by Cindy J, February 1988
The first time I saw the Jesus and Mary Chain I was nineteen. It was the spring of 1986. I rode my motorcycle--I have a Honda Shadow--all the way to Los Angeles. But I stopped at a lot of different places on the way. I stopped in Carmel where it was Clint Eastwood mania everywhere. I think it was two or three days before the election. I got a "Clint for Mayor" button and put it on my leather jacket. I went into this one gallery and saw some photographs taken by Ruth Bernhard, who lives in San Francisco. She's eighty-two years old. She's kinda feisty like my friend Autumn. Her photos are mostly of women and she defines them with such grace and soul. She says she's interested in forms and shapes, but there's so much feeling expressed. At first her photography kind of scared me cause I could feel so much of the way she depicts a woman's vulnerabilty. It's hard to explain really. You just have to look at the pictures. After awhile I decided that what Ruth was doing was capturing a paradox. The woman's real mysteries remained hidden. Hidden within those beautiful shapes.
I thought about this a lot when I rode to L.A. I stayed with my sister, who lives in Sherman Oaks. The Mary Chain played on Easter Sunday in Santa Monica. I left late cause I wanted to stay at my sister's place and listen to Rodney interview them on KROQ. I like the way Jim Reid talks with that Scottish accent. When the interview was over I rode to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for the show. I usually don't go to shows by myself. My sister didn't want to come and Autumn and my boyfriend Billy couldn't make it. Besides, the band was going to be playing in San Francisco anyway. I told my boss I was going to go to L.A. for a few days to see the Jesus and Mary Chain and he said, ok Cindy, sure, take some time off. He lets me get away with practically anything. Billy thinks he has a crush on me. Autumn does too. But it was cool really, coming to the concert by myself--I actually wanted to take the whole trip by myself too. I just needed to think about some things, about Billy, about me.
The show was really dark, really strange and riveting. William Reid just crouched on the floor with his back to the audience, making cool waves of guitar noise. Jim's voice was so amazing, really biting. The drummer looked like Maureen Tucker, but he was a guy. Dark glasses. Primitive beats. Real Velvet Underground. Douglas, the bass player barely even moved. Everyone said they just made a lot of feedback noise to be snotty brats, which wasn't the way it was at all. The noise was twisted and bent and very personal. It created then relieved tension. William knew exactly what he was doing. His guitar sounds were his way of communicating his frustrations, his dark dreams. And Jim put that into words. The show was really short--maybe a half hour, but it was ragged and intense. I liked them a lot. Of course now with Darklands they've moved the sound into a whole new area and people still don't get it.
Afterwards I rode to Hollywood and saw some bikers on Hollywood Boulevard. They all had tattoos and Harleys and stuff. They laughed at my Honda Shadow, calling it a "rice burner," but they were nice really. One of them said I was a cool blonde on a toy bike, which made everyone laugh. I rode up and down Hollywood Boulevard with them for awhile, but I didn't tell Billy when I got back. He would've been pissed. When I left, two of them rode up along side me and said I could come ride with them anytime.
Later I rode on Mulholland Drive and got lost. I was up by this place that overlooked the city where lovers make out. I stopped my motorcycle, took off my helmet and just sat there for awhile, looking at the lights, thinking about stuff, thinking about me. I thought about my dark dreams, my frustrations, my own vulnerability. It's hard sometimes being with Billy--he wants so much. I felt pretty much the same way then as I do now. I have to fight for my independence, but I like being with him. I think maybe I just get scared of losing too much of myself, giving too much of myself away. One of the bikers said, "You're pretty tough for such a little thing." I don't know if I'm tough, but I have a very strong impression of myself and I don't ever want that to go away. I have to hide some things like the women in Ruth's photographs, but like them I can be feminine without being self-conscious about it. And I know I can deal with Billy, but sometimes I wonder how he deals with me. He must think I'm a terror. I put my helmet back on and started my "rice burner." Then I rode off to the Valley, to my sister's place, feeling like a cool blonde on a hot bike. Those Harleys are too mean and macho anyway.
February 1988, unpublished
The Jesus and Mary Chain's drummer in 1986 was Bobby Gillespie, who now fronts Primal Scream. Ruth Bernhard died in San Francisco in 2006 at the age of 101.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
by Cindy J, February 1988