Together Again...

Richard Meltzer and Mike Watt collaborate on something that really just makes me wish D. Boon was still alive.

One gig, guys! Bassist Mike Watt and rock scribe Richard Meltzer's vision finally realized 27 years after the tragic death of D Boon.

The choicest nuggets from the above article-

Having moved from New York to Los Angeles some-years earlier in the mid-70's, Meltzer found himself anchored to his beloved L.A. punk scene. For him, L.A. punk, not New York punk, was the shit.

"I moved out of New York in '75; I was 30," reflects Meltzer. "I felt like I used (N.Y.) up. I lived it - been there, don't that. I ate it up. I moved to L.A. and I used it up in like ten minutes. But it took me longer to get out. I never cared to pretend they (New York) had a scene. The Dictators, who were kind of a pre-punk N.Y. band, who I'm still in touch with and who are friends of mine, weren't really punk. The stuff like Blondie, I never thought it was punk. Talking Heads weren't punk. Maybe Richard Hell was punk. I liked Lydia Lunch. To me, that scene was very overhyped, overrated. They had a bunch of very lightweight bands, who were part of what was considered New York hardcore. I never got along with Richard Hell. I thought he was a putz. But as far as his music (goes), it's alright.

"I was going to shows like four, five nights a week, wherever shows there were...X, Germs, Weirdos, Screamers. It was an audience of maybe 200 people who would go to most of the shows. It was a scene that didn't give a hoot about the mainstream market for this stuff. It was a vibrant scene for a while. L.A., to me, which is the cesspool of the universe; the punk scene was its only redeeming feature.

Meltzer also recalls the demise of L.A. punk. "It wasn't until I.R.S. Records signed some local bands like Wall of Voodoo and the GoGo's that everybody suddenly smelled the possibility of money in it. That turned everything bad, I think. GoGo's used to wear lampshades on their heads. Then were asked by I.R.S. ‘How would you like to become an ordinary girl group?' They thought ‘Fine, let's do it.' After that everything went to hell."

With the gig-going Meltzer ingrained in L.A. punk, it was inevitable that Boon and Watt's paths would cross with the iconoclastic VOM front-man and writer. "This is back in '78. '79 or '80," says Meltzer. "I was in L.A. and had a punk rock show. I was aware of them (Minutemen) already. They had a few records out. Then Mike Watt-we had not met yet - sent me some vinyl and asked me what I thought of it. ‘Is this any good? Are we full of shit?' Please tell me,' asked Watt. Following that, we kinda became friends."

Meltzer was instantly sold on the Minutemen's jam econo aesthetic. "They were just so unassuming; they were just folks," he says about the trio. "They never postured. They never wanted to be celebrities in any way. They didn't dress or talk like celebrities. They were just genuine with everybody and the music didn't feel like the traditional lyric that most bands still do and they weren't going to do. They wrote things on a napkin and it became a song, especially when they were doing short things. I just thought ‘Great. There's no need to play these long jams and solos.' Everything they did was just so basic, and at all times, real."

Meanwhile, Meltzer had soured on the rock-writing, having penned shit-tons of reviews since the mid 60's. He invented the singular phraseology for rock criticism, until the template was deconstructed. "I was certainly one of the first two or three (critics)," Meltzer says. "It was very free-form at first. What is a record review? It was yet to be determined. In 1966 and '67, there was no style sheet on what a record review was. Then Rolling Stone comes in and the record companies insist on writing on a dotted line so they can sell records. (They said) ‘Write clearly about this record and you'll be paid well to say good things about it'."

Ironically, one of the last critiques Meltzer wrote was of a Minutemen disc. "That (1982's Bean Spill EP) was one of the last rock reviews I ever did. I would still write about shows once in a while and the scene. But I didn't write about the Minutemen after that," remembers Meltzer. Watt, in hopes of a Meltzer review, sent him the record. "I did send'em the Bean Spill EP and sure enough (I wrote) ‘Here it is, man, it came out,'" says Watt. "In the review, he called us ‘scientist rock.' I used that in a song. I think ‘History Lesson - Part II.' I put it in there and it's a direct quote from him."

