Monday, August 26, 2013

Endless Winter – Play – Dance – (1980)

In which I move to a flophouse, where I get flooded and end up on top of the Electric Circus, the home of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable.
Author's handwriting.
Mahalo, the responses to the blog have been great, mostly through personal encounters or e-mail. Comments are welcomed. One critique has been that my NY stories seem to glorify the reality and that it appears that my life in NY unfolded in a manner that direction or plan. To be clear, my first year in New York was quite rough at times, mostly due to lack of money, which led to bleeding gums, and other effects of not enough food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Once I got the job at Canal Jean and then Trash & Vaudeville, things stabilized. There were also moments of intense loneliness and heartache. As we go along, I will publish some writing of this time, mostly done at night. the first text appears further down in this post. For better or worse, there has never been much of a plan in my life, more of an underlying drive, or pull, that I am often not conscious off. I have followed my bliss, but I have often ignored practical realities and sometimes I had to suffer the consequences, but I always aim to take full responsibility for my actions.

After I left the New York Niggers, which was the end of the band, The Pope demanded that I leave our shared 10th St flat, so I moved to a cheap hotel on 18th St off Gramercy Park, a few blocks outside the East Village proper. Isn’t that a bit of a ritzy neighborhood you might ask? It certainly is now and even then it was pretty nice, but the hotel wasn’t. Transvestites, rock’n rollers and other outcasts who didn’t have it together enough to rent an apartment, occupied the hotel. Living there further helped my NY education. In the summer everybody left their doors open or ajar, because of the heat. The  NY summer heat can be extremely stiffling, you can slice it with a dull knife.

Besides giving me a living the job at Trash & Vaudeville also provided for plenty of social contact, but with no band, I didn't have anything to focus on. Work and nightlife could not replace the energy and identity that being a member of a band provides.
Trash & Vaudeville t-shirt.

T&V is on 4 St Marks Place right off 3rd Ave, which turns into the Bowery a bit further down. The corner of 3rd Ave and St Marks Pl is like the western entry gate to the East Village. On the corner was the Valencia Hotel, a by the hour place hooker's place. On the other side of the store were the St Mark's baths. Here is a NY Times article on the store and pretty funny video. When you walked down the block you had Ian’s another clothing store, St Marks Bookstore, St Mark’s Records, 23 St Mark’s Place, the former home of the Electric Circus and The Dom, where Andy Warhol and the VU created the Plastic Explosion Inevitable and Nico had had her residency at The Dom downstairs. Jackson Browne was a huge fan of Nico during this time and wrote the lyrics to this song. A few doors down was Tish & Snooky’s Manic Panic, the Dojo’s Japanese restaurant across the street and the Gem Spa on the corner of 2nd Ave, where the New York Dolls took their famous photo and you could buy egg cream (possibly still).
The Dolls in front of Gem Spa.

The 2nd Ave movie theatre was around the corner and still featured cheap Midnight specials. Oh, I forgot, there was also the old pup in the middle of the block, but I had been 86ed there during the NYN days, so I won’t mention it.
The author playing with rubber aliens at T&V,

and standing at the door.

Trash & Vaudeville had all the newest punk stuff from London downstairs and great vintage clothing upstairs, and very importantly the first and only black jeans, no label and super skinny. Every skinny black jean today has one leg in Trash, and every rock’n roller had to have one and so did every band that came to town. I worked downstairs. The downstairs neon sign was featured in the Saturday Night live opening sequence at the time. Not only every band and rock star stopped by the store, so did all the bar tenders and door people from the clubs, and of course all the fans. This put us in the center of the scene, which got us into clubs and often,  to free drinks. Every body who worked at T&V was either in a band or otherwise an artist or scenester. You had to be a character to get hired.
 with Angel Rodriguez. polaroid.
For example Angel, who had lived through the 60's and 70's East village. Angel was the manager upstairs and had great spirit and stories to tell. Her boyfriend Allen drove a 54 Chevy hot rod with flames on the side, and later played bass player in one of my bands.

