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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Halloween In August

In the early Seventies when I lived in New York I bought a litho of a creepy painting titled "Masks Fighting For The Body of a Hanged Man" by an artist named James Ensor. Pictured above, it's an illustrations of two skeleton women literally fighting it out with brooms and mops over a hanged man with groups of masked freaks and witches looking on from a doorway. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and it was my entryway into the art of James Ensor.

James Ensor, born in Belgium and creative during the turn of the century , may be one of the most under documented artists ever known. His artwork is an endlessly creative line of grotesque images rendered in a naive art style that can truly elude any easy classification. Sometimes impressionistic, other times expressionistic, yet neither, perhaps his inability to be classified explains his regrettable obscurity after all these years, almost 100 years after his death.

All this "regrettable obscurity" came to a close one afternoon this summer when I drove down Pico Boulevard and saw huge banners of Ensor art hanging from street lamps announcing The Getty Center exhibiting a show called "The Scandalous Art of James Ensor" (June 10-September 7). I could hardly believe my bloodshot eyes!

The Getty Center show is truly a feast to the eyes of any Ensor fan, providing an absolutely comprehensive retrospective this side of Brussels of the great artist's works. I also learned a lot about the great man himself, and was surprised by what I learned. Mr. Ensor may have been The Original Goth Kid. A portrait of his maternal grandmother informs us that she was a seller of grotesque masks which excited and influenced his art in the years to come.

He was also a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe's works and his paintings based on several of his stories, i.e. Hop Frog, including the bizarre "King Pest" were on display at the Getty. He also had a cool harmonium (Nico's keyboard of choice) in his studio that he enjoyed playing. This dude was Goth before Goth got cool!

For all the horror business Ensor served up I don't think it was all gloom and doom. I detected notes of humor in many of his works, and his depiction of government and military officials were reminiscent of George Grosz in the cartoonishness (Ensor predated Grosz so it's presumptuous to say he was an influence on the German expressionist). The subject of death breached a cross between humor and horror, and I liked the party and horror mask paintings the most.

Ensor's wild masterpiece "The Entry of Christ Into Brussels" (1888) was not only displayed in its full splendor but also had a little magnifying glass-style display you could peruse all the details of this unique masterwork. Ensor's mixture of colors and even brush strokes were so erratic which left disturbing hints of a runaway psyche on every piece displayed.

I was happy to see so many people analyzing and enjoying Ensor's works - attendance was pretty robust for such an obscure art star. I also chuckled when I saw an endless line of Ensor souvenirs on sale at the sale counter. I wasn't ready for an Ensor coffee mug, but I got a few magnets and punk rock-style buttons. Now maybe Taschen can put their Ensor retrospective back in print!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Every Bitch For Himself - Punk Rock Crime Novel OUT NOW!!!!

It's 1978, and Hollywood Boulevard is burning with punk rock energy and with it the advent of career criminal Big Jason Gulliver, an amoral monster in silver hair, torn t-shirt and army fatigues. Big Jason plans to knock over Rocket USA, the most popular punk club in town, using his friends who all work on the inside of the club.

Standing in his way are three psychopaths who run Rocket USA: Jack Sterling, owner of the club, a has-been television star with severe OCD; Chuck Steakhouse, punk surfer thug with a capacity for rape and torture; and Miggy Sanchez, a thug every inch the equal of Big Jason in amorality.

Every Bitch For Himself captures all the energy of the 1978 Hollywood punk scene with episodes of violent rock & roll, perverse cult rituals, and nightmarish parties. Just as punk rock bands twisted old songs to fit its explosive style, Every Bitch For Himself corrupts old film noir scenes culled from The Killing, The Asphalt Jungle, Born To Kill and The Killers, to name a few, to create a new punk rock crime novel.

Andy Seven’s previous novel Every Good Boy Dies First captured the fervent pace of the Nineties music scene, drawing on experiences from his music career to craft a chilling novel. Once again Andy draws on his memories of the 1977 Hollywood punk scene to create Every Bitch For Himself.

How and why did punk happen? Popular music split into two factions following the demise of glam rock in the late Seventies: disco and punk. There was disco for the club kids who wanted to keep all the glamour, danceability and sexual decadence of glam alive, and on the other side there was punk, which continued all the outrage and drama of glam. Like two unruly siblings both styles of music hated each other.

In addition to playing in numerous punk bands on the '77 Hollywood scene Andy Seven can also be read discussing the history of 1977 Hollywood Punk in books like We’ve Got The Neutron Bomb by Brendan Mullen and Marc Spitz; Improvisation, Identity and Tradition by Charles Michael Sharp, and Lexicon Devil by Brendan Mullen and Adam Parfrey.

Every Bitch For Himself, after all is said and done, is still a crime novel. It follows the tradition of the standard heist gone wrong story, but how it goes wrong and the disaster that follows it is an exercise in severe karmic payback that needs to be read to be believed. Who gets away with crime and who doesn’t is the real kick of the story. Are there double crosses or are there consequences to everyone’s actions? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Ten things you can count on reading in my latest novel:
1. Drunken punks playing Bologna-Toss on loaded chicks.
2. Has-been TV Western cowboy stars.
3. Mods vs. Punks battle it out on the beach.
4. Squeamish Los Angeles police detectives.
5. Discotheque chase scenes.
6. Blood-drenched performance art rituals.
7. Beauty products weaponry.
8. King Kong scales the Capitol Records building.
9. Miracle Mile shopping sprees, and:
10. The world's greatest shithouse fist fight.
Yep, if it hasn't been written yet, you can count on me to write it for you. May God and Ringo Starr forgive me!

Every Bitch For Himself, Andy Seven’s second punk crime novel is available for $4.99 at all popular eBook retailers, including:

Amazon Kindle:
Nook (Barnes & Noble):

Each website provides a short sample of the novel for previewing before purchase so you can see what deviltry is brewing on each page.

Every Bitch For Himself combines two violent art forms, punk rock and film noir to create an exciting new hybrid of crime writing. Check out the new novel and experience it for yourself.