August 4, 2015
The Life And Times Of
Andrew Loog Oldham
Of The Rolling Stones
Oldham, Andrew Loog: Stoned, 2001, Vintage
Oldham, Andrew Loog: 2Stoned, 2003, Vintage
Oldham, Andrew Log: Stone Free, 2012, Escargot Books
Oldham, Andrew Loog: Rolling Stoned, 2013, Because Entertainment
Who Is Andrew Loog Oldham
For those who know this introduction will be superfluous, but for those who don’t know this essay will be an introduction to a man who through his exploitation of the Rolling Stones was an important influence on that memorable Sixties decade. Perhaps moreso than is commonly thought.
Out on the consuming edge of the record industry in those days the name Andrew Loog Oldham seemed to be displayed as prominently on the record covers as The Rolling Stones themselves. In the early days Andrew Loog Oldham might be known before Mick or Keith and certainly the other members of the band. Yet Oldham wasn’t in the band so who was he? And then records were issued bearing the name The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra. Where did he get that name Loog anyway? And just as suddenly the name Andrew Loog Oldham disappeared but the Stones remained. Who was this guy anyway?
In those days when information could be gathered, if at all, at the proverbial snail’s pace, things have changed today when I can make a few clicks and see Andrew moving and hear him speaking; actually see his fabulous style of dressing as he described it. In addition he has written two thousand pages describing himself more or less in full. Now we can know who Andrew Loog Oldham is and what his relationship to the Rolling Stones was.
Andrew’s, we’ll take a familiar approach throughout, great tragedy is that his fated life opportunity showed up too early. He was only nineteen in 1963 when the opportunity that few ever get a chance to grasp showed up on his front doorstep, so to speak. That was the appearance of the London music group The Rolling Stones. In order to come into his inheritance as he was under twenty-one and couldn’t legally act in his own name, Andrew had to find a surrogate to act in his stead. Chance provided an old reprobate by the name of Eric Easton. Eric was a plodder who had served as an organist at the resort town of Blackpool while representing two or three nondescript acts of which one was the redoubtable Mrs. Miller. While not a household name at the present time Mrs. Miller whose act consisted of being an amusingly terrible singer, had her moment in the spotlight both in England and the US. She did have records released and they did sell no matter how modestly.
Easton was slow on the uptake not realizing the cultural shift that was taking place with the arrival of the Beatles and would have been incapable of managing the Stones without Andrew’s grasp of the changing cultural situation of the Sixties. However he was not too slow to understand money in the bank of which he made off with a fortune or two much to the chagrin of both Andrew and the Rolling Stones.
Andrew’s four volumes are records of his vicissitudes being a young Lancelot reaching for the Grail. Andrew was green, he was. In ordinary times he would have been cleaned and discarded never to be heard of again but these were the Sixties and not normal times. Even in failure the times conspired to make Andrew comfortable by luxury standards, perhaps even rich, but not filthy rich. The marvelous Sixties did that for so many people most of them undeserving. By undeserving I mean takers with nothing to offer.
Well, this isn’t a tale about justice but one of the Sixties in which the whole concept of justice disappeared like the vapor from a nuclear plant. As an extra special gift of the times to Andrew he is today still alive and kicking having passed the seventh decade barrier at 71 years of age. The good didn’t necessarily die young just the unlucky. Andy is lucky.
He can be seen introducing his third book, Stone Free, at his Face Book site for those interested. Always the fashion plate he is a dapper impression of his hero Phil Spector, pointy nose and all. His hair is becomingly combed back on the sides making for a very presentable 71 year old young at heart gentleman. He wears a mint green light jacket and shirt, something of a cross between a butch femme and an effete hommy, but altogether passable. He projects a pleasant aura indicating little brain damage from his very legendary drug use. A look at him shows how Alex, the chief Droog of A Clockwork Orange may have looked as he made the passage from rough youth to a more dignified mature, the word ‘old’ does not apply to one like Andrew, or I might vainly say, myself.
Andrew Finds That Life Has It Hazards
I don’t really envy the English kids that came along after my birth year of 1938. The war years were tough enough but then the long years of national poverty after 1945 must have been grating. I can’t imagine a life without candy that the lads and lasses had to endure for nine long years. In my paradise in the US candy bars in those days at a nickel were monstrous. I couldn’t eat a whole one at one sitting. Stuffed at less than a half. Andrew must have known hardship and suffered horribly.
The war babies, mostly from ’42 and ’43 can have no memory of the war but the long ten years of rationed everything gave a cast to their psyches. When the war babies grew up and became rockers they laid out long tables of delicacies and then ignored them letting them go to waste. The pain was forgotten but lived on in the subconscious. Andrew was conceived in ’43 and popped out in ’44. Tragic for Andy, he should have born in ’42 and been 21 in ’63.
His was a special case. In a country in which the majority of men were US soldiers, normality had flown out the door in ’43; his mother not unnaturally took up with one. It was a tough time. Andrew’s father, Andrew Loog, was a soldier from Texas. He had a wife and son back there. As a younger man I applied my moral training to people in Andrew Loog’s situation and condemned them but now hopefully wiser and certainly older I understand. As a soldier in an active war Andrew Loog could die at any time so why not a little happiness? Perhaps he cringed at violating his peacetime morals. In any event as a member of a bomber crew he didn’t even make it across the Channel just after impregnating Andrew’s mother with his future self. Big Andy hoped he’d dodge the bullets but as it didn’t happen at least it resolved what would have been a difficult emotional situation.
Big Andy hadn’t married Little Andy’s mother so that made little Andy the bastard son of a bigamous father. Having been in the orphanage myself being a bastard means nothing to me. But society is unkind to bastards and orphans. Having read all four of Little Andy’s reminiscences more than once it seems clear that his bastardy left its mark on Andy. He had stormy relationship with his mother, perhaps beating her frequently while in his late teens. She said he did but he says he can’t remember doing it while it would have been wholly outside his character, however, he definitely admits booting her out of a moving car while she was pregnant. Those temper tantrums he had!
Possibly Andrew blames his mother for bringing him into the world as a bastard. He shouldn’t, better a bastard than not at all. Now, Andy discusses this from different angles constantly in his memoirs so my purpose here is to try to put his mind at ease.
The war had a devastating effect on social life especially in England which was merely a staging area for US forces in those years. Churchill was merely a stooge of Roosevelt’s. Just as in WWI a million or English men died or were incapacitated meaning that just that many women were condemned to spinsterhood or whatever. Oh, I know that the dyke Gloria Steinem said a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle but Steinem was an unnatural woman. Andrew’s mother wasn’t.
As she gave Andy his father’s full name, that is Andrew Loog, I’m guessing that given the times and circumstances she really loved the guy so she named what surely must have been her darling Andrew, Loog, tacking on her name Oldham. Maybe I’m sentimental, but coming from the orphanage, I find that touching.
Now, Celia Oldham, for that was her name, was a Jewish girl. Andrew Loog I’m guessing from his name was probably of Dutch ancestry. Probably a Protestant but possibly a Sephardic Jew. Andy may know but I don’t.
So, here Celia Oldham is post-war with the little tyke, Andy, and no husband or father for his child. There is a massive shortage of men after the GIs clear out so while Celia is attractive the mating pool is small. Celia did the next best thing and probably with Andy in mind did it well; she became the mistress of a wealthy man while including Andy in the equation. Not only was he wealthy he was a decent man who maintained her and Andy as a second family. No kidding. He kept them in relative style while putting Andy through the public schools. (Public is private in England.)
What more could a single mother with no prospects do? Perhaps Andrew’s schoolmates were typical louts and ragged him continuously for being a bastard. I know that in the orphanage during and after was hell on wheels but that was the hand that was dealt and I had to play it; four deuces, trey high. Could have been worse. I’m not saying my psychology wasn’t affected and as Andy tells it his sure as hell was.
My point is that life being what it is he should be grateful for a loving mother who made the very best of a bad situation.
Lost In The Ozone Without A Parachute
As noted Celia Oldham was Jewish and while Andrew says that the religion didn’t play a big part in their lives nevertheless the mother is the culture bearer. The culture she passed on to Andrew must have been Jewish.
Judaism is an identitarian faith. To be Jewish is to separate oneself from the ‘gentiles’, from all others, the rest of mankind. As the US Zionist Samuel Untermyer was to proclaim on nationwide radio in opposition to Hitler’s claim that the Germans were the master race: We, the Jews, are the aristocrats of the earth. In other words, Drop this master race crap because you ain’t it.
Thus in a country nominally English, as Andrew describes his youth it was lived in an entirely Jewish community. As he describes it he associated with no one who wasn’t Jewish. Like the Jewish Bob Dylan he is always surrounded by Jews. As he set out to find his way in life he chose the record business as his métier. I think Andrew wanted to be where it was happening and as his antennae flickered about sensing for that taste of honey he perceived that his future lay in records. The entire music business if not the entertainment business was in the control of his fellow Jews.
Andy took his sense of reality from movies. There are a couple influential films he refers to frequently. One is the American film The Sweet Smell Of Success which however is about two Jews, the one based on the newspaper columnist Walter Winchell and the other his sidekick and the other is the British film Espresso Bongo. Naturally I obtained both movies and have checked them out. Also naturally at this age and distance I do not see them through nineteen year old eyes.
In Sweet Smell Andrew concentrates on the character Sidney Falco played by Tony Curtis. Andy identifies with Falco as a hustler in US terms and a Wide Boy in English terms. Thus Andrew identifies himself as a Wide Boy. Falco was an unsavory character, a stooge of his boss J.J. Hunsecker played by the repulsive Burt Lancaster. Curtis played the role well. One laments Andrew’s fascination with the character.
Espresso Bongo is a pretty decent rock film. It takes place I believe at the actual legendary 2i coffee house in which English rock was centered. The film puts you back in the day. The star is Andy’s all time hero Laurence Harvey who also turns in a stellar role. Harvey has that downtrodden hang dog look that carried David Janssen through the US The Fugitive TV series so well. As I lived in a constant depression until I was forty I knew the look and it suited me well. I identified with both Janssen and Harvey. Harvey was one of my favorite actors too. Depression and Laurence Harvey go together
In Espresso Bongo Harvey plays a role of a hapless manager of a singer who gets away from him much as Andrew himself would let the Stones slip away from him.
All the managers were Jewish and all exploited their ‘boys.’ Perhaps the most famous of these, what the English amusingly call manipulators, was Larry Parnes. As England emerged from rationing in the fifties and the rebuilding of the infrastructure destroyed by the bombing of WWII created a sort of false prosperity those young people who survived the bombing and rationing were coming of age. The war had caused a generational break. Young England began creating an England in their own image. They rejected the pre-war England of their elders. It was a world they never made. Of course neither had their elders.
Parnes sensing the direction began creating an image of recording stars to gratify youthful yearnings, especially of young girls. He found god looking boys giving them great stage names such Georgie Fame, Billy Fury, Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, Vince Eager and my favorite, Lance Fortune. There can be but little question that he exploited, not to say cheated, his ‘boys.’ Parnes was both Jewish and homosexual, a killer combination that dominated the industry.
For instance this about Vince Eager from the Widipedia entry for Larry Parnes
Vince Eager began to wonder why he had never received any record royalties. ‘You’re not entitled to any.’ Larry Parnes told him. ‘But it says in my contract that I am.’ Eager protested. ‘It also says I have power of attorney over you, and I’ve decided you’re not getting any.’ Parnes replied.
Parnes was of course both Jewish and homosexual. As he had many of these performers on salary he was cleaning up. Of course he had merely plucked them off the streets and set them up designing their acts, teaching them stage presence, choosing repertoires etc., they may have been little more than employees. However they did have ‘contracts’ although as the above quote indicates they were more than one sided making the contractees little more than slaves
The whole record scene was exploitative and homosexual. When London’s leading criminals horned in on the record scene, the Kray brothers, Reg and Ron they were Jewish and homosexual while their older brother Charlie who was straight with no police record managed the business end of the record racket.
As Andrew was coming up through the years this was the situation he perceived. While he couldn’t have broken into the Parnes style star system once the Beatles hit and the emphasis switched to groups an opening appeared. Parnes who had his star system going disdained the group thing leaving that open so that the Beatles manager Brian Epstein slid through the opening developing his group and star roster dislodging Parnes.
The market had expanded exponentially since the fifties when Parnes developed his system. Andrew, then, aquiver with the possibilities had his eye out for the new Beatles. He was told about the group working in Richmond called The Rollin’ Stones. He went, he saw, he signed.
A Clockwork Orange
As Andrew freely acknowledges by his late teens he was experiencing mental problems so I am merely discussing what he has disclosed. He says he was suffering from manic depression. Probably so, but he must also have blended in a little schizophrenia. The stresses of his childhood were taking possession of his mind. I know whereof I speak. This combined with his disastrous choices of role models that would be joined in 1962 by his reading of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange issued that year made him something of a phenom. Burgess, there’s another sicko.
A Clockwork Orange Boy, there was a Satanic book if there ever was one. The book took a certain mentality by storm, organized it and gave it expression. Its history is intimately connected with Jagger and Richards.
As influential in its limited sphere as the book was, Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 movie was perhaps the most destructive Satanic movie ever produced. It set the tone for the years that followed. The movie just tore a certain type of mind apart; Alexes by the dozen, nay, hundreds, thousands moved roved out every night after it was shown, snatching girls off the street. Clockwork was seconded by the movie The Collector that appeared about the same time. The book of Clockwork was less powerful but would still influence Andrew and through him Jagger and Richards. The other Stones led separate lives not involved with Mick, Keith and Andrew’s antics.
So Andrew’s brain is in a complete turmoil as he tries to find his way through the maze of life. Influenced by the real Larry Parnes and the fictional Johnny Jackson for a modus operandus he went in search of an act to manage and found his way to The Rolling Stones. Having discovered his mother lode, having a clear vision of what to do he was stymied by being only nineteen in shark infested waters without a cage.
Short of twenty-one he had to team up with a shark. As he was renting an office from an inoffensive appearing shark, Eric Easton, he convinced Eric to essentially through himself represent the Stones. Eric may have been a pretty sincere stodge but he was no fool when it came to his self-interest. He may have been close to a bottom feeder but that didn’t mean he hadn’t learned most of the tricks of the Great Whites. The ins and outs of contracts presented no problems to him while dizzy Andy and the naïve Mick and Keith probably hadn’t considered the existence of contracts. Give them a pen and dotted line under their name and they would sign. But, really, it was never a fair fight.
As Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw is alleged by Woody Guthrie to have said: Some will rob you with a six gun; some will use a fountain pen. Oh boy! Those contracts. The advantages are all on the side of the contractors; contractees beware. As Larry Parnes said: I’ve also got your Power Of Attorney and I say you don’t get anything. Revoking a Power Of Attorney is simple but how many amateurs think of it.
But legally contracts don’t really matter unless money is involved. There wouldn’t be a lot of money for a few years but when there was Andrew and the Stones not unsurprisingly got the bum’s rush.
Andrew’s brain was a regular pinwheel especially as in addition to his youth and mental condition he imbibed drugs freely. If your brain’s not already a mess drugs will certainly paint it black.
Even though Andrew chose poor role models he got the drift of what had to be done to make stars of random stones. Very few performers, they only become artists after success, know how to get from point A to point B and beyond. That’s where the manager, if he’s any good, comes in; he recognizes the possibilities of the raw talent and nurses them through the actual birth process. Believe me: this is worth a lot.
It is somewhat like Larry Parnes. He sensed what the teen public wanted and rather than wait for it to come to him, he created it from the rawest material and then took more than the lion’s share or the benefits. But then, he also inadvertently gave his ‘boys’ lives. There were actual careers awaiting them after Parnes had scraped off the cream.
The question then is were the Stones too talented to fail? I don’t think so. Not without Andrew to shape them and point the direction anyway. Andrew couldn’t sing or play but he could turn dross into gold not too much differently than what Larry Parnes had done with his ‘boys.’ The Stones were the evidence.
The key to the Stones’ success was when they learned to write songs. Would they have learned to write songs if Andrew hadn’t literally forced them into it? I would answer with a clear cut negative. The Stones playing nothing but crappy old Chicago blues and would have sank without a trace. In that sense Brian Jones insistence on playing ‘pure’ R&B would have led to dismal failure. But then, maybe that is what Brian wanted.
Let me point out here that in the US all this crappy old blues stuff was unlistened to but by a very small minority. Nor would the stuff ever have gained popularity without the English influence. Even today very few listen to that junk. ‘I woke up this morning, lordy, lordy…’
While Mick, Keith and Brian were boggling their minds concentrating on the ‘music’ Andrew realized that teen age girls (the Parnes influence again) weren’t going to get too enthused about grizzled old Negroes complaining about how their mama wouldn’t drop down. Does anyone think sprightly young teenagers looking for a good time are going to wallow in anybody else’s misery? Not likely.
