Sunday, June 15, 2008

KORLA PANDIT through CLOTH PATCHES, 1996 to the present

A ticket stub from KORLA PANDIT, a show that I'd completely forgotten about seeing, until I came across this in my files while preparing the Autobiography. I recall only about it that Korla was super-sweet (which I'd always heard) and talented, and that the club had provided him with (sadly) a Hammond B3 with the bass-pedals NOT working, so we were cheated out of the full Korla experience.

With my pal the lovely Suzanne Ramsey, now the Kitten On The Keys, in 1996 at Bimbos, where she was performing. She introduced me to Arvo Part, and we saw him at a memorable show at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, where I forced her to go and get her program signed by Arvo.
I wish I'd gotten mine done too! Wotta mensch he is!
Dr. Mess and I at Ocean Beach in 1997, 'down the street' from my Grove st. Studio. I have a barrette in my hair, it appears.
The EXTREME TEAM of the NBC, outside of Renee's old SF pad, in full CALTRANS drag.
Renee and I perving-out at the FOLSOM STREET FAIR, a yearly activity of ours for a long time, and a chance to hang out with a lot of sicko friends who didn't hook up that often. This is very tame attire for the Fair.
This was shot right after the City of Albany dozed the homeless camp and chased all of the poor residents off of the Landfill. The place was pretty messed up, even for a former dump, it was sad.
See the Neighborhood Bass Coalition Years blog entry below this for more info about the Albany landfill (AKA THE BULB).
Montage of the walls of the Ampitheatre, at the Ladnfill.
Me with a pertinent quote at the Ampitheatre.
At JUSTIN HERMAN PLAZA in SF, and all ready to Critical Mass! For many years I thought that it was only fair that we bicyclists should have the streets all to ourselves for but a few scanty hours a month, but eventually I questioned whether all of the hostility that it brought from drivers was really worth it in the long run. I tend to think yes, it was, but I did slow down on going out to ride the Mass. The cars, after all RULED the streets utterly 24-7 all year, but after all, we bikers in SF had it pretty good compared to lots of other places...
Here I am at work in the old Channel 29 studio (in January 2000), before they moved onto Market Street. I'm so glad that I shot at least one photo of the funky old mixing room that we were able to use in three-hour shifts to cook up shows. Even though editing on VHS tape sucked quality-wise, once they moved to their swanky new digs, and switched to digital-only editing, they priced me out of doing as many new shows per season.
The big drawback with doing the shows in a digital format that I could NOT afford to own at home was that you would have to book separate valuable, and hotly-fought-for studio time just to copy the episodes that you made, so that you'd have a backup copy in a format that you could archive or exhibit to people. Which at that time would've been nasty ol' VHS (now I'd use DVD). So my amount of new shows per season went sharply down after the station moved, and I began to show a lot of reruns (like anyone noticed!). Hey---why go to all of that trouble (often six to ten hours per show or more) only to run it ONCE on public access and then disappear?
By the way, that's BELA LUGOSI onscreen, being edited there, and it looks like it's one of my favorite moments from the movie SCARED TO DEATH:
"Lorette, Lorette...I'l make a bet...The man in green...vill get you yet!"
The MINDWRECKER tv show ran a half-hour WEEKLY (usually on Friday nights at 8) from June 1999 until February 2007.
Some notable episodes:
THE CHURCH OF BILL, a two-episode episode, the first all in black-and-white, representing BILL SHATNER's early years, and then the second in full colour, with outrageous original music made just for them.
TRANSMITTER MALFUNCTION, my Millenium Bug episode. I was lucky enough to have a show scheduled to be broadcast on New Year's Eve 1999, and so I thought--here's a chance to do something special! So I tried to cook up a scary show that made people think that the TV station was having some kind of meltdown. I repeatedly cut away during the program to real and made-up apology announcements of the "We're experiencing temporary technical difficulty, please stand by" sort, although many of them, like the ENTIRE episode, were UPSIDE DOWN. Lots of static and noise. Almost every frame of the show was upside down, and had an extra-kooky soundtrack. I love that one. Scary.
EYE AM WATCHING YOU, a half-hour of a big eyeball watching you from the set. It changes colors and such, to liven it up...I did many episodes where I tried to have just ONE overriding concept that relentlessly ran through the whole half hour.
END TITLES, I'd always wanted to do a whole film of nothing but end titles, and so I did a two-part episode of just that.

