Great Clubs You Wish You’d Been To Part One: Xenon NYC

Douglas Trumbull designed the space ship that featured in the main area, Studio 54 acolytes derogatorily referred to it as ‘Xerox’ and it was constructed in what was an old porn theatre, but when Xenon opened on a Wednesday in June 1978, it was filled by the consegnetti of the era including Peter Frampton, Tony Curtis, Paul Simon, Mariel Hemingway, Bob Evans, Liv Ullman, Polly Bergen, Tony Roberts, Ahmet Ertegun and Bob McAdoo.  It likely would have featured more celebrities at its opening if the owners hadn’t tipped off the press and had photographers waiting outside the door for their arrival.

Mariel Hemmingway on Opening Night June 1978 – Photo Stolen From Web

Located at 123rd West 43rd Street in Midtown, it was named for the word ‘Stranger’ in Greek, and was opened by Swiss / Italian restaurateur Peppo Vanini and concert promoter Howard Stein who had met at Studio 54 and realised that disco would be lucrative hustle for a further year or two at least.

Howard Stein Circa Late 1970sPhoto Stolen From Web

With silver walls, it’s mothership and a giant ‘X’ floating above the dance floor, the club also featured a mezzanine with “… seven ‘playpen’ areas, featuring electronic games and huge couches for lounging and watching the dancers and the various visual effects that descend from the ceiling, including a neon shooting gallery, three gigantic pinball machines and several Maypoles” as noted in a contemporary New York Times article.

Inside The ClubPhotos Stolen From Web

While its patrons popped ‘ludes or sniffed poppers and coke, tunes like Dancing in Outer Space by Atmosfear, Free Man by South Shore or I Don’t Want To Lose It by Bambu inflamed their senses. Future 1980s club hero Jellybean Benitez (who went on to be the main DJ for famed 1980s venue The Funhouse, was Madonna’s boyfriend and produced her break-out single Holiday), did his DJ apprenticeship here under the tutelage of Tony Smith.

Madonna & JellybeanPhoto Stolen From Web

Tony SmithPhoto Stolen From Web

According to famed night club photographer Bill Berstein, “They had these moving sets, backdrops that would [change] during the night,” he says. “Every half an hour, 45 minutes, you would look up and see a different room.” The club generally catered for a more upwardly mobile, straighter and whiter crowd than Studio 54, without being as white and working class as Bay Ridge’s 2001 Disco, made famous by 1977’s Saturday Night Fever.

BouncersPhotos Stolen From Web

Satisfied PatronPhotos Stolen From Web

Elton John, Andy Warhol, Jerry Hall, Unknown & Ahmet Ertgun Circa 1978 – Photo Stolen From Web

Divine and Grace JonesPhotos Stolen From Web

Various Good TimesPhotos Stolen From Web

Current Day Façade Circa 2015 – Screenshot By Author

During its time as a night club, it was featured in the surprisingly good 1981 Sylvester Stallone movie Nighthawks…

And in much the same way that Italian movies of the late 1970s and early 1980s tried to rip off all films emanating from Hollywood, they also tried to rip off New York nightclubs, creating their own version of Xenon in the early 1980s with demonstrably poor results.

 

When disco finally died an ignoble death in 1984, sadly so did Xenon. Howard Stein passed away in October 2007 at the age of 62, while Vanini died in 2012 after complications of Parkinsons disease. John F. Kennedy Jr., who wa a frequent visitor to Xenon in the early 1980s was noted in Jerry Oppenhemer’s book RFK Jr, as being “…truly saddened when he heard [Vanini], his ‘disco daddy’ had passed…

As undoubtedly many others were too. Were you there? Any recollections would be most welcome.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1980s Honky Dancing (A Primer)

As Eddie notes in the clip above, it’s long been known that people without colour lack rhythm. It’s a given. For as long as Chinese people have been smart, black people have had big lips and Latino’s quick tempers, white people couldn’t dance.

For shit.

Particularly in the 1980s it seemed, where white dancing was more pervasive than ever due to the golden age of MTV, and the desire of movies to include dance scenes was consequently more prevalent more than ever before.

I feel somewhat maligned.  While few white people turn out to be Rudolf Nureyev, we’re not all Lewis Skolnick’s either. Though media in the 1980s seems to have given others little choice in visualising us in any other way as the following examples ably illustrate:

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Molly Ringwold at the 25 second mark is exactly what Eddie Murphy refers to above.

Dancing In The Streets (1985)

So, as you can see it wasn’t all great tunes like Ashes to Ashes from the now dead icon. It was also ravaged Motown covers with dreadful dancing and mutual screaming thrown in. Surely, these two could have afforded choreography? Jagger in particular looks like someone’s hitting him from behind with a cattle prod. Laughing in the streets would be a more appropriate title.

Madonna Holiday (1983)

Holy fucking shit! How bad is this? The choreography is out of sync significantly and all three participants are not in time. Particularly Madonna’s brother Christopher on the left hand side.

