Tag: Iris Berry

Reading: Jerry Stahl, DH Peligro, Jack Grisham, Iris Berry

k150_23SZDheel iconI’m a writer. It’s been my calling since I was a kid. For luck or talent, I’ve made a career of it, writing for major newspapers and blogging for corporations and for myself. I have a memoir that’s been in the works for as long as I can remember. Writing is hard and it’s always personal. Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” That’s why I always get so inspired when I go to readings by those I respect.  Recently, I attended a reading at Stories Books in Echo Park  where writing and punk rock collided.

Iris Berry
First up was  Iris Berry, one of LA’s iconic scenesters for her bands The Ringling Sisters and Lame Flames. Iris was always known as a rocker and a poet, her bands often working spoken word and jazz riffs into their songs. She’s now a publisher at Punk Hostage Press with an impressive roster of writers. For her reading, from her book “Daughters of Bastards,”* it felt like a slam poetry session, with guitar accompaniment from Fred Spigelman. Iris poured out the hard feelings, leaving the audience in awe of her honesty. Nice job.


DH Peligro
Next up, DH Peligro, long-time drummer for the punk band, The Dead Kennedys, read from his memoir, “Dreadnaught: King of Afropunk.”* But it felt less like a reading and more like just a night of hanging out. Peligro often lost his place while reading and just took off his glasses and told the stories from memory about his old punk days in San Francisco, about being too scared to go up to Joe Strummer and coming to LA on the advice of Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was like a night around the campfire with this talented writer/musician.


Jack Grisham
Jack Grisham, of the legendary SoCal band TSOL was up next and he was having a bad day, starting off his reading by proclaiming that pretty much everywhere he goes something bad happens, especially around the holidays. And boy did his book “Untamed”* have some stories! He admitted that though he writes about “fictional” characters, all of them have a little bit of himself in them. Clearly he’s had quite a life.  He said he felt a little unprepared for this reading, but the audience didn’t feel it. His stories and personality were so entertaining, you couldn’t help but want more.


Jerry Stahl
Last but certainly not least, was one of my favorite writers, Jerry Stahl, author of one of my all-time favorite books, “Permanent Midnight.”* Jerry may not be known for being in a punk band (he’s a very successful screenwriter) but he’s punk rock for sure. He read from his latest, “Happy Mutant Baby Pills,”*  stories of a guy who writes the side effect warnings for prescription drugs and ponders the lyrical appeal of the term, “anal leakage.” Even Jerry himself had to pause and tell the audience, “When you’re writing something at 3 a.m., you don’t imagine having to say it in front of a roomful of people!” This one is definitely going on my reading list!


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Photos by Kastle Waserman


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Tag: Iris Berry

Derby Dolls and All-Stars

k150_20heel iconA night with the Derby Dolls is always a knock-down good time.  These girls on wheels are tough, strong and gorgeous. I personally know a few Dolls myself and I’m in awe of their spirit and stamina! It’s not an easy sport – the girls skate at high speeds on an angled, “banked” rink (I can barely make it down a flat sidewalk on skates!) and work to block and knock each other to take out the other team’s “jammer” working to score points by passing opposing players.


On a recent Saturday night I headed down to the “Doll Factory,” a great big warehouse near downtown LA that features the rink, a vendor room and a stage for bands during intermission. On this particular night were two bands with some well-known musicians and icons of the LA’s rock legacy. First up Forty Volume, an all-girl band featuring Iris Berry, best known as the hottie scenester and creative writer in LA’s early ‘80s punk/ rock scene who sang in bands including The Ringling Sisters and the Lame Flames and lived at the infamous Disgraceland punk house. (She still looks amazing, by the way!) Backed by rock photographer/manager Dawn Laureen and Jill Guido, they busted out a few punk covers such as Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.”


Then it was time for some Doll action! It was the LA Ri-ettes in competition in with each other – half the team dressed in pink, half in black and pitted in fierce fighting for the win. What was great about this bout was the friendly competition, you could see them laughing and chatting with each other before they lined up to do some pounding. And what I loved was that great Doll spirit when one went down injured, they all dropped to the floor in camaraderie.

During intermission it was back over to the “Doll Mall” where venders were set up selling drinks, snacks, jewelry, knick-knacks and of course, Derby Dolls Merchandise. And a special treat tonight, The International Swingers took the stage. This all-star band features, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Gary Twinn (20 Flight Rockers) Clem Burke (Blondie) and James Stevenson (Gene Loves Jezebel, The Cult). Now you can’t say they did covers songs since most of the songs were from bands they’ve been in, mixed with a bit of Bowie and some originals as well. Twinn’s voice pulled off the range from Johnny Rotten to Debbie Harry, while they all kept the super-cool presence and awesome playing of seasoned rockers on stage.


Be sure to check out the Derby Dolls’ upcoming bouts held on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons. For the schedule and more info, visit their website: www.derbydolls.com


Go dolls!


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