Tag Archive: Brendan Toller


What’s The Buzz ?


By Charles Curkindec December 26, 2014

Reposted from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/nyregion/iggy-lou-joey-and-danny.html

This month, a private screening was held for a rough cut of “Danny Says,” a documentary about the New York rock music legend Danny Fields. The theater was full of old friends of Danny’s and potential investors, but Mr. Fields was not in attendance.

Afterward, the director, Brendan Toller, who hopes to debut the film in March at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Tex., answered questions from the audience. The actor John Cameron Mitchell, who in the film refers to Mr. Fields as a “handmaiden to the gods,” asked if Mr. Fields would ever see it.

Mr. Toller, he later confessed, had been dreading that question. He hesitated. “Well —— ” he said.

“I’m never seeing it,” Mr. Fields, 75, wryly declared a few days later, sipping some microwaved sake in the living room of his West Village apartment. The man who introduced Jim Morrison to Nico, Iggy Pop to the world, and cocaine to Iggy Pop, simply doesn’t want to. “That’s Brendan’s thing,” he said.

Danny’s thing — and he is known to people in the business as “Danny” — was music. For roughly two decades, Mr. Fields found himself at the center of a revolution. He broke into the industry working for Elektra Records, first doing publicity for the Doors, then signing both Iggy Pop’s band the Stooges and the MC5 (on the same day), which would ultimately lead to his managing the Ramones. You could make a convincing case that without Danny Fields, punk rock wouldn’t have happened.

“Danny Says,” which took Mr. Toller five years to make — and takes its name from a Ramones song about Mr. Fields — is dominated by Mr. Fields’s tremulous monotone voice-over. But though he may claim that “Danny Says” holds little interest for him, the source material of the movie, his obsessively cataloged archives, certainly does.

Mr. Fields inhabits a cramped apartment filled with more priceless art and artifacts than its few walls can accommodate. As a proudly gay and puckish music industry executive, photographer, D.J. and journalist, Mr. Fields has lived a life most textured, and he has been re-examining it as Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which recently acquired a portion of his archives, comes to collect it one box at a time.

Timothy Young, curator of modern books and manuscripts at the Beinecke, is very excited about the acquisition. “My colleagues looked at me in silence after I pitched them Danny’s archive,” Mr. Young said, affirming Mr. Fields’s renown even in academic circles. “It’s such important material of such an important person.

He also noted that the circumstances for the acquisition were strange. “It’s a new experience for me to work with someone who’s alive.”

Andy Warhol’s manager, the filmmaker Paul Morrissey, knew Mr. Fields well but lost track of him over the years. “Is he still alive?” Mr. Morrissey asked, over the phone. Mr. Morrissey, who was interviewed for “Danny Says,” recalled the many times Mr. Fields would stop by his office — what is referred to in popular culture as the Factory — with some friends in tow. “He was a really fun and intelligent guy,” Mr. Morrissey recalled. “I liked him a lot, but I never really knew what he did.”

Though it has been some time since Mr. Fields was influencing the culture, he is very much alive.

Today, Mr. Fields jokes that he doesn’t even like music, but then he’ll insist that it is the greatest of all the things that matter to him. He also considers himself an equally ardent cinephile — he speaks passionately of classics like “The Thief of Bagdad,” a Technicolor adventure from 1940 that still brings him to tears upon repeat viewings; its score, he says, is the first music he ever loved.

Mr. Fields likes to speak, and does it naturally, openly, and with great brio; it’s his talent. For stories, he’s an endless fount, with enough material to fill a few tomes. Those bites of oral tradition are his legacy. The people he knew, the things he saw, the places he has been: That is the gestalt of Danny Fields. They’re alive in his reminiscences, and in the surfeit of audio recordings, photographs, paintings, books and magazines he lives among.

Danny Fields took the photo for the Ramones 1977 album, Rocket to Russia. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Danny Fields took the photo for the Ramones 1977 album, Rocket to Russia. Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times

Born Daniel Feinberg in Queens in 1939, Mr. Fields was raised Jewish and is the older of two children. He was a bright kid, graduating from high school at 15, then the University of Pennsylvania at 19, and then dropping out of Harvard Law at 20. “I didn’t want to be a lawyer,” he said. “I thought Harvard was where all the beautiful boys went.”

