Patti Smith Celebrates Art And Friendship At MoMA PS1

MoMA PS1 is one of the most unique exhibition spaces. For those who hate school, it brings back memories of classroom tediousness and for those who love it, it’s reminiscent of the days when children sat on the front steps waiting to be picked up. Going there is always a good adventure, especially when Patti Smith is performing in a stage the size of your living room, reading excerpts from her book “Just Kids” and being the class act she’s always been.

As one of the most important artistic provocateurs of our time, Christoph Schlingensief combined political outrage and satire in his work to depict German modern history in a rather shocking way. Using multimedia tools he was able to convey themes of immigration, authenticity, and religion, causing controversy and upsetting German complacency most of his life. In a never-ending attempt to challenge the status quo, Schlingensief and Patti Smith have collaborated in the past, developing a great friendship that ended too soon due to Schlingensief’s death. His retrospective series at MoMA PS1does not fail to get the audience to think critically about many of today’s socio-political issues, and there is no one better than Patti Smith to open its doors to the public.

Emphasizing the importance of cherishing life and creativity, Patti Smith celebrated Schlingensief’s art and friendship with a private concert at the MoMA PS1 Dome.  Although the opening coincided with the date of Robert Mapplethorpe’s death, Smith was in good spirits, contributing to the celebrative yet nostalgic tone of the show. An attentive, reverent crowd listened carefully to Smith’s reading of her goodbye letter to Mapplethorpe, followed by an account of what life was like when both of these legends were part of her life.

For those who missed the opening, no need to fret; Smith is performing again at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, and the exhibit will be showing at PS1 through May 25th.

Patti Smith and Her Band Play It Loose on Her Birthday

Punk rock legend, one of the original CBCB stars, and the first of them to get a record deal, played her annual New Years show this year at New York City’s Webster Hall on December 29 and 30th—the second date being her 67th birthday. She has always been as much an author and a poet as a singer songwriter. At these homecoming shows, she paid tribute to her contemporary, Lou Reed and Velvet Underground with three songs: “I’m Waiting for the Man,” “Perfect Day,” and “Heroin.” She performed a very emotional version of the John Lennon song, “Beautiful Boy,” which I can’t get out of my head, and two off the wall covers, the Rihanna song, “Stay” and the Brenda Lee song, “I’m Sorry.”

At the birthday show, she did her biggest hit, “Because The Night.” Smith has always been an interpreter of music as much as a writer of songs and song poems. On her debut album, Horses,  considered one of the best of all time, she did a radical revision of “Gloria,” by Them, written by Van Morrison, and a reworking of “Land of a Thousand Dances,” by Fats Domino and Chris Kenner. The songs were incorporated into larger song poems that she wrote around them. To me, she is a connecting line from the Beats, a la Ginsberg and Kerouac, to Dylan, to Rap; Poetry to Beats to Music. All of this was on florid display at the shows.

She unabashedly spoke, rhymed, shouted, screamed, and sang her songs with the fury but also touching delicacy, of her 1975 self. And a lot of what she has to say is radical stuff. I’m guessing if she were younger, she’d be on the front lines leading the charge. Boy could we use her, or someone she may be inspiring in the crowd, at these limited edition performances. And make no mistake, Patti Smith is quite a performer. She speaks to the enraptured audience as if we were life long friends, telling off the wall stories of flying to Florida overnight between the two shows on her private jet for a night of tropical drinks. She answered a shouted inquiry by someone as to where she got her boots, by stating they were an exact copy of the boots worn by the mad hatter in Alice in Wonderland, and that they were magical. Then she said—off-handedly—that all of these stories, well, they aren’t true! I could tell that many people in the house believed they were.

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Younger artists could use the lessons Patti supplies in winning over a crowd. The love cascaded in waves from the sold out hall to the stage and back. While she is still her same angry self, railing at the political and corporate greed fest that our world has become, she has mellowed enough to smile and kiss back. I was amazed as she and her band were almost sexually turned on by the audience response to the undulating beat laid down by her original drummer Jay Dee Daugherty, and bass player Ivan Kral that then inspired them to play it with even more feel. Original Patti Smith guitarist, rock critic, and producer Lenny Kaye, looking dapper in a nicely tailored suit jacket, and cool, long gray hair, even managed a smile. At the birthday show, her daughter surprised her on stage with a birthday cake, and the band and audience sang her a “Happy Birthday” just after Kaye and the band did a medley from his 60’s ‘Nuggets’ collection including “Talk Talk,” by Music Machine, “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five, and Open My Eyes, the great Todd Rundgren ‘Nazz’ song.

It all fit and had a beautiful flow to it. You know it feels right when it seems too short. “Banga,” and “People Have the Power” ended the 15 song main set, and for the encore, she ended with “Babelogue,” and “Rock N Roll Nigger.” These songs are radical get out in the streets and be outraged songs, people!