One day, when I got back to the hotel my room was flooded. During my first two years in NY I had collected flyers, scraps and photos and done a series of pretty large collages, which were all floating under my bed now.  The management tried to blame the flood on me, so I just grabbed my stuff and took refuge with another German expat called Joerg, who, believe it or not occupied the entire top floor of 23 St Marks place. Here I am now, living at 23 St Marks, imagine. An AA sort of organization managed the building and had meetings on the floors below us.
Joerg & I walking down St Marks Place between 2nd and 1st Ave.

Joerg was a few years older than me, pretty wild, volatile, a painter who also played around on his synthesizer. He had spend some time with Native Americans and painted them on large pieces of found wood. He also did the murals at the Veselka coffee shop on 2nd Ave and 9th St, which is still there today. There were many cheap Polish and Ukrainian coffee shops in the East Village, that provided cheap, heart food. Now I lived and worked on the same block and to get a coffee on my way to work I had to go to the corner. Once the winter hit it got pretty rough though since some windows were broken, there was no heat and when Joerg and I both run our little electric heaters the fuses would pop. We couldn't complain since our rental agreement there wasn't quite on the up and up and the rent was cheap.

Dave, Dieter, Joerg at 23 St Marks.

Dieter, Joerg, Dave at 23 St Marks. Beloved Gibson Les Paul special.

 This is not a real band in the shots above, just a few misfits fooling around, and as you know I love the look of slides-to-paper-xerox-copies, which you could do in any copy-shop. Dave was a co-worker from Trash and another wild one. One day Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson bought some suits from us and we were hanging out with them. Before they left the store, Dave had spilled a beer on Mick's, just bought, 50's sharkskin suit. Stories from T&V warrant a whole book.
Author in Dave's elevator, collage.
Dave lived in a bigger apartment building on 2nd Ave and 10th across the street from St Marks Church, were Patti Smith started her rock'n roll career. I did a bit of writing also, mostly late at night, when things weren't all that pretty.
One more time (before I die), Dieter Runge, 79/80?
This apocalyptic reverie was going to be a song, but I never finished it or wrote any music for it.
 Eventually, I did start a new band during this time and we called it The Troubadours, inspired by my travels in the South of France. It consisted of a young German kid named Hinrich, who studied classical guitar and shredded like Jeff Beck, a German drummer (sorry, no name), Joe Drake on bass, and the author. Everybody wrote and sang and we played R&B influenced rock’n roll, with Joerg occasionally chiming in on his synth when we played the VU’s What Goes, a tribute to the hallowed grounds we were playing on top of. Unfortunately we only managed to play one gig right there in the loft, which was well attended. The band had lots of potential, but the two Germans soon went back home. Alas. Joe became my best friend in NY and we played and even recorded a few years down the road. There are no pics of The Troubadors, but this shot of me strapping on Hinrich's Stratocaster.

The author with Stratocaster at 23 St Marks.

Needless to say, without a comfortable home and so much opportunity, I kept up going out  every night. More and more clubs opened,  and more local and visiting bands to see. The East Village was exploding, but not everybody liked it. The East Village Eye and other papers wrote about it as early as 1980, but it took another 8 years for the conflicts to explode in the summer of 1988 with the Tompkin Square riot.

East Village Eye 1980

Tompkins Square park. EVE 1980
East Village Eye, 1980

ETC. East Village Eye. 1980

On August 8th 1980 though, I had my own riot and kicked an innocent refrigerator on Avenue A, right across the street from the park. When I woke up the next morning I had to go to Bellevue hospital.

die Tageszeitung, 1980

The German daily, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ) did an interview with me for a two part series about German cultural emigres living in New York.

