BOOK CORNER WITH BRAD KOHLER
(BLOGMEISTER'S NOTE: well, I told you that I would be too pooped to pop out a midweek post! Here's boy wonder Brad Kohler to take up the slack more or less...most likely less! [ha ha, me must make funny little insulting joke funny me!!!....yeesh!])
***IN HEAVEN EVERYTHING IS FINE-THE UNSOLVED LIFE OF PETER IVERS AND THE LOST HISTORY OF NEW WAVE THEATER by Josh Franks with Charlie Buckholtz
I remember the 1983 issue of FLIPSIDE that carried an obit for Ivers. (By the way, regarding the endless debate in the FLIPSIDE letters column concerning who was and wasn't punk, I plunked down five bones for this remaindered book on the off chance there might be some obscure nugget about the early L.A. punk scene. I'm 48. Some of the mohawked specimens crying "punker than thou" back then probably spent the same fiver on Starbucks coffee while on their way to their C.P.A. gig. So who is the real punk now buddy boy? [Yeah, I know, and who has a real life...])
My impression of Ivers at the time was that he was a flamboyant queer who made the world safe for OINGO BOINGO. Brother, was I wrong. HI background extended back to the late 60's Boston music scene, where he was an ace harp player. (He learned harmonica with Muddy Waters and Little Walter, playing with both.) He was also quite the lady's man despite having the physical stature (and apparently the charisma) of Charles Manson. Besides being a whirlwind of active also involved in theater, he was a brainiac who attended Harvard. Pressured to take over his stepfather's business, Ivers instead chose the route of semi-destituute performer for the rest of his short life, always planning to strike it rich and send a "screw you" check to stepdad for the full amount of his pricey education. He hung around a colorful assemblage of people including Van Dyke Parks, Stockard Channing and Harold Ramis among many others. He wrote the music to "the girl in the radiator song" in ERASERHEAD, flounced around in a tutu on NEW WAVE THEATER, asked innumerable people the question "What is the meaning of life?" and got bludgeoned to death in a loft in a seedy section of L.A.
I have not heard any of Ivers' music but his 1969 Epic LP, KNIGHT OF THE BLUE COMMUNION, described as a fusion of jazz. blues, classical, rock. folk. medieval and middle-eastern modes (what, no Tin Pan Alley?) sounds interesting. Critics received it well, and DENIM DELINQUENT fanzine gave thumbs up to one of his later records. (Though from the lyrics, his later stuff seems a bit on the self-indulgently whimsical side, without the panache of a Jay Gatsby.)
Despite having zero commercial success, Ivers talked himself into another contract with a major. After opening for the N.Y. Dolls (where he appeared in a diaper wielding a phallus-shaped squirt gun that shot a milky substance) Warner Brothers decided to let his band open for a now-famous Fleetwood Mac (!) whee he pulled the same stunt (sans squirt gun). You can imagine how the jean vest and coke spoon crowd reacted. During the ruckus, his girlfriend yelled at those around her in the crowd to shut up and listen because he was a genius!
Transplanted to L.A. it was only natural that Ivers would fall in with the only creative thing happening, the burgeoning punk scene, He wasn't all that hep on the music, but identified with the rebellion. The campy getups on NEW WAVE THEATER were a deliberatge provocation to the by-then entrenched hardcore dunderhead element of the audience. His frequent sparring with the band FEAR make for amusing reading, even if te band's queer bashing/baiting was as authentic as a referee on STUDIO WRESTING. (editor's note-I'm not so sure about that one Brad...after all, some of those referees gave some pretty accurate calls!) Except for Lee Ving, who seemed to have genuine antipathy for Ivers and comes off like a sociopath that his own band didn't quite know what to make of.
Ivers' partner in NEW WAVE THEATER (which I remember not at all, despite it being syndicated on the early cable show NIGHT FLIGHT which I saw on more than one occasion) was a walking time bomb named David Jove (among other aliases). A compulsive mess of a human, Jove loved himself, drugs and guns, usually in that order. A one-time dope supplier to the Stones, he also bragged he came up with the phrase "instant karma" which Lennon nicked for a song title. Enthused by the emerging video industry, he had big plans for himself and for Ivers which included taking NEW WAVE THEATER to a whole new level. Except Ivers wanted out. And when he did...
Or maybe Jove didn't. The crime scene was horribly bungled (by L.A. cops? Who woulda figured?) and Jove, on his deathbed, gave no confession. If only to rub it in the faces of those who always considered him the prime suspect.
One could do worse than perusing this instant-remainder book that no doubt is the only work where the index contains Chevy Chase and Johanna Went!
***NEW YORK ROCKER by Gary Valentine
Another title tossed on top of the discounted heap of 2009 puppies 'n kittens calendars, I'll save you five bucks and tell you all you need to know about this 'un.
Guitarist Valentine wa kicked out of Blondie twice, Twenty years separated the dismissals, which he muses is probably a record.
Early band photos show him wearing a skinny tie, while the rest of the band (except for D. Harry) and not far removed lookwise from Debbie's sixties footnote band The Wind in the Willows. For helping to bring the skinny tie back into fashion from the Mod Era, Valentine is quite proud. See why I'm saving you five bucks? (editor's note-Gee Brad, I like skinny ties...very 1962 y'know!)
The Valentine-penned "X Offender" was written as "Sex Offender" though produced Richard Gottehrer changed it. What innocent times we lived in.
Iggy Pop (who Valentine backed in the early 80's) was obsessed with the scene of Divine eating a turd in PINK FLAMINGOS and would watch it over and over and over on the tour bus.
When Valentine told Alan Vega what brands of cigarettes he smoked Vega told him that that was the quickest way to cancer, and to find ONE brand and stick with it!
Valentine was a Crowley-ite until the expected orgies didn't materialze and he lost a girlfriend by embarrassing her when he was proscribed to chant and bow at various times of the day no matter where he happened to be. No, really.
Did I mention Iggy?
Oh, and Debbie blew David Johansen in a phone booth at Max's.