Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From The Collection of Paul Problem

I got an email this week from an old friend who used to go by the name of Paul Problem back in the early punk days. As a co-editor for Flipside, Paul was very involved in the scene from 1978-1981 and he kindly allowed me to share some of his personal collection of snapshots from those days.

I've posted a few selections here along with his (and my) recollections. You can see more of his photos in a photo gallery on Flickr. Thanks a million, Paul!

That's me as a blond in a photo booth on Hollywood Blvd., the Vive le Rock (t-shirt) is a Seditionaries that belonged to Steve Jones, my Flipside press photo card (is) below and the one taken of me by Pat when I roadied for The Bags at a club on Pico.

New Year's party at the Other Masque- superstar band (The Monsters) - Nickey Beat, Stan Lee, Darby singing, Kira Roessler and Paul Roessler, photo by Al Flipside.

Trudie munching on some popcorn at a punk picnic in Hollywood. Tomata and X8 in the background.

Group photo at the Other Masque- guy with mustache is a friend of Brendan, Dave from Rhino 39 in Long Beach who died a short time later, Brendan, Girard from Whittier-loosely affiliated with Flipside crew- the very first deathrocker guy!, the blond was Nickey Beat's girlfriend at the time (Barbara James), the other girl was Sue from Long Beach and that's me on the right- photo taken by Al.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Women In L.A. Punk - Part XXIV - Penelope Houston

Penelope Houston has remained active in music for over 30 years now. Without a doubt, Penelope is one of the most respected performers to come out of the early West Coast punk rock scene and is considered an icon and role model by many. I can't recall when I first saw her with the Avengers, but I do recall being struck by her cool, tough girl image, so neatly captured in the Bev Davies photo of her and Brad Kent.

Photo of Penelope Houston and Brad Kent (Avengers),
Vancouver 1979 by Bev Davies.

She had extremely short, blond hair, almost boyish, which contrasted with her pretty features. Back in 1977 and early 1978, she and her San Francisco based band were favorites with the L.A. punks, who adopted Penelope as an honorary Los Angeleno. To make matters more confusing, the Avengers recorded a classic single (We Are The One b/w Car Crash & I Believe In Me) on L.A. based Dangerhouse Records. According to the Wikipedia entry on Penelope, she was born in L.A., so that should settle any argument that she doesn't belong in this section!

The Avengers were always warm towards the Hollywood punks. Penelope was a gracious hostess and allowed me and Nickey Beat to use her place as a crash pad when we visited San Francisco. I had a chance to reconnect with her a few years ago when she played with the Avengers in L.A. Penelope still performs with strength and conviction and her shows are definitely worth checking out. And so without further ado, Ms. Penelope Houston.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Never Mind The G8, Here's The Bollocks

I recently received a very well-written and thought provoking email in response to my earlier blog about violence, a small excerpt of which I quote below:

"It was important for me to know that fighting back was O.K. because it made it O.K. not to fight back too, and a choice - my choice. In "How Nonviolence Protects the State" (South End Press, 2007) Peter Genderloos makes a pretty convincing argument that not only is the cult of pacifism delusional but it is ineffective. On some deep level we knew that hippies were full of shit, and that even efficient nonviolence requires a confrontation with a violent opponent before the tactic can even be recognized, let alone taken seriously. Kind of a scary concept, but one that, as I said, seemed to be intuitive on our parts."

To read her entire letter, click here.

The writer chose not to post it as a comment, because she says she wasn't entirely sure that she agreed with one of the conclusions she reached. I'm not sure I agree with it either but it certainly is worth discussing, especially in light of this week's violent protests against the G8 summit taking place in Germany. Basically, the question is whether non-violent protest plays into the hands of those in control.

After all, as we have seen time and time again, the authorities have no qualms about using force to disperse a lawfully assembled crowd, even going so far as to suggest that photo-journalists will not be allowed at future demonstrations to avoid documentation of their crowd control methods. Not that we need to worry about the U.S. media serving as watchdogs. They're too busy being lapdogs.

A quick bit of history here: the G8 (Group of Eight) evolved from an informal gathering of senior financial officials from The U.S., U.K., West Germany and Japan that took place in 1974. They became known as the Library Group. Over the years, the heads of state of the participating nations have continued to meet to discuss issues of global significance. The number of participating countries has grown from the original to include France, Canada, Italy and Russia.

The leaders of the 8 most powerful economies are meeting to discuss issues of vital importance to the planet, whether or not we realize it. The mainstream media in the U.S. seems to be doing their best to ensure that we don't. The top story on CNN yesterday? Paris Hilton going to jail. I feel like I'm watching a very bad magic show where the magician is attempting to distract me with a shiny object in one hand, while the real action is taking place in the other hand I'm not keeping an eye on. While we’re watching Paris Hilton pack her toiletries for her stay in the big house, an estimated 520 demonstrators have been reported injured and dozens of people have been imprisoned in what began as peaceful demonstrations to coincide with the G8 summit. The elite will meet behind a barbed wire barricade designed to keep the masses and the prying eyes of the rest of the world out.

