A Clean Tramp Looks for Clothes and Music on a Roof in Chinatown

Ingrid Rudefors, Richard Hell and Viv Albertine mix it up in London and New York

IngridRudefors, Ingrid, Meanwhile On A Roof In Chinatown, Triangle Ranch Communications, Arlington, WA, 2015

Ingrid Rudefors is a writer, director and Stockholm film commissioner who divides her time between New York and Stockholm. Ingrid and I worked and played music together in the 80’s. Her first novel Meanwhile on a Roof in Chinatown is a story about a young Swedish women in a 90’s hot downtown NY summer, who gets a sudden visit by her mother escaping her unraveling marriage in suburban Sweden. Ms Rudefors gives you the outsider’s and the insider’s view of Little Italy, Chinatown and the Lower Eastside. She gives you a variety of colorful characters, so it becomes easy to identify and you get sucked into the book as they are trying to deal with their lives that are all in different stages of upheaval. Besides the daughter trying to make it in the theatre, the professor finding herself in bed with a strange bird, or the mobster, the different neighborhoods become characters themselves and I am transported straight into Ingrid’s New York of strange twists and turns. Ingrid is also known for the 1990’s cult-short A Women’s Point Of View During Sex, and then of course for her rap on East Of Eden‘s 1984 Komm Zu Mir.

Richard

Hell, Richard, I Dreamed I Was A Clean Tramp, Harper Collins, 2014

It was Richard Hell with Tom Verlaine, who started the band Television and talked Hilly Christal to have original bands at CBGB”S. It is also Richard Hell, who is credited with the torn t-shirt look, the safety pins and the spiked hair. You might think he invented punkrock all by himself. Well, you’ll have to read his book. Like Tom Verlaine, Hell did reinvent him self during the heydays of New York’s decline, when President Ford told New York to Drop Dead! But this was a time of unprecedented creativity, which the art, music and fashion world feeds off to this very day, actually, especially today. Imagine, Punk, Disco, Hip Hop and Salsa all started in the same place at the same time. Indeed, it was Richard Hell, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Television, Lou Reed, William Burroughs, who send out the siren call that caused me to land there in May of 1978. Richard Hell, Patti Smith and Tom Verlaine were  all writers first before they started bands and began changing the history of Rock’n Roll forever. Richard comes off a bit aloof at times. He is seems suspended between the more traditional male and the new man but is honest about it and certainly honed his writing skills over many years. I have not read a better account of how it feels to be on stage in a rock’n roll band. Richard still lives in the same rent controlled apartment in the East Village and writes. I met him early on when his band the Voidoids rehearsed in the same building I lived in with NYN and saw many shows enjoying Richard’s songwriting and the groundbreaking guitar work of Robert Quine and Ivan Julian, with whom I had the pleasure to become friends, play and record music later on.

Viv

Albertine, Viv, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys, St Martin’s Press, New York, NY, 2014

The Slits was the  name of the influential and under-appreciated all girl feminist punk band, the contemporaries of The Dammned, Sex Pistols, Clash, Siouxsie and Banshees, Subway Sect, etc. which shows, if you are less familiar with them than the other bands, how even in the history of punk the male voice sets the tone. Viv sets the record straight though. We examine the same period as described by Richard Hell, but from the British perspective. While Patti Smith, Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine came from a somewhat more intellectual background. Viv tells it from the heart of a post WWI British working class girl, the battle of how to do things in a feminine way, having to leave chauvinist BS, managers and even husbands behind in order to live the creative life. She writes as everything is happening in the present; it works and in the back of the book she lists, the clothes, the music and the boys from each period she talks about. I loved the title right from first sight and expected a light and fun read, and it is exactly that, except that we could ad Blood, Blood, Blood to the title since Liv also talks about chapters in her life after the band breaks up, the following struggles, marriage motherhood and battles of life and death and the eventual return to play guitar and song writing. The straight forwardness and honesty with which Liv lives and talks about these events makes this book one of the most powerful I have read in a long time. I am incredibly grateful to Liv.

Ingrid, Liv, Richard are my soul sisters and brother. We are from the tribe that have to leave our home, because it is stifling, restricted, close minded, we cannot sit in an office, we are not capable to climb the corporate ladder, when we shut down our creative impulse, our absolute drive for freedom, we become sick, depressed, addicts, angry, self destructive or just die. I’m not saying we are better. Some people can thrive in organized circumstance and I do believe that anyone harbors the arts inside, but some of us are not made for the world that many of us call reality. In the mid to late 70’s it was ok to be poor as a young artist in New York, Paris, Berlin, there was squatting, rents were cheap and the creative expression and the drive for freedom was our food more often than not. It does make for great stories.

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Rock’n Roll Pt 2, Wood block prints, Dieter Runge, UH Manoa Graduate Exhibition, 2006

PS: Today at almost 67, I struggle financially again and will sell art, guitars, books, clothes, fixie bike, vintage amps out of my studio all week and next weekend. Last weekend was pretty much washed out by the tropical storm Darby. Come by, taste some ayurvedic food, hang out and let’s talk story. If you don’t live on Oahu, call, write, skype, FB, linkedin. I’ll show you my stuff.

PS2: Here is a good post about my own early experience in NY.

Richard Hell’s Blank Generation is a groundbreaking song about inventing yourself. Listen to the lyrics and Robert Quine’s and Ivan Julian’s pioneering guitar work.

The Slits’ really invented themselves and their Typical Girls was their calling card.

I believe this Marvin Gaye cover was their first single.

….and while we’re kinda reaggaeish, here is my own German Komm Zu Mir again with Ingrid rapping in Swedish. That’s all folks. Love ya’ll

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The Author in front of CBGB’s ca December 78, with Claus Runge and Leo Faison, photo by Ilse Ruppert

 

 

 

 

 

 

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