Daily Archives: March 21, 2012

The Luncheon Society/Rock and Roll Groupie Queens Pamela Des Barres and Catherine James discuss “Let’s Spend the Night Together”/LA—Napa Valley Grille January 31, 2012/SF–Fior d’Italia April 18, 2012

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Being present at the creation has its own rewards. Thankfully, Pamela Des Barres had the presence of mind to write everything down. Long before she became “The Queen of the Rock and Roll Groupies” and hung out with Whisky-a-Go-Go house bands that soon became household names, Pamela Des Barres was a compulsive diarist who filled up notebooks and pined about the musicians she idolized.

She desperately wanted to meet them. And she did.

Joining us in Los Angeles, Pamela Des Barres and her close friend Catherine James gave us the inside view of a rock and roll courtesan (Des Barres prefers the term groupie) during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when we let our hair grow, loosened our conventions, and rock and roll simply ruled. It was a life lived out-loud and it took place in London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and all parts in-between.

How it began for Pamela. A high school friend of Pamela’s was the cousin of Captain Beefheart, who along with Frank Zappa, influenced a generation of musicians during the 1960’s. Pamela eventually went to work for the Zappa family as their nanny before founding The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously), which served as an opening act for Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. The GTOs were young women who hung out on The Sunset Strip and were very much part of the scene. Within the space of a couple of years, she had gone from fantasizing about popular music to being in the eye of the hurricane. She remained somewhat anonymous to those outside of the LA music scene until she published I’m with the Band in 1986. It was an immediate best-seller and she followed up with two other memoirs, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart, and “Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon.”

Catherine James emerged from a difficult childhood. She was abandoned by both parents but after a chance meeting with a young Bob Dylan, who said that “it was her life, her gift, and she did not have to follow anybody’s rules.” She escaped from the orphanage and made her way to Greenwich Village. She was 15. By 19, she had a son with Denny Laine of the Moody Blues and later with Paul McCartney’s Wings, lived with Mick Jagger in London, modeled for Wilhelmina, and found herself in Andy Warhol’s crowd. When she doubled for Diane Keaton on a number of her films, the actress encouraged her to write and Catherine published “Dandelion the Memoir of a Free Spirit” in 2007. Continue reading

The Luncheon Society/Thomas Frank and his book “Pity the Billionaire/San Francisco—Fior D’Italia/ January 26, 2012

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After a two year absence, Thomas Frank rejoined The Luncheon Society in San Francisco to discuss his latest book, “Pity the Billionaire, The Hard Time Swindle and the Unlikely comeback of the Right.” 

Called “The Thinking Man’s Michael Moore” by Michael Kinsley and the author of What’s  the Matter with Kansas and The-Wrecking-Crew , Frank took us through the deregulatory environment that turned a blind eye to the housing bubble that finally burst in 2008, only weeks before the national election.  This started the long chain of events that became The Great Recession, the biggest economic mess since the Herbert Hoover gave us The Great Depression.

However, the big surprise came in the spring of 2009, when the Tea Party movement purged their moderates and demanded a return, with a sense of amnesiac incredulity, to the same circumstances that led to the “Train Wreck of 2008.”

It would be, as Frank describes, “as if the public had demanded dozens of new nuclear power plants in the days after the Three Mile Island disaster.”

 

On NPR, Franked continued, “The central paradox of our time is that we’ve just come through this extraordinary financial collapse. We know that this was almost directly the result of 30 years of bank deregulation and of all the sort of financial experimentation that our government encouraged. This disaster was caused by this ideology.”

And what the Tea Party movement and what the conservative revival generally is telling us to do,” Frank notes, “is instead of reversing course, instead of going back and saying, OK, maybe we should have a well-funded Securities Exchange Commission. Maybe we should go back and break up the too-big-to-fail banks.”

He concludes, “What they’re saying is, no, no. Get government out of the picture altogether. We need not to reverse course. We need to double down on that ideology that we’ve been following all these years. Only when we get to that sort of pure state of complete free markets, then our problems will be solved. And until that day, none of this stuff matters.” Continue reading