A channel 29 (altho it was channel 53 when this happened) story from my journal:
Sept. first, 1999
I was booked to go in and use the editing suite and that day had received a letter from the station to the effect that since there had been a recent TCI-ATT cable merger (one of MANY terrible deals that SF did with cable conglomerates, to fuck over consumers and public access and line some city hall pockets) and that the station would be getting re-wired from it's antique status.
This was when the station began to be run by it's now-controversial non-profit corp. group.
A few days later, a friday- my show night, and I'm at the station using the editing suite, which was right off of the main control room, so you would be constantly distracted by the goings-on in the live room and control room; and wouldn't you know it (as it says here in the diary) even though management had told all of the producers that during the wiring changeover there would be NO programming interruption- they'd just sail right through- while I'm editing away I overhear a wrangle in the next room. It was right before my show was due to come on at eight pm. I thought-"maybe there's a problem with my tape", I heard someone mention that maybe they would call me, I popped my head out of the editing suite and some staff I knew went- "oh, there he is!".
It turned out that they were still trying to get my show on the air, and it was already several minutes past eight--they were very finicky about being transparent and professional, so this was disaster-time. Guess what, the big switch-over from the old MONO wiring to the new STEREO wiring was due to be switched over right then.
The staff (Jan and Brian), who I was friendly with, were mortified. They ended up having to go off the air for the whole weekend. There was a big scene with the wiring contractor, they wanted to go home, as the job was taking longer than they had anticipated, and Brian was arguing with them, "It's our job to stay on the air as much as possible! Hosts of shows are depending on us!"
I took it very well, which they appreciated, luckily it wasn't a time-sensitive episode. Boy, I sure wished that night that I'd had my camera to be filming it all! It says in the journal that I'd actually MEANT to bring a camera in that night, but had been out of blank tape. Too bad!
There were lots of times over the years that I could have made up a lot of my programming out of things that were going on around the station. LOL!

I had intended to put video clips here, but even though pasting them in correctly, BlogSpot was getting fudged-up, so here's a link to clips of the TV show, instead:

A selection of TV show promo stickers and fridge magnets, from different periods in the show's history. Note that the station number changes from Ch 53 to 29 (it had also been channel 26, years before I got on the air weekly).
The work I did with the ladies was so much fun on the shoot for the Halloween episode MAN IS ON THE MENU, that during it's production we cooked up the plan to do a Christmas show. Once I thought of the title, I HAD to do it.
A VERY ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS was a really tough shoot, on a too-small schedule for how ambitious it was, and indeed never quite got cut together how I would've liked, and the music sessions were less-than-stellar (it was all just too much to get done in the time I had), and yet there are some great scenes and ideas in there, and the sexy Zombie Santa dream and the big feast set piece at the end are pretty great. It's now available (as are many episodes of the MINDWRECKER show) on DVD.
Production still from A VERY ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS.
He got some cookies and milk, though.

Chris (Dr. Mess) and I in a typical riding attitude in the Dec 2000 CRITICAL MASS ride. I'm the one in the top hat. Gosh, I sure rode in a lot of neat masses...There's a million stories from those things!
My lovely garden. The 'soil' in that part of San Francisco, by the way, consisted of sand, filth, glass, cigarette butts, and garbage. Anything more like soil had to be introduced separately.
This was a terrific party and one of my favorite NBC cds. I like the full 2-disc version of this party, although I painted some lovely watercolors for the cover of the 'official' single-CD release of it. There's a famous moment where there's something being said about trees on the record player by Basil Rathbone, or someone like that, and a limb falls out of the tree above and onto the record, and the set keeps right on going...
Hoodsy The Crack Owl ("Whooo Wants Crack?") in action on the decks, in the backyard for another Halloween "I Spin On Your Grave" party. A long night of spooky records, music and samples. And an even more creepy double-CD version than the first "Spingrave" event. It also looks like I'm playing one of those cool antique storybook records with the lovely WALLY WOOD covers, I love those...
During the making of the Muppet-saturated NBC lp HAND IN MY HEAD, I was collecting audio relating to all things Muppet-y, and Rob Wortman brought over a funny old unauthorized fake-o Sesame record that had Vic Flick's name on it. Around that time his name had been turning up anyway, so I wrote him to get the story about the lp, which had some music on it that I really dug. Wouldn't you know it--he actually ran his own website and answered in person right away. And he turned out to be a super guy!
We would have collaborated on some music as well, he offered to- but I could never quite get it together, I wasn't yet using digital multitrack recording software, for one thing. If I can think of the perfect thing to bother him with--I'll try again sometime!

