Sunday, January 27, 2008

Speed. Madness. Flying Saucers.

In all my months of having this blog, I have yet to dedicate a post to Edie Sedgwick. Well, today I break that streak.

I stumbled on a blog called "Diary of a Man Out of Time" an odd little page which seems to be dedicated to films, I think. In any event, there is a section devoted to Edie. Reading through it, I found the following spot-on description of Edie's role in Warhol's artistic sensibility, and the whole self-obsessed scene that has trickled down to become our everyday reality:

She was the first true swap-out of Personhood with Presence, of Self with Phenomenon. She had the look. The unflinching stare. The passive face. And at the core of the detachment projected, the relentless chic, the sphinxiness, the affectlessness, there was a hint of incapacity to love or connect or believe, and beneath that something more dangerous to the self: a very profound doubt about the value of life itself. And that is pure Warhol.

The description is perfect - Edie Sedgwick is the embodiment of Warhol's entire pop art ideal. She is The Image, The Face, The Photo Op, the proper noun with no individual behind it. Even in her own words, the clash between image and individual is evident. Edie was aware on some level of her part in the Warhol game. She knew that her role was to detach, to shine, to seem, to appear. The star quality was first and hell with what lay beneath. Edie also knew that her position in the Warhol clique was tenuous, I just don't think she realized her fall would come about so quickly.

The problem here is that for all the apparent descent into beauty and pleasure, for all the narcissistic obsession with self and image, there is a person behind the personality, a person who, in the end, keeps us coming back for more. The Boston socialite turned fashion icon with amazing legs and dimples...who was she really? Perhaps because she got too strung out and was cast aside by Warhol, perhaps because she died young and somewhat forgotten, perhaps because of the nature of the game she played, Edie remains a perennial mystery.

Edie the Youthquaker is easily understood. She was an icon who had it all, the trendsetter who lived by her own rules. She was a pawn in Warhol's game, but a willing one. The shimmering Edie in massive earrings and silver hair and unbelieveably long legs shod in black tights is known to us. But Edie the woman remains in the shadows.

Watch this clip in which a 27-year old Edie, spaced out and slurring, looks back on her year (yes, it was only one year) with Warhol. Listen carefully, because the annoying dual voice effect makes it hard to hear what she's saying:

She talks about love, about her inability to recognize her own beauty, about her brothers' suicides..she talks about mental hospitals, about the scam perpretrated in the name of fashion, about loss. This is the Edie we will never know. And that is what haunts us.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Something in the water...

I know I'm about to enter another goddamn Mercury retrograde, but something else is going on in the cosmos, because the retrograde isn't due to start until Monday. I'm in this "oh my god could music sound any better???" kind of place. Today it's Crowded House. Not the cutesy but good 80's band we all fondly remember, but the band they have apparently evolved into. They re-formed, put out an album and toured last year, and for some reason I've just now found out about it, thanks to a January 5th Austin City Limits performance which re-ran tonight in Atlanta.

I don't know what happened to this band, but they've matured and deepened, and their songs are both very moving and extremely lyrical. I've never been able to write about music, so I'll post a video for you instead.

Neil Finn's voice has gotten rougher, which in my opinion is exactly what it needed. The melodies are intricate and complex, the harmonies beautiful. Quoting a BBC writer, the Austin City Limits webpage says: “This is an older, wiser, weathered Crowded House, but still as perfect at their craft as ever.” Watching Finn's somewhat craggy but still very handsome face, I have the same feeling I had last year watching Paul Weller sing his new bluesy stuff. These guys have aged so well, and become even better at what they do, something I didn't think possible.

They close the show with a beautiful version of the classic "Don't Dream It's Over." I'm buying this album tomorrow. Thank God for music.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Love is a Losing Game

Well, I've fallen into a hole. I can't stop listening to this song. It's not just that the lyrics are so right on target, or the imagery is so perfect. The beauty of this song is that everything -melody, voice, instruments, rhythm - does exactly what it's supposed to do at exactly the right time. I've already slathered my Myspace page with it, now it's my blog's turn.

Amy Winehouse, Love is a Losing Game

For you I was a flame,
Love is a losing game
Five story fire as you came,
Love is losing game

One I wish I never played,
Oh, what a mess we made
And now the final frame,
Love is a losing game

Played out by the band,
Love is a losing hand
More than I could stand,
Love is a losing hand

Self professed profound
Til' the chips were down
Know you’re a gambling man
Love is a losing hand

Though I battled blind,
Love is a fate resigned
Memories mar my mind,
Love is a fate resigned

Over futile odds,
And laughed at by the gods
And now the final frame,
Love is a losing game.

Yes, I've arrived late to the Winehouse party, but I'm here. And the timing couldn't be better, for me, anyway. I've downloaded about five songs off her last album, and am in newfound favorite heaven. Just wanted to share.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Thoughts for the Days

So my wonderful Myspace friend, Fiona, sends out a Thought for the Day every day. Somehow they are always right on target, in fact, often eerily so. Here is one from a couple of days ago:

Um, yes, less joyful is a nice way to put it.

