This was one of the many things going on celebrating the 50th anniversary of ‘The Summer of Love’ here in SF. If you saw my recent post on Susanne Ciani at the Berkeley Museum you might remember I shared a photo with some friends including V.Vale. from Re/Search Pubs. This post features him speaking in front of a photo taken by Jim Marshall during the summer of 1967. He is featured in the foreground of the photo and just the look on his face captures the awe and wonder of what it might have been like to arrive at that infamous corner of Haight and Ashbury at that time. While most of those people have moved on in life or have since passed, Val manages to still have that curiosity in life and culture/counterculture and remains in a perpetual state of awe and inquisitive-ness.
The first few minutes of this video is from part of the guided tour of the photos that line the hall in the basement of SF City Hall including a couple of bits of insight to what was happening in some of the pics, such as the story behind the Moby Grape album cover that was censored and how Otis Redding really stole the show at Monterey Pop. There were plenty of photos of The Dead and Jefferson Airplane as well as some great pics of various Hippies and Diggers and counter-culture icons like Ginsberg and Ken Kesey.
Val’s talk was mostly a deconstruction of the photo he was in which provided some really cool behind the scenes info about the original line up of Blue Cheer. Not a lot of people know that Val was a founding member let alone that Blue Cheer was originally a 6 piece (that was news to me too). They just happened to be on the way to Golden Gate Park for a proper band shoot when this was captured.
Enjoy this first hand account of the Summer of Love SF by someone who was there:
SFAC also has a show up called Tiny Bubbles a group show that Val also has a bunch of photos in which is up until August 19th.
Many of you old fart punk rockers out there will remember the days of cut-n-paste collaging in order to create an eye catching and status quo challenging advert for your old band’s basement gigs. Usually containing crude imagery, shocking content in black and white with ‘ransom note’ style text cobbled together from various sources. Many of you will also remember the next level DIY collaged zines that were painstakingly assembled late at night in a 24 hour Kinkos that your buddy worked at…
The content usually involved coverage of a regional or more accurately, ‘micro-regional’ underground music and/or art scene, covering shows and events with occasional short fiction or comics and music reviews. They were xeroxed and collated and stapled manually upon completion and subsequently given away to anyone remotely interested. Seldom did they charge for these. If anything, 25cts or a trade sufficed.
A lot of these ‘rags’ also travelled to other micro-regions via snail mail and this was before the internetz, so this was a lifeline for people seeking out new and exciting happenings in places other than their own. It went hand in hand with the burgeoning DIY music scene as this was also how bands contacted each other as well as venues to put together tours and find places to stay while out on the road, especially in smaller areas off the beaten path where folks didn’t have access to a big city to see shows of any level. Black Flag is a good example of a band that mastered this and in fact blazed a trail that is still used by bands today. Check out Spray Paint the Walls for a more detailed read about how they did it.
These were really small run, handmade and practically ephemeral which makes zines an interesting literary niche that is still going strong to this day.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE ZINE
Some zines that I know from back in the day started out as crudely xeroxed and stapled handmade affairs but eventually evolved into full-on mags with excellent content and credibility. A couple of examples that come to mind are Ugly Things run by Mike Stax out of San Diego Ca. who’s focus is 60’s garage and psych music. His staying power is a result of really thorough sourcing and in depth coverage of really obscure bands. He is really good at finding surviving members of these long forgotten groups and interviewing them at length which usually reveals some fun and interesting behind the scenes happenings we would never hear about anywhere else.
Also very in depth with lengthy articles to get lost in…as you see the early issues were very text heavy.
Early Big Takeovers (circa early 80’s)
Recent Big Takeover
Another example that I hold close is Bomp magazine created and maintained by Greg Shaw who started making zines by hand as early as 1966 with Mojo Navigator, an inspiration for Rolling Stone Magazine. He made Tolkien related mimeographed zines in the 60’s also, a very early representation of zines not music focused. His real legacy though lies in Who Put the Bomp which I’ve mentioned before as one of my old record store bosses Gary Apollo, who recently passed away also worked with Greg for a few years in LA on the magazine. Even the infamous ‘Powerpop Issue’ which looked really polished and professional was all done by hand! Cut-paste for days…
Early Bomp (circa 1971)
I had just read this article the day before in the New York Times: “No, the Internet Has Not Killed the Printed Book, Most People Still Prefer Them” and on our way to the event there were 2 separate people sitting across from us reading books, so as far as I can see, books and printed media are still important to people and if you think otherwise, you’re sadly mistaken and likely missing out on a lot of information you will not find online. It’s also similar to the Record experience in music, the desire to hold something in your hands crafted by artists through painstaking processes to create something significant and tangible which helps drive the experience deeper into your psyche…
This was further driven home when we entered the festival and saw how many people turned out to look at and buy these mostly tiny handmade mags! There were artists, musicians, printmakers, poets and authors, lefties, activists and anarchists and a wide array of items to be had. In addition to xeroxed zines, self published books and underground comics were t-shirts, posters, bags, buttons, some musicians had small run cds, cassettes and even vinyl all DIY and small runs. There were too many artists to mention but I’ve included links where possible and SF Zinefest has it’s own site at sfzinefest.org as well as an instagram and twitter where you can explore and discover a large group of artists both young and not so young! There were some OG’s in the house which leads me into some pics from the event.