Writeup from the San Francisco Bay Guardian from when I was voted "Best Cable-Access TV Show" 2005, a category of local entertainment that was usually completely ignored by the local media. In this case I had inside help- a friend and fan, (the other) Josh Wilson.
I'm glad that it mentions the JACKED! episode of my show, as there was also a bunch of music specially-recorded for that one, and the disc-cover is shown in the NBC CD Cover Gallery section in the blog entry below this one. That show was tough to do, as the material was really fresh and new, and the whole parody would be much funnier and more confusing and bizarre if we could get it on the air while the whole "Michael Jackson TV Expose" thing was still brewing.
Below: EDDIE SHAW and the monks.
I had written a review of his brilliant book BLACK MONK TIME on the monks webpage, and he'd contacted me . Eventually he was in San Francisco (his wife came down on business trips and he would come along and walk around town and troll record stores and get exercise) and we arranged to meet. His book was one of the most unique sort-of 'rock-star/musician biographies' I'd ever read, and I was surprised that he'd written it so quickly, barely having time to do second-draft revisions.
March 2006
After we met at his hotel and went to a coffee shop nearby that he knew (deep in the financial district) we chatted about all sorts of stuff, I avoided monks-topics since that's such past history for him, and, y'know, it's more fun to see where else the conversation can go with folks that are particularly famous for this or that, and then talk about completely different things.
The talk did touch on music (my journal says here) such as the fact that he is really a jazz lover, never really wanted to be in a rock band, ' hated' being in the monks- no one would look you in the eye! Indeed, the jazz-based recordings of his that I heard later in the day were marvelous. He had liked the reunion gig in Europe that that had recently happened, and mentioned how he enjoyed the "totally obscene" sight of very drunken monks in the audience with tattoos and piercings reveling with very sexy nuns.
What blew my mind that day, and still seems amazing to me is how at one point Eddie said something like, "Look- a monk..." and I looked up from my scone to see an honest-to-goodness MONK walking up the hill downtown, shaved head, brown robe with rope-belt- full monk uniform. I was just floored. What are the chances-? I've worked in downtown SF at various locations over the years and seen all kinds of nutty things and people, but had NEVER seen a monk. Eddie jokingly said "I'm afraid to get up and cross the street right now!"

We took off on a long hike and ended up walking all over the Mission, he photographed the moldering ARMORY, now a bondage emporium/studio, and various other sundry bits of peeling paint and rust, and construction cranes, ending up at GROOVE RECORDS on Market, to meet with Kelly Stolz, and there we heard incredible tidbits of work that Gary Burger and Eddie had separately done for the forthcoming monks compilation CD project, and solo work by Eddie, which all made Kelly and I bounce off of the walls in delight. Fantastic stuff. It turned out when I met Kelly, that he and I had both bought our copies of the Black Monk Time book at Aquarius Records (when Jon Arnold {of Chotchke} was still managing it) in 1995. Small city, small world. Great meeting and visit with a musician I admire, and I love their work as the monks. The 'Anti-Beatles'! C'mon, you've got to love the chutzpah of their mad manager Karl making them do those things; and even though it failed as a band commercially at the time, the recordings and image are still wonderful, and age better than loads of bands from the 60s.
Below: the signed disc cover.
Somewhere around 1999 or so, perhaps a year or two earlier, I discovered San Francisco's best-kept secret camping destination:
Angel Island
And I began going out there on the ferry every year, with the bicycles loaded up for bike-camping. The island has a rich variety of terrain and sights, and goes up steeply from sea level to 800 feet. There aren't a whole lot of campsites, so you have to book months in advance, making it nicely exclusive.
Most people only go out there for day trips, and once the last boat leaves at night, you have the island mostly to yourself, and you won't see much of most of the other (if any) campers.
Along with it's wealth of natural beauty, there are also run-down and dangerous abandoned buildings left over form long-ago military uses, and even a nifty "off-limits" Nike Missile Silo, that over the years we (and others, it appeared) grew more and more bold in exploring.
Situated smack in the middle of San Francisco Bay, with million-dollar views to every side, there were always spectacular and eyepopping sights. We had a particular site that I grew to love, for it's proximity to the beach, and generally great views and setup, so after many annual trips out we had it SO wired.
Over the years we got into the habit of always checking the island's other campsites, once they were unoccupied (for we always stayed longer per trip than anyone else), and often found all kinds of things, food, charcoal, and best of all- wine!
We always came (as on all of my camping trips, no matter how stripped-down) with a fine complement of gourmet items and gear, but nice free stuff on the island is sweet!
There are a lot of stories from the Isle, and it was featured on my TV show many times.

