High kids. I was musing about ancient Egypt and a mummy head I’d seen when it struck me as obvious that the graphic thinker, Barney B (AKA Colin Fulcher), had a bonce (head) quite similar to that of King Tut and his chaps, so I expect that Barney’s naming of his son Aten, as in Atenatun, Tut’s dad, had a bit more than just exotica in mind. The title of King Barney B seems apt – I think Barney thought he was a reincarnation of the lineage. His grand megalomania combined with a dose of his plain ol’ mania could easily arrive at a conviction of his descent from Moses’ sister with child at the court of the Egyptians. Could explain a lot about Barney’s intuitive arrival at mystically blatant answers to irrational puzzles.
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A recent documentary about punk rock band ‘The Adverts’ features TV Smith, the band’s singer/songwriter talking about the sleeve that Barney Bubbles created for them in 1977 (using a photo shot by Phil Franks who sometimes comments on this blog).
TV Smith: “I had no problem with Stiff Records, even when I thought I was being done over. I could see the point of it, for example, the cover of One Chord Wonders. They put Barney Bubbles onto designing the cover, then when we got invited into Stiff to see what he’d done, well, I felt like I’d been stiffed. But, what can you say, it was a brilliant cover. They created an icon out of Gaye and they put The Adverts firmly in punk rock history. There was no question that that cover – which I would definitely not have agreed to – was a massive step forward for the band.”
Watch the whole documentary HERE, fast forward to 11.50 for the Barney Bubbles bit.
(Info provided by Barney Xpurtz R&M)
Well readers, I’ve been cajoling Barney Bubbles boffins Rebecca and Mike to dip into their folder of ‘stuff Barney did that not many people know about’ and they’ve come up with some goods for us all to admire.
Pictured here below is a sleeve Barney (born Colin Fulcher) designed for former Damned punk band member Brian James in 1978. Marvel at the dextrous flicking of Barney’s favourite ink-laden toothbrush across carefully cut masks. R&M tell me that as well as creating the entire front illustration, the design of the front, back and label design is all Barney’s handiwork. They also point out to me the design of the record company name on the label (BJ Records) uses the spindle hole to not only hold the record in place, but also provide the ‘O’ of ‘RECORDS’ and the dot of the letter ‘j’; a typical economy of means.
Want to know what the track sounds like? Listen here:
420: Thunderground strikes Mount Olympus as kids romp in the bushes
Last night at dusk as the happy crowds from the Four-Twenty mobshow in Golden Gate Park dispersed and then into the night, my 18-year old daughter, Alessandra, helped stage a small portable generator-powered free rock-concert with her beau’s band, Lash and Thunderground in a sylvan setting, there to commune with the cosmos.
Sweet thuds in the glade on the summit of the dark forest with its grave-stone lined paths. Known as Mount Olympus in Buena Vista, it is the Haight’s other big park, what a view. Staged as the Cosmic Library with the earth as a node in the map of wisdom, they made artful arenbe sounds the trees had never heard before. Stage-manger General Pailin had set large mushrooms in the bushes, and created a city of doom from filched cardboard. Celebrating Four-Twenty high above the masses with prog change by example the creed. This is the beginning of something nicely subversive and very cool.
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San Francisco, 20th April. 420 day.
As I was going to Hippie Hill, Hippie Hill was smoking.
Big bongs, little joints, whiffs, big fat ones, fabulous multicolored bongs, holstered pipes, all slung with aplomb past the local police smilingly asking revelers to offload their beer, “No drink in the park!” they yelled. But as my friend Richard Ivanhoe said, “They aren’t enforcing the smoking ordinance.”
Many more revelers than last year, twice as many. People were pouring in from all over, looking like the crowd you used to see headed for a free concert, but way more than I’ve seen here in a while. Lots of folk from out of town, from the netherlands of Fremont, from Marin, from San Mateo, and in San Francisco from the Mission, from Hunters’ Point from the Marina. Everywhere it seemed ‘cept any of us homeys from the Haight, because I didn’t see anyone in the crowd I knew, though I know they were there.
Artist Alice Rules was there, she was also in the Peace Vigil crowd of us ten regulars later that evening where she was holding a ‘Peace Rules’ sign. But there were no politics on view at the 420 event, folk just hanging out enjoying the vibe as far as I could see, no signs, no speakers. Of course there were t-shirt hikers and beer barkers, drums, weed sales-people and drums and the rest, but it was mercifully non-corporate. It was real friendly all across the field. Respect and good humor had by all.