But every time I read one of her bulletins, and think about how appropriate it is for me to get this message, at this moment in time, I start to wonder about our connection to the cosmos. Is there "something" out there that knows more than me, that knows when I need a message like this one, or an unexpected email or phone call, and makes sure I get it? Lately it seems so. I keep hearing just the right song at the right moment, or having two or three people send me exactly the same thought or idea, and I really take it to heart. But if that's the case, if some power from beyond is looking out for me and signaling me the right way to go, then why doesn't "it" go a step further and send me what I really need? Because all this hinting around, all these gentle pushes in the right direction, just end up frustrating me. What happened to me in October is much bigger than me. It's much more than I can fight alone. I need more than subtle hints; I need a real concrete solution.

I realized a few days ago that what happened between me and P. was so big that it requires big action. Going to therapy, going to group, reading about how to forget, how to forgive, how to accept, how to live in the moment...all these things are good positive moves in general, and are in fact, helpful for living life to the fullest and remaining healthy and strong. But I need something more. I can't move through and beyond the pain and sense of loss simply by accepting it; it's just not happening. I try to sit through the sadness. I end up still sad. I try to forbid myself from thinking about him. I still think about him. I tell myself he was an asshole to leave me the way he did. I still want him. I look at all his faults. I still miss him. None of my theraputic gestures has made me feel any different about P. than I did all along. I still love him. So I've got to do something drastic. I'm looking at several options.

Option number one: go to a psychic healer. I know nothing about psychic healers, but it's worth a shot. I'm to the point where an exorcism seems like a good idea, in fact.

Option number two: go to Sedona, Arizona, or Glastonbury, or one of those other places with strong vibrations. Maybe just by being in a very heavy place, I'll have a breakthrough of some sort, and know how to live without him, or how to get him back in my life.

Option number three: total and permanent change of scenery, like moving to Hawaii or something. I'm on the job market, and can technically go wherever I want to , if I can get a job there. The problem is, of course, the children. I can't take them too far away from their dad, but I so need to leave Atlanta, Athens, the southeast...I'd love to just give it all up and go away. Alone.

In the meantime, I continue to read, take long walks, think about (and sometimes even attempt) writing my dissertation. But in truth I'm just killing time. Waiting. For what? I don't know. But things aren't progressing as I had hoped they would. Damnit.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Black Dahlia

I have a theory about certain murder cases. When a crime goes unsolved for years and years...the Black Dahlia, Jack the Ripper, the somehow allows us to see into a period in history more than any other cultural phenomenon or byproduct could. For me, there is something about an unsolved murder case that serves as a window in time. By keeping the momentum of the crime going, via the evidence, photos, and narratives of those who were there, the era becomes frozen, available, alive. This tangible link, coupled with the continued interest in the event on the part of writers and readers and researchers, keeps the crime alive, and I believe it keeps the historical era alive as well. It's as if the idea of "open" in an unsolved murder case carries over into the world itself, creating an opening in time.

When I look at the crime scene photos taken in Mary Kelly's tiny hovel of a room, or the pictures of the hotel where Elizabeth Short was last seen alive, or even reading an account of Catherine Eddowes' last night on earth, the people and places I see and read about remain alive in some way. It's as if in order to understand what happened, contemporary readers need to actually go 'back there' and see when and where it happened. When I read about the Ripper crimes, I experience Victorian London as if it were still there physically, much more so than I would if I simply read an account of life during Queen Victoria's reign. When I look at photos of the neighborhood where Beth Short's severed body was found, Los Angeles of the 1940's looks back at me, real, alive, tangible.

Today marks the 61st anniversary of the discovery of the body of Elizabeth Short, better known as the Black Dahlia. If you don't know the case, there is a good overview here. Beth/Betty/the Dahlia lived a life that, like most, was mostly hidden from those who knew her. Part of the intrigue of the crime is trying to piece together her Hollywood self (and I honestly didn't intend the pun at all...) based on testimony given by those who knew her. She moved to LA from Medford, Massachusetts, partly to find the father that deserted her family when she was a child, partly to find a new start, and probably, partly out of sheer boredom with small town life during World War II. But what she did during that time is shadowy and speculative, especially the last few years.

Her life of moving from place to place, occasionally returning to Massachusetts before setting off again for a new destination, suggests a dissatisfied woman, but was she really miserable, or is this just conjecture? Who knows what Beth Short really thought of her life. She is painted as a Hollywood wannabe, a prostitute, a tease...but what do we really know about her? She was just a person like any one of us, looking for her life and more than likely, not finding it.

