Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Spring Collection

It's been said that people get the fever as early as childhood, and it can certainly be said that was the case with me and creating clothes. When I was ten years old I would show pictures of the cool psychedelic clothes The Beatles wore to my mother and ask her how much they would cost.
"I don't know, Andy, but I bet I could make them for you", my mother smirked, one eyebrow cocked. Wow, that was pretty exciting. I could barely sleep!
Fast forward to the next weekend and there we were at "Home Silk Shop" on Third and La Cienega (it's now a Borders). First we'd look at all the cool mod and psych prints available, the more colorful the better. The material was a nice cotton with a little dab of poly blend, remember, polyester wasn't real big yet, thank God.

After we'd get the cool material we'd look for a pattern on a cool Nehru shirt, just like the ones The Beatles wore in "Magical Mystery Tour". We looked through Simplicity, Buttericks, McCalls - it was tough because they didn't make Nehru shirt patterns for little boys yet, so my mom bought an adult shirt pattern and scaled it down for a little psych squirt like me. I carried everything all the way home, I was so happy I could burst.
My mom adjusted the pattern after measuring me and applying the alterations to the pattern. After sewing and slaving for a few weeks I had my brilliant shirt. I wish I had a picture taken of myself wearing it. Take my word for it, it looked amazing, and needless to say, I still managed to bug my mother to make me some more cool styles.

Thirty years later I married Rebecca, and even before the marriage certificate ink was dry she was already sewing me bags, jackets, hats, pants, underwear, belts, jeans, and club clothes, especially club clothes.
In between jobs for Motley Crue, Raquel Welch, KISS, The Osbournes and a cast of thousands, Rebecca makes pants for work and pants for play. Leather pants for play. Pictured here are the two most recent play pants: oxblood waxed leather pants (pictured here) and a great olive green distressed leather pair of trousers (also pictured here).
The only difference between then and now is that in addition to buying material for myself I've also bought material for Rebecca and designed dresses for her, sketching and sewing them, too.

Rebecca's taught me everything I know about tracing and cutting material, working out the bugs in patterns, and even getting me to operate a sewing machine. I can even operate a serger; I love the revving motorcycle sounds it makes.
Eventually I'd like to work with Rebecca full-time like I did in the early Nineties but with more hands-on sewing and designing involved. I've always loved clothes and while I don't plan on being a big designer I think men need a real cool rock 'n roll tailor. My calling is calling me again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bibles and Blueprints (crash WALKER Chapter 6)

The bright green GTO screamed down the 101 Freeway going north from Tarzana with an insane woman in blood red Capri pants, black hair, and an even blacker eyepatch. Crash Walker continuously looked behind the rear window. "You can slow down now. I think we lost them".
"Lost them? They never followed us, I just like driving fast".
"No way, I could have sworn I saw their car tailing us back in Calabasas".
"Uh-uh, Cowboy", she pressed in the cigarette lighter and shoved a Kent cigarette in her red lipstick lips. "Wrong".
"I swear they were following us-"
"What were they driving?"
Crash shut up. He couldn't remember, maybe she had a point, maybe he just imagined that whole thing. "Well?" she lit up.
"I don't know, but cool it baby, you're burning out your tires". She slammed on her accelerator, cutting lanes and getting honked at by angry tourists in campers and station wagons. She cackled like a witch.
"Shit, they're playing my song - TURN IT UP!!!"
"I won't cry out for justice - admit that I was wrong,
I'll stay in hibernation - til the talk subsides is gone,
My social life's a dud - my name is really mud,
I'm up to here in lies- guess I'm down to size", she sang along with the radio.

"Slow down, chick", Walker yelled over the clanky guitars and buzzy bass. "You kinda-sorta know who I am, but what's your name, anyway?"
"April Van Winter, yeah, I know, my parents thought calling me April Winter was funny, too, assholes. Too bad about the house fire that killed them. Accidents will happen", she puffed away.
"April Van Winter? I remember you. You were the heiress that became a stunt woman and dropped out of the biz".
"Can't seem to talk about the things that bother me,
Seems to be what everybody has - against me!" she sang along with the radio.