After Harvard, he moved back to New York and became a regular at the San Remo Cafe in Greenwich Village, where he befriended fellow patrons like Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Edward Albee.

Though he found himself surrounded by artists, his own talent was publicizing them. He became an editor at the teen magazine Datebook, where during a fabulously short tenure he managed to ignite controversy by publishing a quote from a 1966 interview by Maureen Cleave with John Lennon who had humbly declared that his band at the time, the Beatles, was more popular than Jesus Christ. (In “Danny Says,” it is asserted that Mr. Fields’s decision led to the band’s eventual dissolution.) He certainly had a yen for stirring the pot. When speaking about his mission statement at Datebook, he said: “I wanted to introduce the Velvet Underground to girls aged 11 to 14.”

From Datebook, he was hired by Elektra Records, which marked a turning point in his career — the observer became a participant.

Mr. Fields surrounds himself with mementos from his life. Some he is parting with now, and the rest he is keeping until he shuffles off: art by the notorious cartoonist Mike Diana, who was convicted of obscenity; hundreds of black-and-white photographs — shots by him and of him and his old coterie including Warhol, John Waters’s drag collaborator Divine, David Bowie and Paul McCartney.

Danny Fields with Nico, photographed by Linda McCartney. Credit Courtesy of the Danny Fields Archives

Danny Fields with Nico, photographed by Linda McCartney. Credit Courtesy of the Danny Fields Archives

“I’m so happy my things are getting a better place to live,” Mr. Fields said.

In January, his first shipment went out to the Beinecke. It was made up of materials largely relating to the Ramones. The second installment, which was collected in July, was mostly audio recordings newly digitized from cassettes, a task that Mr. Fields personally oversaw and underwrote.

The recordings are of his conversations with people he knew or encountered, like Leonard Cohen, whom Mr. Fields took to the Chelsea Hotel to meet some of its tenants, including Edie Sedgwick. “He called me his Virgil,” recalled Mr. Fields, referring to his role as a guide through hell in Dante’s “Inferno.”

The big names he recorded have salience for a lot of music fanatics, but for Mr. Fields, it’s his conversations with the theater critic Donald Lyons (whose estate was also acquired by the Beinecke) and Steve Paul, who owned the Scene (the nightclub where Jimi Hendrix played his first New York show), that he considers highlights of his collection. “Everyone’s heard Lou Reed,” Mr. Fields said, “but no one has tape of Donald screaming, and Steve just being cosmically wonderful.”

Also part of his archives, which he hopes Mr. Young of the Beinecke will acquire, is his pornography: Polaroids of hustlers and videocassettes of blue movies he directed. “I have drawers full of mini-videocassettes of homemade porn,” Mr. Fields said. He described them as fabulous. So far, Yale has not disclosed exactly how much of the pornography it will be taking.

It has been a somber year for Mr. Fields, with the deaths of the punk photographer Leee Black Childers; Arturo Vega, designer of the Ramones’ logo; the poet Rene Ricard; and Tommy Ramone, the original Ramones drummer.

Mr. Fields wistfully acknowledged, “I got more than I deserved,” referring to a career as an important operator in the history of rock ’n’ roll. “I never put my stamp on anything,” he said. “I’ve tried, but never succeeded. I was just a witness.” One could get the impression that Mr. Fields’s self-deprecation belies how he truly feels about himself.

As he takes stock of a storied, tumultuous past, he makes his expectations for the future perfectly clear: He wants more great bands and people in his life to fall in love with. “That’s ‘The Thief of Bagdad,’ ” Mr. Fields said. “To be in love with the princess. Or the prince.”

A version of this article appears in print on December 28, 2014, on page MB1 of the New York edition with the headline: Iggy, Lou, Joey — and Danny.

HorizonVU Music is proud to have donated to the “Danny Says” project.


Buzz_002

What’s The Buzz ?


Happy Belated New Year! Great news, the Danny Says Kickstarter rewards have (finally) begun shipping today, so keep your eyes glued to your mailbox.

T-shirts are on super-soft American Apparel, silkscreened by Chris at DIY Shirts who I’m told was in a few Stooges cover bands in Texas a few years back.