On December 8th Joerg and I went to Irving Plaza to see Captain Beefheart play. We ran a little late and when we got there the lobby was completely empty; we just walked upstairs were we heard the news that John Lennon had been shot. In shock we watched the Magic Band.
By the end of 1980,  without a band and clear purpose, and almost 3 years of non-stop night-clubbing life in NY had taken a heavy toll on me, physically as well as mentally.


 On December 30th, I had a bottle of wine with my brown rice and stir-fried veggies for a mid-day breakfast at Dojo’s restaurant. The next morning, the last day of 1980, I barely made it out of bed. I clearly remember thinking that I was not quite yet ready to die. I decided that a profound change was in order.

Occasionally, work and play is the same. At T&V

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Yantra – Mandala - Pop-Up

In which I make a series of prints depicting the Sri Yantra to conduct cosmic energy, let Carl Jung make the connections, and do another pop-up show.

Sri Yantra 5, wood bock print, 12" x 12", Dieter Runge, 2013

I had to abandon the idea of the superordinate position of the ego. ... I saw that everything, all paths I had been following, all steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point -- namely, to the mid-point. It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the centre. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individuation.
... I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate.
- C. G. Jung. Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

Sri Yantra 6, wood bock print, 12" x 12", Dieter Runge, 2013
Art has been motivated by sprititual concerns or practice since the beginning. Today though it is not always present, but the practice of art is an opportunity to connect to your higher self, sometimes unconscioulsly or in case of these yantras as the deliberate decision to connect through creating a set of prints.
1/2 "  thick plywood blocks 12" x12"

I came upon the Sri Yantra during my own yoga teacher training in the fall of 2010. My teacher Myra Lewin had a wonderful version woven in wool hanging in her house on Kauai. Upon completion of the course we were all presented with a small copper yantra to hang around our necks. From then on I had planned to recreate it as a woodblock print. To carve in wood and to print is a physical way of dealing with the sacred, another way of practice. In this case I carved two plates, one carving away certain parts and leave the rest standing, the part that receives the ink. For the second block I reversed the process, just to find out what would happen.  During printing I let the colors emerge without thinking about it too much.  The majority of prints were printed on top of a colored square.

16 Sri Yantras, Dieter Runge, 2013, artist studio.

“A mandala is a plan, chart or geometric pattern which represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the universe from the human perspective. A Sri Yantra is a type of mandala with geometric patterns. Sri Yantra literally means loom, instrument or machine. In actual practice, a yantra is a symbolic representation of aspects of divinity, the creative forces of the universe. It is an interlocking matrix of geometric figures, circles, triangles and floral patterns that form fractal patterns of elegance and beauty. These visual patterns can have a powerful effect on the mind. Just as primordial sounds, or mantras, can be useful in balancing our mind and body through hearing, primordial shapes can generate increased coherence in our brains, creating a balancing and calming influence. In cultures around the world, beautiful visual patterns are used to quiet a restless mind.” Chopra Center
16 Sri Yantras at Yoga Hawaii, one framed.

Yantras are cosmic conductors of energy. The Sri Yantra or sacred instrument radiates outward from the central point formed by 9 interlocking triangles, the junction between the pyiscal univers and its unmanifest source, a powerful equipment for harmony, good health, prosperity, success, meditation, and yoga. Sri yantras contain a group of geometrical patterns. The mind and eyes focus at its centre in order to achieve higher levels of realization and consciousness. Place the Sri Yantra facing the North or the East in a sacred and clean altar.
My Friend Caty Monnier-Shannon a healer and artist creates yantra-like cushions using needle-point. She doesn’t use any drawings or concepts before she starts, but just chooses a color and starts pushing in the needle in and pulling it out, letting the colors and patterns emerge from her sub conscious. The meditative quality of the slow process calms her being, with the result reflecting her emotional state at the time of the beginning of the process as well as the changes she is going through as the image unfolds.

Caty Monnier-Shannon, Mandala 1. Photo by artist.

Caty Monnier-Shannon, Mandala 2. Photo by artist.

Caty Monnier-Shannon, Mandala 3 (in progress). Photo by artist.