In any event, one night in January of 1947 she met up with evil. She was found six days later, her body cut in half, drained of blood and washed clean, in a vacant lot in a middle class neighborhood. She was last seen at a hotel where she told the sometime boyfriend who drove her there in his car that she was going to meet her sister. She got out of his car and walked into six days of hell, torture and eventual death, a time about which no one knows much of anything.

So Betty Short goes down in history, another woman we feel like we knew, but we didn't know at all. Another woman with secrets to tell, secrets of a mundanely mysterious life and a horrible death, secrets we will never know. Another woman wanting fame during her life, yet only finding it in the brutal mystery surrounding her death. Elizabeth Short, rest in peace.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Rewind Press

I'm posting this cause I'm in a nostalgic funk. It's a great article on our party written by Lee Valentine Smith. I had forgotten about it till today. For those of you who just can't get enough Rewind (ahem!), please read!

Athens Rewind Aims To Reunite Local Scenesters From The Good Old Days

originally published in Flagpole, July 27, 2005

"We're not trying to recreate something," says Athens Rewind Committee member Maureen McLaughlin. "We are trying to see where we are now."

Athens resident McLaughlin, along with Julie House, Paul Scales, Kathleen O'Brien Layson, Paul Butchart, Kenny Rogers and Leslie Michel are the Athens Rewind Committee. Since the first of the year, the group has been doing pretty much what they used to do when they lived in Athens: planning a party.

But this isn't just any old party. According to the Rewind invite sent to 600 or so lucky folks, it's a gathering of "all local scenesters. The musicians, artists, liberal arts gurus, journalists, bohemians and hipsters who rocked Athens from 1977 to 1985." That's a pretty major task, and events - all of which are private except for the Pylon/ Oh-OK show at the 40 Watt Club on Friday, July 29 - span the entire weekend and include cocktail parties, photography displays, film screenings, a family-oriented barbecue picnic and a dance party.

Flagpole caught up with most of the gang - in Decatur, GA of all places - for a round-table discussion. Athenian Butchart and California-based Michel answered questions via email.

Flagpole: How did Athens Rewind all begin?

Julie House: It started with me looking for pictures of Athens on the Internet. I found a picture of the inside of the 40 Watt on E. Clayton Street. It was on [former co-owner] Steve Allen's website. I emailed him and he put me in touch with Paul Scales. We started emailing back and forth and we planned a trip there.

Paul Scales: Just to go look around.

JH: I said, "Lets call [Pylon bassist] Michael Lachowski, and see whoever can come and have lunch with us." It started out to just get some old friends together to have lunch. Then Paul said we should do something in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the 40 Watt and have a party there. It just grew. We called Kathleen, Maureen and Pylon, too.

The New Year's Eve Pylon show [at the 40 Watt] was the impetus, really. It was just nostalgia. The more people we talked to, the more everybody had also had the idea, too.

PS: The desire to reconnect.

Kenny Rogers: Plus, this is the closest I'll ever come to a high school reunion.

PS: We had a meeting at Kathleen's house, she got us drunk and the ideas just started flowing.

JH: Originally, we brainstormed about the guest list; that was our main focus.

Kathleen O'Brien Layson: The list kept growing and growing, so we had to set a deadline. The guest list ended up being 600 strong.

KR: We had to impose the "no grudge" rule. If anyone suggested a name, no matter how you felt about them, you couldn't shoot them down.

PS: The real hassle was setting parameters: that it had to be the time period of '77 to '83. It kinda got stretched to '85.

JH: Leslie Michel offered to do the website for us and that was a saving grace, to get the information out there. And Paul Butchart got involved, too. He'd done that Athens memorabilia exhibit.

PS: He's a mover and a shaker, no doubt.

FP: So when is the 25th anniversary of the 40 Watt Club, anyway?

PS: If you mean the original one, the one that [Pylon drummer] Curtis Crowe and Bill Tabor were leasing, the third floor loft over Schlotzsky's, then that would have been '78 or so.

KR: So that anniversary would be 2003; but being Athens people, we can't plan anything on time.

PS: The 40 Watt Club "East," the one that I was involved with, with Curtis: that would have been this year. May 20, 1980. The Side Effects and the Swindles played, I think. Pylon was the third show there.

Maureen McLaughlin: And R.E.M. opened for them.

FP: How has this event been received in the local community?

MM: I hear about people who have changed their minds half a dozen times. A lot depends on who's coming and who's not coming. And some weren't sure if it was gonna be "cool" or not. Now I think we've reached the "coolness factor." We went from "cool" to "not cool," because people were like, "Oh, it's not spontaneous."

But I think some people have started remembering now. It took 'em a little while to change gears and get back into Athens gears. Now they are remembering, "Oh, I have this memory, and I want to see that person…"

KOL: We formed a not-for-profit corporation, just to cover the liabilities of handling money and all that stuff, and that's kind of an uncool factor, but we had to do it to protect our collective asses. We're professional party planners now.

PS: In a sense, we are throwing the party we wanted to throw back then, but now we have the wherewithal and the know-how to actually do it.

