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.
My cover art for Mick and Ed's book
Walls: Some of the book. Video: Yippie invasion of the David Frost show 1970, with Mick in full flight heckle.
Exhibition signing-in book