As an SST Records devotee (Meltzer professes his love for Black Flag, too), he was witness to his fair share of Minutemen gigs and one in particular stands out. "I saw a really great show they did in the Mojave Desert. This long, long bus ride out to the desert. As soon as we get there, Minutemen were already set up but everybody had to piss. The first several minutes of the show was everyone pissing in a circle around the stage. It was terrific."

R. Meltzer and VOM don't get their just dues as often as their counterpart band, the Anrgy Samoans, so I was stoked to see Watt give them the nod-

Richard moved to Los Angeles the early days of the punk scene and he was in a band called VOM. We got to see gigs and he was with the Angry Samoan guy Gregg (Turner). He also had a radio show called Hepcats from Hell on KPXK, a Pacifica station. He had a show that would be on Saturday nights from midnight on and stuff and I was hearing'em there. Lo and behold, we got to meet him but it was through the punk scene becuz he was way in it."

Thankfully, the magical internet repository gods have blessed us with this series of brilliant, yet criminally obscure, VOM music videos. Parts of this look as if it was shot in El Segundo right in front of the Standard Oil Refinery, which makes this the second time the Standard Oil Refinery has come up within the history of L.A. punk. The more notable event occurred when Black Flag played there in 1979, which resulted in them almost getting killed by oil roughnecks. Yeah, no shit.

A digest of youtube comments from alternate versions of the above sheds a little more light on this video-

I've been looking for a copy of this for years. That's me playing guitar with long hair. The last time I saw this was at the screening in Richard Cases apartment on Kingsley Drive back in 77. We also shot scenes at the Long Beach Pike and in Pointe Dume in Malibu.
squintchy 3 years ago

( richard meltzer / lyricist )
Stairway To The Stars is one of the best rock lyrics ever written! (1st BOC lp)
it actually took three people to write the words for "I'm In Love With Your Mom"
= meltzer/turner/saunders all hunkered down at the round kitchen table at 12966 Kittridge, north hollywood, sometime Fall 1977. (radically rewriting RM's original lyric, same title).
true story: mid-session (writing), the front door gets a knock, and it's greg shaw (of Bomp Records)
(cont. below)
(pt 2)
and it's greg shaw (of Bomp Records) looking for his staffer gary sperazza (who lived in the back bdrm)
when wild (g)reg saw the Vom trioka just fifteen feet away, he thought it was some sort of conspiracy plotting again' him (shaw never did return saunders' austinTX-thrift-store orig Kenny and the Kasuals LIVE AT THE STUDIO CLUB lp borrowed in 1972, per his long standing practice of permanently borrowing/appropriating things he "needed to hear") ("book" ex/mt on that one approx $1k)
(cont pt 3)
so there was paranoia aplenty in the air around Bomp HQ in 1977. dozens of record collectors worldwide! at least ten of them must be plotting to get their "loaned" records back!
anyway so (g)reg freezes in the doorway. backs up three steps, turns around, and skeedaddles back to his car. safe and sound to live another day!
true story!
Actually, the VOM videos were filmed in (August?) 1978.
Fer sure, coz I was subbing for "Ted Kluzewski" (my brother, Metal Mike) on drums... and arrived in LA in July 1978.


First Dudes on the Moon. And you?

In keeping with Neil DeGrasse Tyson's call for the general public to keep their imaginations freshly lubed up with dreams of deep space exploration, a visit to the SPACE exhibit at the Springs Preserve led me to think that perhaps the groundwork for a revived public interest can be spurred by showcasing what a badass Buzz Aldrin is.

Seriously, Converse needs to stop playing themselves and call Buzz Aldrin up for an endorsement deal immediately. Shit, this picture alone should have made them change the name of the "Chuck Taylor" to the "Buzz Aldrin".

Pictured: Buzz Aldrin having "fun".

I'm pretty sure Buzz Aldrin's kid came up with the term "buzzkill" to describe what it was like to grow up with his father-

"Weeeee! Isn't this awesome, Dad!?"

"Eh, it's no MOON."

