Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beatles 65

I'm gonna sell this "highly collectible" album on EBay and make a shitload of money!

Mars Hotel #3

Photo © 2013 Dorian Cohen

I stuck my camera out the window of my parents' Plymouth Satellite during a vacation in Summer 1974 or 75. I was unaware at that time of the numinous connections Hotel Mars had with both Jack Kerouac and Grateful Dead.

cf. "Big Sur", 1962 : Kerouac's novel detailing descent into terminal alcoholism.

cf. Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel , 1974 L.P. Contains "Unbroken Chain" a song about the linking together of things...

The Mars was razed not long after I shot these.

Mars Hotel #2

Photo © 2013 Dorian Cohen

Riding out on a cold railroad to the Mars Hotel...

"Coming 3000 miles from my home in Long Island in a pleasant roomette on the California Zephyr train watching America roll by..." To San Francisco where Jack stays "at my "secret" skid row hotel (the Mars on 4th and Howard).

From "Big Sur" by Jack Kerouac
First published 1962 by Farrar Straus and Giroux

Friday, March 26, 2010

Random Woman #3 (Las Vegas)

Summer 1994. Final day of road trip with Ralph. Grab quick lunch-- then drive straight home. We stop at Burger King in some casino. The aural and visual cacophony is absolutely enervating... Zombies pulling slot levers and a huge guy sitting near the women's room staring and jiggling his leg.

We have entered the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts.

Standing in line, in front of us, is an Asian family. A woman (early 20's?) is gently massaging the shoulders of an older woman (her aunt or mother?).

An image so incongruous in its tenderness; it suddenly returns to me today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kate and Anna Mc Garrigle Interview

I discovered Kate and Anna Mc Garrigle years ago. These Canadian sisters dignified the dread "Singer/Songwriter" idiom. They wrote terrific songs and sang wonderfully together. Kate and Anna delighted with wit, pathos and a genuine feminine sensibility. And sometimes they sang in french.

Years ago, fan that I am, I attempted to interview them. A grumpy Mc Garrigle sister (not sure which one) answered the Los Angeles hotel phone.

"We're trying to learn the National Anthem to sing at a hockey game tonight and we're having a hell of a time."


They should have performed one of their own songs.

"I could say baby, baby, baby, till my tongue spirals out of my head
when there's no one lookin' over my shoulder
I like to write rock and roll,
but it doesn't always hang together,
so what do I know
or anyone know about love.

"Love Over and Over"
Words and Music by Kate and Anna McGarrigle

Kate McGarrigle 1946 - 2010

Allen Ginsberg Has His Cake, Eats It Too and Screws Up His Inscription In My Copy Of "Howl"

Long signing line after the reading. Allen Ginsberg is eating cake with a plastic fork, when I present my copy of Howl. He is distracted: he starts to write the date - where he should place the letters A and H that straddle the City Lights logo. This is the particular way he signs the books.

 "I did it wrong." he corrects his mistake as best he can. I think the A and H refer to a vision young Allen had of William Blake chanting "Ah! Sunflower." after which he vowed to dedicate his life to poetry.

I Spot two celebrities in the lobby: Leonard Cohen and an actor from "Thirty Something" -- a TV show that was popular a while back.

Addendum: Don Was backed him with electric bass.

"First Thought, Best Thought"

Allen Ginsberg's "First thought, best thought. " dictum doesn't work for me. I'm a compulsive editor and reviser." I've already fiddled with the Runaways post three times since I published it. (Jeeze is this guy going to do this for every post?). Hope not. I'm betting once I acclimate to cyberspeed I'll let things fly. Still, I wish I had an old fashioned copy editor.


I'm more a Mesopotamian prophet -- yanking entrails from a goat, juggling them about, before making absurd proclamations, when it's obvious to everybody else; what I have is a handful of reeking goat guts.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Piedmont & 41st. Winter 1978

Random Woman #2 (Piedmont Avenue)

I'm crossing Piedmont At McArthur Blvd. A woman catches up with me and starts talking. Taken by surprise, I don't understand at first. Plus the traffic noise and she has some sort of accent. She repeats and I get it.

"I need your kitchen."

She's older than me, but still young. "I need to cook in your kitchen." She's not joking -- she must be crazy. "I need your kitchen to cook for my children." Her kids must have been with her, though I have no image of them today, it was so long ago. By then I knew she was serious and it made me fearful -- I told her I wouldn't help her. Was I polite, rude or indifferent, I cannot say, only that I had to get away from her fast.

This happened many years ago. I think about her today. Why did she assume I had a kitchen? I wonder now. Had she been watching me over a period of time, or simply assumed I was better off than her?

Upon reflection her manner was most remarkable.This woman directly asserted her need to a stranger.

No threats, no theatrics -- no story -- people aways have a story.

I had a kitchen (with not much in it) and I should have invited her up and fed her family, instead of drinking alone, as usual and writing flavorless poems, most of them since destroyed.

If I had invited her home my life would have changed; it would never have been the same.

© Dorian Cohen

The Runaways

With the Runaways suddenly in the news (feature film and LA Weekly cover story). I'll share my own Runaways moment. Some school friends hired the Runaways, the all girl teenage rock band, to play at a party. This was 1977. Disco was big, punk hotting up in Los Angeles.  So Guitarist, Joan Jett, drummer, Sandy West and I are hanging out in the den. Not a den of iniquity, but a den of a house in the "Upper Rancho" of Arcadia. Boring, parochial Arcadia. Already they've suffered the most pathologically rapacious bloodsuckers Hollywood has to offer. However,  I am only pathologically shy. It's amazing I'm even at the party, let alone attempting to chat with them. We sip beers  -- or maybe just soft drinks.

I know that doesn't enhance their legend - or mine, but that's how it was that night.

"How did you get involved with the band?" I ask Sandy, -- summoning my latent journalistic instincts. She saw an ad in a paper, is what I think she told me. The girls are friendly and then it's time to hit the stage. This was the "classic" Runaways lineup: Singer Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, lead guitar, Jackie Fox, bass, along with Joan and Sandy.
The "stage" was  the back yard. As I recall they played all the songs in their set twice. Miss Jett introduced one number by proclaiming; "A lot of guys think that chicks can't rock -- well I wanna tell you that's a bunch of bullshit!" or words to that affect.

"Hello world I'm your Wild Girl -- ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch,ch CHERRY BOMB! Who can resist lyrics like that, when sung by a teenager?  They are middle aged now -- and so am I, but that's the way it is.

That night they were serious and played pretty well, if memory serves. I took photos, that alas, are lost, probably forever. Apparently this was this the last private party they were playing because they had gotten too big for such things.... Then it all fell apart very quickly.

I didn't appreciate at the time how tough it was for them. They were so young and really-- the first all female group of their kind (leered at, and patronized), at the mercy of a pathological, rapacious and bloodsucking music industry.

And Sandy met a tragic end. Though that night she seemed happy -- a chick playing drums in a rock band, what could be more cool?

I'm sure I evaporated from her consciousness the moment I left the room. But I remember. I'm the one who remembers.

Sandy West In Memoriam.

P.S. I'll post my photos if I can find the damn things.