This great mural of Patti Smith by Brooklyn-based street artist Huetek recently had to be touched-up by the artist after it was badly tagged by a random dick bag. The pose is modeled after the famous series of images by Smith’s close friend and former lover, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe — which were used as Smith’s first press photos as well as the cover of her debut album, Horses. Originally painted in July of 2018, the mural is part of the East Village Walls project, and can be found outside of Julie’s Vintage Clothing Boutique at 84 East 2nd Street just west of First Avenue. Punk Lives!
This Red Satin Slashed Baseball Jacket from Vivienne Westwood’s spring 1991 collection references the Renaissance fashion trend of “slashing,” in which a series of small cuts made to the outer fabric of a garment (here, red rayon satin) reveals the contrasting lining (white burlap) beneath . This style demonstrates Vivienne Westwood’s studies of historic fashion, while also offering a more refined version of the designer’s ripped and ragged punk aesthetic of the 1970s.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Fashion Unraveled: Fashion & Textile, on View at the Museum at FIT Through November 17th, 2018
In the 1986 documentary The Unheard Music, filmmaker W.T Morgan brilliantly captured the Los Angeles Punk Scene using the band X as a focal point. This Pink Handheld Radio was featured in the film and included on the promotional items in support of the documentary
Pink Transistor Radio was Photographed as Part of the Exhibit X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles at the Grammy Museum in Hollywood, California.
Pioneering designer Vivienne Westwood’s seminal 1993/94 Anglomania collection enshrined the kilt in high fashion. It was worn on the runway by Kate Moss, who sported the look shown here, and by Naomi Campbell, who famously fell while wearing the Super Elevation Gillie platforms. The kilt evolved from a single long piece of durable, harsh twill in muted colors that Scottish Highland men wrapped around the lower body, belted, and the passed over one shoulder.
Beginning in the late seventeenth century, pleats were sown into the back the skirt, loops were added for ease of belting, and the top length formed an autonomous garment. For Highland clans , the kilt symbolized familial, military and geographic loyalties. Following a series of incursions known as the Jacobite Uprisings, the garment was banned by English law in 1746, and its use declined precipitously. The kilt was revived by nineteenth-century elites, who invented new traditions around its use.
Worn by the military until the mid-twentieth century, the kilt became a nostalgic symbol for Scottish nationals in diaspora, and it is a common element of girls’ private school uniforms and ceremonial wedding attire. Punks subversively paired it with hoodies and graphic T-shirts
Photographed at part of the Exhibit, Items: Is Fashion Modern? on Through January 28th, 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
The Coming-of-Age Story can fall into one of two categories: Sublime when done well, but Worse than Anything when done poorly. 20th Century Women, a new film directed by Mike Mills (Beginners) flips this genre sideways by looking at a pivotal year in the life of a fifteen year old boy through his relationships with three strong and finely nuanced women. Set in Santa Barbara, California in 1979, 20th Century Women follows Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a dedicated single mom in her mid-50s, who is raising her teenage son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) during a time filled with cultural change and rebellion. Without a father figure in Jamie’s life, Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women to help her bring-up Jamie to be a good man. Abbie (Greta Gerwig) is a free-spirited, 20-something punk artist and cancer survivor who is a boarder in their home, while 17-year-old Julie (Elle Fanning) is a troubled, promiscuous neighbor, who is also Jamie’s best friend. Billy Crudup also stars as William, a charming but aimless Handyman who also rents a room with the Fields home.
For anyone who lived through an important time of his or her life during 1979 (it was the year I graduated from high school, lost my virginity, and started college) 20th Century Women will feels like a unique, cliché-free set of life experiences that creates a pitch-perfect time capsule, dictated by a very specific time in pop culture history. Here are my Top Ten reasons why I love this film so much.
1. Even when she is horrible-piece-of-shit films like Greenburg, Greta Gerwig is the best thing in any movie she makes. I love everything about her character, Abbie, who reminded me of my former Punk Rock self, only way cooler.
2. The cinematography and art direction make each frame of the film look like a William Eggleston photograph.
3. Its depiction of the California Punk Rock scene in 1979 (which I was deeply immersed in) also manages to includes songs from the NYC’s No Wave scene and of course British First Wave Punk. The soundtrack reflects the film’s time period with music from artists who helped define the era: Devo, Suicide, The Germs, The Raincoats, Siouxsie and the Banshees, David Bowie, Buzzcocks and Black Flag. Holy Cow! I felt like someone stole my vinyl collection from this era and put it in the film.
4. The soundtrack also features and original score by Roger Neill, which is utterly transportive.
5. I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of the Talking Heads’ music, but three of their songs – “Don’t Worry about the Government,” “Artists Only” and “The Big Country” — are far superior to any their popular hits, and arguably better than most other songs on the planet. Two of these three songs are included on the soundtrack. You will have to see the movie to find out which ones. BTW I predict that this film will provoke a surge in downloads of the Talking Heads’ catalog.
6. There’s a 3D acid flashback visual effect that the filmmakers use to elucidate the feeling of traveling in a fast car as being comparable to moving across time. I’ve never seen anything like that before and it is so trippy and profoundly emotionally effective.
7. 20th Century Women reminded me so much of three of my favorite films, ever: Dazed and Confused, Almost Famous, and American Beauty. If you dig those films, then you will just love this one.
8. An old high school friend of mine makes a cameo appearance in the film, sort of by accident. Tony Reflex from the seminal Orange County punk band, Adolescents, can be seen in a photograph used in a montage that depicts the rise of the punk rock movement in the late 1970s. That was fun.