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (1984)

If there was a visual dictionary for archetypal 1980s white boy dancing it would be this clip. Although in all fairness George Michael had Cypriot heritage.

Ant Music (1982)

The origins of atrocious white dancing may be possibly traced back to this catchy slice of pop. On the heels of $5,000 worth of advice from Malcolm McLaren, Adam Ant created his highway man persona, two successful albums and this jaunty primer on how not to dance. That being said, this is one catchy tune and somehow, retains some of punk’s ‘fuck you’ spirit.

Dancing In The Dark (1984)

Apt title. Pretty much sums up awful honky dancing with shit music to boot. I don’t care what anyone says, Springsteen sucks. Never understood any level of his appeal.

Flashdance (1983)

This, along with Jane Fonda started some kind of honky dance/aerobics zeitgeist and whilst I can understand the appeal of a pretty girl in tight pants, both the music and dancing are terrible.

Footloose (1984)

Oooooh so much angst… manifested in some of the gayest dancing this side of Glee. Seems 1984 was a great year for honky dancing. How this film became a classic for some people I’ll never know.

Faith (1987)

Probably seems wrong in light of his very recent death, but yes, this too deserves to be here. And when I see or hear this, I am reminded of the brillance of the movie version of The Rules of Attraction (2002). The only good Brett Easton Ellis adaptation.

Rock Me Tonite (1984)

This is everything Louis Farrakhan warned us of in the 1980s, and with good reason. Skip in to the 30 second mark to see moves that’ll put your drunken uncle to shame.

You Spin Me Round (1984)

Got the basic honky arm moves from 18 seconds onwards. It may be fucking terrible, but it’s undeniably upbeat.

Turning Japanese (1980)

Pretty archetypical honky dancing from the period. Bad dancing and vaguely racist to boot!

 

With evidence like this, it’s no wonder the rhythimically challenged white boy stereotype remains entrenched until this day. One day we will rise up on a dance floor and prove that not all our feet are left only. Perhaps.

 

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

Great Homes You Wish You’d Visited Part Three: 23 & 120 Mount Street, Mayfair, London

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“Robert was the hippest person I ever met. Every night at 23 Mount Street there was some pop star, movie star, artist, whatever. You couldn’t keep up with that. You just had to be yourself, because you couldn’t keep up”.

Jim Dine (American Artist)

 

Between 1960 and 1972, Robert Fraser’s flat(s) on Mount Street were a contemporary salon for the rich, famous and talented of the 1960s. Dennis Hopper visited there, Andy Warhol went there, Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg stayed there, Paul McCartney watched 16mm movies and tooted cocaine there, Michael Cooper and David Bailey took photos there, Donald Cammell and Kenneth Anger hustled films there, Christopher Gibbs talked art and antiques, John Paul Getty Jr. and Tara Browne were aristocratic within its confines, Allen Ginsberg, Tony Curtis, Terry Southern, William Burroughs hung out, as did Fulham footballer Bobby Keetch and Tom Wolfe.

Fraser, generally described as an aristocratic, thin dandy with a sometime stutter and an artificial aloofness, owned and ran an art gallery in nearby Duke Street Mayfair. Here, he exhibited British pop artists like Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton, and gave space to American artists such as Jim Dine, Dennis Hopper, Roy Lichtenstein and Claus Oldenberg, all the while hosting guests / potential purchasers like Marlon Brando, Marianne Faithful and members of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. He also sponsored the 1966 exhibition by Yoko Ono at the Indica Gallery where she first met John Lennon, encouraged the Beatles to use his friend Michael Cooper to photograph the collage design of his artist Peter Blake to create the cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, and ensured that another of his artists – Richard Hamilton – designed the cover for 1968’s The Beatles.

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Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)  – Stolen From Web

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Fraser at Sgt Pepper’s Cover Shoot – Photograph by Michael Cooper

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The Beatles (1968) – Stolen From Web

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Yoko Ono Indica Gallery Exhibition Handbill (1966) – Stolen From Web

Quite often the openings at his gallery would evolve into parties at his apartment at 23 Mount Street, Mayfair. Located on the third floor of the building, above the fabled Scott’s restaurant, which had moved there in 1967, and was most recently in the news when Nigella Lawson was throttled by her then husband Charles Saatchi there in 2013, his apartment provided a refuge and a meeting place for those in the know. The apartment had a very big room, which contained an Yves Klein sculpture, a couple of chaise lounges and a bunch of cushions on the floor. Keith Richards describes it as “… full of fantastic objects. Tibetan skulls lined with silver, bones with silver caps on the end, Tiffany nouveau lamps and beautiful fabrics and textiles everywhere. He’d float around in these bright coloured silk shirts he’d brought back from India. Robert really liked to get stoned, ‘wonderful hashish’, ‘Afghani primo’. He was a weird mix of the avant-garde and old fashioned”.

