Monday, March 28, 2005

Window is open....

Originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.
but are you coming in or going out?

Two words for today: Topsy turvy.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Garden path

Garden path
Originally uploaded by Theresa K.
Its Easter weekend, the Vernal Equinox has come and gone, but Winter doesn't want to go away. The sun is bright, but the wind is cold. Typical March weather. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and so I thought it would be nice to look at some flowers.

These sunflowers are from Frank Turnitza's garden, summer 2004. I lived in the garden apartment, so when I got out of bed and looked out the window, this is what I saw. Lovely.

Its a nice sight this time of year - for when the snow melts, you can see all the trash that was under it. The grass and paths all need to be cleaned up.

Well, in a month, I'll be back in NYC and will see this sight with more frequency.

that is a relief...

Friday, March 25, 2005


Originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.
as in post-nasal drip.

I've had a cold or something for the past week. That's why the silence.

Going back to lying down....

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Spring thaw

View from my balcony
Originally uploaded by Theresa K.
Why is it that some calendar dates seem written in stone, from the top down?

Today is March 19. In California, where I grew up, it is the day that the swallows are supposed to instinctively return to Capistrano, a Southern California town with a 300+ years old Spanish Mission. It is one of the time-tested harbingers of Spring. Not unlike the groundhog who predicts how much more Winter is ahead by whether or not he sees his shadow.

I've been house and cat-sitting this week in a house right on Lake Erie. When I arrived here on Monday, the 14th, the lake was frozen solid. It looked like the Moon's landscape -- the waves and current had frozen in place. Snow had been falling on the frozen lake for months and it, too was frozen, casting a brilliant white on white sea of texture.

Luckily, I took photos of it daily and at different times of the day. That frozen lake was a sight I do not soon want to forget.

I did, however, want to take photos of a couple bands with the lake in the background. That won't be happening now unless they cleverly want to superimpose themselves on my lake-scapes.

One still wonders if there will be a late winter/early spring freak snowstorm.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

It's Cold Outside

Snow deck
Originally uploaded by Theresa K.
Today, it was sunny but a below-freezing 29 degrees. If the wind didn't blow, it wasn't that bad. I decided to take a walk in the sun and take some pictures.

At the corner of Lorain and Gehring, across the street from the West Side Market, I happened upon a seagull lying on its back. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I photographed him. I thought perhaps he was dead. But he was very much alive. He stared me down with this beady red eyes.

I walked away from him, thinking maybe he was stunned and would get up in a moment and start attacking me like Alfred Hitchcock's crazed crows in "The Birds." I was talking to Troy on the phone, so I was kind of rambling, and I kept an eye on the bird.

He managed to stand up. So, I thought that he had indeed been stunned and would be OK and fly away soon. I continued walking to my destination (a manhole cover foundried in Canada).

On my way back, the seagull was standing at the cross walk. He hadn't moved since I watched him get up. As I approached, I noticed that his wing was broken and that he could not fly if he wanted to.

He stepped into the street. He fell down on his back again. He looked at me and implored me to help him.

I called 411 on my cel phone, asking for Cleveland's Animal Control. Once I was connected, I heard their prerecorded outgoing message instructing callers such as myself to call the police. As I was calling 411 again to get connected to the police, I saw a squad car one intersection away and waved it down. Of course, in the interim, I had been waving cars away from the path of the bird. I didn't want him to be squished, and I certainly did not want to witness his death, as it was 100% preventable.

The policemen were nice enough but pretty smug in their resolve to do nothing. I kept wearing these guys down, using my best blonde girl voice, flirting with them as a last resort. Of course, I am an olive skinned brunette and was wearing a babushka and they probably thought I could be Arab and they seemed pretty redneck, so I was taking a big risk.

The policemen finally offered to drive into the parking lot of the West Side Market to find a box. When they pulled back over to me and the gull, one of them got out of the car and coaxed the bird into the box and put the box on the sidewalk.

The gull tried to bite the box top that the cop used to slide him into the box. FINALLY, the policeman radio'd someone to send some kind of animal control officer to retrieve the bird, and gave the bird's whereabouts.