9. No meaningless violence or senseless tragedy. I hope that isn’t a spoiler for anyone.
10. It is just the best movie, and you should go see it!
20th Century Women — which was just nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for this year’s Golden Globes, opens in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day, and Nationwide on January 20th, 2017. Music From The Motion Picture: 20th Century Women will be released digitally on December 16th, while a CD version will be released on January 13th 2017, followed by an LP version on February 10th, 2017.
Coming of age in the late 1970s, I was in the right place at the right time to enjoy the character-shaping birth of British Punk Rock, as well as having a ground zero experience of the Southern California Punk Rock movement, which was equally legendary. It was a great time to be a teenage music lover! It was also a blessing that driving up to LA to see a punk band was not always necessary, because Orange County had its own live music venue that booked both US and UK-based acts; a dive-y little joint, hidden away in an industrial neighborhood of Costa Mesa, which was called The Cuckoo’s Nest. It was at The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1979 that I first saw The Damned live, on tour in support of what is arguably still their best and most popular album, Machine Gun Etiquette. Lyrics from that album’s eponymous track now lend themselves to the title of a fantastic documentary on The Damned, Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead, which has just become available on home video. I am overjoyed to report that this film is a must-see for all Damned fans, old-school punks, rock music historians and anyone who was a punk back when the guys in Sum 41 were still toddlers.
Directed, written and produced by Wes Orshoski (Lemmy) over a three-year period, with a limited theatrical release in 2015, Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead gets absolutely everything right as it brings to life the rich history and continuing artistic impact of The Damned; a group comprised of four distinct characters who beat both the Sex Pistols and The Clash to the punch by releasing the first punk single (“New Rose”), recording the first punk album (Damned Damned Damned) and being the first of their ilk to tour the United States. But what happens with many of those who blaze trails is that the financial rewards of their considerable efforts often bypass them, and go instead to those who follow in their wake. And this is the case with The Damned, because while they were out doing everything first, other punk bands were building an enigmatic reputation and getting hyped up-the-ass by Svengali managers (Sex Pistols), and scoring high-paying record deals (The Clash). It is sad, because it’s true.
Considered by their peers to have included the best musicians of any punk band, The Damned’s music still sounds as exciting and, to my ears, somewhat mind-blowing, today as it did when their debut album was freshly released, nearly 40 years ago. Orshoski uses archival footage of the band playing live, from their earliest shows up to the present, mixed with dozens of interviews and candid clips, to tell the story of a band who got in on the ground floor of a sociopolitical movement-turned pivotal music genre and rode a wave through countless creative reinventions and line up changes, and still have all four original members alive and well. Even Captain Sensible (real name: Ray Burns) admits “One of us should be dead.” How did it all go down? Watch and find out.
Orshoski is exhaustive in his research and coverage of both the personal and professional history of key band members, and this makes for one of the most complete and engaging profiles of any band ever committed to film. Founding members Brian James, who was only in The Damned for one year and one album, and Rat Scabies (real name: Chris Millar), whose questionable business practices have caused great animosity and irreparable loss of professional trust between him and Captain Sensible, show up over and over again for lengthy interviews throughout the film. It should please diehard fans that Orshoski focuses mostly on the original line up, although when it comes to getting the full warts-and-all story of what went on in every incarnation of The Damned, no stone is left unturned. The result is a film which is both heartbreaking and hilarious, and endlessly entertaining.
If you’ve ever wondered “Where Are The Now?” about literally (almost) anyone who was ever in the band — and remember that The Damned has enjoyed a very fluid line up over its decades-long existence — this is the place to find out. Once Brian James left the band (before their second album — produced by Nick Mason of Pink Floyd — was recorded), and Captain Sensible took over as lead guitarist, The Damned went through bassists like Spinal Tap went through drummers. Many of those guys are interviewed for, and add great color to, Don’t You Wish…, including the late, great Lemmy Kilmister, who filled in on bass before Algy Ward joined for the recording of Machine Gun Etiquette. Other notable former members include future Culture Club drummer John Moss, who replaced Rat Scabies before the band broke up, and then reformed, in 1978. Talk about a rich history of storied personnel! The only glaring omission is the absence of any visual presence (save for one photograph, which is on screen for a split second) or any reference at all to Patricia Morrison (ex Bags, Gun Club, and Sisters of Mercy) who joined on bass, and married Dave Vanian in 1996, remaining until she gave birth to the couple’s daughter in 2004. I can only guess that she specifically declined to participate in filming and asked that Orshoski respect her privacy by not including her at all in the project. That’s a shame.
Also being very generous with their on-screen contributions of memories and anecdotes are some of The Damned’s punk contemporaries, including Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones of The Clash, Steve Diggle of The Buzzcocks (who still perform with 2 original members), and Billy Idol (who, as the lead vocalist for Generation X, was considered to be a complete poseur by Rat Scabies). Super fans who went on to have considerable careers themselves also offer enthusiastic praise for the band’s music and influence, including Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, who admits he ripped off his on stage persona and vocal style from Dave Vanian, Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi), Dexter Holland (The Offspring), Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks), Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal) and comedian/musician Fred Armisan. It is such a blast to wax nostalgic with all of these guys while enjoying The Damned’s fantastic music, which absolutely refuses to date. High-fives all around on this one.
Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead is now available on DVD and Blu-ray at Amazon Dot Com and elsewhere.