The Star of the Show

Moi?  Pretentious

One of my ways of expressing my views on life is that we are all the stars of our own intergalactic TV show. Since I am the auteur of this memoir, I can claim that title, just as you can claim to be the star of your own show. And your friends can be your co-stars, and the situations you can get into can be comedies or tragedies. Here I am giving a pair of the eye donkers (poking my fingers in the eyes) to Dr. Tung Jeong's Russian Lion hologram in a picture that ran in an article in the Chicago Reader, a free weekly, in the Fall of 1980.

At the time that I first encountered the very strange cast of characters at Gallery 1134 I was teaching math at a Catholic grade school in the city of Chicago during the day and teaching suburbanites what all the buttons on their latest consumer item, 35mm film cameras. I discovered holography at a photo teachers' convention thanks to Dr. Tung Jeong, who made two holgrams in front of a group of people in a darkened room. That, along with seeng Devo on Struday Night Live later that day wasThe Day That Changed My Life.

The first time I went to Gallery 1134 I was shown around by a guy named Kevin Houtari.  Short, fat, greasy, he was wearing a little pin that had Laser Radiation Officer or something like that.  Since it was so early on in my career, I thought that you had to have license to lase or something like that, and he was laser qualified.  Anyhow he did a good job of explaining, at least it held together with what little I knew, except that it stuck in my mind that when he talked about Dichromates he said they were 100% blazed, but they are actually phase volume gratings in the little pendants, not surface relief.

By the time I started taking classes, he vas gone.  He surfaced later as pad of the Stare Magazine crowd, in fact he was one of the "Four Kevins" featured in the "Seven lnch" issue of Stare .  He told me that he just couldn't take Bob, and John said that Bob did take a special delight in torturing him.  lt seems that when Bob figures out that someone is smarter than him (80% of the population) then he starts bullying them.

The first time I went there was shortly after witnessing Tug Jeong make 2 holograms in front of a group of photo teachers at an SPE convention.  I was shown around by Kevin Houtari, who later had a nervous breakdown due to Bob Billing's badgering.

I started taking classes there in the summer of 1979, and helped them set up an exhibit at Navy Pier during an annual city celebration called ChicagoFest.  I got to see one of my favorite bands there, Sun Ra and his Arkestra, and even sold them a hologram of his home planet, Saturn.

This class, the Fall of 1979, had an all-star cast.  Of course, the Far-Out Research Players featuring Johnny H. and Victor Heredia, with special cameo shots by Loren and guest grouch Bob.  Continuing over from Holo I was the lovely Melissa, who was of course the heart-throb of everyone by default, plus a trio of brand new wackos. 

First there was James E. MacShane, a dwarf, as it turns out, with a heart of gold but no brains.  But we didn't know that yet.  He was a lovable kook, in the same league as Loren, a grade school art teacher who knew what kinds of things to say to sound contemporarily liberal and sort of hip.  He was also known as the "Man with the Cartoon Voice", as he was barely five feet and talked like an aged Munchkin.  To add to his kookiness, he waxed his moustaches so that they curled 360 degrees plus at the ends.  They would probably get unwound if he got zapped by a laser power supply.

Serge Honinow was the most adventurous.  He would fly in from New Jersey, come in for the class, and then hitchhike back home right after class, because he could sell the return ticket and make a profit on account of some crazy airfare wars.  Although he had a French first name, his parents were Mongolian, but had settled in France before arriving in the states. 

While killing time one day before the holo class, he decided to take a nap on the steps of the school's door.  He had the misfortune of being rousted by none other than Bob, who caught him on the way home from his job.

And thirdly was the man who would become the Lasersmith, Steve Smith.  Actually this was not the first time our paths crossed, as he had been the jerk who was re-explaining everything that TJ said on the "Day that Changed My Life" demonstration to the hapless soul unfortunate enough to be standing next to him. So at that point he had only taken the Holo I class there, (or perhaps he had placed into the class based on having been in TJ's LFC workshop,) but tried to look like an expert.