"Here's the situation - and how it really stands,
I'm out of circulation - I've all but washed my hands,
My social life's a dud - my name is really mud,
I'm up to here in lies - guess I'm down to size, to sizzzzeee". She honked her horn along to the drum beats, scaring the shit out of the motorcyclists growling around her car. "I never quit showbiz, Cowboy. I just moved to Italy and became a horror film star. You're going to help me make my American comeback".
"How am I supposed to do that, by being driven to Thousand Oaks? If I didn't know any better, I'd swear you were driving me down to Camarillo, hmmm....I know somebody in Camarillo, he's a guest at a nursing home there."
April Van Winter turned to Walker with a sweet smile on her face. "Nursing home? Is that what they're calling the State Hospital there nowadays?"
"No, not that, come on, you're not taking me there", Walker trembled, freaked out.
"You'll thank me later", she kissed him on the cheek,"After all, it's Father's Day".

After getting the go-through the front gate and a pat down by the security guard ("worse than Paramount studios", grumbled Walker), the GTO pulled into the parking lot, Van Winter standing by the hood of her car, waving sweetly goodbye to him.
"You'd better be here when I get back", Walker spat angrily.
"I will, we have a movie to talk about. Say hi to Papa".

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Arthur Szymzcyk walked into the courtyard, his thick horn-rimmed glasses foggy and rumpled bed clothes mixed with a collegiate professor's jacket (with felt patches) on. In one hand was a notebook with crayons, in the other his favorite pipe. He smiled at the sight of Crash. "Harold! My boy!" he ran to him and they hugged. "Sit, sit, sit, son. My favorite television star in the entire meta-galaxy. You're more than a star, you're a constellation of entertainment!" he laughed, breaking out into a cough.

"Easy, Dad, don't get too excited", Walker whispered. The coughing died down, and Mr. Szymzcyk waved over a nurse. "Okay if my boy lights an old man's pipe?" The nurse nodded.
As his pipe was being lit, he muttered, "Wrangler's Canyon, huh? I never miss an episode. Wow...hey you got a pen on you? They give me these terrible crayons. They think I'm going to poke my eyes out with a Bic Finewriter, can you imagine?"
"Yeah, crazy, I mean, that's funny. I think I have one on me, it kinda goes out sometimes".
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, great, buddy. You never know when you need to write something really important down. Inspiration never sleeps, kiddo".

Mr. Szymzcyk began writing in his notebook, occasionally using his pipe as a ruler for concocting diagrams in his book. "Look time no see, son. What brings you here? Hmmm?"
"I got into a terrible fight with some guy at a party and the morning after he was found dead. Everybody thinks I did it, I got kicked off the show, and I'm stuck doing stupid toy commercials to pay the rent. I don't know, I-"
"Did you do it?" he asked, not lifting his head from his diagrams.
"Of course I didn't do it. I wouldn't kill anybody, you know that".
"No, you surely wouldn't", he lifted his face from his book, and said slowly. "But it takes people to think of ways to kill other people".
"You're not supposed to think about things like that".
"No, of course not. You think of new ways to kill people and then they just discard you like a used Kleenex."
Crash shut up, and just sat there. He didn't have anything to say to his father any more. He knew what was to follow.
"But I don't have it as bad as my Jewish counterparts in the Soviet Union. All they want is a visa to move to Israel and they get put in an asylum to rot for the rest of their lives. Can you imagine that? After all the work they do for their country? Fucking Russian bastards. Still keeping up on your chess?"
"Yes, Dad", he lied. He hated chess.
"Chess!" he lifted his pipe in the air. "Sport of kings!"
Crash yawned.

"Does Mom ever come to visit?"
"Your mother, she couldn't keep the secrets I had to keep. The pressure must have been terrible on her. The X-14 missile and Mojave T-390 rocket, I told her not to look at them, they followed us around but she talked to the neighbors, talked to her friends in temple".
Crash was bored and just wanted to be back in his crummy apartment. He hated talking to his father, always did. Always made him feel like the least important part of his life. His stupid blueprints, fuck his boring blueprints. Space craft, war machines, bombing machines. Fuck it all. After staring at a hot blonde nurse he noticed a familiar figure walking towards her. Jack Duffy, cartoon king, and founder of Duffyland. Visiting or checking in? He was reputed to be as nutty as Howard Hughes.