I do hope that someone, whether animal control officer or good samaritan, came to the bird's rescue.

I did as much as I could. I could not take him home. And seriously, I know he would have attacked me and I don't want a bird bite.

The situation begs a couple questions. I did pose the rhetorical question that "animals injured on the road on Sunday just get to die?" That's when the policemen started to tell me that Cleveland's Animal Control and Humane Society just don't operate on Sunday - "not like in the cities you see on Animal Planet." OK -- that show he was talking about is "Animal Cops Detroit."

I've spent considerable time in Detroit. I know the city inside out. If your city is in worse shape than Detroit, you're not just in the toilet, you are below the sewer.

Secondly, why are the Cleveland cops so smug? Why do they not want to help?

These things both need to change.
The cops have to care. In Los Angeles, where I was born and raised, the motto of the police force is "To protect and serve." Now, the LA cops are no angels. They beat Rodney King, after all. But in Cleveland, it seems like the police motto is "To drive around acting smug."

And what about the Animal Control or Humane Society? Gulls can pose a danger to humans, so if you're gonna be selfish, as it seems you are, why don't you at least protect the people from the injured gulls? Seriously now -- no creature has to die if its senseless death can be prevented.

Don't you believe in karma?

Baby, its cold outside.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

This time last year

Originally uploaded by Theresa K.
It's that time of year again.

SXSW. That's South By Southwest, the music, film & interactive conference that takes place in Austin, TX every year at this time. Austin is a great place to be in the last two weeks of winter. I'm in the snowy part of NE Ohio. Lake Effect snow. That's non stop snow.

This photo was taken in Austin in 2003, when I attended SXSW.

That was a fun trip although I got drunk every night and was hung over every day. On one of the days, I ate three BBQ pork sandwiches just to try to get over it. I met Bryan and Mark of the Forty-Fives whilst hungover. They're the drunkest guys I know, however, so we got along just fine, although I never made it to their show in Dallas because I got lost trying to find my hotel by using the GPS thing in my rental car.

Good things about Austin: BBQ, Mexican food, South Congress St., Mexican breakfast at Las Manitas, Threadgill's, the brown capitol building, Driskill Hotel's design, Yard Dog....

the fact that its probably 70 degrees right now....

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Map; The Swimming Pool

Stiv Icon
Originally uploaded by Theresa K.
Stiv Bators is the guy who put me on the map, as far as being a notable photographer of the punk heyday. Sure, sure, I did the Germs "Forming" record cover but they didn't give me photo credit. I did the Pandoras "Hot Generation" record cover, and got photo credit, but the print job registration is not all that good. Of course, I did provide hours of viewing pleasure for many teen aged boys, I am sure. Who else? Got credit for Frankie Avalon & Annette Funnicello's Christmas single sleeve as well as the Ventures "Surfin & Spying" picture sleeve BUT the one record that really delivered me was Stiv's solo album, "Disconnected." All the photos but the front cover were mine. I got photo credit, and I hung out with a bunch of nice guys. That's their dirty secret. Bunch of nice guys.

Unbeknownst to me, many of the photos have since become iconic shots of Stiv, that band and that era. I had no idea.

I've been living in a bubble, I suppose.

Anyway, as I write this, I'm sitting in my house waiting for one other rock guy to come over and reimburse me for photo expenses I fronted a month ago. I'm waiting for the credit for some work I billed a long time ago to hit my account electronically. I can't leave because I have no money and I'm stuck here waiting for people to pay me what I'm owed.

Is this any way to live?

I know that Van Gogh never sold a painting while he was alive. And I'm not comparing my art's staying power or relevance or anything to Vincent. It is as wrong now as it was in the 19th Century.

If you are going to enjoy the fruits of someone's labor, the labor must be compensated somehow.

Funny that Stiv, the Dead Boys and their ilk have a reputation for being bad boys. They were actually the nicest guys, respectful and took care of business financially - at least with me. Perhaps the adage made popular by Bob Dylan in "Absolutely Sweet Marie" is right: "To live outside the law you must be honest."