So Andrew directed his ‘boys’ toward a more pop sound alienating the ever insistent ‘purist’ Brain from Mick and Keith. Bill and Charlie were pretty much just boys in the band.
Thus faced with the overwhelming competition of the Beatles, the lovable Mop Tops, Andrew made the fatal choice of turning Mick and Keith into his criminal Droogs, taking the low road and leaving the high road to the Beatles. Alex in A Clockwork Orange called the members of his gang Droogs. In a sense Andrew tried to make the Stones Andrew and the Droogs.
All very well but as Andrew got a little money his brain went from a pinwheel on a stick to real fireworks where pinwheels shoot flames. His brain was really in a whirl. He was passing out at parties. He became self-absorbed. He became interested in other projects that took his time, setting the Stones more or less adrift. His protégé Mick was no fool while being a quick learner. Why, Mick said to himself after becoming successful should I pay all these dufuses for what I can do myself. He couldn’t of course do it himself but it seemed like it at the time. He slammed the door in Andrew’s face.
Where’s Strength And Wisdom When You Need It?
The four years Andrew was with the Stones could have been a couple three or four lifetimes for the changes Andrew was forced through. Success is rightly called the bitch goddess. You’ll never know until you’ve said hello. The time from when he and Eric Easton signed the Stones to the time Andrew sold the Stones out to that Devil In Disguise Allen Klein nearly destroyed Andy. Allen Klein wasn’t in that much of a disguise either.
The trajectory of Andy’s career was so rapid it was hard to follow. It wasn’t so much that he bit off more than he could chew as that he tried to chew without biting it off. First things first, Andrew.
Obsessed with A Clockwork Orange he moved in with Mick and Keith where he gave them lessons in Droogism. Both were apt pupils. This is difficult to follow but his brain captured and sensing what seems to have been the book’s importance Andrew approached Burgess to buy the movie rights. Burgess told him the rights had already been sold but he wouldn’t tell Andy to whom.
It turns out that the rights had been sold to David Bailey the fashion photographer who had made Mick his ‘mate’ and possibly bought the rights jointly with Mick. If so, one wonders where Mick got the money. Sometime in 1963 the pair split with their rights to New York City to interest Andy Warhol in a film project. This also is rather remarkable because Andy was not yet that prominent while he hadn’t made any kind of stir with his puerile movies as yet. Somehow the rights passed to Warhol and finally to whoever acquired them to make Kubrick’s movie.
Warhol did make a film based on the book although the connection seems tenuous while not being worth watching. More importantly Alex and his Droogs had a profound effect on members of Warhol’s group. The group left Warhol’s atelier, the Factory, at night on their predations a la Alex and his Droogs. I believe Bob Dylan is referring to them in this lyric from his 1965 song Desolation Row:
Now at midnight all the agents and the superhuman crew
Come out and roundup everyone that knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the [F]actory were the heart attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders…
For some reason both Oldham and Bailey thought Mick was the perfect Alex while the Stones could be the Droogs. It didn’t work out but Mick and Warhol bonded like superglue. They would be very close friends until Andy died in 1987 when Mick flew to Pittsburgh for the funeral. Not only did the Stones practice Black and Blue at Warhol’s Montauk compound but Andy did two or three covers for them most notably Sticky Fingers. As a result of Mick and Warhol’s friendship the Stones always had the key to Greenwich Village.
So Andrew lost out on his bid for A Clockwork Orange. But then his brain racing a mile a minute and wanting to be a record magnate he founded Immediate Records. Not one for details Immediate stretched him pretty thin. I know we’re talking ancient history here, or at least ancient technology, so the reader will have to let go of the present to imagine the impact of Immediate Records on the cognoscenti of the time. I modestly include myself in that number.
Andrew was on the far edge of flamboyant; his ideal Larry Harvey who he met about this time thought him arch camp so Andy in his eye makeup and fey manners must have cut a startling figure. A lot of people thought he was queer and not just ambiguous. The Immediate label was an astounding pink, almost fluorescent seemingly confirming homosexual tendencies. It got your attention but in those days you almost had to apologize for buying a record with such a label. His covers were all good, in a class with the best and perhaps…. He signed and produced a lot of very good groups. The label’s production values may have prevented him from having any smashes, at least I don’t remember any.
I’m sure few will remember the Nice or even have heard of them but the first Nice was a pretty good record while the members went on to greater things. The sound wasn’t as immediate as it could have been. I worked it in my store but couldn’t get anywhere with it.
In those days British imports were all the rage on the West Coast while US records were despised. When I first went to England in the early seventies I was astounded to find the fans waiting for American pressings because they were thought better. Oh, I said, how strange. What makes them better? In so many words they said production values. In still other words they thought they had more immediacy. So Andy’s Immediate records lacked immediacy. I thought they were great anyway and they were always the first of the new releases I auditioned.
But, the devil is in the details, and Andrew wasn’t much on details so he went broke although he did hang in there until 1970. Not a bad record for an independent. He doesn’t tell us what happened to the masters but they must have been worth something.
By that time Andy was not only deep into drugs he was legendary. In Stoned and 2Stoned he has some great descriptions of being out of it if you like that sort of thing. His first two books were based on the oral biography method of Jean Stein’s biography of Edie Sedgwick called Edie. In that book acquaintances were interviewed and then cut and pasted to form a continuous narrative. Knocked out by ‘Edie’ Andrew did the same with the exception that he commented on the interviewees’ comments.
Rolling Stoned begins in a straight autobiographical style then begins to wander and meander. Andrew is always a good read but unless you want to read three different four hundred page books covering the same ground with variations I would recommend his most recent, Rolling Stoned, or perhaps 2Stoned. Still, I don’t mind…
April 28, 2014
Great Groupies Of The Sixties Series
One of the more vexing problems of biographical writing is that of Time and the River. According to Einstein Time is the Fourth Dimension and the River according to all the most august novelists is the course of one’s life. Marcel Proust managed to get both constructs into his novel In Remembrance of Time Past but I want to consider them separately here.
Not to be cantankerous but as to Einstein’s designation of Time as another dimension I cry: au contraire. Einstein was not the firstto consider the nature of Time, nor, I hope, the last. In fact not the last as here I am. I have nothing new to add for in this day and age the table is already set. Before Einstein, quite some time before, the social construct of Time had been a topic of dinner talk. There is some evidence, for instance, that Einstein was influenced by the English novelist H.G. Wells. Wells himself was just discussing a topic that had been under consideration for a decade or two.
Back before Time began when life was just a continuum punctuated by obvious things like seasons man, in his primeval primitiveness, wasn’t overly concerned with the passage of Time, probably didn’t even think about it. Certainly not as it is now understood. But needing to know such things as the timing of bird and animal migrations our ancestors looked around for a convenient starting point to calculate those appearances. It was there, as it had been before this beginning of Time.
Nothing was more obvious than that there was a tremendous war waged annually (a foreign concept at the time) between Light and Darkness. These two items may be the beginning of man’s social construct of Time. For half the period the Prince of Darkness seemed to keep driving the Prince of Light back toward extinction as the days grew shorter; then miraculously when the days were shortest, nights longest and cold increasing, the Prince of Light drove the Prince of Darkness back. The Unconquerable Sun had won another round.
In Greek mythology this battle was portrayed as Castor, the savior, shooting an arrow toward the summer solstice while his twin who is portrayed as a boxer fought a tough battle backtracking across the ring until Castor came to his rescue with his bow and arrow.
Gradually it dawned on our ancestors that this two part battle was a year, hitherto unrecognized. Time of a rough sort came into existence. Having pinpointed the shortest day in the year and after having discovered counting to a hundred or more our ancestors could count from the Sun’s victory (December 21, by our reckoning) to the returning avian migrants and other beasts to prepare themselves for some fresh food.
Our Old Ones created some marvelous prognosticators like Stonehenge further developing the concept of Time. To make things easier they made rough divisions of the day defined by the place of the Unconquerable Sun in the sky. Running through inventions like sun dials and water clocks we eventually arrived at the stop watch and marvel of marvels- the Atomic clock.
By the end of mid-nineteenth century then the burning question was how to define Time. It had become complicated apparently. Was there an objective entity that is corporeal or was Time just an intellectual construct to manage our daily and annual affairs which we had reduced to hours, minutes and seconds, today glorying in the nanosecond.
Until the birth of Jesus there was no convenient way in which to track the progression of years. Than a forward count began in the year one, which is actually tens of thousands of years after the prototype came into existence, until now we have arrived at 2014. In terms of negative numbers we can date back three or four thousand years historically and guess the rest.
That is all subjective time so the question is does objective Time, a Time that actually affects things exist? Wiser heads than Einstein’s existing before he gave his opinion answered no. Objective time did not exist. Camille Flammarion, a man as brilliant as Einstein in every way writing after 1860 demonstrated conclusively enough that Time had no objective existence.
Well, it might be said, people live for upwards of seventy years, isn’t that Time? No, that is the River. Everything has a beginning, a middle and end, a trinity. In living organisms the progression from beginning to end is the result of chemical reactions unaffected by an external agency such as Time.
Thus as with wine one has fresh new wine, mature wine at its peak and old wine going sour ending as vinegar. The difference between the first stage and the last is a series of chemical reactions. One confuses the issue when one refers to mature wine as aged- time had nothing to do with it, the method was chemical reactions occurring in sequence under conditions varying from poor to optimum.
So it is with the person. Development begins with conception comes to birth then follows a series of chemical changes and depending on chance and conditions the organism lives for perhaps a hundred year or maybe more. By years as a counting device one means revolutions of the Earth around the Sun. No Time involved. In former times years might have been expressed by the more primitive term summers. One lived seventy summers. Apparently those people had no concept of the year. Year being the more scientific embracing all the seasons rather than just summer.
Everything has a beginning, middle and end. This applies to political movements, styles and what have you. Although abstract things don’t have chemical reactions nevertheless their lifetimes follow a predictable course. If you are knowledgeable you can determine where in its life cycle a style or movement is.
I if have explained myself correctly I will now apply these concepts of Time and the River to the life of Cherry Vanilla or Kathie Dorritie as she known by her mother.
Kathie at this time is approaching the so-called age of reason, or thirty summers. She has led a wasted youth. Old acquaintances are giving up on her as her unsavory reputation precludes their associating with her. More and more she is sliding deeper into the netherworld of the lost souls of the Bohemian Village.
As ten or twelve years of younger fresher women have entered the river of life Kathie’s sexual desirability is waning. Chemical changes are altering her appearance. Never one to despair but now flailing about desperately seeking some driftwood on the river to keep her afloat she is recommended to Andy Warhol for a role in the London production of his play Pork. The play is beyond obscene, suitable for only the most degenerate while the female lead is degrading to the extreme. Who but the most desperate would have accepted it?
As this is the seventies Andy had died and been born again. Shot in 1968 by Valerie Solanas Andy had actually died on the operating table for a minute or two but was resuscitated. While famous as an artist Andy too had a terrible reputation. His atelier, the Silver Factory, his first, was shut down late in ‘67 when his lease was pulled probably because of his atrocious antics at the psychiatrists’ convention in January of ‘66.
He had just moved into the second factory when Valerie plugged him. While the Silver Factory had not been financially lucrative by 1968 Andy had been fortunate to have attracted some competent business oriented associates. Paul Morrissey had reorganized the film production to make it more commercial and profitable. Fred Hughes had set Andy on a portrait painting career that salvaged him financially.
Skillful associates such as Vincent Fremont who managed the financial end while Bob Colacello along with Hughes kept Andy on course although as flighty as ever, perhaps moreso being mentally affected by his near death experience. Andy kept an entourage of, shall we say, eccentrics while having shed the Silver Factory crew. So, in the seventies, if not actually more respectable, he was less objectionable.
Less is a relative term naturally as anyone who would produce Pork was not concerned with actual respectability. But times had changed, the River was murkier than ever. A few years earlier Andy would have been arrested for obscenity but now, in the seventies after A Clockwork Orange had been cinematized anything went. Deep Throat would be mainstream fare within a year or two.
Kathy appeared before Andy for an audition and, probably because there were no other applicants, was accepted. The play had already opened and closed far off Broadway so next stop London for its English premier.
This was a major turning point in Kathie’s life. Biologically she was transiting from youth to early middle age. The time is one of immense chemical reactions in the body as the track to death really begins. Although one might not feel it the period of growth or construction for the body has ended. Food becomes a fuel to maintain electricity rather than creating thus fewer calories are needed to sustain life. If you don’t cut back on caloric intake fat begins to accrue. You have to work harder to stay in the same place.
For the first time, at that age you can no longer pretend you are one with youth. Younger people appear different to yourself. A desperation seizes you if you haven’t begun to attain whatever success means to you. The future begins to look very bleak. Thus Andy’s offer of a nowhere role in his totally objectionable play seemed like a lifeline. However despite Andy’s wonderful reputation in Bohemia he was seen as a clown to the rest of society. Amusing but not to be taken seriously. Up to 1968 no one had profited from being associated with Andy with the possible exception of Gerard Malanga, Andy’s assistant and artistic double from the Silver Factory. Andy brutally cut Gerard loose sending him to Italy without adequate funds to get lost and abandoning him refused to send a ticket home.
As Gerard was as familiar with Andy’s methods as Andy himself he took the risk of screening a photo of Che Guevara and passing the screen off as a Warhol. It was in a way because of Gerard’s experience. At the very least it was a genuine Warhol-Gerard. Naturally no one could tell the difference. Gerard was successful in selling a few but rather than taking the money and getting the hell out he hung around long enough to be discovered. Repudiated by Andy he spent some time in an Italian jail for fraud limping back home after release.
Andy was not one for doing anything for anybody and the role of Amanda Pork was not a role to do anything positive for Kathie’s image, she now being known as Vanilla.
Just as the organism develops and declines so every cultural movement has its beginning, middle and end. As a cultural expression of the Depression and war baby generations Rock and Roll began in 1954 when Elvis began his ascent and Johnny Cash had returned from his Army tour of duty in Germany. From that beginning the records had developed and then crested sometime between 1966 and 1969.
The generation was coming of age, ready to move on to the next stage of life.
Actually the generation had reached its peak during the during the late sixties. The early baby boomers of the silver age, the seventies were entering into prominence but not with the universal acceptance of the two earlier generations. The seventies for the war babies was a period of greatest hits records, a rehash of the sixties, although a couple groups like Led Zeppelin held on but only through their 60s records as golden hits, classics, sold that well.
Fleetwood Mac who had existed in several configurations through the sixties and early seventies acquired Lindsay-Nicks as their front line and in a spectacular blaze of glory put a period to the rock and roll expression of the war baby generation. In fact the post-war world ended in 1978 when the war babies came of age.
Vanilla arrived in London just as the Punk explosion of those born in the mid to late fifties was about to disrupt the transmission belt to stardom of the war babies. The war baby crowd still ruled London and Vanilla was a war baby. Based on Warhol’s reputation that was probably bigger in London than New York the cast of Pork was the toast of London that summer. Their rehearsals over, the play, such as it was, was revealed.
Unless you were a pervert, a dedicated one, there really wasn’t anything in the play for you and little if you were. After the Warhol crowd had come and gone the audience dwindled to nothing. The actors were out of luck no longer toasts of the Hard Rock Café.
To top it off Vanilla had been as disillusioned with Warhol as Gerard Malanga had been. Having sacrificed whatever reputation she had by appearing in Andy’s abomination, at the opening night party Andy hadn’t even deigned to congratulate her, ignoring her completely, not even acknowledging her presence.
I would imagine Vanilla was completely devastated, even more than she indicates. Her big chance, her salvation was come and gone. That was it. She was now adrift in Europe with no direction home. The cast was given the option of a plane ticket to New York or the cash. With nothing to return to New York for Vanilla took the cash abandoning London for Paris until her scant funds ran out then returning to London.
But, wait a minute, all had not been lost. During her summer of glory as the toast of hip London, among others of the Rock royalty, she had met the baby boomer David Bowie and his spectacular wife, the ex-pat American, Angela. Angela had been impressed by Vanilla and Bowie always a marginal performer, was about to get as close to the center as he ever would. That would entail invading the US, New York, LA, all that glitter. Vanilla became useful because if she knew anything, she knew New York.
Thus we move along to Chapter V- Hot Times In The Old Town.
February 1, 2013
Who Is Groovy Bob Fraser?
While writing my biographies of Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull it has become apparent that some persons seemingly peripheral are more central to the story than one may at first have thought. One of these is the art dealer, Robert Fraser or Groovy Bob as he was known.
However, behind the scenes underlying all the action are the two Kray Twins, Ronnie and Reggie. As with underworld figures in the US little is going to happen in which their presence is completely absent. Ronnie and Reggie were two Jewish homosexuals. They thus had as much protection as Jews can provide for their own. On the homosexual front the Krays were procurers of young boys for members of the above ground establishment, men prominent not only in government but in the music business.
