Published by Prestel Verlag, Munich · London · New York, 2020.
Hardcover $45.00 Oct 20, 2020
224 Pages | 9-1/4 x 11
Documenting the birth of a radical era of music, fashion, pop culture, media, and art, Steve Eichner was hired by Club King Peter Gatien to make images of his clubs.
Sex, drugs, and dance music created the perfect cocktail of hedonistic bliss set amid a backdrop of iconic parties that catered to revelers every whim.
On any given night, one could party alongside celebrities, club kids, drag queens, ravers, hip hop heads, models, banjees, body boys, bondage slaves, goths, and the bridge-and-tunnel set at legendary nightclubs like Tunnel, Palladium, Club USA, Roxy, and Limelight.
At a time when people from all walks of life came together at night to celebrate themselves. There was universal respect. No one could see what went on inside these nocturnal spaces…until now!
Steve Eichner was the official photographer of NYC nightlife. There are 200 brilliant images in this book.
Here is a sample of his work:
This collection of vivid good times comes at a point when we could use a reminder of the days when people gathered in mass.
Ordinary people became clubbers. They rubbed shoulders with celebs and danced the night away.
Here, a new group of upstarts of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and economic backgrounds came together on the dance floor in a celebration of PLUR (peace, love, unity, and respect).
This book will be a great addition to any coffee table this upcoming holiday season.
This week features a day trip to Long Island. The itinerary was an indoor flea market, an outlet mall, and the town of Port Jefferson.
The outlets had great bargains including a windbreaker for Fall and a bundle of books at a discount.
Port Jefferson offered Red Shirt Comics and seafood at PJ’s Lobster House where we dined indoors for only the second time since March!
As of this writing indoor dining will return to Manhattan on September 30th.
2020 is the Centennial of the Vote for Women in America. New York dedicated its first statue of real women’s rights pioneers on Literary Walk.
Also marking the 200th Anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, this new monument is long overdue.
Central Park Wonders
I took a nature walk through the ramble recently. This is an area of the park with interconnected paths that twist through scenic woods. Bird watching here is fantastic.
A young Jazz Saxophonist played. A group of guys enjoyed a game of beach volleyball. And the police keep guard over a statue of Christopher Columbus.
The Conservancy takes great care of Central Park. Maintaining the lawns, trees, benches, and the rest every day.
This Summer has been hot and sunny most of the time. My husband and I are staying put in New York for now. These days I love my city. Have you looked at the weather across the country lately?
The Conservatory Garden
Located at E. 105th Street & 5th Avenue across from The Museum of the City of New York, this garden is a treasure with flowers, romantic paths and fountains placed well. A quiet zone perfect for escape from the chaos outside.
19 years after the attacks on U.S. soil of 3 American planes used as missiles destroying the Twin Towers, damaging The Pentagon, and crashing in Pennsylvania killing over 3,000 people, Corona Virus has killed over 200,000 Americans.
We will all pause to remember 9/11. But never forget that then & now we had a President not duly elected by the people.
I was just thinking how we were told back in January to write out the full 2-0-2-0 when dating important docs. Who knew that it would be almost exclusively applied to receiving unemployment benefits.
My Dear Readers: Updates from New York City. July ends. USA continues to deny the impact of Covid—19 despite the largest recorded drop in its economy in history!
If you reside outside of North America you may have heard about how poor our safety net is here. This is showing up now during this unprecedented crisis.
I only glance at the headlines each morning. It takes until late in the day to realize how much more our country has slid in the eyes of the world.
New York City has sport once again with its expensive corporate stadiums empty. Overpaid athletes are playing with piped in crowd noise.
Several athletes in baseball are now sick. Games are getting postponed. I think baseball should cancel the season.
No Broadway/ Off—Broadway theater. No museums. No movie theaters. Broadway and Hollywood had both reached their commercial summit. I do not believe this will happen again.
If we have cinemas the interior of those spaces will have to be reinvented along with Broadway and Off—Broadway theaters.
Personally, my fear is that America will be vunerable like never before to a new authoritarian reality. Already the President floated the proto-fascist notion of delaying the Fall Election. This never happened in America before this con man took office.
People are waking to see how much damage has been inflicted upon regular people over decades of blindly adding police to streets. This has resulted in the brutality seen in recent days.
The people were empowered to fend off the awful notions of power hungry office holders. Our struggle for greater Democracy will continue.
With such heavy issues hovering over us I refuse to conform to the reactionary nature of certain friends and family. I just read “Twilight Of Democracy” by the historian Anne Applegate, seen below in the picture, argues strongly for Democratic ideals. She is hopeful Americans will reject the anti—democratic platform of Donald Trump.