I do and I am. Where are the rest of you?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I can be brief, too

Originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.
This ugly interdiction is indicative of the way it can be around here.

Prickly on the outside because they don't want you to get inside.....

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Bullwinkle's Naming Convention, or...

Why I prefer the 3-piece band, or rhythm 'n rhythm rules

An erstwhile employer of mine in the so-called "music industry" is dead set against three-piece bands. Famously dead set against it. His statements were the subject of ridicule on internet bulletin boards for months. He infamously claimed that "a 3-piece is not a band; it's a blueprint for a band."

I beg to differ. I prefer the 3-piece band. Here's why.

When you have a 3-piece band, every player has to hit it every time. They play the absolute necessary parts and by all means, keep the rhythm churning. When you add another guitar, you often do add texture, however, you also allow meandering. Noodling. "Guitar exploration." You may call that "lead guitar."

If the singer isn't playing guitar, then he is free to beg for attention with all he's got. I prefer when the front man has the multi-tasking responsibility of singing and playing rhythm guitar and then perhaps busting into a tasteful 8-bar melodic "solo."

The bass should provide a melodic anchor as should the drums. Do you know who does this 3-piece thing perfectly? The Reigning Sound. What makes them stand out is that Greg Cartwright is the greatest songwriter of the 21st Century so far. People may beg to differ, but I know I'm right.

When The Greenhornes dwindled their ranks from five to four and finally down to three members, I thought they made the move from trendy neo-garage niche to a more evergreen Cream-inspired blues-based one. They do not light up the stage with physical pyrotechnics, but they have the best rhythm section in contemporary rock today. And they are so young! That they resonate with a vintage facility in their improved 3-piece line-up at this age, one can only expect that as they grow old together, The Greenhornes will shore up the foundation of this thing we call rock n roll and make it fresh for the generation born in the 70s.

One of my favorite bands of the 70s, The Faces, had a good mix. One guitar, bass, drums and a Hammond B3. Yes, they had the flashy singer, but what a voice he had, and energy, and a way to interpret those songs that set the bar for other "blue-eyed devils" who dared sing Black music with a British rock accent.

What I'm talking about really doesn't have anything to do with a band having 3 or 4 instrument-playing members. Its about making fresh sounds with a pretty standardized configuration. A lot of people are all excited about The White Stripes and their no bass approach. They aren't the first and they will not be the last band with no bass player. Let's look at the past decade: The Gories and The Oblivians. These bands made a super serious impact on Jack White in no uncertain terms. You can hear it in his songwriting and in his vocal style. Neither of these influential 3-piece bands had a bass player. The Black Keys - guitar and drums; Mr. Airplane Man - guitar and drums; The Moaners - guitar and drums; the seminal Bantam Rooster - guitar and drums; I could go on, and I will, but not about this no bass thing.

When you look at Led Zeppelin or The Ramones, what you have are two 3-piece bands that have a singer who doesn't play an instrument on stage. I guess Cream could have gone that route - but could you imagine Eric Clapton without a guitar? Exactly. That's why the Jeff Beck Group had Rod Stewart singing in front of Beck and then-bass-player, Ronnie Wood, who is as good on the bass as any of the famous bass players ever. (Actually, it's a Yarbirds thing, isn't it? Page & Beck, - both slinging guitar behind some golden-voiced front man with stand-out hair while Clapton managed to do his own singing.)

As for me, I like the bass and everything it provides. Listen to the orchestral outro to the 60s classic, "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The bowed bass really drives that song to its climactic ending. Crucial. Listen to the bass line of any Beatles song and dare to slag Paul McCartney! How about the driving melodic bass on Tom Petty's "American Girl" or "Debris," the Ronnie Lane number on The Faces' "A Nod Is As Good As A Wink" album?

