70’s

a slice of sweet memory

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i saw this photo of gilda radner (aka candy slice and the slicers) today on fb and i experienced a delicious stir of echoes. at some point during the 1970’s in chicago, some friends and i created a literary street gang as an homage to the movie “warriors”. at the time we were working at george badonsky’s “brewery” restaurant.  sometime during that period i was downgraded from badonsky’s “tango” restaurant after having rolled a shopping cart with a brewery bartender through the kitchen and into the lower level of the dining room in the middle of a packed saturday night- that dining room was silhouetted by chocolate brown walls that were studded with warhol’s marilyn prints along one side. there was a warhol mao tse tung on another wall. the restaurant resided on the ground floor of the belmont hotel. tango was uber chic with marble floors, live jazz late night, smoked sturgeon and olives stuffed with roquefort, and 350 wines on the sommalier’s list.

that time was a renaissance period in my life. i was a poet, a comic, a fashion icon, a scorned lover, a dancer, and bohemian. i modern danced  through disco and punk, rockabilly and retro, leather and scag drag. i  remember life seeming as full of possibility and my friendships were fast and very “st. elmo’s fire-ish”. i ran with the gang for over a year- learning to love kerouak, ginsberg, burroughs, wolff, stein, and lessing and spent the wee hours reading the classics, imbibing heavily, speaking with words of violet and midnight. we howled at our poverty and our lives seem now to be not far from the urban backdrop of the musical “rent”- la vie boheme.

during those days, badonsky had a relationship going with a japanese clothing designer named noriko. there were artists and designers coming out of the woodwork in the badonsky orbit.. noriko had acquired an apartment in old town on wells street. she needed some help getting the place together and badonsky hired paul pfohl and i to help her get some baseline cleaning done. we were lowly servers and welcomed both the extra  cash and the adventure.

it just so happened that on a particular day gilda radner was in town with her one woman show tour. her career was stratospheric at that moment and the show was a hot ticket. saturday night live had catapulted a bevy of circuit players into the limelight and  gilda had a blaze that still glows in my heart- ooops i get lost in the sweetness. her tour manager’s name was dennis. noriko and gilda has some weird intersection and dennis showed up at her place in old town on the day paul i and i were there. we chatted, we three, chatted, cavorted, snorted, and giggled.

the irony of the day for me was the messaging later that night at our prospective restaurants. my manager mentioned to me that dennis had found us very entertaining and was interested in dating the cute brunette. paul had really been a warrior in my life. he had breeding, intelligence, perspective, and charm. he was a stunner in my mind- a complete package. so when i heard that dennis wanted to date paul it seemed to be nature’s way. as i relayed the story to him, he had an identical twin reaction. my surprise and delight though, when i then heard that dennis meant me and not paul, rivaled my first gaze upon “the bearded lady” swinging from the ceiling of the bistro in 1975. i never dated dennis, but it didn’t matter. the folklore was cemented that night.

my writing feels frozen lately when it is pointed towards today, but i feel warm and comfortable when the rear view is lit. maybe the terrain of my brain and my heart were tilled and textured during that time. my imagination was ignited and images and memories were branded into my memory bank with the heat of original sin. i am completely  grateful. the  memories and the innocence of experience invoke a time when i was not yet able to touch my childhood struggles. only when i overdrank or used would wounds uncover. no this time was exploration and discovery. the creation of a larger world view.

as i peruse these images, i am gobsmacked by what a geek i was. i have been holding this alternative  memory of living on the edge and as a trailblazer.well- pop goes the memory bubble. all that is left are the sweet stirs of memory and any polaroids.i might have left of the veedubs…( vw’s- our gay and lezzie street gang- hat tip to the movie “warriors”) all of us gay. in 1978 we started out quoting woolf and kerouac on the street corners by diversey and clark and our fetes transitioned to fuzzy-seeped happenings and pre-happenings at the barbie motel (abandoned 3rd floor apartment located on clark just north of diversey) and paul and jim faucetts place further north by belmont- they had a cat they named renfro which was given cuz he liked to eat flies. our crew got involved with a zany labor strike at the brewery with our main adversary being quincy the assistant manager there. paul, ellen, and i transitioned to a french patisserie located on madison street downtown chicago. that’s where we met sue and joe mondlak, kate janotta, kat camera, our gang – and the need for it- dried up like spilled cider on sundrenched cement- so sweet then- all gone now… most of the polaroids are from the 70’s. the medusa’s shots (with the horse half) are from early 80’s- the last time ellen and i were able to see paul together- he would be gone within 2 years of those colorfu shots- with one of those years being spent in and out of the hospital with aids-related complications.

