This Friday, I will have two space related paintings exhibited at the Hi-5 bar and gallery. The two paintings will be shown for a month, or until further notice. It’s part of a ‘Space Porn’ theme, along with other artists. My paintings are more for a PG-13 crowd, or at least one of them. Guess I’ve toned it down somewhat.
Here’s one of the better paintings:
I really like this particular work a lot, and it looks like I already have a buyer. If you’re interested in getting a commission from me, either with drawing, illustration or painting, just email me: Witchipoo@witchesbrewpress.net
Hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do. See everyone later.
Continuing where I left off yesterday, (Yesterday’s blog post) now I’m going into music pins, buttons and badges of the 1980s.
My button collection started during my preteen years. It was around sometime during the early ’80’s, and I had just discovered rock music. The closest supplier of these badges was a local head shop called Yogi Lala, located in Astoria, Queens. For a small shop it was jammed packed full of juvenile delinquent merchandise. All sorts of hippie accouterments, silver biker jewelry, patches, drug paraphernalia, and hard rock band tee shirts. If you wanted the back of your jean jacket painted with a rendition of a particular Black Sabbath album cover, this was the place. For good measure, Yogi Lala mixed the sex, drugs and rock n roll wares with some 14k gold trinkets.
There was certainly a variety of genres covered within the rock music merch this place sold. Not only did they have your average classic rock groups like The Who, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, etc., but they also had the burn out Hard Rock stuff, Heavy Metal, and the newer New Wave and some Punk rock stuff. Mostly the more famous, or should I stay infamous bands like The Sex Pistols.
If you couldn’t find what you were looking for in Yogi’s, you could always walk further down Steinway Street, which to this day is one of Astoria’s main shopping areas, and check out Jolly Joint. The Jolly Joint’s store was a bit more spread out. It was a head shop as well, with a tiny more emphasis on the music. Jolly Joint was pretty successful in its day, with a second shop on Main Street, located in Flushing, Queens.
Jolly Joint is no more. Yogi Lala is still around, but they mostly sell gold jewelry now.
Anyway, I would start to buy these small music pins from these kind of stores. The pins would be proudly arranged with style and care on my jacket before heading off to my crappy junior high. The other kids would make fun of me listening to rock music, but I paid them no mind. I loved The Go-Go’s, Joan Jett, Soft Cell, Human League and David Bowie.
I was very fascinated with the whole New Wave and Punk subculture, even back in junior high, although my tastes at the time were more mainstream. Guess this is when I started observing different types of counter cultures.
Then came Culture Club. I loved Boy George so much, I even tried to dress like him. If you look in the photo, you can see a button that says “Boy George For President.” As I type this, it’s election year of 2012. Perhaps I should start wearing this one again?
Anyway, my attempts of emulating the Boy just resulted in more verbal abuse from my classmates. The comments got more ignorant too. My favorite one? “Are you a fag lover?”
Since I hated my junior high so much, I swore I would never continue getting my education alongside these ignorant f-heads. So I applied for a whole bunch of the NYC ‘magnet’ schools. To both my surprise and relief, I got immediately accepted into the High School of Art and Design. From there I met more like-minded peers. One of these kids would take me to my first ‘underground’ club, despite the underage factor. It was the original Danceteria, and I loved every second of it. Another girl took me to my first excursion into Greenwich Village. It was up and down 8th street to be exact. Eighth street at the time was the main shopping strip of the village area, full of record stores, imported shoe shops, clothing stores, etc. Located towards more going 6th avenue was The Postermat. That was my new found base for my button fix.
During my freshman year, my tastes in music was leaning towards mainstream rock, top-40, new wave and imported UK pop bands. I was still big into Culture Club then. For a brief time though, I was listening to the newer metal bands like Motley Crue and Twisted Sister.
Sometimes us A&D students would trade with one another. I traded something for the U2 band shot, as seen in the middle of the pic below. I think a friend gave me the Cyndi Lauper and Prince pins. A loner guy mysteriously gave me the Billy Idol one. I forgot where the Frankie Goes To Hollywood button came from. Check out the photo below. I’m surprised I still even have these.
Needless to say this phase didn’t last long. I discovered Siouxsie and The Banshees. Right there everything changed. Went to Astor Place for a major haircut, dying my hair much to my father’s chagrin. My wardrobe completely changed. I discovered Bleecker Bob’s, purchasing a second hand pair of combat boots. Boy, did those boots piss my mom off.
Most importantly, my music tastes had changed. I embraced the classic 80s Goth and Post-Punk bands. I liked much of the seminal ’77 Punk stuff, like The Ramones, for example. Although I never got into the Hardcore or crossover genres that much. As you can guess, my button collection reflected this. Instead of Culture Club and U2, I had bands such as The Damned, Bauhaus, and Sisters of Mercy. Most of the classic 80s Goth bands found a spot on my schoolbag. Only I wasn’t going to school as much. I had also discovered playing hooky. That particular discovery is something I still regret to this very day. I’m making up for lost time now, but there’s still a ping of regret somewhere.