There were a couple of other guys in there, but they remain faceless and nameless. They dropped out after a while, I guess having figured out that it was a dead end street, leaving the rest of us stuck with this silly affliction.

I don't remember exactly what we did in that class, when I taught it we did reflection and transmission processing tests, and focussed image through a lens.  I remember when we did it in class, if we could cajole Johnny H out of the basement and have him troubleshoot the set up he would say, "Conjugate your reference beams better!" or some such nonsense.  But it wasn't too hard to coax him out for a few drinks afterwards.

We would go to this cool punk club, O'Banion's, named after the gangster who got the jillion flowers funeral, reputedly the hangout of homos, but there still were plenty of woman dancing in the back, even though the front of the place looked like a normal bar with people in suits even drinking there.  MacShane even came there once or twice, saying that his fourth graders could do a better job referring to the ransom note cut up signs announcing events that were so popular back then. 
This is the place that had the tunes way back when; the source of all the good bands, where I had no idea of who the records were by or where even to buy them.  The Buzzcocks, Generation X, (I remember Steve Smith "Dancing With Himself" under a strobe light to them), The Damned, I remember requesting some Devo and the DJ shut me down, nevertheless this was one of the all-time great places in a great time and era.

And always at the end of the evening pining for the wonderful Melissa C.  Would I ever get to know what she looked like naked?  Would we, could we, become a holographic power couple?

We had to wait a semester or two before there were enough people enrolled to run a Holo III class.  It was announced that instead of once a week classes there would be two nights back to back, mainly to accommodate Melissa who had announced that she would be getting married to the guy she was living with and moving with him to Portland, Oregon where he would be an intern.  So of course this was the most depressing news to me since I had found out that she was living with a med student but still liked me and if it weren't for Him...

So anyhow this was to be the most holographic holography class, since we were going to use 15 mW polarized Spectra-Physics He-Ne's, and glass plates!  Oh Boy!  We were missing Serge, MacShane, and Steve Smith, since it was too hard for Serge to make it, MacShane somehow on purpose slipped through the cracks, and Steve Smith was public enemy #1 with his traitorous talk of his Holographic Co-operative. 

So it was me and Melissa at one table joined by a guy from Wisconsin whose name I can't remember, and a stained glass artist type from Rogers' Park with a ponytail down to his ass, Rich Walthers, who later turned up as a, you guessed it, software salesman.  At the other concrete table, which used bootlegged Newport gravity bases, (they bought one, had a sand mold made from it, and cast many more), was one Douglas Tyler, plus three other women, (I say that because my first impression was that he was kinda femmy), that Galloway Gal, Mary Jane, her friend who was married to Jim Jensen, head of the Art Department of Loyola, and another girl whose name I forget but she had a house on Lakewood in Edgewater and although was threatening to set up a lab there, I doubt it if she ever did.

The first project was to make a transmission master to make a reflection copy followed by a rainbow copy.  And of course, I was pining away for Melissa as we did all this, object making, holographing, and still going out to O'Banion's or Tut's, Doug Tyler only drinking Coke for the long drive back to Michigan. 

Finally, about a week before the last day of class, the Wednesday before she was to be married (for the second time!) on that Saturday, Melissa gave it up as the Puerto Ricans would say.  It wasn't as long as I would've liked it, but there was nothing extraordinary about it, except maybe for the huge amounts of twisted emotions.  And a very nasty cockburn which lasted about a week, (so it couldn't have been all that dull), probably the beginning of my Herpetic infections.  I recall using mercury vapor streetlights to replay our rainbow holograms, and we both noted the deep violet image, separated from the rest of the slits of the mercury's spectrum, and I wished that a woman so perceptive would be more receptive to me.

But she went through with her plans, and I got a postcard from her en route to Portland, of Mount St. Helens, whose "Plume was in bloom" according to Melissa's note on the reverse side of the picture.