First I had to catch up with V.Vale of REsearch Publicatons who is known for his zine Search and Destroy going back to 1977 and his Industrial Culture Handbook and coverage of all things weird and subversive under the REsearch imprint. I purchased this collated, unfolded printing of ‘A Visit From Monte Cazazza’ which I look forward to devouring.
PM Press had a table. The previously mentioned Black flag book Spray Paint The Walls can be obtained through them as well as some other important punk lit.
It was really cool to meet Michelle Cruz Gonzales from the SF all girl band Spitboy who were around from 1990-95. We grabbed her book Spitboy Rule also available through PM Press, but it was nice to be able to get one directly from her and she signed it. This will be a welcome read next to our recently obtained copy of Alice Bags book Violence Girl as these are the voices of xicana women from the old school punk scene, there were very few!
TEAM PRINT SHOP
I also ran into an old friend who worked for a t-shirt print shop I also worked at for awhile in Oakland. He’s since broken off and started his own thing called Team Print Shop
Pretty randomly, I walked past this one table and had to stop because I recognized the curious artwork on the t-shirts first, then the table also had zines with these similar cartoon-like characters in weird homoerotic poses I remembered from some show posters I grabbed from the bulletin board at my band’s rehearsal studio (images below) they were posters for a show that had already passed, so I wasn’t hindering the band’s progress!
Turns out these guys rehearse down the hall from us in Oakland and the band is a bit of an artist collective that release zines under Unity Press and the creator of these weird ass images are by the artist Jeffrey Cheung.
I was also stoked to hear they recorded their debut record in their studio on a 4 track and released to vinyl via the Oakland based label Digital Regress. The DIY ethic instantly endeared them to me and we also have the same name…Jeff’s Rule!
I gave the album a whirl and it’s really good for a 4 track recording! The style is very 90’s indie rock but without the pretentiousness of a lot of that stuff and it also lacked the noisy angst ridden aspect that turns me off to so many of those bands. There are some nice melodies here and simple arrangements and nicely played!
This table caught my eye also but we were on our way out, so I didn’t get a chance to say hi, but here’s a shout out to Bagger43 they had some nice looking stuff and I dug their aesthetic.
There were 2 rooms full of tables and plenty of people milling around!
We walked out of the event quite sated and it was great to see so many people out there just to celebrate the printed word, and of course to support art and artists operating on their own terms! Get off the internet and go read a book now! We came home with plenty of stuff to read and enjoy!
All pics by Jeff K. 2016 (except Bomp, Big Takeover and Ugly Things covers)
My wife and I had the rare opportunity to see Theo Jansen’s work up close. I’ve been following the Dutch physicist/artist for 7-8 years now and you can imagine how excited we were to hear that The SF Exploratorium would be hosting some of these curious sculptures. This is the first ever appearance in North America of these kinetic creatures originally designed to turn the sand and maintain dunes in the face of rising sea levels. They are generally kinetic and propelled by the wind but there are also crude air pressure systems he designed to help them move and they have evolved to essentially have ‘lungs’ a ‘brain’ and a ‘nervous system’. They’re entirely made of pvc pipes and zip ties and the air pressure systems are made from plastic bottles. This is also an important part of the project, to utilise recycled material.
The following video is from a TED talk from 2007 with some video examples of the many different varieties of ‘Beests’ and some explanation of the process and ideas behind them. Following that are my pics from the exhibit and a short video of the demonstration we saw as part of the exhibit.
My wife’s dad came out to SF from Florida for a visit and we had the chance to all go see the Ed Ruscha exhibit. Ed Ruscha is a Pop Artist who has worked in many different mediums. Represented here were some works in pencil, oil, acrylic, gelatin silver prints, lithograph prints and even a few ‘odd medium’ pieces, works in Pepto, Caviar and Metrecal which was a weight loss beverage from the 60’s which he used to screen images of Hollywood, so there’s a bit of cynical social commentary in his work also.
One of the reasons this exhibit was special is that my wife’s dad used to collect art some years ago and had some lithographs of Ruscha’s of which he only did a limited number of. Awhile ago he gave us one as a gift and he passed on another to my wife’s brother. The one we got was similar to this one titled ‘Time is UP’ (ours is in storage)
The one her brother got we always just called ‘The Sign’. This one was represented in the show and there was an artist print titled ‘Untitled’
There were a few pieces related to this series that I’ll post below as well but it was cool to see this piece in a gallery when we’re so used to seeing it hanging in the background when we go visit my wife’s brother.
I especially enjoyed the Hollywood stuff since I lived there for quite some time. I also enjoyed the ultra wide panoramic stuff, they really pull you in and give you a sense of that ‘American expanse’.
(The pics are all mine, so I apologize for the incidental selfie reflections in some of the pieces, there are pro images of this stuff online) I also didn’t catch all of the titles.
There were these variations on an image of a gas station:
Most of the rest of the exhibit consisted of assorted typographical pieces
For further research into the works of Ed Ruscha, check out this excellent resource via Artsy
Their Ed Ruscha page contains over 400 of his works as well as links to articles and gallery exhibitions.