He's still got it!



Since the weather was clearing up, I decided to stop by the Mulholland Overlook to take a peak at the Los Angeles Basin. The view was more than I expected...

(Panoramic pic was taken with an my iPhone. Click the pic to get a BIG view)

This was the clearest view I've ever had of the city from the Mulholland Overlook. Due to smog, it's pretty rare to see Long Beach, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and the Santa Monica Bay/Pacific Ocean from this view point. Unfortunately, the iphone camera didn't capture the ocean that well, but it's still somewhat visible. A Satellite map of the area in this pic can be seen here.

Also, on the punk history and geography tip, this is where Brendan Mullen gives his spiel in the Decline of Western Civilization. If you take the time to watch his bit from this link (starts @ 30 seconds), notice how you can barely make out downtown L.A. in the background from this same exact point.

Since the rain was clearing up at the end of the day, I made a quick stop by Beale's Cut once the rain subsided. Located in between the Santa Susanna and San Gabriel mountains, the cut was the original connecting route between the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys.

Originally cut into a 30 ft deep pass in 1854, the Surveyor General of California deepened the cut to 90 ft, and then named it after himself-- pretty baller.

As a kid going to school in the SCV, this place was brought up a lot as a local point of interest especially whenever we went on field trips to the SCV Historical Society museum.

Oddly, we never actually went on a field trip to this place, so I mostly remember it as our favorite funny historical pseudo-pun, "Beale's Butt." The above picture is one of the most well known of the cut, a cut and paste composite of early Western star Tom Mix. Yeah, he didn't actually jump Beale's Cut.

This was my first time getting to see it up close. Unfortunately, it had caved in sometime in the late 90's so it's not quite the cut it used to be. You could say it wasn't quite cutting it anymore!

Here's the cut as seen from the backside, after I climbed up and over it. The caved-in area can be seen in the middle of it.

View of SCV and old Newhall refinery from the Beale's Cut road.

The 14 freeway as seen from Beale's Cut/Newhall Refinery Rd.

I have no idea exactly what this is, but I'm assuming it was made while deepening the cut.

Since it had just rained, all of the surrounding landscape was still ridiculously moist. These are the most ideal conditions for Southern California's infamous landslides and rockslides to occur. So, of course, only on the way back did I see this huge crack in the cliff face on south side of the cut, which scared the crap out of me, and made me realize how stupid it was of me to go here by myself. I'm lucky I wasn't engulfed in a sandstone rockslide.

Plaques for the site had been located on these monuments since the late 30's. Unfortunately, like most isolated interpretive sites, this one had fallen victim to vandals, so they have since been removed. Also -- surprise, surprise -- apparently there was a lot of illegally waste dumping at the site, so it was surrounded by an ugly, slapdash chain link fence. Bummer.

Needless to say, I miss California.


Rancho de Cahuenga- Signing place of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the great Mexican land (smash and) grab.

It's somewhat telling about how salient Mexico is within the popular American historical narrative...

...when we decide to take a location that symbolizes a huge turning point in American-Mexican relations (in the state with the highest population of Mexicans, of course) and just run it over without much thought, every day.

Somewhat appalling, y'know?


Anyway, the reason I was in this area was to help mi mama move some stuff around in her office. She's an accountant for a firm that deals in big time Hollywood entertainment law, and here's the guest lobby literature to prove it!

The best of the bunch.

The best of the best of the bunch. Appropriately, this was the only portrait sketch in the entire book. I was stoked.

The best of the worst of the bunch- Super Yacht World magazine-

Because not everyone can fit through the channels of succes:

I'm assuming this means that the next step up will be a yacht that resembles the Death Star both aesthetically, and in its dimensions.

This is a safe for all the watches you're s'posed to keep on the yacht. See, rich people are just as tacky as you and me.

Sometimes I wonder if my hatred for Eric Clapton is warranted, or if I'm just being a contrarian prick. I'm glad this magazine has inadvertently put the nail in the coffin of my great mental conundrum.

What can you say, dude clearly has the blues.

Yacht life is stressful. Time for some yoga.