I left my gig at the Catholic grade school to work at Gallery 1134 in June of 1980. That summer I was not paid by them, donating my time as a sort of probationary period. Only then was I deemed worthy to participate in the CETA Scam.

There was no privacy in the office; for example,

Years later, when he was working down the street from me at Gallery 1134 at Follett's publishing, he would call up for a chat, but if Loren intercepted the call he would leave the message with the name Professor Yaheel of the Chicago Film Buff Society.
Loren would monitor our calls.  One time me and Don were comparing notes about the book, The Right Stuff and we were reliving the last part of the book where Yeager had to ditch an experimental F-104, and all kinds of thing happened to him like bonking his beezer noggin or the elevators which sit on the top of the rudder in this plane, and burning half his face off, so that when her had safely parachuted down from all this the first person he met took one look at him and promptly blew chunks, and looking on Lorens' desk I saw on her notepad, all the salient points of Yeager's misadventures that she had jotted down while we were talking.

The Right Stuff, Tom Wolf

John had this thing for Tang.  He would drink that and coffee all day long.

Victor Morales asking if something had died after I took a shit in the office bathroom.

John sending flaming paper under the door.  

Loren telling TJ I was a good teacher! That's how I ended up being asked to join his staff at the International Symposia.

Quitting the first time and then going to Mardi Gras.

The best use of my time there was in whipping the sandbox holography labs into shape with a comprehensive curriculum and classroom handouts. The complete set is here, done in the days before Illustrator and PhotoShop, by typing the text and cutting and pasting it down onto a piece of paper.

They used those same handouts all through the ages, and not a single one of the teachers who succeeded me ever wondered where they came from.

When I left Gallery 1134, Loren was so mad that she kept slamming her fist down on John's Desk, screaming "This place will succeed in spite of me!"

I had bought Kevin Moore's 1977 Suzuki 550, a nice bland bike, the Chevy Biscayne of the motorcycle world, and decided to travel.  My first stop was at Harold and Annie's in Champaign, and stayed there a coupla days and had the usual great time, smoking, eating, and loafing.

Then I headed to Louisville and got the worst sunburn ever, stayed there a couple of days, long enough to witness Donny Jackson go nuts.

On to Jackson, Miss, to the Rass's, and had to play basketball.

On the way back I stopped off again at the Libo's, I was so excited about NY and finding out the truth about holographers and that Loren and Bob and John were but hemorrhoids on the butt of it and how  happy I was to be involved in it, etc., ad nauseam.  But to puncuture my exuberance I then had to teach at Cicero School for the second worst year of my life. 

I had bought a Suzuki 550 from Jay's brother-in-law, Kevin Moore.  This bike was nice and plain, 550 cc with dual overhead cams, which sounds exciting for a car but really makes it the Chevy Biscayne of the motorcycle world, and decided to travel. My first stop was at Harold and Annie's in Champaign, and stayed there a coupla days.

The year after the first ISDH I was hanging out at the Smith and Cvetkovich lab with Tom, and I decided to plant some LFC Holo Workshop brochures on the windshield of the cars parked around Gallery 1134.  Tom and I were sitting outside behind their lab and we saw a figure run out and take all the brochures off the cars and rip them up in rage and throw them into one of their tree pots.  It was joined soon by the all too familiar figure of the devil himself, Bob.

The figure had to have been Loren from the actions and the way she moved; from a distance we couldn't see the features distinctly, but could tell that the pigtails were missing.  Later I found out that this was the Loren of the dyed blonde bowl cut hairdo incarnation, which is still the way she is.  So anyhow the students didn't get their LFC propaganda.

The following week, I personally gave a coupla students LFC brochures and some invitations to the Great Party at Victor Heredia's.  I remember one guy who was a bushy‑bearded hippie type and they must have been doing Single Beam Reflections that night because he had an espresso maker, the stove top kind, an object I had wanted to holograph back then.  But I guess that they must've snitched, and that prompted Bob to write the letter (enclose as an appendix) to the President of LFC.