My photography is an outlet to express what I see daily to counter the ugly forces at play in today’s world.
Despite it all I am having a lovely Summer. What else can I do? November will be chilly. And by then our biggest Election will be upon us.
5th Avenue from E. 86th Street to E. 103rd is called Museum Mile. There are several along this route on the East Side. The Museum of the City of New York, The MET, The Guggenheim and The Jewish Museum are my favourites. I took pictures of their facades over the past three months. Devoid of crowds. A silence. Mourning? Will they come back as strong as before the shutdown?
The Museum of the City of New York, The Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, and The Jewsih Museum are seen below:
Another component of taking images on walks are the people you see in moments. So distracted are these strangers that I could not resist capturing them in time. What follows are the first results of my observations.
August Arrives Tomorrow
Major League Baseball attempted to start a shortened season but finds itself in a bind now that the Miami Marlins team is ill with Covid—19. Then the Phillies were struck then the St. Louis Cardinals.
All of the hot spot states are only beginning to require masks and think about shutting down again.
The Republican party is making this crisis a partisan issue; their leader floats proto—fascist ideas daily.
Here in New York City while we have settled into our Phase 4 lives a new month starts tomorrow!
There has been a lot of talk lately about returning to normalcy. Before the pandemic hit America the nation was struggling with many issues. There were several fissures in the body politic. Never before this moment had the country been torn asunder by an invisible threat.
Our economy has been the engine that drove us through recessions and social upheaval. The wages of workers stopped rising after 1980. Remained stagnant through 2020.
If you grew up in America between 1955 and 1985 you were indoctrinated into a man’s world. Captains of industry were male. Physical strength dominated. Being smart was deemed weak or ‘gay’.
What men hide is the ability to empathize. To express emotion in a normative way is suppressed. We as a society are paying today in political divides and fringe pursuits of false ideas that support a nation in isolation.
When I was a kid boys always acted strong. Being physical was the primary motivator in boys.
America was so busy working and living mostly private lives decades before Facebook that boys’ real needs could be missed.
The politicians pass laws. Parents do their best. Why were our kids killing one another before this crisis?
The gendered kids of this time and place are wondering what happened to them. People who cannot conceive of anything outside their prescribed norms are angered or scared that gendering could be wrong.
Has anyone asked if closing the schools could end school shootings? Recently a lot of people have suggested this crazy notion. Actually, without schools kids lose crucial development of social skills. Those with limited resources miss meals that schools provide.
America has yet to really tackle the social pandemic of massacres, addiction, and lack of empathy.
A return to normal? What normal are people longing for?
Vaping was killing kids, socially isolated boys were killing classmates, and adults were being killed by opioids.
The rising tide of Anti-Semitism was killing innocent people too.
Police brutality has resulted in a renewal of civil unrest not seen in fifty years.
Leadership is absent.
Should we not imagine a society that is anything but normal?
Trans people, Women, and Racism must be addressed. Just to name a few issues.
During the recent Memorial Day holiday states were informed that if they met certain metrics they could begin re-opening.
I walked around my city. Central Park was full of people socially distancing. Picnics were few and far between on the lawns. Children played. But it was just New Yorkers this year. Anything but normal.
I read the paper every day to check in on the latest concerning the virus. The pandemic has hit the poor the hardest. And economies that have all their eggs in the hospitality basket are in serious trouble.
Has the pandemic stripped away people’s illusions surrounding capitalism? Now we have a clearer idea of just how fragile our social system has become in the last 50 years.
People throw around new wordage to describe our ‘new normal’ but this is a much more serious matter.
Re-opening is not a race. States are finding new outbreaks where there were none until people began to disregard safety measures.
The virus has managed to do what Russian interference could not: push Americans to the brink of a new Civil War.
People who have not fallen ill are voicing their anger toward officials for closing their states.
As New York attempts to re-open let us all hope new cases of Covid—19 do not return us to square one.
The Covid Age is just beginning…
Tao Of Bob
While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay There are frail forms fainting at the door Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say Oh, hard times, come again no more.
—–excerpted lyrics from Hard Times by Bob Dylan (1992)
Rainy day activities we used to call them. When there was nothing else to do kids had their favorite stock phrase, I’m bored! Then our parents would reply with their stock phrase, “use your imagination.”
We came up with games, fantastic worlds, and kept ourselves occupied for hours on end. All without the tech of today. It was never present. Our minds would become stronger in the process of inventing. You cannot miss things that were not invented yet.
