Just a random moment in time. I’d guess 1994. I look kind of like a twerp. Vicki and Craig look rocknroll (that was my favorite guitar during that period — it was like a “street guitar” that I carried with me everywhere I went during that period. And everybody got to play it.)
On my way to my eye doctor appointment in Oakland to deal with that bullshit. . . But one thing you can always count on in this life. Whatever you’re going through? There’s always somebody going through something even worse.
For those who were wondering, it’s been 11 days since my botched cataracts surgery. I’ve had a splitting headache for the last 3 days. It feels like someone drilled a hole into my skull (slight exaggeration, but only slightly). . . The good news is that I’m starting to get back some of the perepheal vision that I had in that bum eye before the surgery (so that’s a sign that it’s probably not a detached retina — thank god!). The headache is probably from the swollen cornea, which I’m told can last a couple weeks after cataract surgery. So I’m just waiting and hoping for the best. And I still got the one good eye, so it cudda’ been a lot worse!
Back when I had my Ace Backwords Facebook page I once got friended by this person. Later she unfriended me. But before she left she told me the specific reason, the specific offensive personality trait that I possessed, that had caused her to reject me and unfriend me.
Then later, when I got my Peter Labriola Facebook page, she friended me again. Only to eventually unfriend me again. And, once again, she announced to me before she left, the specific offensive personality trait — this time a different one — that had caused her to reject me and unfriend me.
I was tempted to start up a third Facebook page under a different name. Just to see if she would friend me again and find yet another personality trait I possessed to be offended by.
Because I got the impression that this person went through her life in a state of being perpetually offended. Of verily seeking out reasons to be offended virtually everywhere she went. So that she might have the satisfaction of rejecting people everywhere she went. I wondered what exactly the psychology of it was. Was it some kind of lofty ego kick?? “You, sir, lack my exalted level of wonderfulness!!”
Still, I thought: How strange. To go through life like that. Constantly taking offense.
But then I realized: I was offended by her being so offended. And then it didn’t seem so strange.
I like this photo from around 1993. It sort of captures Hate Man’s thing where the world was his living room (with a garbage can for a coffee table, natch). . . Ruth on the right — she was a fixture at Hate Camp during the Sproul Plaza years. A nice Jewish girl, one of those people who spent her life mostly just quietly hanging out on the fringe of society. And that’s fine. . . Cosmo in the middle with the shades. He was pretty crazy, pretty out there — one of those guys who spoke in a jumble of words that often didn’t make sense. But he was usually pretty well behaved — and somewhat beloved by his fellow street people for being such a zany character — unless he was binging on slamming dope, and then he could get REALLY out there. Ended up getting hit by a bus while crossing in the middle of the street, and spent his last year’s bedridden in a nursing home. One of the odd side effects of publishing the TELEGRAPH STREET CALENDAR was that I sometimes got interconnected with some of the street people’s lives in unexpected ways. Cosmo’s long-lost father tracked me down via a copy of the calendar that Cosmo was in, he lived in Florida and had been trying to get in touch with his son for years (street people often disappear within the nether-regions of the streets). And I ended up being the go-between between Cosmo and his father — exchanging letters and phone calls — in his last years. . . The guy on the left was some street kid that hung out at Hate Camp that summer — nice guy, liked to smoke weed or partake of whatever else might be going around, just having fun and enjoying the endless party of the streets like young guys sometimes do. Before he disappeared one day, just like he had arrived one day — the eternal transience of the street scene. . . And of course Hate Man in the middle — holding court like usual.
If you’re wondering why I’ve been writing about all the back issues of my TWISTED IMAGE newspaper (1982-1987). . . I’ve been working on little intros for all the chapters in the upcoming hard-bound book collection of those issues. And I just thought I’d use my Facebook friends as a captive audience to get all of that stuff off of my chest. Heh heh.
It’s hard to sum up what the TWISTED IMAGE newspaper meant to me. It’s so intricately intertwined with the life I was living back then. It’s hard to separate it from that. And I went through so many ups and downs. Soaring victories. And crushing defeats. And everything in between. In the end, it turned out to be much more than I expected. And much less than I had hoped. That strange paradox that often makes my life seem like a baffling enigma.
First and foremost I have to thank B.N. Duncan. He was there by my side from the first issue to the last. His help was invaluable in countless ways, and I never could have done it without him. And Mary Mayhem, her enthusiasm and energy was a driving force. She added a much-needed wildness and sense of adventure and fun. And all the great artists and writers who contributed their work. JR Swanson (those early editorial meetings at Freddie’s Bar & Grill set a lot of the tone for the whole thing). John Crawford. Wild Billy Wolff. Clay Geerdes. Pete Moss. Buck Moon and everybody else. And all the people who wrote in to tell me how much they liked TWISTED IMAGE. And all the people who told me it sucked, too. They were part of the soup, too.
But when I look back on those years, for some reason, what I often remember the most about TWISTED IMAGE are those days in June of 1982, when I was working on the first issue. Duncan let me stay with him for several months in his little hotel room on the 4th floor of the Berkeley Inn while I tried to get the paper started. And I remember working on the lay-out pages for the first issue on Duncan’s desk. Not really sure if the thing would even work, having never done anything like this before. Duncan would be lying on his bed while I worked at the desk, smoking cigarettes and reading something, or working on something. Me, listening to records as I worked, on Duncan’s little toy box record player. John Fahey. Leo Kottke. Peter Lang. . . . They had this coffee machine down in the lobby of the hotel where you could buy these little cups of hot coffee for a quarter (in these little paper cups with playing cards printed on the cups) and you could add milk and sugar and it was really quite delicious coffee — me and Duncan used to drink endless cups as we got wired and worked away all night.
