Thursday, September 4, 2014

Art Pepper, the Junk's Junk









Art Pepper was born in 1925. Pep's Grandparents were hard drinking, hard workin, hard fuckers in general. 
His grandfather Arthur ---Peppers Name-sack-- would beat his wife and Art's dad Richard when he was drunk.  At 15 Richard left home and became a merchant seaman to escape his drunk old man. 
One night ashore in San Pedro, California, Peps dad  felt instant karma as his eyes turned on a beguiling, 15 year old girl with  jasmine skin. 15 year old Milli Betranadini. The scene was straight out of a Fellini film. 15 year old Italian broad like the Virgin Mary in spotlight, sepia on flour. 
Peppers old man was tired of going to sea and wanted to settle. This is how Art explains in his urban hipesse;"THEY MET AND HE BALLED HER, AND I GUESS HE FELT THE OBLIGATION, AND I GUESS HE CARED FOR HER TOO, SO HE MARRIED HER, SHIT HAPPENS MAN." 
Peppers mother got bored with Richard quickly and just wanted to meet guys, ball and booze. And a Goddamn kid would just get in the way. She did everything she could to try to kill poor Art as Fetus in the womb. 
Pep in usual his straight ahead hipesse again. " MY MOTHER STARVED HERSELF AND TOOK ANYTHING THAT ANYBODY GAVE HER TO MISCARRY. BUT TO NO AVALE. I WAS BORN AND, SHE LOST, I WON". 
Art was born with rickets and jaundice as a up-shoot of the shit Mulli took to try to kill him. But by by four----Milli & Richard ( who flipped over what she did) were latter divorce---. Richard brought Art back to life with love and lotza protein, garlic, and anchovies olive oil, when he came home from sea. 
Art was alone with Mulli in Watts, when Richard  (Moses) was at sea, they had moved from San Pedro. And once again in Peps words; "SHE HAD THIS FRIEND, BETTY, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY DID.THEY'D DRINK. I WOULD BE LEFT ALONE. THE ONLY TIME SHE WOULD SO ME ANY AFFECTION WAS WHEN SHE WAS SLOPPY DRUNK AND I COULD SMELL HER STINKING BREATH. SHE WOULD SLOBER ALL OVER ME" 
aside:  PEP IS SO DETACHED FROM HIS MOTHER THAT I FIND HIS COMMENTS ON HER LAUGHABLE. 
Richard and Milli would constantly get drunk and fight. Richard broke her nose four times. Art was a precocious kid who knew what the score was in spades. He felt no body wanted him or cared about him, and he just wanted to die. 
Art Pepper a progenitor  of urban cool hated the country. He felt the silence and lack of his kind of distractions made him  come face to face with his terrified inner being. Peps was no Johnny Cash. 
By 10 Art was living with his Grandmother and Dad, attending school in San Pedro, California. Richard was a union leader on the docks, a tall good man, a leader, Art called him Moses. Milli, wild little shit she that she was, running with a besotted country western singer, AND,  after trying to kill Art as a foetus,  was now in love with him wanted little Pep back back. Milli was one toasted bi-polar) 
aside: IT IS MY OPINION ALL THE SHIT MILLI DRANK TYRING TO ABORT ART, MADE HIM A ADDICT AT BIRTH. IN OTHER-WORDS INSTEAD OF DYING IN MILLI, THE OLE DEVIL PEPPER WAS GETTIN JUICED AND DREAMING UP JAZZ RIFFS IN MIL MILS UTERAS. NOW-WITHSTANDING, PEPS IN MY BOOK WAS A DOUBLE JUNK, EVEN WITHOUT THE SHIT MuL MuL WAS DRAINING, TUBING IN HERE UTERAS !and if! ART WOULD HAVE BEEN BORN CLEAN HE WOULD HAVE BEEN A JUNK ANYWAYS, BORN TO BE.  RAY CHARLES AND YARDBIRD WERE THE ONLY FAMOUS PEOPLE THAT WERE IN PEPS LEAGUE AS A JUNK. 
Art was born copiousness with  fear;  " I KEPT HAVING FEARS. IF I WENT TO OPEN A CLOSET DOOR I WOULD BE SCARED TOO DEATH, IF I WENT WALKING A THE NIGHT TIME I WOULD SEE THINGS IN THE BUSHES". 