Finding discarded refrigerator boxes was common during the 1970’s. We used them to build forts, roll down hills, and pretend just about anything our minds could invent!
A carboard box became a spaceship or a time machine. Adventures got played out complete with hand to hand melees to overcome villains. Then on our television sets came perhaps some of the most imaginative television programs on Saturday mornings to compliment our rainy day adventures.
There were 3 commercially supported networks, CBS, ABC, and NBC. New York City also had 3 locally based independent channels: WNEW–5, WOR–9, and WPIX–11.
These independent channels picked up the first ever re-runs in TV history. Network execs did not think people would watch repeats of old shows.
But to the children of that era every single re-run was a first time viewing. Every series from the 1950’s and 1960’s would get aired again. More on this topic in a future entry.
This week I want to talk about the programming of the 1970’s, my childhood. Saturday mornings became a special time of the week for millions of us.
Sid & Marty Krofft
Network TV in the 1970s programmed Saturday mornings just for kids. Cartoons, live-action space operas/adventures, and the brothers Krofft who had series on all 3 networks! At the top of their game there was a variety show based in Atlanta in 1978 called The Krofft Supershow. Hosted first by the Scottish hitmakers Bay City Rollers then the made up Captain Kool & The Kongs, featured 3 series: Dr. Shrinker, Wonderbug, and Magic Mongo.
When their first series originally aired on NBC in 1969 no one knew their everlasting impact. H.R. Pufnstuf was that first show. A fantasy adventure starring Jack Wild as Jimmy (Oscar Nominee for “Oliver!”), Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo, and Lennie Weinrib as H.R. Pufnstuf (he starred later as the Genie Mongo).
How the Krofft Brothers Named Pufnstuf
Of course the famous Mayor of Living island was named after Puff The Magic Dragon, a folk tune that at the time was a popular hit.
In their interview for TV Archive, Sid and Marty Krofft talked about the naming of their now iconic series. There are fun facts brought up as well.
My favorite fact was that The Beatles watched it every week. In England Pufnstuf was broadcast at 6 in the evening. Manager Brian Epstein asked for a 16mm copy of each week’s show!
At the end of every episode Pufnstuf and Jimmy tell viewers to keep those letters and postcards coming. Their fan mail was on average 10,000 letters per week!
Many college kids were watching the show. A lot of them thought the name Pufnstuf was drug related. Naturally the network’s standard and practices would have never allowed it.
A lad named Jimmy and his golden flute, Freddie, are lured away in Witchiepoo’s boat. The vessel attacks Jimmy sending him into the water. He finds himself washed ashore on the Oz-like Living Island. Its Mayor, the friendly dragon H.R . Pufnstuf, and his staff Cling and Clang rescue Jimmy. The rest of the series’ 16 episodes are Jimmy’s attempts to escape the island and various other adventures.
The Krofft shows featured musical numbers too. On Pufnstuf Jack Wild’s character Jimmy sang on several episodes. ‘Walking, Talking Boy’ and ‘Mechanical Boy’ are examples.
“The Magic Path” episode had the discovery of a special walkway that could lead Jimmy off the island! Then there was the scheme of using a box kite to fly him home.
Another big hit was “Sigmund and The Sea Monsters”. Star Johnny Whitaker sang the theme song, ‘You Gotta Have Friends’. He also sang on many episodes.
Sigmund was a misfit. Brothers Burp and Slurp were genuine monsters. Big Daddy and Big Mama were their parents, modeled after Hollywood gangsters of the 1930’s.
Johnny and Scott find Sigmund. They take him in to their clubhouse. Each episode has the boys protecting him from his awful family.
The popularity of these shows propelled stars Jack Wild and Johnny Whitaker to teen idol status. They performed beside the costumed Krofft characters at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A.
Krofft Series Roundup
H. R. Pufnstuf________________________16 Episodes (1969)
Land Of The Lost___________________43 Episodes (1974–76)
Sigmund and The Sea Monsters____29 Episodes (1973–74)
The Lost Saucer____________________16 Episodes (1975)
The Krofft Supershow________________16 Episodes (1976)
I watched all of these programs when they aired. The Krofft brothers had some star power too. “Lidsville” featured Butch Patrick of “Munsters” fame, he played Eddie! Charles Nelson Reilly also starred on the show as villain Hoodoo and with Phyllis Diller on “Croc’s Block.” “The Lost Saucer” starred Ruth Buzzie and Jim Nabors as androids named Fi and Fum. Richard Pryor starred on “Pryor’s Place”. Bob Denver of “Gilligan’s Island” starred in the “Far Out Space Nuts”. Martha Raye was Benita Bizzare on “The Bugaloos”.
