Saturday, January 29, 2005

How I came upon Punk... Photos: 1978 ANDROIDS, TOOLS , Toronto

LOST? Go to the PUNKS & PROVOCATEURS BLOG INDEX . List of 250 BANDS and SUBJECTS on this site BY NAME with DIRECT LINKS.

In first year Ryerson ('76 I believe) I had a brief coupling with the one resident punk, evident as he had orange hair and a pink t-shirt with the words PUNK ROCK inscribed on it, by hand no less. He dressed me up in platforms, evening gown and white wig and escorted me to the Hotel Isabella, where I was mistaken along the way for a transvestite and then a hooker! Once seated at the club, we ripped apart a rose and spat it at each other dramatically across the table. A mini riot ensued, where my wig was ripped off and used as a mastubating tool onstage by the band. We were subsequently banned from the club.

"No-one's ever been that affectionate with me..." declared my first punk as he LEFT
ME perplexed but somewhat impressed by the overall severity of it.
(I was into existentialism at the time. Situationists be damned! We were reading Camus and Sartre.)

punkt
I was also banned from Larry's Hideaway for instigating another minor riot in the Men's room, and as a consequence, never photographed there!
I took a year off in 1977 / 78, travelling to Hawaii and LA, and essentially getting into a lot of trouble. Sometimes painful, always instructive. There was a fledgling punk scene in LA, but I missed it. I'd believed the press when they said it was for 15 year olds, which at 20 I felt was long past. All I'd heard of the riotous downtown punk clubs were the spitting contests between bands and spectators, which truthfully didn't hold much appeal. Anyway, having no car or license, I was (happily) confined to Venice Beach with my fellow skaters!

The one punk gig I was scheduled to attend never happened. I was backstage with one of my roommates, a would-be groupie who was friends with a local "punk" band. (They looked disappointingly normal, I recall.) It was the "first" annual outdoor festival of Venice street musicians, and probably the last. The band just about to go on when they were suddenly "upstaged" by real life punks of the traditional ilk. We heard popping sounds, which sounded like fireworks, except it was daylight. It turned out that a black gang member had confronted and shot a motorbike gang member, right in the audience. Random bullets were then fired into a crowd of families as the shooter fled the scene. The perpetrator was later cornered and stabbed on the Speedway but amazingly no-one died. As a result, my musical punk rock initiation was put on hold.

androids

My first photo on a Punk Poster, 1979

I returned to Toronto and second year Ryerson (Photography) in Sept. 78.

My career shooting punk bands began in an all night diner! That Thanksgiving I decided to go to Fran's, intending to photograph the kind of people who frequent the place at midnight. I was hoping for old, lonely but photogenic misfits, and instead met a couple of gorgeous and sardonic young guys- not a bad trade-off. One of them placed a curse on my film, predicting that it would never turn out, and offered his phone number for verification of his prescience. I phoned him when the negatives came out blank, and fell instantly in love. (I'd say "we", but I'm no longer sure.) He happened to be a bass player in a local punk band, and there it began! I started shooting his largely unattended and now forgotten gigs, and those of his equally unknown friends. I remember feeling really insecure in the relationship as his lead singer allegedly wanted him to dump me. I didn't look punk enough for her taste (though neither did he in fact) and our infrequent trysts were cutting into practice time. But she appreciated my photography and when the band split, walked off with all the band photos I'd given him.

androids
Wayne eventually joined The BOY'S BRIGADE (let's ignore that) and now works as a producer with Daniel Langlois

androids

androids

androids

androids

MORE ANDROIDS

and TOOLS photos are on my Indyfoto site.



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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

On music photography, The Edge, 1978 / 79. Photos:ULTRAVOX '1979, Photos:The MODS 1979

LOST? Go to the PUNKS & PROVOCATEURS BLOG INDEX . List of 250 BANDS and SUBJECTS on this site BY NAME with DIRECT LINKS.
On Music Photography…

Yesterday I had to justify to a musician friend of mine why the central theme of the show was NOT going to be exclusively band photos. He believes this is what people want to see- not photos of unknown punks. He actually thought that I must be under exterior pressure of some kind, to concentrate on the people in the scene. Portraying images of only the famous is not a tenet of documentary photography. The music was an important part of punk, but in terms of defining it- it didn’t begin and end there. My earlier photos (late 1970s) are mostly bands and backstage, but once I moved to Montreal in '82, the social side became more intense and interesting.