At the same time the brothers owned, or possibly fronted, prominent gambling establishments, thus people like Fraser and Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein who gambled heavily losing large sums came under their influence or control. Robert Fraser and the Krays thus became intimately connected.
Now, what about Robert Fraser? Fraser is the link between many participants in the 60’s drama. He befriended Richards, Jagger and Faithfull. He was close to Paul McCartney of the Beatles, who is somewhat of a mysterious figure in the drama, as well as being familiar with their manager Brian Epstein among many others of the rock musicians. And then he was linked with artist/film maker, David Cammell as well as arch Satanist, Kenneth Anger, and the main American link to these people, Andy Warhol. He brought Tony Sanchez to the Stones as well as the rock community while Sanchez was his link to the Kray brothers. Fraser’s friend Chris Gibbs is a shadowy eminence grise of this situation. So far, I’ve gotten little other than he was and is an antiques dealer who helped establish the Bohemian tastes a la Oscar Wilde of the rockers.
Fraser himself came from a moneyed family who financed his ventures. He was a public school boy, Eton. He served in the African Rifles in Uganda. There, as a homosexual he says he buggered a young Idi Amin. I have no doubts. Returning from the African happy hunting grounds he promptly left for the even happier hunting grounds of New York City, the sybaritic capitol of the world. There he soaked up the art scene where he learned the ins and outs of being a gallery director. He was in New York during the seminal years from 1960-62 just as the pop art scene was taking off. There he met Andy Warhol who would be the outstanding pop artist. As they were both homosexuals and revolutionaries they bonded.
Fraser, Warhol, Epstein, Gibbs, the Kray Twins and most of the cast were all homosexuals. Jagger was at least ambiguous so sexual lines blurred and those who may not have been homosexual by nature may have found it convenient to act like one. Certainly after Stonewall in 1969 the music scene became predominantly gay.
There are pictures and videos of Fraser on the internet so that we can gauge his appearance and manner. His manner was very engaging and while fey, not exceptionally so. He wasn’t camp, at least not in public.
What exactly his role in the scene was is less than clear. While apparently an excellent pop art gallerist his role among rock musicians while prominent is not clear. He frequently had large parties in his apartment attended by the cream of the rock community. Of course he sold them art work but perhaps through his drug connection Tony Sanchez he also dealt on the side to augment his income. Drugs were always prominent at his parties. Paul McCartney bought many artworks from Fraser which all appreciated significantly although Fraser is accused of overcharging. But then, why not, a collector always thinks he’s being overcharged as he buys one of a kind items.
Perhaps also Fraser was indoctrinating the musicians in tolerance for gays and other political matters. Perhaps he was seeking homosexual alliances from among these yobbos. Certainly after Stonewall it seemed that everyone in rock was fruity. It was then that Rock and Roll began to lose its appeal. When the homosexuality became so obvious rock declined in interest to non-gays leading it further into a gay audience that augmented by the evolution into all-gay Disco. YMCA and all that, and then the end.
Whatever his political intent the goals were subverted by personal defects. Of course drugs will reduce your effectiveness by a little more than somewhat, but gambling and its resultant debts were much more deleterious of personal autonomy. While gambling has never been mentioned in connection with the rockers one wonders whether McCartney and others didn’t become involved.
Now, the record business in both the US and Britain was in the hands of homosexual Jews. The British groups, especially the Beatles and the Stones were god’s gift to his Chosen People. Between the Beatles and the Stones probably a billion dollars was generated in just four or five years including ongoing royalties and residuals. The entire billion was siphoned off by the Jews in both the US and Britain with only tip money going to the musicians.
Brian Epstein was the chief beneficiary. It was perhaps through his gambling debts, described as enormous, that the extent of the cash being generated by the Beatles came to the attention of the Kray brothers. Epstein apparently lost and owed a fortune to them. The only way he had to pay his debts was the Beatles which with his contract expiring in 1967 he was afraid he would be dismissed leaving him without that extraordinary income.
The Krays conceived the idea of taking over the Beatles from Epstein. At this time Robert Fraser had gambling debts with the Krays for which he had no available resources. The Krays put the squeeze on him. Fraser didn’t know what to do but he did know a man about the scene named Tony Sanchez, the Spaniard in the works, who did. Sanchez was nicknamed Spanish Tony. He would soon figure in as Keith Richards’ factotum and bodyguard. Spanish Tony is an interesting character meriting much more serious attention. As a connection between the underworld and the above world one would like to know more about his associates both under and above. He certainly used his underworld persona to threaten Marianne Faithfull into bed.
At any rate Sanchez told Fraser that he had underworld connections and might be able to resolve Fraser’s problem for him. As usual with Fraser he only fed Sanchez half-truths and when Tony contacted the Krays he got the other side of the story. Bear in mind that the Krays were crazy. They were pimping boys from the orphanage to social figures of the status of former Prime Minister Edward Heath. I mean, the moral state of the British upper class was beyond questionable. I would like to hear what the boys who were so used have to say now that they are men. Where are those memoirs anyway?
The Krays showed Sanchez a pile of Fraser’s bounced checks they had received which made Tony reconsider his position. Whatever bargaining chips he may have had were nullified. However the Krays had a proposition. Conversant with all the gambling characters they thought that Fraser might have some influence on Epstein so that if Fraser could arrange the transfer of the Beatles to themselves they would forgive Fraser’s debt. Who wouldn’t?
Negotiations and time dragged on and 1967 appeared at the top of the calendar with nothing accomplished, no debts settled. 1967. A big year in our story. That was the year that Brian Epstein supposedly committed suicide, the year his contract with the Beatles expired. We know for certain he left this sportin’ life. And 1967 was the year of the Redlands bust in which Fraser went to prison.
Sanchez gives conflicting stories of what took place. In his published memoir Up And Down With The Rolling Stones of 1979 he says the Krays amiably reduced the amount owed by Fraser and Groovy Bob gave them a good check for it. Problem solved. Tony says in his memoir.
Improbable as that seems, a missing chapter of Tony’s book has surfaced. Apparently many of his revelations were deemed too controversial and deleted. In this missing chapter Tony says that Fraser, unable to deliver the Beatles, set up the drug bust at Redlands in order to go to jail where for some strange reason he thought that he would be beyond the reach of the Krays.
In any event he didn’t seem to resent going to prison. Shortly after he was released from prison the Krays were arrested in May of 1968 while being sentenced to life on 3/5/69.
Presumably Robert Fraser escaped payment of the debt, however with the stigma of a jailbird his career as a gallery operator drew to a close after his release. He ended his life as a casualty of AIDs in 1986.
In his prime one wonders what he was doing. He seems to have been closely connected to Warhol and his crew. Andy himself seems to have been the center of what appears to be a political conspiracy. On their trip to Paris they made a Bee line to visit Fraser. So there is probably a strong political bent to Fraser’s activities.
Much more research is needed on Groovy Bob as well as his underworld connection Spanish Tony Sanchez.
Mick Jagger, The Rolling Stones And The Revolt Of The Yobbos
Mick, Dave And Andy
If you had looked you wouldn’t have seen it but Sigmund Freud, or at least, his ghost was quietly at work transforming the psychology of Western Man. The old chivalric ideals of the Arthurian sagas was rapidly being replaced by the Jewish hopes and fears of Sigmund Freud and the Jewish people.
The Aryan ideal was based on an intense consciousness and objectivity while the Jewish understanding was unconscious and subjective. Aryans followed a concept of honor, Jews followed a concept of chutzpah. The transformation was understood if not clearly seen by the science fiction writers of the fifties. Stories subsequently made into movies such as The Blob, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, book title: The Body Snatchers, and I Am Legend told the tale of the subversion of the conscious as people were portrayed as the living dead or zombies.
With the way prepared then the next step was the free expression of subconscious desires undeterred by reflection and the subversion of men and women in sex. Freud proclaimed that the more frequently men ejaculated the better a person they would be, at the same time preaching the dangers of repressing those psychological ‘needs’ or desires to the exclusion of all others.
The Libertine element or Bohemians of society seized the opportunity while those yet imbued with Chivalric or Christian ideals held out while those ideals were slowly eroded replaced by Jewish ideals. Of course the Pill and drugs came along to push Freudian ideals into fast forward, a bunch of Charlie Chaplins rushing to the future.
At the same time movies and TV began to glorify the expression of an undefined rage against Western ideals and justifications of its impression appeared regularly in ever more sadistic and uncontrolled expressions. Movies glorifying drug use and homosexuality appeared regularly. This enabled homosexuals, sadists and what have you to recognize and find each other thus being able to organize in associations. The Homosexual, Sexual and Yobbo, or Undermen, revolutions were thus able to more forward much more rapidly. One was able to discuss these aberrations as normal conversation, mere expressions of the varieties of sexual experience. Then in 1962 Anthony Burgess published the Yobbo bible, A Clockwork Orange, which in 1971 was made into the most despicable of movies.
The Yobbo bible apparently found a ready audience awaiting it. In New York, the Prince, even the King, of the Yobbos, Andy Warhol, teamed up with the London fashion photographer David Bailey to buy the screen rights from Burgess at bargain basement rates. They obviously saw the book’s potential for forwarding the revolutions on the screen for the corruption of Western youth. Bailey who must have been one the earliest jet setters having met Andy on an earlier occasion perhaps after Andy had introduced his soup cans unless Andy had been recognized as a leader of the revolutions before he had gained fame as an artist.
Warhol and Bailey were quick off the block obtaining the rights in either late ‘62 or early ‘63. Certainly a prescient move. As Andy was just beginning his switch from art to film while having no experience in film making Bailey’s collaboration seems as though it were a leap of faith. Perhaps if they met in ‘62 or even earlier he and Andy jabbered about the potential of movies while riding a white horse name Obetrol.
David Bailey who had risen rapidly in the late fifties at British Vogue is credited with being one of the originators of
Swinging London. What a knockout combination that was, had us all slavering at the mouth wishing we were part of it. Bailey even had his career commemorated in Antonioni’s film, Blow Up of 1966. A sensational film in its day though I find it difficult to see the significance today although still good mood and photography.
David had met Mick sometime in 1963 through his girl friend model Jean Shrimpton. Mick was dating Jean’s sister Chrissie who introduced him to Jean. Jean had no trouble spotting the Stones potential introducing David to Mick with the giddy news that he and the Stones were going to be bigger than the Beatles. Slightly enthusiastic; the Stones were going to be big but not bigger. Nothing really approaches the impact of the Beatles. The dead Lennon is either a god or nearly one while none of the Stones will reach that status.
David and Mick bonded immediately becoming in David’s word, mates. David was five years older than Mick and already successful so that must have enhanced his appeal to Mick. As David looked at Mick and saw the Stones play he apparently said to himself; These are the yobbos I need for my movie, droogs if I ever saw them. He and Mick boarded a big 707 jetliner, one assumes, in mid to late ’63 to be introduced to co-owner of the movie rights of the intellectual property as the star of the semi-porn flick, at least as it would be filmed in 1971.
This was a fateful connection for Mick and the Stones. Now, Mick had been attending the London School of Economics, LSE, during ‘62 and ‘63 only leaving university in late ‘63 when he believed the Stones were going to make it. It is hard to believe that he would give up school for the ephemeral success of England- two good years and out, replaced by the next pretty face. Perhaps Bailey and Warhol were already planning the exploitation of the record industry as a propaganda tool. Certainly Bailey was conscious of the trans-Atlantic connection between British and American Vogue. For guys on the qui vive it wouldn’t be much of a leap to imagine trans-Atlantic musicians, after all, the Englishman (Scot, I know) Lonnie Donnegan had already had a few hits, including a monster, The Rock Island Line, in America. If, in their discussion Mick could have seen the potential, leaving university would be a bet on a bigger and more glorious future.
Some think Bailey and Warhol would have made the movie but ALO placed the price of the Stone’s too high. As Oldham was as keen on Clockwork Orange as anyone that doesn’t necessarily ring true. There must have been other reasons.
Nor was Mick studying bookkeeping at LSE as often represented. The school was established by the Fabian socialist Webbs c. 1900 and was a Communist training ground. Mick did have a scholarship which means he must have been vetted as good future material. Although LSE does have an accounting department Mick was enrolled in political science with the intention of being a Communist politician. So, Mick, David and Andy were to follow a revolutionary agenda pushing the envelope in sex and unruliness. The emerging drug scene promoted both aspects and added a new one.
Shortly after Mick returned home the Beatles burst upon the scene from the Ed Sullivan show in February of ‘64. This was the avant garde of the British Invasion opening up fabulous new vistas for the yobbos of small insular England. For whatever reason the Beatles were an immediate sensation. I’ve got a very good ear but I couldn’t hear it then and I still can’t. The Stones, not really that big a deal yet, followed shortly after gaining full national exposure on Sullivan’s show. Young America was watching. Regardless of the opinion of Stones’ fans they didn’t cut it. There didn’t seem to be much there other than the hype. Mick couldn’t sing while having a very weird appearance. All eyes were on the magnetism of Brian Jones, looking right past Mick. You can see him noticing where the attention was going and looking over at Brian as though to say: But I’m the singer and should be the center of attention. Perhaps Brian’s fate was sealed at that moment. Certainly if he had been brought up front, as all four Beatles had been, there might have been more interest.
No matter, the first tour may have been a bummer but the conquest was still quick enough. The Stones were after all British. Gold, at the moment.
In any event Warhol and Jagger became fast friends. A friendship that was to endure to Andy’s death in 1987. By the time the Stones had gotten settled in Andy had been shot in 1968 actually killing him but the doctors brought him back.
The early endorsement of Warhol had cemented the relationship of the Stones with the yobbos of Bohemia. In ‘63-64 Warhol was only just getting the Factory, the clubhouse of homosexual drug addicted Yobbos, going but that gang would have spread the word effectively in Manhattan club land.
I’m sure Mick’s sexual ambiguity, bi-sexuality, or whatever you wanted to call it kept the enormous homosexual population of Greenwich Village Bohemia in his corner. After Andy’s recovery in 1969-70 the relationship between the two men developed.
To quote the website
Mick Jagger was painted [by Warhol] while he was at the height of fame. Andy and Jagger first met in 1963. Warhol spent a lot of time with Jagger and his wife, Bianca, but claimed he was the closest to their daughter Jade, whom Andy remembers teaching to paint. Over the years the artistically inclined Jagger kept tabs on the musically inclined Warhol. Mick was such an admirer, that in 1972 when the Stones formed their own record company, they tapped Andy to design their logo.
Montauk is the easternmost town at the end of Long Island. Andy and Paul Morrisey had bought a twenty acre compound there that they rented out. In 1975 they would rent it to the Stones for 5K a month while they were making Black and Blue.
In the meantime the Stones expanded their list of celebrity acquaintances on their 1972 Exile On Main Street tour. Needless to say these celebrities were all related to Warhol and the Bohemian scene. This included meeting the Warholite photographer Peter Beard who directed the Stones to Montauk. The linked Montauk site is worth reading.
All right. A Clockwork Orange was released in 1971 with devastating results. Just previously in 1969 the Homosexual Revolution had succeeded in escaping the restraints of New York City laws with the Stonewall Riots leading to the golden age of homosexuality before AIDS hit. The Stonewall Inn was on Christopher Street in the Village, the very heart of the Homosexual Revolution and Warhol’s empire. This led to an increase in the corruption of society. Following on the heels of the Riots perhaps encouraged by them the effects of A Clockwork Orange were much greater than The Blackboard Jungle and Rebel Without A Cause of the mid-fifties.
There were serious consequences not least of which was a sado-masochistic tone to the Stones as exhibited in their Black And Blue release of 1975. It is hard to believe that this record didn’t reflect Andy’s sado-masochistic influence. The inside cover depicting a bound woman being brutalized, the title Black and Blue seeming to indicate the bruises she was getting from the beating caused a major uproar, especially amongst Lesbian groups, resulting in the photo’s being withdrawn to be replaced by a group shot. Warhol and Mick were in sync.
In addition to providing the Stones’ logo Andy also designed three record covers for them which advanced the homosexual sadistic agenda. The first was the blatantly homo Sticky Fingers. The title was interpreted to mean the result of beating off while the cover has the famous zippered jeans with the working zipper.
The second cover was Love You Live with its double entendre of cannibalism. The third, Emotional Tattoo, a bootleg, featured Mick on the cover of 1983.
In 1975 showing Andy’s great admiration or love or Mick he made a portfolio of large 42 x29 inch prints reproduced in this article.
During this whole period of the seventies Mick’s wife Bianca was the reigning queen of the Warhol/Halston entourage. While Mick promoted satanic sex riding an enormous inflated penis on the stage he was somewhat more puritan with his wife off stage. He found Bianca’s sexual behavior in the Warhol entourage so humiliating that he was forced to divorce her. One can say that he was patient with her past the endurance of most guys.
But Andy and Mick remained good friends. In 1987 when Andy took the one way barge trip to a new life Mick was the only celebrity friend who took the time to attend Andy’s funeral in Pittsburgh. Thus ended probably one of the most significant friendships of our time.
