My book “Sounds of Two Eyes Opening” hit the streets in November of 2014. Some of these images appear in that book, but many are unpublished photos that establish a new collection. It’s impossible to declare any as “definitive” of a particular era. This is simply what I lived, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Obvious historical perspectives can be mundane, and sights unseen are often more interesting.
Hermosa Beach was the “Under-Dog Town” on which the media rarely focused its cameras. In the early 1960s (thanks to the Jan & Dean song) it gained notoriety as “Surf City” but by the mid-1970s that connection was lost (even though most of the iconic surf shops were still there). Thankfully, the town’s post-bop jazz culture made it one of the staunchest holdouts of Beat sensibilities on the West Coast.
At the restless end of the 70s, the South Bay’s just as restless surf/skate/art/music counterculture was in flux and had no choice but to move forward from post-Vietnam War depression and Disco complacency, and to do so with no glamorous expectations. For better or worse, we plodded ahead not caring who the hell believed in us or who the hell didn’t.
These images are from a time when men were still stupid, women were still pretty, music was still making people do unthinkable things, skating on cement was still making folks wanna climb walls and fly, and a world of overlapping possibilities was still eluding the modern “experts” who thought they had some clever fix on what was really happening in life. But my grandmother—with the fewest words possible—taught me that the secret to life was to shut up, listen and pay attention to the stories happening all around us. It was just as valid to shut up, look, focus and let light hit film. No Hollywood scripts; no brass bands. Just an invocation of author John Steinbeck’s ideal of opening an eyeful of pages to let in an earful of tales.
Los Angeles, April 2020