FP: Many people cite 1980 as the peak of Athens' "golden age." What was 1980 like for you?

PS: People were very interested in forming bands. Disco was still dying a very slow death, but you had clubs like the Mad Hatter that still did dance stuff. Athens was morphing, really.

JH: For me, "Athens" was very hard to find at first. I knew there was a club called the 40 Watt and somebody said it was above the sandwich shop. We were down there, lookin' up. "It doesn't even have any windows!" I said. "That can't be a club!" It's so weird to imagine that from here, where you have access to everything. You had to really search things out.

KR: It's hard to believe that in a town of 50,000 people, everything was kept so well hidden.

JH: But that was the idea. Once you got in it, you wanted to keep it hidden.

PS: There was a lot of ridicule, too. This was a new style of music. Really, the staple in Athens was cover bands and the whole R&B thing. This was a new style of music going on. Certain musicians just kinda had an attitude about the experimental stuff, like using walkie-talkies or toy pianos to do music with.

Some of the older blues cats were just stunned by the whole thing. It put 'em off. I heard rumblings: "I wish they'd learn how to play their instruments," stuff like that.

Paul Butchart: At that time, Tyrone's was the only local venue for "New Wave" music and that was only on Wednesday nights, because the crowd was really small and no one had any money, so we would always just drink water, therefore the bar made no money. Scales was working in a sandwich shop across the street from the building where Curtis Crowe was squatting. The idea came to open a specifically New Wave club just for the misfits about town.

Curtis, Paul and I worked together to build a new stage in the venue formerly known as the Crow's Nest, making it extra strong to support vigorous dancing by the singers and musicians. On May 9, what was known as the 40 Watt Club East opened its doors.

House parties were still all the vogue during the summer of 1980. The temperature that summer was at record levels, and after a hot sweaty night dancing at the clubs or parties, people would migrate toward the local swimming holes for some au naturel bonding. Ballpump, a small pond in the country, and Village Apartments on Carr's Hill near the cemetery were the favorite place for skinny dipping, though any body of water was given a chance when the daily highs reached as high as 105 degrees.

FP: What was it like to live at the renovated church [where R.E.M. played its first show]?

KOL: I moved into the church in late summer of '79. Dan Wall was renting the church and had decided to move out. Pete Buck was working for him at Wuxtry. I don't know why I wanted to move in there. Dan said it had five bedrooms, so I went in the record store and [asked Buck], "Do you need a roommate?" He said sure.

Gradually, it changed. Michael [Stipe] moved in, they started collaborating on songs. It was a little bit too wild for some of the girls [who lived there]. I ended up being the only girl living there for a while. We had a New Year's party with bands, but I don't remember who. I do remember that I had ham and turkey and little biscuits for party food at that. And I remember this huge food fight ensuing. What was I thinking?! There were people dancing and food was getting ground into the carpet. I introduced Bill [Berry] to Peter [Buck] and Michael [Stipe]. There were jam sessions there all the time.

FP: Can you describe the house party scene back then?

KR: The first words out of your mouth after every 40 Watt club show: "Where's the party?"

MM: At 1 a.m., we were just getting going. There was always something to do.

JH: We never stayed home.

MM: Unless the party was at your house!

FP: Can you tell us about that party at the Church on April 5, 1980?

KOL: It was my birthday party. I really wanted R.E.M. to debut there. I knew they had a real chemistry. I had been listening to them practice for months and months. They didn't even have a band name yet. They had written names all over the walls, but none of them were really taking. We wanted to have another couple of bands to play, too. The Side Effects, with Paul [Butchart], agreed, and Turtle Bay. And all their friends came. So it just turned into this big thing. It was one of those rock-the-house parties. It was pretty much like that at every house party; you'd rock the house, literally.

KR: And space heaters. The first thing you'd do in winter when you walked into a party is push someone out of the way to get to the space heater.

JH: And that space heater smell! Even now, when I smell that, I feel like I'm back in Athens.

KOL: [The Side Effects'] Jimmy Ellison was such an entry into the scene. He'd introduce you to everybody.

PS: And all it cost was a hug.

FP: How did you decide on a time for a cut-off period for this gathering, the end of the "golden age?" And when, in your opinion, was that?

KOL: A lot of the early bands, their musicianship wasn't outstanding or anything, but they went on to be a big part of the scene, whereas some of the later kids that would come along, they were not that talented either, but you'd call 'em, like, copycat bands. "Oh, they're Side Effects wannabes or Love Tractor wannabes or an R.E.M. wannabe," or whatever. So there was a certain point…

JH: When Chronic Town came out, to me, something clicked and it was like "something's different now." And a whole new group of people had come to town by then.

PS: The honeymoon was over at that point.

JH: When we were planning initially, we said '77 to '83, beginning with the B-52's and then ending in '83, because that's when everything was a little bit… it had kinda moved outside of what it had been. A lot of people had moved away.

