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  • davidwills 10:12 pm on November 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Sir Paul, brushed by David Wills 

    Sir Paul McCartney by David Wills

    I pencilled and brushed McCartney with water colour last year and thought the result worth posting now, since I’ve already upped the graphic by Rebecca and Mike’s for his latest album, NEW, with with its puter-magic gas tubes for all to see.

  • davidwills 7:58 pm on November 30, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ben Ib, , Rebecca and Mike   

    My friends Rebecca and Mike who live in England and work in all sorts of spaces, create entertaining sights to surprise us all with their magic ability to amuse and delight – and at the same time tell an abstract truth about our world. They dreamed up the catch-me-quick vision for Paul McCartney’s latest album, NEW: A brilliant light logotype set in glowing tubes of gas. Ably CGI’d by boffin Ben Ib.

    Talking about the album, Paul said: “It’s funny, when I play people the album they’re surprised it’s me. A lot of the tracks are quite varied and not necessarily in a style you’d recognise as mine. I didn’t want it to all sound the same. I really enjoyed making this album. It’s always great to get a chance to get into the studio with a bunch of new songs and I was lucky to work with some very cool producers. We had a lot of fun.”

    Paul Mc.Cartney NEW album cover

  • davidwills 4:52 pm on November 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arnie Lazarus, , Doug McKechnie, Golden Gate Bridge, , Street Lightning Gang   

    History of the Big Boing: recording the sound of the Golden Gate Bridge.
    Firstly, this happened over 35 years ago, all the participants have differing memories of the event and future posts will correct the story as it is added to.

    There’s quite a story here. I first saw the Golden Gate Bridge in 69 and thought it to be a big harp. Little did I know that when the Bridge was built so did others, that a poem, accessible on line, was written about it.

    In 1975 Dianne Rappaport, formerly Bill Graham’s ‘quiet music’ manager and I published ‘Music Works’, a manual for musicians, I drew the cover and all the ads, with a theme of Venusians landing and taking over the music biz. The cover showed a Venusian playing the Golden Gate Bridge as a harp and I said to Dianne how cool it would be to actually do it. Dianne asked her new husband, Walter Rappapport, who is a sound engineer, how that could be done. He said “The Frap!” – Arnie Lazarus’s amazing pick up, able to record everything from a pin drop, to a piano, to a cable hit by hammer on the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Then Dianne called Michael Phillips, a former bank manager and writer for the Whole Earth Catalog, who arranged for us all to go out and hit the bridge. We were the people seen in the photographs, me, Brandon Jaide, Molly, Arnie and, not seen here, Walter Rappaport, the bass saxophone player, and Michael Phillips.

    Walter, who was the recording engineer on the first trip (we went out a second time too – more on that later) says all we were able to record well was, not the cables, but the big main suspension cable and the lampposts, though I recall it differently. It was after dark, we crept out after hours when the bridge was closed, but were seen by passing truckers who reported us as a mass suicide and a cop came out to shepherd us off the Bridge. (Walter does not recall the cop sequence.)

    So after that, Michael found out we could hire a cop and go out and perform our art adventure legally for $15 an hour. The second time we went out Walter could not be there, so the person called Doug Makechnie brought his tape recorder and recorded the bonks and boings of us all hitting the cables to find the best tone. ( I think this is the time when the photographs were taken). Arnie and I had brought a selection of various rubber, metal and wooden hammers.

    We found one cable that was especially taught and had a clear, deeply somnolent sound, like something a volcano under water would make. Boiiinnnggg, with a reverberation that did not stop.

    Unfortunately Doug talked incessantly over all the sounds, except when I told him to shut up and I hit one mammoth bonk with a wooden mallet. It lasts about 3-minutes. Arnie had a copy of Doug’s original recording and later gave me a copy of it. But Doug kept the original, and wouldn’t give me a copy. Doug proceeded to go out again to the Bridge and, I think, make further recordings, anyway he co-opted the idea and used the sounds without telling us, went on to publicize the recording as his idea throughout the eighties and nineties and later claimed to not recall our gang’s involvement at all.

    In 1987, Faye Schoolcraft, the eminent sculptor now working in Los Angeles, sampled the sound of the bridge I had had made, and recorded a beautiful piece of music based on Begin The Beguin. We tried to play it at a press party when Doug  showed off ‘his’ noise, but he wouldn’t let us use his audio equipment.

    Arnie Lazarus, the inventor of the Frap recorder, was furious about Doug Makechnie’s appropriation of our artwork and will have nothing to do with him to this day, but eventually I contacted Doug Makechnie and he grudgingly acknowledged my inspiration and published a small reproduction of the original cover of Music Works in his blurb, but as I said, he says he doesn’t recall the whole amazing adventure as it happenend. Us artist folk never forgive other’s appropriating our ideas…

    As I say, it’s quite possible that the other people involved in this escapade will recall it differently. I do hope they post their corrections. This all happened over 35 years ago – so we can be all excused having varying memories of the event.

