May 30, 2013

20,000 vinyl LPs 21: Adam & the Ants ~ Dirk Wears White Sox

 front cover photo by Clare Johnson
photo of front cover by Styrous©

One of the treasures in my vinyl record collection, Dirk Wears White Sox, has always intrigued me with it's image of a woman on the cover album. She is vague, diaphanous, mysterious and compelling. I have the same fascination with her as I have with the woman on the back cover of the Jorge Pardo album (see link below).

 front cover photo by Clare Johnson
photo by Styrous©

In 1978 I saw Jubilee, the British cult film directed by Derek Jarman, which stars Jenny Runacre, Ian Charleson, Amyl Nitrate (Pamela Rooke aka Suzi Pinz on the soundtrack album who does a hilarious but GREAT version of Rule Britania, see link below) and many punk rockers, including Toyah and Adam Ant. The title of the film refers to the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1977. Naturally, I was hot on the trail for the soundtrack album. It was my first awareness of Adam and the Ants. A year or so later, I discovered Dirk Wears White Sox by The Ants.

Dirk Wears White Sox was the only LP by the original Ants lineup; it was released by Do It in 1979. The album features a young Adam Ant exploring the fusion of punk, glam, and minimalist post-punk and songs of alienation, sex, and brutality. The album offers a fascinating look at the Ants' formative years, capturing Ant's raw energy.

Adam wrote the words and music for the album and "Dirk" is a reference to is 50's British film star, Dirk Bogard (1921-99). He was a great Bogarde fan. In 1974, Bogard starred in the film Il Portiere Di Notte (in English The Night Porter). The song, Dirk Wears White Sox was inspired by that film but it was cut from the original 1979 album but released on another album years later.

 photo by Styrous©

The album featured an inner sleeve with lyrics and photos by Philip Grey.  The photos are burned out, stylized images á la 1979 punk.

inner sleeve photos by Philip Grey
photo of inner sleeve by Styrous©

I love the title of this song
photo by Styrous©

 album credits
photo by Styrous©

the record labels were pretty cool

side one record label
photo by Styrous©

side two record label
photo by Styrous©

Original 1979 release    

Side one:
1.  Cartrouble (Parts 1 & 2)
2.  Digital Tenderness
3.  Nine Plan Failed
4.  Day I Met God
5.  Tabletalk

Side two:
1.  Cleopatra
2.  Catholic Day
3.  Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)
4.  Animals and Men
5.  Family of Noise
6.  The Idea

Adam Ant – vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, harmonic
David Barbe – percussion 
Matthew Ashman – guitar, piano
Andrew Warren – bass guitar
Marco Pirroni – guitar on tracks 18 and 19
Jon Moss – drums on tracks 18 and 19

Adam Ant was born Stuart Leslie Goddard on November 3, 1954, in London, England. He studied art at the Hornsey School of Art in London. The list of musicians associated with Hornsey is astonishing. He placed a classified ad in the weekly British music paper Melody Maker in June of 1976 that read: "Beat On A Bass With The B-Sides." A few days later he met with Andy Warren and they formed the group the B-Sides. They recorded a punk version of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" but broke up right after that.

Melody Maker Magazine ads resulted in many fine collaborations:

20,000 vinyl LPs 2: Jorge Pardo
Amyl Nitrate (Suzi Pinz) singing Rule Britania on YouTube
Car Trouble can be heard on YouTube
Nine Plan Failed can be heard on YouTube
There's terrific historical info about Adam and the Ants during 1978 on the blog, Kill Your Pet Puppy.

The entire collection is for sale. Interested? Contact Styrous®



May 22, 2013

Beemer Memories Pt. 6 ~ corn dogs 'n nieces

I received a comment about Beemer Memory Pt. 1 (see link below), it is too good a memory to remain just a comment.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

My Dearest Uncle Max, 
I came to Grandma's in San Francisco in February of 1972 [it was actually 1973, I bought my Beemer in September of 1972 - Styrous] at the age of 19 with my 1 year old baby Michael. You came and picked me up to take me for a day's long journey on your new baby BMW. We went through Golden Gate as well as the Cliff House and along the Beach.

You also introduced me to the infamous Corn Dog and after telling you I never had one you said. "What? You haven't lived until you've had a Corn Dog!" and insisted it had to be eaten with Mustard ;}

We then went along the Beach and through many, many hills before going home at the end of our day.

