Friday, November 09, 2012

Punk Passage 1977-1981 Photography E-Book

 Thumbing through the pages of Punk Passage I got the feeling of being there at The Mab in San Francisco in it's glory days. Back when the punk movement was young and still quite underground. Most of the bands and musicians who would go on to big success were easily approachable 1977-1981.  You just had to go to the punk clubs and look around, they were there. It's just that a lot of people in those days found those clubs and that scene repugnant. The wild hair-dos, make-up and safety-pins stuck through the ear, not to mention the drugs and alcohol was disgusting to bunch of mainstream folks.  But, truth was, there was beauty and wonder in some of those people. You just had to know where to look and photographer Ruby Ray knew where to look. What she saw through the lens of her camera was a tender and human side to a slice of society that was oft portrayed as deranged and depraved. 
It was the gems of artistic achievement that redeemed punk from what so many wrote off as just a bunch of losers. In the early days the punk scene was brimming with agressive, talented, forward-thinking performers and entrepeneurs. You just had to get through the clutter of bigotry and narrow-mindedness to see it.

Paul Roessler and Tomata Du Plenty of The Screamers in North Beach 1977
There were so many cool bands that you could see up close. Go backstage after their set, meet them, hang out and maybe share a drink and chat. There was no security to speak of at the Mabuhay Gardens. After stumbling into the club in 1979 and watching an interesting set by Los Microwaves I just walked up the stairs to the backstage area and complimented them on the groovy music, they thanked me and I walked back down to the main floor amazed that I could just go and talk to the musicians. I knew if someone like me could go backstage, they were letting anybody backstage at these punk gigs. Too bad I didn't have a camera, I could have gotten an interesting shot frozen in time. And that's what Ruby Ray did in spades. The 250 photos in this E-Book with the well-detailed captions offer an enriching experience of the early SF punk scene that is precious to me. Precious because we Fresno punk rockers went up there to the City to see the punk gigs whenever we could. Now it's gone and the documents bring some of it back to life. 

Chip Kinman of The Dils gettin some air captured by Ruby Ray 1978

But the photos are not only about the action on stage, but also the digs where they created all this edgy art and literature. Some of the rooms quite humble and reveals the truth of the bohemian lifestyle. Ultimately it was the bands, the music and the wild personalities that punk attracted. Creative types that could smell the opportunities lurking in the seedy clubs and poverty-encrusted locations.

The Cramps backstage at the Napa State Hospital 1978

There is something so vital about these movements when they are young: Rocknroll in the mid 50s, The Hippy movement in the mid 60s and the punk scene in the early days. After they mature and fragment they begin to commercialize and the opportunities for outsiders to move in disappears and it becomes more and more just a money-making game for the major labels and the few lucky artists that made it to the top.

Ruby Ray was photographer for Search and Destroy magazine, co-founder of Re/Search magazine and manager of Rough Trade Records in San Francisco. All of this before 1981. 


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Dale's Old Fresno Records Part3 3OCT12

Hi and welcome to Dale's Old Fresno Records, where I play some of my favorite records out of my collection of Fresno bands and musicians from the 1970s to the 1990s.
For Part 3 we have:
1 - Neanderthals - I Like Legos Lincoln Logs suck 1-sided Blue vinyl 7inch 1991
2 - Plaid Retina - Plaid Retina 12-song 7inch EP 1987
3 - Maniax - Off to War from the Not so Quiet Maximum Rocknroll Comp 1982
4 - Supreme Love Gods - Fire Dual-colored vinyl 7inch 1991

Neanderthals - I like Legos Lincoln Logs suck! One-sided, blue vinyl, 7inch on Ragin' Duck Records 1991.
Phill Rhoads - Vocals & Guitar, Ben Medrano - Guitar & Vocals, Andy Witchez - Bass & Vocals, Donnie Marvin - Drums.
Groovy diagonal cut sleeve and primary colors make for eye-popping design immortality by Tim Biskup.
"The Neanderthals started off as the singer, recording goofy songs on a 4-track, playing all the instruments. The songs got played on KFSR and requests and inquiries came in. Phill recruited local help -- Donny on drums, plus a guy who was one of the top bicyclists in the world on guitar and a kid on bass who had just watched his friend die in an auto accident and who had suffered a spinal injury. I eventually became roommates with that kid. The next time I saw the Neanderthals, they were playing the local Club Fred. I couldn't get in; it was packed. I stayed out front for hours and started hearing familiar songs."

