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.
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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.
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, community of Druid Heights, with Allan Watts Library, is hidden. Druid Heights was recently in the news when a cabal of interested folk, probably old friends and nabes of Roger Sommers the builder, cajoled the local rags including the Chron to feature a ‘Where Is the Druid Heights Mystery?’ and 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. Dahn va soid alley (cockney accented) 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, as seen on on my Facebook header.
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 ‘deliberate conurbation’, a 50’s era 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 event manager from 1973 to 79, I designed many of the posters. Molly Bode, 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, nameless by choice, a high-class joiner, Together they had built a number of interesting buildings, including Allan Watts’ library, housed in a converted water butt, and the Goat House, built in 1967. The Goat House was the inspiration for the Tiny Homes movement.
The Goat House was the original ‘Tiny Home’ – 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.
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!
Here’s my copy of School Kids Oz #28, currently held in custardy (sic) in some lock-up somewhere. I worked on this issue. Page order is from left to right, top to bottom. Click on a spread to view the pages larger as a slideshow. Want to supersize a spread?: Click ‘View Full Size’ (bottom right) when in slideshow mode and then click on the image again to further magnify. The only limitation is your imagination – Vwwrreee!
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.
My indefatigable London correspondents R&M inform me that there’s a compact-size Mick Farren exhibition currently on show in riot-recovering Hackney. On the walls is every page of Mick Farren and Ed Barker’s 1972 book ‘Watch Out Kids’ for which I did the cover art, and in the corners a couple monitors with period and contemporary interviews featuring Mick.
Mildly irrelevant aside
Funny this should come up now, I’m painting a thirty-two foot high mural of the view down the valley I was living in in ’74 when Mick Farren visited and memorably said on looking down the burnt sienna and Umber scene of buccolic perfection, “It needs some Vegas neon.”
I think of this as I paint, thinking to subvert the sylvan Vedic vistas before me with a crass blaze of Nickelodeon brash. The valley is one over from the Zen Buddhist monastery, and has its own connections with zen through the library of Allen Watts, which is one of two rain-barrel houses designed by Roger Sommers. Set in a one time ‘deliberate community’ of about six main buildings with various outhouses and built to fool the building inspectors who never discovered the full extent of the habitats grouped in the euk’ knoll on what is now state park. When I was there in ’74 it was a mature 1950’s hippie scene, called ‘Druid Heights’, with Watts, the beat generations’ favorite buddhist Church of England priest wandering around in a robe with a bottle; Roger Sommers, a jazz playing visionary builder, who has in retrospect has become the founder of the Tiny Homes Movement – he studied under Frank Lloyd Wright; Margo St. James the Whore organizer with whom I went on to found the Hookers Ball; The King of Carpenters, a stylish craftsman and his potter wife; and the poet Elsa Gidlow in whose goat house I stayed. In one of two wood shops, lived the landlords son, Tagore, a chippie who went on to be an engineer at Enron, and his girlfriend with whom I got very well, Julie, the classical flautist whom I married. Julie went on to the South Bronx in ’82 and was influential in early Rap.
When I read Mick’s book back then I told him that I had thought of a sequel and would write it. It was from that forgotten story that the Street Lightnin’ Gang (The Graffiti Artists Union, with President for Life, Molly Rodriguez Bode) evolved, leading to the glorious discoveries of World Teleport, that so changed the diesel emissions standards of the world, and leading to cleaner skies everywhere.