• Friday, July 6, 2007:
World Premiere of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood, Booksmith, Haight Street, San Francisco
The Riot on Sunset Strip book had an incredible, tremendous and very bitchen launch party at Booksmith on Haight Street in San Francisco. Man, there was some super Love in the room, including the band Love's drummer (on DeCapo and Forever Changes) Michael Stuart-Ware. He spoke and did a great Q&A about his own book, Behind the Pegasus Carousel with the Legendary Rock Group Love (Helter Skelter Publishing, London). Bart Davenport performed the Byrds' "Here Without You" with Eric Shea, and that Forever Changes out-take from its' CD release, "Wonder People (I Do Wonder)". Thanks go to all my friends who showed up, Ann Marie, Carrie Swing, Karen, Johnny Bartlett & Lynn Peril, Syd, Magic Christian band members, Christina from the Bippies, Blast-Off Girl, Otto Von Stroheim from Tiki Oasis/Tiki News and a whole bunch more, the room was filled, so many original '60s clothes all over the place, on everyone, I was really stunned at so much fun happening in a bookstore... it coulda been a Pandora's Box dance floor, it seemed. Ann Marie took me to Aub Zam Zam Room afterward, then Bart got me over to see Willow Willow at a club on Polk Street, then up to my old DJ haunt Cafe Dunord on Market Street, to see the last performance by a great country rock group called Court & Spark. I must say that it was A Hard Day's Night, and that after all the work to get it together and do the event, Willow Willow just calmed me down and brought me up to such a high with their songs and voices. This was truly one of the greatest nights of my life and I sincerely thank all of my friends in San Francisco, who I dearly miss living near, for making it all happen the way it did.
• Thursday, July 12, 2007:
Riot on Sunset Strip debut in Los Angeles, Book Soup (Sunset Strip)
Last Thursday night, Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood had it's debut in Los Angeles at Book Soup, right there on the Sunset Strip where Cinematheque-16 and The Aware Inn used to be. Maybe 70 or so people were in the house, I couldn't count heads but the store sold about 60 copies. Mark Tulin and Jim Lowe from The Electric Prunes showed up to talk and had a great Q&A, the audience really thought they were funny guys, and I can tell you that they were very informative as to how the music was created in the mid-'60s L.A. environment. Then, drummer Michael Stuart-Ware came down and spoke about Love recording Da Capo and Forever Changes. Both the Electric Prunes and Love worked with RCA Music Center of the World engineer Dave Hassinger for their most important recordings, so I felt after this all went down, the night ended up being a tribute to his genius. Great to have close friends like Becky Ebenkamp, Audrey Moorehead, Kari French, Gene Aguilera, Art Fein, Chris Morris, Paul Body, Gene Scualtti, Brian Chidester and many others show up, as well as Eric Caidin from Hollywood Book & Poster, who wound up imparting a lot of good information from his seat in the front row. Great to meet some newer friends who are of Italian heritage (rare for L.A., in my experience), Alison, and Isabella. Of special note was a kid I kinda knew a bit at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, Phillip Phinney, a track & field guy who one time drove us all bannanas when... when... we had our annual "cholos vs. surfers" riot (a construct basically to get out of school one day each year, orchestrated by the "head" "cholos" and "surfers"), and Phillip out-ran the cops in circles... they could NOT catch this freshman, and we were all laughing our ass off (this was 1974, personal memory). Really in the spirit of Riot on Sunset Strip for Phillip to be there (and I do remember him going to dance on American Bandstand with my friend Jake and a couple of their girlfriends). Giving his blessing to the Book Soup event, also, was Rodney Bingenheimer, Mayor of the Sunset Strip and a contributor to Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood. Thanks to Tosh Berman, and Eric Tyson, for allowing Book Soup to host this wonderful group of striplings.
