The Fourth Wall

5.15.08 Full Circle

When bandleader/singer Roddy Frantz got in touch last week to discuss the design of a poster for the Urban Verbs upcoming gig, May 24 at the 930 Club, I knew my life in this profession had come full circle. The poster above, featuring the iconic photo of Chris Morse by Peter Muise and updated New-Wave-for-the-21st-century-logo by Bill Harvey, will be for sale at the show.

If, like me, you are of a certain age (ie, you graduated highschool in the 70’s), and you were living here in the Metro Area toward the end of that very decade, then you know about the legendary Urban Verbs… and you know that back then the now world-famous 930 Club was just a dank hole-in-the-wall called the Atlantis Club… located in the Atlantis Building at (you guessed it) 930 F Street. There were but a handful of bands at first, until the scene gained momentum.

And now, 30 years later, many of those bands are back in town and rockin’ hard. I’ve heard them jokingly refer to themselves as Geezer Rockers, but having attended some of the shows, I’m not buying that tag. Lest this turn into a 4-mile-long post on the early days of punk & New Wave in the Nation’s Capitol, suffice to say that my relationship to the bands of this era was as a member of a close-knit circle of co-conspirateurs and bona fide club kids. We ruled the nights, and the Urban Verbs + a few others wrote and played the soundtrack.

To get back to the point of this post, I also created some of the earliest Verbs gig flyers to paste around town. With photos we took ourselves AND printed in our home darkrooms. With xerox machines, press type, xacto knives and an ancient device called a waxer (don’t ask). Some efforts were better than others. The specimen above? NOT one of my best! To my credit, at the time I was studying photography and fine art at UMD, not design. And really, I just wanted a sulky, artsy self-portrait plastered around town.

A scant few years later I discovered my fine arts degree to be about as valuable in the job market as today’s real estate, so I began to actually learn the craft of design & production, on the job. I created the flyer pictured above for a little vintage clothing business called Flip Flop that I ran out of my big old house in Takoma DC. What you are seeing is the “mechanical,” a tissue-overlayed paste-up to be supplied to the printer. Photo of the beautifully iconic Dot Steck by husband/photographer/bass player Charles Steck.

Despite a hideous first job creating mechanicals for a Civil War reenactment magazine (!), I continued making photographs and printing them in a closet darkroom at home. Flip Flop moved to an antiques Emporium in historic downtown Frederick MD and was renamed That Girl! Photo by yours truly of the amazing Melissa Flipski, then a young teenager in a cool vintage dress.

Ahh, those really WERE the days. But, so are these. We’re still rockin’. Still wearin’ vintage. Still making photos. Life is good.

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