Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cool times in New York City

In the summer of 1980 I went to New York to take a look around. With me a I carried a piece of stationery from DAMAGE magazine which was a note from publisher Brad Lapin that got me into every club and show where I presented it.

It read:

To whom it may concern:

This is to introduce Stannous Flouride, correspondent for our magazine, presently on assignment on the East Coast. Please accord him all the

customary rights and privileges you would show any member of the international working press.

Thank you,

Brad Lapin

Publisher, DAMAGE Magazine

Pretty high falutin' ain't it? But it worked so well it even got me into a swingers club (it was boring).

To pay the bills and buy a ticket back to San Francisco I got a job as a dinner cook at a "health food" restaurant on the upper East Side and after work would prowl SoHo and visit as many clubs as I could.

One night at the Mudd Club I met a guy from NME (New Musical Express) who recognized my name and was a fan of my punk/porno serial City Tails. He asked if I knew John Lydon, sitting across from us at the bar. "Of course I know who he is but I've never met him." I answered.

He took me over and in that way that people have who are introducing someone whose work they admire to a friend, i.e., "John, you have to meet this guy, he's from San Francisco and he writes this really funny thing for DAMAGE magazine…"

And Lydon, so very differently from the public persona with which I was familiar, asked me the same sort of questions any artist might ask another: "Where did you get the idea? How do you decide the stories?, etc. That small incident was one that forever broke any sort of idealization of celebrity that I held.

But that was but a small part of my adventure in New York that summer as was this, a random encounter in the subway on my way home in the wee hours of the morning. On the subway platforms, when an advertisement is removed it is replaced with black paper in, I assume, an attempt to make graffiti less visible.

But there was an artist in those days who turned that space into a canvas for his white chalk drawings. Simple, quickly executed, figures and animals, cityscapes. Images that almost certainly would put a smile on a harried traveller's face as they walked by.

Well one night, on my way back uptown to where I was renting a room, I caught this guy in action. I told him how much I loved his work. He was quite shy as he accepted my praise.

On a whim, I asked him to do a drawing on the back of my leather jacket. He did a drawing of one guy drawing on the back of another, in other words, of us at that moment. It only lasted a couple of days before it was wiped away by contact with the world but for those few days I wore what I am fairly certain was the first piece of clothing decorated by Keith Haring.


Blogger Alwyn W. Turner said...

So I was just looking through an old copy of Damage, which made its way over here to London and into my hands, (issue #7 with Melinda Gebbie's fabulous drawing of Bryan Gregory in it). And I was reminded how much I enjoyed the one episode of City Tails that I possess.
Is the whole saga available anywhere?
Alwyn W Turner

12:12 PM  

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