Thursday, June 09, 2011

SHANE WILLIAMS (1955-2011)

Not that I was exactly a bosom buddy of the man, nor was I a devout reader of his various writings for FLIPSIDE amongst other fanzines that shall remain nameless (excepting one which shall remain hopeless!). Shucks, I wasn't even an accomplice or a cell mate of his for that matter! But the very recent passing of noted rock scribe (he was too classy to be a critic) and Los Angeles scenester Shane Williams is something that should be noted in these pages, perhaps with sorrow or perhaps with scorn, but whatever the situation may be his demise (via some sphincter who ran a red light) is something that I should address. And really, who knows if the man left this world with more than a shred of loathing for me like way too many people who may have been in "touch" via my writings or my own fanzine o'er the past thirty years, but after all's said and done all I gotta utter is a hearty "who cares????".

Now, Williams wasn't exactly the first fanzine bankrobber in rockscribe history---Bryce Tuller who wrote for the early issues of HYPERION actually earns that particular honor, and he was also involved in a murder and hijacking to Cuba in the process which anyone would admit got Williams' own antics beat all hollow. But as far as notoriety and plain ol' how shall I say GENERAL EAGER-BEAVERNESS for the cause of punk fandom went Williams was up there with the rest of the eighties big guns on the u-ground spread-it-on-thick crowd, and given the time he was in stir I mean, what else could he do?

I first became aware of Williams during his early eighties permeation into the lettercols and other sundry pages of a vast array of reads that had been popping up on the El Lay underground at the time,.The earliest recollection I have of Williams would have to be via this little kerfuffle in the pages of the ever-popular tabloid paper OP regarding the alleged racism to be found within not only the pages of the then-influential TOUCH AND GO fanzine but with its editor, Tesco Vee, in general. Since I sold all of my OPs way back when I can't exactly snatch up the particular issues in question in order to refresh myself with what this blabbering was all about (I suspect it was the early outcropping of the stifling "correctness" in politics/socio-economic matters which has of course snowballed to archepelago levels), but I hazily recall this printed shouting match having to do with Williams pretty much loathing the entire concept of black culture (and black people) whilst some woman (who seemed to be of the enlightened social-racial bent that seemed to come to floweration during the early days of the Reagan administration---blame it on the sixties I most certainly do!) taking the opposite road praising black music and life in a way that seemed akin to a female who has read Kate Millett and swallowed it hook line and angst. It  all came off like an Earth-Two "Point/Counterpoint" being acted out by two sides that I couldn't see anybody really choosing from lest they be as polarized as the individuals who were engaging in this printed donnybrook. And although it might look silly here from a three-decade vantage point I'm sure this entire brouhaha meant all the more back when it was happening way back in the flipped-out eighties.

It wasn't too long after I cranked up my crudzine that Williams got in touch with me, and although you couldn't exactlly say that we were exactly two peas in a pod I was one to look forward to his extended screeds given the way I like to be the center of the universe with everybody paying homage to me considering what a hotshot talent I had considered myself to be in this world of underground pubbing blah blah you know the score... Of course Williams being the tough con who seemed to have an undying hatred of blacks (which I guess was beat into him while in stir) didn't quite mesh well with my own personal opines, but still getting a note from Williams was one of the many "perks" one might say of having your own fanzine and writing for other rags of notoriety. Even if the job didn't pay its weight in promo records at least I could keep myself occupied reading these often clipping-filled letters from a guy with more than half-a-braincell like Williams who was more'n apt to spill out a whole load of  his often behind-the-scenes rock 'n' roll knowledge to addled wannabes like myself.

Yes, the man was a sicko as his tastes in porn...the kraut stuff...would imply. (The naughtiest thing I ever sent him was an ad for an old Plasmatics show with Wendy O. Williams showing a little beneath belly button flesh, which he told me he improved on.) But the guy was well read and astute enough to even compare my own views to that of Christopher Lasch which in retrospect might just be the most accurate assessment of my own late-eighties opines more than the reams of naysayers would care to remark. And although I didn't especially care for many of the guy's opinions, or even some of his musical tastes, it was a gas reading Williams whether he was ranting on about prison life or whatever musical program the the local Pacifica station was blasting during the night hours (which seemed oh-so-esoteric given that no radio like this could be found around these here parts!).