Unfortunately, most of my button collection from that particular time is gone. Don’t know where they went. Perhaps they’re in a draw somewhere at my parents’ house, but at this point I’m not going to bother looking. It’s the past after all.
I did find this, however. An X-Ray Specs pin, which I think I might’ve gotten from the original Manic Panic shop in St. Mark’s Place. Was it that, or was it the pin that said “Oh bondage up yours!” I think it was the latter. That particular pin was stolen by none other than this kid Mike Waste. He stole from almost everyone. Not only did he steal that pin, he also stole my Cure shirt and something else. A total creep who told tall tales. He had ratty hair extensions that clung for dear life from the brim of his cap. Yet I heard about the early Industrial bands through him. I always knew he lifted from me. I suppose twenty years later I’m kinda sorta getting my revenge by calling him out on a public blog.
Here’s the X-Ray Specs pin that escaped Mike Waste’s grimey paws:
Now that I’ve blogged about these pins, perhaps its time to finally get rid of them. After all, they served their purpose. Maybe sell them on eBay or something. Besides, I’ve got my memories. You can never take that away.
However, if all else fails, you can tell people this:
Mercury in retrograde’s about to hit this month, starting from July 14th and ends Aug. 8th,2012. For those who believe in astrology, it works a bit like this; it’s both a time of reflection, and ‘Murphy’s Law’ in full effect. In other words, communication lines get crossed, so what can go wrong will.
Sometimes, right before merc in retrograde hits, you just might get a preview. Plans interrupted arguments and fights relating to misunderstandings, sometimes outright catastrophe. Yet it’s not all negative. As I’ve said before, during this time it could be used to reflect. Don’t be surprised that out of the blue, you’ll come into contact with someone from the past who you haven’t spoken to in years. Also, some of those unsolved conflicts that have knocked on your door have a chance to be resolved.
Enough of this mini-lesson. What this crash course about mercury in retrograde leads to is a chance to you show some of my relics. Not only does it bring back my personal teenage memories, they’re also pop culture artifacts. These buttons exhibits a part of NYC that is now long gone.
Back when I was growing up during the 80s, many teenagers flocked to the NYC area of Greenwich Village. West side, east side, 8th Street, Broadway, it really didn’t matter. It’s still the case now, but the popular shopping sites are significantly different. Back in the 80s, the trendier retail places gave away free buttons with every purchase. Hell, sometimes you didn’t even need to buy anything. Just go to the counter, stick your hand in the small hard plastic transparent box, and grab a handful of these badges. Afterwards, you would display your coolness by pinning these items onto your over-sized vintage overcoat, or on your army schoolbag. You would arrange these pins right along with your pop and post new wave band buttons. This was exactly what I did back in my freshman year of high school. This didn’t last long, as I progressed the next year into a full-fledged Siouxsie clone. My badges went from store promotion to the bands like The Cure, Specimen, etc.
Before I bore you with details, here’s a photo.
The stores listed before are no longer around. I’ll give you a brief breakdown about some of these places.
Flip was a clothing store located on west. 8th street. They specialized in selling new wave, punk, goth and glam rock threads. In fact, one of my first ever punk tees was purchased right here at this location.
Postermat was more of a novelty place. They sold all types of buttons, posters, tees, gag items. A bit like that Spencer’s chain store you see in the local mall nowadays. The buttons and pins were sold in the front of the store. They were stored behind glass counters as if they were precious goods. Two tiny black round controls when pressed, slowly spunk around the shelves inside. An army and navy store has taken its place.
Canal Jeans Co. survived for years, but eventually they shut their doors as well. This business was so successful at one point, they had two locations. The location on Canal Street is now one of the cheapest art supply stores known as Pearl Paint. The bigger store, located in the Soho area of Broadway sold both new, vintage, upscale and bargain merchandise. They shut down, very briefly re-opened for a hot minute on Broadway and Astor, and then closed for good in the early 2000s.
Canal Jeans Co. buttons had their iconic checkerboard background, in a variety of colors. Check the photo below:
Zoot was a vintage clothing store. Zoot wasn’t around that long, but it’s competition, Andy’s Chee-Pees, hung around for a while. Zoot was located on Broadway, Andy’s on West 8th street.
Unique hawked its wares all throughout the ‘80s, going out of business in the early ‘90s. Also known as Unique Boutique, the large space had a variety of different departments. You had graffiti artists spray painting on clothing, vintage duds, and when it was extremely fashionable, a huge selection of bright neon attire.
As for some other shops that’s been around for a while. Enz have opened and closed, and opened again. They’ve moved around to different locations so Enz doesn’t count. Ditto for Andy’s Chee-Pees. Even Patricia Fields moved from its prototype home on 8th street to the now trendy Bowery area. Probably the only store left from that era is Trash and Vaudeville. Still at the same location since the 1970s, and still going strong today.