Shooting bands on stage is an art which requires a great sense of timing, but can be creatively limiting for the photographer, as the stage and lighting is literally set. Today the situation is even more stifling than in the past. We are restricted to shooting only the first 2 or 3 songs, allegedly to protect the band’s "image’, and often confined to a certain vantage position, with no flash allowed, and so forth. Whereas in the past I often had no problem shooting backstage, this is now generally forbidden, even with an all access pass. Band managers and corporations such as Clear Channel control and dictate what will become our remembered musical history and believe me, it will be decidedly sterile.

Another point is that the format of the stage itself sets the band apart from what was their milieu- who automatically become "The Audience", and if fan adoration ever hits a peak, undergo a further metamorphosis into "The Other". It places the band on an artificial pedestal, bathed in dedicated, often ethereal light. Some musicians have recognized the uncomfortable political and religious ramifications of this, and chosen to merge with their audiences, physically descending the stage or stage-diving.

suicidal tendencies

Punks are us!

It is always interesting to see candid backstage shots of now famous or forgotten bands- I don't deny it, and intend including them as well. Hey, I took them. But as much as musicians have redefined punk around their image, this doesn't leave much room for the people who developed what became the look and attitude, but were not necessarily known for it. This exhibit is for the punks who spray painted political slogans in anonymity, risking arrest and police beatings. Who created art, redefined dance, held impromptu performance based "invasions" of abandoned buildings, and squatted slums and consulates alike. Who drank, danced and fucked (!) excessively in small, dark enclaves of punk, which were for a brief time happily forbidden to the uninitiated. Who walked down the street wearing green hair, spikes and piercings, when it was truly a shocking statement and an affront to "respectability." Punk, for those who committed to it full time back in the day, meant that you were in effect unemployable and had made the conscious stand to remain outside of society. There were so few jobs in the 80s that employers could be more exacting in terms of dictating how far their employees need comply to demands of conformity. People forget that, as the outer "signatures" become appropriated and commonplace. Ripped and reassembled "punk" t-shirts are mass manufactured under nefarious social conditions in China and elsewhere, to be marketed in Walmart to would-be punks, who can then go for coffee at Starbucks and be served by staff wearing face piercings. Where’s the point?
So this exhibit is also for the punks who don’t look like punks, but more importantly, think and act like punks. My definition, of course!

squatters84

I remember being surprised that the punks I encountered in the squats and anarchist cells of Europe in ’84 were so low-key and unrecognizable. They explained that it was an important evasive tactic, to be able to blend in with the crowd and avoid capture after one of their "actions’. Not just to dodge the police, but certain hostile people in the crowd itself. After I was singled out in a Zurich demo with my bright red hair, clubbed and then chased across a field by riot police shooting rubber bullets, I recognized the inherent wisdom of this! (There’s more to that story, which I’ll include when I get to those photos later in this project!) The Zurich model reminds me somewhat of the present Black Bloc, though the former were more organized and cohesive as a group. Which may not in the final analysis be good traits as it permits infiltration.

Meanwhile, it’s back to the ‘70s. 1979 Toronto. The Edge

the edge
Amazing poster! It was lost for 7 years and just resurfaced yesterday! I shot several of the bands on the list- the rest I'm still kicking myself for missing. What's particularly amusing is how small the Police font is compared to, for example, Rough Trade!

I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of the owner of the Edge (no- not the Garys), an important alternative venue in Toronto during the 70s. He made a deal with me- I'd print him two photos of any event I chose, in exchange for- film, free entry to any gig and unlimited access to the upstairs "back stage". I missed out on more great bands than I care to consider- but the ones I did shoot were amazing. The most memorable one I missed was The Police- I’d heard them that day on the radio and told the owner not to bother, as they’d "never go anywhere’. Perhaps not for me, but I now recognize that my taste in music is not a prediction of commercial success!

I did eventually shoot the Police, at the Police Picnic in Montreal in '83. No backstage access at this point of their career. I went for the TALKING HEADS, but if you are one of the many out there who like POLICE- here he is... STING I like to think I got the only photos of him NOT looking pretty.