After writing the above, I went to my bookshelf and pulled out Carl Jung’s, Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, thinking this would be the book most likely to address yantras. Without thinking, my hands opened the book to this passage: “A mandala of this sort is known in ritual usage as a yantra, an instrument of contemplation.  They are meant to shut out the outside and hold the inside together (p. 356). The goal of contemplating the process depicted in the mandala is that the yogi shall become inwardly aware of the deity. Through contemplation, he recognizes himself as God again, and thus returns from the illusion of individual existence into the universal totality of the divine state (p.357).
C G Jung mandala

C G Jung mandala

C G Jung mandala

C G Jung mandala
According to Jung mandala means circle. I have been using mandala and yantra somewhat interchangeable in this context. Jung continues to describe the function of mandalas, “ Their basic motif is the premonition of a centre of personality, a kind of central point within the psyche, to which everything is related, by which everything is arranged, and which is itself a source of energy. The energy of the central point is manifested in the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is, just as every organism is driven to assume that form that is characteristic of its nature, no matter what the circumstances. This centre is not felt or thought of as the ego, but if one may so express it, as the self. Although the centre is represented by an innermost point, it is surrounded by a periphery containing everything that belongs to the self – the paired opposites that make up the total personality. This totality compromises consciousness first of all, then the personal unconscious, and finally an indefinitely large segment of the collective unconscious whose archetypes are common to all mankind (p.357).
Jung used mandalas in his work as well as in his personal explorations. He incorporated art in his healing work and some of his patients painted their own mandalas pulling them from their unconscious. Jung himself painted many mandalas as part of his years of deep emergence into his psyche, which resulted in the fully handwritten and illustrated Red Book, 17 years in the making. His family kept it in a safe until it was finally published in 2009.
4 Ganesh, wood block prints, Mike Nice, Dieter Runge, 2013, at Yoga Hawaii.

Ganesh, wood block prints, Mike Nice, Dieter Runge, 2013, at Yoga Hawaii

Last Friday Maya Siklai gave me the opportunity to show the yantras in her Yoga Hawaii studio for the Kaimuki’s third Friday Celebration, along with the large Ganesh prints and other yoga related pieces.  Kaimuki is the mellow, hipster and family neighborhood around Waialae Avenue, a real place to live, great to walk to your favorite stores, restaurant or yoga studio, without the party craziness of Chinatown, or the massive developer fueled hype of Kakaako. This third Friday did have street music and an appearance of Mrs Hawaii, everything a bit more quaint, but let's have no illusion, change is a coming.
Musician (forground), Jason & Jaimey (middle) and Yoga Hawaii (back).

Mrs. Hawaii at Coffee Talk.

Musician on Waialae Ave.

Girls with face-paint, Coffee Talk
Signs inside Coffee Talk

A video of the yantras, top and a fun little I-phone video two guests made (I am trying to find their names to give them credit). 
Caty Shannon homepage.
Sources: , wipikedia, Chopra Center,
A youtube video on a huge Sri Yantra in Oregon.
C G Jung, The Red Book, W.W. Norton & Company, London, New York, 2009
C G Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Bollingen Series XX, Princeton University Press, 1990
I got two CD's for my birthday and been checking them out:
Paul Izaak & Seeds of Love, Everlasting Light.  Paul Izaak lives in Kailua where he puts on the aweseome yogarden events, farms, is involved in non GMO activities and can be found at the Sunday Kailua farnmer's market. His music is an uplifting mix of reaggae, folk, funk and rocksteady. Favorite tracks so far Dragonfly Lullaby and Makawaao Roots.
Pual Zaak & Seeds of Love, CD cover

Lucie Lynch, Here We Are. Lucy is a fellow German expat singer/songwriter and actress. On her CD she sings and plays guitar, sometimes accompanied by percussion. She has a beautiful voice of considerable range and reminds me sometimes of 60's British Folk. Favorite track, The Greencard Song. I relate and it cracks me up. Love the cover shot.