Plaid Retina - Plaid Retina :28 from their debut 12-song 7inch EP on Lookout! Records 1987.
Matt Morris - Guitar & Vocals, Rob Anderson - Bass, Don Hudgens-Drums
"The history of Plaid Retina begins in 1984, in Visalia, a small city in California Central Valley, when drummer Don Hudgens joined metal band Oblivion, a high school band established by Travis, Jeff Gilley, "Bryan T" Thompson, Alarick Garcia and Mike Matthews. The crew for that band also included Matt Morris and Jeff Beck. It was at this time Hudgens and Matt Morris met up with Kelly Casper, who was part of that scene at Redwood High School.
Even though the band was not from Los Angeles, the band managed to keep up with the underground scene in Los Angeles (150 miles from Visalia), which was what made them unique in their small-town local scene. Heavy Metal's definition, however, was about to be shattered by a plethora of different influences. The advent of hardcore punk acts such as Minor Threat and the Suicidal Tendencies, whose first album made a huge impression of the metal scene, caused the members of the band to splinter."

Maniax - Off to War
Gregg Mitchell - Vocals, Rob Mitchell-vocals, Nick Urbina-Guitar, Eric Dansby-Drums
Started in 1980 by the Mitchell twins, Gregg and Rob, MANIAX caught the attention of Maximumrocknroll radio/zine/record label after sending in their homemade tapes. Even though they were recorded on just small handheld recorders a lot of people liked gritty sound and their pure punk spirit. Off to war Off to war I'm gonna die Off to war your gonna cry Off to war in a rut Off to war kick your butt Off to war blood and gore Off to war more and more Off to war on the floor Off to war out the door july '81

Eric Dansby, drummer for the Maniax went on to play drums in the Supreme Love Gods. They were an alternative rock group from Fresno, California, active from 1990 to 1993. If I had records by the the other bands Eric played in we could do a whole E.D. set.
Thomas Dew - vocals
Tommy Joy - guitar, keyboards
Lance Carlos - bass
John Wilson - Multi-instrumentalist
Eric Dansby - drums
Although this 7inch is one side Ragin' Records, the other side Def American, SLG signed to Columbia/Sony Music in 1991 and released an EP in England entitled Righteous on One Little Indian later that year. Early the next year, the group was dropped from Columbia, and bassist Lance Carlos left the group, to be replaced by John Wilson. Their only full-length release was a self-titled album, issued on Def American in 1992. "Souled Out" was released as a single and hit No. 16 on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.[1] The group toured with Ned's Atomic Dustbin, 808 State, and Meat Beat Manifesto in 1993. They began working on a new album in 1993 but broke up while recording it.
Singer, Thomas Dew went on to form the band, A Million Seeds. Drummer Eric Dansby went on to play in The Shroud. In 2005 guitarist/keyboardist Tommy Joy formed Pusher and released the album 'Problems' on indie label Oblivion Records.
In 2008 Supreme Love Gods got together for a reunion show in their home town of Fresno, California. more:

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Staying cool when it is so very hot

It's going to be 108 degrees or so for the next few days here in Fresno and I've got strategies for dealing with the heat: Number 1: A hat, preferably a wide-brimmed hat that not only keeps the sun off your face but off your neck as well. I can't believe the number of people I see out on the Boulevard of Dreams in the scorching heat of the day and no hat. At least if you have some hair that might shield your head a little, but with the popularity of having a shaved head it just makes no sense to be out in this brutal sun unprotected. They have a good Ranger Rick hat at Fresno Ag for about $15.

The other thing is to get outta town like Fresnans have been doing for hundreds of years. I have an old Fresno Morning Republican newspaper from 1919 and it mentions some of the more upscale Fresnans and their annual treks to the Central Coast and Bay Area. We like to go to Dinkey Creek because it's so close and yet it is about 6,000 feet elevation and it's much cooler up there. It's one of the more affordable destinations, but you better have a good car to make it up that steep grade from the valley floor. But, once there the creek is pleasant and cool.

Today I will be blowing up my pool and sitting in it for a while when the heat of the day begins to choke off my happy rhyme. Also, if we loose power, as long as I've got a pool to get into I can make it through the day. Long after the sun goes down it will cool off enough to enjoy life again.

The County of Fresno has some very cool tips on staying cool in our summer heat:

And...The City of Fresno has some info on the Cooling Centers here at their website:

And...current weather conditions and forcasts:

August 9 2012:                                                                                                             
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued an Excessive Heat Watch effective this week from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening for the San Joaquin Valley. NWS forecasts that the heat index will be greater than 105ยบ degrees Fahrenheit in the Central Valley.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Big Changes at the Main Branch Library Downtown

"The Readers" Sculpture by Clement Renzi greets visitors at the Main Branch Library Downtown Fresno

My jaw dropped as I walked through the door of the main library recently. What happened to all the books? Where did they go? Are they still here somewhere or did they just get rid of a lot of them? I asked the librarian behind the counter, "yes, they're all still here, but we did get rid of some of them," he said making me wonder if he just told me yes and no at the same time?