• Thursday, July 19, 2007Riot at Spoonbill & Sugartown, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
The first stop on the Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood book tour of New York City took place in beautiful Williamsburg, the latest in a long series of popular Brooklyn neighborhoods to emerge over these past 15 years (and yes, Patty Duke, Brooklyn Heights was/is one of 'em).
Being the well-prepared mascot for the book that I am, I showed up the morning of the day before the event. Over Spoonbill & Sugartown's speakers, I'm hearing the sounds of Gene Clark's second album after he left the Byrds, The Fantastic Edition of Dillard & Clark. As it turns out, the guy behind the counter, Quentin Rowan, was the same person who had answered the phone when I called to book the gig. Coincidentally, he had just finished reading my previous book Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece, and was wondering if there were any more titles by me... then his phone rings and its me alright. My friend from Book Soup in West Hollywood, Tosh Berman, had just told me about the good experience he'd had at a book signing there the previous week, so things were lookin' good from the get go.
The night of the reading (July 19) I'm greeted by the DJ Quentin brought in 'specially for this event Luis Suarez (who plays with Quentin in the folk-pop band Spectacular Bird). Luis is playing his records on one of those little plastic '60s toy record players we used to bring to the beach, and he's very quick taking off and putting on one record after another. He is using the earphone jack as an output to the store speakers, and it's sounding really, really good, because he's also playing primarily 45 r.p.m. records, plus LP cuts, all by Los Angeles-area bands circa 1965-1969. Outside of the type of groups primarily featured in Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood, he's also throwing the abstract combo of Sunshine Pop and 1968-1969 Troubadour-era Country Rock combos such as Dillard & Clark and Gram Parsons-era Flying Burito Brothers... that's cool. Before and after my reading and slide show, Luis kept the audience completely engaged, and in a party-like environment.
The audience was another cool thing altogether. The first guy who showed up was Josh Styles, about an hour before, I saw him outside. It was cool to get some good talkin' time with Josh, because he'd just booked me as a DJ at the Smashed! Blocked! club where he is the resident DJ (Friday, August 3rd, Beauty Bar, 14th St. between 2nd & 3rd Ave, 11 p.m.) By the time we were engaged in conversation, the room started to fill up with people Josh had invited down, and they mixed in with friends of Spectacular Bird (another groovy bunch of folk) and some of my own friends like Phast Phreddie, Phast Nancy, Kiki & David, Pat Lozitio (who also called a bunch of his friends to come down) and more than I can remember at this point. Needless to say, the intimate bookstore was packed, Luis was keepin' people in the groove, Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers provided free wine and sparkling water, and lots of people were talkin' up a storm, so I just took part in that and almost forgot to do the reading.
For this event, I brought the color 1966 Sunset Strip Slide Show that I'd debuted at the Aware Inn Tribute on Sunset Strip a couple of years ago. I ran through it pretty quickly, just to keep the buzz going in the room, while Luis provided a perfect backdrop with his records (I recall hearing one very bitchen track by Clear Light). The entire thing was kicked off with the reading about my drive down Sunset Strip in 1966, where the destination was Dino's Lodge (true nirivana) -- but the curvy stretch on the way there was the big buildup. People dug it, and we had a good volley of Q&A before rejoining the party we'd been at previously in the same room. This went on for another couple of hours, Luis kicking ass with the turntable all the way.
Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers is so inherently flipsville that naturally, they had a bunch of appealing books on '60s design and fashion layin' around on the top of their tables, so I was really glad to notice that people were pickin' these up and buyin' them along with their purchase of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood. Something was happening here; just recently, New Yorkers have lost both Colesium Books and Gotham Book Mart in Mid-Town Manhattan (the latter had been slated for a Riot book event), and in L.A., we lost the brilliant Book City Collectables, in my humble opinion the best place to find vintage books on cinema and Pop culture. Thankfully, Larry Edmunds Bookshop is still open across the street on Hollywood Boulevard, along with Hollywood Book & Poster, so all is not lost.