By the time Andy died they and one presumes, David Bailey, had been more successful in achieving their goals than they might have hoped. Of course Sigmund Freud gave them more than a leg up.
Next: Nemesis Catches Up With The Stones.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Accreted Personality
Hours In The Library
As the fabulous Twentieth Century dawned virtually a new world different than anything that had gone before came into existence requiring a new consciousness. As usual some could adapt and some couldn’t. In an evolutionary sense those that couldn’t adapt disappeared, those that could survived while those born into the new world accepted it as normal.
Many authors who were very successful in the old world faded from importance not because what they had to say was necessarily irrelevant but because it was no longer relevant to a changed consciousness. Even if their message was universal it had to be expressed in new terms. Some like Rider Haggard and Conan Doyle trundled right along until they died two or three decades later. Some like H.G. Wells whose contemporary novels lost significance and sales potential even though in Wells case his sci-fi output of the nineties has survived strongly until today. His omnibus volume Seven Science Fiction Novels has been a strong seller for nearly a hundred years. A dozen or so handsome editions adorn the shelves of second hand dealers where they turn over at a quick rate.
Still, around 1900 a new generation of writers began to move onto the literary field; the next wave after the crop of the eighteen eighties. The new writers were mainly in the age cohort of 1865 to 1876 as was Ed but he would make a late start in 1912. Memory is the key to psychology. If nothing goes into the memory nothing comes out so it is important to include only the beneficial as much as is possible. It is for that reason that pornography is pernicious. It has little social value; its main function being to stroke one’s fixations. In these crucial years Ed filled his memory banks with the works of the current crop of writers. He unerringly went, as we all do, to those writers and books that talked around his own fixations thus being capable of being incorporated into his own writing.
While he seems to be almost plagiarizing his sources, by the end of the nineteenth century the body of work available had grown to significant proportions. He was not alone in incorporating his reading into his own work. The reading had become part of the social fabric not much different than trolley cars and the soup cans Andy Warhol would later make famous. Burroughs now is part of our mental furniture and while it may not be pertinent to our writing, images and phrases from what we have read may come out of our pen without our realizing it. Almost like saying for dinner I opened a can of Campbell’s tomato soup.
The thousands of movies and records we have seen and know cannot be excluded from our mental processes. So, just as George Du Maurier named his novel Trilby after that of Charles Nodier of the turn of the nineteenth century patterning his story based on that novel that he admired greatly, why shouldn’t Burroughs in his turn do the same. Such referencing was quite common if you read enough and look for it.
It is difficult to know where to begin in listing Ed’s post-1900 reading but as the South formed such a large part of his consciousness it may be well to start with the apostle of the Lost Cause, Thomas Dixon Jr.
Thomas Dixon Jr. (1864-1846)
Dixon’s social views differed quite wildly from those of his contemporary H.G. Wells. Indeed, Dixon was of the class that Wells said must not be allowed to express their views lest they cloud those of the Revolution in the minds of the proletariat which must be forced to accept the official views of Wells’ Open Conspiracy version of socialism. No dissent was to be allowed. In keeping with this dictum Anthony Slide gave the scare title American Racist to his 2004 biography of Dixon published by the UKentucky Press in an attempt to make sure Dixon was buried and doesn’t rise again.
Be that as it may Dixon was extremely popular in the years before the Bolshevik Revolution going into eclipse after his 1919 movie Bolshevism On Trial. So he was both a Southerner, although not a Virginian, and an anti-Communist giving him special appeal to Ed.
Born in 1864 he was old enough to have been aware during the last years of Reconstruction, hence an eyewitness. The grand tragedy of the Civil War for him was that Aryans exterminated Aryans over a worthless cause like Negro slavery. During Reconstruction the Puritan bigots of the North oppressed the Southern Aryans mercilessly so that Dixon made it his goal to reconcile Northern and Southern Aryans, thus the title of his and Griffith’s 1915 movie titled The Birth Of A Nation, in other words, The Birth Of The Aryans as a Nation.
While slavery was the proximate cause of the war the issue takes a subordinate place in the minds of romanticists of the South such as Ed. Dixie is the home of courtly manners and magnolia blossoms, decency and self-respect.
That notion of a Utopia is still shared by many of us today.
The men who settled Virginia were the displaced younger sons of English aristocrats who gave their flavor to the Cavalier State. They were the epitome of desired manhood, the quality versus the equality- hence John Carter of Virginia. Carter is not only a man but the apex of what a man should be.
Dixon wrote several Civil War and Reconstruction novels, all rather good literature. His most famous trilogy of the conflict was composed of The Leopard’s Spots (1902), The Clansman (1905), and The Traitor (1907). As The Traitor is found in Burroughs’ surviving library it is not unreasonable to believe he read all three and that before he began writing. Dixon wrote two further volumes, The Southerner: A Romance Of The Real Lincoln and The Victim: A Romance Of The Real Jefferson Davis of 1913 and 14 respectively. I’m sure Ed read them both but they were too late to be formative for his writing. I recommend them both highly for a near contemporary history of the events from the perspective of both sides. While it doesn’t seem to be Dixon’s purpose his presentation leaves no doubt in my mind that the assassination of Lincoln was plotted by a cabal of Northern bigots who really wanted to exterminate Southern Aryans replacing them with what they believed to be a pure Negro Republic.
As the Negroes were not welcome in the North these Northern loonies may have believed with Lincoln that Negroes and Aryans could not live together. They probably believed that by ceding the South to the Negroes they had solved the problem. I’m sure it goes much deeper than current research cares to deal with.
Fortunately that didn’t happen. Reconstruction was overturned and the Jim Crow period took form resulting in the current Negro revolution with the threat of a San Domingo Moment.
In addition Dixon wrote an anti-socialist trilogy composed of One Woman (1903), Comrades (1909) and The Root Of Evil (1911). Other than reflecting the attitude of Ed’s thoughts they don’t seem reflected in his own work before 1919 although they may appear in his 1926 novel The Moon Maid.
After the rejection of Ed’s own 1919 anti-Communist tract Under The Red Flag by publishers another work of Dixon’s, The Fall Of A Nation (1916, both book and movie) seem to have been read and seen by Ed. The work would greatly influence Ed’s 1926 novel, The Moon Maid.
So, Thomas Dixon has to be considered a major influence of Ed‘s.
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)
A second major influence, not inferior to Dixon, was the great creator of the Wizard Of Oz series, Lyman Frank Baum. Although chronologically belonging to an earlier age cohort of writers he only began writing at the turn of the century, turning out his fabulously successful The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz in 1900. It is said that Oz was based on the White City of the Columbian Exposition of 1893 and most likely was. In those days before movies successful books were turned into equally successful plays as was the case with The Wizard; thus at forty-four Baum was launched on a successful literary career. As with so many writers he squandered his millions ending up virtually broke. He didn’t live long enough for the movies to come to the rescue.
The original Wonderful Wizard Of Oz was written as a political satire which content went missing in 1939’s movie, indeed, it was no longer relevant. Baum should have lived so long.
The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz (1900) was followed by The Marvelous Land Of Oz (1904), Ozma Of Oz (1907), Dorothy And The Wizard Of Oz (1908), The Road To Oz (1909) and the Emerald City Of Oz (1910). These were published before Ed began to write so they highly influenced his Martian Chronicles while subsequently issued titles influenced his later work.
Baum grew tired of the series trying to kill it off in 1910’s Emerald City Of Oz but the clamor urging him to write more resulted in the series being resumed in 1913. These titles in order where The Patchwork Girl Of Oz 1913), Tik Tok Of Oz, 1914, The Scarecrow Of Oz (1915), Rinkitink In Oz, (1916), The Lost Princess Of Oz, (1917), The Tin Woodman Of Oz (1918), The Magic Of Oz, (1919) and Glinda Of Oz (1920). There are an additional dozen or so Oz titles but they were commissioned (pastiches) after Baum’s death to Ruth Plumly Thompson and another writer after her. Nice enough but don’t have the spark.
On might say the Wizard far exceeds John Carter in the American consciousness while matching or even, possibly, exceeding that of Tarzan. Without the Tarzan movies the reputation of the Wizard would be as great while that of Tarzan would be significantly diminished.
Baum also wrote a comic strip of stories in 1905 and The Woggle Bug Book in 1905 that Ed may have seen but I haven’t.
One imagines Ed greatly anticipating each Oz book as it was released, stunned by both the stories and the W.W. Denslow and John R. Neill artwork. Always remember that Ed was a failed artist or cartoonist, so the illustration always remained important to him.
Baum like Ed, after having created, an original framework, unmercifully plundered past literature to give substance to his stories. As Ed would follow in his own Symmes’ Hollow Earth stories Baum wrote an entire Oz novel around a version of the Symmes’s theory.
Ed so completely ingested the Baumian parallel universe that it is impossible to conceive of either Helium or Opar without reference to the Emerald City and hence back to Chicago’s White City. John Carter may be conceived of as a male Dorothy off to see the Wizard except that Helium was on Mars. Carter’s accession to the Warlord of Mars may even be seen as a replacement of the Wizard. One suspects that for Ed Baum was the transcendent imagination.
Another important point, as David Adams points out, is that Baum was a theosophist versed in esoteric lore. Baum was among the writers of his day that Ed went out of the way to meet, to introduce himself. It may even be said that he had a relationship with Baum. Ed first introduced himself to Baum in 1913, driving up to Ozcot in Hollywood. The two men were reunited in 1916 during Ed’s stay in LA and again in 1919 for the few remaining months of Baum’s life. He died in May of that year.
So Baum was a central figure in Ed’s career.
George Barr McCutcheon (1866-1926)
Anthony Hope (1863-1933)
The third major figure of the decade succeeding 1900 was one George Barr McCutcheon and his Graustark series. Not so well known today he was a major figure in the early years of the century. Reminiscing in the forties in the midst of the disappointment of a second world war in his lifetime Ed remarked that the people then lacked a Graustark so that Ed added that imaginary land to the Oz in his literary memories.
Born in the same year as H.G. Wells, McCutcheon’s first published title Graustark: The Story Of A Love Behind A Throne appeared in 1901 as the century began. Graustark was some Ruritanian paradise located in some imaginary middle European land of wine and waltzes. While a fine imaginary setting I find the novels unappealing. As usual one has the enterprising American lad among torpid European lumpkins.
Of the six Graustark novels three were published before 1912- Graustark (1901), Beverly Of Graustark (1904) and Truxton King: A Story Of Graustark (1909), and three after- The Prince of Graustark (1914), East Of The Setting Sun (1924) and the Inn Of The Hawk And The Raven (1927). Thus only the first three were part of the formation of Ed’s memories when he began writing.
These three were however buttressed by two novels of Anthony Hope the man who invented Ruritanian romances and on whom McCutcheon undoubtedly based Graustark. Hope began his three dozed novel career with the The Prisoner Of Zenda in 1894 followed by the sequel Rupert Of Hentzau in 1898. It would be truly astonishing if you’ve heard of any of the rest of his oeuvre. I certainly never had.
The content of these novelists was directly incorporated into Ed’s two Ruritanian novels The Mad King and HRH The Rider.
The Mad King was a re-courting of Emma that apparently failed.
Booth Tarkington (1869-1946)
A man who Ed thought was the greatest American writer when interviewed in the teens was the enchanting Booth Tarkington, one of the favorites of my childhood. I was enthralled by Tarkington’s Tom Sawyer figure Penrod (1914) Scholfield and Penrod and Sam of 1916. The other titles I read back when were Seventeen (1916), The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), and Alice Adams of 1922.
Tarkington was a prolific writer turning out four dozen or so novels during his lifetime, some in collaboration with Harry Leon Wilson of Merton Of The Movies and Ruggles Of Red Gap fame along with several other significant titles of the day. Burroughs had Ruggles and couple others in his library.
Born between Wells and Ed, Tarkington’s first novel, The Gentleman From Indiana appeared in 1899 followed by his Monsieur Beaucaire in 1900. A whole series of novels followed up to 1912 including The Two Vanrevels so Ed probably had imbibed a lot of Tarkington before and much after 1912. Tarkington was a major influence on Ed’s novels such as The Oakdale Affair and the Efficiency Expert of the teens while The Ambersons and Alice Adams influences show up in Ed’s 1924 novel Marcia Of The Doorstep.
Jack London (1876-1916)
Robert Service (1874-1958)
H.H. Knibbs (1874-1945)
Certainly not to be neglected as an influence is the still well known and often read Jack London. The making of London as a writer was the great Klondike Gold Rush beginning in 1896. In 1897 London packed his gear and went North. His experiences in the land of ice and snow provided the material that made his name. A stream of short stories and adventure novels erupted through his pen beginning in 1898 while the novels began in 1902. The Call Of The Wild of 1903 spoke to the wanderlust in Ed’s soul. London did everything that Ed wanted to do, he ranged freely over the entire world in his yacht The Snark, interestingly named after the great poem of Lewis Carroll…beware lest your Snark be a boo…. He was an eyewitness reporter of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, like Ed he was a boxing aficionado, he was ringside as a reporter when Jack Johnson put down the great Jim Jeffries to become the first Negro heavyweight champion.
Ed’s fascination with hoboing had never abated since he mingled with them on Madison, Chicago’s Main Stem, on
which his father’s factory was located. London’s 1907 memoir of his cross country trip with Kelley’s Army, a part of Coxey’s Army in 1894 must have excited Ed enormously. But, Ed was tied to Emma and unable to roam.
In many ways London’s and Ed’s views were in synch as part of the same age cohort. A Negro’s winning of the boxing championship was really too much for either man to bear. London himself was an amateur boxer. The failure of a White man to appear to wrest the championship from the Negro Johnson drove him to distraction as it did Ed. Although living on either side of the country both expressed their anguish at the same time.
London wrote a preliminary study titled The Abysmal Brute following it with a full scale concerning the championship, The Valley Of The Moon in 1913. Ed set down and wrote The Mucker about his own hobo boxer, Billy Byrne also in 1913. One can only wonder how many other stories were written about an imaginary White boxer recapturing the crown.
The second novel of the Mucker Trilogy all but named London as its inspiration. The Return is a very good novel that celebrated the golden age of hoboing.
The novel tied in a number of Ed’s literary hobo sources. In addition to London the poet H.H. Knibbs provided a sort of framing device as Ed wove verses of his great poem Out There Somewhere through the story, essentially basing the novel on the poem. He also included snatches of verse from the Kiplingesque Robert W. Service of The Cremation Of Sam McGee fame.
The Return then might be said to be a celebration of the road based on London’s The Road and poems by Knibbs and Service. Byrne was also probably an attempt to create another series based on The Road to supplement Tarzan but it didn’t take.
Zane Grey (1972-1939)
Grey might be one of the weaker influences before 1910 but Ed was destined to be thought a rival by his publishers. Grey had the magic touch in being able to pitch his is stories toward women thus garnering the big money of the slick magazines. Grey thus earned enough to buy himself a yacht making him the envy of Ed.
Grey began in 1903 with his story of Betty Zane. This was followed three years later by The Spirit Of The Border, then in 1908’s Last Of The Plainsmen. Nineteen nine brought The Last Trail and The Shortstop. The earlier titles were on small imprints while The Shortstop was publishing by McClurg’s, the future publisher of Burroughs. From McClurg’s Grey went to Harper And Bros. who remained his publisher from then on. One wonders if McClurg’s sold his contract to Harper’s or whether they signed him to a one book deal. They certainly tied Ed up contractually so he couldn’t get away.
Grey’s first book for Harper’s in 1910 is the only story to indicate Ed’s readership, The Heritage Of The Desert concerning the Mormons. That influence showed up in 1913’sThe Cave Girl.
I could never get into Grey as a kid although I was given a copy of The Shortstop that I didn’t read then and never have. Still have it though. Grey broke through in 1912 with Riders Of The Purple Sage. The Rainbow Trail and The Mysterious Rider are found in Ed’s library.
I’ve only read Ed’s two Western novels once so I would have to read them again to see how influenced they were by Grey.
Grey’s stuff is alright I guess but the guy’s a real dud writer as far as I’m concerned.
In addition to these major influences Ed also stuffed his memory with reams of poems and magazine articles. The newspapers which were much different then also provided much grist for his mill.
In the background, of course, was Ed’s interest in mythology. He did read Howard Pyle’s four volume version of the Vulgate-Lancelot that appeared after the turn of the century. The two and a half years he spent at Harvard Latin School undoubtedly gave him a good background while in those formative years conditioning his mind to deal with difficult thought processes. After all the mind has to be trained to manage the mass of memories that make the person.
The question during this period is whether or not he read ancient Greek mythology or learned any Greek. I think not. He may have some familiarity with Homer especially the Odyssey on which many of his stories may be based. He was probably familiar with The Labors Of Hercules but I don’t see any evidence of understanding of The Iliad.
