From Aural Innovations #11 (July 2000)
Hopping on the action bicycle I started out toward town angling in the direction Of Sandy Boulevard. I needed to case the last club, EJ's. See where it was situated and time the path to Burnside and the first club-- Berbati's Pan. This allowed me to also case car lots for future Action Man transportation upgrades. I was eying small station wagons. The bicycle could fit easily in back and function as a lifeboat for when the Titanic goes under. Yes... fast access for emergency departures. I could suddenly leap in the back while the wagon races down the highway. Fling open the back door... mount the bicycle and abandon ship. People tailing you really hate this sort of thing!
I crossed the Burnside bridge... walked bike on sidewalk near the skid row zone and angled over to Berbati's pan... Hmm, 20 minutes. Yeah, no problem for Action Man. It's be a piece of cake-- Upside down cake.
I spotted the rails to lock bikes to just in back. A lovely view of a conga line of homeless people queued up at a building with sign proclaiming SALVATION. Hmm, a combination bread and breakfast line for the needy. With many earthy looking characters lined up for the night.
Thinking it over... I rode up to Powell's books and chained up bike there. Walked back and caught Max home and prepared for the night. Ate. Bathed. Selected the night attire. All black clothes with a blue levi jacket. 3 rolls of 800ASA film in left pants pocked. One roll 1600ASA in right pants pocked. The flash light in levi jacket inner left pocket. Note book in top left jacket pocket with pen.
I arrived down town. Walked to Powell's. Unlocked bike and rode toward Berbati's Pan down Burnside. Stopped at a red light where two policemen where questioning a suspect. I hadn't attached the flashlight to bike. I was riding in stealth mode. Oh-oh. And here where the boys in blue. I would shield my thought of concern and act as if I was too good for lights. This worked. They ignored my failure to follow night time rules.
Had this Been England the titheads would be on me in a flash and writing me a ticket. Titheads was the affectionate term a few of my mates had for the men in Black. The police constables. This was probably due to the fact that they wore tallish helmets on their heads with a bright silver cap on the top of the helmets. The term also served as a slur or opinion of the intelligence residing under the helmet. Unless of course you actually needed their help and then it was all politeness and respect. and they then achieved a much higher level of appreciation. Ah, the delicate balance of life!
I locked bike behind the club and entered waving a twenty. The guy at the register said they were not ready for money yet. Just go on in and mingle. Apparently my guarding angel and invisible part-time financial adviser had followed me in. Something has to watch over Action man and keep him out of too much trouble. But keeping Action Man on the straight and narrow? Well, let's just say - I got him working overtime.
I mingled. Spoke with Helio Sequence. They spotted me soon as I came in. I mentioned I had taken photos of them last show here with King Black Acid. They remembered this. In fact Denny had given them a subscription to Aural Innovations. They asked about it and I filled them in. Told them I had sent photos of them to Jerry Kranitz and the local writeup about there band and that Jerry liked their music.
Denny showed up and was pleased I went to the effort to be at two places in the same night to photograph the bands. "GOOD EFFORT!" He planned to give Helio Sequence a set of my photos after the show.
I shot a roll and a half of them... doing close or full shots of the lead singer. Then I dashed off saying I'd see Denny at the next club. Action Man was out the door... on the bike and zooming across the burnside bridge. Flashlight in his jacket still unused.
I arrived in record speed. Chained up the bicyle and paid the $7 cover charge. Walked into the EJ's and spotted Daniel Riddle, Mr. King Black Acid himself. He asked me about the Hawkwind reunion and who all would show up. Would Lemmy show up?
I told daniel that I thought Lemmy would and he would probably turn up at a few of the shows. Nik Turner would also turn up at a few of the shows. I told him that I think Harvey is the only one that would be following the full tour.
Daniel told me that they will be mixing this week and the EP should be done soon. he would give me a copy or two when it's ready. He said he like the 1600ASA photos. some looked almost psychedelic with the way the light looked so odd. This amazed me. I didn't care for this roll of film much. I Thought it looked bad. It could have been much better.
I asked Daniel about the lighting here. He said it is fixed. Glancing at the stage I saw the band playing covered in deep red. Daniel said, "It was too dark... we put up christmas lights and we'll use the swirlers."