It was a wonderful Memory on your bike that day and I thought {and still do} you were absolutely the best Uncle ever! I've been on many Motorcycles {as we've always owned one as well} but the day on your bike is the best memory I have on any bike...I wish we took a picture {though I want to say I think we did :} THANK YOU!

I Love You, Conni

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you, Conni. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I still remember wiping mustard off your cheek with one of the paper napkins that came with the corn dog. You were nineteen, lovely and full of life. In my eyes you will always be nineteen, lovely and full of life.

Thank you for being part of that beautiful memory and especially for bringing it back to life for me; it as well as you make me young again.

Your loving uncle.

Styrous© ~ Wednesday, May 22, 2013

P. S. If you're in the Chicago area, check out Conni's custom made cakes; there are very unusual cake designs especially for expectant mothers; I wrote an article about it (see link below). Her website is Conni's Custom Cakes.


May 21, 2013

Nikky Finney & The Judith Lee Stronach Poetry Lectures

Nikky Finney program notes
program photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
photo of program by Styrous©

On Friday, May 17, I made my way to the University of California campus to attend the tenth annual Judith Lee Stronach Poetry Lecture Series on the Teaching of Poetry.

photo by Styrous©

Once again, the event was held in the beautiful Morrison Memorial Library reading room located within the Doe Library.

photo by Styrous©

photo by Styrous©

photos by Styrous©

Raymond Lifchez, Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, is the organizer of the series which is dedicated to the memory of Judith Lee Stronach.

photo by Styrous©

Mr. Lifchez opened the proceeding with a reading from one of Ms. Stronach's poems, Copes's Hat, from her book of poems, Love Is Strong As Death, published by The Bancroft Library, ©2011.

photo by Styrous©

Lynn Hejinian, poet and professor,  Department of English, University of California, Berekely, then introduced the guest speaker, Nikky Finney.

Ms. Finney spoke about and read from her poem, Hog Killing. I have liked poetry all my life. I have found it intellectually stimulating. Hog Killing was definitely thought provoking but reached me on a visceral level I've never experience before. The theme was the "Sensitive Child". She spoke of the interpretations she had of that phrase which was used by her mother in reference to her throughout her life; how her interpretations changed as she grew older, wiser and more experienced. It was brilliantly written and the most moving moment in poetry I can remember.

After the lecture I was fortunate enough to snap this photograph of her in the hallway outside of the library.

photo by Styrous©

Thank you for the photograph and for the inspiration, Nikky.

Ms. Finney's book of her poems, Head Off & Split, published by Triquarterly, won the 2011 National Book Award.

Also see my first entry about the poetry series:
The Judith Lee Stronach Poetry Lectures Gary Snyder

Styrous© - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 17, 2013

20,000 vinyl LPs 20: Conan ~ Tell Ol' Anita

Conan - Tell Ol' Anita album cover
album cover photo by Neal Johnson
photo of album cover by Styrous®

It seems recollections of details and events of my life are coming together, tighter and tighter and spreading out more and more with astonishing rapidity. As they come closer and clearer, they are vanishing into the distance.

Umm . . .  how do I follow up that statement?

There has been another layer of my sash (see Beemer Pt 2 link below) to unexpectedly come unraveled for me to look at, examine, savor and remember memories long forgotten.

I started the process of selling my vinyl LP collection (see 20,000 Vinyl link below) last year and, as I was trying to get a handle on what I was facing with this monumental endeavor, I came across the albums I had of Conan Dunham, Tell Ol' Anita, Heart of the City, Conan III, as well as the test pressing of his Conan III album.

Conan III test pressing with dedication
photo by Styrous®

Conan and I had been friends, compatriots, ex-patriots, etc., for well over 20 years. He had signed and dedicated all the albums to me.

album back cover
album back cover photos by Neal Johnson
photo of album back cover by Styrous®

dedication detail
album back cover photo by Neal Johnson
detail photo of album back cover by Styrous®

I figured the albums should be returned to him rather than selling them, although they were selling for good prices. The problem was we had lost contact 10 or 15 years ago. I pondered how I would return the albums to him with no contact info.

Some background is in order. The title of the album was also the song that gained Conan the fame (notoriety?) that became his. The Anita of the song refers to singer Anita Bryant who was a Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner and spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission; she sang the virtues of Florida orange juice.