In the finale, she equated a host of people who stand up and shout truth to power to being the N word [ni%#ers], including Edward Snowden and Pussy Riot. When was the last time you saw arms pumping the air to a political message? Happy Birthday, Patti Smith, who still has the FTW vibe, but not towards her fans.

Balenciaga’s New Campaign Inspired by Patti Smith Book

More images have emerged from Balenciaga’s spring/summer 2012 campaign, which star four newcomers: Laura Kampman, Kirstin Liljegren, Rosie Tapner, and Juliane Gruner. The Steven Meisel-shot ads feature grungey girls with messy hair, hanging in messy rooms, wearing designer clothes. According to, the fashion house was inspired by personal photos from Patti Smith’s 2010 memoir Just Kids (which is a fantastic book, by the way) and used the images to recreate the rocker-trashed digs that the iconic artist shared with writer Sam Shepard.

Although the big buzz about the campaign was that Balenciaga hired relatively unknown models for the gig, the slightly more controversial news from the shoot was that two of the models—Liljegren (pictured) and Tapner—are only 15-years-old. Just kids, indeed.  


CBGB Festival Hits NYC This Week, Featuring Cheetah Chrome

As I left BINGO last night, I stared across the street at Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar and the John Varvatos store and all the new construction near Joey Ramone Place, East 2nd Street. I was looking back, something I always do with caution. I miss a lot from those days of yore, but not the seriously rough streets or the death-by-needles and the AIDS-related disease that decimated a generation. I don’t miss the poverty, the desperation. I do miss many great friends and clubs and bars. Although I always leaned to Max’s Kansas City for my action, I do miss CBGB.

The club started in 1973, and a million bands later shuttered on October 15th, 2006, with Patti Smith doing the honors. The house that Hilly Kristal ruled left a legacy of showcasing budding stadium acts as well as countless bands that went nowhere, and tons in between. It was a watering hole where rockers came to listen to rockers. It had rock chopspurity despite all its impurities. It died hard, fighting court cases, landlords, and headlines. It has been missed. Somebody is doing something about that.

Starting Thursday, the CBGB Festival hits NYC. The three-day event features over 30 venues hosting innumerable bands, film screenings, a music and film conference, and a spirit festival. I could go on, but it’s easier to let you go here for the breakdown. There’s even rumors that a CBGB club may happen down the road. I contacted Dead Boys guitarist author, gentleman, and old friend Cheetah Chrome for his two cents on all this.

The festival is upon us. What does it mean to be playing in a festival that includes blasts from the past and still-kick’ers’ like Richard Lloyd, David Johansen, Glen Matlock, Tommy Ramone , and so many more?
Well, it’s great. I love to see the old gang whenever I can. I have a feeling this time it’ll be tempered by the people who aren’t there just as much as the ones that are, though. A lot of the old gang aren’t going anywhere, and they’ll be missed.

We had tea a few times in the booths of Max’s Kansas City. What were the differences between CBGB and Max’s –  besides the bad food?… actually, it wasn’t that bad.
CC) Well, the food was a huge difference; believe me, I know – I lived on Hilly burgers and chili for six months! To me there wasn’t a whole lot of difference between the two. That seemed to be more of a New York thing, after the big incident between Dick and Jayne; we missed that, we were on the road. So we just happily went between the two. There was a real sense of family at both. Of course, after the split, the CBGB family sort of banished us for awhile…luckily, me and Hilly got past that and were close right up until his death. 

I saw you post somewhere:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it-"
George Santayana. What needs to be remembered and heeded from those CBGB days?
Beware of men named Seymour bearing contracts. Read anything you sign before you sign it. Look down at the floor ahead of you wherever you walk. Smell chili before you eat it. And the soundman isn’t out to get you.

Who are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
Everybody the night I’m playing, I’m leaving the next morning! I won’t have time to see anyone else! I wish I could see Bebe Buell’s set, but I’m needed at the film festival at that time.

On Facebook and probably in other parts of your life that I am not seeing you are very outspoken and political. Since your Dead Boys days and through your rock history how have you strived to tell your public your viewpoint, and how important is it to mix sounds with enlightenment? What lyrics need to be heard?
The last two MC5 albums; everybody seems to have missed them the first time, and they’re just as relevant today. Steppenwolf’s Monster album. Rage Against the Machine.

Bebe Buell told me how smart Stiv Bators was. Tell me about him, the Dead Boys, and while you’re there …how did you survive those times?
Stiv was very smart and very fun to have long conversations with about politics and conspiracies, movies and music, you name it. He was the closest thing to a brother I ever had, and he taught me quite a lot. Dead Boys was a pretty special bunch, all very quick and funny as hell.  I miss those times a lot.

