Last Thursday, I went to Arcana Books in Culver City to get the new book by Glen E. Friedman and have it signed. If there’s such thing as a role model, it’s GEF. Not only is he a kickass photographer who captures and pushes subculture that matters to me (Dogtown skateboarding, the rise of hardcore punk in L.A. and New York City, the Golden Age of Hip Hop) but he also works strictly according to his own tastes and always on his own terms.
I’ve had the outspoken vegan peace activist sign books before–and even got to run some of his photos in GR–but that was before I was a dad. This time I had my daughter Eloise present to join in a photo with the man. Earlier in the day, I showed her some of GEF’s photos of people that she’s met or seen in concert: Tony Brandenburg, Chuck Dukowski, Keith Morris, Milo Auckerman. Pretty rad that she’s starting to get where he’s coming from at the age of 6.
The book is by far GEF’s largest and nicest volume yet. Many of the images were previously included in his previous collections but in My Rules they are not only enlarged but color balanced. The images’ details pop extra hard and there is no sacrifice in punch. There are plenty of lengthy new essays, too, by heavy hitters including the aforementioned Tony and Chuck, not to mention Ian Mackaye, Ice T, Tony Alva, and many of the the other usual suspects. I also appreciate how the binding is quilted instead of having a dust jacket that will inevitably get mangled. (More details comparing the books on my Imprint blog.)
GEF’s homies always seem to come out to support his signings, and they always gladly sign their pages. Jeff Ho, Jim Muir, C.R. Stecyk–serious legends of Dogtown. Eloise was getting hungry so we had to miss the video with GEF and Ian Mackaye and subsequent Q&A (and I think Dukowski) but there’s a fine line between being a rad dad and a lame one, and I never want to cross it.
It was also awesome to see so many friends. We carpooled with my friend/filmmaker/photographer Wing Ko and met up with our mutual pal Eric Matthies. Matthies helped shoot and screen the video that showed at the bookstore. And the first guy we saw was Dave Naz, another art photographer with roots in L.A. punk. More on Naz and his upcoming art show at Coagula soon…
Everyone at Arcana could have been cheap and bought the book for way less on Amazon. But shaking the creator’s hand, supporting a cool bookstore, and being part of a community is important, too. Not all of us can be iconoclastic culture pushers, but we can all enjoy it, support it, and grow it better when we leave the front door. And why not give that example to your kid, too?