myself and michael h- i was 19 and bartending at tango
solo lovebird named macy in the background
wow- what foreshadowing

katie j, kendra m, and moi at annex lounge

bob and betty baxter- all american couple

bob and betty redux 1983

katie j’s apartment in old town

medusas main floor with paul pfohl 1983

on the stoop of our apartment on pine grove just behind tango- bradley davis and james burnett roomies

the veedubs… vwsccc etc..

jim pruett and paul pfohl at the barbie motel above denzer art gallery

                  it’s the laughter…… we will remember… whenever we remember….. the way we were….

i can understand it

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image credit… adler.edu

oh what a time the 70’s were. bell bottoms, qiana shirts, platform shoes, the gold chain, the nik-nik shirt, double belted high waisted baggie trousers, afros, r&b, the evolution of disco, the emergence of punk, the gentrification of shabby chic…..

this is one of the 1st songs i remember hearing in a gay bar. there was a small little disco called pq’s on the near north side of chicago. i was 15 when i first folded in with the crowd there. sometimes that tiny dance floor would be packed. a person couldn’t move really, so there was a lot of repeating moves and shifting weight.
the original version was by the song’s author bobby womack. much later in my life, i realized just why this particular song had been so popular with my gay comrades. it speaks of tolerance. and a different kind of love. a lover that is only part time, a love that requires understanding. you do yours.. i’ll do mine… i can understand it…

i can understand it… lyrics by bobby womack..

I know everybody realizes that a man works
Better when he works out of his own band
Can you understand that? I can understand that

Woah, yeah, yeah
Something sweet as a candy bar
My girl in need
Thats what you are
Oh, I, I can understand it

Jack and Jill going up the hill
Storybooks and fairytales
I, I can understand it

And if our love gets to be anything but this
If someone gets to feel your warm and tender kiss
Oh, tell me, baby, how will I ever understand it, baby?

Get on down, baby
Gonna do it on the good foot, yeah
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot, baby

Look here, yall
Something cool but not too cold
Girl, you got to give to get, you know?
I, I can understand it

Try my best to make you happy
Woke up early one morning, find you packing
Lord, Lord, Lord, you cant make me understand it

I know sometimes that you wanna get away from home
But I get upset when you stay too long
Oh, your love, baby, your love
— How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot, baby
Gonna do it on the left foot
Ooh baby

I can understand it
Baby, I can understand it
Oh, I have no choice about the situation

But Im trying my best to make you happy
Wake up early one morning and I find you packing
Lord, you cant make me understand it

I get a job and I work all the time
When I get home you better lay it on the line
Your love, baby, your love
— How will I ever understand it?

Get on down
Gonna do it on the good foot
Gonna do it on the right foot
I can understand it
You do yours
Ill do mine
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it?
Can you understand it, baby?
I can understand it
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby
Can you understand it?
I can understand it, baby

Break it down
God Almighty
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Yeah

Im going to find out can we keep the groove
Is yall ready for this?
Look here
Ooh, yeah, baby
I can understand it, oh
Can you understand it?

Baby, baby, baby
Get on, get on, get on, get on down
Do in on the good foot, there it is
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here yall
Dont put down a man with a better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby, talk that talk
I can understand it
Can you understand it?

Baby, Baby, Baby
Get on down
Look here
Gotta say it one more time
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy
Look here
Dont put down a man with the better hand
Old Les trying to do the very best he can
You wear your hair long, baby
I wear my hair short
Come on, baby
Talk that talk
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
I gotta
You gotta
Hey, Baby

Yeah, look here
Can I say it?
Can I say it now, yall?
Can I say it?
Can I say it
Look here yall
I can understand it

god save the queen

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Darlings, British fashion titan Vivienne Westwood is the subject of a well-deserved retrospective in London, but instead of highlighting her eye-popping fashions over the years, this one narrowed its focus to her equally (if not more so) eye-popping shoe designs. “Vivienne Westwood Shoes: An Exhibition 1973- 2010” is at Selfridges Ultralounge in London August 26th-September 22nd and showcases nearly 200 shoes from the designer’s archive and collections. It’s a shame some of these pieces look a little beat up, but nothing can diminish the sheer insanity of some of her designs as well as the strange beauty. So strap on your penis shoes and head on out to take a look.

reprinted from tom and lorenzo blog
 
 

 
Vivienne Westwood also has finally assembled a collection of her designs stemming from 1973 until the present. Westwoods designs reflect a healthy cross section of the latter years of the 20th century. I didn’t wear her shoes, but certainly to me, they represent the mood, the philosophy, and the attitude of my peers.
of course, i am a lifelong malcolm mclaren fan, and vivienne and malcolm were inseparable for years, each influencing and supporting the other as they carved out their lives in london and subsequently the world.