The cost of producing so many live-action fantasy shows took its toll. Pufnstuf had 16 episodes that were reran throughout the 1970’s. To widen their audience, Sid and Marty Krofft produced a 98 minute feature film, Pufnstuf”, that featured Martha Raye as The Boss Witch and Cass Elliott as Witch Hazel and the original featured series cast.
“Land of the Lost” ran the longest. Eventual re–boots were produced in the 1990’s and 2000’s and a really bad feature film Starring Will Ferrell.
In 1978, Sid and Marty Krofft opened an indoor amusement park that took up 5 floors of Atlanta’s Omni Center, now home to CNN. It featured a giant sized pinball machine that people could ride through on specially designed vehicles.
Visitors rode the escalators to the top floor that featured a carousel. Then working their way down through the other floors and attractions. Upon exiting there was the familiar Krofft TV Productions logo.
Despite the financial failure of the Atlanta park, the brothers designed Krofft show themed rides for Six Flags in Georgia and in other theme parks across the U.S.
Krofft Gallery: (L–R): The movie ‘Pufnstuf’ (1970), Atlanta based indoor Amusement Park, the book ‘Pufnstuf & Other Stuff’ by David Martindale, and the Krofft TV Production logo seen at the end of each series’ episode.
The Stone Age and Future Age Enable The Scooby Age!
“The Flintstones” appeared in primetime a decade before its debut followed by “Jonny Quest” by Hanna–Barbera in the 1960s. At the dawn of the seventies ABC put Scooby Doo on the air. A group of teenagers along with their pooch and hippie owner Shaggy took on investigations of mysterious happenings in spooky houses and other nefarious schemes.
The series was an instant smash. Unheard of in TV Land that a cartoon would become such a cultural touchstone that a repeated phrase at the end of each episode would ring down through the decades: ‘we would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!’.
The program portrayed teenagers as responsible, caring, and ultimately wiser than the adult villains they would apprehend each week. There were ghosts and ghouls aplenty. Shaggy was always scared to death but with the help of Scooby Doo would overcome his fears usually by accident to win the day. Fred, Velma, and Dafney were the trio of calm and cool. Many viewers later stated that Velma was Lesbian. The series had plenty of camp value in it.
As seen in the gallery below, Shaggy and Scooby were often the first to face each week’s featured ghoul. The ‘NEW’ Movies series brought a lot of guest stars to the show including Laurel & Hardy and Batman & Robin. Campy 1970s fun!
I woke up with my sibs every week to tune in for their latest adventure. You learned how to overcome adversity in a way. Scooby and Shaggy despite being scared out of their wits somehow rose to the challenge of catching crooks disguised as ghosts and monsters.
The show became the longest-running of that era. It spawned numerous spin-offs. ‘Scrappy-Doo’ also got his own series! As seen in the gallery below, Scooby’s offspring Scrappy proved so popular there was a spin-off.
I admit by the time I hit my pre-teens the magic of Scooby had waned. There were a lot of spin-offs too. I was hitting those pre–teen years when Saturday morning early wake-ups had lost their magic.
Today the streaming services like Amazon Prime premiered “Scoob!” a brand new animated movie. And of course there were the live action Scooby Doo movies. Puppy power indeed!
Public Television Introduced Sesame Street
PBS Introduces Zoom & The Electric Company
We’re Gonna Zooma Zooma Zooma Zoom! was sung by a group of children who were not professional performers. Each week they scripted the show! This included creating a made-up language called Ubby Dubby.
Skits were performed. Games were invented. And there was a Zoom Guest too. The Guest segment was a real kid who had a hobby/interest to share.
At the end of each show the kids invited the viewers to write in on a postcard to request a Zoom Card. On the front was a color photo of a Zoom kid and on the back was instructions on how to do a craft featured on the show at home.
I sent in for a card once. I got the instructions on how to make a calendar with drawers using matchsticks.
The Zoom kids would sing the address Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4….send it to ZOOM! at the end of the show.
Channel Thirteen (PBS) is the flagship station for Public Television in the U.S. Zoom and The Electric Company were produced following the enormous success of Sesame Street which premiered in 1969. Although these shows aired every weekday I always felt like they were part of my Saturday morning media diet.
“Hey you guys!” would be yelled loudly at the top of every episode of The Electric Company. This program taught reading comprehension to kids. Proper sentences, grammar, punctuation, and the rest would be featured in silly skits.
Fargo North was a detective character who used a decoder machine to put words in their proper order to form a sentence.