The following photos are of ULTRAVOX , one of the new wave of UK bands who performed at the Edge that year- a band I did like (and still applies)! Taken March (5, 6 or 7), 1979, upstairs at the Edge. One of my ULTRAVOX photos was published recently in

MOJO
(Sept.,2006 issue, Hello/Good-bye)!

ultravox

ultravox
ultravox
ultravox

ultravox
John Foxx must have known at this point that he was going to quit the band. I never talked to him, as he seemed so insular and I don't like to invade, but in the photos it was evident how apart from the rest of the band he already was, and so infinitely bored with it all. I remember that when the guys were rounded up to meet the press (above photo), they were all tired and wanted nothing to do with it. It shows.
ultravox


These guys are from the MODS, a Toronto punk band.Taken March 5, 6 or 7, 1979, upstairs at the Edge, backstage at the ULTRAVOX gig.


mods
MODS lead vocalist Greg Trinier
mods
Unidentified, with Paul Trinier (Greg's brother), the MODS's roadie,



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Saturday, January 22, 2005

1983 Montreal- Photos: Club Soda- DANSE SOCIETY

LOST? Go to the PUNKS & PROVOCATEURS BLOG INDEX . List of 250 BANDS and SUBJECTS on this site BY NAME with DIRECT LINKS.

DANSE SOCIETY played at the Club Soda on Ave. du Parc, Montreal in 1983.
Lead singer- Steve Rawlings.

danse society spectacle

Two people from the audience whom I photographed at the show... Richard worked at Dutchy’s record store.

danse society spectacle

danse society spectacle










danse society spectacle




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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

INTRODUCTION TO THIS EXHIBIT, and Photos: DAVID BOWIE, 1976 and 2004 , JAYNE COUNTY 1979

LOST? Go to the PUNKS & PROVOCATEURS BLOG INDEX . List of 250 BANDS and SUBJECTS on this site BY NAME with DIRECT LINKS.All photos and text © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com 2010
The intention of this project is NOT to present an objective overview of punk from the perspective of an unobtrusive observer. I was part of, not apart from, the scene as I documented it. Instead I wish to present my personal progression within the various overlapping milieus I encountered as a photographer throughout the late '70s and '80s, more or less continuing until today. I assume, even as I begin to print, that a heavier emphasis will be on the '80s, which were for me an exceptional time. Full of creative energy, travel and encounters with wonderfully expressive and unique people.

Things began to dissipate in the '90s. Perhaps life eventually wore us down- as youth gave way, the drugs, alcohol, sex, excessive partying and living on the edge of poverty started to exact its toll. People began to die- of hitherto unheard of diseases such as Aids, suddenly of drug overdoses, or insidiously of liver disease brought on by alcohol and Hep C. Some friends went mad. Others were murdered. There were also those who had only flirted with the scene briefly, eventually slipping back to the suburbs to reclaim their rightful destinies. Or mature, if you prefer. Poverty has its appeal only so long. Living on the dole began idealistically enough as a rejection of consumerism and refusal to conform. In effect, a convenient sort of arts grant for those stuck in the middle of a recession. It eventually lost its glamour. Long termers became lifers- unable to enter any job market now through lack of experience, not choice. No longer perceived of as youthful renegades fucking the system, but aging losers.

I used to joke with my friend Charles that we'd end up all together in an old folks home for punks- comparing each other's fading tattoos, swapping stories of past exploits in the mosh pit and such... but it isn't going to happen. Poor Charles OD'd face down in a bathroom, while his young punk needle buddies frantically searched the Plateau for an adrenaline shot, as if to re-enact the scene in Pulp Fiction. (Their search included the hair dressing salon Charles worked at... what pathetic idiots!) Life did not imitate art and there was no resurrection-- they should have dialed 911 instead.

At any rate, it was a minority of us who refused to give up, and clung on until it was no longer pretty. Fortunately, punk was never supposed to be pretty, except unto ourselves- the anti-cute, and we thought we were gorgeous to the extreme. But punk was classified from the start (by the media) as a youth movement catering to 15 year olds, which left us very little room to grow up or old in. It’s too bad, because decades later I still feel the same inside and what drew me to punk is still viable. The social and political conditions which provoked my rage and defiance likewise remain unaltered, and have in fact worsened. I have not yet given up the fight, but perhaps can no longer do it from within the group. Which, for me, exists no longer. It’s back to the beginning- before I found punk. Playing solitaire.

So, is punk dead? Cynical people way back in the late 70s proclaimed it thus, at a time when many were only just discovering its charms. The originators of punk evidently wanted it declared dead before it got appropriated by the strip malls - an understandable sentiment. Punk, however, did not die, then or now. It was appropriated, as feared, but also evolved into many other subversive subgroups- equally valid. Punk began as an expression of nihilism and anti-intellectualism, and evolved rapidly into a politicized movement as disaffected artists, students and intellectuals joined its ranks.