PS: And the Watt moved uptown [to Broad Street]. That changed a lot of things.

JH: It got to the point where you'd go see shows and you wouldn't know most of the people in the audience: "Who are these people?"

FP: Did the photo in People Magazine (Jan '83) signal the end of the era?

MM: Part of the reason that seems like it was the end, was because that's the last time everybody was together.

PB: Personally, the People photograph did not signal any sort of turning point, the photograph was taken in August of 1982 and I wasn't even in a band anymore. It didn't come out until January of '83. For me, the turning point began with the unfortunate loss of our friends Carol Levy and Larry Marcus in the spring of 1983. There seemed to be a sense of mortality and loss of innocence in the air. In the spring of 1984, local writer, bass player and character Jimmy Ellison passed away from a brain tumor.

JH: There was a definite point where everyone became aware of something going on, rather than everything being fun and a little game we were playing, it was like Athens became a self-conscious thing all of a sudden.

FP: And even then, people were looking back on the recent past, analyzing it to death.

PS: You gotta give the nod to art school and Jim Herbert. And also, the Fans, an Atlanta band, kinda set things in motion with the B-52's.

MM: I was the original New York connection through Patti Smith, which is a whole 'nother story. I had been going to New York regularly, helping them out. The Fans said, "We want to go play in New York." So I booked them at Max's on a Monday night. Then the B's said, "You got the Fans a gig in New York, we want you to get us one, too."

PS: Them Yankees had never seen anything like that!

MM: They opened for Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and got a horrible reception. But they got booked for another Monday night, and that's when it really started building. Lou Reed was there and the guy from Cheap Trick. There was a lot of information sharing. People would say, "Can you put in a good word for me in New York?" I'd say sure.

PS: Maureen was the Internet back then!

FP: How will you honor the folks who are no longer with us?

KOL: I wanted to honor all the friends that we knew that had died, so early in the game, I thought a Celtic Mandala would be a neutral, spiritual tribute that we could hang at the festivities. I added a question to our registration form regarding any decedents that should be remembered.

My original idea was to paint the mandala and then write the names within the spirals of the knot work. But after I finished, and with the addition of many names, I decided to just write them randomly on the canvas. It turned out okay, I think. I might leave a Magnum marker at the display to allow people to write on it as well, haven't decided yet.

At any length, it will hang low enough to be read close up and I think it's a nice gesture because many of the deceased were definitely a big part of the scene. It was actually quite therapeutic.

PS: The thing about the Rewind is that it's not about the 40 Watt Club. It's not about the bands. It's not about the "golden age" of Athens. What it's really about is reconnecting with those folks who were there in the same time and place for whatever reason.

JH: The really important part of Athens is what we are celebrating at the party. It was this undercurrent, and no one can really define it or know just how it happened. I still think of it as this really underground thing.

MM: Inspiration left Athens for a while. I really believe there's this goddess of inspiration that comes and sits down, it's there for a while, then it leaves, and goes somewhere else and then comes back. And I think it's coming back to Athens.

FP: And here we are in Decatur, talking about Athens.

JH: I feel like we have to be outsiders, in a way, to plan this party. For me, when I left there, it became a thing in my mind that I lived through, that I always thought about fondly and romanticized. I missed it. So now, there's inspiration. A lot of Athens, for me, is something in the past.

FP: Is Rewind going to be the ultimate Athens party?

PS: In a sense, we are throwing the party we wanted to throw back then, but now we have the wherewithal and the know-how to actually do it.

KOL: This is a labor of love, and it's a party. We wanted to be as inclusive as possible and recreate that Athens chemistry for a couple of days.

PB: I know everyone will have a great time reuniting with old friends. In many ways, it is like a family reunion, because back in the day we were a very close-knit group, sharing in both the joy and sadness of the times - not to mention bedrooms. But, that is another story…

JH: It's an opportunity for people to see each other who wouldn't otherwise. And to have Pylon on the bill, then I knew we could do it. To have a band that important back then, to play at our show, its just that good feeling we used to have that I haven't found anywhere else. We are touching on all the aspects that were important back then: paintings, music, video, deejays, lots to drink.

MM: And barbecue!

Leslie Michel: Funny thing about "throwing" a party is the throwing part. After all that fussing and fretting and brainstorming and meeting, hours of effort, you've got to let go of the darn thing! It rarely "lands" where you thought it would, but miraculously, years later, people still talk about the grand and glorious time they had like it was yesterday.

PS: When it's all said and done, it's gonna be a great party. We just want everybody to have a really good time and forget about everything else for a couple of days. Rewind a little bit and just have a big ol' time.

MM: Remember, it's not an Athens party unless there are two girls fighting and a boy in a dress.

Athens Rewind is a private, by-invitation-only event, but tickets for the Pylon/ Oh-OK/ DJ Paul Butchart performance on Friday, July 29 at the 40 Watt are available to the public and cost $20.