How I survived I can’t figure out; I figure God must have kept me around to raise my son – I doubt it has anything to do with me. I’m not doing anything earthshaking but he very well may someday!

Where are you musically today as opposed to, say, 1984, and what’s new that you like?
Same place pretty much –doing solo gigs and I hate all the new bands!

Sam Shepard Joins New Discovery Channel Miniseries, Let’s Celebrate With a Look Back at His Life

Sam Shepard: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, seasoned actor of stage and screen, and rock n’ roll jesus with a cowboy mouth. There’s no one quite like Sam—no one. And in the last forty years he has graced us with his unique and true American voice, creating brilliant plays and films that break out hearts and ignite the fire that lives inside of every man and every women. Needless to say, I love him dearly and in my mind, any day warrants a little Sam appreciation.

However, today we learned that he will now be replacing Chris Cooper in the Discovery Channel’s first ever scripted project, the miniseries Klondike. Naturally, Sam will be playing Father Judge, a man who "has come to town to atone for his violent past on a mission to save souls." Well, Sam you’ve already saved mine. And thankfully, this year we’ll see no shortage of him—first with Jeff Nichols’ upcoming Mud, then John Well’s August: Osage County, and Klondike. So, let’s take a look at Sam through the years, from his role in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, to his reading from recent years. Enjoy.



Sam as The Farmer in Days of Heaven


Sam and Jessica Lange in Frances

Sam, 1971

Sam as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff

Paris, Texas‘ "I Knew These People" Scene

Sam and Patti Smith Performing Their Play Cowboy Mouth

Sam Shepard on His Family Plays (Parts 2, 3)

Sam Shepard Talks Days of Heaven


Sam being Sam

The Moth and the World Science Festival present Sam Shepard

Sam Reads From Day Out of Days

More Sam and Patti Smith 


Sam Reads at Trinity College Dublin

L.A. Happenings: Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza Opens Today, Whist At Viceroy, Morrissey

MONDAY (today): Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza Opens in Culver City
New pizza joint Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza is all about recreating a Neapolitan-style pizza concept with seasonal California ingredients. The slices are pretty fancy, considering the dough rises for two to three days before hitting a 900 degree, wood-burning oven for 90 seconds. If there’s math involved in the recipe, you know they’ve gone beyond TLC. So don’t expect to casually wolf down a slice(s) at 2 am. Thanks to the restaurant’s crew of partners from Abigaile in Hermosa Beach (including owner Jed Sanford and chef Tin Vuong), pies will be working their way back into our diets.

Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza (9725 Culver Blvd., Culver City) opens Monday the 25th. For the inside-info, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Winemaker Dinner at Whist
Whist, the popular winery, is coming down south for one night to host a winemaker dinner at the Viceroy Santa Monica. Owner Alison Sokol Blosser will be present to offer all the best of her 85-acre estate vineyard varietals in the Willamette Valley. She’ll also announce a brand-spanking new experiential tasting room. It’s not slated to open until June, but there’s no reason to not pop the cork now.

Whist Winery’s Winemaker Dinner starts at 7pm at Viceroy Santa Monica (1819 Ocean Ave.). To make a reservation, call 310-260-7511. For more information on Viceroy, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

FRIDAY: Patti Smith Opens For Morrissey
OK, sure, the headliner here is Morrissey, who we obviously love, but Patti Smith has been on fire these days. She’s going to jam with her band in the huge Staples Center, so don’t forget your lighter. Or your bong. This concert is going to be one for the books: as per Morrissey’s request, the entire venue will be meat-free for a night.

Patti Smith opens for Morrissey on Friday, March 1st. Tickets are on still on sale. To learn more about Staples Center, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides. 

Be the first to learn about L.A. openings and parties by signing up for BlackBook Happenings, the weekly email newsletter.

Two Gorgeous New Books Explore The Unconscious and Inevitable

Sleep, according to those who don’t like to do much of it, is just practice for death. Two terrific new monographs, one from German fashion photographer Jork Weismann and the other by Mexican crime photographer Enrique Metinides, contemplate both the nightly practice for the afterlife and the real thing.

Weismann’s slightly ridiculous book, Asleep at the Chateau, (Damiani, $50) is, predictably, a series of portraits of celebrities asleep at the Chateau Marmont. The Chateau, for those uninitiated into the mysteries of show biz, is a Hollywood hotel where celebrities go to do drugs and contemplate the importance of their lives. It has a nice pool.

The images are pretty and provide insights into the lives of the dozers. Eva Longoria sleeps nude. So does, somewhat less attractively, Purple magazine’s Olivier Zahm. Lizzy Caplan sleeps with her sunglasses on. John Hodgman sleeps with his glasses off. RZA sleeps with a blunt in his hand, and Patti Smith (pictured above) evidently finds James Joyce a snooze.