    One thing I didn’t mention was that this whole adventure was a secret production of the Street Lightning Gang (SLG), of which Molly is the President. The SLG survives in various forms, as a tattoo of the sunrise lightning bolt symbol of the SLG on daughter Alessandra’s neck, and in sales of the SLG World Free Transport System of stencils which when applied to any building convert it to a Teleport and ‘Get you where you want to go in your own time’. This slogan was used by the Greatful Dead in one of their songs.

  • davidwills 2:36 pm on October 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Druid Heights, Mark Bode, , Mural, San Francisco Murals   

    Allan Watts library hidden in Druid Heights in Muir Woods State park: The Mural at 210 Clayton 

    210 claytond

    My daughter, Alessandra (she painted the butterfly), and I painted this mural in 2010 on Clayton at Hayes in San Fransisco.

    It shows the valley in the Muir Woods State park called Frank Valley and is where the 1950’s, and beyond, the un-deliberate community of Druid Heights, with Allan Watts Library, is hidden.

    Druid Heights was in the news when Michael Toinoven and a cabal of interested folk, including old friends and nabes of Roger Sommers the builder, cajoled the local rags, including the SF Chronicle to feature a ‘Where Is the Druid Heights Mystery?’ reporting an effort in The US Congress to declare Druid Heights a National Treasure.

    The mural is 39-feet tall and similarly wide – it extends unseen down a narrow side alley.

    It features a male Snowy Egret in breeding season, in full and improbable flap – wings up like that usualy indicate take-off and should feature a strenuous forward tilt of the body with legs dangling. Looks graphic like this though. Down the side alley is a stretched out version (with more probable wings) to allow for the effects of perspective. I used a Sharp copier, and by moving the original photograph got the stretched-out version as artist’s reference for the painting.

    The scene is looking down Frank Valley near Mount Tam in Marin County, with Muir Woods off picture at right. Hidden amongst the trees of the scene is the site of a ‘un-deliberate community’, a 50’s era and beyond community of what was called ‘Druid Heights’ from about 1952 to 1973 when one of the founders, Allan Watts died. This is where I lived in 1973-4.

    I was a room-mate there with Margo St.James, she of the famed SF Hooker’s Balls (that I named) and was an amateur event director from 1973 to 79. I designed many of the posters.

    Molly Bode, former Belarus Dancer, now manager and wife of the eminent artist, Mark Bode, also worked for St.James as Secretary to Her Majesty.

    Druid Heights was the compound of homes, shacks and shanties cleverly concealed from the building inspectors, built by an owner, Roger Sommers and his sometine partner, Ed Stiles (who would be nameless by preference) a high-class joiner and inventor, Together they had built a number of interesting buildings, including Allan Watts’ library, housed in a water butt, and the Goat House, built in 1967. The Goat House was the inspiration for the Tiny Homes movement. (Although not recognized as such by Lloyd Kahn leader of that movement and author of many small and tiny homes books.)

    The Goat House was the original ‘Tiny Home’ – the original, the Ur Tiny Home of the Tiny Home Movement. Designed by Sommers, who had studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, the Goat House was less tham 150 square feet. It had a pot bellied stove and running water piped up from the stream below. It was intended to inspire folk to build their own, The results can be seen in the Hippie Shack built on the side of a Bolinas cliff in ‘Home Work’ by Lloyd Kahn, Shelter. The Goat House was in the garden of the eminent lesbian poet, Elsa Gidlow, who was the producer on KPFA of Allan Watts’ radio talkathons on the subject of a loosely interpreted Budhism. The Goat House was where I first lived at Druid Heights, later I moved up to the Big House and other structures. Boy, those were the days…

    For copies of the books ‘Tiny Homes on The Move’, 2013, ‘Tiny Homes’, 2012, ‘Builders’, 2010, or ‘Home Work’, 2008 all by Lloyd Kahn, Shelter; email: ShelterPublications,com and get more than 2000 pictures in color on 360 pages of glossy wit for about thirty bucks a book.