Keep in mind, I didn’t even touch upon all the numerous record stores open around this time. I’ll touch upon that in another post.
Other types of businesses got into the badge marketing act. Check out this photo here. There’s MTV when they were known as a video music channel. WLIR was a Long Island based radio station that specialized (at the time) in New Wave, a tiny bit of Post-Punk, and imported UK Pop music. Then there’s the original Hard Rock Cafe. The first location in NYC was on West 57th, before they moved to the current location at Times Square. All three are still around today.
It’s a different time now. There’s the revitalized Brooklyn to contend with now. Trends have changed. Yet the ‘80s memories still stand.
Since a heatwave was upon us, I did the next best thing. Stayed home, sat in front of my AC, and finally worked on my website.
*Sigh* Long story about this website. I had an ex who promised me the world and then some. I already had html knowledge under my belt, but he insisted he would produce a much better page for me. Look, he claimed – I even got webspace for you. So I waited.
Of course, his promises went up in a cloud of pot smoke. As it turned out, the webspace he claimed he got for me turned out to be under his brother’s account. An account that someone trying to establish some kind of presence with cartoons and illustration should probably have some control in regards to content, etc. On top of that, he would get annoyed whenever I would remind him of his promises. Finally he relented and designed some kind of website – using Adobe Photoshop as a platform.
Adobe Photoshop as a way to design a website? As you can guess, it didn’t come out that good. The product wasn’t even finished. As it turned out, he jumped ship to design another website for someone else – with much better results. What a slap in the face…or at least a blackeye.
In my frustration, I went ahead, called the hosting company that his brother’s account was under. Had all my files switched over to a brand new account, this time under my name. I did this all on the phone to customer service. Meanwhile, as I was on the phone, my ex cruelty taunted me, laughing at my frustration. Due to this, I lost my temper while speaking to customer service. Score one for him. Then because of life, and the confusion of the mess the website had become, the pages sat there unfinished for years.
In the middle of all this unnecessary rubble, my original .com was brought out by another company. I was in between residences. Quite frankly, I was homeless during this point because me and ex had reached a boiling point. This is a completely different story but one day I will blog about these wretched experiences. Anyway, for the spring and summer of 2007, I was homeless for a while. Crashed on my parents’ couch a bit, but mostly while I had to take care of some issues, was couch surfing between two states. Not a good time, but the experience has made me a much stronger person. In the middle of all these ‘chaos’ my .com was brought out by a porn company. I found out about this incident just weeks before I was about to show my work at a NYC indie comic con. (A table I had reserved months before all this hit the fan.) The website I had listed was about to be printed in either a program listing, or some magazine. I had to call the person doing the listing and nipped it in the bud, just in the nick of time. Luckily the person doing the listing was completely understanding.
I guess one can chuckle about it now. At the time though, it was a time when nothing seemed to be going right for me. I was extremely vulnerable, and surrounded by vultures who I thought were my friends. Parasites who claimed to wanna help me, and in fairness, some did – with a price. (Yet I did meet some genuine people during this time, and those are the ones I kept in touch with after my crisis was subsiding.) In all though, what most of these people did was take advantage of me, and the situation I was in at the time. Vulnerability is a dangerous thing indeed.
Back to the website. I’ve had people look into the site for me. A few of these peeps commented something about how messy the site was. Yeah yeah, I know I would nod back. However, I had also become hesitate to let anyone touch it. Part of my reasoning was that if anything went wrong, I didn’t want to burn bridges or lose friendships. Another was my gut instinct was telling me otherwise. Always go with your instincts. They never fail – unless you go against those same instincts. Which is what I did when I hooked up with the ex. Had I followed my gut instinct, I would’ve never hooked up with him. Thus would’ve saved me three years of trauma. Two years being with him, and another for getting my life back together. Oh, and the expensive fallout afterwards.
Let’s put it this way: as soon as I was back in NYC, and my temp holiday gig was over…I was exhausted.
So let’s hit the fast forward button to June 29th, 2012. I had an odd dream. May sound kooky to some who’s reading this entry, that is, if you even made it this far. Not getting into details, but it was enough to light a fire under my ass. I sat down in front of my lovely air conditioner, praised the Goddess of The Air Conditioner, and banged out this site.
Finally I felt a sort of victory, taming this monster of a website. It’s not as professional as I would have liked it to be, but it’s still better than staring at a black page. Doing this website was also another nail in the coffin which contains my calamitous past. In a way, it was another subconsciousness step of taking my power back.
Hopefully by reading this blog post, the reader will get some sort of idea of where I’m coming from, and why I’ve developed into the person I’m currently am. A form of catharsis.
Perhaps this quote by writer James Baldwin could explain it better: “The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: she has become a threat.”