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  • davidwills 4:52 pm on November 26, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arnie Lazarus, , Doug McKechnie, Golden Gate Bridge, Molly Bode, 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, Molly Bode, Mural, San Francisco Murals   

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

    210 clayton

    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.

     
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