The limited Iggy flask (10 only!) was made by the fine folks at Liquid Courage Flasks.

For those of you who didn’t make the Kickstarter deadline you can now make a tax deductible donation to Danny Says through our fiscal sponsor New York Foundation For the Arts and Artspire. You can also preorder a DVD of Danny Says or I Need That Record! and any of the fab t-shirts above through PayPal to support the film on dannysaysfilm.com

In other Danny Says news, thanks to our Kickstarter backers we’re hard at work on our 17-minute sample sequence which chronicles Danny’s entrance into the world of Pop at Datebook Magazine. We’re using a bunch of archival footage, materials from Danny’s vast archives, and 2D animation. It looks amazing so far. Can’t wait to share it with you.

Flavorwire named us the #4 Must-See Music Documentary of 2013. We hope to have the film out this Fall, but seeing as this is our first time fundraising it will probably take longer than expected.

I did a fun interview with Andy at Music Film Web a great site that is devoted to up-and-coming music documentaries.

John Cale, hot off his BAM residency, gave Danny Fields a nice shout-out in this handy Pitchfork TV video.

Have a wild weekend,

Brendan Toller

Dannysaysfilm.com
Brendantoller.com
Ineedthatrecord.com

P.S. We have a Facebook page for the film at facebook.com/dannysaysfilm
Like Danny Says on Facebook | forward to a friend
Creative Commons © *|2012|* *|Outre Films|*, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Outre Films
8 Kristen Drive
Portland, 06480 CT


Loved By Iggy Pop, Hated By Jim Morrison: The Life and Times of Danny Fields
By Michael Alan Goldberg

Originally posted on the Village Voice Blogs, Mon., Nov. 12 2012 at 3:30 AM
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2012/11/danny-fields-documentary.php

Photo Credit: linda Eastman McCartney

Photo Credit: Linda Eastman McCartney

From pulling needles full of dope out of Iggy Pop’s arm just before showtime and helping turn Jim Morrison into a sex symbol (becoming Morrison’s sworn enemy in the process), to unleashing the Ramones upon the world and later becoming one of the globe’s leading music journalists, NYC’s own Danny Fields has been a pivotal figure in nearly five decades of rock ‘n roll history, albeit mostly behind-the-scenes. But filmmaker Brendan Toller aims to give the 70-year-old Fields his due with a behemoth of a new project — the documentary Danny Says.

Along with writer Justin Skrakowski, Toller’s in the middle of crafting the most detailed look to date at Fields’ fascinating life and times — tight pal of Andy Warhol and regular at the Factory; publicist for the Doors; able assistant to Cream and the Velvet Underground; manager of the Ramones, the Stooges, and Lou Reed; discoverer of the MC5, Allman Brothers, Modern Lovers, Nico, Loudon Wainwright and myriad others; close friend, collaborator and biographer of Linda McCartney; and more.

“I would say he’s definitely aware of his influence and what his taste has done for the culture at large, but in terms of taking credit for it, I don’t think he was ever one to pride himself on the backs of artists,” says Toller. “But he’s a giant, and he’s just this great character, so I think it’s a story worth telling.

A 26-year-old graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Toller’s a “tot” — as Fields likes to call him, Toller laughs — but he’s already got one documentary under his belt: 2008’s I Need That Record!, about the decline of independent record stores around the U.S., which featured Ian MacKaye, Thurston Moore, Noam Chomsky, and others (made on a budget of about $10,000, it was his senior thesis project; you can peep it on Netflix Instant). Toller met and interviewed Fields during the making of that film — introductions were made by the grandmother of his then-girlfriend, photographer Ariel Rosenbloom — though Fields’ clips ended up on the cutting room floor.

“But I was fascinated with him and we talked about so much stuff,” Toller recalls, “and afterwards I kept hearing from mutual friends that ‘Danny’s kind of upset that you haven’t been in touch….’ I was like, what? So I emailed him and we developed this friendship where every time I would travel from Western Mass to New York, I’d hang out with him. Then I moved to Brooklyn and I said to him, ‘If you ever need any help with a memoir or, God forbid, a documentary, I’d love to just help,’ and he said ‘Yeah, let’s get started.’ It’s something people have been trying to get him to do for 30 years, so it’s pretty incredible.”