Rows of computers where there used to be books
 Where there used to be rows and rows of books there are now rows and rows of computers. At every computer there sat a person intently working on something. I went looking for all those books I like: the big, expensive coffee table books about art and the songbooks. Yep, they were still there, just moved to a different location in the Library, just  20 or 30 feet from where they used to be. But, it did look like there were less books.... But I could be wrong. I didn't count them or anything.

Used to be newspapers and homeless people here
Then I noticed where the newspapers used to be there are tax forms and such the library gives away and a secton for selling the worn, soiled or obsolete books. 10 cents a book. But, mostly just a big open space. There also used to be a sofa type of padded chair where usually sat a homeless person. That's gone. Where will the homeless sit now? They can still sit on wooden chairs, there's still plenty of them.

Reference department-there's newspapers back there somewhere
I went looking for the newspapers and they still have them back at the Reference Desk.
When you can get on the internet and look at just about any newspaper, why would you want to look at a hard copy of it? I guess if you don't have internet access, but the library is providing free internet access at all those dozens of PCs all lined up.

The Newseum website has the front pages of 796 Newspapers from 84 countries: 

Wide open spaces
It still is a nice looking, very functional library. I guess it's that mid-50s Modern so many Architects like. It makes for a good atmosphere to read and think.
Wide open spaces and new, modern ergonomic-looking counters makes for a pleasant library experience. They've also added self-check-out stations where you scan your own books, DVDs or CDs and walk out without talking to anyone.
I like the self checkout but there is a little learning curve. I'll get it down eventually. I'm ok with all
       these changes just don't take my library away.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Tucson shooting has consumed me all this past week. I’ve wrestled with whether or not
Sarah Palin and the army of right-wing, propagandists are responsible in some way for the tragedy. After thinking about it for a week I’ve concluded that, though they are not directly responsible in a legal sense, I believe they are indirectly responsible in a spiritual sense. Their wreckless rhetoric has contributed to the atmosphere of hate and distrust for anyone who disagrees with them.

In the same way that they make connections with Karl Marx to Barack Obama over socialism, we can make the same kinds of connections from Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck to Jared Loughner over hate speech. Can you imagine who Rush Limbaugh would blame for the shooting if the victim would have been a Republican?

They have stoked the fires of hate for Democrats, liberals of all stripes and the Government with their inflammatory, over-the-top rhetoric on a thousand radio stations all across the nation.

Sarah Palin said in print and at a live appearance "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" She posted on her Facebook page a "target" map showing the districts of Gabrielle Giffords and other House Democrats in a rifle's cross hairs. Then, she appears on her tv show/campaign commercial looking through the crosshairs of a rifle, shooting a caribou. Just a few months earlier Congresswoman Gifford’s office doors were shot out after her vote for the Healthcare Bill. Giffords was clearly targeted and the animus was out there, boiling in a black cauldron of hate with fires stoked by right-wing leaders, talkers and commenters. Many of whom, talked of “Second Amendment Remedies”.

Just a few weeks ago I truly believed that Sarah Palin could become our next President. If they could put George W. Bush in the Whitehouse they could certainly put Sarah Palin in there. Now, I think it would be impossible because of political ads that could connect her to the Tucson shootings through the gun sight images she has so proudly used. Connect that to the carnage in Tucson and her own words and you have a biased, but effective ad campaign. She couldn’t get elected dog-catcher now.

At a rally a few months ago in Washington DC they carried signs that said, “I came unarmed...THIS TIME!” and “Where’s my gun?”. On Glenn Beck’s website comments are so over-the-top with hateful rhetoric I won’t quote them here for fear they would target me, too.

And, what has the Left done? They certainly have not tried to inspire people to take up arms and shoot people. The worst of the far left are the Anarchists. They have burned cars in a car dealership, they have set animals free in an animal research laboratory and they have rioted so they can loot. It’s just not the same as encouraging people to violence because our President has a “Deep-seated hatred of white people” and is destroying our nation as Beck has said.

Even, though they deny any responsibility for the tragedy in Tucson, they have indeed dialed back the rhetoric. Palin took down the map with the crosshairs on it and every conservative pundit from Pat Buchanan to Charles Krauthammer approved of Obama’s speech at the memorial service for the victims.

So, they have done what I have always wanted them to do: dial back the rhetoric a little bit so as not to inspire some loony-tune to go out and shoot someone.

Here’s a 1919 Fresno Morning Republican newspaper I’ve had in my collection for several years.
It’s amazing these 90-year old pieces of newsprint are still in tact. Though yellowed with age, it's still readable and big. It was a different size, 22 inches tall, same as today’s Bee but much wider at 16 inches as opposed to only 11 inches in today’s paper. Every story was completed on the page it started and not continued on another page. Very little photography and most of it from far away like world leaders in Europe and national movie stars. A couple of local photos were of two boxers who were going to fight at the American Legion Hall. Johnnie Hayes of Auberry was to fight Roy Fain of Fresno for the San Joaquin Valley Bantamweight (118 pounds) Championship.