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23 Mount Street (Circa 2013) – Photo Courtesy of Kenwood@Blogspot

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23 Mount Street (Circa 2013) – Photo Courtesy of Kenwood@Blogspot

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Robert Fraser At His Duke Street Gallery – Stolen From Web

Fraser having met members of the Rolling Stones at a restaurant called Mrs Beaton’s Tent, became associated with their social scene, notably Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones.

“He was where you went to to tell what was happening”, recollected Marianne Faithfull. “Robert was a serious conductor of lightening”.

Keith Richards remembers, “Robert was someone who owned this apartment where you’d sit around talking and now and again you’d have a chat, without really being interested that much. Ten slowly it became more and more of a friendship. Robert was never one to push… He would talk about ideas, then say, ‘Why doesn’t everybody shut up and listen to Booker T.’ Some Turkish coffee and a pipe”. Fraser liked “… his soul music, loved Indian music – was wide open on everything”.

“He’d say, ‘Come up to my place for lunch, I’ve got some new records.’ So you’d get up for it, pop around to Robert’s pad, the mint tea, nice pipe and some great new sounds. From anywhere, Morocco or Memphis”.

“You’d see Robert go from this wonderful Saville Row suit to his jellaba and his little Turkish slippers.

As Mick Jagger recalls, “He was always trying to sell me Magritte, which would have been a fantastic buy. I just didn’t have the money. If I had known they’d be worth millions I could’ve raised it. Robert was a taste guru for both bands, but Paul was someone he could sell a Magritte to”.

According to Paul McCartney, “Robert’s Flat was like a second gallery… There was no dour art talk. It was much more razzy, loose, lively discussion with him. He was the best art eye I’ve ever met”. Later Fraser would sell McCartney a Magritte painting of an apple that the Beatle’s Apple logo would be based upon.

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Magritte – The Listening Room (1952) – Stolen From Web

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Apple Corps Logo (circa 1968) – Photo Stolen From Web

The British pop art artist Peter Blake who was exhibited by Robert notes that Mick Jagger learnt a certain sophistication from Robert Fraser by hanging about the apartment. Robert was “…very glamorous. He was handsome, incredibly well dressed. He kind of tutored them in a way”.

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Robert Fraser (Circa 1967) – Photo Stolen From Web

Chris Jagger (Mick’s brother) similarly recalls, “I remember being Robert’s flat with Jim Dine… I must have been about nineteen and I remember him having impenetrable conversations and apparently they were about scoring dope. I didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about. I wasn’t included in those conversations, I was just ‘there’. But there was a lot of hustling going on. He was very good at that.

“We all knew he was gay but he didn’t flaunt the boyfriends too much. He was homosexual but not at all camp – you’d never have known he was gay really. He was theatrical but not camp.” Mick Jagger notes, “But he was the one who invented Spanish Tony, Tony Sanchez [Keith Richards later drug dealer]. He’s a ghastly person. Why did he invent him? He did provide drugs but, but there was more than one drug dealer around.”

Paul McCartney first tried cocaine within the walls of 23 Mount Street having seen Fraser snorting lines through a rolled up pound note. McCartney himself describes that he “…felt very lucky, because he introduced me to it a year before most people were doing it. That was ’66, very early. I did a little bit with Robert, had my little phial… It didn’t seem too bad. I started to find though, I had a big problem with numbness in my throat. Some people quite like that, but occasionally I’d think that I was dying.

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Paul McCartney (Circa 1967) – Stolen from web

Acid too made its first appearance in the lives of people in Robert’s flat as antiques dealer Christopher Gibbs remembers, “The first acid trip I ever took was around at Robert’s. There were a lot of hip Americans there – Sid Caesar, Dennis Hopper, Bruce Connor, Kenneth Anger… For all of us it was pretty nearly our first time. It was a great levelling thing, making a new camaraderie”.

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Christopher Gibbs (Circa Late 1960s) – Photo Stolen From Web

Donald Cammell was often there talking about his film ideas which turned into Performance, whilst Kenneth Anger, similarly meeting Mick and Keith there, roped Mick Jagger into making music for Lucifer Rising and filmed thensome parts of their free concert in Hyde Park to be used in his 1969 film Invocation of My Demon Brother.

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Kenneth Anger On The Set of Lucifer Rising (1970) – Photo Stolen From Web

The atmosphere of Mount Street is described by Nigel Waymouth, “You’d go round to Robert’s of an evening and you’d get stoned, but there wasn’t an awful lot said. You weren’t allowed to be nervous. Sometimes you’d get a bit restless, a bit bored, but: can I be bothered to move? The joint would cool you out. It was a great time. People would just be sitting there, listening to music, passing the joint. You felt comfortable being quiet.”