Release party/reading for Sam McPheeter's novel, Loom Of Ruin

I highly recommend picking it up--260 pages of McPheeters' style storytelling at its best.

Also, this funny quote is tagged onto the back cover:
"Is Sam McPheeters our generation's Andy Kaufman?"- Kathleen Hanna

This mythical creature got on the phone with his lawyer as soon as I broke it to him that HORSE THE BAND had already been used. Oh, L.A.

My last day found me rained and snowed out of a 10 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, so my alternate plan involved driving down Sepulveda Blvd from Sylmar all the way to Culver City. It was probably on the most interesting L.A. area drives I've ever taken. One day I'll drive the entirety of Sepulveda, and perhaps do a little picto-historical post about the experience.

The ultimate goal of the drive was to check out the latest exhibit at the Center For Land Use Interpretation".

CLUI's latest is Initial Points: Anchors of America's Grid, and is highly recommended.

They also have one of my favorite bookstores in all of L.A., filled with nothing but books on natural resources, infrastructure, landscape management, landscape sociology, etc. Unfortunately, every time I visit this place I seem to be unemployed and/or broke, so, you know, fuck my life!

Considering how broke I was, I decided to take an iPhone pic of this picture/essay zine, and more specifically an essay detailing the opening night of the Bellagio. Well, that didn't turn out too well, as most of this shit is indecipherable. Anyway, the essay ends by stating that the first song played at the inaugural Bellagio fountain show was "Hey Big Spender"- a song about prostitution.

Also of note is CLIU's rad bathroom decor...

...so make sure to take a dump if you're there!

I took a quick minute to stop by Headline records, where I discovered that this is happening-



Continuing on with the saga of wandering around in L.A. -

While searching for one of the least-visited areas in the Santa Monica Mountains, Tuna Canyon's Big Rock Lateral overlook point, I ended up inadvertently finding another gem, the Old Topanga Road Fire Lookout point.

A drive in the mountains behind Malibu is nice enough that you don't really get too worried when you realized that you might have missed the turn off you were looking for. Besides, maybe that unintentional side trip will have you encountering some massive dilapidated radio tower which leads you to wondering just how exactly you can get up to see the damn thing. Sure enough, I found an overlook spot maintained by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservation Authority that seemed to have a trailhead somewhere nearby. (By the way, click on the SMCA link if you ever plan on visiting this area, and then thank me later!)

After accidentally hiking around the perimeter of this hill to the base of a hill that provided no access to the tower, I did what I learned to do as a kid who grew up amongst the hills and the chaparral of Souther California-- I bounded straight up the damn hill. Yeah, it's not typically what I would endorse doing, but oh well. As an added bonus, after brushing up against all the vegetation on the way up, I was coated with a scent familiarly specific to chaparral vegetation--something along the lines of sage and other shrubs-- a scent that brings back awesome childhood memories of running around in the hills behind my neighborhood.

L.A. Smog meets Santa Monica Bay fog.

Mt. Baldy as seen from Old Topanga Fire Lookout point.

Beautiful San Fernando Valley and the Newhall Pass way in the background.

As soon as I found my way down to the Tuna Canyon Big Rock Lateral overlook, I got a sweet view of the Radio tower from down below. Wow.

...As well as the fog creeping from over the Pacific as the sun went down.

(Fog creeping in .gif below)

That peninsula all the way in the background is Point Dume, home to John Fante's short story, "My Dog Stupid", and the "Dr. Seuss plant" (Giant Coreopsis).

Having to take my sister to LAX the next day gave us an opportunity to search around for someplace to eat before we bid her adieu. While subjecting my family to my El Segundo shortcuts, we stumble upon The Proud Bird. If you're into the history of corporate airline industry, experimental air craft, or the U.S. Air Force, it's worth a visit as there are interesting photos and artifacts to be found all over the place. Oh yeah, the food and drink was good, too, even if it was the exact same menu as another airplane-themed restaurant near the Van Nuys airport. I came to find out that a corporate restaurant chain owns both restaurants as well as a many other similar ones nationwide, of course.