I was seething with ambition back then. This feeling that I was Going To Show The Whole World What I Could Do!! (not sure where that came from, but I had that attitude in spades). But the best parts were when we took breaks. Duncan had an incredible collection of underground comic books, and I got a real education, quietly curling up on the floor, reading through those things. It was just this really cosy feeling, like the outer world had stopped and we were holed up in this wonderful little cocoon on the 4th floor of the Berkeley Inn. Just me and Duncan. It’s when I first really bonded with Duncan.
And I remember outside on Telegraph Avenue at the time, there was this little band of teenage punks that used to hang out on the corner of Durant. Right nearby the one little punk rock record store on the Ave, Universal Records, where one of the star punks of the scene — Rob Noxious of Intensified Chaos (with a circled A in “Chaos”) — worked (Rob was sort of a Sid Vicious clone who often lurched about like he was drunk). They were among the first punkers to hit the Telegraph scene. They were so strange looking at the time in their full punk regalia — they looked like aliens, or a mutant life form that had invaded the formerly hippie haven of Telegraph Avenue. It really felt like something new was happening. . . Two of punks were these petite identical twins (who I’d later find out were notorious members on the punk scene well-known as The Twins) along with this young English punkette, along with a bunch of surly teen punk hooligan guys. They were a rowdy bunch (or at least that was their image). One afternoon as I passed by them on the corner, I happened to mention I was working on a punk rock newspaper and asked if they had any art or writing to contribute. The English punkette offered up a hand-written poem she had written about the “oppression” she faced from “society” for being a punk. “Just for dressing my own way (I’ll show them all I’ll make them pay).” She even read it out loud to me. It was a bit precocious, but a classic bit of teenage angst. And I now had my first contribution for TWISTED IMAGE #1, which I would print in the first issue. Later I came by to take a couple of photos of them for the issue, and a couple of the guys menaced me like they were going to beat me up (I guess because I was a poseur at the time that had a beard, ha ha). But one of the Twins said: “No. He’s cool.” (and thanks for that, Twin!)
But one of my main memories of that period was walking out of the Berkeley Inn to Telegraph Avenue one afternoon. When I passed the Innermezzo Café on the corner, my friend Mary came rushing out of the café to greet me. She had been sitting at the window seat with her friend Neil Anderthol of the Geeks (we all had funny names back then) when she spotted me walking by. We had been on the outs for awhile, me and Mary. I hadn’t talked to her since I had moved back to Berkeley. But she seemed excited to see me again. She was wearing a black leather jacket and her short black hair was cropped in the punk style, and she was on crutches with a broken leg — her cast was covered with punk rock grafitti written by her friends (“I broke it slam dancing in the pit at a punk show at the Elite Club,” she explained). She invited me to join her and Neil for a beer at the window seat of the Innermezzo. Neil was wearing a black leather jacket, too, only his had the arm from a baby doll sticking out of the back of his jacket (Neil was a bit zany) and his hair was slicked back in ’50s greaser style and he reminded me a bit of Squiggy from the old “Laverne and Shirley” TV show. I told Mary about this punk rock newspaper I was working on. And she was all excited about that and immediately volunteered to write record reviews. So now I was expanding my editorial staff. . .
When I look back on it all now, that was the most exciting part, to tell you the truth. I think that was really the peak moment of the whole thing. . . That’s life in a way, I guess. The expectations, the anticipation, the dream. …. that’s often the most exciting part in the end.
I knew that TWISTED IMAGE #9 would be the last issue. But I was glad we were able to end it on a high note by pulling one last little bit of magic out of the air with the Charles Bukowski interview — who had been one of my biggest influences and an artistic father figure to me. And that interview will probably be of interest for as long as people read and enjoy Bukowski’s books (which should be for a long long time).
Overall, I think the content of the issues was pretty solid. I knew zillions of talented writers and artists back then. So coming up with a rollicking read was never a problem. And I think a lot of it is still worth a look all these decades later. But NONE of us — including me — wanted to hustle ads. So, that’s all she wrote. Literally.
By that point, January of 1987, I had scored a full-time job working on my comic strip, so I finally got what I had been looking for all along — a chance to work full-time on my art. And would spend the next 9 years at my drawing board working away at that. So I no longer had the time or energy to publish a goddamn underground newspaper. But I would end up compiling my monthly batches of comic strips (and whatever other nonsense I was up to that particular month) into a monthly Twisted Image Newsletter, which I’d xerox off and mail out for another 50 issues or so. So the TWISTED IMAGE logo would live on. But that’s another story. . .
“The Reagan ’80s!” TWISTED IMAGE would end up encompassing a good part of the Ronald Reagan era. From 1982 to 1987. And from age 25 to 30 of my life. TWISTED IMAGE always seemed to operate on that dual level to me. Where in one way it was part of the history of the times, a record of all that. While also being a very personal thing to me, kind of an autobiography in a way. And I can’t help when I look back at the pages of those nine issues — the pictures, the photos, the words — to remember the thousands of stories I was living out at the time. Lurking beneath the lines are all the twists behind the images.
In the larger sense, I often thought of Punk as the logical progression from Beat to Hippie to Punk. And to some degree it was an expression of the counterculture reaching kind of a dead end. On the street level it kind of morphed into the Gutter Punk thing. And yet still, it was a party.
Fatty is the sweetest of my feral cats. It’s like she has no bile in her. She’s just this 10 pound blob of love.
This morning I tried to feed Fatty. Cracked open a can of cat food. She was just starting to eat, when her nemesis Mini Scaredy showed up and ran her off (Mini Scaredy gets jealous when I feed the other cats). So I felt bad about that. Fatty going hungry.
But I showed up an hour later after Mini Scaredy had left. And Fatty had returned and she was waiting for me to show up and I gave her a good breakfast.