Rita Moreno (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony winning actress) was a featured player. Morgan Freeman played Easy Reader, a hip guy who read a lot.
There was animation too. The Adventures of Letter Man showed a superhero who had a letter on his chest he would use to spell the correct word to save someone from peril.
There was also a special appearance of a popular superhero—Spidey Adventure Stories! Spider-Man in live action!
The 1970’s made for a great childhood. The influence of the previous hippie days showed up in the various series featured this week. Commercial TV began to exploit the popularity of rock music, had kids who were not always show-biz types, boys with Red hair became idols, and there was a sense of escape from adult authority.
The following years Cable TV replaced Saturday Morning TV with Nickelodeon, the first Network for Kids. And MTV became the channel for rock music.
As you can see from this blog entry I treasure the memories I have in front of our black and white TV during those groovy times. They had a big influence on me.
For the full 5 minute interview with Sid & Marty Krofft regarding the naming of their Pufnstuf series just click here: https://youtu.be/MPW-8Db0LFI
http://www.BillieHayes.com is the website of the actress famous for playing Witchiepoo, she raises money for her animal rescue charity!Check it out!
At the end of the 1960’s there was much turmoil from politics. Music experienced psychedelia, folk, and lots of drugs. What came next was quite a turn…
Young men started bands. Influenced by artists who put out their first records in the 1970’s they continued a style and mantra critics saw as a flash in the pan.
Glam. Fancy dress. Machismo. Electric guitars. Rock players who had worn t-shirts and jeans now displayed leather and satin. Studded belts and wristbands accessorized the look.
KISS released their debut in 1973. The band’s name was set in glitter. Paul Stanley saw the New York Dolls dress up in satins. He took this style into a much heavier rock music.
Alice Cooper went solo in 1975 unleashing his version of this heavier rock music on the masses. He became one of the leaders in hard rock wearing satin outfits onstage as well as leather.
Slade from England and T-Rex also led the glam charge. The next wave of music would take this even further to create glam metal.
The guys who looked like girls in the 1970s like David Bowie or Marc Bolan would evolve into bands that looked fem but played hard with macho looks.
Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Hanoi Rocks, and Guns n Roses come to fame during this era.
Big hair, leather, spandex nd make-up are it. Labels sign bands like Twisted Sister, Ratt, Winger, Bullet Boys, Warrant and many others in their wake.
Funny enough that KISS retired their trademark makeup at a time when their progeny put it on.
I came of age at this time. My first hard rock record was “Blizzard of Ozz” by Ozzy Osbourne, the former lead vocalist of Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast ” was my first metal record.
While glam metal started up many bands from the previous era developed into heavy metal—Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Both bands to this day are regarded as the top two acts in all of metal.
Scorpions from Germany also became one of the biggest metal acts in the world. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” was fierce; “Winds Of Change” was a ballad that appealed across the globe.
During these years, Rob Halford of Judas Priest wore leather outfits head to toe with studded jewelry. Paul DiAnno, the singer on the first two Iron Maiden albums wore leather pants as did the entire group on their early tours.
Every fan wanted to dress like their heroes. The black leather motorcycle jacket became synonymous with the art form. Guys wore band tee shirts too. The truly passionate wore leather pants as well.
I attended many concerts during this era. The concerts were KISS shows from the 1970’s brought up to date with new effects and sound equipment. Lighting rigs were state of the art.
When you went to the record shop you could easily pick out the hard rock/metal groups because of their image. A band’s logo was another tell tale sign.
Jagged type with dripping letters highlighted in primary colors were a big part of the logo.
The albums of these groups sold millions upon millions. There were several records released in the Glam era that are all-time best sellers including Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” and Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”.
Debut albums from Skid Row, Cinderella, Motley Crue, and Poison also sold millions.
Glam’s influence would impact other groups too. From Cheap Trick’s “One On One” to Judas Priest’s “Turbo” the sound of glam metal appealed across the spectrum of sounds.
Billy Squire would have his biggest records, “Don’t Say No”, “Emotions In Motion”, and “Signs Of Life” during the glam metal years.
I went to live shows to see Ratt perform their hits like ‘Round and Round’ and ‘You Think You’re Tough’ but also to be a part of the metal community.
Fans showed up to the Meadowlands arena in New Jersey in full leather outfits! Guys had long hair too. It was amazing.
The music happened to be great. The bands that got play on MTV had videos that matched their looks. Twisted Sister’s videos are among the most memorable ever produced.
The outfits, the logos, the hair, and the music made it all possible. Two of the components on every record were anthems and ballads.
