Black Flag Prints
On July 22, 1979, Black Flag appeared at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach, CA as part of the “Concerts In The Park” series, sponsored by the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department.
It’s a safe bet many of the approximately 1000 people in attendance at this usually placid family oriented event were not prepared for Black Flag. During the band’s set, Keith accused the audience of being “calm.” Some responded by throwing things towards the stage ranging from food items to partially filled cans of beer.
At one point, the event’s emcee Ric Morton took to the stage and attempted to cool things out. He asked the audience if they wanted Black Flag to continue. The response with a mixture of boos and cheers. Reportedly, Keith took the mic and yelled, “We’re not the Air Force Band, you can throw anything you fucking want!” The set continued. Mr. Morton again went onstage and asked Keith not to use the four letter words as this was a family event. Of course, Keith kept on doing his thing. Finally, Ric Morton went to the stage again to end the set, “Let’s hear it for Black Flag!” Greg Ginn took this as a cue to rip into Wasted, from the band’s Nervous Breakdown EP. Morton was finally able to stop the show. He apologized to the parents in the audience, claiming he had no idea that was going to happen.
Luckily for all of us, Spot, the legendary producer of Black Flag, and many other bands, engineer and multi-instrumentalist is not only an excellent black and white film photographer, he was at Polliwog Park that day with his camera.
This is where our story starts. Last summer, I was visiting with Ryan Richardson, the great collector/seller/fan who runs the Ryebread Rodeo website. For decades, he’s been looking out for Spot. Our main topic of discussion and reason for our meeting was Spot’s health, which is presently less than stellar. I got to thinking of what we could do to get some funds moving toward Spot. I pitched an idea to Ryan: how about I select some of Spot’s amazing photos of Black Flag and he send the negatives to Susie J (whose work you might be familiar with as she took the cover photos of the first Dischord release, the Teen Idles Minor Disturbance EP as well as the iconic image on the first Minor Threat EP. She, Ian MacKaye and I all worked at Häagen-Dazs together.) She’s a great photographer and really knows how to work with black and white film. Susie J would make great looking prints and send them to Larry Hardy at In The Red Records. Larry would put the photos on his site. I would do the write up (which you’re now reading) and we would offer them to you via mail order. The money made would go to Spot. I know that’s a lot of twists and turns but I thought you should know. Ryan liked the idea. I reached out to Susie J and asked if she could do this. She said she was ready. I contacted Larry, told him what was being considered and asked him if he was on board. He replied immediately in the affirmative. I asked Ian if he liked the idea. He thought it was solid. I ran it by Heidi, my manager, she liked it. So, all was in place. Ryan, the keeper of the negs, sent them to Susie J, the prints were made, they’re now at In The Red.
We have for you, prints made from the source negatives of the Polliwog Park show, a photo of Panic (before they changed the name to Black Flag) at band practice, as well as a photo taken by Spot from July of 1981 in New York City of me auditioning for Black Flag. This is a group effort to help Spot. By buying one of these photos you’re part of that. Everyone came in for free on this. The developing and shipping costs were paid for by one of the team, so funds go to Spot almost immediately. For Spot and country, I say.
I would like to make note of two things because they’re too cool to go unmentioned. Keith, who has more charisma than should be allowed, was able to maintain control of his beer throughout the show. Also, in one of the photos, you’ll notice two young men in a tussle in front of Keith. The one on the left is Ron Reyes, (who played drums in the early Red Cross/Redd Kross) Black Flag’s second vocalist, with him in the white shirt is Dez Cadena, the band’s third vocalist. All three in a single photo. Works for me.
We are asking 150 USD for each photo. I know in this day and age, that’s a lot of dough but we wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t truly needed. Thank you for your interest and concern. Henry Rollins