The Iliad is important for psychology as Homer introduces the notion of the infinitely powerful mind of Zeus. Zeus could remember everything while having such a powerful mind that he could order the whole of it in sequence while finding his way through any number of conundrums. The only thing he couldn’t do was set aside what was fated.
What goes into one’s memory or mind is of cardinal importance. Trash goes in, trash comes out. Ed filled his memory banks with useful information and wonderful speculative literature. The question, then, is what does one do with those memories now transformed into knowledge. Remembering is the sine qua non but organization is equally important. The mind must be trained. Remembered and organized, then what? Then comes intelligence and application. A flexible intelligence is probably known as imagination. One can combine, rearrange, and recombine one’s memories into new uses. Make meaningful what was formerly incoherent.
Ed well-satisfied with himself remarked that only one in a hundred thousand had a good imagination in which number he obviously included himself among the elite. I don’t know where he got his stat but I’m sure a mind such as his was rare enough. There really aren’t many who can use their mind as he did. One only has to read the Martian writers who preceded him to see the astonishing distance between their work and his. Wells’ War Of The Worlds for instance is a fairly pedestrian work. A missile shot from a cannon on Mars arrives on Earth and some spindly creatures get out who then mount some tripods that begin walking through London spewing some black gas. Fresh at the time but not wildly imaginative. Ed would challenge Wells when he wrote the first third of The Moon Maid. That book was so imaginative, superior to Wells’ First Men In The Moon, as to be the work of a master taunting an obstreperous pupil.
So, when Ed Began 1912 his memory banks were full of experience and stuffed with literature and scientific knowledge that he was able to use so imaginatively that most people were completely unaware of the amount of learning incorporated into his stories.
Part VI chronicles Ed’s life from the beginning of his success to 1920.
July 23, 2011
Edie Sedgwick: Maid Of Constant Sorrow
We are now at the beginning of June 1966. Life was careening very fast for Edie, Andy and Bob. Oddly enough all three were headed for life threatening experiences. The first to take a hit was Dylan. He had his famous spill from his motorcycle in July of that summer. His back wheel locked up sending him flying over the handlebars. It has never been made clear how badly he was hurt or if he was even hurt at all but he was observed in a neck brace so a report that he had a cracked vertebra in his neck may be accurate. He may have come within an ace then of being paralyzed from the neck down or killed.
It seems to me unlikely that the rear wheel accidentally locked up. As Dylan was one whose conduct from, say, ‘63 to ‘66 should have made him a lot of enemies it seems likely that someone was seeking revenge. There are strong indications if not evidence that Andy Warhol was the most likely candidate.
Andy was not one to wear his heart on his sleeve but my thinking after reading extensively and thinking deeply is that in his own way Andy was deeply in love with Edie. Given his homosexuality there was apparently no way for him to express his feelings to her. Edie on her part remarked to Dylan that she had really tried to get close to Andy. While Andy strove to appear indifferent he expressed his resentment at David Weisman and his movie Ciao Manhattan that exploited Edie’s fame while destroying whatever was left of her reputation.
At the same time too he resented Dylan for purloining Edie and then discarding her. Andy was controlled by the notion that there was no stopping a person from following their bent or as he put it: How do you stop someone from doing what they want to do. Indeed, all one can do is step out of the way and let them do it. Thus, while the attitude is callous he was heard to remark that if Edie was going to commit suicide he hoped that she let him film it. The logic is not unreasonable but the attitude comes across cold.
As Edie seemed intent on going with Dylan Andy felt that there was no way to stop her. It never occurred to him that he himself was exploiting her by using her in his movies. As he saw it he was creating avenues to success for his people and it was up to them to create their own opportunities from that fame. Not too much different than he was doing for himself. It apparently never occurred to him that none of his people had the talent to do anything on their own although some did try.
He does not seem to have been aware that what was fame for him was mere notoriety for them. He had merely created a clubhouse for drugged out buffoons. Thus when things began to fall apart in mid-’66 when the mise en scene began to be broken up by Andy’s trip to Hollywood his entourage was merely dispersed with no direction home.
The case with Ondine was as pathetic as that with Edie. With the accession of Paul Morrissey and Fred Hughes who encouraged Andy to drop the whole A-head and Silver Factory crowd which they correctly saw as a liability the Silver Factory’s days were numbered. This was made easier by the end of ‘67 when Warhol was advised that his lease would not be renewed. Everyone was told there would be no place for them at the new quarters. The Factory building was subsequently torn down in 1969 to make room for the Dag Hammerskjold project.
For Ondine who was completely burned out by the amphetamines this was disastrous. He ended up at the post office for a while then tried to capitalize on his notoriety by stealing a film in which he starred from Andy trying to make money by exhibiting it while lecturing on his Factory days. He was apparently pathetic while Andy turned his back on him without a thought.
The same was true of Gerard Malanga who was dumped in 1967. Andy’s treatment of this most competent and valuable assistant is a real blot on his record. Malanga was a man of some talent and ability. I don’t think much of poetry but Malanga has a position in the NYC poetry scene. He introduced Andy into a milieu beneficial to him that he would not have known otherwise.
At a time when Andy was turning his art in the direction of multiple copies, essentially posters, Malanga who was knowledgeable in silk screening taught Andy the process. I am of the opinion that Gerard was essentially a collaborator in Warhol’s art. He assisted in the screening contributing skill and know how while undoubtedly making good suggestions. Of course he followed Andy’s lead. All this time he was paid only the minimum wage so, in a sense, he sacrificed a half dozen of his most valuable years for little recompense and as it turned out nothing in the way of thanks. In 1967 he went to Italy in an attempt to further his fortunes. While there he ran out of money having no way to pay his fare home. Andy refused his pleas for help, so Gerard who was completely familiar with Andy’s process of selecting photographs, such as the Presleys, selected a photo of Che Guevara and screened a few copies representing them as genuine Warhols. From my point of view they were authentic Warhols produced without the Master’s hand but still, perhaps, genuine.
When art authorities checked with Warhol, Andy dropped the ball. He should have confirmed them as no one could tell the difference and rescued Gerard. Instead he made Gerard guilty of art fraud which gave Gerard some very trying moments with the Italian authorities. Gerard made it back to New York but now having served as Warhol’s apprentice during his twenties, at thirty he had no marketable skills while being essentially a convicted criminal. Having no other recourse and some rights in my estimation, he expropriated, as the Leftist criminals used to say, some of Andy’s multiples and sold them. In a way in Andy’s mind this acknowledged his primacy and he didn’t press charges but he did disavow authentic prints as genuine.
We now move to ‘68, Andy under the influence of Morrissey and Hughes while forced to change quarters as his former space was condemned, disavowed the whole former Factory crowd telling them to get lost, that they were no longer welcome at the new Factory.
You can’t do this without making a large number of enemies. Andy just before his shooting was not so popular a fellow. And we are not quite there yet.
Edie going into the last half of ‘66 and into ‘67 was in dire straits. She was now completely unable to function without amphetamines. Cut off from all sources of income she was forced into thievery to support her habit. She was caught and did time. She was to spend more time at public mental hospitals that were quite unlike the posh Silver Hill of Connecticut. One can only guess the effect this disastrous series of events, a series with no seeming end, had on her psychology. Or perhaps we can get a glimmer from the biker group she hung out when she returned to Santa Barbara after the stunning humiliation of Ciao Manhattan. There she became a biker chick offering herself to all comers for a dose of drugs. Certainly her self-respect had been obliterated. Certainly she no longer thought she had any value as a human being. The mind can only be battered so much before it gives way. The men in her life had treated her shamefully, her father, Fuzzy, Warhol and Dylan as well as her evil mentor, Chuck Wein.
If, as claimed in the movie Factory Girl, her father had sexual relations with her as a young girl then his obligations extended much further than a paltry allowance that he cut off . Then he is morally liable for her degradation. If as Warhol thought there was no way to stop someone from doing what they want to do, then he was under no obligation to provide the ways and means. In all probability in the environment of NYC of the early and mid-sixties Edie would have drifted into amphetamines anyway. Indeed, as Andy said, Edie was a regular patron of the feel good doctor, Roberts.
Roberts was a licensed physician as was that other chief Dr. Feelgood, Max Jacobson. Doesn’t society have to obligation to protect its citizens from charlatans and quacks? Didn’t they throw some poor innocent Jim Bakker in jail because they disliked his religion? Didn’t society pursue hapless marijuana smokers and criminalize them by the thousands? Can the doctors actually claim they didn’t know the deleterious effects of amphetamines when they had the example of the most notorious amphetamine user ever, Adolf Hitler, before them?
Even if they tried they were still were medical malpractitioners and criminally liable. Read this quote from Edie by Jean Stein for an account of these doctors’ methods and practices. This is absolutely terrifying. There is a problem with Stein and Plimpton however. Apparently there was no Dr. Charles Roberts; Roberts is a name substituted by Stein to ‘protect’ the real doctor, who in any event would likely have been discredited c. 1968 when the Dr. Feelgoods were finally discountenanced. Also there may be confusion with the Dr. Robert, without an ‘s’ of the Beatles’ song. He was apparently Dr. Robert Feynman, a sixty year old man who was discredited in 1968. In any event since Stein and Plimpton didn’t announce the name change their whole history of Edie is compromised more than somewhat. Who knows what edits the two authors made. To quote the account, p.261, Edie:
Joel Schmacher reporting:
I’ll give a description of what it was like to go to Dr. Roberts. The time is two-thirty in the afternoon. I’m going back for my second shot of the day. I open the door. There are twenty-five people in the waiting room; businessmen, beautiful teenagers on the floor with long hair playing guitars, pregnant women with babies in their arms, designers, actors, models, record people, freaks, non-freaks…waiting. Everyone is waiting for a shot, so the tension in the office is beyond belief.
Lucky you, being a special Dr. Roberts person who can whip right in without waiting. Naturally there’s a terrible resentful, tense moment as you rush by because you’re going to get your shot.
You attack one of the nurses. By that I mean you grab her and say, “Listen, Susan! Give me a shot!” You’re in the corridor with your pants half off, ready to get the shot in your rear. Meanwhile Dr. Roberts comes floating by. Dr. Roberts has had a few shots already, right? So in the middle of this corridor he decides to tell you his complete plan to rejuvenate the entire earth. It’s a thirteen part plan, but he has lots of time to tell it to you, and as the shots start to work-Susan having given it to you- you have lots of time to listen.
In Dr. Roberts’s room would be Edie…so thin that she cannot be given her shots standing up; she has to lie down on her stomach. It was a big shot- all those vitamins, niacin, methedrine. God knows what else- for a little girl she has to take it lying down.
Meanwhile everyone who’s back in the corridor for the second or third time that day complains that the shots they received that morning haven’t worked. Out in the waiting room you can hear the people complaining that they haven’t even received their first shot yet.
And Dr. Roberts is still going on. In the middle of his thirteen-part plan he decides to tell you about a movie he saw on television…in detail. You however, are telling him your ideas for whatever you are going to do. But then Dr. Roberts begins to describe his idea for a plastic Kabuki house. Someone else is showing his sketches for redesigning the Boeing 707 with a psychedelic interior. Big doings at Dr. Roberts all the time.
Now you decide to go back out through the waiting room, right? Now you have all the time in the world. Life is a breeze. You’ve used the sun lamp, I mean, you were in a great rush when you came in; now, finally, you decide you’ll leave.
But there in the room are all these people who are not Dr. Roberts special people and who still haven’t been served. They’re there to spend as much money as you have, but they’re not part of the “in” crowd. So they’re drifting off into craziness because they haven’t gotten their shots. A couple of people are wandering around…their poor systems are so riddled with the methedrine they got half an hour ago they feel is not working that they’ve come back for what Dr. Roberts call “the booster.” The basic Dr. Roberts shot goes for from ten dollars to fifteen dollars. As your resistance to the drug gets to the point of diminishing returns, you move on up. There is a big shot for twenty-five dollars, and if it doesn’t work you go right back and get the “the booster’ for five dollars. That’s what some of these poor people are doing- standing out there waiting for the booster. But you …you are flying high, having just had your twenty-five dollar special, and you walk out ino the outer office and say: “Hi, Oh, hi! What a beautiful sweater! Gee you look wonderful! How are you? Oh, hi! Isn’t it wonderful to see you! What’s happening?”
Before leaving, I’d often go and find Edie in Dr. Roberts’ sauna. If we’d been up all night on drugs, the sauna and steam-bath were wonderful things. We’d go and walk for blocks and blocks…just be together, because we didn’t know what we were saying half the time.
The speed thing was so wonderful because everyone was walking around scared to death…scared because they couldn’t sustain the pace. And so these shots from Dr. Roberts and all those other speed doctors gave you a false sense of being together. You cold face everybody when you went out at night. You could dance all night. It was like “the answer.” Nobody knew much about speed in those days.
Once Edie’s mother came to Dr. Roberts! I remember she was on crutches. She looked like Betty Crocker-gray hair with a little hairnet, a blue print dress, and little glasses. She looked like a librarian from the Mid-west standing next to Edie with her cut-off blond hair with the dark roots, thigh-high boots, and mini-skirt, and a kind of chubby fur jacket that looked like it was made out of old cocker spaniels. There they were- the two of them. Mrs. Sedgwick had come to see if Dr. Roberts was taking good care of her little girl…and I guess the parents paid for her treatment. It cost a lot for those shots.
I’m not sure I trust Joel’s memories but that is sure good speed freak talk. Love it. And then there’s this from Cherry Vanilla, p. 265:
I became like an acid queen. I loved it. My looks got crazier and crazier. I started getting into things like pink wigs, teasing them up to make them real big and like bubbles. I’d wear goggle glasses and real crazy make-up: spidery lashes and white lips, and micro-minis. I saw a micro-mini on Edie and immediately started cutting everything off. Kenneth Jay Lane earrings. Big Robert Indiana LOVE earrings, giant love paintings on my ears. Little bikini undies, a band around the top; and we made these silver dresses that were just silver strings hanging on us. I was surrounded by a lot of gay boys in designing and decorating who would always give me a hand in pulling some look together. I would go out half-naked with see through things. You took a scarf and wrapped it around you and thought you were dressed.
I gave Dr. Roberts a shot once. In the ass, in his office about five o’ clock in the morning. I had been playing records at Aux Puce- I was the disc jockey there- and he had come around to visit and said, “If you come back to my office with me, I’ll give you a shot.” It was a freebie, which was nice because those shots were not cheap.
I really got into having a needle in my ass. Just the feeling of it. You get the shot, then this taste in your mouth, and you get a rush and you knew you were getting high. It was all very sexual in a way, and very “in” and social and stylish to do it. So I went back to his office with him and I gave him one and he gave me one.
I don’t know what he shot me up with, but it was something I had certainly never had before. I was really very numbed. Maybe it was cocaine. Sometimes he would shoot you with LSD. You never knew what he was going to shoot you with. So we got involved in a rather heavy sex encounter.
All of a sudden there was blood everywhere. I was bleeding like crazy. He laughed and said, “Oh, I think you should go and see a doctor.” Very bizarre. I started freaking out. I thought, “Oh, my God, this man has done something to me.. He’s killed me. I’m going to die here in his office, all shot up with drugs, and it’s going to be a disgrace and terrible.” I told him I had to get out. He said, “No, no, you can’t leave. I’ll fix you. I’ll give you a shot.” I said, “No, no, no more shots!” I got dressed. I never thought he was going to let me out. Perhaps he was scared I would go to the police.
When I did get out, I ran around the corner to Aux Puces. Some of the staff used to hang out there very late at night taking LSD. Sure enough, they were there. We called doctors. We couldn’t get anybody. Then the bleeding began to subside suddenly- about seven in the morning. I never actually knew what happened. I had been cut inside- scratched with something, fingernails or jewelry…probably by accident. I think we both just got carried away.
Exciting times. And finally we have this from Edie. This is a transcript from Ciao Manhattan.
It’s hard to choose between the climactic ecstasies of speed and cocaine. They’re similar. Oh, they are so fabulous. That fabulous sexual exhilaration. Which is better, coke or speed?” It’s hard to choose. The purest speed, the purest coke, and sex is a deadlock.
Speeding and booze. That gets funny. You get chattering at about fifty miles an hour over the downdraft, and booze kind of cools it. It can get very funny. Utterly ridiculous. It’s a good combination for a party. Not for an orgy, though.
Speedball! Speed and heroin. That was the first time I had a shot in each arm. Closed my eyes. Opened my arms. Closed my fists, and jab, jab. A shot of cocaine and speed, and a shot of heroin. Stripped off all my clothes, leapt downstairs, and ran out on Park Avenue and two blocks down it before my friends caught me. Naked. Naked as a lima bean. A speedball is from another world. It’s a little bit dangerous. Pure coke, pure speed, and pure sex. Wow! The ultimate in climax. Once I went over to Dr. Roberts for a shot of cocaine. It was very strange because he wouldn’t tell me what it was, and I was playing it cool. It was my first intravenous shot, and I said, “Well, I don’t feel it.” And he gave me another one, and all of a sudden I went blind. I just flipped out of my skull! I ended up wildly balling him and flipping him out of his skull. He was probably shot up…he was always shooting up around the corner anyway.