Two favorite locations on the Isle- at the oak Grove, a very magical patch of rock and oak trees, a straight-up hike from our regular campsite. Really special. And on the right, one of the bigger abandoned buildings on the Island, the infirmary. There are a bunch of them, from the Civil War era through WWII period.
A home-made 'Brochure/Guide' to Angel Island that I made up for the guests on the 2001 "Legwrecker" trip. A funny mix of real and very surreal information. Designed to provide some entertainment during any possible 'down' time on the island, which there hardly ever was... Used again on next year's trip, as I recall.
Angel Island Brochure, 2nd page spread, some history and the 'rules of conduct':
Angel Island Brochure, center spread, with a scary history of the island:
I was very excited back in September of 2005 to hear that JEAN-JACQUES PERREY was coming to San Francisco to give a talk at a gallery. He was on the west coast working on the upcoming CD at Dana Countryman's studio in Washington. I'd been very influenced by his sense of humor and development of music using tape-loops, synthesizers and overall wackiness back in the 60s with various artists such as Gershon Kingsley. The In Sound From Way Out was the lp that cooked a lot of musicians and DJs minds, and I was no exception. I never expected that I would meet and chat with this French genius. A lot of people like me that began using keyboard samplers heavily when they were becoming available in the 80s thought that his records were a terrific watermark to aspire to. The autograph below on the left is from that meeting, at a talk moderated by Vale of ReSearch magazine. Jean-Jacques was tickled and puzzled that some of us were so boned-up on his music and history that night.
When he and Dana got the CD done, they came through town again and played on August 26th, 2006 at the fairly-new RML lab venue, with a loaned $10,000 console moog, and Jean-Jacques' original Ondioline, that appears on all of his records. What a fun night! I had corresponded with Dana Countryman when he was doing his Cool and Strange Music magazine, which was always a joy (and where I learned first about Vic Flick!), and so it was extra nice to meet him at the gig, and see Jean-Jacques again- this time pretty overwhelmed with fans, compared to the more sedate visit the year before- tonight was rock star time!
DJing beautifully that night was a pal- the inimitable Otis Fodder. The CD below on the right is from that super-sweet show.
September 2006, and one of my favorite camping trips ever. Beginning at Mono Creek Hot Springs, up near Yosemite, and going on for five nights on up some hard-to-access sites up a twisty, narrow, scary buncha roads. I'm glad my last big camping trip in California (for a while, anyway) was a fantastic one. And spent with some dear friends and their dawgs.
Drinks at the Vermilion Resort Lodge, which it says in my journal here, had a sign referring to "Buck Fever", with a picture of a deer. They had a greatly entertaining pile of photo albums with pictures of of customers and workers, etc. dating back to the building of the Lodge in 1979. I would have loved to have scanned some of those photos- there were some priceless shots.
We also loaded up the car with Enormous Loads of wood, in order to satisfy Renee's lust for a bigger and scarier fire every night. I almost included the shot of the ridiculously huge logs hanging out of the back of the vehicle, but ended up nixing it, since I have thousands more pictures to upload in this Autobioblog.
About 11,000 feet up. Yummy Sierras scenery. Near Edison Lake, but way above it. I forget the name, Renee always has to tell me again the name of this gorgeous lake.
Lunch by the lake. In somewhat spectacular surroundings.
Cloth patches "torn from the garments of history".
"Only YOU Can Prevent Forests".

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