Party People Then & Now

Maureen McLaughlin

"I started out as the manager of the B-52's and worked with a lot of bands. At the same time, I was working as a trial consultant on death penalty cases. And that's what I'm doing now. I'm still selling T-shirts at Pylon shows, and we got a second degree murder conviction for a guy who was facing the death penalty in Chattanooga two weeks ago."

Kenny Rogers

"I worked at WUOG; I was a deejay. I did the New Wave show, and we called it 'new music' then. I managed Art in the Dark. In the mid-'80s, I played in a band called the Trash Reactors with my brother. I worked at Gus Garcia's, booked tours, helped bands. I was part of the evil side of Athens: a band manager. Now, I'm a producer at WSB radio in Atlanta and I'm a helicopter pilot."

Kathleen O'Brien Layson

"I was a deejay, always very involved in the club and music scenes. I was a party-thrower and still am. In my late '20s, I got into the administrative end of the food-service industry and started working for a construction company in Atlanta. I parlayed my bookkeeping experience into that. Now I currently own Constructive Innovations, a Decatur-based design/ build firm with my husband. We do high-end residential renovations. I have a family now and we still have parties in my living room."

Julie House

"I was a club-goer and a student. I was an observer, really. I drank a lot of coffee, hung out at Russo's, Tyrone's, Taco Stand. The usual. Now I'm a grad student at Emory in the French department, getting a PhD. I've sort of put it on hold for the last six months to do this. And I have a family and I live in Decatur."

Paul Scales

"My claim to fame is being co-owner of the 40 Watt Club with Curtis Crowe - did that for several years before it almost killed me. I played with the Family Rebirth Band for a long time. I retreated to the mountains of North Georgia and now I'm back - because of the generosity of Cindy Wilson, to name names. I've co-written some songs with her and her husband Keith Bennett. That was a real catalyst to getting me back in the game."

Paul Butchart

"Back in the day, I was pretty much a restaurant worker who had dropped out of school to play in a band. As soon as the band broke up, I became a restaurant-working student. At night, I could most likely be found working the door at the various 40 Watt Clubs. Nowadays I have a Bachelors of Psychology, yet for a living, I am doing most all aspects of restoration and renovation to some of the nice local homes."

Leslie Michel

"What I did back in the day is the same as what I am doing now. Be. I was resourceful, fearless, energetic and game for a good time. I've produced many theme events in San Francisco in already established venues - like raves, but legal and permitted. I directed and promoted my dance company GoGoToGo for years as part of the orchestrated ambiance of other people's events as well. I design websites for other artists. Athens Rewind has been a breath of fresh air from my musty, dusty past. Working with old friends has been so affirming. I can't even begin to describe what I love most about the thought of having a hand throwing a party in Athens again."

Original articles can be found at:
Wheres The Party Tonight?
Party People Then And Now

Friday, January 11, 2008

Athens Rewind

This article, by Julie Phillips, originally appeared in the Athens Banner-Herald the night before the weekend-long event began, on July 28, 2005. It can be found at Rock Athens. Photos and links added by me. Idea stolen from Leslie's blog, with much love.

Much has been written about that legendary time in Athens, somewhere between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Books and articles relay the stories in varied ways, but more than anything, it lives in the memories of those who were here. It was that way for Julie House who, last October, felt another in a long line of waves of nostalgia for the town where she lived in 1980-85. During a casual search on the Internet, she came across a photograph that truly captured a moment in Athens for her.

Interior, 40 Watt Club, 256 W. Clayton St., ca. 1981

"I saw all these faces of people I knew," she says of the snapshot that looks out over a crowded incarnation of the 40 Watt Club, when it was located on West Clayton Street.

Today she describes that photo as "the one that started it all."

"It all" doesn't refer to the scene at the time, but rather to the reunion that's set to take place this weekend, bringing together some of the faces from that photo and the many others who inhabited Athens at the time. Athens Rewind is, as one of House's fellow Rewind organizers, Kathleen O'Brien Layson describes it, "a class-less reunion" - not limited to a particular year so much as a time and scene when Athens was a quieter but somehow happier town.

And the photo brought it about.

After contacting Steve Allen, who'd posted the photo on a website, House began to connect with other people - Paul Scales, for one. And as Scales says, "just strolling down memory lane" was the rub. House had considered having some kind of reunion party a number of times over the years, but this time, when she mentioned it to Scales, other friends started to join in on the idea, and it all started to come together.

Athens Rewind Committee: Leslie Michel, Kenneth Rogers, Paul Scales, Kathleen O'Brien Layson, Paul Butchart, Julie House, Maureen McLaughlin

Scales, who in the early '80s was a co-owner of the 40 Watt Club in the photo, suggested a party at the current 40 Watt Club. And then the newly reformed Pylon agreed to play.

"When Paul signed on, and I realized we could throw a party at the 40 Watt with Pylon playing," House says, "I knew we were good."


