Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Caligari's Mirror

~Vagabond, free spirit, gypsy. That's what you are. Described to me the other night as having the soul of an old man. That makes sense. There is no fight in you, just flight. And anonymity. And invisibility and the desire to transport at will. Why are you not motivated? Why do you just want to disappear?~

Cleveland. 1998. I was working on a self-funded Pere Ubu documentary with the full cooperation of Ubu bandleader/songwriter/vocalist/accordionist David Thomas. He flew to New York and I interviewed him in a studio in TriBeCa (one of the most uncomfortable two hours I've ever spent, as he is a renowned curmudgeon). But then he asked me out for a drink with his friend Bob Holman, the poet, and THAT was cool.

Shortly thereafter, at David's urging, I drove to Cleveland with my good friend Dino (who was there for a wedding) and landed at the home of Ubu guitarist Jim Jones. Jim, one of the most gracious people I've ever met, personally drove me around Cleveland showing me all the prime "Ubu locations" i.e. "We all lived there" and "That's the building that the cover of 'Ray Gun Suitcase' has on it."

He ushered me around town for two days, took me to his favorite Chinese joint downtown and made me tea in his kitchen.

I took a shitload of photographs. My favorite was shooting Jim shooting a photo of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame (he was doing some freelance photojournalism for the local paper). The irony that Cleveland's seminal punk rock band wasn't (and still isn't) represented in that building, was not lost on me.

I'm just scanning the negatives now and the time travel continues.

The documentary never came to fruition - my production company folded and the money went away. Shame, Pere Ubu deserves one. But I have the negatives and the memories.

Jim and I stayed in touch via phone and email for many years. He passed away in 2008 from heart failure. He was only 58 years old. I miss my buddy.

RIP, Jim.

Cover Star: Jim Jones
Headlining Band: Ubu, who else? Jim Jones on lead "secret-agent" guitar.

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