Susan Loppert, who helped run his gallery, provides the flip side to this atmosphere, “You’d go round to Mount Street and here’d be people sitting around all this awful smell of incense and grass. You could never get a drink, nobody drank anything, and they’d all be sitting around uttering these pseudo-profundities which were all rubbish! Unless you were part of it, you were completely out of it. I’ll never forget one time – he had ceramics at one point, one of Robert’s phases of collecting things, he would be continually changing his furniture around – these people were sitting around on his floor and one said, ‘Like get a hold of that red pot, man’. And everyone said, ‘Yeah, man yeah’. I’ve never forgotten that.

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Dennis Hopper at 23 Mount Street Circa 1966 – Scan by author

Paul Trynka’s book, Sympathy for the Devil gives an account of Brian Jones being in attendance whilst messed up on Mandrax, “I was at Robert Fraser’s apartment one day, at 23 Mount Street, we were discussing what was happening, and Brian came up to see me there. And he entered through the doorway and, attempting to cross the room, he hit every piece of furniture, bouncing from one to another like a ping pong ball. It was a dreadful sight.”

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Brian Jones Reflecting Upon His Benzo Intake – Photo Stolen From Web

In May 1967 23 Mount Street hosted Andy Warhol, his acolytes and an associated swinging people to watch the interminable bore of Chelsea Girls.  Fraser’s friend “Stash Klossowski” aka “Stash De Rola” aka “Prince Stanislaus Klossowski de Rola,” who was also a friend to the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, recalls bringing Paul McCartney’s 16 mm sound projector to Fraser’s flat so they could project it on two screens.

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Chelsea Girls Poster – Stolen from web

“Robert called and asked me to bring Paul’s 16mm sound projector, because Chelsea Girls needed two projectors used simultaneously. So I took it over, arrived at 23 Mount Street and found about fifty or more people crammed in, lying all over the floor, all the Warhol entourage. We showed the movie and someone complained about the noise and the police came.

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Chelsea Girls Screenshot – Stolen from web

Robert had this amazingly arrogant attitude towards the police which stopped them coming in. They tried. They were pointing to people passed out on the floor, saying, ‘Is he all right?’, but Robert just ignored this and ordered or pushed them back out on to the landing.”

Pretentious art films weren’t the only flicks shown at Robert’s flat however, as apparently Ringo Starr was fond of screening the Ray Harryhausen epic Jason and the Argonauts again and again, whilst Paul McCartney showed The Wizard of Oz on another occasion.

In 1967, Fraser, along with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger was arrested and given a prison sentence for being caught in possession of drugs at Keith Richards Country home in West Wittering.

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Fraser (at left) And Others On The Day of Redlands Bust – Photo From Web

He was photographed shackled with Jagger in a famous photo, which was subsequently turned into a more famous painting by one of his artists in some kind of meta play. He was sentenced to time at Wormwood Scrubs Prison with Richards, whilst Jagger was sent to Brixton Prison. According to Keith Richards, Fraser “… never lost his cool in any of those type of matters”. Unlike Richards and Jagger however, who thanks to a now famous Times newspaper editorial got off within a day or two, he did hard time, three months in all and understandably didn’t come out the same as he went in.

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Fraser & Jagger At The Mercy Of The Law – Stolen from web

Fraser’s gallery was placed in receivership whilst he was in prison and closed permanently at the end of the decade, providing another metaphorical nail in the coffin of the 1960s. The scene makers that he hosted at his apartment however, went on to both define and outlive their era and as the lease was coming up at 23 Mount Street, Fraser took another down the road at 120 Mount Street. A larger apartment, it reportedly had lots of light, silk hangings and a four poster bed, where Keith Richards wrote You Got The Silver in the company of Anita Pallenberg, Fraser and Marianne Faithful. The lounge room was used by Keith in a similar fashion to write Gimme Shelter as he looked out the windows on to a storm outside, whilst he, Fraser, Faithful and Pallenberg got ever deeper into a heroin quagmire. According to Pallenberg who was filming the movie Performance at the time, ‘Keith and Robert were both so cynical and sarcastic, slagging of the movie [Performance] every day. “The bathroom was the most important place. First you’d shoot up, then you’d puke, then you’d feel great”.

Keith agrees, noting that, “At the time of Performance I was living in Robert’s flat in Mount Street. That film was probably the best work he ever did, except for shooting himself”.

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Anita Pallenberg & Donald Cammell on the Set of Performance 1968 – Stolen from web.

Indeed, the darkness that seemed to envelop the end of the 1960s was illustrated at 120 Mount Street in microcosm. While Pallenberg and cohorts shot themselves up with smack, Kenneth Anger staked a claim on this new version of Mount Street by making a temple filled with books and trinkets. In his autobiography, Richards recalls that, “Robert was into smack. He had a cupboard full of double breasted suits, all superbly made, with great fabrics, and his shirts were often handmade bespoke shirts, but the collars and cuffs were always frayed. And that was part of the look. And he used to keep spare jacks – a sixth of grain – loose in those suit pockets, so he’d always be going to the cupboard and going through all the pockets to find he odd spare jack.”