Anita Bryant 1971
photo from Billboard Magazine
photographer unknown

In 1977, Bryant led a highly publicized campaign organized in opposition to gay rights based on conservative Christian beliefs regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality. Because of her efforts, Florida legislators approved a measure that prohibited gay adoption. Bryant led several more campaigns around the country to repeal local anti-discrimination ordinances. Her many successes led to an effort to pass the Briggs Initiative in California. However, the success of Bryant's previous campaigns galvanized her opponents and the gay community retaliated against her by organizing a boycott of orange juice. Boycott orange juice? Does that sound silly? Not so silly after all; grass-roots liberal organizations, chiefly in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, sprang up to try to defeat the initiative. The initiative failed!

The fallout from her political activism hurt her business and entertainment career. The orange juice boycott had consequences. Her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission was allowed to lapse in 1979 because of the controversy and the negative publicity generated by her political campaigns and the resulting boycott of Florida orange juice. Even many years after her campaign, the gay community continued to regard her name as synonymous with bigotry and homophobia. Ya! Enough about Anita.

My brother, John Simonson, had played bass guitar for Conan's group. It was how I met Conan. John was the darling of our family; everybody loved him and one day I will write an entry in my blog about him.

My brother, John Simonson, with Conan's group.
That's John on the right
album photo by Neal Johnson
detail photo of album back by Styrous®

Oh, yes, back to the original topic. Conan and I DID reconnect last year. Out of the blue, in August, just weeks after I'd found his records and was wondering how I was going to get them to him, I was totally blown away when I received the following email:

From: Conan
Subject: conan here
To: "Styrous"
Date: Sunday, August 12, 2012, 6:47 PM

This was a wonderful day for us. I thought we had lost touch with you and Tom forever.

end of message

After we had exchange several emails, I shipped all my Conan albums to him. We finally met for lunch yesterday and talked over old times; there were many tales of smokey bars, wild times and loose women (or men, for that matter). It was incredible to see him again after so many years and exchange stories of what strange twists and turns each of our lives have taken.

Conan ~ May 16, 2013
photo by Styrous®

Conan with long-time partner, Rusty Lewis ~ May 16, 2013
photo by Styrous®

left: Ben Simonson (John's dad),
Rusty & Conan ~ May 16, 2013
photo by Styrous®

After lunch we went to the beach in Alameda which looks across the San Francisco Bay to the city of San Francisco (it's very tiny in the background just to the left of Conan's right shoulder).
Conan on the beach in Alameda, CA
 May 16, 2013
photo by Styrous®

Tom White & Rusty ~ May 16, 2013
photo by Styrous®

Tell Ol' Anita album info:

Conan personel
photo by Styrous®

Conan: lead vocals & piano
Drums:  Gene Beck, Ron Castro, Ian Mars, John Fisher
Guitars: Don Smithey, Michael Telle, Alex Lund
Bass: Max Perry, Dave Weidenheimer, John Simonson
Keyboards & Synthesizers: Conan, Larry Cohn, Brian Reeves, Dave Houston
Pedal Steel: Cris Ivey, Steve Epstein
Sax & woodwinds: Steve Sax
Harmonica & vocal: Jon Sugar
Violin: Karen Lamb

Life IS strange but life can be very good when it behaves itself and wants to be generous. Thanks for those good ol' memories, Conan.
Styrous© ~ May 17, 2013



May 14, 2013

Beemer Memory 5 ~ Leatherneck, Pillow, a Hungry i

 Leather Love Act performance
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

The Internet is the miracle of our times. It is changing the way we perceive the world, the way we live and the things that happen to us. Here is a case in point. I wrote my last entry, Beemer Memory 4 (see link below), only to try to preserve a moment in time I thought shouldn't be lost, nothing more. I was contacted by photographer, Jim Stewart. Now, this may not sound unusual but the thing was, I had lost contact with Jim almost 40 years ago and have been trying to find and reconnect with him for the last 10 years. I had tried everything I could think of. I wrote the entry and BAM! Within a couple of days, he contacted ME because a friend had read the entry and had told HIM! Now, I call that a miracle.

The reconnection was something I will remember the rest of my life; it was not only completely satisfying (sometimes old-time reunions don't go so well), it was astounding!