There is no better presentation and exaltation of bass than The Dirtbombs. The Detroit quintet is a rhythm n bass combo. Two drummers, two bass players, one guitarist/singer. Now this is one helluva an amazing live band and its partly because of the double shot of rhythm. There is nothing like witnessing this band from the back of any given concert venue. Seeing two drummers playing equally hard, but showing it in different ways. Bam Bam - my secret name for young, blond Ben Blackwell, is like a big puppy, putting his paws to the skins and slamming them. Pat Pantano is all finesse in presentation but hits just as hard and as fast. Its really something to behold. One bass generates punctuated fuzz while the other plays fast and melodic. Troy Gregory might have the fastest fingers in the world. This double rhythm rock n roll is the brainchild of Mick Collins, the former Gories guitar player. From a band with no bass to a band with two. Cool. The Dirtbombs is one of those bands that make me want to play bass! Usually, you will hear a record and have guitar fantasies where you are Jimmy Page or Keith Richards. Me, I just want to play bass when I hear the Dirtbombs.

At the end of the day, I just like good music. It doesn't matter to me if three guys make it, or if ten guys do.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Bass players have money?

Originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.
Second in my series of bass players with money. Bass players laugh because, well, they never have money. This one is Nick Bataran. He was in Back In Spades, of Detroit, but that band broke up. Now he's looking for another band.

Seems to be the theme. Looking for another band. Not having money.

Today, I curated and hung up an art exhibit in a rock club. I had to go pick up some art supplies, which I had to front the money for. Between my friends who drove me around and I, we had about 20 cents over the grand total - we had to pool our resources. Yeah - one of us was a bass player.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Cleveland is weird

Originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.
I have been here for one month.

Cleveland is, according to the 2000 Census, the poorest big city in the United States. The unemployment in Cleveland is higher than anyplace else in the United States. Every day on the news, you hear about jobs lost. Even NASA laid off a lot of people just the other day. No safe job is safe anymore

Why is this?

From what I can gather, Cleveland suffers from a severe case of inertia. Maybe, however it is a chicken and egg question. Which came first, the inertia or the lack of reason to be motivated? It is a vicious circle.

I see that it is nearly impossible to break the cycle of poverty here.

I lived in New York City for 17 years. Very expensive place. I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA - that is an outrageously expensive place. I was just there for three months this winter. It is not affordable. No one balks at a million dollar asking price for an apartment! On the plus side, you can get the best fruits and vegetables in the world in Santa Barbara as it is nestled in the bosom of the southern part of wine country, which means farms. In Cleveland, the price of a bottle of spring water is about 50% more than it is in California or New York.

Water is a staple. I like to drink a gallon a day, but its not really in my budget anymore. Water is also holy stuff in California. Did you see the movie, "Chinatown" -- its all about the water.

This Society Center is on a manhole cover on a street in Cleveland in front of a place downtown called The Society Center. It just made me laugh. As if there was an exclusive club underneath this manhole.... hardly likely, but wouldn't it be cool if there was? I would be the parallel universe of Cleveland --- a Cleveland where people were employed and solvent. Where cars operated, where people had discretionary money....

dream on....

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Where Did the Time Go?

Originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.
This is Sandy. She cuts my hair, and she does a fabulous job, I might add. Sandy owns a salon in Detroit called Barberella. All the hipsters get their hair cut there. When I lived in New York, I'd fly to Detroit just for a haircut. I'm in Cleveland at the moment, and I recently rode the dog for a haircut...

Sandy is beautiful and fabulous and has a handsome husband and a loving, big dog. She, like a good beauty technician, will make you feel good as well as look good.

Sandy told me the last time I was in her chair that she thought I was younger than she was. I am more than 10 years older than Sandy.

Yeah - that did make me feel good.

But it makes me ponder a whole other set of questions...

OK - I look young. I drink a gallon of water a day, stay out of the sun, and wear $100 moisturizer, but its more than that and the genetic crapshoot.

I behave like I'm 10 years younger than I am. I run around with silly people and do silly things. I stay out late at rock clubs and bars. In fact, this photo was taken after midnight at the Belmont Bar in Hamtramck, Detroit about a month ago. I think that my behavior helps define my putative "age."

However, the chronological reality is that this year, I will turn 47. Last time I looked, it was the 80s and I wasn't yet 30.