By the time Art was 11 he was totally preoccupied with sex. He would was keenly as chicks crossed and uncrossed their legs, what he didn't see he could imagine like a X-Ray machine. Art's family would never touch one another. It is amazing they fucked enough to procreate, and if they did they would try to kill their babies, would it be a stretch to say this was animalistic or primitive behavior? 


Moses ( Dad) bought a used alto sax for Art at a pawn shop when Art was 11. Pep was such a detached kid. Art was the inverse jock, detached, deflecting attention, hated sports. The only thing Pep had in common with jocks getting turned on looking up cheerleaders skirts. Arts early life is similar to Bukowski in allot of ways. BOTH,  outsiders lacking self confidence hating the straight and square world, the 20s to the 60s. AND, for some like ~FL~, even still,  if Buk & Pep were alive, THE WORLD WOULD BE AS UNIFORM AS EVER  TODAY IN THIER EYES. 

Peps mother-side of the family was musical. I could play, being from the mother land, they played zithers. accordions and gypsy violas. Art loved music from the start, even the old world shit of Millis family did a thing on him. Everyday Art would pass Old's music shop , eyeballing and perusing the  shine on the horns. he would go inside and touch them, wondering how you could key em and blow em to get music. Finally Pep told his old man he had to have a horn. Moses felt a horn for the for the misanthropic Peps would be a boon. 



Art really wanted to play a trumpet, but when the music teacher saw Art's chipped teeth, he felt a clarinet would suit him bette. Larry Parks the music teacher was a lousy musician, bu he had a kind beardless Santa Claus look about him, cherubic with a lotza love. So maybe for Pep with all his self doubt and fears, he needed a grand dad to get him started playing, not a Coleman Hawkins. 

Parks became like a grandfather to young Art, and many there was many nights Art would go eat dinner at the Parks who were childless. The lessons were so effortless for the wunderkind that he never had to practice the previous weeks assignments. Pepper would just play over them once before class, they were in his heart and mind. When he played for his teacher, he never read the exercises and could just play the full songs instead of the bits you get as a starter. Art just played what he felt. It's like Art Pepper could just play, born to, without lessons. 

Soon after Art started playing clarinet, Moses would take him to a bar to play for the his pals from the docks. All the tough guys from the docks were Mose's friends so no one said shit when the old-man would put Art on a bar, sit him on a stool, to play his clarinet. 
Art was blooding staggering and mind-boggling. He ran through a played a exercise of a song,  through it once, and he had it. The old man made him play songs Art hated for the square dockworkers shit:"Auld Lang Syne ",  "Nola", "The Music Goes Round & Round". 
Arts old man would stand right next to Pep as he played with a look on his face like---- this is my boy, he plays music and you better like it or? The dock workers crapulous sods brawling, Pep would keep on playing right thru it, maybe, " The Church in the Wildwood". By the end of the night Art would take home 20 bucks or so, and ole Moses let him keep the whole some. Pep mostly would spend it in the local bagnio (cathouse). 
By 16 Art was playing at night clubs in LA, living with his Grandmother. Peps was going on and off to Fredmont High, but playing gigs till 2am & get-tin up to go school was tough. Art had no friends at High School, he gave a grand shit about all the hoop la.  
When Peps transferred to San Pedro High as a bandleader he became popular. In the 30s there were allot of gangs in San Pedro. Art joined the COBRAS, thinking it would make him look tough to his dad.
He wore a black silk Chinese jacket with a COBRA on the back. 
It was like West Side Story or James Dean shit in the 50s.  the COBRAS would get challenged to rumble and pile into 'hotrods" go to a remote place, beat the shit out of each-other till they got tired and totter back into the rods and speed off. 