If sleep is shallow death and celebrities inhabit the shallow depth, 101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides (Aperture, $50) plumbs more profound pools. Metinides, often called the Mexican Weegee, spent his career photographing crime scenes for Mexican nota roja, the daily papers whose pages drip with victims’ blood. This book consists of 101 of the most striking selections from his gruesome oeuvre.


The slumber from which his subjects suffer was rarely arrived upon gently and never in a less–than–spectacular manner. Perhaps one of the best images—if best can be a word used in connection with human calamity—is the portrait of Adela Legarreta Rivas, a Mexican journalist killed in an automobile accident in 1979. Rivas, the book notes, was on her way to a press conference, her hair and make–up done, when she was struck by a white Datsun.

Many of the other images from the book depict the notably less manicured: Buses aflame, car crash victims impaled, the shot atop the irregular crimson outflow of blood. Most of the images are of the dead, but some, including one Metinides shot in flagrante delicto of a supermarket shootout, push the viewer into the uncomfortable position of feeling awe at the capturing of a moment, admiration of the beauty of it, and horror at the human misery it depicts.

Though Metinides has slowed down with age, a new generation of Mexican photojournalists have had more than enough carnage to capture. There have been 5,037 murders in Mexico so far this year alone. But taken as an unlikely pair, these books drive home the point that death can visit you anywhere; in a car, the street, the supermarket, or even at your suite at the Chateau Marmont.

How to Play a Rock Star in a Movie

The casting of the upcoming CBGB’a movie has been a drawn-out process scored by endless commentary from fans who think they know better than filmmakers. Even the classic bar’s regulars got in the game. Not too long ago, Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys told us, “Hell, get Johnny Depp to play me!” Now it’s been announced that there is a new round of cast members, including former Roseanne star (and current The Big Bang Theory player) Johnny Galecki as manager Terry Ork and actress Mickey Sumner as Patti Smith. Perhaps the most controversial casting, though, is Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, who, The Hollywood Reporter found out, will be playing Iggy Pop. 

The musician has plenty of experience behind the camera, having composed music for video games, TV, and movies, and he’s also appeared in plenty of rockumentaries in his capacity as a band member. But can he actually play the role of a musician?

He can start by checking out these clips below, showcasing what we consider fine examples of actors playing rockers.

The Velvet Goldmine 

With Jonathan Rys Meyers as Brian Slade and Ewan McGregor as Curt Wild—clearly Pop influenced—this should be Hawkins’ go-to movie for Iggy inspiration.


La Bamba

Lou Diamond Phillips played Ritchie Valens in this 1987 movie about the rocker who died at 18 in a plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.


The Rose

Bette Midler made her screen debut in this movie, based loosely on the life of Janis Joplin. Pop never had Janice’s pipes, so singing like this won’t be a worry for Hawkins, but still a good role to study.


Sid and Nancy

For a taste of 1970s rock, what’s better than the Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb in this 1986 classic?


The Doors

To capture some of pop’s slithering sex appeal, checking out Val Kilmer’s performance in Oliver Stone’s The Doors would be a smart idea. Kilmer’s magnetic, insane, and overwhelmingly alluring Jim Morrison raised the bar for playing rockers.


Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains

The 1982 punk cult classic featuring a young Diane Lane and Laura Dern is required viewing for anyone who should be allowed to be punk, let alone play one on the screen. Absolutely essential viewing.

New Tracks From Lana Del Rey, Patti Smith

Fiona Apple isn’t the only songstress showing off new material.

In what could be a bid to get an early jump on the annual Song of Summer race, both punk-poet legend Smith and reinvention hipstress of the decade Del Rey have put new songs out into the cultural ether, and both are quite enjoyable.

Smith’s song, “Banga,” is the title track off her forthcoming album. The song, streaming over at Rolling Stone, is a classic Smith rocker, despite being inspired by some slightly esoteric source material. The song and album are named for a dog in Russian novelist Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

The pooch was tasked with keeping Pontius Pilate company while he waited for forgiveness—a demanding task if there ever was one. "This dog, to me, is the epitome of love and loyalty," Smith told the mag, "from the simple act of waiting with his master, for centuries." Luckily the song itself is less than three minutes long.

Meanwhile, at a Sunday night Los Angeles gig, divisive and follicularly gifted singer Lana Del Rey debuted a song called “Body Electric” as part of her 10-song set. Relying heavily on her vocals—which were nowhere as shaky as they were on her now notorious SNL performance—the song is a slow burn sure to please Del Rey’s fans, but ultimately unlikely to convert any holdouts.

Still, despite the Internet vitriol that’s plagued the former Lizzy Grant, her PJ Harvey-meets-Mazzy-Star seems to be working; she sold out three nights at the California venue and fans can be heard screaming for her throughout this live recording.