New York still has the Strand Bookstore, but it is really encouraging in these times to find good new stuff when computer purchase of books has literally cut into our ability to BROWSE in the best environments possible. The thought, care, wit and intelligence of a place like Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is to be thoroughly commended, appreciated and celebrated. Plus, the following Wednesday, I went to see Spectacular Bird at a club on Houston Street, and man, they were boss
• Friday, July 27, 2007
Riot at Bluestockings Radical Books, Lower East Side, New York City
The second stop on the Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood book tour of New York City took place at a venue I've really been looking forward to, Bluestockngs Radical Books, in the Lower East Side, Manhattan.
Growing up in L.A., I was a huge fan of the album Have a Marijuana by David Peel & the Lower East Side (I was nine years old and woudn't try a marijuana cigarette for several years), and was aware of the East Village Other, this great underground newspaper. In 1966, my current friend Eve Babitz was voted "Slum Godess" by the East Village Other, so I'm really just stoked as hell to have any kind of involvement with this self-proclaimed Femnist book store (Bluestockings Radical Books), started by a group of young people who seem to instinctively honor the traditions of the '60s revolution, with not one ounce of being bound by tradition whatsoever.
Bluestockings Radical Books is a great concept, and I noticed a few unique things when I attended a reading there in December, 2005; mainly, they have a keen sense of audio/visual presentation, with a pull-down screen built into the store, and an overhead projector ready to shine light from computer-based presentations of films. In fact, this is a big part of the appeal of the readings and book events here (and, the occasional indie film screening). Bluestockings is primarily a book store, but there is also a true Beat coffeehouse vibe in the place, and it reminds me of pictures and tales of The Fifth Estate Coffeehouse on Sunset Strip during the mid-'60s. Tomata DuPlenty, the singer for '70s L.A. punk band The Screamers, mentions in Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood, that The Fifth Estate used to "show Bunel and Warhol films on a sheet." It was in that spirit that I felt Bluestockings Radical Books had captured the right vibe for their store concept.
For my appearance at Bluestockings Radical Books, I pulled out all the stops, bringng a very with-it guest who was on the Sunset Strip scene during the mid-'60s, Laura Kenyon. Known during the mid-'60s as Violet Santangelo, Laura was part of a duo that recorded for White Whale Records called Lyme & Cybelle. Her partner (Lyme) was a very young Warren Zevon, who was in the process of writing songs then that would also be recorded by the Turtles ("Outside Chance" and "Like the Seasons," to name two... Santangelo co-wrote the latter with Zevon) and The Everpresent Fullness (both White Whale artists). I coupled this in-person Laura Kenyon interview by opening with the Beatnik Beach Slide Show, compiled by Brian Chidester and myself last year, which we had originally screened at Sponto Gallery in Venice (earlier, the location of the Venice West Cafe), The Roxie in San Francisco's Mission District, and The American Cinamatheque's Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Bluestockings Radical Books is a small space, so it was nice to hear people come up afterward and say "that slide show you have is pretty great, that should be on a big, screen, in a theater." (Hopefully, I can bring this back to New York to one of the cinema venues in the near future).
I started out the evening by reading something the poet Allen Ginsberg had written about "the Folk-Rock craze" on the back of a house-band album from New York's 1966 nightclub sensation The Cheetah (Audio Fidelity Records), which was located at the old Riviera Ballroom at Broadway and 53rd Street. Ginsberg's understanding of how media was beginning to link progressive thought to mainstream society through "true poetics" in music goes right to the heart of the Sunset Strip book (and is indeed included within its first five paragraphs).
We got right into the Beatnik Beach Slide Show, a tour of coffeehouses and jazz joints from Topanga and Malibu straight down through Venice, Hermosa Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach (imagine that!), Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, then into Hollywood spots like Cosmo Alley, Shelly's Manne-Hole and a wide variety on Sunset Strip (Garden of Allah, Pandora's Box, The Fifth Estate, The Renaissance, The Crescendo, The Unicorn and others). The identification and relation to what goes on every day at Bluestockings Radical Books was readily apparent.
