Thursday, August 19, 2010

Women In LA Punk - Christina Bones

I always thought of Arthur J and the Gold Cups as the Masque’s unofficial house band. The band was propelled by the riveting stage antics of Spazz Attack, famous for being able to do a flip through the air, completing a full 360 degree revolution
in the middle of any given song. It was also endowed with the guitar virtuosity of Geza X, the steady beat of Brendan Mullen on drums and Hal Negro sending out elephant mating calls on his trumpet. The insanity and cacophony of their stage show teetered on the edge of dissonance and that is precisely where the sweet voices of the Cupcakes worked their magic on the band’s sound. In a stage show full of wild free-form musicianship the three pretty, unassuming backing vocalists, true to their name served up confections as pleasing to the eye as they were to the ears, providing a thread of melody on which the other band members performed their high wire acts of sound.

Christina Cupcake shares her memories of the Masque, Arthur J and her life with fellow musician Billy Bones of The Skulls in this latest Interview with Women in LA Punk. Read Christina's Women in LA Punk Interview and see more of her photos by clicking on the thumbnail below. Enjoy!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Women In LA Punk - Donna Santisi

In the summer of 1978, The Bags had just finished playing a show at the Whisky when a skinny, bespectacled young man walked over to me and struck up a conversation. He was kind of nervous and after complimenting the band, he seemed to have run out of things to say. I was about to walk away when he impulsively pulled out a little book from a canvas satchel and thrust it towards me.

"Have you seen this?" he asked. It was Donna Santisi's book, Ask The Angels. On the cover was a beautiful photograph of Trudie Arguelles and Hellin Killer, looking like they'd just been kicked out of Heaven for making trouble. I was immediately captivated as each page treated me to photos of the people who were steering rock music in a new direction. What set Donna's book apart was that these were not the usual preening and posing rock gods featured in national music publications. Donna was chronicling the underground, rebels who were upsetting the apple cart of the music business.

I was so engrossed in the images that I almost forgot about the young man who had been looking over my shoulder. "Thank you for letting me see your book," I smiled at him.

"Keep it," he said, "if you like it that much, keep it." And I did.

32 years later, I am honored that Donna Santisi has agreed to answer my Women In LA Punk interview questions. I am also very happy to announce that her seminal punk photography collection, Ask The Angels, has just been republished in an expanded version with even more great photos. Congratulations, Donna!

Ask The Angels captures a very special moment in time for me personally, but it's just the tip of the iceberg as far as Donna's photographic career is concerned. I encourage you to check out her website at to see more of her amazing work. Those of you in the LA area have the opportunity to meet Donna personally and have her sign your copy of Ask The Angels on August 12th at Book Soup in West Hollywood. More details can be found here.

Read Donna's Women in LA Punk Interview and see more of her photos by clicking on the thumbnail below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Supreme Court and Racial Profiling, A Precedent for Prejudice

Ever since I first read Arizona SB1070, I’ve been telling myself that Arizona was alone in its desire to trample on my rights in the name of protecting our borders. I was surprised when I saw that polls showed that a majority of Americans supported the law. Perhaps people believe Jan Brewer when she says that she will not tolerate racial profiling and that the framework for the law is based on Federal guidelines, I was not so sure. I could see that there was a lot of room for abuse and hoped that eventually the Supreme Court would step in and ensure that I receive equal protection, under the 14th Amendment, from the discriminatory practice of racial profiling. Sadly, the more I read about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions dealing with racial profiling, the less confident I am that they’re looking out for my welfare.

The court has a history of permitting racial profiling. Let me take you back to 1944, one of the bleakest periods in American legal history, to Korematsu v. United States, the landmark decision which affirmed the constitutionality of stripping Japanese Americans of their belongings and sending them off to internment camps during World War II. This decision allowed racial discrimination in the name of protecting the nation from possible spies. Justice Frank Murphy in his dissenting opinion compared the rationale behind this decision to "the abhorrent and despicable treatment of minority groups by the dictatorial tyrannies which this nation is now pledged to destroy," i.e. Nazi Germany. I concur.

Let’s move forward to 1968, when the Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Terry v. Ohio. This decision allowed police officers to detain and search a person without a search warrant if the officer had a reasonable belief that the person was armed. The practice is now so common among law enforcement officers that the stop, frisk and search routine is known simply as a “Terry stop.” What does this have to do with racial profiling, you ask? Only that a disproportionately large number of Terry stops involved black and brown suspects. In the ABC network’s investigative piece, Driving While Black we see a group of three young black men pulled over for a Terry stop because they change lanes without signaling. They’re made to get out of the car, are frisked, separated and their car is thoroughly searched without their consent. The young men, who have all been pulled over before without provocation, claim it is a common experience among African Americans. In 1999, the New Jersey State Police admitted to stopping and detaining a disproportionately large number of black men using the Terry stop. The real infraction that these men committed is known as DWB - Driving While Black.

But back to what brought me here, specifically racial profiling as it relates to illegal immigration. In 1975 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the United States v. Brignoni-Ponce case that U.S. Border Patrol officers should be allowed to stop cars that were near the Mexican/U.S. border and question the occupants regarding their immigration status if the occupants appeared to be of Mexican ancestry and there existed articulable facts that warranted suspicion. Examples of these articulable facts include but are not limited to proximity to the border, the make of the car being driven, the dress and haircut of the driver. Talk about judging a book by its cover! So let me get this straight, if you have brown skin, drive an older car and don’t have expensive clothes prepare to stop?

Are these the federal precedents that SB 1070 is based on? If so what happened to “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."? That’s from the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, a document I treasure and respect. If SB1070 goes to the Supreme Court will the court acknowledge that racial profiling violates the 14th Amendment or will they continue to let fear of spies, of terrorists, of drug lords and illegal immigrants eat away at the very foundation upon which this nation is built? I suppose it’s more likely that SB 1070 will go down because the federal government rather than state government has the final word over immigration and naturalization laws but it would be a much sweeter victory if we could admit that racial profiling has been permitted for far too long.