Last week, I was able to re-connect with three people I was very close to at the end of the 70s. We're about the same age. Back then, they were just guys in a band, and we were all just having a good time. Now they're all married. Two of them have kids that I know of. When I think of them, I am transported to being 22, 23 and 24 years old. I still think we are in our 20s.

We were so close that once you get in touch again, it seems all the years in between seem to vanish. However, more than two decades have passed. A lot has happened. The friend who brought us together died 15 years ago. Another friend who made all our hijinx possible died six months ago. Of course, these friends died young and probably preventably. It still does not take away the impact of looking at one's own finite existence.

Mortality is waving at us from a not too distant shore.

Its scary.

Just like honey

That great love sound
Originally uploaded by Theresa K.

What does this reverbalux box have to do with anything? Reverb, to me is "that great love sound." Not echo, not delay -- reverb. Its the sonic phenomenon that makes poor singers sound great in the shower. Its also why doing a field recording of people speaking works best when done in a car or van loaded with band gear. Its the sound bouncing off other stuff and back into your ear with the layers and effects of the stuff and the bouncing. You know, just like "Just Like Honey" by Jesus and Mary Chain.

This nifty machine is not actually in commission that I know of. It is perched near a window that lets in beautiful light at Jim Diamond's studio, Ghetto Recorders in Detroit. I spend lots of time there, but this photo was taken during the Witches recording sessions for Thriller, their yet-to-be-released album.

There are songs on that album I find absolutely brilliant in their sonic and their emotional quality. Today, my favorite is "Silent and the Shade." It is speaking on my behalf right now.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


"In the Sewer Light"
Originally uploaded by Theresa K.
This is the kind of thing I'm into photographing these days. Today, Keith Thompson told me how much he liked this image.

I am starting a new collection of images that will probably center around the Foundry Series. I call it Pedestrianation.

There will be no photographing of grates and manhole covers for a few days, however. It is snowing like hell. Lake Effect Snow.

Bananas & Dynamite

Mick & Kim
Originally uploaded by Theresa K.
Bananas & Dynamite is a song by Troy Gregory on his album, LAURA. It does, however, describe this photo of Mick Collins in his banana yellow t-shirt, and Kim Fowley in his explosive red suit.

I have wondered for years why Mick Collins is not a huge international superstar. He has the look, the chops, the finesse, pizazz, the you name it - to be an international superstar. He's a big sexy Black Man.

And I think that is the problem. The double edged sword, and it ain't cuttin so well.

The rock n roll we like is Black music that was co-opted by the British and sent back to us in glorious form - but no better or no worse than its original form. So why is the White Boy Rock the stuff of international superstardom?

Is the world not ready for a Black Man Superstar. OK - I give you Prince. But is he the only one? Michael Jackson does not count in my book. He's a white girl.

Mick Collins can take any genre of music and make it personal and then throw it back at you in a performance of universal relevance. He has the kind of guitar chops that aren't intimidating but are impressive. He has a true Soul Man's voice and his interpretations of his own music as well as other's is unparalleled. I'd have to say that The Dirtbombs' version of Phil Lynott's "Ode to a Black Man" is unstoppable and unbeatable.

Yesterday, I was in a pub with my roommate and "Hey Ya" by Outkast came on the jukebox. That track is phenomenal. Its got a little bit of every genre in it. That's something only a Black group could pull off with any sense of non-ironic authenticity. So outside have we made this group that really invented rock n roll that they can stand far away from it, as well as other so-called White Boy genres, take it in, pull out the best bits and go mix it up with everything else and come up with the best track around forever.

I always thought that Sting was the proverbial White Guy pretending to be a Black Guy (Bob Marley, in Sting's case) and everyone who copied Sting without knowing Sting's reference point was doing a weird thing --- copying a White Guy who copied a Black Guy. OK - you really should get your own gimmick, but if you're gonna copy a Black Guy, first: Be Very Good At What You Do. Second: copy the right Black Guy!

Bob Marley has no comparison. Neither does Mick Collins.

Please make Mick Collins the international superstar he was meant to be. Buy Dirtbombs records and go see them play. Put money in Mick's pocket so he can make more innovative records I like dancing to.