When TJ told me of the letter, I immediately asked him if that hurt his job.  He said no, but dear old Mrs. Crist drafted the reply that is also in the appendix.

The first time I tried to go back in there after I quit was either 1983 or 1984.  I was working at Magnaflux at the time, and the nerd who was the go‑fer for the Magnaflux Physics department got the impression from a newspaper article that Dieter Jung could magically wave his laser paint brush in the air and holographically the color would stay there, hovering in the air.  I remember driving my motorcycle over, the same one I had bought when I had worked there.  They had a Dieter Jung show that was traveling the country thanks to the Goethe lnstitute, and I wanted to review it for holosphere.  So I parked the bike, and when Loren came to the door, she told me that she wouldn't let me in because of what I had been writing about them.  I did write a letter complaining about them (with kudos of course to the fabulous 1982 lSDH show at LFC) to the local art mag, the New Art Enquirer.   (This is a good footnote; bother to check it out!)  I mentioned that they had a show up but that all the pieces were by anonymous artists, since they had the titles posted and the point of origin, but no artists' names.  So she wouldn't let me in because of that.

So I thought.  But it was probably the letter I had written to the Richard M. Daley Campaign Headquarters when he ran (unsuccessfully, I might add and got that fucking stupid Harold Washington in!) in 1983.  When Daley officially threw his hat in the ring, I saw, lurking in the shadows of the entourage on the TV News one Bob Billings.  I wrote a letter to the HQ stating that although I am a South Sider by birth, and respect the Daley family name, I would never vote for him because he has Robert "Bob" W. Billings working for him, the crookedest person I have ever met in my life.

Supposedly my letter caused Bob to be fired from whatever position he had with the organization, probably public relations.  Like Bob could ever relate to anyone.  They knew I wrote the letter, of which I unfortunately did not keep a copy, but I was amazed to hear the result, although it was information conveyed to me by Hans Bjelkhagen, who is a reliable source.  But he this fed to him by Loren and John, who have a tendency to exagerate things, especially since they wanted to paint a picture of why I was Public Enemy #3, after Smith and TJ.  Nevertheless, they were aware of the letter, and that is satisfaction enough.

The second time I tried to get in there I was with Susan Dee, a girl I picked up at a "Sounds of Sinatra" party hosted by Mike Zgoda.  The idea of the party was to sit around and chat and eat delivered Chinese food while listening to a radio show that played nothing but 0l' Blue‑Eyes' hits for three hours.  It was pretty conceptual, but it got me laid.

So she was fucking me because she couldn't sleep at nights and her therapist told her that having sex and cuddling up with someone would get her to sleep.  I don't know about her, but it worked for me. 

She was a Jewish American Princess, worked for MacDonald's as an interior decorating type, (although her own place was a mess, using cardboard boxes for tables, etc.).  A consummate Yuppie, one time when we were driving over to my house I let her sit through an entire green light at a not so busy intersection while she admired her perfectly red manicured nails that matched her Mazda RX-7.

But she was somehow interested in holography, even got me and Larry Z. to give a presentation at the Headquaders in Oak Brook, what for I don't even know, they were involved with TJ as a consultant with Shit and Sackoshit making holograms for them already (although they refused to take some embossed ones that they had run!) and I guess even Hans or Gary Lawrence tried to horn in on them too.  That's why we ended up at Gallery 1134 on a Sunday about 15 minutes before closing.  Maybe they weren't taking any more for the day because they had made enough money, or they saw who was coming, and they didn't answer the bell.  So I didn't see the wonderful Chicago Museum of Holography as they started calling themselves at that time.

I did finally get into the joint in the Fall of 1990, when Nancy Gorglione had her show there.  Nancy naively mentioned to Loren that she should invite the local holographers, and Loren roared "Anyone but Ed Wesly or Steve Smith!  What a nice club to be in!  But through Nancy's persistence, we were grudgingly allowed to enter the friendly confines of the former Rudolph Casket Company.

