Black Flag playing a show at San Pedro High School, probably in 1981 (the year Rollins joined the band).
San Pedro is working class part of Los Angeles, home to the the main port of L.A. (and thus to dockworkers, stevedores, teamsters, sailors and seafaring men of every stripe). San Pedro High School boasts a number of notable alumni, though none are as important as Mike Watt, D. Boon and George Hurley, who graduated in 1976 and went on to form the seminal punk rock trio Minutemen. Fans of 1980s teen dramas may recognize the high school as the setting of 1987′s Some Kind of Wonderful, with Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson.
As D. Boon sang on History Lesson Part 2, “our band could be your life.”
If I were to buy a motorcycle it would be a mid-70s Honda from the CB line. The bike picture above happens to be a 1975 CB550F, which was part of Honda’s “Super Sport” range. The 544cc air-cooled 8-valve engine made 50 bhps with a top speed of 102 mph. They were competent bikes that handled well and rode smoothly for short to middle distance highway rides. You weren’t going to win any quarter mile races, but you’d likely to live to talk about the adventure.
For me it’s the aesthetics that make them so compelling. The simple bench seat, the graceful gas tank, the flat bars, the 4-into-1 exhaust, the chrome finishes, and, of course, those 70s color schemes! Candy Garnet Brown. Polynesian Blue. Starlight Gold. Jet Green. And, of course, Candy Jade Green, which is what the bike pictured above features.
An amazing archive of color photos of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated “Endurance” voyage to Antarctica, circa 1914-1917. They were taken by Frank Hurley, who was the official photographer on the voyage. “Endurance,” of course, become stuck in pack ice in 1915 and was ultimately crushed by the floe. The most amazing part of the description of the photos is how the photographer recovered them:
Hurley managed to salvage the photographic plates by diving into mushy ice-water inside the sinking ship in October 1915.
As a child of the 70s I have an odd fascination with stickers, decals and iron-ons. Searching for vintage rock/pop culture/skate/surf stickers online is one of the best time wasters that I know of, and I do it with a vengeance that borders on obsessive. So I was pleased to come across this photo/sticker combination at Dangerous Minds.
The old Packard Motors plant on East Grand Boulevard
Fascinating and saddening photo study cataloging the ruins of Detroit from a pair of French photographers. The project was five years in the making. I grew up in suburban Detroit, so many of these places are familiar. That said, Detroit’s demise had already begun by the 1970s, when I was a boy visiting the city. To anybody who lives there, this is nothing new.
Everybody is making a big deal about the collapse of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. But to Detroiters of a certain age, it’s old news. After all, the Pontiac Silverdome (former home to both the Lions and the Pistons) collapsed not once but twice–in 1976, due to a thunderstorm (how shoddy does a stadium have to be to collapse from rain?) and then again in the March of 1985, due to a late winter blizzard. As anybody who suffered through the misery of watching the Lions play in what was one of the ugliest stadiums in the history of live sport can attest to, it was commonplace to see (brave? stupid?) workers walking across the dome, removing snow. But the 1985 collapse happened during the off-season, when maintenance procedures were more lax.
Still, several Lions were in the building. According to the Detroit News:
On March 4, 1985, snow and ice tore through the Silverdome’s fiberglass-and-Teflon roof, sending three Lions who were practicing — including Gary Danielson and Eric Hipple —scurrying for cover.
Neither QB could outrun a charging defender, but they managed to get out of the way of a sudden avalanche? Typical of a team that simply could not (and still cannot) seem to win.
Cabrini-Green, the infamous Near North Side Chicago housing project that became a symbol of urban blight and gang violence, closed its doors today as the very last resident moved out. Among its other notorious credits, the 70s sitcom Good Times was set there (though the projects were never explicitly mentioned on air, the red brick buildings were unmistakable in the opening and closing credits of the show).
You know you’re approaching middle age when you spend what little free time you have over a holiday weekend searching for a mint version of a complete Sports Illustrated edition from thirty years ago. In my case, it was the issue (above) from September 22, 1980, featuring Billy Sims, who had just started his rookie season for the Detroit Lions. I had a subscription to SI back then, as a 12-year-old, and I’m certain I tore this issue apart, carefully placing the cover and all the accompanying photographs into clear plastic folder dividers. This is what we did, back then, before the age of 24-hour sports highlights. We’d bring our folders to school and compare, brag and dream. It passed the time, I suppose.
I was reminded of this famous cover by the excellent ESPN 30 For 3o documentary on Marcus Dupree, who was potentially the best running back in the history of the game, before his infamous washout. Sims, it turns out, was sent by Barry Switzer to Dupree’s high school in an effort to recruit him (it worked, as Dupree signed with OU).
I found the issue for $15, from a seller in St. Louis who was looking to trade Cardinals’ memorabilia but who was willing to take cash (or, at least, the PayPal variety). If nothing else I can now justify these kinds of purchases in the name of preserving a Detroit sports legacy for my Brooklyn-based sons.
The critic James Wood is something of an amateur drummer, apparently. This may explain his recent lengthy dive into the brilliance of Keith Moon for the New Yorker. (Most of the piece is behind their paywall, but you can get a sampling). Inevitably, the piece touches on the Moon versus Bonham debate that has raged on in dorm rooms for more than four decades.
There’s no definitive answer as to which one was best, but they are generally regarded as number 1 and 2 on most “best of” lists, including this one (from the now defunct Stylus magazine). While these rankings tend to have a classic rock-era bias, it’s safe to say they are the two finest drummers in the history of rock & roll. Both died at the age of 32 from the excesses of the rock lifestyle, though their styles were widely variant.
NB: The video above shows 2:36 of John Bonham performing “Moby Dick,” live at The Royal Albert Hall in 1970. For the full 15 minute 25 second version, go here, and prepare to sit still for a spell.
In September 1960 George Frazier, the acerbic Jazz critic and cultural reporter, wrote a famous Esquire piece called “The Art Of Wearing Clothes.” The essay traces the history of dressing well, ending with a list of men who practiced the art gracefully (as might be expected many of names are WASPy scions from the worlds of commerce and public service).
It’s safe to say that Frazier would be aghast at the current state of sartorial affairs (he died in 1974). Another Man’s Poison, Charles Fountain’s 1984 biography of Frazier, contains the following quote:
What the hell ever happened to the sense of style of the campus, to undergraduates with taste?
Frazier also wrote the liner notes for Miles Davis’ Greatest Hits (1965). It was entitled “Warlord of the Weejuns.” Ostensibly about music, it also contains a stinging indictment of men’s fashion at the time (he was writing during the Kennedy/Mad Men era, a moment we now regard as unattainably stylish).
All I’m trying to say, really, is that most boutique customers should be lined up before a firing squad at dawn and that there should be a minute of silence to thank God for the existence of people like Miles Davis.
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