Oddly enough I hadn't even heard from Mr. Williams for a good many years in the oh-ohs, at least until the guy left a snide li'l comment on this very blog "thanking" me for remaining incognito for the previous one-and-a-half years out of prison despite a number of rabid letter writing sessions on his part, or so he said. Funny, as I retorted I never even received any of these missives, erroneously believing that it was he who decided to cut off the correspondence for whatever reasons there may have been on his part which was totally within his rights. Some swift thinking had me guessing that the notes from him to me were intercepted by a particular third party, but without any concrete proof or evidence as to what exactly happened to the mail it ain't like I could exactlly ring up to local post office and instigate an investigation. If memory serves I did invite Shane to continue getting in touch via the brand spanking new computer age but he obviously declined. Heh, I'll bet the big fanabla was spending a rather inordinate amount of his time badmouthing me behind my back! Well, if he was I would say that was par for the course!

But badmouthing me or not (somehow I assume it was the former!) here's to you Shane. A lotta people may have liked you and perhaps just as many right now are doing leaps of joy at the news of your passing, but whatever you did you sure knew how to do it all the way even if it did mean attempted murder. And heck, even if a nascent hippie (but in a nice, HEALTHY way!) kinda guy like Eddie Flowers could like you even after the famed shooting up incident then why can't I put any backbrain creepiness on my part aside and say hey...you rocked more than I ever will (but then again who wouldn't???).



14 comments:

Anonymous said...

R.I.P Imants Krumins

TK said...

In 97 (or was it 94? I have problems with dates in that decade) when I was in LA, just two weeks before his last bust, I spent a few days crashing (nodding) at his N. Hollywood pad (just near the Wilcox PD). Shane tried to get me to drive for him. His problem with it was he didn't think he could control me; my problem with it was that I thought it was ridiculous and the LAST guy I'd want to rob a bank with would've been Shane (Jack Grisham, maybe). Shane's lifetime take was under 25k and he did at least that many years total for his assorted foibles. He was a great (and illegible) correspondent when I first came across him in Leavenworth in the early 80's- genuine junkiepunk madman. M.O.- get out, get huge habit, get dope fronted, do it all rather than sell it, rob bank to pay off the irate fronters, then sit in prison and write for fanzines. Hey, not the life I'd choose, but whatever. Shane was always fun to "partay" with.

G-Mole said...

What anonymous said

Bruce Mowat

G-Mole said...

What Anonymous said

Anonymous said...

I knew a Shane Williams when I was growing up in Studio City. Yesterday would have been his birthday, so I Googled his name and found this. Based on the photograph and the posts, there certainly is a strong resemblance between the Shane I knew in the 1960s and the Shane described in these posts.

I remember Shane being exceedingly bright. We used to discuss history and geo-political events when we were in grammar school. And then there were the comic books--the endless arguments about whether DC or Marvel had the better characters.

Shane always felt entitled. I remember him frequently saying, "The only reason why I don't do something bad is I am afraid to get in trouble." I guess he overcame that fear.

His mother was convinced that he had a huge future as a performer, but Shane did not have the talent she believed he did. He perfomed at a talent show at Walter Reed Junior High and was booed off stage and ridiculed the reaminder of the school year. Unfortunately, it was a defining moment in his life.

As he got to 8th grade, he started experimenting with drugs and moved very quickly to the hard stuff. He got kicked out of school and ended up going to a school in Hollywood for kids who were stoned all the time.

The last time I saw Shane was in late summer 1969. He was totally stoned and was rather unpleasant to be around. I never saw him again and always wondered what happened to him.

Very sad story--he was so bright and could have really made a difference in this world under the right circumstances.

Anonymous said...

nd occasionally sounded pretty good through a tube amp.

If someone knows where he is buried, please post it on here. I'd like to put some flowers on his grave the next time I am in LA.

Charles D. said...

I interviewed Shane for a zine I did in the early/mid '90s. He and I corresponded for many years while he was in prison and I was looking forward to finally meeting him once he got out. A few months before he was set to be released I made the unfortunate comment that his life would be a worthy of a cool documentary. I never heard from him again.

Unknown said...

I grew up with Shane, and eventually hit the crime, loved him like a brother.

Unknown said...

You and I both, stand up man.love him like a brother.

Unknown said...

I grew up with Shane, North Hollywood high, was my best friend, Bruce Deitch,with his porsh, we dove into the illicit, Shane was awesome. Passionate about the acquired high.

Anonymous said...

Shane was an awesome representative of contrary to the system, Shane was big on letting out the clutch. I loved Shane, for who he was, we had phenomenal times together, greatly tested my character, he stood strong for what he thought was real.

Anonymous said...

It would be worthy of a documentry, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Be nice to know. Loved him like a brother

Anonymous said...

Hey, i loved Bruce'es little porshe, Shane and i painted the town, i wonder how Randy Rusheen is doing.