"We were completely unfettered," says Leslie Michel, who lived in Athens from 1975-81 and created the website for the event, Michel now lives in San Rafael, Calif. and hasn't been to Athens in 15 years. "And we were all good people. I mean, of course, there was gossip, but there wasn't any meanness. ... Those were just benevolent, innocent, joyous times."

Pink Party thrown by Leslie Michel (at left) in 1980

In 1980 or '81, Michel hosted an infamous Easter party at her Barber Street house (with roommates Mark Phredd Rizzo and Linda Hopper, who's now in Atlanta bands Oh, OK, which plays Friday at the 40 Watt, and Magnapop). Fueled by a bathtub full of grain alcohol punch (with lots of fresh grapes and other fruit), the party, she recalls, lasted from about 2 o'clock in the afternoon until dawn the next day.

"It was ... being part of a group, and always doing things together," says Maureen McLaughlin (who helped Michel put that punch together by toting her around to convenience stores in search of juice on Easter Sunday, when most grocery stores were closed).

O'Brien Layson says she's still close friends with the dormmates she met during her first year in the sub-basement of Reed Hall at the University of Georgia. "It was magical," she says. "We joked back then that the computer that put us all together must have made some kind of mistake," she says. "We formed a bond back then that was really special."

Rock 'n' roll history

O'Brien Layson today is famous ("or notorious," she laughs) for having the birthday party at the church on Oconee Street where R.E.M. played their first show.

"I knew even back then, before R.E.M. had played their first club gig even, that they had something special. There was no doubt in my mind," she says. "And I think we did have a sense that we were in the midst of something historical. It wasn't that we felt self-important - it just felt good to be a part of it all."

"It was more like, 'Boy, didn't we have a good time,' during this pivotal time in American music history," notes Scales of his impression of those years.

"I had the feeling that it was probably a lot like (Paris) during the turn of the century," says Michel, "one of those creative clusters in time, with the music, the painting, the poetry, the spaces we lived in, how we worked around our problems. I'm in absolute awe of the synergy we had," she says.

The reunion

It's that same synergy that seems to have made Athens Rewind happen.

When planning started, House says she expected maybe a couple of hundred people would be on the "guest list" - those names added up to more than 600 by the time everyone had chimed in.

450 guest laminates, Prewind, Georgia Gameday Planning Headquarters

Despite it being an invitational event, though, all the organizers stress it's not meant to be exclusive - instead it's simply meant to really bring together the people who shared this special time.

"It's about the past," says House. "I just love all these people, and I want them all together again in the same room."

If you go ...

Athens Rewind has opened the Friday night event featuring Pylon and Oh, OK to the public with a limited number of tickets. For more information about this and an itinerary of other events, visit www.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Love! Yay!

Look at my horoscope for this week. It's like they really know what's going on in my life or something!

Your Lovescope - Week of January 7, 2008
Nothing you can say or do will ever change the past, so don't even bother worrying about it. Don't clutter your mind or your conversation with old memories about how things never work out for you in the love department. Instead, you need to replace this train of thought with complete optimism for the future. Have faith in the new year ahead instead of sitting in the same old muddle puddle and complaining about the past year. This week the time to get to the core of your true emotions starts on Tuesday, when lunar energy helps you cut to the core of the real issue at hand. Maybe you feel as if you aren't worthy of love. Maybe you still need to learn to accept and love yourself for who you really are. Infusing yourself with self-love will help bring fresh, new love and romance to your bedside during the upcoming year. Love yourself and the world will love you.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tribute to Claudine Housecat

No, she hasn't died. On the contrary she is very healthy and happy. I just felt it was time to dedicate a post to my wonnerful kitteh, Claudine.

Not a whole lot to say, except that Claudie is a good kitty. She makes us laugh.

She sleeps a lot.

She takes care of us when we feel bad.

All in all she is a very important part of the family. When we got her from the Humane Society, we were told that she had been brought back by the first family who took her in. They said she "didn't get along with their other pets." I suspect something much worse than that had happened to the sweet kitty, cause for the first month we had her she hid underneath a big desk, refusing to come out unless we were all asleep. She was very timid. At night I knew she was sneaking out, eating a little cat food and using the litter box, but she wouldn't do it when we were around.

After a while, though, if I sat very very still on the floor by her food, she would come out and eat while I sat there, stopping occasionally to check me out. I guess she was getting lonely by that time, and she could sense a cat person was nearby. Then one day she let me pet her head and tickle her flanks. Finally one day she climbed up in my lap and started making biscuits on my legs. She had finally let her guard down, and I was so happy. I've been her mom ever since.