We talked about many things, mostly about our lives since we've seen each other: our successes, our failures, our health, you name it. I may write more about our reunion another time. We talked about those crazy days and one of the things he mentioned was, yes, we actually DID drag that Beemer of mine into the bar. I'd forgotten we had not only talked about doing it but HAD done it.


At the time, I was dancing on Broadway at the Hungry i club doing the "Love Act". The Hungry i had opened as a nightclub in the 1950's; it featured top performers of the time. The Kinston Trio began their career there; Jonathan Winters, Shelly Berman, Mort Sahl, to name just a few, almost anybody who was anybody in entertainment performed there. But those were in earlier times. By the time I was dancing at the Hungry i, it had moved from it's original heyday location at 599 Jackson Street to 546 Broadway and had become one of the many sleazy strip joints that featured a male/female "Love Act". The act was what drew in couples (married couples but mostly men with girls they wanted to seduce, get the picture?). The guys figured the sight of a man and woman simulating sex in a dance was supposed to make the women he was with horny. Go figure. It was a great time in my life, though, and I met a lot of interesting people. I'll have some delightful blog entries about that period of my life.

My dance partner at the time was Pillow. Pillow was anything but; in later years she was known as "She Beast". She was a female body builder who competed professionally. She was street smart, intelligent, artistic and could swing a mean upper right. The only thing 'pillow' about her was her heart. She was Miss Exotic World in 1995. She held her farewell performance at Exotic World (the Burlesque Hall of Fame) when she retired in 2000.

Anyway, she and I did a photo shoot of our Hungry i, Leather Love Act (we had many acts, one of which was a Star Wars Love Act; she was Princess Lea, I was Darth Vader. The audiences loved THAT one even though she was 3" taller than I, and with her buns on, well . . .) at the Leatherneck one night and dragged the bike into the bar but it was a closed session and not open to the public.

Jim photographed the session of Pillow and me performing our Love Act. He gave me proof sheets from the shoot; years later I scanned them then forgot all about them. After he contacted me earlier this month, I dragged them out of storage and examined the shots he got that day . . . 

. . . and the following are shots from that shoot:

Pillow and me
Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

If bare skin offends you, 
exit NOW!

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Leather Love Act performance
at the Leatherneck Bar
San Francisco, 1978
photo by Jim Stewart

Those were wild and crazy times!

Beemer Memory 4 ~ The Leatherneck Bar, SF, 1977     

Links to Pillow on the Internet:
Wikipedia - Pillow (bodybuilder) 
Pillow/She Beast can be seen on YouTube   
Pillow/She Beast dances on YouTube  
Pillow/She Beast dances with Link Protrudi and The Jaymen @
          Exotic World in 1996 on YouTube   

Styrous© ~ May 13, 2013

May 6, 2013

Beemer Memory 4 ~ Leatherneck bar, San Francisco, 1977

The Leatherneck bar logo

The Leatherneck bar opened in 1976 on 11th and Folsom and was owned by Allan Lowery. It was south of Market Street in the area now called SOMA before it was known as SOMA. Previously, It was only referred to as south of Market or south of The Slot. The Slot referred to the slot along Market that held the cables that drew the cable cars. The cars and the slot had disappeared decades earlier but the name stuck.

As part of promotions for the bar, I did a series of dance performances in 1977-78. At one point I remember discussing the idea of dragging my Beemer into the bar for one of these performances. We may have done it, however, I have no recollection of actually doing it. It could have happened, though, because it was a wild and crazy time and we did stuff like that (see Disco Daze link below).

dancing at the Leatherneck bar circa 1977
photo by Jim Stewart

The amazing cast of characters who frequented the bar was right out of some kind of cheap pulp novel.  Jack Fritcher wrote about it in one of his series of articles about Drummer Magazine (The Leatherneck: the Ultimate Bar of the Seventies). The article features photos by Jim Stewart. I modeled for several articles in Drummer Magazine. Drummer was published from 1975 to 1999.

Photographer, Jim Stewart wrote about the Leatherneck Bar in his book, Folsom Street Blues: A Memoir of 1970s. I have been mentioned in it.

I have the original series of four posters for which I modeled for the Leatherneck which I'll post at some point.

What an incredible time in my life as well as the history of San Francisco it was.  Everything was open, free and rich with possibilities.


20,000 vinyl LPs 4: The Skatt Brothers: Disco Daze

Folsom Street Blues: A Memoir of 1970s. is available at Amazon.

Styrous® ~ Monday, May 6, 2013