Lucy Lynch, Here We Are, CD cover.

Both Lucy and Paul practice yoga and completed their yoga teacher training. Next week I will probably write about my NY adventures again. If something else exciting happens I will let you know of course. 
Aloha, dieter

Imagine, woodblock, Dieter Runge, 2012, at Yoga Hawaii.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New York Niggers Pt 3 – End of the 70’s – Hang on to Your Dreams

in which we almost make it, but just like Ziggy Stardust, I have to break up the band, and hang on to my self.

Timeline as written in 1986

Hang on to your dreams is one of Leo’s lines in Headliner and hang on to my self is what I had to do once this chapter was finsihed. By X-mas of 79 my financial situation finally stabilized thanks to working full time at T&V. Back then, I could pay my rent with the salary of one week, which was $325 when I started at Trash. I decided to get a new guitar. Very much still inspired and influenced by Leo, I opted for a Gibson Les Paul Special, double cutaway in cherry red. I went up to 48th St where all the music stores were on one block and traded in my 62 Telecaster. It did have some minor problems and I wanted to have the more powerful sounding P90 pickups which was more in line with the sound and visual esthetics that we were aiming for. The concept of vintage guitars didn’t exist in our heads back then. Now, of course I regret not having either one of those beauties.

The author with  62 Telecaster. Iolsta Hat (vocals) and George Darrow (drums). summer 79
Mattus, my former communarde, who accompanied me to Paris, visited in the summer of 79 and describes a gig at the ranch in the voice of his the alter-ego KWINI, published in Hollow Skai’s NO Fun fanzine and later in Wir waren Helden Fuer Einen Tag, the wild action during the second set around 3:00 AM, " the band jumped into the audience which eventually ended up on the floor in a wild heap". During my research for this blog I saw some pictures from a contact sheet in the No Fun zine and upon request I found out that Mattus still has about 300 negatives from his NY trip. We'll try to digitize them and show them in a special post. The Helden book also contains excerpts of my own letters back to Germany from that time, which I will have to translate for another post. Now we need to find some live recordings and film of the band, that do exist somewhere.

Cover of Wir Waren Helden fuer einen Tag

By x-mas Victor had left the band, maybe success didn't come fast enough or he wanted to return to his jazz roots. Different managers appeared and disappeared and in a last ditch effort we shortened the name to NYN. With Victor, a great musician and charismatic frontman we were highly energetic and had the most powerful line-up with considerable potential . We had good songs, a good following and we could've made it. Leo went back to become the main singer and I was also singing more since I was writing more and more songs. Eventually Jerry (bass) also left. We spend a quiet New Years eve at our place on 10th St drinking $5 Andre champagne with Iolsta Hat.

Polaroid, new years eve 1979/80, the author, Iolsta Hat, The Pope.
1980 on the dot.

In early 1980 we did a few photo shoots at Alex Kayser and Caty Monnier's loft and got ready for a flurry of shows.

Author, polaroid by Alex Kayser.

 NYN poster. Leo, Dieter, Jerry, Wolf 1. Photo Alex Kayser

Woodblock print, Dieter Runge 2006/12

Polaroid postcard. Pics Alex Kayser.

180 rotated

Selfportrait, oil on Velvet 2007.

The cigarette in this picture is probably one of the last I smoked. I got a heavy case of bronchitis in the heavy New York winter, after burning the candle on both ends for so long. After each drag I was coughing for five minutes. Since I had to sing for all these gigs that were coming up, I just had to stop. Besides smoking one or two cigarrettes late at night in a club for a year or so, I never went back and always considered stopping to be one of the best things in my life and the beginning of a big turnaround.

The show with the Cramps at Irving Plaza in fact was in February 1980, which I just discovered, looking at the date on the East Village Eye cover. The EVE was a more underground alternative to the Village Voice.

 East Village Eye cover March 80.

East Village Eye review.