It may have become a recognizable fashion, but didn’t begin that way. Look at early photos of a CBGB crowd. There are few you would recognize as ‘punks’, though many were. It developed its distinct look from a hybrid of anti-fashions, which it readily pilfered and rearranged to shock, disgust, disturb and (unintentionally) titillate. Bits and pieces of fetish gear, army uniforms, tutus, leather biker jackets, and just about anything black, ripped and torn. Found art as fashion. Much more fun than buying it readymade at Wal-Mart.

Punk spoke to me on a visceral, immediate level, which allowed expression of the seething frustrations I felt within. It may have appeared violent to the uninitiated, but the majority of people I knew whom it attracted were outsiders, loners and often inherently shy. We needed, used punk in order to take the leap- landing in the furthest extreme position, as an act of refusal and in defiance of societal norms.

Once family no longer performed that function, "punk" was the first and perhaps only place I felt I actually belonged, within a unit rather than alone. Growing up as an adolescent in the pre-punk 70s had been a deadening, alienating experience. Looking back at the wilder times of the 60s, which had revolutionized attitudes towards sex and politics, the ‘70s were by comparison a tepid bath of banal music, safe opinions and ugly synthetic clothes. Boring.

The only people in my high school who were creating a niche of their own in real time were a handful of Glam kids. The boy whose locker was next to mine was an outsider like me- but he was severely ostracized by all for being the only openly gay kid in our school. He was a small, skinny, sensitive soul with a penchant for David Bowie and nail polish. We became friends and it was he who first introduced me to Bowie’s music and lyrics, with its politics of sexual "otherness". From there I developed my theory that embracing androgyny was the key to overcoming sexual barriers in this society. (Ha!)

In Grade 12 I wrote a paper for my Canadian Family class entitled, "The Gay in Society". Ostensibly to research it, my first boyfriend (a rocker) and I visited various seedy gay bars, where we drank underage as our method of observing the "lifestyle". I also interviewed a writer at "Body Politic"*, a notorious gay magazine, whom I invited to speak to my class. He agreed, then reneged.

My presentation sparked murmurs of protest from my horrified classmates, in part due to my assertion that gays would one day be allowed to adopt children. (Visionary for 1974!) My essay "partner" / boyfriend suddenly stood up red-faced and disavowed all knowledge of or input into the project, thus leaving me alone to face the onslaught of hostility and homophobia. His exact words were, I recall, "I had no idea she was going to say any of this. I didn’t write it. These aren’t my ideas." Our teacher found the admission, well, illuminating. He failed the class while I received an A (which also stood for "Abuse" the rest of the school year!)

When I later began studying journalism at Carleton U., my continued interest in Bowie led me to volunteer to review his show for the school paper. Lacking a photographer, they sent me along with rudimentary instructions, a 35mm camera, 500 mm lens and a tripod. I fell immediately in love with photography, not to mention the prospect of gaining entry to shows I couldn’t afford. I quit journalism, enrolled in photography at Ryerson and thus began my lifelong career.

press linda

So this explains why I intend to open and close this exhibit with a photo of Bowie- then and now. It all began there, starting a chain of events which led me to document the people in this show. Punks and provocateurs. Rebels all.

bowie 76



Rebel ! Rebelle!
DAVID BOWIE at
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Feb., 1976

bowie 04
DAVID BOWIE
London, Ontario, May 14, 2004

earl slick bowie 04

Earl Slick, long time guitarist with DAVID BOWIE
London, Ontario, May 14, 2004
Go to MORE BOWIE

* 4 years later Body Politic published my first rockn'roll photo in a magazine, of WAYNE / JAYNE COUNTY, in what became one of their last issues before the magazine was closed down by the Toronto morals police.

Two unpublished photos from Jayne County’s performance at the Edge in Toronto on August 22, 1979. The poster behind her is from the time she was a he, and known as, "Wayne County and the Electric Chairs".



jayne county 1979
JAYNE COUNTY
jayne county 1979
Eliot Michaels... Jayne's original bass player w/ Queen Elizabeth, then later in the 70' he became lead guitarist w/ the Electric Chairs.



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About Me

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Linda Dawn Hammond,MFA, AKA Dawn One, is a photographer and journalist. As a teenager in 1976, she began covering music events for various magazines. During the late 70s she became involved in punk, documenting an insider's perspective of the music, political and social scenes in Montreal, Toronto, NYC, the UK and Europe, included in this blog as photographs and commentary. Linda Dawn Hammond continues to work as a photojournalist, specializing in music, art and politics. As a fine arts photographer, she has exhibited in galleries been and published widely.