.Actually the New Art Examiner, and I have it still.  I met the guy who publishes the thing, Derek Guthrie, at the "House of Beauty" opening.  This English jerk got me pissed off because he was appalled at how rectilinear Chicago was, with streets at right angles and buildings perpendicular to that, and it showed up in the artists here.  So this limey blimp was moving with his girlfriend, (who was nothing to write home about herself), the managing editor of the rag, to Washington D.C. , which was infinitely cooler with the way it was laid out (by some faggy countryman of his, I think), and the peoples' attitudes there. 

Unfortunately I didn't make a carbon copy of it on my trusty old typewriter. But I can fake it!


Laser red, white letters

Here is a picture of a device I had made while working in my last few days at Gallery 1134. There was a need to develop meter square pieces of holography film for a commission that Johnny H was working on, so I came up with this alternative to making huge tays to process the film in, based on a darkroom gadget for processing color photographic paper.

The story behind this piece of equipment was one fo the last straws in my getting the hell out of Dodge. Not only could I not let Victor Heredia know I was working on it, I could only worki on it after he had left for the day, so I had to sit all day at my desk in the office writing grant proposals or classroom handouts, and only wheel this thing out after he had left fro the day. But to add insultto injury, I was not allowed to see John's tabe set up

I found about a show that was there from two of the artists, Mary Harman, and Charley Lysogorski. Mary was dropping off pieces for the ISDH '91 at LFC, and then she was going down to Gallery 1134 to drop off pieces.  Charley called from Ann Arbor to tell me that he was in it too, and we arranged to have dinner after the opening. 

So I called up the usual bunch of friends and students to arrange a rendezvous there, even Steve Smith since it would be fun to see him in the hallowed halls of the Chicago Museum of Holography since the doors had been opened by the Nancy Gorglione show.  After all, I had been anointed the peacemaker for the holographic wars in town by Rudy Guzik, the director of the local chapter of SPIE.  It could have been nice if we all went out for dinner together.

When I got to the ranch to pick up Georgette, she was upset because one of her earrings had broken.  She felt that something bad was in the air, and it was a night of the full moon.  I myself told her that if Lysogorski would rather go out to eat with Loren and that bunch instead of going out with us that would be fine, since I was tired and had an upset stomach and a headache to boot.  But we got there late, at about 7:30, so that we wouldn't be there an uncomfortably long time.

We followed Alan Frolichstein to the door, who was arguing with his wife or girlfriend.  We got in to see that the crowd was small, but were greeted by Steve Moore who had been there for a while.  Rick Bruck was there too, arriving a few minutes before us.  I saw Loren in one of the dark corners of the gallery as we walked in, but didn't see her after that, figuring it would be best to avoid any confrontations.  So we checked out the show, which had in addition to the other two artists mentioned above were some classic Rudies, a few new Mike Medoras, and some Bob Connollys, one of which, "Post‑War Centaur", was cracked.  It actually was not a bad show, kind of what I was looking for 12‑13 years ago when I first
got into the business.

Talking to Steve Moore there, he said when he had arrived at about quarter to seven that cops were leaving as he stepped into the place.  We were trying to figure out why, like maybe someone had taken a swing at the Connolly piece in a heated debate over its merits or something.  Maybe they were just the guys on the beat checking in for their pay‑offs.