It would appear that Edie was very familiar with drugs and very welcoming to them. The quote doesn’t tell us whether Edie was first introduced to amphetamines at the Factory and then found Dr. Roberts or vice-versa but we do have an environment at the factory in which Brigit Berlin walked around injecting people with or without their consent. The question then is how innocent is Andy really. What sort of milieu had he created for his amusement.
The Factory was a clubhouse for what were essentially lowlife homosexual drug addicts. This must have been the overriding first impression. As such the women had to be accessories to attract men and outsiders. They were there essentially to be abused. They put the Factory in bad odor. As Andy says the police were through the Factory so often it might as well have been the precinct house. Warhol himself was generally known as ‘that creep’ while the more respectable people thought the place poison.
Andy’s genius however did turn it into an ‘in’ place by 1966 where certain celebrities with cachet found the place exciting and for a short period gave it a certain status.
As I have pointed out Warhol was a leader in both the Homosexual Revolution and the Underman Revolution. By late 1966, early 1967 we are not too far from the Stonewall Riot of ‘69 that ended restriction and harassment of homosexuals in NYC and the rest of the country. It was the end of rock n’ roll. After Stonewall the period began that homosexuals called the Candy Store Era. It was a time when anything went that ended about ten years later when AIDS made its appearance on the scene. Of course if any of us had heard of the Stonewall Riot we would have missed its significance nor did anyone understand the astounding change that was the Candy Store Era or even know they were in it. A sub-text of the Homosexual Revolution is the subversion of heterosexuality which goes without saying. Thus the Factory was a prototype of the nightclub that would realize the ideal of absolutely promiscuous sex- Studio 54. Thus as the homosexually led nightlife of the Candy Store Era developed Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager created the ultimate Factory in Studio 54. That club was everything Andy wanted the Factory to be- a celebrity paradise. The place was filled with celebrities, sexual perversion and drugs. All inhibitions were down. Studio 54 became Andy’s clubhouse where he spent his nights as a voyeur.
Rubell and Schrager were not overly discreet so that the Feds, at least, were onto them from the beginning although NYC authorities must have been paid off as they didn’t harass the club. At Studio 54 the Undermen forged a very destructive attack on elite White America. According to Anthony Haden-Guest in his book, Studio 54, a concerted assault was made to corrupt prep school youth- boys and girls by using drugs, liquor and sex. According to Haden-Guest the conspirators were quite successful in debasing both boys and girls in much the same manner Edie had been debauched under Warhol’s tutelage.
This raises the question again of how innocent Andy really was. His competitor Bob Dylan is supposed to have hated Andy for debauching Edie but that may have been the pot calling the kettle black.
Andy’s record of the treatment of women is not good but in keeping with the homosexual ethos. The gays dislike women as competitors, as they believe, for men’s favors. While not considering themselves psychotic they believe that if there were no women all men would be theirs. The irrationality of the belief shall pass without comment. Hence they imitate women to attract men. An inevitable consequence of their attitude is the need to debase and humiliate women.
While being of this mindset Andy as the little Ruthenian immigrant boy who was himself humiliated and rejected by the upper crust of Pittsburgh found delight in debasing and humiliating upper crust women. This runs through his whole career. Edie came from a very old American family that was very prominent in both Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Boston, from whence they arose and New York City. Her father had moved West from New York only shortly before she was born. Although raised as a half wild girl on a vast ranch near Santa Barbara Edie could claim to be a New York society girl. Indeed, her grandmother still maintained her position on the East Side.
While Andy may indeed have loved Edie it was probably more for her background than for herself. The prize of an Anglo-American princess must have been beyond Andy’s juvenile dreams. Indeed, it was through her that Andy first tasted any social success. If they were inseparable during that glorious summer of ‘65 it was because Andy was basking in Edie’s social glamour. And yet one doesn’t find reverence or respect for Edie as a person. Andy allowed her to pick up the check at expensive restaurants not only for himself but his whole entourage of freeloaders. As these were all Underclass people you may be sure they took full advantage of her largesse. I am perhaps a trifle old fashioned but to me this is unforgivable in Andy.
While Andy may have been hard pressed financially to maintain his large and growing establishment there appears to have been no gratitude for Edie relieving the strain. As his entourage grew Andy began to yearn for a restaurant where he could exchange art for food and drink. This was provided in 1966, after Edie was out of favor, when Mickey Ruskin opened Max’s Kansas City in December of ‘65.
The rest of women at the Factory were treated with disrespect although they submitted to it with stoic resignation. One reads with horror the treatment of Viva in Tucson during the filming of Warhol’s cowboy parody and putdown, once again a homosexual extravaganza.
And then there was the ever present sado-masochism that permeated the Factory. An acceptance and celebration of the perversion. The attitude was expressed successfully in the films of Paul Morrissey begun while Warhol was recuperating from Valerie Solanas’ assault. With Andy unable to interfere Morrissey quickly turned out the movie Flesh with Joe Dallesandro which turned out to be a success in Germany. This gave Andy confidence and Morrissey produced several more movies among them Flesh For Frankenstein. I have no intention of reviewing the movie here but certain barbarities of the French arch-sadist Gilles de Rais were celebrated.
Women of some prominence played roles in the nude while performing sexually deviant acts. This rather negative attitude toward women was reflected all through the history of the various Factorys carried on in the most degrading circumstances.
To add insult to injury when Edie was actually falling into her psychological abyss Andy shot The Andy Warhol Story with Rene Ricard and Edie in which both expressed their hatred and revulsion of Andy. ( http://.warholstars.org/warhol/warhol1/warhol1f/warhol.html )
So by this time she had been debased more than any man or woman should ever be debased. Edie herself lay her destruction at the feet of Andy, the great facilitator, the sado-masochistic doyen of New York. I think Andy, then bears a great deal of responsibility for Edie’s shame.
Now, it will be noted. The Andy Warhol Story was filmed at about the same time as his Bob Dylan Story so Edie and Dylan were connected in Andy’s mind.
As I said Warhol and his troupe left for LA in May of ‘66 after a successful month of the EPI. When he returned to resume this lucrative enterprise he found that his hall, the Dom, had been leased from under him by- Albert Grossman and Bob Dylan. They turned it into a venue inanely named The Balloon Farm. Another act of plagiarism by Dylan. I think this was too much for Warhol. First Edie and then the Dom. This was surely provocation asking for trouble, demanding it.
Now, if you’ve watched the post-1968 Warhol movie Bad how far is it from Bad to conjecture that Andy and his crew were responsible for Dylan’s accident? Bad concerns a woman who runs a clearing house for dirty deeds written by Andy’s amanuensis, Pat Hackett. Andy had to have been angry at Dylan and Grossman and indeed he filmed a put down of the two. Quoting Warholstars.org:
Sterling Morrison of the Velvet Underground:
“Dylan was always around, giving Nico songs. There was one film Andy made with Paul Caruso called The Bob Dylan Story. I don’t think Andy has ever shown it. It was hysterical. They got Marlowe Dupont to play Al Grossman. Paul Caruso not looks like Bob Dylan but as a super caricature he makes even Hendrix look pale by comparison. This was around 1966 when the film was made and his hair was way out to here…On the eve of the filming, Paul had a change of heart and got his hair cut off- close to his head and he must have removed about a foot so everyone was upset about that. Then Dylan had his accident and that is why the film was never shown.”
So, in July smarting from the indignities imposed on him by Dylan and Grossman Andy was making a ‘hilarious’ film about the two. Perhaps Andy thought that was not enough so somewhere during the filming, one conjectures, he conceived this motorcycle rigging. Thus, in late July Dylan went over the handlebars when his rear wheel locked. Anything could have happened to him from paralysis to death. As it was he fractured his neck coming within an ace of serious injury.
Andy hadn’t finished with The Bob Dylan Story. He wanted to work in the accident. Probably aggrieved at Dylan’s survival Andy recommenced the film in October of ‘66 probably with the Andy Warhol Story starring Edie in mind.
Warholstars once again:
Susan Pile speaking:
Andy filmed the Bob Dylan Story starring Paul Caruso…Ingrid Superstar and I were folkrock groupies who rushed in (to Paul Caruso) attacked his body and taped him to the motorcycle…Paul Morrissey suggested all of Paul Caruso’s lines be from songs, but Andy, knowing it was a good idea (this is a direct relay from Paul Morrissey) vetoed it…My one line (what I wasn’t supposed to say; I was to remain mutely sinister) was “You’re just like P.F. Sloan and all the rest- you want to become famous so you can get rid of those pimples.” (accompanied by quick slaps to P. Caruso’s acne remnanted cheeks.)…
So, what do we have here? Bear in the mind the subject matter of Bad which is a very violent movie of revenges made in the most casual manner. Morrison’s account is given before the accident while Pile’s is after.
Pile and Ingrid attack Caruso/Dylan and mockingly tape him to the motorcycle so that he can’t fall off. (ha, ha, ha). Pile then delivers a devastating putdown comparing Dylan unfavorably to P.F. Sloan. Sloan was the guy who wrote the puerile Eve Of Destruction that was very near to being a humorous parody of Dylan’s songs such as Blowin’ In The Wind. If Dylan had seen the film he would likely have been enraged. Pile than calls Dylan’s song ‘pimple music’ another put down as rock n’ roll was derisively called pimple music because teenagers had pimples. And then Caruso/Dylan is physically abused by having his face slapped while being unable to retort because he is taped to the bike.
Psychologically then what Andy is saying is that he felt the filching of Edie as a slap in the face while when he was in LA he was unable to foil the filching of the Dom.
This combination of Dylan and the motorcycle in a film called The Bob Dylan Story points clearly to Andy as the perp.
And so the final chapter will concern the filming of Ciao Manhattan and the demise of Edie. I have some other work to be done so there will be a delay before Chapter 16 appears.
July 17, 2011
Andy Warhol’s New York City
Four Walks Uptown To Downtown
Review by R.E. Prindle
Kiedrowsky, Thomas, Andy Warhol’s New York City, Four Walks Uptown To Downtown, Little Bookroom, 2011
A new little informative paperback guide book by Thomas Kiedrowsky has been issued by The Little Bookroom. Kiedrowski, an ardent Andyphile conducts tours to Warhol sites in NYC. He has spent a decade or so researching the artist.
Perhaps because he conducts tours he has failed to include maps for the four tours in order to protect his turf. They would have been helpful. He organized his volume into four areas: Upper East Side to 70th St., Upper East Side 57th to 68th sts., Midtown and Downtown. This admirable little volume successfully embeds Warhol in his milieu clarifying a number of issues.
Mr. Kiedrowski also turns up some facts I haven’t read before thus supplementing Steven Watson’s Factory Made which provides needed info about Andy’s entourage.
Mr. Kiedrowski provides the abolutely entrancing story of Andy as a prospective restauranteur quoted here:
Site 18, 1977, 833 Madison Ave. (74th St.)
The first link in a proposed international chain of Andy Warhol fast food restaurants would have opened at this location in 1977. The concept of the Andy-Mat, a clever take on the Automat, had Warhol and British entrepreneur Godfrey Leeds in talks since 1974. Both men had enjoyed dining at Schrafft’s years earlier and had yearned for that type of comfort food they had as kids. Leeds said that the Andy-Mat would be a “neighborhood restaurant with a varied menu, simple good food, reasonable prices, a place where you don’t have to be embarrassed to take someone- one was never embarrassed to take someone to Schrafft’s.”
During the Silver Factory days, Warhol and his entourage could often be found at Schrafft’s located at 556 Fifth Avenue and 47th Street, and Warhol was asked to do a commercial for Schrafft’s in 1968. The 60 second spot shows an image of a red dot, then slowly zooms out to reveal a maraschino cherry and then a melting chocolate ice cream sundae. At the end a credit line rolls diagonally, “The chocolate sundae was photographed for Schrafft’s by Andy Warhol.
[As described an artistic success but a complete waste of advertising money, reviewer.]
Warhol asked close friend and society hostess Maxine (sic) de la Falaise McKendry (she appeared in Warhol’s Dracula) to prepare a menu for the 115 seat Andy-Mat, which she did with guidance from Tony Berns of the Restaurant 21. She often cooked for Warhol’s Factory regulars and at one time was a food columnist for Vogue. The seventy-five items were to be priced between $1 and $5.75 and included shepherd’s pie, fishcakes, Irish lamb stew, fried onion tart, mashed potatoes, key lime pie, champagne fruit drinks, milk over ice, and a choice among four omelets. (Warhol’s diet regimen at the time.) Said Andy: “I really like to eat alone. I want to start a chain of restaurants for other people who are like me called Andy-Mats- ‘The Restaurant for the Lonely Person.’ You get your food and then you take your tray into a booth and watch television.”
Apparently 40K had already been spent on development with another million in the pipeline when the plan was aborted. It’s not difficult for me to see why but then…who knows, it might have worked.
Mr. Kiedrowski fills his little guide book with such interesting tidbits many of which I had never read before.
I heartily recommend the book for a very entertaining read at a price under 12.00. Some nice pictures I haven’t seen before too.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaf6zF-FJBk Watch Andy eat a hamburger.
June 23, 2011
Edie Sedgwick, Maid Of Constant Sorrow
In the interest of keeping things in perspective and since a huge part of the readership obviously didn’t experience the sixties, I’d like, if I may, to give a little additional background to understand what happened here. I hope I don’t offend by mixing in some of my own background, not merely from vanity, but so the reader will have some understanding of both my limitations and strengths in interpreting Edie, Andy and Dylan.
Nearly everything you read about the sixties today is written by former activists, usually Jewish, or dopers of one stripe or another. Shall we say they skew the period in the direction of their beliefs. Theirs was only the point of view of small minority. In fact, they seized the leadership playing a much different game than the majority who were busy getting on with their lives.
The period now coming under discussion is 1966-’68 which changed the direction of the sixties. In mid-’66 Dylan had his motorcycle accident and was effectively removed from the scene for the duration. When he resurfaced in the seventies it was in a much diminished role. The first Bob Dylan was dead and the second was busy being born. No matter what he’s done since then, compared to his mid-sixties trilogy it has had minimal impact.
Warhol reached his apogee in this period while he was shot by Vallerie Solanas in 1968 which changed the direction of his career when like Dylan he became a corporation while business affairs were managed by other men, most notably Fred Hughes.
Edie was heartbreakingly dragged through the mud in these years until her evil genius, Chuck Wein, connected her to the movie Ciao, Manhattan which was the most degrading, humiliating experience possible. It eventually killed her. All three of our participants then suffered life threatening experiences within two or three years of each other. Edie was the only one not to survive.
The sixties were tumultuous times; it was like walking around with a perpetual thunderstorm over your head. I was on the West Coast in the San Francisco Bay area till 1966 and at grad school at UOregon in Eugene from ‘66 to ‘68 and then in the record business for the rest of the period. I got my degree from California State College At Hayward now Cal State U. East Bay in 1966. It’s a long and irrelevant story but I entered Cal State in ‘64 taking enormous credit loads of up to 24 hours a quarter. You can do things like that when you’re young and not too bright. Hayward is just South of UC Berkeley. Cal State was a new school with a very small library so we were allowed library privileges at Berkeley of which I availed myself so I was around the Free Speech Movement scene but not of it. I was a first hand observer.
Once in Eugene in the fall of ‘66 things were getting in full swing in our own cultural revolution that would be joined to that of Chairman Mao in ‘68. I was entranced by the poster art work coming out of San Francisco eventually dropping out of grad school to sell posters and then phonograph records at which I was successful. Thus I was involved in the scene on an intimate basis from 1967 on.
While other generations were characterized by their literature our, the, generation was depicted by songwriters on phonograph records, thus records were central to the scene, don’t look for it in novels. The first efflorescence occurred in the US during the mid-fifties while going into an incubation period in England from then until the early sixties when in 1964 the Beatles, Stones and Animals among others provided the transition from fifties Rock n’ Roll to sixties rock. I don’t know how true it is but for me the revolution really got underway with the breathtaking first Doors LP in ‘66. The blues bands and the next wave of British bands provided the impetus to move things into the seventies where the creative impulse ended by 1974 although inertia carried things through until sometime in ‘78. Disco doesn’t count that was the beginning of an entire new ethic based in the homosexual revolution.
When Andy, then in his quest for money, moved into records by managing the Velvet Underground, probably in imitation of Dylan, he did so just before the music scene broke. New York bands were never that popular on the West Coast and the Velvets were no exception. Andy, however, was an innovative guy. Light shows were already news on the West Coast but Andy came up with a new multi-media formulation that blew our minds, as we used to say, while having a very lasting cultural effect.