A Degas foreground angled composition peopled by Breughel, a ‘Pilgrimage To Hippie Hill’ with a clever chiaroscuro of contrast between the shadowed crowd on the eye-level flat of Sharon Meadows, framed by the tall yukes and the crowds on Hippie Hill rising above them in the sun. A classic crowd show of respect to an important center of learning, All Hale Hippie Hill!
Enterprising folk set up drink tents away from the cops and parkies in the middle of the crowd. The evidence of the recent Occupy movement was clear, well at least hazy. Lots of tents. Very youth oriented, an equal number of men and women of various persuasions, all very cool. Total mix of ethnicity – black, white, brown, Euro, Asian, African; class – up, down, and twixt. A slew of soft-ware writers, and a drug of dealers. With the homeless, homies and the homed and a few old codgers like m’self all hanging out waiting for the strike of four-twenty. But nobody had second hands on their cell-phones so the moment of truth passed by unmarked, so far as I could hear, anyway.
As I was leaving many more hundreds of people were still arriving, far more than leaving. The Hippie myth lives on, but this was a major sartorial showcase of every style going, with every one in their best high fashion. As a entertainingly dressed woman said to me on the street last Wednesday, “Now you can wear anything you want and it’s ok.”
Many weed-aware T-shirts. One Peruvian-hatted woman had a traditional rainbow zig-zag poncho and yellow green red zig-zag stockings, like her the crowd was varied, wild and at ease. An accurate cross-section of a society, aged 16 to 35, a marketeer’s day dream.
Oddly unique, it is a totally self-referential gathering, without a leader or a purpose other than to celebrate being together at a gathering.
I’ve just finished the biography, part 1, of the Rolling Stone’s second manager, Andrew Loog Oldham and remembered for the first time in fifty years that, amazingly we briefly, but concurrently. both went to the same school, I say amazing because of the over the top horror of the place. But also because it shows how two experiences of the same place could be so different.
What a story. In the two terms I was there I experienced a nineteen-fifties’ version of Dickens’ Dotheby’s Hall up close. Cold meals in the cellar. A thrashing in the ornate common room for one unfortunate who was spreadeagled on the table and flogged for a night-time tryst with the cook’s daughter. A set of strange teachers who’d been laid off at other, more respectable seats of teaching, including Mr. Cowie who was rumored to be too interested in the younger lads, and Mr. Solomon the inventor of a recyclable heat retention system of flasks to hold soup on train journeys.
The building is now renovated to its Grade 1 category sumptuousness, where a Mr. Gladstone (Queen Victoria’s prime-minister’s great-grandson) now lives, but then it was a peeling damp near ruin. An architectural triumph of 18th-century classical pomp, designed anonymously by the woman who taught Sir Christopher Wren to build. It had fallen on poor times when we were there. Grass in the gutters, trash in the carriage inspection wells, the rose garden with its arch of baleen whale jaw-bones, overgrown.
I was there, with my nine-year-old brother Peter, when I was twelve, leaving the frigid place in December when I hit thirteen. Haw-frost in the top of the sixty -foot elms as we lined up for church at 8-am dressed in short pants and chilblains. Andrew left the school in “the spring” when he was eleven. Unlike me, Andrew recalls it as a glamorous place instilling in him his version of the private-school background that he used with such panache to flog the ‘Stones. But ‘Cokethorpe’ (always mispronounced as ‘Coke-thorpe’) was more correctly called ‘Wooton Underwood School’ (Andrew got the name of the village it was closest to wrong) and was the cheapest boarding school available outside the reform school Borstal. Borstal and Cokethorpe had a similar breed of pupil too. The ‘Cokethorpe’ name was not correct either, that name was appropriated by the crook who ran the show from another school of that name (properly pronounced ‘Cook-thorpe’), still extant, a well regarded, and real old-school school.