Music soon cut Peppers gang calling short, the accord he found with his musician pals was more euphonic. Most the guys in the high school bands were playing out of tune, with little knowledge of scales, they would look over in the corner, dumb fucked, and there was a little 16 year old kid going through pentatonic scales with key signatures. Allot guys at Sand Pedro High gave up music because of Pepper. 
Art was listening to Basie, Ellington, Charlie Bennett, Benny Goodman. But the first time Art heard  Django Rienheart it blew his mind. He would also go out to see T-Bone Walker and Coleman Hawkins play when they came to LA. He was good enough to play after gigs with them.  
At 17 Pep said fuck high school to go pro. He was playing Alto Sax. He left San Pedro to play with a conventional weekend dance hall band in San Diego  Gus Arnhiem the No Star Band. Of course Art thought it sucked, Gus might as well hung a banner in the ballroom---NO IMPROVISING, KEEP TO THE SHEETS, CHECK YOUR FEELIN WITH THE HAT CHECK GIRL.--- 
After a week of the Gus Method,  Art was back in LA playing in Central Ave. This was a extraordinary  period for West Coast Jazz  at the clubs on Central Ave in LA. Central 40s was like Halem 30s. But the morping of WEST VS  EAST, Davis vs Baker didn't happen till latter much later in the 60s. 
Pep was already  known in the world of jazz at the time, a 18 year old kid. Dextor Gordon Lee Young were looking to put together a quartet to play at the new club Alabam. Art auditioned and got the job. Art was fucking tingled.  The Central Ave, LA , Club Alabam scene was real hot. Dexter Gorden, Mingus, Gerald Wiggins, Slick Jones and now Art.  
I love Arts' description of the times. Just a taste: ---- AS YOU WALKED DOWN THE STREET YOU HEARD MUSIC COMING OUT OF EVERY PLACE. EVERYBODY WAS HAPPY. EVERYBODY LOVE D EVERYBODY ELSE, OR IF THEY DIDN'T I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT IT. ( THIS WAS THE 40S NOT THE SIXTIES) WIGGINS, DEXTOR GORDEN, MINGUS SLICK JONES WOULD JUST WALK OUT INTO THE STREET AND PEE OFF THE CURB. I WAS JUST COOOL! WE WOULD JUST LIGHT UP A JOINT IN THE STREET, WE HAD MOTA, WHICH WAS MOIST AND BLACK, AND SMOKE IN FRONT OF THE CLUB.  
Pep says-----( talkin about the 40s on central ave) THE DOPE THING HADN'T EVOLVED INTO WHAT IT IS NOW. I NEVER HEARD THE WORD NARCO. NO BODY WANTED TO RAT ON ANYBODY OR PLANT THEIR CARE WITH DOPE.  
Art Pepper was 18 years old playin with the few elite master east coast jazzmen, ( such as Dextor Gorden) using, getting blow jobs between sets, things couldn't have been much better.  
He was hanging allot with  his idle, Dextor Gordon. Dex ( pun intended) introduced white crosses to Peps (pun intended)  it help the guys stay up for late gigs.  
Aside: Keith Richards once said that smells the smells of diesel fuel and horse shit after WWII got him "thinkin" about junk. 
                                                       