It seems prison affected Fraser for the worst, and he was noticeably grouchier and moodier in social settings afterwards. He went to India along with everybody else in 1968 but saw no recuperative affect, and following the closure of his gallery in 1969 he essentially disappeared, re-emerging almost two decades later to relaunch another gallery to reduced effect. He died in 1986 of AIDS, one of the first celebrity cases in Britain.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Great Homes You Wish You’d Visited Part Two: 625 Palisades Beach Road, Santa Monica, CA

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Right on Pacific Highway One facing the beach is a Mediterranean inspired home originally built in 1926 for Louis B Mayer. Mayer was the famous chief of MGM studios at the time and not only engaged MGM studio carpenters and electricians to build the building, but also conjured up the idea for the academy awards in the dining room whilst drinking there with some pals.

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Rear of 625 Palisades Road – Photo stolen from web

Built in only 6 weeks due to the use of floodlights and round the clock work schedules, the property was used by Mayer to entertain Hollywood types, including hosting Judy Garland’s birthday party there in 1939.

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Mickey Rooney Being Thown Off The Diving Board At Judy Garlands’ 1939 Birthday Party – Photo stolen from web

Following the initiation of divorce proceedings in 1944, Louis B decided to move out and the home was eventually sold to actor Peter Lawford, a member of Frank Sinatra’s ‘rat pack’ and a former MGM contract actor. Lawford was married to John F Kennedy’s sister Patricia, and JFK would frequently visit the house…Usually for the purposes of banging various women there. Most notably Marilyn Monroe (to whom Lawford introduced J.F.K to), but also a wide variety of models, starlets and hookers his resourceful brother in law organised for his visits.

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Marilyn Monroe – Photos stolen from web

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Lawford & Kennedy (Likely) Planning An Orgy – Photo stolen from web

Howard Hughes, a staunch anti Kennedy advocate, reportedly engaged a private eye to listen in and watch the house in order to catch the Kennedy brothers in flagrante delicto. The investigator dutifully picked up the sensual sounds of Marilyn Monroe, recalling in an interview 1992, “I would have kept it quiet all my life. But all of a sudden, I’m looking at FBI files and CIA files with quotes from my investigators telling them about the work they did on my behalf. It’s stupid to sit here and deny that these things are true. Yes, we did have [Lawford’s house] wired. Yes, I did hear a tape of Jack Kennedy fucking Monroe. But I don’t want to get into the moans and groans of their relationship. They were having a sexual relationship — period.”

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R.F.K, Marilyn & J.F.K. / Marilyn & J.F.K. – Photos stolen from web

Monroe didn’t limit herself to only one brother whilst on the premises either. She also apparently did Robert Kennedy within the home’s walls as well. The property also hosted other friends and acquaintances of Lawford such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.,  Judy Garland, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis and Dean Martin.

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Lawford, Sinatra, Marilyn and Patricia Kennedy – Photo stolen from web

Lawford and Patricia divorced in 1966 and the property was subsequently leased. Abby Mann (who wrote Judgement at Nuremburg and created Kojak) lived in the property in the late 1960s, and in March 1974 John Lennon rented it, having decided to produce Harry Nilsson’s next album in Los Angeles. Nilsson apparently begged Lennon to produce this album during their ‘lost weekend’ outings and Lennon thinking the sessions would be shambolic, thought it prudent to house all the musicians under one roof for the duration of the recording to ensure they got to sessions on time.

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Harry Nilsson In The Studio / Lennon, May Pang & Nilsson – Photos stolen from web

For Nilsson and his album band (which included Keith Moon, Ringo Starr and Klaus Voorman), excess was the rule and they spent most of their time getting fucked up on brandy and cocaine. A letter penned by Lennon during these sessions to Phil Spector shows the level they were at. Lennon realising that as the producer he had to be responsible, and that the musicians (in this case Nilsson and Moon) weren’t.

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Letter From Lennon To Phil Spector Detailing The Destruction Of A Recrding Console By Urination – Photo stolen from web

Paul and Linda McCartney on a working holiday in California, took a taxi to Burbank Studios where they were recording and upon arrival exclaimed, “Fuck Me! Anyone left alive?” Three days later, Lennon invited the McCartneys to Palisades Beach Road and they jammed on a number of songs.

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Ringo & Paul McCartney Jamming March 1974 – Photos stolen from web

During this afternoon, several photos were taken of Paul and John which would sadly become their last ever taken together and the sessions themselves have added poignancy due to the fact that Nilsson destroyed his vocal cords whilst attempting to balance falsetto and poor lifestyle choices.

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John Lennon & Paul McCartney At 625 Palisades Road – Photo stolen from web

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Harry Nilsson, Paul McCartney & John Lennon At 625 Palisades Road – Photo stolen from web

Most accounts state that Lennon took the master bedroom, noting that “…this is where they did it” in reference to J.F.K and Monroe as he did. Moon and Nilsson took other bedrooms, whilst Ringo made use of a converted library as a place to sleep.