The Gottschalks ad was interesting with summer dresses from $4 each and 'dainty undermuslins' at $1.75.

Another difference was the relative lack of coverage of local stories on the front page. I had to dig into the middle of the 22 page paper to find local stories. Although, it is ironic that there was one local story on the front page about Fresno Mayor, W.F. Toomey announcing an anonymous donation of $40k to buy food to feed the hungry. It wasn’t going to be given away, but sold at cost at a special sale in the Municipal Auditorium. Some things never change. There’s always poor folks going hungry.

90 years ago there were 45,000 people here, now over half a million.

The Fresno Morning Republican newspaper was founded in 1876 by Dr. Chester Rowell the elder, who’s statue rests on the southwest corner of Fresno’s Courthouse Park and was mayor of Fresno from 1909-1912, the year he died. Perhaps, the ghost of Dr. Rowell walks the lanes of courthouse park late at night? The paper continued on, changing hands several times until it’s demise in 1932.

There were two Chester Rowells. The younger was Chester Harvey Rowell, nephew of the elder Rowell and was brought in to edit and manage the Fresno Morning Republican in 1898 and continued in that position till 1920. So, by the time of this 1919 volume he had been here for over 20 years and was coming to the end of his tenure as editor.

From his editorials, Chester Harvey seemed quite the liberal, favoring nationalization of the railroads and sympathetic to unions. He spoke in a language and tone that, to me was very intellectual but sounded like a public speech and felt stiff and made me wonder if conversation was also stiff in that time.

Chester H. Rowell was also a lecturer in journalism at UC, Berkeley (1911) and in political science at Stanford (1927-1934). He was also editor of the San Francisco Chronicle from 1932 to 1939. He was a member of the University of California Board of Regents from 1914 until shortly before his death in 1948.

Here is an excerpt from the History of the Fresno Republican that explains the two Chester Rowells -

"Dr. Rowell's brother was a congressman in Washington whose son was Dr. Rowell's namesake. The younger Chester H. Rowell served as a Committee Clerk in Congress for his father after graduating the University of Michigan. He then took two years of post graduate studies at the University of Berlin before teaching college Latin, German, and French, in Baxter, Kansas.
On October 12, 1885, the Fresno City Township was incorporated. In 1895 young Rowell was hired by C. L. McLane, Fresno City School Superintendent for a teaching position at the 115 student, Fresno High School. Young Rowell was among its first five teachers.
Three years later, the younger Chester Rowell accepted the job as Editor of the Republican from his Uncle Chester Rowell. The name on the masthead was soon modified as the Fresno Morning Republican . The younger Rowell soon became well-known throughout the Nation as a crusading young journalist-editor attempting to cleanup Fresno's image of political graft and crime. He went after a change in the General Law for Cities of the Fifth Class.
Fresno operated without a Mayor under that law. Town government had been weak and run by five trustees. The Fresno Morning Republican campaigned for election of literate community leaders with commitment to limited government, clean streets and a responsible business community."

Sometimes the backstory of a band is so good it's better than the music they make.

Toxic Shock started playing in 1980. That was 30 years ago! You could pay off a mortgage on a house in 30 years! Or, you could build up a following for a cool hc punk band.

Lead singer, Gary Bufkin, told me they were all buddies at Roosevelt High when they started the band, playing their first gigs on campus during lunchtime. He was a punk rocker and became class president. That was back when just being a punk rocker could get you in trouble. "These guys helped me get class president", he said backstage after their set. And they're still friends after all these years.

TS had a Farewell gig a few months ago, but this gig came up and now they're thinking about continuing on with some more gigs in the future. Nothing wrong with that. As long as they're able to play and people want to see them, more power to them. Buf said they have a gig tentatively set for April.

They have the coolest vintage gear. Being a musician myself, it's something I notice. And they know how to play well. Your chops can get mighty honed after such a long time. They had a great mix in the club last night from that monster PA at the Starline.

One of the highlights of their set was a punk version of Jingle Bell Rock. During the lead solo, Buf lept off the stage, into the audience and distributed candy canes!

They seemed so happy just to be there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Here's my latest project, a rockumentary about my 80s Fresno punk band, Capitol Punishment - Pure Punk Pragmatists - 1981-1995 - CP1 1981

Saturday, August 28, 2010

C-SPAN had a good update this afternoon of the Al Sharpton rally and march that was a reaction to the Glenn Beck rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. There was some video of the event but the link froze up. I suspect because there were so many people trying to access it. They already had over 600 views of just the phone report from Bob Cusack from The Hill.
Reclaim the dream rally and march report on cspan