KISS had anthems like ‘Rock N Roll All Nite’ and ballads like ‘Beth’. Every 80’s glam metal act would follow suit.
Skid Row had ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and ’18 and Life’; Twisted Sister had ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘The Price’. Quiet Riot would score with cover songs by Slade: ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ and ‘Mama, We’re All Crazee Now’ catapulted them to the top.
Glam metal fans continue to be devoted to their favorites. Today we are drowned by commercial mainstream pop. While not all of it is bad we yearn for heavy guitar chords to return us to former glam glories. There are new listeners today discovering these sounds for the first time.
Having begun to re-listen I have found how much I still love this type of music too. I do not have long hair anymore, but I do love the look and sound of glam.
A couple of bands making great music today are Blind Guardian and Dragonforce. Considered Power Metal I think they use some glam elements in their productions.
Their lyrics are akin to reading a fantasy epic by Tolkien along with guitar instrumentation that updates that glam metal sound from the eighties.
This art form is a form of escapist entertainment that has had its share of adversity.
During the 1980’s there were attempts to censor lyrics which led to labeling records ‘explicit’.
Organized religion especially Catholicism has often been at odds with metal music. What they view as satanic others see as rebellion.
Many metallers are just devil-may-care in their attitude. And sure, some do worship the dark lord, not that there is anything wrong with it.
Ghost are a perfect example of a current group that took all of its former influences from The Doors and Queen to Priest & Maiden producing a fresh blast of glam metal on the dark side. If you love music check them out.
In fact the opposition to all metal music enables it to continue to thrive.
There are now a multitude of radio stations that play it and magazines publish articles everyday updating a listener following that spans the entire world.
Loudwire, Rock N Roll Garage, Metal Voice are a few of the websites that publish every day.
Sirius XM has Ozzy’s Boneyard that plays classic metal.
I think it’s time for glam and metal to make a return. Perhaps 2020 will see it rise again. Tool topped the charts with “Fear Inoculum ” this year. A good sign for metal.
“Hollywood’s Bleeding” on Republic Records was released on September 5, 2019. The follow-up to the multi-platinum “Beer Bongs & Bentleys” has reached #1 on Billboard this week.
The Syracuse, NY born, Grapevine, TX raised rap/rocker has become the country’s top performer.
I must admit that I never expected such a personality to become so popular. He has such a disarming voice. And his tattooed appearance includes face ink, perhaps the last taboo in the pop world!
His real name is Austin Richard Post. A rap name generator gave him Post Malone. This method of name selection seems too easy. Like many a millenial idol, his music is also too simple.
The 18 tracks are diverse in style. The lyrics are repetitive. Several collaborations are featured including Ozzy Osbourne. Like the tastes of many young listeners today he is all over the place.
The title track opens the proceedings with a lament that tinsel town is bleeding from all the sex and drugs of its stars. Without naming names the vocals are strong.
If you are an older listener there is little to find here you have not heard before. Catchy melodies, boastful raps, and syncopated drum machines are omnipresent.
The strength for me are the vocal delivery of this often trite material. After all, Mr. Malone is just 24. If he lasts into his thirties as a music star he will hopefully mature into a better songwriter.
“Enemies” is all about the seeming impossibility to have real friends in a business of entourages and stringers.
“Allergic” is a catchy piece. This New wave groove pulsates with lyrics about drugs hindering any chance for a relationship.
“Circles” is the latest single in release. A basic pop track about letting go of being together. The lyrics are among the many trite offerings in this long playlist.
The chorus: ‘run away but we’re running in circles. run away. run away’. Sounds like Jack Johnson. This is the kind of track young listeners reward with multiple streams today.
The delivery of the material is good. The vocals are consistently good across the songs offered in this collection. The collaborations are okay.
For rock purists, the song “Take What You Want” feat. Ozzy Osbourne is the only dose you will find here. It’s the only track with electric guitars too.
Distilled to its basic elements this record sounds like a Kurt Cobain type singer complaining about being rich & famous.
Auto tune is what divides today’s listeners from previous generations. In my opinion there is too much of it here.
Post Malone has managed to become a star at 24. He realizes the pitfalls are many for someone in his position. Hopefully he stays around long enough to release a less commercially targeted effort.
This album worked. He is debuting this week, September 21, 2019 at #1 on the chart not just in the US but in several countries around the world.
For thousands of years humanity has been seeking methods to restore a sense of peace among peoples.
Despite my non-belief, I think religion is still the source of our greatest imagined narrative. Despite the reality of suffering on a terrible scale people still strive for universal peace.
I think to understand why Woodstock is important today we must look at the culture that preceded the hippie youth movement.