To close the show, we got into some good spoken word with Laura Kenyon. She recalled how Warren Zevon walked up to her with a guitar, as she sat on the lawn at Fairfax High School, and from that moment on their Folk-Rock duo was formed. Explaining how the record deal with White Whale Records came about, Laura went through the songwriting process, the collaboration inherent to the Sunset Strip scene as a whole, playing at places like the Sea Witch, and how the three Lyme & Cybelle singles were recorded. The interesting sidelight was how, prior to Lyme & Cybelle, Laura had been part of the atmosphere at the sculpting and dance studio of Vito Paulekas, and had been around when the Byrds, Love and the Mothers of Invention had their early practice sessions in the basement. She spoke of being part of Vito's dance troupe at the early shows by those groups, and also about dancing at the show where Bob Dylan joined the Byrds on stage at Ciro's in March of 1965. She definitely conveyed the fun of being involved in such a creative atmosphere.
After Lyme & Cybelle ended, Laura studied drama at the University of Southern California and since the early '70s, has been involved in Theater here in New York City (she'd worked on A Chorus Line among many productions). Recently, Varese/Sarabande Records has put out a CD of Warren Zevon's early years, including all of the Lyme & Cybelle records and demos, and Laura took part in the liner notes of that excellent release. After an exuberant question and answer session, we played the now-club DJ turntable hit "Follow Me" and it's flip side "Like The Seasons" from that CD. The Bluestockings Radical Books appearance was the first time in many years that Laura Kenyon (her legal name based on "Laurel Canyon") had engaged in talking about her involvement in the Sunset Strip music scene of the mid-'60s, and we all had a really good time with it. Best part about it for me was staying around Bluestockings Radical Books with Laura and her husband well after the event, just continuing the conversation until the last espresso cups were cleaned from the table.
• Sunday, July 29, 2007
Riot on WFMU, The Gaylord Fields Show, New York City/New Jersey
WFMU set list for The Gaylord Fields Show with guest Domenic Priore, Sunday, July 29, 2007...... Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood edition...........
This show is archived, between 5 and 7 p.m. on July, 2007, Sunday @ wfmu.org
The Standells -- Riot on Sunset Strip
Terry Randall -- S.O.S.
The Grass Roots -- Mr. Jones
The Electric Prunes -- I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night
The Leaves -- Too Many People
The Chocolate Watchband -- I'm Not Like Everybody Else
The Byrds -- Chimes of Freedom
Love -- She Comes in Colours
Ty Wagner -- Slander
The Vibrations -- My Girl SloopyT
The Afro Blues Quintet + 1 -- Summertime
Big Jay McNeely -- Deacon's Hop (live from the Olympic Auditorium, 1951)
The Belfast Gypsies -- People Let's Freak Out (Them, just-post Van Morrison)
Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band -- Frying Pan
The Mothers of Invention -- Trouble Comin' Every Day (The Watts Riot Song)
Kim Fowley -- The Trip
The Avengers -- Be a Cave Man
The Emporers -- I Want My Woman
The Challengers -- Gloria
The Things to Come -- Sweetgina
The Sons of Adam -- Mr. You're a Better Man Than I
The Dovers -- Baby What Am I Going to Do?
The Modern Folk Quartet (MFQ) -- This Could Be The Night (produced by Phil Spector, 1965, written by Harry Nilsson)
Cherilyn -- Dream Baby (from the original 45, early Cher produced by Sonny Bono)
The Association -- Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies
The Buffalo Springfield -- For What It's Worth(final two songs are about the Pandora's Box sit-in demonstration that turned into a riot on November 12, 1966)
For more descriptions about the songs, you can listen to the broadcast at:
Go to the archive for July 29, 2007, and check out Sunday between 5-7, The Gaylord Fields Show. Total fun.
• Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Riot at Barnes & Noble, Greenwich Village/East Village NYC
This was the event that led me to schedule the entire New York City book tour for Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood. It's not that easy getting into a mainstream, chain book shop like Barnes & Noble for a reading, especially in a big literary town like New York, so I worked all the angles and wedged this one in, then planned all the other events around it.
It paid off, too, because this particular Barnes & Noble is conveniently located near two subway line stops, where the N and th R hit Broadway & Astor, and the 6 makes its stop at Astor Place. It was a Tuesday night, but all of my best friends in New York showed up, including long-time pals Billy Miller and Miriam Linna from Norton Records (and previously, Kicks magazine). Billy & Miriam, with Kicks, were the inspiration for what I'm doin' now, and this goes beyond writing. I'd never read any "rock journalism" that FELT the way the records sounded, and we're talkin' actual Rock 'n' Roll here, of the Little Richard/Jerry Lee Lewis/Chuck Berry variety, the real deal. Kicks went well past those standard stalwarts and presented a forum where others just as genius (Larry Williams, Dale Hawkins, The Pretty Things) could be heard about and reveled in, rather than hoping against hope for some contemporary act to stop Clear Channel bullshit in its tracks. It's my hope that Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood can provide for readers what Kicks and Norton Records offered: a place where you can go and not have to accept the watered-down perceptions that the mainstream music business (and media in general) seems to force down people's throats in these latter years. Norton, and Kicks, turned a lot of heads around just by being somewhere the rest of us could dig into what we knew was better stuff, but couldn't find out about anywhere else (and handled, especially, with the kind of fun and vigor Billy & Miriam always bring into their presentation).
That's one of the things that made this event especially nice; the Barnes & Noble was filled with a whole bunch of similarly knowledgeable friends, including Andy Schwarz (formerly of The New York Rocker), Joseph Lanza (several books including the groundbreaking Elevator Music), Gary "Pig" Gold of The Pig Paper (and several other journals of note), Brian Gari (a long-time contributor to Goldmine, and someone who stood outside of The Ed Sullivan Theater on February 9, 1964) and many others... we had about 80 people interacting all night. After reading the first five paragraphs of the introduction, I opened up a question and answer session that became part and parcel of the '66 Sunset Strip Slide Show. Friends in the audience were encouraged.... and gleefully participated in... a running dialog as each color slide revealed a piece of the puzzle.
Remember, this is a crowd who for many years has recognized the brilliance of the exploitation flick Riot on Sunset Strip, but never knew the real story. For example, a CAVESTOMP event that was held in New York a few years back featured as Friday and Saturday night headliners both the Standells, and the Chocolate Watchband (the primary groups featured in the film). My close friends Neala O'Rourke (who recently married another pal, Pete Ciccone) jumped right in to get some specifics about what she was seeing. It was all happening there, in a dark room, on a big screen, color shots of Cinnamon Cinder, The Trip, Pandora's Box, Whisky a Go Go, Ciro's and others, like a couple of pics of the Buffalo Springfield standing in front of The Thrid i out in Redondo Beach (with its proto-psychedelic wall painting, and the group's hair still in all it's post-Rubber Soul glory). Sonny & Cher were seen performing in front of the Lichtenstein-inspired walls of It's Boss, there was Mike Nesmith hanging around with June Fairchild on the set of HEAD, and Dutch art team The Fool painting The Hullabaloo/Kaleidoscope building on Easter week of 1969, in preperation for the West Coast staging of the play HAIR at the newly-named Aquarius Theater. Most of the audience threw in a few comments here and there, and asked about some of the more fine details. It was an in-person chat room... cardboard slides that held small pieces of film, shown though a light... there was nothing digital about the entire evening.
Special thanks go to Carolyn Hughes and Paul Trinidad for giving me the chance to bring Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' Roll's Last Stand in Hollywood, to a proper venue in New York City, and to all my pals who showed up... Tom Ward, Pat Lozito... all you all...
For more information about Norton Records, please visit their website at: http://www.nortonrecords.com/