American Originals

Several years ago, i stumbled onto a book called "American Extremes", which was about many of the (then) underground trends, lifestyles, and cults, etc lurking just below the radar here in the U.S. of A. It was way before idiotic activities such as "rollerblading" were labeled "extreme sports", and was one of the first times the very term "extreme" was used to describe these types of shenanigans - now of course it's become a catch-all marketing gimmick-phrase used to sell anything from energy drinks to rubber trousers.
The book showcased (at least visually) some of the things we were into growing up, like skateboarding and the wonderful world of punk rock, etc, which was a still a bit unusual at the time - apart from Thrasher Magazine there wasn't too much out there for us in the blazing 100 degree Texas heat - but the main reason we liked it was because it had pictures of half of the people we knew who hung out at the Clown Ramp, teenage punk rockers and skinheads, already covered in tattoos, skateboarders "of note" with crazy dreads (for a short time i remember dreads actually did look cool, i dont know what happened though cuz god damn what a hippie nightmare now!), and so on..
Anyway, a few years later i started working in the film business and got called to assist an art director on a Negro Modello Beer commercial. "Take the labels off these 500 beer bottles", said George Toomer, Jr, who later became a very good friend of mine. As we got to know each other i found out who his dad was, and realized he was George Toomer, Sr, the guy who wrote "American Extremes". He was not only an author but a prolific and well-known graphic artist, and all around interesting character.
More recently I had called George Sr to talk about doing the artwork for upcoming Lost At Sea EP, we talked and bounced some ideas around, and after seeing some of my kooky sketches he paused, and then diplomatically and politely stated, "Well, the logo idea is a bit UN-interesting.." It still puts a smile on my face.
Sadly George Toomer, Sr. died a few weeks ago, and he will be missed. But he lives on through his artwork and books, and especially his perspective and kooky sense of humor - check out this clip from the Baltimore TV News from back in 1982 and you'll see what i mean...

1 comment:

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