Let’s begin with a rough review of the 1950’s and 1960’s as they relate to the rise of a New Left and Hippie rebellion in America.
The American Experiment
The seeds of a new nation were planted on soil enriched by slaves. A democratic system evolved to include, to assimilate, and to uplift.
The democratic model of Ancient Greece led the founders to forge a centralized government. There was immense suffering and bloodshed to make this happen. Many were excluded from the possibilities of America.
North America’s native population was decimated. Minority peoples were outsiders. Women could not vote; seek higher education.
A fractured society led to our civil war. Following the Lincoln Era, the newly freed slaves were murdered on a regular basis. Cultural resentment continued in America through WWII.
Americans of every race, creed, and class fought alongside their allies to defeat anti-democratic forces. Unfortunately, the strains of hateful ideology that threatened the world continued to infect our democracy.
The aftermath would bring an era of conservative value making. Discrimination was visible in segregation. Queers of any type were invisible. Any deviation from the straight and narrow was mocked and punished.
If you were white there were many rewards. Good jobs, new homes, and college educations were granted to this newly minted modern middle-class.
Father Knows Best
The 1950’s reinforced a culture where straight white males were the dominant cultural force.
Children were to be seen and not heard. Adults were the authority. Obey rules. Listen to your parents, go to school, and always work hard.
This separate and unequal society had a post-war baby boom that produced 70 million teenagers.
The new technology of TV provided people with a new way of viewing the world .
Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley reflected a new musical expression.
A strata of white middle-class kids rejected the materialistic path they were educated to value. The silver screen rebel arrived in the form of Marlon Brando & James Dean.
White kids started to hang with black kids outside of the Jim Crow Codes. Black leather jackets, rock n roll music, and drugs punched a hole in the wall of conservative white male hierarchy.
Then the 1960’s dawned with America at a cultural divide. The Korean War was followed by Vietnam.
Our politicians put the Cold War with Russia above our domestic problems. Communism was cast as the great threat.
Then a new generation helped elect our youngest President. The Civil Rights movement pressured elected officials to take apart systemic racism.
Amidst all of this cultural change came a youth quake seen and heard around the world.
The Beatles arrival in America in 1964 changed everything. Teenagers wanted to gather in large numbers. The message was heard in stereophonic sound: All You Need Is Love.
Tune In. Turn On. Drop Out.
In contrast to the previous decade in which the teenage rebel was portrayed as aimless, the Vietnam War gave the kids a cause.
The great disillusionment arrived with young people organizing against registering for war. Vietnam was televised every night.
American teenagers did not want to obey. The war was immoral. Racism was immoral. Promoting hate was immoral.
The Woodstock Festival became the visible embodiment of what the kids had fought for all decade long. This generation had a style, moral code, and vision that rejected the path of inequality, racism, and war their elders had enacted.
Harvard Prof Timothy Leary told kids to tune in, turn on and drop out. Forget the crap you were told; a new way is needed.
Kids dressed in jeans, colorful vests, and sandals. They took drugs to open their minds and dropped out of straight society to protest the government.
Boys grew their hair long, went shirtless and/or barefoot. Girls went bra less and joined with boys to form new communities beyond the white picket fence.
Many burned draft cards. They marched in solidarity with blacks. The authorities were quite shaken by the rebellion. Then at decade’s end came the big event.
Billed as 3 days of Peace, Music…and Love. On farm land in upstate New York where the Bethel Woods concert pavilion now stands, the festival took place.
The organizers of the Woodstock Festival were four young men: John Roberts, Joel Rosenman, Artie Kornfeld, and Mike Lang. The oldest of the four was only 27 years old at the time of the Woodstock Festival.
The concert was envisioned to be a fundraiser for a proposed recording studio in Woodstock where many musicians lived at the time. Mr. Roberts was heir to the Polydent fortune. He bankrolled Woodstock.
The original proposed site in Watkill, NY was rejected. The town’s people passed a law against mass concerts. The hippies were not desirable to their town.
The hippie movement was influenced by Eastern religion, rock music, and experimentation with drugs. The youth of this era rose up in mass to protest the Vietnam War.
Those American values formed in the 1950’s resulted in Michael Lang scrambling to find a new place for his festival. The township of the first proposal did not want hippies overtaking their community. Several towns declined to host.
He discovered a tract of land on the farm of Max Yasgur that had the right sort of shape for his concert vision.
The logistics got messy.
Tickets were $7 for one day and $18 for 3 days ($26 today) per day.
Fences surrounding the concert were not completed in time.