Fields opened his impressive Rolodex to Toller and hooked him up with the 60-plus people who’ve sat in front of the camera over the past three years–a group that includes Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Tommy Ramone, Judy Collins, Jonathan Richman, and Loudon and Rufus Wainwright.

But Fields has otherwise been entirely hands-off, says Toller. “He was always worried that he was gonna be really impossible to work with, but he hasn’t. He’s not at all peeking over my shoulder in the editing room. He wants people to speak truthfully about him. He’s told people this. People have called him [prior to Toller’s on-camera interviews] and asked him, ‘What can I mention?’ And he says, ‘Tell them everything, I’m not watching any of this, I’m not editing it, that’s their job, I wanna be out of this.”

Toller’s so far gotten over 250 hours of footage from his interviews with Fields and others — in addition to digitizing exclusive photos and video from Fields’ own archives — and says it’s been a fun, surreal experience. Collins told him about talking Fields down from one of his first acid trips while hanging out at a hotel with Leonard Cohen, and both Iggy and Stooges drummer Scott Asheton recalled how Fields quit on them after Asheton drove a 14-foot U-Haul truck under a 13-foot underpass, shearing the top off the vehicle and ruining yet another drug-addled tour.

And just the act of talking with some of his own heroes has been a thrill. “It was crazy for me to be able to go to Iggy’s office-abode in Miami,” says Toller. “I asked him right before the interview, ‘I have to go to the bathroom, where do I go?’ and he goes, ‘Ehh, just pee in the bushes.’ I was like, wow, I peed in Iggy’s bushes! He was really, really gracious and open, and you could tell that Danny really helped his entrance into New York and, for lack of a better word, show business. He says that the Stooges owe a lot to Danny.”

“Early in my friendship [with Danny] I was nervous to ask him, like, ‘Let me hear your crazy Iggy stories’ or ‘I heard you and Jim [Morrison] hated each other?’ But he’s totally open to it,” Toller continues.

“Danny sort of summed up the Morrison thing on film — you know the famous picture that Joel Brodksy took, the one where [Morrison’s] shirtless with the necklace? Danny was there at the shoot and he says, ‘That picture sort of entrapped him because how can anyone look that great ever again?’ Jim wanted to be known as a poet and for his performances, and Danny’s whole thing with the Doors was promoting the image of Jim as this wild new sex symbol that the world had never seen, so that was reason to not get along. There were other escapades, too, like Danny taking Jim’s car keys away because he was too stoned or drunk. They did not like one another, and Danny swears that when he went to go console Morrison’s widow, Pamela, that there was a dog jumping on Danny and Pamela said, ‘The dog! It’s got something to say! It’s Jim [reincarnated]!’ and then the dog puked all over Danny’s lap. So he was like, ‘Yep, it’s Jim.'”

Fields being so hands-off the project includes the financial end, as well. So Toller — like so many other creatives these days — has turned to Kickstarter to generate $20,000 to put together a 20-minute sample cut to shop around for finishing funds. “I hate this part of the job, asking people for money,” says Toller, noting that the Kickstarter cash will go to hiring an additional editor and people to do motion graphics and animation “to give you a break from all the talking heads.” He figures the final budget for Danny Says might extend into six figures, with a big chunk of that going toward licensing fees for all the music in the film.

He also thinks the film could turn out to be significantly longer than your average 90-minute feature. “There’s just so much stuff there. You can’t really tell Danny’s story without telling the story of, say, the MC5. To understand where Danny was coming from with some of those bands, you have to understand certain details and certain stories why they didn’t make it big or why he quit as manager.”

“I also don’t want it to be a Gone With the Wind, that’s like five hours,” he laughs. “So we’ll have to see what it ends up as.”

However it turns out, he’s still not sure Fields himself will ever watch it. “He was originally telling everyone that this film wouldn’t come out until he was dead, that was the stipulation,” Toller says. “Now he’s receptive to the idea that it’ll come out when he’s still with us, but he was like, ‘I think I’m just gonna stand across the street and watch people come out of the theater. Maybe I’ll see it someday.'”


Powered by WordPress. Theme: Motion by 85ideas.
google-site-verification: google0eca8f6b62d9ec8d.html