Looking back I saw a string of small blue christmas lights and a string of white christmas lights. The back wall was painted like a passage in a catacomn. Atmospheric to say the least. I would experience this first hand very soon.
As King Black Acid set up the crowd moved forward packing close to the stage area. Very close to the stage area. This meant I would be in tight... close enough to touch the band... close enough to get trampled. Denny joined up and spoke to Dan then talked with me. He said "You're building up quite a portfolio!"
I recognized a few faces as the normal KBA attendees. A guy dressed all in black leaning on a black cane. His jacket was crushed velvet. Around the collar drapping down the sides was a shiny black tinsel boa. He was sombre and walked with a limp. Almost dapper in his appearance.
A cheerful, smiling blonde was down front cheering on the band. Down over by where sarah was setting up to play. The swirlers were set up. Small, squat light fixtures that rotate the beams like a lawn sprinkler. Four of these were spaced out around the floor.
King Black Acid kicked into action and Action Man struck the pose. Crouched on the floor capturing a worms eye view of Daniel, Sarah, and Eric. I felt light in my lungs as a result of an earlier mishap with the previous band....
I went down front to check out the band before King Black Acid and took a test photo to see how it felt. Then I spotted a bubble machine. Wow. What would it look like to be in the flow? Hmm, well... Have you ever been force fed Lawrence Welk Bubbles? I was under attack... gobbling up bubbles and choking on them. The floor in front of the machine was turning into a bubble wonderland.... a carpet of sparkling silver soapy moss was growing like a wild sci fi monster from the 50's... THE BLOB. My leg fell asleep in my crouched position as I slid it through the slime of silvery bubbles... dragging my limp right leg behind me as I tried to escape. I felt like king Lear sent to do a photo- shoot.
I retreated to a column where a fellow was watching me with a smile. He was amused at my attempt at art. I was coughing. I felt light headed. I knew where the bubbles had gone. A bee line straight to the lungs and brain. My thoughts were sparkling clean! I learned something-- stay out of the bubble stream!
I was crouched on floor at Daniel's feet... my legs having fallen asleep... I was crawling across the floor. I was in my own. A space on the floor... the band playing cosmically at my right... the audience standing to my left... columns of happy legs and feet moving to the music. The Blonde's smile was very wide as she glanced down to watch me try to moved to a new location. Crawling. Sometimes reaching out and clutching the edge of the stage. The altitude of the stage above the floor was less than a foot in total altitude. And I was at the former BUBBLE ZONE... a slippery mass of tile. This for some reason was BABE ALLEY... and they were not fazed in the least to watch Action Man doing an Earth worm ritual at their feet. In fact it seamed to add to the atmosphere of the show.
When I did regain use of my legs and walked back and forth... one woman tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the next spot I should take photos from. I did this and she later whispered in my ear "If you need to get by me just let me know." Wow, an audience that wants to help you take photos.
When my third roll of the night was finished... I snapped close my camera case and enjoyed the last song "BUTTERFLY BOMBER". Tahoe came up from the audience and got on stage to add her stylistic blues singing to the mix.
The Audience responded with a more fevered pitch in their swaying to the music and rocking in place. It was another classic King Black Acid evening.
I left the club at 2:30 after talking with various people. My bicycle was covered in dew. The air smelled of fog. The street was deserted. Only a single creature was stirring -- ACTION MAN.
While the city slept the sleep of transient dreams, Action Man rode for an hour East and to sleep before the dawn.
At this very moment Action Man is Downtown. Italian shoes clicking off his steps. An attache case swings at his side. Black slacks. Shirt and tie. He is eying a sky scraper where the KATU news helicopter is parked. He is armed and ready. Should the News helicopter take flight and case him down the streets of Portland he is confident that the sky will erupt in a shower of confetti... and the copter will not be able to stop Action Man.
He slowly walks to the Oak Max station and hears a thumping sound overhead. The KATU helicopter swings into view from behind a nearby building. It's lights winking in the night sky. Action Man watches it sail off in a long pivot across the headstones of skyscrapers-- vanishing into the night.