"Okay, look, I have to go back to work but it's been nice to see you. You can keep my pen, and uh, here's a book of matches, don't let the nurses see you with them, Dad? Dad?"
Mr. Szymzcyk had his head hung down, his voice rising.
"I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north - and out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. Every one had four faces, and every one had four wings".
"Dad? Dad?" Nurses were rushing over to them.
"Their wings were joined one to another - they turned not when they went - they went every one straight forward! The likeness of their faces, one had the face of a man, one had the face of a lion, on the right side - the face of an ox, left side - and the face of an eagle".
"Get the jacket, Bill, he's going into an episode".
The old man's voice rose, louder and louder. Everyone stared. "Their wings were stretched upward! Two wings were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies! And they went every one straight forward - whither the spirit was to go , THEY WENT! And, and , and - they turned not when they went!!!"
"Dad! STOP!!!"
A nurse grabbed his father and the other pulled his arms behind him and strapped on a coat of backwards sleeves.
"The creature's appearance was like, like, like...BURNING COALS OF FIRE! Like the appearance...of TORCHES! It went up and down among the living creatures - the fire was bright! AND OUT OF THE FIRE WENT FORTH LIGHTNING!"
Mr. Szymzcyk was carried back into the Spanish mission-styled mental facility.
"bUrN Th3 Blu3Pr1ntS! bUrN Th3 Blu3Pr1ntS! BUrN ThE Blu3Pr1ntS! bUrN Th3 Blu3Pr1ntS! bUrN ThE Blu3Pr1ntS! bUrN Th3 Blu3Pr1ntS! bUrN ThE Blu3Pr1ntS!"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Man Who Sold The World

Last week Malcolm Maclaren, controversial manager of The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls, and mentor to Adam & The Ants passed away at age 64 from cancer due to asbestos poisoning.

I first met Malcolm Maclaren in the summer of 1976 when I went to England to see The Sex Pistols. I was completely sold on them after reading a tiny review of them in the New Music Express. The Sex Pistols did a show at The 100 Club and I approached Malcolm and talked to him for awhile about possibly managing a band I knew in Hollywood (don't ask, they were horrible). He was friendly, polite, more than any other music industry nimrod I ever met, actually. He even gave me a Sex Pistols press kit which I didn't ask for, and still treasure to this day. His girlfriend at the time, the soon to be Dame Vivienne Westwood, was equally friendly and cool. I bought a leather t-shirt and rubber t-shirt from their clothes store on Kings Row, Sex. When I got back to Hollywood I told Rodney Bingenheimer about a great band from England called The Sex Pistols. He thought I was putting him on and laughed in my face. Dickhead.

A year later The Sex Pistols were the biggest thing in the United Kingdom and Malcolm Maclaren was a bit of a monster, advocating the beating of rock writers like Nick Kent. There were constant anti-Semitic remarks coming out of his mouth. Charming guy.

A year later my band Arthur J. and The Gold Cups played The Whiskey A Go-Go and Maclaren was in town with various Sex Pistols (Jones and Cook, but Vicious was hovering around somewhere). Our band played punk rock versions of silly oldies. Malcolm was in the audience and thought we were very funny. As soon as he got back to the UK he recorded what was to become "The Great Rock 'N Roll Swindle", featuring, yes, punk rock versions of old crummy covers. What an original guy.

"The Great Rock 'N Roll Swindle", purely Maclaren's creation, was disgusting, vile, a film that took a band that stole all its ideas from the New York scene (yes, he managed The Dolls but he pirated everything from Television and The Ramones), revitalized a decaying music scene and turned it all into an ugly cartoon. The only problem was thousands of kids still believed even if he didn't. The fucking hack.