  • davidwills 2:14 am on October 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Admiralty Arch Gates, , Boscombe Down, CSWillsBSc, Ministry of Supply, Science Museum, Transistor   

    Admiralty Arch Gates 

    I was eight in 1950, used to visit Lunnon from Amesbury wiv me dad when he worked up at Boscombe Down experimental aerodrome, he’d go up to Lunnon to Shaftesbury Avenue to the MInistry of Supply. Right about then he was a tryin’ t git tubes for his mate Alan Turing who was building a girt big puter. But they’d invented transistors the year afore and he built it with them instead. Anyhow, I used to go up t Lunnon and visit the museums, Nat Hist and the Science Museum, my favorite, and wait for him to finish work by sitting in the cartoon movie house on Trafalgar Square. Ten years later I was working at Grundy Arnott, as a blacksmith’s apprentice, making wrought iron ballustrades and the like. One job I worked on was the finials for the Admiralty Arch Gates, that you can see in the pictures here, at the end of the Mall with a Quadriga (four horses) on top. Hella cool pictures.

  • davidwills 1:26 pm on October 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dr. Hoffman, Dr.Bercel, LSD, Marylyn Monroe   

    The first person in the USA to ingest LSD: Dr. Bercel and his Monteray Pier spiders 

    I am the Dr.Bercel expert here. In 1969 Dr. B paid for his daughter, Ms.D and myself to fly to LA from London to get her eyes seen too. She had been eating unpasturized goats’ milk in northern Italy. She had bugs for which the cure was steroids. She didn’t take the steroids though. Anyway, the good doc was a shrink, with Marylyn Monroe as a patient, he was writing a paper on schitzophrenia. To study them he fed both LSD and serum from his patients to spiders he collected from the underside of Monteray pier. The spiders were from India, they arrived in Monteray through the East India trade. The spiders wove very intricately symmetrical webs. The spiders on schitzoid serum went all wobbly and unsymmetrical, the acid fed aracnids wove perfect webs. Dr. B got his LSD from the company in Switzerland that the inventor Herr Hoffman worked for. Dr.B ingested LSD once, “It changed my life.” he told me. This was I think in 1954. (Dr.B died about three years ago)
  • davidwills 4:11 pm on October 2, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Covent Garden, England, London, pollution, Smells, soot, Victorians   

    The Great Efluvium 

    Mmmmmmmmm. Don’t quite no where to start with this, many people obviously don’t know much about life before the bacteria therory took hold. In medieval times in England most people did not wash. Period. The layer of grime was protective – if you washed it off you opened yourself to the humours,

    By the time these pictures were taken people maybe bathed every year or so, if that. They stank, but it was your own stink and since a family shared the same smell (same bacteria) it was fine, plus you could tell if a person was a stranger ‘cos they smelled funny. Same thing nowadays when you go into someone else’s home, there a subtly, or not, different pong than the way your house smells. Or you might be reminded of some other place because of smell’s ability to prompt recall of other places and times. So these Victorian guys and women would smell, they’d be rankly offensive to modern notions of cleanliness, hygeine, you name it.

    It is only recently that I, an Englishman, have learned to shower daily, I grew up in an average middle class home in the 40’s with the weekly bath, and a family towel that was changed when needed. And while I have learned to bathe more frequently, it is just within the last couple of months that I’ve learned to enjoy the pleasures of the shower, rather than the bath.

    The fastidious American middle class might think times changed a long time ago, but it didn’t happen quite as long ago as they might hope. The people in these pictures never ever washed their clothes and dry-cleaning hadn’t been invented. Much of London still looked like that when I first went there, the porters in Covent garden still carried those baskets on their heads, the buses, while petrol driven, still had back stairs like those in these photographs of Victorian London. And London was black, with soot a half inch thick in places. Not until October of 1958 when the new coal burning laws kicked in did the awful ‘pea-soup’ fogs stop. In1957, 15,000 old folk died in one memorable smog event, that’s what help change the law.

    So take heed and succor – there’s hope to clean things up in our time from the perils of modern diesel pollution, it can be done, because in my living memory things got better, cleaner, healthier. And people don’t stink as much no mo.

  • davidwills 9:10 pm on September 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Apollo, art history, David, , Michaelangelo, Narcissus   

    David’s big head
    I just was a doin’ my exercizes, little bit a day – one more push up every so often, ’til I get to 24-a-day. I’m now down to 167lbs (perfect by the chart for my height of 5ft 10ins) in 3-months – from 185lbs in June. So, there I was admiring m’self, the Narcissus Apollo of Petaluma, and when I looked in mirror – I saw David. The Michaelangelo one, big head an’ all.
    In the art books, they say ol’ Michaelangelo made David’s sculpture with a too-big-a-head because people would be looking up at him. Stuff-a-nonsence – most people look at him across the Florentian traffic from a distance, so the effect of perspective as viewed from below would only be seen by a few compared with the crowds further away – so why compensate for those few close-up folk? AND ANYWAY IF YOU’RE BELOW LOOKING UP AT HIM FROM BELOW YOU EXPECT HIS HEAD TO BE SMALLER, THAT’S HOW PERSPECTIVE WORKS, WE’VE ALL SEEN IT IN ACTION FROM WHEN WE WAS KIDS.
    So… I say that Michaelangelo used a Jewish model, like me, and his head was bigger than the traditional proportion of eight or nine heads to the body, or whatever it is, and gave him a big bonce, and that’s why “every body calls ‘im big ‘ead” (to quote Stanley Holloway). Revise the art-history text books!