                                                             jUnK 
In 46 Art got a call from  Stan Kenton,  Kenton spoke with a German accent and reminded Peps of this Dad. It was a dream come true for Art, through the haze of bennies and booze, he had established a reputation as a virtuoso, inventive and ground-breaking jazz man. Kenton was formidable and puissant.  He had a snoot and eyes like a eagle and would look right through you. Kenton could relate and ally with all kinds of audience: Middle Americans, East and West coast Jazz purest, drunks, chained, zuit suited pimps white and black in Harlem.  
The Stan Kenton Band as a White Band, was a fat and kinky band compared to mainstream traveling big bands of the 50s, such as the Benny Goodmans and Tommy Dorsey types, who were in the majority at the time. Of course Black Bands were on big time by the 50s, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and of course Thelonius Monk. 
Art was playing with Shelly Mann, Bud Shank was in the sax section with Peps, June Christy as scatter, Laurindo Almeida on Guitar. Of course there were chicks following the band.  
In 48 the band was playing a 17 week gig at the Paramount in NYC, backing Vick Damone, it was packed every night.  Arts  libido was in over drive because of all the booze and pills he took, and 19 yr old testosterone.  
Pep was staying in a Hotel on 48 and broadway. One morning a mad knocked on the door and asked if she could clean the room. She was a hot Mexican chick, with long curly black hair and tits and ass to die for. Pep told her to go ahead. Art was sitting in a chair across from the toilette, drinking his usual hangover topper, a Bloody Mary. The loo door was a full mirror. Pep could see the Mexican broad in the mirror bending over cleaning the toilette  He couldn't believe his eyes, she was bent over and he could see her purple lace panties. She had a great ass and legs, Pep was getting really hot. Then he went to the loo door and just stood and looked, Chica just keep on cleaning shaking that awesome ass. Then when it came time to clean the floor, Art still watching, his heart pumping. Chica on all fours with top unbuttoned, exposed her tits to him,  through her purple half-brassiere. Peps still stand at the door on his second bloody marry watched as Chica began to rub her pussy. So Art had a nice wank. 
Circa 50, Art was with the Kenton band in Chicago doing a gig at the Civic Opera House. He was staying at the Croydon Hotel. He was rooming with one of the guys in the band, Stanley Curtis, a charming and talented Trombone player.  Art was now the featured artist in the band, got all the applause, and in his words---it was great while it was happening, but when the gig was over I was still all alone---. Notwithstanding a full blown alcoholic. But his desolation would gravitate to a new dominion as synthesis, he was about to meet his maker, muse-lover and greatest tormentor.  
After the show they kicked Art out of the bars at 4am. No liquor stores were open so he went back to his room with a sick feeling. It wasn't the first time, at the hotel room, roomy, sammy was having a trifling junk party with a few guys in the band. Roy King and the Singer Sheila Harris and some piano player. Art asked them if they had anything other than the China White, and they said no. Pep was feeling crestfallen, disenchanted and flat that night. This wan't the first time he had been around the shit but he knew the minute he did it, it would be over for him. 
Sheila who was a legend in those days both as a artist and nymph,  she had a rep for sucking cock ultra ultra fine.  She came upon Art. She had natural corkscrew hair, and was wearing a moo-moo with fuck me pumps.  Art did have a hard on for her though she was pleasantly plump but real sexy. Sheila could see that Art was hang dog . She said---Art doll, why don't you hang up that jive ass shit and get in a cooler groove---  come in the bathroom with me and I will show you a new way to go---PEP SAYS--- I was at my wits end and the only other thing I could do was jump out the 14th floor window of the hotel. 
Aside: you know junk stuff  seems very gripping and dramatic, but while writing, my ITune began playing a classic piece,  Mahler 5 piece you might associate with Bukowski who, during the pensive moment at midnight in "Barfly" regrouped,  the shit he had garnered after Stalones brother beat the shit out him in the alley. Most my tunes are blues or jazz and it seems natural to shoot up China White for the first time with this sound. But when the Mahler cut in, Man o Man, I felt the inconsolable, sorry, grief stricken rosary stuff that goes with the junk life, for real man.
Art for fuck sack knew god damn well, the "new groove" was a 3000 lb. monkey.
Sammy (Peps' roomy) saw what Sheila was about to do to Art and threw a shit fit.  (Mahler 5 just came back again, hip life, for all it's magic can be a low down life.) Sammy told Sheila not to get Art started. Then Roy said, ---nothing could be as godawful as the booze head shit Pep is into---. So Roy and Sheila cooled Sammy down and Sheila took the virgin sacrificial lamb, Art Pepper into the loo. 
The first thing the nymph Sheila did to Art in the loo was grab his cock. Then Pep said---wait a minute let's get to that other thing then we can get back to this. I was all excited about something new, the heroin, I had made up my mind---.

Peps and Sheila didn't shoot up, they just snorted the shit like coke with dollar bills. Pep felt the sting in his nose and the burning in his throat. Then as though jesus had touched our boy with his own hand Pep felt, quote---as though all the wondering and wondering and the frustration had vanished and he finally found peace----.
a {MY SOURCE FOR THIS STORY IS "STRAIGHT LIFE" 
BY ART & LAURIE PEPPER}
b {I QOUTE WHAT I COPY DIRECTLY, BUT MY STORY IS MY TAKE IN MY WORDS ON ART PEPPER'S LIFE}
                                        {END OF PART 1 ART PEPPER}  ~FL~ 

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