By the early Eighties he made a string of bad hip-hop records (catch the wave!) and the first one sold but the rest of them tanked. People aren't half as stupid as the man that thinks he has everyone conned. The difference between Vivienne Westwood and him was that she truly believed in innovation and he simply used it as a device to put people down.

My memory of Malcolm is rooted in that first meeting when he was cool. It makes me sad to see people corrupted by their egotistical delusions and the destruction they create in their path. And that's why rock music is just a memory to me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Authentic Replica (crash WALKER Chapter 5)

Crash Walker was spared the expense of a high-powered lawyer like F. Lee Bailey because there wasn't enough evidence to hang him on the murder of Bill Flagg, aka not enough fingerprints, shoe prints on Flagg's dead pants, but no digits, alas. Just to rub it in, however, they made him sit it out until 12 am midnight.

On Tuesday at 12 noon he called his agent, Teddy "The Wolf" Wolfowicz, who told him he was off "Wrangler's Canyon", indefinitely. "Sorry, baby, I'll get you on the burner in no time flat, you'll be hotter than a hooker's twat in Bermuda, it's the emmis, doll".
"Thanks, Wolfie", Crash moped, slamming the phone down.
Three hours later he picked up his car from the TV set. Everybody walked away from him when they saw him like he was radioactive. Some asshole spray painted "HERO KILLER" on his driver door. "I wonder if Earl Scheib still charges $29.95 for a paint job these days?" he thought, assessing the door.

On Wednesday, he flopped around the house in his underwear, "Talk Talk" blasting out of his cheap AM radio with The Real Don Steele screaming in his face about the upcoming International Teen Fair at The Hollywood Palladium, tickets only $1.50. There was a knock at the door, and Crash opened the door with a Pall Mall hanging from his lips. "Yeah?"

"Ming Chow's, here's the chow", a teenage delivery boy pulled up a bag of Chinese takeout. "That'll be $3.95 for the Genghis Khan lunch spec- hey, you're Crash Walker!"
"Yeah, the hungry Crash Walker,that kung pao chicken better be hot".
"Hey, can you do me a big one? Could I get your autograph?"
"Aw...sure. Here's $4.50, keep the change. Got a pen?"
"Could you sign it Crash 'The Killer' Walker? My friends'll never believe I served a real murderer. We think you're the coolest for killing that dickhead. How did it feel bashing in his stupid face and breaking that fat, thick pig cop neck?"
"We couldn't believe anybody'd do anything that cool. You're like Jesse James or some other boss outlaw".
"Give me back that 50 cents. Get out of my house!" he slammed the door.
"Pussy! You probably needed help!" the delivery boy yelled behind the door before storming off.
Fucking stupid kids. He's probably the kid that spray painted my car. Greasy punk. Good thing I threw a blanket over my car. Now I have to order my takeout somewhere else.

Two days later The Wolf got him a gig selling toy rifles, but not just any rifle. The Marx Rapid Fire Diablo-Greenie Stick Em Cap Bandito Rifle. For several days Crash paced around his apartment in his underwear, Pall Malls in mouth, reciting his lines over and over, trying to let the overly long title flow from his smoky lips, The Marx Rapid Fire Diablo-Greenie Stick Em Cap Bandito Rifle. Reciting a Shakesperean soliloquy was child's play compared to the hellish title of this awful toy. But this toy gig was the only real phone call he had in days. The Schwab's restaurant gang had disappeared, for now.

The commercial shoot was on a back lot in the wilds of Tarzana, far away from the more popular studios in Holywood and Burbank. The lot had a few dilapidated western town sets, run down old saloon fronts even by Wild Bill Hicock standards. Crash Walker parked way in the back with the "HERO KILLER" side facing a huge sagebrush growth.

Because of the scandal facing his arraignment for the murder of Bill Flagg, the makeup department put more pancake on his face than usual. While he napped under the makeup chair it felt like a prosthetic nose was being placed on him. It was as if he was being disguised as someone else. As soon as he woke up he got hip to the fake nose and ripped it off, screaming his head off. A compromise was eventually reached and he settled on a Pecos Bill moustache, a thick handlebar job.

