Les, Drugs and Rock & RollSaturday, July 15, 2006
Before I moved with Rosemary, Ale and Hilary to Vancouver in 1975 my knowledge of rock and roll was limited to three acts, the Allman Brothers Band, The Beattles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. At the American high school in Mexico City where I had taught my students were appalled. One day they asked me if I had ever heard of Alice Cooper. They all sighed when I answered, "No, who's she?" So they gave me a copy of The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East and my introduction to rock and roll began. A "hip" Mexico City radio station ran a daily contest in which they played the Beattles and Creedence Clearwater Revival. At the end of the day listerners would vote in the "world's best band". Vancouver for me was definitely an innocent abroad situation. I knew no better. This was all corrected when I started working for Vancouver Magazine and was paired as the photographer to rock critic Les Wiseman's writing. He wrote his monthly In One Ear column in which he ( a snob of snobs) imposed his taste in rock & roll on innocents like me. Since I didn't know any better I learned well, and I too, was soon telling people, "If you feel that you have to listen to heavy metal there is only one band worth listening to and that's Motorhead." I just repeated what Wiseman had taught me. My daughters, who were becoming teenagers would say, "You mean you photographed Joan Jett today?" (top,left) They could not believe my good fortune. I tried to transfer my newly acquired wisdom on them and soon Hilary could recognize Johnny Thunders and Iggy Pop.
It was around the mid 80s that Les Wiseman and I decided to go to New York City to see if we could secure work with Rolling Stone. Both of us managed to show our stuff but in the end the editors of Rolling Stone (they all looked like Elvis Costello) told us that while they thought our work was excellent they were not interested in a story on Red Rider. The bad news did not prevent us from enjoying all the sites of the city including the Metropolitan, the Algonquin and the Guggenheim. But we also managed to see Johnny Thunders at CBGBs and Lou Reed at the Bottom Line. It was only years later through my daughters and now my granddaughter that I realized how lucky I was to be Wiseman's Lenso (that's what he called me) who always treated me as "my attorney". One place we did go to, for different reasons, was the Dakota. He went because of John Lennon and I went because of Jack Finney's 1970 novel Time and Again. And we took no drugs. My attorney always suggested beer.