She gradually got braver and braver, sometimes letting the kids be in the room with her and occasionally even playing in their (or other humans') presence. One day I decided to see what would happen if I let her outside. It was scary at first. I opened the back door (our yard is very large and is fenced in, so she was safe) and let her sniff the air to begin with. She seemed very interested. Then I went outside and sat on the ground and she sat in the doorway and watched. In a minute she tiptoed out, with those incredibly slow cat steps they take when you want them to come in, or go out, or move for some reason. She was very curious about the wind, the smells, the sun. Finally she came over and joined me where I sat, still very cautious but wanting so badly to be a part of this delicious warm breezy world. Every day we would go out for a little while together, then I began going back in sometimes and leaving her out, but keeping the back door open. One day I looked out and she was tiptoeing through the grass, heading up the hill in the yard. The next day she went a little further. Pretty soon she could stay out for hours on end all by her lonesome. Then Max, the neighbor cat, started hanging around, and they were an 'item' for a while. I think they've broken up now. But outside is still her favorite place to be, besides my bed.

Now Claudine has no fear, even going so far as to stay in the playroom when we open the backdoor to let Jazzy pup into her crate at night. She lets me pick her up and toss her over my shoulder, she joins us in the middle of noisy Christmas parties, and once she even sat on the couch without running away during a noisy and frightening (aren't they all?) session of vacuuming. Now THAT's a brave kitteh! Claudine also has an amazing knack for knowing when someone is making a sandwich, no matter where she is or what she's doing. Open a crackly sandwich meat wrapper and *zing*! Within two minutes, here she comes. Such a talented cat.

Here she is hard at work foraging water from my toilet. Like I said, multi-talented. Watch this till the's funny.

My Claudie. I think I'll keep her.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

What is Love?

My daughter just asked me a difficult question. Recently she has become interested in Zac Ephron and those twins from "The Suite Life of Zac and Cody" and some other cute boys from t.v. and movies. She's decided she wants to be famous so she can be a guest star on "Hannah Montana."

So tonight as I'm kissing her goodnight, she says "Mom, what sort of things does a boy say to you when he likes you?"

Wow. You're asking the wrong person, girl! Immediately I think of all those things, so many things: "I love you in ways that I don't even understand." "I want to be your man so badly that it tears me up inside." "We have only hinted as to what potentially lies ahead for us." "You are such a catch. So beautiful, smart and loving." "I want a life with to day, you know, routine stuff." "Kitten - I love you like I've never loved another living soul."

Those are the things a guy says to you when he "likes you." Or at least I thought that was what they meant. But it didn't really turn out to be the case, did it? How can I advise my daughter on something so big as "how do I know when a boy likes me?" when I've been so wrong at judging another's true feelings, his intentions, his character?

Well, I have to try. I tell her, "Honey, he might say anything, really. Like 'You are such a good friend,' or 'I always have fun when we're together.'"

"What if we're out on a date? What would he say then?"

A date...hmmm, let me try to remember..."Well, he might say, 'I am so happy to go with you to the dance!' or 'You look very pretty tonight."

To which she added, "Or he might say, 'It's okay, darling, I'll buy the popcorn.'" Yes exactly.

But I felt it important to add, "Just make sure you always feel good when you're with him. If he ever makes you feel bad, or is mean to you, just don't go out with him anymore." There. Bases covered, right?

Wrong. Do you know what she said then, my little psychic one? "But what if I love him?"

Yes, honey. Exactly. What if you love him? That is kind of the mother of all relationship questions. I forge on, determined to win this battle, a battle more with myself than with anyone else. "Well, you just have to decide. If you feel bad more than you feel good when you're around him, then you have to stop seeing him."

"But what if I really, REALLY love him?"

I had no answer.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January 1, 2008

It strikes me today how funny these random milestones are. January 1, a new year, a new beginning, a new life. Apparently I bought into this more than I realized. I really thought that when I woke up today something would be different, that I would actually feel something changed in my heart. Maybe I thought all my Paul obsession would be lifted. Or that he would call me and say "Look, this is silly. Let's get together and talk over what happened last year. We are meant to work things out. We love each other. Blah blah blah." Or maybe somewhere in my twisted little mind I thought I'd just magically be over this crap once it was 2008.

All I know is that today is a Tuesday, pretty much like any other Tuesday. I didn't get enough sleep, had a migraine when I woke up, was late to my brother's house where we exchanged presents, since they missed out on Christmas at my mom's, got some sweet tea at Waffle House on the way home, had a sudden fit of, hysterical SOBBING...after lying down to try to take a nap, and just now woke up. I feel kind of better, but guess what? Nothing is magically different. I miss Paul.

The only new beginning as far as I can tell is that all the big anniversaries are over. {Does the word anniversary have any shared etymological base with adversary? Cause I think it should...} I can move forward without thinking about what was happening "this time last year" a little more easily. I think it will be all downhill from here on out. Things are definitely better now than they were on October 22, or November 30, or December 4. I am going to be fine, but I swear it is going to take a lot longer than I had thought.

To liven up this morose post, here are my children, at midnight.

They have the right idea. I've got the best kids in the world. Happy New Year, dear friends.