonde wig in the film for the Kinks' song Dead End Street?

DD - Yeah, (laughs) but that’s different.  That's kinda like acting
out, trying to act out a role - that's not quite the same thing.

RGW - Tell us about your new album "I Will Be Me". Is it a return to your blues and rock sound?

DD - Well, yes, It's kind of a mixture of everything.  It's like um, There's some hard rock, there's some little bluesy tracks, but I tried to keep it, the subjects in line with how I think now.  There's a track I've written called Little Green Amp and it's about the little green amp.  It always makes me smile so it's a good idea.  I find that things that make me amused, they have longevity.

RGW -  Do you still have that little green Elpico amp?

DD - no, Ray pinched it. 

RGW - Okay, I have some questions from your fans.

DD - Oh good! 

RGW -  Mick Kiff asked -

DD - oh sweet guy, hi Mick!  

RGW - when is the new lp out in the U.K. and what do you think of Think Visual, his Top 40 show?

DD - I think it's fabulous, it's wonderful to have people like Mick who are so dedicated and so infused and inspired by our music - and I've got a personal love of that album Think Visual.  I thought it was a great record and Ray was going through a good writing sound at that time.  I love that.  I wrote some songs that I like that didn't get on it.  Close to Wire or something, I can't remember, Mick Kiff could tell you.  But that's great, I think he's doing a good job, a great job.  

Everybody's looking back because they're scared to look forward and that's why there's so much nostalgia but if it's good nostalgia, it's like a painting and a great painting's still great if it's great whether it was painted five hundred years ago or last week so good art deserves to stay in people's minds and hearts because it teaches us things good art always is a good teacher, the best teacher probably apart from nature?  So you get more organic teaching. Mick Kiff, I like his stuff.

RGW - Geordi Mitchell asks is your health okay?

DD - well, I seem ok - been doing concerts at the satsangs, I've just made an album, I got to finish it off yet, tidying up process of songs and tracks working it for nearly a year, and I'm very excited about it because, um, it feels right, you know, that sounds corny, sometimes if you don't feel right about something you can't do it, I can't, I'm a very feeling oriented or focused person, if it don't feel right I can't do it or I find it difficult, if you get in tune with the right kind of feeling, it becomes inspiring and you can ride the wave as it goes, so I feel good yeah I’m healthy I go for walks and, um, I work and write, I work all the time, I play, don't practice much.

to be continued . . .

DD says ciao - photo by RGW 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Entertainment film premiere at Sundance Next Fest

It was a great joy to see  Gregg Turkington's character Neil Hamburger immortalized in Rick Alverson's new film Entertainment at its premiere at the Sundance NextFest. The screening took place in the gorgeously restored Ace Theatre building in Downtown Los Angeles.

There was a cool opening short about a band called 'Health' that was directed with handwriting by Pablo Ferro an 80 year old legend who has worked on films such as Doctor Strangelove and the Talking Heads Stop Making Sense. Pablo gave a fun speech about how he made his short film.

Sundance director of programming Trevor Groth speaking with Pablo Ferro and bandmembers from Health

Entertainment is a dark, tragicomedy about a performer named Neil Hamburger. In the 1990s a group of zany friends and I recorded Neil Hamburger's first incarnation on a tape recorder in the lower Haight of San Francisco. Little did any of us know that Neil Hamburger would one day have his own HOLLYWOOD MOVIE PREMIERE!!!

Anyhow, in the film Neil Hambuger performs stand-up comedy in shabby bars along the I-5 freeway in the southwest. Some of my favorite scenes were conversations between Neil and his 'manager' cousin played by John C. Reilly who tries to give Neil advice on how to improve his act and career.

Comedian Tim Heidecker who co-hosts a show with Gregg called 'On Cinema' was there as well along with director Rick Alverson and other creative folks.

My boyfriend Dave Davies and I enjoyed the event and really liked 'Entertainment'. We got photographed on the 'red carpet' too. Here are some pics.

in front of the Ace Theatre before Entertainment premiere

Director Rick Alverson
Dave Davies of the Kinks, Gregg and Simone and Turkington
Gregg and Simone Turkingon

 Sundance director of programming Trevor Groth and filmmaker Rick Alverson

Here are some photos I snapped of the lovely restored Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The pink lighting was fun and reminded me of the interior of a Virgin Airlines jet. I like the photos from an  LA Curbed article which show the lobbies and normally lit interior in all their ornate, art deco/nouveau glory.

Dave watches Entertainment
Tim Heidecker and Dave

Major Entertainer Mike H and his wife Marika
vintage phone booths with no phones left inside...downstairs at the Ace Theatre