At stake here is our future, not just as Americans but as human beings. This year’s G8 summit is expected to attract demonstrators opposed to capitalism, globalization and the war on Iraq. This is stuff that concerns me. Another important topic to be discussed is global warming and the reduction of greenhouse gases. I want to know about this - don’t you?

The real news dealing with issues that affect the whole world is being buried under infotainment. Are we really so stupid or so complacent that we can’t see what’s happening in the world? Do we want to live in our little gilded Eden in peaceful ignorance until the whole thing goes down the toilet?

A friend of mine once joked that she didn’t care what was going on in the rest of the world as long as she could have her 500 cable TV channels. I think there’s a bit of truth to that and I think it's more common than we'd like to believe. But I also believe that there are things worth fighting for and this is where Tamara’s letter struck a chord with me. On some deep level, we have to question whether the hippies were naive in putting all their trust in peaceful demonstrations. Punks, on the other hand, did seem to intuit that confrontation - even violent confrontation - was sometimes necessary and even justified.

I just want to clarify that I’m not advocating anyone throw rocks at police during a peaceful demonstration. That is a terrible idea that endangers innocent people and will probably lead to your being clobbered and arrested. Peaceful demonstrations can work and can accomplish much but they depend on public opinion and on being able to gather support by inviting the media to publicize your plight around the world. If our access to information is being curtailed, the success of peaceful demonstrations is being subverted. If the powers that be wish to subvert our ability to convey our wishes and demands in nonviolent ways then they are effectively pushing us towards more aggressive options.

As poverty and hunger around the world and global warming threatens our very existence we can’t afford to be ignored.

Penelope Houston of the Avengers once wrote:

"Open your eyes, open your eyes
You don't see what's going on
Come on, open your eyes, open your eyes
you watch TV to find out what's right and wrong, yeah
Open your eyes well, they tell you lies and you sing along
Open your eyes to what you respected
Open your eyes and you can reject it."

Postscript added by Alice on 6/7/07:

This post elicited several responses. I'd like to share a couple more links for those of you who'd care to read some other views on the subject:

Arms and the Movement by Peter Gelderloos

Protest Is Dead. Long Live Protest by Joseph Hart

Saturday, June 02, 2007

On Censorship and Big, Bold, Beautiful Women

You may or may not have noticed that some of the comments from a previous blog entry have been taken down. I want to clarify that this is not censorship on my part. The comments were removed at the request of the person who posted them, and the subsequent replies did not make sense once the original comment was taken down. The discussion had become very lengthy and personal and was moved off line.

I appreciate that my readers are comfortable discussing their opinions and ideas in an open forum on my blog. I find the exchange of ideas stimulating and challenging. I don't always have to agree with the opinions expressed. In fact, I rather enjoy a well-stated argument that challenges my beliefs because it forces me to re-evaluate my thinking. Reevaluating our beliefs is something that we all need to do on a regular basis.

On a different note, someone on Myspace wrote to ask my opinion of the latest cover of NME, where Beth Ditto of The Gossip appears in the nude.

Beth is one of the sexiest women I know. I know that some people find rail-thin females attractive and that's fine but it doesn't do it for me. Women who are curvaceous are much more attractive to me. Aside from that, women who are curvaceous, intelligent, talented and self-confident have every right to flaunt their sexuality if they want to. I guess the short answer to the question is that I don't have a problem with any individual appearing naked on the cover of a magazine but I am thrilled to see Beth on this particular cover. She IS the Queen of Cool.

Another super sexy, super talented and confident woman is Candye Kane.

In the early 80's, Candye also posed nude for a magazine, but it wasn't a music magazine. Her photos were considered pornography and were the object of controversy. I'm one of those people who enjoys pornography, strong, talented women, and the female form. Anyway, the point is that both women were sending the same message, which is that they are unabashedly sexual with every part of their beings, from their big, beautiful voices to their big, beautiful bodies.

It's no coincidence that both Candye and Beth are continuing the tradition of the great women blues singers like Bessie Smith. Bessie was just as free and forward with her own sexuality and she was not afraid to express it in her music.

Women like Bessie, Candye and Beth are women's women. They inspire us to let go of the hang-ups of trying to achieve some phony, externally imposed ideal of physical perfection. They accept themselves and invite us to accept ourselves. They are bold sexual predators, much more exciting and dangerous than the countless little sex kittens that litter TV and radio.