I lovingly share my memories, based on my photos, my journals, vast resources which I’ve collected since 1976 (fanzines, magazines, documentaries, etc), and stories close friends shared with me the past decade or so. A few close friends from the early LA punk scene generously shared memories. They have no need to glorify or fabricate the past. Like myself, we endeavor to share precious and sometimes painful memories. There are some who find fault with my writing because I didn’t tell the story as they wanted it to be told, it contradicts what they think or have read, or they just don’t agree or understand. Or they don’t want me talking or writing, period.
I don’t know why Melanie Hamilton was such a milquetoast around Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett made it no secret she wanted Melanie’s husband, Ashley Wilkes. I don’t know why Ernest Hemingway’s wife put up with him in “A Movable Feast.” One reason I want to read “A Paris Wife” (and might have by the time this hits the streets in my ebook). Hemingway didn’t appear to be a very kind, caring nor appreciative man. Why did David Copperfield marry his first wife Dora Spenlow? I understand she was a pretty little thing, but she didn’t run the household, messed up his papers, and was more a child than a wife. However I can appreciate the works of Margaret Mitchell (“Gone with the Wind,” one of my fave books and movies) and Charles Dickens. Not a fan of Hemingway and don’t know why he is so revered. I had to read “Old Man and the Sea” in High School. Urgh.
I never low rate books (on something like Amazon) because of my personal opinions. The choices the authors made when writing fiction are THEIR choices. Writing memoirs is fraught with danger. Memories play tricks on us. Plus I always say “punk is like the six blind men and the elephant.” My point of view is vastly different from anyone else. I was standing a bit further back taking photos most of the time. Other times, I was in the center of the action. We all have our own points of view.
I can tell you for a fact: many who claim to be telling the truth are not. My photos proves it. How many times have I read or heard someone talk about the wrong event, wrong lineup, wrong venue… photos don’t lie. But I’m not going to list these errors and omissions. Let others tell their stories their way. Yet some of them seek to silence me. As if.
Anais Nin wrote: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” FYI: I have hand-written letters and notes from Anais. She wrote me of a potential collaboration, after I sent her photos from my Master of Fine Arts degree showcase project, 1974. Her correspondence from late 1976 indicated she was seriously ill. By that time, I was photographing punk and focused on Patti Smith, the Ramones, and not literary icons nor my earlier visual art creations.
I expect people to come along as I share my journey, where “everything was so intense and nothing made sense.”
If you don’t agree with my BEING ALLOWED to express MY point of view, just stop now. Seriously. That’s why this is given freely. You haven’t spent any money, maybe a few minutes. Just stop now and get on with your life.
I don’t need any more negativity in my life. You walk in my shoes and then criticize me (good luck with that). But until then, shut the f**k up. I’m serious, you wanna rate my book lowly online? Hell hath no fury like a woman and her creations being tossed aside for no good reason other than your pettiness, jealousy or personal expectations.
These stories are as honest and real as I can possibly make them. With a few exceptions. Some people are writers, photographers or whatever. They prefer that I never post anything or talk or write any books or breathe. I am also concerned about saying things that some people might prefer remaining private. I care about their feelings because I would not and never had knowingly written anything to hurt someone. Especially friends or people I respect.
As in movies, sometimes it’s best to create a character whose actions and words are honest but whose name is fabricated. I might include some details which really happened to a real person(s), and MIGHT assign to fabricated person(s). In VERY FEW instances. It will be easy to ascertain because I will list a cast of characters in my ebooks. 99% real people and 1% fabricated with tales I could not attribute to a real person. This is to protect the feelings of some people whom I care about and to avoid those who’ve made it clear they rather I just die. What was said and what happened is 100% true.
I’m not good at making up stories. If I were, I would write this as a fictional narrative. I could make a lot of money if I could write romance novels. As they say in the movies: any similarity to living or dead persons is purely coincidental. No, wait, MY stories are true. Just a few names changed. Very few.
“We Got the Neutron Bomb” is FULL OF LIES. Most the quotes attributed to me I never said. I could list many others in the book who say the same. There was NO concern about the veracity of our quotes. At least I’m being honest and saying I am quoting and referring to people to the best of my ability. They HAD my quotes for Neutron Bomb, and instead made it up as they went along.
You don’t believe me? Brendan Mullen claims I used the phrase “cocaine fuck fest” and blamed New York for the failure of LA punk. I’ve never heard of that phrase til I read it, supposedly coming out of my mouth. I would NEVER blame New York for what was also the failure of LA press and record companies. New York published many of my photos. I have great respect for the NY Press: writers, photographers, early punk fanzines and straight press. I’m not one to pass blame around, especially out of context. Did Brendan ever deal with the factual inaccuracies in that book or others? No, he did his best to ruin my rep, spreading libelous and slanderous lies. Such a shame. I tried so hard to be his ally.
Re the movies: a good case in point is the “Dallas Buyers Club.” While watching the DVD from the library, I researched the information online. The Jared Leto character, Rayon, was created for the movie. The hero did not have a friend or business partner like Rayon. Ron Woodroof was also not homophobic. I highly doubt he had a close friendship with a medical doctor.
That does not take away from the fact that the “Dallas Buyers Club” is an entertaining, engrossing and informative film which needs to be seen. It is uplifting, to see what ONE man, at death’s door, accomplished. Yet depressing because we still have too much ignorance and lack of affordable medication for AIDS patients. I use this as a sample example because nobody criticized the movie because it wasn’t 100% true.
I’ve spent my life studying lives of creative people in the arts and sciences. I’ve read more biographies of people involved in “the Liveliest Art” aka the movies than most people. See “The Helen Morgan Story” or “Jeanne Eagels,” two 1950s biopics. They laughable, not one word of truth. Such a shame, cos they had great casts. Early Paul Newman and Ann Blyth as alcoholic Morgan, and the luminous Kim Novak as tragically drug addicted Eagels, said to be one of the finest Broadway actresses even seen. Yet Hollywood discarded any resemblance to their real lives. Horrible stories, horrible movies. Yet Hollywood keeps churning out crap bios. With no apologies.
As you can see, my storytelling weaves cultural references from books, movies, plus art, music and more. If you want to only read about the early punk scene from only a LA point of view and nothing else … I don’t see how it’s possible. Early punks were very aware of culture, politics, society and economics. Just listen to the Clash, Patti, Blondie, Ramones, X, Screamers, Sex Pistols, etc. We were tuned into so much. We didn’t have access to cell phones, DVDs or the net. We referred to books and old movies, listened to music from all genres, fashion from many eras … I spin true tales from all these influences.
Sometimes storytelling involves doing what’s best for the overall story AND people involved, whether they are still alive or passed on. My goal since 1976 has been to document this honestly and to the best of my ability. I have never been one to go out of my way to alienate people, give cause for people to give me more grief than some already do. Life is too short to deliberately provoke arguments in which no one will win.
I dedicate this book to truth seekers and those souls brave enough to confront their past and share it, no matter how painful, regretful, and mostly, joyous. Let the fun begin!