In the Spring of ‘66 he rented a hall called the Dom in NYC. Using the Velvets as his house band and his light show he managed to overwhelm the hipsters of the Big Apple. He would have had a major success had he continued on but he was fixated on movies, wanting to do his Western put down, so the Factory crowd decamped for Tucson, Arizona, thinking to pick up the strand on their return.
While away Albert Grossman and Dylan leased the Dom from under Warhol and opened it as The Balloon Farm. Between taking Edie from Andy and then the ballroom I’m convinced that Dylan sealed his doom. I hope there aren’t too many people who think the rear wheel of his motorcycle locking was an accident. Once again, conclusive proof is lacking, but there are indications that Andy and the Factory crowd did it.
By late ‘66 Andy’s brief period in the spotlight was over. His creative burst had run its course and while afloat financially, there was not any great income in sight. Paul Morrissey had come on board as a filmmaker and his vision was more commercial than Andy’s but Andy was in charge so Paul had to bide his time waiting for his opportunity. At the same time a man from Houston by the name of Fred Hughes came on board who knew how to monetize Andy’s reputation and art skills and then, Bang! Andy was writhing on the floor in pain. One of those little zig-zags fate has in store for us sometimes. The sixties were over for Andy but the change in direction made his future in the seventies and eighties.
Now, let’s go back to ‘64 and take a look at one of the defining members of the decade I’ve slighted till now, Prof. Tim Leary. I’m convinced Leary was not in his right mind or, if he was, he shouldn’t have been there. By the time Timmy latched onto psychedelics they were pretty well established. LSD, discovered in 1938 by Hoffman and brought to prominence in 1943 was almost passe when Leary was turned on. Aldous Huxley had published his Doors Of Perception in 1954 and Heaven And Hell in ‘56, that celebrated the joys of mescaline.
When I was in high school maybe ‘54 the kids of Scarsdale were notorious for using marijuana, written up in Time if I remember right. Those were rich kids and by ‘56 our elite were very covertly using it. In the Navy aboard ship from ‘57 to ‘59 Bennies and other pills were prominent while the occasional heroin addict passed through. The Marines of Camp Pendleton were heavy into everything, barbiturates, mescaline, peyote buttons, LSD, you name it. For cryin’ out loud, Hollywood had been the drug capitol of the US for decades. One only has to read Raymond Chandler. There wasn’t anything they didn’t know. Cary Grant had been an old LSD hand for years before Leary, the apostle of acid, made it to town bearing the good news in 1960. He was received with some amusement.
A very amusing story Leary tells in his autobiography is that Marilyn Monroe fell to his lot at a party. They were actually in bed together. As you may know Marilyn knew more about drugs than any pharmacologist. Probably disgusted by Timmy’s ranting about LSD she handed him a pill and said take this. Timmy did then decided to get up to go the dresser for something. ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ Marilyn asked. Timmy was. He took about two steps and seemed to sink through the carpet until only his nose was above the rug. He lay there inert all night while Marilyn laughed softly from the bed.
From his position on the faculty of Harvard Timmy was a very visible advocate of LSD hogging headlines in Time and other mags that were the envy of Andy. Tim was to amuse us with his antics all through the sixties. Now, all this stuff was happening very fast. It was impossible almost to keep up with the headlines let alone any indepth reporting or analysis. Besides there was no internet so all news was comparatively old news, perhaps weeks after the occurrence if you heard of it at all. Also it was impossible to be where it was happening unless it was happening where you were and then you didn’t know it was happening because you were in the middle of it. I happened on the Free Speech Movement because I was in school but I missed the SF scene going on at the same time because I couldn’t be in two places at once and keep up grades in the third place at the same time. New York was out of the question, London was across a wide, deep ocean, and LA hadn’t caught on yet. Thus, I was invited to the Kesey/Dead Trips Festival but passed on it. For various reasons I only caught the end of the Fillmore/Family Dog scene and then only fleetingly.
Even Morrison and the Doors who can claim to have been in the center could only have caught their small share however central it was. Nobody got it all. How could you be in Swinging London, New York, San Francisco and LA at the same time? Couldn’t be done although there were many who tried spending their time criss crossing the country from West to East and reversed and for all I know popping into London too trying to be jetsetters but they were merely vagrants peripheral to everything.
So marijuana, acid, speed and barbiturates or downers as they were called then made up the pharmacopeia. Amphetamines were obviously big in NYC from the early sixties and must have been in the West too but my first acquaintance with that was the Speed Kills buttons. Heroin was a danger drug for the addict type only. Cocaine came along in the seventies. At the time little or none of the marijuana crop was home grown. It came from Mexico and there are smuggling and pot running stories galore. At first the dealers were amateurs, boys and girls next door, but that slowly turned into the criminal professionals.
Andy’s crew were all what he called A-heads, but you may be sure they smoked and did booze too. It must have been uproarious in the early years but by ‘66 psychotic and physical reactions were beginning to slow the troops down. It was hard to keep up that pace.
Now, Edie when she came to New York in late ‘64 was a naif. Not many of us knew much better but she was a true naif, fresh from the farm, so to speak, while having had her brains addled by electro-shock treatment at Silver Hill Sanitarium. At Radcliffe-Harvard she had hung out with homosexual men gaining the reputation as a fag hag. Alright, I suppose, as she didn’t know how to handle herself around boys anyway. She came down to New York with the group of homosexuals that Andy called the Harvard kids with some distaste. She associated herself with her evil genius, Chuck Wein, who, as a homosexual, sought her destruction.
The Factory of Andy Warhol she entered was created in Andy’s image. In reading of it, I was never there, it comes across as a hell hole from which any reasonable person would have fled at first glance. Many did. Andy hurt a lot of people being of a sado-masochistic frame of mind. Outside his circle he was universally referred to as ‘that Warhol creep’ and yet events conspired with him to realize his perverted dreams and triumph over all.
Andy considered himself ugly and descriptions of him by others are unpleasant but whatever everyone and himself saw doesn’t show up so clearly in his pictures. He may not be the handsomest fellow around but he has a cherubic, pleasant look that I don’t find unattractive. But, because of this feeling he surrounded himself with beautiful people. Fred Hughes his business manager was quite handsome. Morrissey was OK, Malanga had his moments, Edie was considered a knockout, although I can’t see it, and the other women he associated with were quite attractive.
And then, as a little immigrant boy who wasn’t acceptable to mainliners of Pittsburgh Andy was especially pleased to have society women attached to him and especially the titled or rich English girls. Edie fit in as a beauty, as Andy called her then, and as an old line New York society girl. The combination was almost too tantalizing for this lifetime homosexual. Andy said Edie was as close to love with a woman that he ever got. He even took her home to meet mom. Edie apparently missed the import of that.
Andy has been blamed for making an A-head out of Edie. Once she tasted amphetamines it is clear that there was no stopping her. In truth the Factory was no place for her and Chuck Wein who introduced her into it must have known that. Still, as Dylan sang, there’s something going on here and you don’t know what it is, do you? Most people didn’t including Dylan, and I certainly was out of my depth. It was disconcerting metaphorically to step on what was once solid ground to feel it giving beneath your feet.
Actually there were several revolutions going on which would result in massive social changes. Those of us firmly grounded could only see the so-called change as a rising tide of insanity. Aided by drugs these revolutionists became totally dissociated from reality. Drugs alone cause a withdrawal into an inner fantasy world of wishful thinking. The external world appears as something that wishful thinking can manipulate to one’s desires in some magical way. When the two got really out of sync as they inevitably must you ended up in Bellevue psychiatric wards as happened to a heavy user like Edie many times while most of Warhol’s crew checked in at least once.
Andy, who used these people for entertainment and self-aggrandizement, provided a hospitable retreat or club house where the cognitive dissociation wasn’t quite so apparent or, at least, normal. The scene must have been incoherent. A reading of Warhol’s so-called novel, ‘a’, shows that by 1966 his crew was indeed incoherent. Ostensibly a tape recording of Ondine’s conversation over twenty-four hours, whose conversation Andy found engaging, the tapes show Ondine unable to complete a sentence along with Rotten Rita and the rest of the crew including Edie.
Further the whole bunch were absolute thieves. In Edie’s decline through sixty-six they walked into her apartment and chose their favorites from her collection of fur coats along with anything else of value. In her demented state all she could say is that everyone was wearing her coats. One wonders how much internal anguish there was as she knew there was nothing she could do about it.
At the same time Andy was a leader of the Homosexual and Underman revolutions. Perhaps nobody knew what was going on but Warhol, Rotten and others were working for homosexual liberation which they achieved with the Stonewall Riot of 1969.
New York was unique in that for decades homosexuals from the South and Midwest flowed into New York each year in a great internal migration. The chief destination was the Village. Christopher Street was the main fag drag. The Stonewall Tavern was on Christopher. Why the cops would disturb the lads in their own colony is beyond me, but they did and then gave up without a fight.
Perhaps the most astounding revolution of all was that of the Undermen. Untermensch in German. While Warhol’s crew was a prime example of the Other Half rising to control the direction of society, the main impetus seems to have been the West Coast, San Francisco and Haight-Ashbury, specifically the Hippies. It was really there that the poverty look took hold, torn, faded jeans and whatever. LA never really went for it but it spread up the coast to Eugene, Portland and Seattle. The Sorority and Fraternity look went out the window with millionaire’s kids posing as the down and out.
I would imagine a naïve thing like Edie got caught up in the so-called sexual revolution too. We’re not talking Feminist Movement here but the sexual aspect of the Communist Revolution in which women are common property to be had anytime or anyplace by whoever. The Pill that came along in 1960 really facilitated the change in sexual mores. Nothing exemplified that more than the mini-skirt. So you’ve got drugs, the Pill, the Mini Skirt and the Ideology. The world was not so slowly turning upside down.
All these revolutions might have gotten not too far but they were all collected and subsumed under the directing force of the Communist Revolution under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the Chinese Party. The money really flowed in after 1968. Driving the whole thing and what made the turmoil possible was the Viet Nam War. It served the Communist cause more than the American as while taking a beating in Viet Nam the Communists subverted the United States. Strangely Viet Nam had no effect on Warhol at all. His disaster paintings ignored Viet Nam while a couple napalm drops would have made a terrific topic.
In the early days of the war it was filmed like a reality TV show with the daily haps relayed on TV to the US. The reality of napalm drops while our soldiers cheered and howled while a couple dozen Vietnamese where incinerated was too much for the entertainment starved public to take. I sure couldn’t handle it. The films were quickly removed. The reality of war is a private thing between the armies, not quite like the Super Bowl.
I don’t recall a single mention of Viet Nam in Andy’s Diaries, Philosophy From A To B or ‘a’. The war appears in none of the biographies or auto-biographies or even novels written by various denizens of the Factory. Rather strange, but then I can recall no references to it in Dylan’s songs either.
The Communist Revolution connection developed when John and Yoko arrived in NYC in 1971. The two of them were clearly involved in revolutionary activities linking various art and entertainment figures with them including, Dylan, Warhol, David Bowie and others. What exactly they were doing isn’t clear to me yet. Yoko was and is on some Feminist rag.
So, in 1966 while an apparent apex for Warhol, his world was actually coming apart while Edie’s was descending like a Stuka dive bomber.
The period from December ‘65 to Easter of ‘66 must have been traumatic for a crazed and confused A-head like Edie. She sacrificed her position with Andy, seduced by the fallacious promises of Dylan and Grossman who certainly had no plans to make a movie, and if they did, to put Edie in it.
Warhol had all the sadistic cruelty characteristic of homosexuals that he turned on to the distraught girl. Edie must have been thoroughly crushed when Dylan rejected her love while passing her on to Neuwirth. Edie was not at her wit’s end with no money, cut off by her parents who objected to this life style, while having no means to make money to support the station in life she had seemingly attained. Both Dylan and Warhol abandoned her after accepting her largesse for several months. Warhol is especially reprehensible. Dylan sure is a close second.
Her heavy dependence on amphetamines was literally eating away her brain, her body and her personality.
I really can’t believe that Edie loved Neuwirth as she claimed. I don’t think either was capable of love. Yet, she abandoned her body to him claiming she could make love for forty-eight hours straight but crashed whenever he left her. That is a sign of despair and fear. I can only imagine the horror she felt when she looked into the future and saw only a blank wall. As Dylan was to sing of her: Time will tell just who has fell and who’s been left behind.
Perhaps the cruelest trick of all was played on Edie by Dylan, Grossman and Neuwirth at the Easter Parade of 1966 when Neuwirth filmed the promised movie.
In a November issue of Life Magazine in 1965 Edie had been photographed standing on top of a toy leather rhinoceros about two feet high and three feet long, popular at the time. Whether the three of them, Grossman, Dylan and Neuwirth, put their heads together to come up with this or Dylan brainstormed it by himself, Neuwirth persuaded Edie to pull the rhino down Fifth Avenue as the parade progressed, filming as they went. Then Bobby tied the rhino to a parking meter and persuaded a passing cop to write Edie a ticket. Thus Grossman and Dylan fulfilled their obligation to put Edie in a movie while mocking her cruelly. Those guys had a reputation for cruel put downs. They live up to it here.
It was just after Easter that Warhol opened the Dom to stage his Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The reports we got of it on the West Coast made it sound absolutely astounding. If any one thing characterized the sixties I would have to say it was the Exploding Plastic Inevitable. It brought everything the era valued together. As usual with Warhol he couldn’t resist turning it into a sado-masochistic experience. The chaos must have been extraordinary. One can imagine the scene with dope peddlers trying to push their drugs on you, the lights flashing, strobing and pulsing, the howling music, the bodies bumping against each other, Malanga doing his whip dance, Edie bopping around the stage with her odd skip and step. They talk about the Velvet Underground being loud but they must mean for the times. Blue Cheer with its wall of Marshalls was just around the corner while the electronics improved almost daily until the sound passed the limits of endurance. Created a whole generation of deaf Beethovens. Musicians literally without ears.
I actually promoted the Underground once in either ‘68 ot ‘69, might have been pre-Blue Cheer. BC’s main claim to fame was that they were the first mega blasters, loudest band alive for their brief moment. Sort of a Great Divide in Rock music.
Things were still building but it wasn’t that the Velvets were that loud; they were just super strange. Reed was the original one-note man, he played it over and over fast. Sterling was there but he must have been background noise because I don’t remember much of an effect there. Whatever Cale was doing passed over my head but it must have been some kind of La Monte Young dynamo hum, all the songs were. I was most fascinated by Mo on drum. Yeah, right, drum, in the singular. She had a six inch deep tom with an under slung mallet. The mallet hammered away at the bottom skin while Mo pounded the upper skin with the sticks. In keeping with the dynamo hum she never varied the beat once but she was right on time just in case time was important. Quite an experience. You shoulda been there, and paid at the door. I wouldn’t have lost as much money.
Andy made a bundle in the month long run and then he made what would have been the mistake of his life in leaving for Arizona, or would have been if he hadn’t been shot. While he was out of it Hughes and Morrissey put together the means to put Andy over the top.
Chaper 15 follows.
Exhuming Bob XXX
A Review: Part II
Masked And Anonymous
When Dylan left home in the summer of ’59 for UMinnesota he would have been at the bottom of his despondency in its raw form. His subconscious would have been in possession of his mind. He manifested this condition at UMinnesota by a burst of degraded behavior, drunkeness and an inability to study. He did know his salvation lay in his music. He then practiced hard and assiduously. He apparently realized that he wasn’t rock n’ roll material while Folk Music was the rage, at the height of its popularity, although the slough of its despond could be seen from the heights. It was petering out even as Dylan rode it to fame and fortune. As he says in the revised Shelton he always knew that Folk Music was a shuck but he could do it and use it as a springboard.
Using his friends and acquaintances in Minneapolis to educate him he learned to sing and play quickly. Still deep in the throes of depression, ruled by his subconscious, he left for New York to try his luck there. It was two months after his arrival in New York before he turned up in Greenwich Village. He has said that during those two months he was hustling in Times Square. No one knows whether to take him seriously but given his state of mind he may have attempted to degrade himself beyond redemption to satisfy his father’s prophesy. He remained a heavy drinker in New York adding drugs to his repertoire. According to Andy Warhol who should have known an A Head when he saw
one Dylan was racing on amphetamines. It wouldn’t have been hard to do as nearly everyone in New York at the time was. The Village was a tough place and getting much tougher as Dylan went along.
He took up his station at a bar called the Kettle Of Fish which was a Mafia owned bar and undoubtedly tough enough. It may have been there that he and Andy Warhol first crossed paths as Andy frequented the place also. While it has not been recognized, they were actually competitors for the role of King of Bohemia. Although Warhol was much older they both began their rise at the same time coming to an apex simultaneously. A war of sorts ensued in which Dylan’s base was Downtown and Warhol’s base Midtown. Later Lennon and Ono would form an Uptown base but by that time Dylan had moved along although he continued to associate with Ono at least through the eighties. They may still meet but I haven’t come across any references.