A year later the property was sold, and in 1978 sold again, to its final owner who still holds onto it, undoubtedly aware of the providence and delighting in its historical occupants.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Great Homes You Wish You’d Visited Part One: 1 Courtfield Road, South Kensington

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This large studio apartment located just off the Gloucester Road in SW7, was the home of Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones and his girlfriend, actress / model Anita Pallenberg who took up residence in September 1966. With its rooms decorated by sixties interior designer de jour Christopher Gibbs – who would later do similar work for Mick Jagger’s townhouse and the set of the movie Performance – 1 Courtfield Road exuded a distinctly middle eastern vibe. Walls were hung with Moroccan tapestries, cushions lay all over the floors and a large water pipe dominated the centre of the living room.

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Brian Jamming Amongst The TapestriesPhoto stolen from web.

Above the living area was a loft / minstrel gallery. Accessible via a rope ladder which led to a trap door inside, the gallery was constructed from carved wood and it was filled with instruments belonging to its new occupant.

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Brian Holding Court In CourtfieldPhotos stolen from web.

According to a 1972 biography on Mick Jagger written by Tony Scaduto, it was here that Brian Jones first took LSD shortly after he and Anita Pallenberg had begun living together and a “…weird court like scene…” developed around them at this apartment. Visiting American artists such as Bob Dylan and The Byrds would come by, as would members of the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, as well as young local dignitaries such as Guinness heir Tara Browne (immortalised as the man who ‘blew his mind out in a car’ in A Day In The Life) and baroness in waiting Alice Ormsby Gore.

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Mick and Keith Kicking It At Courtfield Circa Early 1967Photos stolen from web.

Marianne Faithful who was still living with her husband at the time, and who had become friendly with Anita, visited them often and described the atmosphere:

“They’re like a king and queen with a whole court, all those upper class people who are going to be lords and dukes someday, and they’re acting like Brian’s groupies. They should know better.”

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Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who’s The Fairest Of Them All?Photo stolen from web.

Marianne was there one day when Brian’s former partner Linda Lawrence came by with their baby and some members or her family in order to shame Brian into paying child support. Brian’s heartless response was to stand on the balcony with Anita and his friends and laugh at her until she went away in despair. Following his arrest for drug possession in May 1967, Brian utilised the balcony a second time to give an ill conceived speech to gathered reporters about police harassment while simultaneously looking completely wrecked from drugs.

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Brian Giving Balcony Press Conference June 1967Photos stolen from web.

Tony Sanchez, who was essentially Keith Richard’s heroin dealer during the late 1960s and early 1970s, noted that Brian and Anita would be merciless to those that incurred their displeasure. “Anyone who displeased them would be banished from the flat and shunned immediately by any friends who wished to avoid offence to their highnesses”.

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Brian and Anita At Courtfield RoadPhoto stolen from web.

When Keith Richards broke up with his girlfriend Linda Keith (due to her dallying with Jimi Hendrix), he started spending more and more time hanging out with Brian and Anita at Courtfield Road. Together they dropped a lot of acid and made demos. One of which evolved into the 1967 song Ruby Tuesday. At the same time Richards began to absorb more and more of Jones’ sartorial tastes until by the beginning of 1967, he too looked like a complete hippie dandy.

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Keith Richards Before & After Courtfield RoadPhotos stolen from web.

As Richards’ states in his semi-ghost written autobiography, “I just hung out as a guest and got a ring side seat on the world that Anita attracted around her. I used to walk back through Hyde Park to St. John’s Wood at six in the morning, at first, to pick up a clean shirt, and then I just stopped going home… It was all building up in Courtfield Gardens. Brian would crash out some times, and Anita and I would look at each other… I would stay around there three or four days and one a week I’d walk to St. Johns Wood. Better give some space here; it’s too transparent what my feelings are. But there were many other people around; it was a continuous party.

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An Artistic Interpretation of a Romantic BattlePhotos stolen from web.

After Keith later stole Anita from him during an angst filled trip to Morocco, Jones installed new girl friend Suki Potier at Courtfield Road and allowed both his home and life to go downhill. Terry Rawlings book Who Killed Christopher Robin describes the scene as, “Plates of half eaten takeaway meals were stacked precariously on the tables and in the sink. Wardrobe doors were smashed and splintered mirrors gaped open, hanging off their hinges as clothes, magazines and books lay strewn across the floors. There was a huge Nazi flag draped fully over an arm chair while more than 100 albums lay in a pathetic pile, sleeveless and stacked in a corner”.

Christopher Gibbs who had originally furnished the apartment stated that at this point “He [Brian] was living in complete chaos”. The flat was littered with ruined clothes and “… thousands and thousands of pounds worth of smashed instruments”.

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Brian Jones Serene Amongst The ChaosPhoto stolen from web.

After repeated police harassment and a series of prank phone calls that requested ambulances and others to his address, Jones finally called it a day at Courtfield Road. He moved temporarily to the Royal Gardens Hotel in Kensington and finally to Cotchford Farm in Essex where he died an early death in shady circumstances.

