Above is the shoe factory I and a hundred artists lived in just outside Boston that burned down. That is me up a tree with our cat in a Boston park. Above is me looking like Joaquin Miller trying to save Post Office buildings across America. The one here in Eugene has murals that were influenced by the work of my kindred, Thomas Hart Benton, whose grandfather sent John Fremont west to secure the Northwest for the United States of America.
Here is an old post:
“Jonathan is the anti-rock god. He’s just a man in a profession that has always been full of the bullshit of the idol, the elevation of the artist over the audience, most especially commercially.”
“His first place to stay in Manhattan was on the couch of the personal manager of this Velvet Underground.”
I lived in the penthouse offices of the Plant family shoe factory for four months with Tate Billings. There were about 120 artist’s lofts built on the two top floors. One artist rented a huge space and built a stage with the Velvet Underground and Warhol’s factory in mind. The Modern Lover played here on Halloween night. This place was so much fun, so damn interesting, that no one got any work done. We explored the labyrinth of endless creativity, weno knowing what lay around the next turn. It was the party the Haight used to be before we buried Hippie.
The mayor of Boston tried to close us down, until someone invited him to come for a visit. He was blown away and got behind this rebirth of Art. Then, someone burned it down. Mayors across America are promoting the Bohemian Scene because it’s good for business. Over fours years ago I became the President of the Bohemian Bank. I wish my corporate offices were atop the old shoe factory.
For over forty years I have wondered if I am responsible for Jonathan Richman not becoming a Super Star and making a tone of doe. I talked to Jonathan after that show, where the freaks from the Roxbury commune sat up front, just ten feet from the Modern Lovers. On New Years we had gone downtown to see Linda Ronstadt and her new band ‘The Stone Ponys’ Us Roxy freaks sat ten feet from Linda. There were about ten people in the room. We talked to her between songs. Life is good!
I told Jonathan he was what Hippie Rock used to be, a garage band formed to accompany the greatest party the world has ever known. But, instead of getting ripped and blotto, we expanded our minds!
“I stopped listening to rock when it got too big, when you had to use binoculars to see Grace Slick. At the Filmore, Janis Joplin walked off the stage, and through the crowd to the cola machine. She looked me in the eye as she squeaked past.”
“The music got louder and louder! You couldn’t hear yourself – tripping! There was a mindless equation that emptied your wallet to feed the Super Star. Everything was designed to get more money out of you. Stay as you are. You are singing songs about your neighborhood, your experiences. Keep it on a human scale.”
I was drawing my from what I witnessed with The Loading Zone they Berkeley’s band who as The Marbles played at ‘The Tribute to Doctor Strange’ in 1965, and as the Zone, at the first Trips Festival in 1965. When the Zone signed a record contract they – were done. They didn’t know who they were anymore. I lived in a large Victorian with them. Peter Shapiro, and his then girlfriend, Chris, are my good friends this day. Peter told me the Zone picked up Neil Cassidy on one of these trips, who stayed with them for a week foaming at the mouth while on speed. They finally had to give him the boot.
We were the stars, the unknown faces, us guinae pigs, we tripsters and trailblazers, who gave up our places in normal society, many of us to never return. We were the rock and roll heros that danced to the lights fantastic! We were God – the collective! We could all be God, now safe, in the loving company of strangers.