The promoters expected around 30,000 people. Over 400,000 came on the day closing down the NY state Thruway.
Instead of charging people the festival turned into a free “be in” the size and scale nobody could have predicted. Attendees created a community including makeshift playgrounds and camping areas.
On Day 2 of the festival thunderstorms shut down the music for hours. Chip Monck, the master of ceremonies for the fest, told people to come down from the towers. The monsoon like rains that came forced people to improvise sheltering in place.
Some of the concert goers stripped down, placing their clothes under tarps, and made the best of a tough situation. The temperature dropped quite a bit after the storms. Keeping clothes dry was essential to prevent hypothermia.
Goldmine magazine’s coverage of Woodstock provided an excerpt from Chapter 8 of the book “Back To Yasgur’s Farm” by Mike Greenblatt (Krause Books). Local police made a statement about the festival. Sullivan County Sheriff Louis Ratner said “I never met a nicer bunch of kids in my life.”
Ritchie Havens performed his song, “Freedom”, to open the show. On Monday morning, with only about 30,000 people left, Jimi Hendrix took the stage with his new band, Gypsy Sun & Rainbows. His rendition of our National Anthem is now rock culture’s preferred version.
In between there were The Who, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Canned Heat, Grateful Dead, Country Joe MacDonald, and Sha Na Na.
The concert on a hill became an expression of hope for millions of people around the US and the world. Unfortunately the backlash against freedom (free love) followed.
When I was a kid people used to say if you remember Woodstock then you were not there. The wink and nod was due to the use of drugs.
However, in 1969 only 4% of Americans were smoking marijuana. Today more than 50% of people support legalization of the drug.
Woodstock’s organizers had debt of $1 million and faced many lawsuits following the festival.
The documentary film released by Warner Brothers was a hit. The box office receipts helped pay their debts down.
1969 was an exceptional year. Stonewall, The Moon Landing, Civil Rights Law, and nearly half a million teenagers/young adults gathered on a farm upstate to express their joys, sorrows, and hopes for a peaceful tomorrow.
50 Year Anniversary
Here in New York City a photographic exhibition will celebrate this milestone at The Morrison Hotel gallery.
To commemorate the performances at the festival there are some notable records being issued. The original triple LP Woodstock soundtrack album has been re-issued on vinyl.
Rhino, a subsidiary of Warner, will release Woodstock 50: Back To The Garden in separate vinyl and CD box sets.
Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jefferson Airplane’s Woodstock sets have been released on vinyl.
History should not repeat. The proposed Anniversary Festival was cancelled. I think people need to live in the present. Dwelling too much in the past is not only depressing but bears no fruit.
What I do know about the 1969 festival and the culture that fostered it is you cannot copy the past.
We can remember why this event became important to us; there is no repeating it. The emergence of the hippie movement for peace was a flash point in America’s story.
In Mike Greenblatt’s book “Woodstock” he notes a press conference following the festival in which Max Yasgur stated:
“The kids were wonderful, honest, sincere, good kids who said, ‘here we are. This is what we are. This is the way we dress. These are our morals.’ There wasn’t one incident the whole time. The kids were polite, shared everything with everyone, and they forced me to open my eyes.
In my opinion, we must remember that Woodstock remains in the social fabric because it was a successful event.
Nobody was patted down to enter the grounds. The promise of music, peace, and love was fulfilled.
In the ensuing 50 years we have grown militant, selfish, and distracted.
Uncertainty is the word we hear a lot today to describe how people are feeling about society.
The five decades since the Aquarian cultural awakening of free love has seen horrors we could not have imagined.
Cultural shifts have moved our society far away from those of the counterculture. We lost the surplus; Gained record debt.
The ruling political class has been more representative of a shrinking geographical minority than of the actual new demographic reality of 21st century America.
Without a military draft the country has become disconnected in the face of unending wars in Syria and Afghanistan.
Advanced technology allows our government to strike targets a world away. The population suffers under crumbling infrastructure; the military gets billions.
Smart phones enable never ending surveillance. We have become more paranoid as a people. Heads are bent down to the perpetual glow of a portable screen.
I know it all sounds dire. Today we face a lot of adversity. We must overcome…again.
Several movements have started to respond to this litany of potential disaster. The issues today include: Gun Reform, Women’s Equality, Prison Reform, LGBTQ Rights, and Election Reforms.
We serve each other. The people are more powerful than any group or political party. We can assemble and make something positive happen.
Always keep in mind that something special blossomed over 3 days in those grassroots on a farm in upstate New York.
This blog is dedicated to all of the people who made Woodstock happen in 1969.