For almost 30 years, the single word which might best fit the Gestalt of NHRP’s “Los Angeles correspondent,” Danny Sugerman, the face he’s with extreme volition worn for the world, is SLEAZE. The night I met him, at an L.A. party in ’72, the first thing he told me was “My father works for the Mafia, and I’m a heroin addict” — uttered with a great deal of teenage pride, like Can you top either of these? Two cool.
I’ve never known the veracity of boast number one, nor of number two vis-à-vis then, but in the lead story of Methadone Today, Volume III, Number 4 (www.tir.com/~yourtype/v3_n04.htm), Danny waxes loud and long on select details of his eighteenth detox attempt. A tour-de-force combo of personal confession (the bitter — ouch — Truth) and whole-cloth William Burroughs, of empiricism and giddy egoism (nothing in the closet ’bout me-me-ME), “Delayed Onset Withdrawal” is the first thing I’ve read by the guy since 1980.
Sleaze, and if there’s another word, maybe Jim, y’know Morrison — he’s made great hay of their ten- (or was it five?) minute relationship. Though others who were there insist that when the Doors still included Jim, before he took his death cab to Paris, young Danny’s bond to the Lizard King was no more, no less, than to lurk about the band office seeking ways to be “useful,” opening fan mail and perhaps going out for donuts, and while I’ve heard two of the three living Doors mention in passing that the growed-up Danny made their skin crawl, the dude has by sheer tenacity parlayed the lurk and its aftermath into an official calling card as “long-time Doors associate.”
In 1980, he fleshed out and flavored Jerry Hopkins’ stab at a Morrison bio, something variously described as a skeleton of research and a flawed ms. that had been lying around unpublishable for years. The result was No One Here Gets Out Alive, a ponderous and despicable piece of celebrity fluff, heavy on the “dark side” (ooh, Jim was such a bad boy) and including a cameo by a kid named “Danny.” When it came out, he phoned to beckon me into the night: “Let’s celebrate Jim.” Uh, thanks but no-thanks…I’d rather walk my schnauzer.
In my subsequent review, I wrote: “Hey, this book stinks. I don’t wanna really play its game, but one error in particular really irks my recollective whatsis. I was there at the ‘infamous’ Singer Bowl show of ’68 and all I gotta say’s Jim was wearing brown leather (not black) and if ‘hundreds of teenagers were bleeding’ at concert’s-end (p. 195) then I guess it must’ve been menstrual or out in the parking lot because it certainly wasn’t within proximity of the stage. Little things like that (including bogus alternate death scenarios and the scumbait sham of coddling the myth that Jim — like Paul — might still be alive) would be enough to make the cognoscenti puke if not for the trail of vom independently left in the wake of the BOOK AS IDEA.” Idea? Oh, something about the intrinsic — inseverable — connection between genius and perversion, or creativity and excess…or something.
Since then he’s had his hand in another two or possibly three Doors books, plus a Guns N’ Roses book…say, that’s really branching out. I think the word for this is “rock-sploitation,” evincing an entrepreneurial, as opposed to strictly journalistic, agenda. (When, to cover the release of Oliver Stone’s The Doors, a European TV crew was dispatched to L.A., he wasn’t deemed a relevant enough “journalist” to bother interviewing.)
For a glimpse at another of his entrepreneurial fortes — rock manager — check out Please Kill Me, where on p. 251 Ron Asheton tells a good’un ’bout the time Danny left his “charge,” a fucked-up Iggy Pop (wearing a dress), to fend for himself when three surf louts began pounding him outside a David Bowie show, leaving him bloody and minus a couple teeth on the pavement in Hollywood.
Last I heard about Danny he was living with Fawn Hall — remember her? (What a perfectly corrupt universe.)
For whatever reason(s), Danny didn’t make it to the first and only mass gathering of the U.S. rockscribble crowd, known to history, generally and simply, as “The Rockwriters Convention,” Memphis ’73, but Tiven was there, as was San Diego’s Cameron Crowe. By sucking up to John King, marketing director for Ardent Records — a subsidiary of Stax, which underwrote the whole silly event — Tiven had a major hand in putting together the guest list, guaranteeing a sizable ’zine contingent. Since the National Rock Writers Association, as Stax had dubbed the throng, was an org of no card-carrying members, nor even of cards, to be among the chosen 140-plus signified equal parts much and nothing. Given the basic unreality of the affair, its dream-within-a-dream sound and fury, all intimations of pecking order were foolish and fruitless (the rock-crit “profession” being all of five-six years old anyway).
Still and all, a couple things about Cameron set him down a peg from even the rank and file of ’zine greenhorn dust-suckers. Unless he had an NHRP affiliation that no one was aware of (S.D. correspondent-designate?), he for all intents & purps was not even a — how you say? — symbolically employed writer-in-training, most likely just someone Tiven knew, or knew of, through the teen-auxiliary grapevine. While hardly the sole unaffiliated writeboy at the convention, or the only one who had yet to earn a dime from writing, he was for damnsure, in more ways than one, the YOUNGEST such being in attendance: 16, maybe only 15, a goony-goofy gosh-oh-gee KID, blowing on a goddam kazoo. Or maybe an ocarina.
Recorder? Something. Playing Name This TV Themesong with anyone who would sit still for 30 seconds, not really that tough a score on a bus full of stationary writefolk en route to a Budweiser brew tour — playing it with, to, and at us…Bewitched…The Flintstones…Father Knows Best…The Jetsons…give the boy a bubble gum cigar!