Despondent people usually see the world as a Zoo, an insane asylum, a desert, a hole or in Dylan’s case as a state of desolation. In 1965 he wrote the song Desolation Row as he fought to free himself from his depression. He has retained this despondent state of mind from then to the present if his movie Masked And Anonymous is any indication. Thus the movie is a visualization of a tour of Desolation Row with ‘all the clowns and jugglers doing their tricks for you.’ The movie is a real side show if seen from that perspective. Indeed Dylan depicts a side show carnival act of The Man Eating Chicken which when you part the curtain shows a man eating chicken. My favorite memory of the midway was the Black Widow Spider Woman. Had a little chat with her too. At any rate Dylan hasn’t really advanced beyond 1959 when he left home.
There is nothing attractive in the movie. The lighting is usually dark and depressing. I don’t remember one scene in which the sun was out. The streets are vile, everything is a shambles or broken as he said in his song, Everything’s Broken. That means that he views himself as a broken man, beyond repair. One can see why Suze Rotolo was fearful. She had every right to be if one judges from the way Dylan treated his madonna, Sara. After psychologically abusing her for a decade she had no choice but to leave when she came down for breakfast one day and found her husband carousing with another woman. Dylan hasn’t been able to change his self-destructive behavior; if he weren’t able to make the money he does he himself would have been a bum on Desolation Row long ago.
Thus we are treated to a longish filmed tour down skid row to look into the blank despairing faces of derelicts as if they were the norm. Normal people do not exist to Dylan’s mind. The streets were dotted with burning oil drums, the streets look pockmarked and unkempt left by a society unable to care and incapable of maintaining its infrastructure. Echoes of Greil Marcus and David Lynch abound.
Dylan injects his religious fundamentalism into the story where the desk of the Editor bears a copy of the statue of the monkey reading Darwin’s Origin Of Species prominently displayed. Again, the building beside which the rundown bar cum TV studio is placed is the Masonic Hall on LA’s preeminent Whilshire Blvd, one of the great streets of the world. The Masons who once shaped the world and were the founders of the United States Of America, competitors with Judaism for rule of the world have fallen on hard times. Members have drifted away and no new ones recruited so the magnificent building stands empty. That old Masonic Lodge is vacant now with its grand ideals inscribed on its outside walls, as are Masonic Lodges across the country. Ours has been taken over by the museum.
Dylan in his Hibbing days was trained for the his Bar Mitzvah by an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi of the Lubavitcher sect brought in by his father who was powerful both among the Jews and Gentiles of Hibbing. Dylan has never lost his Lubavitcher or at least Orthodox sympathies so that the use of the Temple is a mockery of Freemasonry by Judaism in Dylan’s hands. Behold the winner, he says.
At the same time, for the duration of the movie Dylan was able to make a stink pit of the grand Wilshire Miracle Mile making it reflect his vision of reality. He was to project his psycological miasma on it to obliterate the beauty.
As I say, to him, everything is broken down. At one point he borrows his buddy , Bobby Cupid’s car which is a broken down old monster from Detroit’s golden era of the fifties and sixties. He is on the way to visit a Black prostitute. He crashes the car into a telphone pole walking away leaving it there smoking. Once again this is dark, even though night it is a duller dark than need be, a Halloween night before the demons are released from hell to reclaim the night for their annual visit.
The fallen woman, the Negro prostitute, lives in what once was a fine old mansion but now has fallen on hard times itself. What was once a grand approach is now a ruins blending in with the shadows that have no bottom. You can hear the earth groan as Dylan steps on it. The effect is so repulsive and unredeemable that one has no sympathy with the movie or Dylan and Larry Charles.
I could go on describing each degraded, broken scene but the record of that depressing aura would bring me down as well as yourself.
Let us take a look at the way Dylan uses his extras who populate the movie. If you thought the locations were depressing the cast is even more desolated.
The racial composition of the movie is of interest if this is how Dylan sees reality. There are no obvious Jews in the movie. Of course one knows that Dylan is Jewish but he is disguised as a goy cowboy, an incarnation of Rambling Jack Elliott. Perhaps Dylan has patterned this stage of his life after that of Jack Elliott after whom he patterned his early career also, actually studying and imitating him to the point where people said: ‘Look Jack, he’s stealing your act.’ As Elliott had priority in the persona Dylan might almost be perceived as Jack’s doppelganger although more successful. His character is named Jack. Elliott is also a Brooklyn Jewish cowboy.
The main actors are all White except for Penelope Cruz’ Pagan Lace who appears to be Mexican while apparently being a devout Catholic is no pagan. The bit players and extras are predominantly Mexican. They all have a bracero appearance, the kind of look that used to seen as typically Mexican. On Fate’s bus ride to the City the entire bus is filled with Mexicans which means, I suppose, the place was either Mexico or LA.
The Muzak of the background seems to always be a group singing Dylan’s songs in Spanish, rather puzzling. As mentioned, Fate’s father inexplicably seems to be Mexican while Fate’s mother also looks Mexican. The Micky Rourke character, who is apparently Fate’s half brother, is Mexican. Rourke muses that his people began as servants but own the big house now while they are taking over the country.
In the barroom scenes those enraptured by Dylan’s Country and Western tunes are improbably Mexicans and Negroes. To watch them bop out the rhythm rapturously to Dylan’s version of Dixie (I wish I was in the land of cotton…) is a sight to behold- defies all reason and experience. Who ever saw an African American at a Dylan concert? One wonders what Dylan was smoking, snorting, shooting, drinking or perhaps doing a combination of all four.
The manner in which our old Civil Rights activist portrays Blacks is also astounding. They are all thugs, criminals and prostitutes without exception. Well, except for the little mulatto girl who sings The Times They Are A Changin’. However she has a mean, nasty White mother in combat boots. The mother says that her daughter has memorized all of Fate’s songs. Fate asks: ‘Why did you do that, honey?’ The mean, nasty White mother interjects: ‘Because I made her, that’s why.’ Almost made me ashamed to be White. I had to brush up on my nasty act. The little girl launches into the song while everyone listens rapturously, enthralled at truth coming from the mouth of a babe. I know she is supposed to be a scene stealer but the kid was only passable. Not only was she no threat to the reputation of the young Michael Jackson, she wasn’t even a threat to Donnie Osmond. But, this is Dylan’s movie.
The first Negroes we see are two loan enforcers who are explaining the facts of life to Uncle Meat, excuse me, Uncle Sweetheart who owes more than he can pay. The Blacks give him a good beating informing him that they’ll be back.
The next Negroes we are introduced to improbably run the TV Network, possibly CBS, which also seems to be a stretcher. Not only do the Mexicans look like they missed high school but the Black Pres. of the Network acts like he left school after the sixth grade.
The head of the Network conducts business with a loaded .45 automatic on the conference table.
I don’t know what number this is in Dylan’s list of bad dreams but one does wonder what he ate before he climbed into bed. Dylan seems to search out freaks for his Desolation Row. He has a close up after the Animal Lover scene of a guy’s face that looks like a very bad case of scabies after being run over by a truck. I don’t know whether he was made up or Dylan found him somewhere and gave him scale and all the pot he could smoke.
If this movie is Dylan’s version of reality then the congressmen and senators should gather around and lend him a helping hand. Thank god Dylan doesn’t strive for verisimilitude, the whole movie is acted like Jr. High kids playing adults while filming it in the basement. It would help if they were mixing up some medicine. Since everything is fake you don’t have to run from the theatre screaming although I’m told that many did. I’m tough, I’ve sat through ten showings of this thing but, yes, I do believe I’ve had enough.
Part III follows in the next post.
April 17, 2011
Maid Of Constant Sorrow
Blonde On Blonde
One can only guess at Edie’s feelings when Dylan dismissed her so brutally from the lines of One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later). She must have intuited if not known that her short and glorious career as the toast of New York was going nowhere. She came to New York with a handsome inheritance that she squandered in a trice, her parents disapproved of her conduct to the the point that they cut her off from support leaving her as Dylan had sneered in Like A Rolling Stone, a poor little rich girl ‘who had never lived out on the streets but now she was going to have to get used to it.’ Screamingly in pain from amphetamines one can only imagine her bewilderment with no way to rectify the situation. Whatever golden opportunities she may have had were now gone forever. Frome here to her death in 1971 would be one long wailing ‘horrorous’ nosedive that is terrifying to relive as a writer even. My stomach quakes as I try to organize the course of events.
Chuck Wein, one of the Harvard homosexuals she had associated with and who had come to New York with her was her evil genius, some say Svengali, who had guided her to Warhol and the
Factory and then presided over her self-destruction. Then for that brief glorious summer of ’65 she had set New York on its ear as a companion to Andy Warhol. Made her feel giddy and indestructible. Andy was apparently in love with her but as a self-centered homosexual was too flaky to work out a relationship that would give her dignity while he was unable to support her more than extravagant tastes.
Behind Warhol was Dylan competing for Edie’s favors which he won in December of ’65 and then discarded her like an old shoe. He recorded the course of his relationship with Edie in various songs from mid-1965 to the completion of Blonde On Blonde in the Spring of ’66. His own career course was changed dramatically in July of ’66 when he had his motorcycle accident.
It might be well to review the songs that comprise Blonde On Blonde now. The song list of Blonde On Blonde is as follows:
1. Rainy Day Women #12 And 35
2. Pledging My Time
3. Visions Of Johanna
4. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
5. I Want You
6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
7. Leopard Sking Pillbox Hat
8. Just Like A Woman
9. Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine
10. Temporary Like Achilles
11. Absolutely Sweet Marie
12. Fourth Time Around
13. Obviously Five Believers
14. Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands
With a knowledge of the lyrics the titles themselves read consecutively tell story while the lyrics confirm the tale. The story hinges on who the two women are. One is Dylan’s mother who blasted herson’s psyche when at about the age of twelve she told him in so many words that he had ruined her life by being born. Apparently it was more than Dylan could handle because it was then that his lifelong misogyny began. It is forbidden for a son to revenge himself on his mother so his only recourse was to take it out on another woman or women. Dylan has been a serial misogynist.
One of the women he chose to vent his spleen on was Edie Sedgwick. Thus the two rainy day women most likely are his mother and Edie. All the time Dylan was bedeviling Edie he was courting Sara Lowndes who he eventually married in November of ’65. It was a quiet wedding that didn’t became known for several months and not widely known until later than that. He married just before he succeeded in abstracting Edie from Andy’s entourage so there is no doubt that he was only toying with Edie as a surrogate for his mother.
He may actually have cherished her vulnerability from drugs, inexperience in the world and low self-esteem. She would have been as helpless as a baby, almost like shot gunning fish in a barrel. Sara was his Madonna, Edie his whore. He waits to the very end of Blonde On Blonde to mention Sara and then he wrote Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands for her. Of course, this was all very mysterious for us back in ’66 because we knew nothing of what was happening in New York. None of us had even heard of Sara Lowndes until she showed up as Dylan’s wife
As blogger Jim De Rogatis says, when he sat down to listen to Blonde: What I discovered was an artist who sneered and snarled with more venom and conviction than Johnny Rotten, and
finally it dawned on me: Dylan was a punk…
Jim wasn’t there at the creation as I was, he is a younger man. I guess my soul was so canchred at the time that I welcomed the sneering and snarling as an expression of my own trauma while today I find the venom is so grating that I can no longer listen to Dylan’s records. Besides he borrows nearly everything.
The album opens on a note of forced sardonic merriment as though in a house of ill fame and ends with the dirge dedicated to his wife, Sara. I leave the interpretation of that up to you. I can’t pretend at this date to understand the lyrics to Sad Eyed Lady. One would have to know more of her and Dylan’s courtship. Dylan thought she was supposed to be impressed that he wrote a song for her with a title that sounds like another of his caustic insults.
To take the songs in order: Rainy Day Women is a raucous, very noisy mocking song along the lines of Like A Rolling Stone with its refrain of ‘How does it feel?’ On release the song was so noisy it was nearly unlistenable, certainly objectionable and barely music. Time has conditioned our ears. The refrain here: Everyboyd must get stoned, has layers of possible meaning. While the allegory of stoned meaning pelted with rocks is present, stoned can also have a secondary meaning of smoking marijuana. I don’t think the meaning has anything to do with getting ‘stoned’ from dope. I think it’s a combination of the first meaning and what was perceived by Dylan as a devastating insult from his mother.
The refrain must refer on one hand to his mothers perceived ‘stoning’ of Dylan by her announcement to him that he had been basically unwanted. That stoning is turned around to apply to his ‘stoning’ of Edie in vengeance. He then gleefully taunts and mocks her with the refrain: Do not feel so all alone, everybody must get stoned (How does it feel?) which refers back to his earlier song about Edie, Like A Rolling Stone.
In order to make ‘poetry’ of his taunt, our incipient ‘Shakespeare’ gives several poetic references that have nothing to do with rocks or joints. For instance the line ‘They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car’ must refer to radio DJs pitching products. Thus stoning is meant as a verbal assault. One can compare that line with the Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger’s lyrics to his song Satisfaction:
When I’m drivin’ in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can’t get no, Oh, no, no, no
Hey, hey, hey, that’ what I say
I can’t get no
So Dylan’s use of ‘stoning’ is giving or getting unpleasant information.
Song #2, Pledging My Time merely means he is obsessed with his mother’s ‘information’ that he was unwanted which is reflected in song #3, Visions Of Johanna when he sings: These visions of Johanna have conquered my mind. Johanna being his mother. Then there is discussion about Andy and Edie. (see my essay at https://idynamo.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/exhuming-bob-xxviii-visions-of-johanna-decoded/ for a full discussion.)
Song#4 Sooner Or Later mocks Edie who he ‘really did try to get close to’ as he dismisses here as he would have like to have dismissed his mother. Song #5 is self-explanatory.
Song #6, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again awhile the lyrics are unclear must refer back to I Want You on one hand and forward to Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman on the other. He’s stuck inside of Mobile, i.e. he wants his mother with the Memphis Blues, i.e. he want his vengeance on Edie is a possible interpretation. At any rate it is placed between I Want You and the two Edie songs so it must be related to all three.
Then come two really unnecessarily vicious songs that everyone agrees are about Edie- Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat and Just Like A Woman. There are no obvious reasons for Dylan to express such vehement, disfiguring hatred of the poor girl unless he’s visiting his repressed hatred of his mother on her.
Song #10 Temporary Like Achilles involves Edie and Andy and himself. I doubt if Dylan had any understanding of the Iliad, if he had even read it, so apart from Achilles short life and the seven month interruption of his relationship with Edie by Warhol an interpretation is somewhat of a hazard.
Songs 11, 12, 13, Absolutely Sweet Marie, Fourth Time Around, and Obviously 5 Believers seem to wander off topic. I have read one interpretation in which the blogger thought Obviously 5 Believers was a response to the Beatles Norwegian Wood. Or possibly they lead into song #14 Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands that Dylan says he wrote about Sara Loundes. The lyrics of this ‘poem’ are incomprehensible but if I had been Sara I wouldn’t have taken the title as a compliment, especially not after being locked out of a discussion about Dylan, Edie and his mother. After all, this is a married man lashing out at Edie.
After completing the LP Dylan left for his 1966 tour of England in which there was such a violent reaction to his electric backup band. I don’t remember their being a violent reaction made on the West Coast. For myself I welcome it. I never did like that faux folk crap he did anyway. Apparently Dylan didn’t either. A new expanded edition, lots of new material. of Robert Shelton’s biography, No Direction Home, just released by Omnibus Press is available, speaking in 1965 Shelton quotes Dylan thusly: ‘There never was any change. No instrument will ever change love, death in any soul. My music is my music. Folk music was such a shuck. I never recorded a folk song.’ He did however call himself a folk singer.
So, whoever shouted Judas at the Manchester concert knew what he was talking about. I never listened to those nauseous early Dylan records anyway. Blonde On Blonde was released in June of 1966 while Dylan was thrown by his ‘chrome horse’ on 7/29/66 thus putting an end to the first phase of his career.
I don’t know what Edie thought wen she heard the record that summer but one supposes she would have recognized herself as the topic of the conversation. Warhol certainly did and he was not amused. Knew something about motorcycles too.
Both Edie and Dylan were so heavily into amphetamines that they probably were not responsible for their actions. Drugs tend to put one into an internal state in which the outside world assumes a subordinate position, almost irrelevant, to one’s interior reality. A person functions in his own mind as a sort of magician who can comman the world to his own world. A certain type of insanity I suppose. Right and wrong are merely expressions of one’s own subconscious will. As Dylan confused Edie with his mother who he subconsciously wished to punish he transferred those feelings, that resentment, that hatret onto Edie as his surrogate mother thus gaining his revenge. How much satisfaction he got isn’t known and he’s not telling.
Edie herself was so far gone into amphetamines as to be oblivious to what was happening in her life. As far as she could dissociate her life from reality she could obviously make black white and vice versa.
Having dealt with Dylan’s relationship with Edie, let us return to January of ’66 to take up again the story from there.
Chap. 14 has been posted as of 6/23/11