No, this was the real deal school-from-hell story, stuck out in a marsh 5-miles it seems from the nearest village, with a secret experimental rocket base not far away. Ghosts in the night. The frequency of low-class garbage-disposal business men’s children in the class rooms was apparent. It is quite possible that relatives of Ted Moulton (the mentor-cum-fuck-up of famed fellow graphic designer, Colin Fulcher/Barney Bubbles’ ) also went to the school. I think the thug Charley Cray’s younger relatives were there too. So it was a bit short on glamour I suppose if you knew better, but to the lads of the thug class it was filled with it was a sort of flashy secondary-modern of private schools if you looked at it with your eyes shut and dressed warm.
Shortly after we both left, the school’s creditors tried to catch up with the ‘owner’, who was a scam-artist from the East End. Heck it could of been Ted Moulton hisself for all I know. In something out of a funny/weird British movie like ‘If’, the pupils were put in buses and chased all over the country by their headmaster’s creditors. Front pages of the News of the World, Express, and Mail.
When Barney and I started up in ‘business’ together in late 1962 he told me that the Stones’ manager had gone to the same school as I did, that I should contact him, but I didn’t see the point, unlike Barney, I had not the slightest wish to get involved in that crass biz. I thought he’d ruined the Stones with those stupid geeky suits and their velvet collars they donned for a few moments of rock history. I didn’t know it at the time, but it were him what got rid of their cool but dorky-looking stride pianist, Ian Stuart. But that’s what Barney really was interested in. Way to go.
Andrew’s book I found to be really well done, good show Andrew. Though it could be better edited. Some hella writing there when he goes off. Andrew is now, or was, living in the center of the cocaine business in Bogota, Columbia.
A the time I hated the school where I thought I’d learned little, but reading Andrew’s book gives me the idea that I really may have learned some worthwhile street-wise ways there. I recall Barney saying he could see how we’d both been to the same school, “You’re the same sort of show off .” he said.
Anyway, back in 1953 Andrew and I got together in the common room with the fifteen-foot ceilings and the same cornices as in Buckingham Palace (it was built as the the Duke of Buckingham’s country estate), sitting around the antique stove, with its orange mica windows that I poked out in flakes, to discuss the benefits of having me draw space-ships for him to sell, and split the profit. At that time we all listened to Journey Into Space with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which set the scene, Some weeks one of the kids in my dorm was chosen to listen to the spooky show – hidden under the floorboards in the crawlspace. Also the Eagle comic’s exploded views of technology by Frank Bellamy(?) were an inspiration.
I left the school before Andrew and I never got to realize the full potential of Space-Ship Arts Ltd. – though I did sell one drawing of a bulbous transport inter-planet transporter (plus a free nude) for half-a-crown (known as half-a-dollar or ‘arfer nicker) and a Mars bar. One and sixpence, about 65% of the cash, went to Andrew and I got the Mars bar, petty fair deal considering his later career. The half-a-crown (50-cents or so) was worth more than face value in that cut-off from civilization economy, where a loaf of bread was legal tender.
Jim Anderson found the art, by a French man If I recall right, but may have been found by the kids in one of his mags. I suggested using it on both front and back, designed it, positioned the strategically placed student, under orders from advisers, including Felix Dennis – to obscure the genitals.
Here’s the Robert Crumb Rupert Bear strip collaged and hand colour-separated into Schoolkids OZ, done by schoolkid Viv Kylastron. This being one of the issues I helped design, I completed the overlay when Viv left it unfinished. Surprisingly this issue became the subject of a high-profile obscenity case with this cartoon attracting special note.
At first, because the names in the credits did not list the occupations of the accused, everybody listed was prosecuted. When we were all herded into John Mortimer QC’s paneled office there were maybe 8 people in the room all charged with whatever the cops had cooked up. Council worked some legal words and all except the editors, Richard Neville, Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis, were able to leave.
I heard Felix talking to Richard at a ’95 Oz reunion in London saying that he’d heard from so-snd-so that the whole court case was pre-arranged by the government to first have the fusty old judge declare them guilty, to give ‘em a taste of jail, eh what, then let them go on appeal.
During a party for the schoolkidz (supposedly all over 18) at Richard Neville’s apartment on Kensington Palace Road, while he was away in Australia and I was house-sitting there, and we were working on the School-Kids issue, some of the kids raided the refrigerator and found Richard’s stash of acid. Many lived to tell the tale. I notice that in Richard’s book, Hippie, Hippie Shake he credits the hallucinate to to be the property of Jim Anderson, but that’s not what I was told at the time.