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Less Than Zero (1987) : Movie Review

Less Than Zero Poster

I love the first three novels Brett Easton Ellis wrote. I even like parts of fourth. Sadly, both his remaining books and almost all the films that have been made from his books, kind of suck the proverbial big one.

Less than Zero (1987) was the first film made from his debut novel and came out only two years after the original publication. Rick Rubin was the music supervisor and Thomas Numan did an amazing original score, which sadly fail to improve the film itself which unremittingly terrible.

Less Than Zero First Edition

Front Cover Of First Edition Photo Stolen From Web.

Andy McCarthy is ten shades of shite. He’s absolutely awful. Miscast and unable to act,  he really eviscerates the part of Clay. His character is always shrill and moralistically patronising. The whole point of the protaganist in the novel was that he wasn’t better or more virtuous than those surrounding him. He was just less antagonistic and more observant. He didn’t wish any one well. He just could be slightly less bothered than the person next to him to do someone else some harm.

Andrew McCarthy Can't Act

Andrew McCarthy Attempting To Emote… Or Take A Shit. It’s Hard To Tell ReallyScreenshot by author.

The characters as designed are meant to be mono syllabic and apathetic. Not verbose do gooders who moralise on drug use and try to do right by people. I am not sure whether the MPAA, the studio or the director chose to go down this path and whether it was for ratings, box office or sensibility it ultimately fails on all levels.

The only actor in this mess who seems to have read the book and actually comprehends it is James Spader. He is fantastic. He really understands the part and is by far the best thing in the film.

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James SpaderScreenshots by author.

Robert Downey Jr – essentially being himself at the time – does capture what it is like to be fucked up and not give a shit.  Whether pulling a quick hit of crack in the shadows of a club, or rolling onto a cliff top at dawn with a Sol in his hand realising he may as well sleep here, ‘cause life is fucked and what’s the point, he captures an element of his character. Physically at least.

Robert Downey Jr On Tha Pipe_1

Robert Downey Jr On Tha Pipe_2 Robert Downey Jr On Tha Pipe_0 Robert Downey Jr On Tha Pipe_3 Robert Downey Jr On Tha Pipe_4

Mr “I’ve Got a Shotgun In My Mouth & I Like The Taste of Gunmetal”Screenshots by author

In the film Clay drives around L.A. looking for Julian – who has previously fucked his girlfriend no less – because he concerned about him.

Fuck My Friend

I Care Because You Don’tScreenshot By Author.

Whilst in the book Clay is vaguely aware Julian has problems, he isn’t either sober enough, or caring enough, to give enough of a shit to ever really look for him. However, the film desperately wants to have a moral core, a character that their predicted audience could supposedly identify with. It just makes the whole exercise seem trite. Clay in the film is a sanctimonious, pious Reagan era anti drugs speech in an ill fitting suit endlessly looking pained and delivering equally ill conceived moralistic speeches at those around him.

Finer Points Of Morality

Fuck YeahScreenshot By Author.

There’s a scene in the film, where both Clay and Blair spend an evening coaxing Julian out of an OD. Thomas Newman’s admittedly good music flares up at appropriate moments and the whole thing is rendered as one big ‘just say no’ commercial. In the book neither Clay nor Blair could give two shits whether he OD’s or not, and that’s the point.

Andrew McCarthy Oscar Performance

Andrew McCarthy Going For the 1988 Oscar. He Didn’t Get It  – Screenshot by author

All the characters in the book are just coasting. Apathetic, misanthropic and anaesthetised via huge volumes of blow and inherited money. They just don’t give a shit. These same characters go to university (Rules of Attraction), and then wind up in the workplace (Amercian Psycho) and their whole numb to life, rich as fuck, better than the next man philosophy essentially turns them into uncompassionate killers.

Palm Springs is used as some kind of grand denouement to climax the film, whilst in the book it was the place where Clay and Blair’s relationship slowly dies over the course of a two week holiday. In the script writer’s desperation to make a three act piece, they must’ve noticed the locations importance and decided that the place, not the gravitas, should be put in the last act.

In Palm Springs, Clay finds Julian tricking men for cash and is horrified and tries to convince him to go back to school. What the fuck? In the novel Clay is bisexual and would not have given two shits. At the end (SPOILER ALERT) Julian dies in a car almost exactly as Jeff Bridges did at the end of 1974’s Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. Cop out much?

Less Than Thunderbolt & Lightfoot

Significantly Less Than Thunderbolt & LightfootScreenshot by author.

This film is neutered and not worth any one’s time. I wish I had more hands, so I could give it four thumbs down. Fucking Booooo! Piece of shit! Do yourself a favour and watch Rules of Attraction (2002). That is a great film and the only movie that ever captured the essence of good era Brett Easton Ellis.