    • Phil Franks 9:52 am on September 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      You’d have to have extremely good eyesight to see the sculpture “across the Milanese traffic from a distance” because it’s in Florence, quite a distance away from Milan. 😉


    • davidwills 2:29 pm on September 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Phil, I stand tall with a big head corrected, I have changed the screed to read that the viewpoint is in scenic Florence, not on some Milanese byway.

      • Phil Franks 8:40 pm on September 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        But you were right David about “perspective as viewed from below”, as that wiki entry says:

        The proportions of the David are atypical of Michelangelo’s work; the figure has an unusually large head and hands (particularly apparent in the right hand). These enlargements may be due to the fact that the statue was originally intended to be placed on the cathedral roofline, where the important parts of the sculpture would necessarily be accentuated in order to be visible from below.

        • Phil Franks 8:44 pm on September 28, 2013 Permalink


          On 12 November 2010, a fiberglass replica of the David was installed on the roofline of Florence Cathedral, for one day only. Photographs of the installation reveal the statue the way the Operai who commissioned the work originally expected it to be seen.

        • davidwills 2:30 am on September 29, 2013 Permalink

          Wow, you really know your David!

  • davidwills 12:52 am on September 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Hitler, Obama, Sid Squeek, , Tea Party   

    Sid the Ripper in Hitler protest 

    Today in Sonoma on Broadway outside the post office I saw two suspected Tea Party activists with “Impeach Obama” posters hawking for votes, no problem – except they were displaying posters with Hitler’s ugly moustache on Obama’s face. I complained to both the women at the table, saying, “I think that’s disgusting.” As I walked away I saw there was a woman also walking away obviously distraut, I think she was jewish. She was crying, whispering to herself “That’s so disgusting” In the post office, she was inside, sobbing her eyes out. I said to her “That upset me also, I told them what I thought, and used a finger” I stewed a bit, then marched back to the table, irate, livid, steaming and intent on mayhem. I grabbed a poster with both hands and ripped it down, grabbed a second and tore it away too. Then marched off, a proud Ripper, saying to myself, “My grand-dad died in Auschwitz, I’ll be damned if I don’t avenge his memory.” The two at the table started to video me, and called the police, complaining that I’d violated their first ammendment rights. I said, “Go ahead, I’ll be pleased to curse you in court.” We drove away, adrenaline coursing through my veins, elated that I’d won one for the Ripper.
    (My punk name back in the sixties and since was ‘Sid Squeek,’ Sid does random acts of non-violence and senseless acts of atrition.)

    As an added note to the above, later in the day just as I was about to about to speak to to the the man in the frame shop next to the post office and ask him, “What do you think of the Hitler posters?” he said exacty the same thing to me,”What do you think of the Hitler posters?” When I told him what I had done, he grinned, and shook my hand. That evening I spoke with another guy, proudly telling him what I had done, he also responded,by shaking my hand, and added that if he saw the poster – he’d burn it.

  • davidwills 2:28 pm on September 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Christopher Morcom, Churchill, CSWills, Enigma, RVJones   

    Born with two silver spoons in my mouth 

    Along with the rest of my jetsom that disapeared down the memory hole over the years were two silver spoons given to me at birth in December 1941. One was from Alan Turing, he of Enigma fame, the master codebreaker Churchill credited with making the biggest single contribution to the Allied victory over Hitler. The other spoon was given by Turing’s boss, RV Jones, Churchill’s choice for scientific advisor to the War Effort – and my godfather. Both spoons had my initials engraved on them, each set of initials in different type styles. As a kid I marvelled at the intricate characters. I realized this morning that my intense interest in these monograms was the inspiration for me to be a graphic designer. To have had such a spoon-fed gift at the height of the blitz was truly extraordinary. My dad, CSWiIls, BSc, was at that time working as a scientific officer at the experimental aerodrome in Farnborough, Surrey, England, which is how he came to know such prestigious people. He was working with Jones on early radar and playing chess with Turing. In another interesting connection, one of my middle names is Christopher, I am thus named for Turing’s boyhood chum, Christopher Morcom, whom he idolized and who died when he was twelve. 

    I am currently reading RVJones book, The Wizard War, 1978, which is the true story of how to do a good job and beat the Nazis.

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