When we decided to leave, Loren appeared at the entrance, and started talking to us, saying that she heard that I was teaching at the 'Tute, and we had a somewhat rational conversation, introducing her to Georgette and blowing her cover if she ever tried to take classes there, as she has threatened to do but not with my money.  Loren thought that she had never met her, but was reminded that they did meet at Nancy Gorglione's show, which Loren thought was two or three years ago but was only eight months beforehand.  And I even complimented her on how nice the place looked, and in general thought that well, maybe a leopard could change its spots.  Bob seemed to come out of nowhere, conspicuously absent all this time.  But it figured that he would hide and wait until it's all over just to turn all the lights off on anybody that wanted that
one last look.  He even sheepishly said hi to me, the guy who I've been waiting to give the finger to for all these years.  I did, only the finger was behind the back.  So the five of us took off to an Italian restaurant, and we had an enjoyable dinner, the best time I had in a long time.  We sat at a table for six, and I jokingly said that the empty chair belonged to the Lasersmith, and that set the tone for the evening, everybody joking about him.  But I was so surprised by Loren's behavior, and I told those guys that maybe she was turning over a new leaf.

But the chair really belonged to Matt Schreiber, my trusty grad student, but he couldn't make it because he was involved in the

Here is what happened, according to Matt: he got there at about six or so, and was going to wait for everybody else.  He had brought a friend, one of the students from Columbia College he had met when he was living in the Herman Crown Center, a kind of generic dorm for students of the two schools above and Roosevelt University.  So they were playing with one of those "snap bracelets", a piece of spring metal coated with plastic and decorated with embossed gratings, so that when you slap your wrist with it wraps around the arm.  Being of an inquisitive nature, they wanted to find out what happens when it is dropped on the floor; will it wrap, or bounce?

While they were running this experiment of Newtonian importance, they were sighted by Bob, who blew a gasket.  "Are you guys gonna buy that?" he bellowed.  At first they thought they he was just play yelling at them, as who could really get upset over the dropping of a fifty cent trinket?

Well, Bob could.  All that piss and vinegar built up inside of him just had to boil out, and so he physically ejected them, kicking them in their asses all the way down the stairs and out the door.  But that wasn't enough; the guys thought, well, OK, we're out of here, we won't go in again, we'll just wait for Ed outside, but it was not over, as Bob got into a fighting chubby, and then proceeded to throw the first punch.  Since Matt Schrieber is just five foot four, Bob had the advantage over him, but with the help of his friend, they got Bob down on the ground, telling him to chill out.  Matt spat in his face, and they broke it up.  They got to their car, and as they were leaving the scene they got pulled over by the cops.

They were taken to the station, where they met Bob.  He wanted to press charges, and so did they.  The cops were going to let them all go, but then I guess Loren showed up and backed up Bob's story, and Matt and his friend got booked!  Fingerprints, mug shots, the works!  Plus a place to sleep, courtesy of the Chicago Police Department!

Matt felt bad vibes about the whole thing, even before he left from the school.  He had heard horror stories from myself and Larry Lieberman, whom he had worked for, and he felt like some disaster was about to befall him.  He had never been there before, but the insane karma of the joint got him, a totally innocent person.  And his friend, not even connected with holography at all, a person Matt had met here in Chicago, now has an arrest record for the stupidest reason in the world.

Hans Bjelkhagen was pasing through town the summer of 20006, and he cajoled me into visitng Gallery 1134.

Last week I had seen some signs on the door of the old 1134-hole.  Today I checked out the directions to use the buzzer on the side door, the old school entrance.

I talked to a guy named Hayden Connor, who took over the place late last year for his business, Worldwide Music Services, no web site on his card.  He was pissed that Terry took all the holograms, illegally, as he said that he bought the place on a short sale from the bank as is.  This explains why Terry never got back to Victor and I last year about packing the holograms up for Jonathan Ross/Teit Reitzau's European exhibit!

He said they broke up the concrete tables on the first and second floor, as he is doing a sheet music publishing business.  He said that there were sill lasers and tables in the basement, and would give me a Cook's Tour when he had the time, and was eager to hear stories of the past.

It would have been nice to take pictures of the demolition of the tables, but Terry kept us out of the loop, understandably, since he is probably as devious as his mother and step-father!

Plenty to discuss next time any of us meet up or phone call!  Today I've got classes from 1:00 PM to 9:30 PM, but I will be available off and on this weekend!