On set, Crash was handed the toy rifle he was shilling, a cheap black plastic job. "Everything jake, Walker? Wanna do a run-through of your lines?" the Director, a chubby dude with a blonde crew-cut asked with a chaw of gum in his wet mouth.
"Yeah, man, let's do it".
"Get the kid!" he yelled. A tow-headed little boy in full cowboy regalia - hat, bandana, fancy shirt, the works - was lead on set by his witch-faced mother, who openly sneered at Walker. "That's my boy. Don't touch him".
"Uh, ha,ha, that's funny, Mrs. Miller, please take a seat", the Director chuckled embarrassingly.
"Hey, Mister, I'll bet you can kill a lot of injuns with that rifle, huh?" the kid barked.
"Okay, let's run lines!" Rehearsal before filming began.

"That's right, son", Crash Walker drawled, "Be the toughest hombre west of the Pecos with The Marx Rapid Fire Diablo-Greenie Stick Em Cap Bandito Rifle. Rapid fire action just like in the old west, pardner!"
He cocked the rifle and shot a few rounds. Stinky cap smoke rose out from the head stock.
"The Bandito Rifle can be yours at all fine toy stores, Lil' Amigos. Greenie stick em caps sold separately. It's the authentic replica!"
"BOY HOWDY!" the little kid barked into the camera, spit flying out of his mouth, half his baby teeth missing.
"Cut! That's nice, I like it", the Director jammed three more sticks of gum in his big maw. "Let's shoot one!"
"Just a minute", the stage mom raced over to the Director, "You promised my boy more lines!" She glared at Walker. "Can't you give him some of this old codger's lines?"

Walker was ready to tell her to go fuck herself, but couldn't help noticing in the distance a strange sight. A telephone repairman in an immaculately starched uniform in the distance on a pole stared at him through binoculars. There was something fake about him, he was too clean to be a real repairman. The telephone guy pointed at him, and then at someone to his right.
"But lady we have labor laws for children his age!"
"Now listen, I didn't take my little Herb all the way to Tarzana just to say Boy Dowdy-"
"-Whatever, lookit, buster-"
To his right he saw a man in a suit with sunglasses talking into a walkie-talkie and also holding a pair of binoculars. A shiny pistol flashed under his jacket.
Crash Walker wheeled around and saw a homeless bum to his left up in the hills not far from the telephone pole with a rifle in his hands. It shined in the sunshine. Walker looked down at the toy rifle in his hands and then looked at the very real rifle in the hobo's hands, shinier, deadlier.
"-I don't trust my Herbie with this strange man, anyway, he looks a lot like that crazy actor I've been reading about in the news. If that's him I'll call the newspapers, you can bet that".
"Now, Mrs. Miller, I'm sure we can work something out. Break!" the Director barked.

Crash Walker sweated in the heat, his cowboy clothes soaking, the makeup girl mopping his face and handed him a towel. He walked towards his car in the back parking lot, quite empty, and saw the words "HERO KILLER", grabbed a paint brush with a black paint can by the set and changed it to "HERB MILLER" in honor of the little boy. A stage hand raced up to him and yelled, "Hey, Big Shot, give me back my stuff. Herb Miller? Who the hell's that?" and stormed off with the paint.

Crash Walker admired his handiwork, and then noticed the man in the suit and dark glasses walking towards him to the stern, the hobo approaching him to the left, the telephone repairman approaching him to the right, all just barely concealing their irons. High noon. He was cornered.
"Mr. Walker", the man in the suit said coldly, "We'd like to have a word with you".
The guns came out, turning towards his pancaked face and shined brightly in the hot Valley sun.
A shriek wailed from the asphalt and a bright green GTO flew right in front of the three gunmen, knocking two of them over and pinning one against "HERB MILLER". A girl with jet black hair, ruby red lipstick, blood red capris and a leather black eyepatch kicked open the passenger door with a Luger clutched in her right hand, and beckoned him.
"Get in", she hissed.

Coming next: Bibles and Blueprints

Thursday, April 1, 2010