Corn 1 out of 5

Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and The Eastern Terraces with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Dr Dre – The Day The Niggaz Took Over

Splash Logo

“There wasn’t no formula to doing that album. We just went in the studio, and whatever came out that day if it was the bomb, it went on the album”.

  • Dre talking about The Chronic on Yo MTV Raps Circa 1993

 

By far my favourite Dr Dre track, The Day The Niggaz Took Over, is indeed one of my favourite tunes of all time. I have conservatively listened to it well over two thousand times since its release in 1992, and like a dark version of Roy Ayers’ Everyone Loves The Sunshine, it just gets better and better with every spin.

Released in the wake of the 1992 LA Riots, overt venom and antagonism come to the fore. Kicking off with dialogue taken from Matthew McDaniel’s Birth of a Nation 4*29*1992, which documented the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict, it segues into what sounds like a high pitch pad synth sample from Assault on Precinct 13, an ascending bass loop and exhortations to “break ‘em off some”.

Love The Police

Love the Police. Photo Stolen From Web.

The main beat is sampled from Clarence Reid’s Living Together Is Keeping Us Apart (perhaps even as a joke by Dre), and the entire track employs a call and response motif. Whether it be Snoop’s hook of “I got my finger on the trigger, some niggaz wonder why, but livin’ in the city, it’s do or die”, or lines from Daz such as “Niggas start to loot and police start to shoot” or “And break the white man off something lovely, I don’t love them, so they can’t love me”. It has a beautiful symmetry about it where every line is balanced out by another and every note is equalised by a corresponding beat or two note scratch. Other samples are similarly used as symmetrical punctuation, like the one taken from Boogie Down Productions Love’s Gonna Get Cha (Material Love) which states “Got myself an Uzi and my brother a .9” to end the latter half of a hook.

Clarence Reid Album Cover BDP Material Love

Clarence Reid and BDP Source Material. Photos Stolen From Web.

There is a notable Rasta element to some of the track which seems to have been a vibe that Dre liked in the late 80s and very early 90s. It’s prominently featured on sections of 1991’s Efil4Zaggin, such as the proto G-Funk Alwayz Into Something and also on parts of D.O.C’s 1989 album No one Can Do It Better. In particular the latter’s opening track Ain’t Funky Enough where Dre apparently encouraged D.O.C to rap in a faux Rastafarian style… Something D.O.C. was against at the time, but reportedly did ‘cause he was drunk and wished to appease Dre.

D.O.C. Promo Shot

The D.O.C. Circa 1989. Photo Stolen From Web

On The Day The Niggaz Took Over, the doctor has evidently instructed Daz to fill this role and he adds a faux patois delivery to lines like, “They wonder where me bailing and don’t really understand. The reason why they take me life and me on hand. Me not out for peace and me not Rodney King. Me gun goes click, me gun goes bang…”

L.A Riot Graffitti Circa 1992. Photo Stolen From Web

The track was recorded at the now defunct Sound of Los Angles Studio (SOLAR) located at 1635 Cahuenga Blvd in Hollywood which was located just off Hollywood Boulevard and only a few blocks from where the Academy Awards are held. Still operating as a studio, Solar Records never really got over the loss of Dre to Interscope prior to the release of The Chronic and it has been operated as a non-label affiliated studio since the early 1990s.

Solar Studios Exterior

SOLAR Studios. Screenshot by author.

Most material documenting Dre’s production techniques site the fact that he punches his lyrics. Never rapping verses, he would always get one line at a time right and go from there until the entire track was completed. Accordingly his diction is perfect and his delivery forceful yet deliberate which suits the subject material to a tee.

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Dre Recording The Chronic. Photos Stolen From Web

Never released as a single, it was subsequently used to soundtrack a prison riot in Oliver Stone’s 1994 love letter to tabloid media culture, Natural Born Killers and whilst many may – quite reasonably – argue with me, this is in my opinion, the best thing Dre ever made.

Therefore, I was surprised there was no video for it and I have assembled a shitty one of my own to compensate. In keeping with the raw, early 90s riot vibe, it’s terribly low quality footage and you can literally see almost every pixel in each frame. I have used material documenting the riots and footage of the rappers created at a time as close as possible to when the album was made. As always, this is done out of love and not profit, so please enjoy as the free fan-made material it is intended as.

At the time of writing there have recently been organised shootings of police officers committed by African Americans with an anti police agenda. Whether they were carried out in retaliation of too many ‘accidential’ black deaths at the hands of police, or as part of some as yet undefined pan-African revolution is not currently known, however should Charles Manson’s prophecies of Helter Skelter actually occur, this tune may again soundtrack an uprising of sorts.

Posted by Horatio Cornblower

P.S. We allowed YouTube to ‘stablize’ this video. Ironically, it has made it roll around like a ship lost at sea. Apologies for this and it’ll be amended as soon as is possible.

P.P.S Above is now a moot point as the video was blocked within about 10 minutes of uploading it. YouTube just ain’t what it used to be. $$$ grabbin’ bastards.