THE SIGNAL from David Katznelson
“Life would be impossible if everything was remembered. The secret is knowing how to choose what to forget. "― Roger Martin du Gard
A few weeks ago, when I featured a record by Barry McGuire, I was corrected when saying that he wrote the song “Eve Of Destruction.” Joel Selvin e-mailed to me soon after I published that Friday newsletter reminding me that it was in fact PF Sloan who wrote the hit…the same guy who wrote “Secret Agent Man”…the same guy who played “the lick” on “California Dreaming” and was part of the legendary ensemble of Los Angeles studio players, the Wrecking Crew.
What I did not realize at that moment is that Joel should know…because he literally just wrote the book on PF Sloan. Yes, two weeks from yesterday Joel will be celebrating the release of his latest triumph, Hollywood Eden…the story of the high schools in Los Angeles that housed the creative forces behind much of the Los Angeles surf/pop brilliance in the late 50s/early 60s. It stars Jan & Dean, with Jan Berry playing a major force in the story, the Beach Boys, Nancy Sinatra (damn, there are some incredible stories about her)…PF Sloan and his partner in crime Steve Barri and and so many more who ended up creating a juggernaut of hits. They were all growing up around the same time…hitting the beach and writing about the surf…making records in their garage (oh yeah) and finding ways of releasing them to the public while during the weekday still making it to their high school classes. Hollywood Eden tells an incredible story for those who love music and the wild west of the music industry, those who have been shaped by the music of that era…or those who just love a great story filled with heroes, villains, and those in between.
For instance, in telling this yarn, there is no way to escape including the Hollywood sleazeball Kim Fowley…the zelig of the Los Angeles music world—the guy who boasted to have produced the greatest psychedelic music without ever getting high. It is fascinating watching Fowley growing up, from the beginnings weaving himself into so many of the stories in Hollywood Eden trying to take credit everywhere he can and getting his hands into everyone’s business. I had my own run-ins with Fowley when at Warner Bros. He would corner me at parties trying to mentor me with his sexist and stupid stories of the past (and he would tell others how horrible I was for not paying attention). Joel does a great job with Fowley’s character, showing him for who he was while relating his involvement with the scene that includes promoting and discovering artists, and getting their records out…for a price.
Selvin’s book reads like a feature film…or a broadway musical…with a yarn that is hard to believe has not been told until now: a story of a group of kids who, for a brief moment, before it came tragically crashing down, changed the face of rock n roll forever during a time when you could have a hit single after recording it in your basement a few weeks prior. Selvin’s Here Comes The Night and Altamont were some of the best music histories I have read in recent years. This completes the unlikely trilogy…and I have a feeling there is more to come.
I will be interviewing Joel on the day of the book’s release (April 6th), and let me know if you would want to zoom in (space is limited). I am sure he will find some time to correct me on the mistakes I made on the above writing….
OK…sure…this is a great read. But more important…when John Oliver spoke last weekend about PLASTICS he had a picture that featured an open drawer filled with plastic “stuff” as well as a note with the following phone number: 719-266-2837. You gotta call it..ESPECIALLY when reading the article. Thank you John Oliver. #Plastover.
Guterson’s Seder Table is a wonder to behold. If you find yourself in Detroit over Passover, you need to sit down at the plastics table she has created, right outside the museum of Modern Art. It is both beautiful and horrifying, just in comprehending it is made completely from trashed plastic she found within blocks around her house.
BY BILLY COLLINS
One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago
as I waited for my eggs and toast,
I opened the Tribune only to discover
that I was the same age as Cheerios.
Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios
for today, the newspaper announced,
was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios
whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.
Already I could hear them whispering
behind my stooped and threadbare back,
Why that dude’s older than Cheerios
the way they used to say
Why that’s as old as the hills,
only the hills are much older than Cheerios
or any American breakfast cereal,
and more noble and enduring are the hills,
I surmised as a bar of sunlight illuminated my orange juice.