By 1979 it became apparent across the globe that something was brewing in New York and magazines from all over the planet were reporting on the developping scene. Cult tried to establish itself as the German equivalent of Interview magazine. They published an article about me in their NY issue that included pictures and some of my writing. For the first time I discovered how the media distorts and blows up the truth for sensation, yes, quite lame when it happens to you.

Cult magazine cover, upper half.

Page in Cult Magazine.
Translation of headline: Manhattan High, or Dieter from Hannover survives in New York.
Oh, yeah, sometime in early 1980 I shaved my head after an experimental haircut didn't quite come out the way I had imagined. Now, it seems to me, that this represents a cut in my life and a new chapter was about to start.

T&V add. The author as mannequin.

This Trash & Vaudeville ad appeared in the Village Voice, Soho Weekly and East Village Eye for quite a while. I had come up with the idea to pose with one of our mannequins and Gene, a co-worker and photographer took the picture.

Leo wasn't crazy about me writing and wanting to sing more songs, even though they were generally liked and Dresden 45 was probably our most popular live song. I think he wanted to have control of the band, which I understood since he was the founding member. We had been good partners for almost year of intense music and living together. Yet, I was developping and slowly coming out from under Leo's wings and being in a band in which I couldn't express my self was not attractive. After deliberating for a while, I finally quit, which Leo was not too happy about. It was the end of the New York Niggers, a fantastic adventure, that had catapulted me into the heart of the NY scene. Leo and I never fought, it was just over. Leo eventually started another band, a three piece, that was probably the best for his personal ambitions, but never created the excitment of NYN. I had to move out of our shared appartment. We sometimes ran into each other but quickly drifted apart. Below a picture of our last gig at Max's. Classic, the bald white boy between two black dudes. It represents my first year crashcourse not only into New York, but also black American culture. I will always be grateful for everything Aid Haid and Leo Faison and everybody else enabled me to experience.

Last NYN show. Max's Kansas City, spring 1980. The author is bald wearing 50's sharkskin pants and vintage silk shirt. Working at T&V shows.

Funny, the tables in front of the stage. Sometimes they were moved. In the audience was the owner of T&V, Ray Goodman, with glasses  and Stephanie a co-worker, who not only turned me on to Hound Dog Taylor, but to Salsa and Afro Cuban music in general. She took me to see Hector Lavoe, Ray Barreto and many of the other of the hot Latin bands playing in New York at the time. My musical education was broadening and intensifying and more adventures were lurking around the corner.


Next Friday I will have a pop-up art show with my yoga inspired wood block prints at Yoga Hawaii. just scroll past the Mrs. Hawaii ad. Come if you can. From punk rock to yoga, as the story unfolds in my life and here in this blog. It is all connected.


While I was cooling down from my b-day party the other day, cruising the (you)tube I came across this fantastic early Ramones (1974 at CBGB's) clip.

In this one you can see the iconography already there just a year later, the banner in back, and Johnny switched sides with Dee Dee, as it was going to be from then on. Just amazing.

Another year later at Max's. Great quality. The Ramones were a quintessential American band combining a comic book sensibility, The Beach Boys with the realities of the late 70's from a Queens NY perspective, the only true New Yorkers of all the CB's bands. Just listen to Happy Family. The Ramones were pure bubblegum in their great songs, of which they had many. Their covers of Do You Wanna Dance and Let's Dance points to their own desire to create pop hits.

The New Year's eve show at London's Rainbow showed the Ramones at their peak. Just one song after the other. 

The documentary  End of the Century is on the tube too, but be forwarned, it gets really sad at the end. It is great though, especially the beginning, desolate 70's New York, CBGB's, etc.

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers at Max's. This reperesents well the athmosphere and energy at the place and time.

A 2007 article in the New Yorker about then manager of Trash & Vaudeville Jimmy Web.

New York Latin Music, Fania All Stars, Tito Puente, Conjunto Classico.
This was also the music of the streets in the East Village.