Tales Of The ACTION MAN (Fiction???)

by Roger Neville-Neil

From Aural Innovations #11 (July 2000)


  1. Twice As Much Fun... Twice As Much Action... Man
  2. Faster Than A Commuter Train!
  3. Lights Camera, Action Man!
  4. If You Can't Breeze Through - Draw Attention To Yourself
  5. The Simple Art Of Slumming
  6. Shakedown On First Avenue
  7. Great Balls Of Fire

Chapter 4:
If You Can't Breeze Through - Draw Attention To Yourself

I had just acquired a wide angle lens for my camera. King Black Acid would be throwing a CD release party soon and tonight Helio Sequence were playing at the Crystal Ballroom. Excellent. A chance to test out the new lens before the big event.

It had had a strange week. I was contacted concerning a Hawkwind USA tour and passed on information to Denny at Cavity Search Records and Daniel with King Black Acid. The idea I had was to see if I could arrange to have them open for Hawkwind.

After gathering the information and sending it off to Jim, the guy who set up the Strange Daze festival, I got an update. The USA hawkwind tour wouldn't happen in March. The time had passed to alter Hawkwind's travel plans after the New Zealand tour. They would have to fly straight back to England from L.A.

Before leaving to go to the Crystal Ballroom I rang up Daniel and filled him in. He is so pleasant to talk to. I told him about my new wide angle lens and he said "Now you need a fish-eye." He proceeded to tell me about cool camera tricks. His mother used to take photos. I guess she got a lot of practise... he boyfriend worked for the Grateful Dead.

I dressed for the show and laid out all my gear. Film, wide angle lens, two rolls of life savers, pen, note pad, flash light, and camera. All concealed about my person. I opted for the blue rain jacket. The rest of my attire was all stealth. Black boots, black pants, and black shirt with shoulder epaulettes.

I hopped off the Max train just under the Burnside bridge. I hoofed it around a few side streets... past the conga line of homeless people queued up at the down and out place flashing "SALVATION" in bright neon. From here I angled back to Burnside and walked straight up to the Crystal Ballroom and entered with my ticket in hand.

A guy was leaning on the wall to my left. Just watching. Another fellow was right dead center waiting to tear my ticket and give me the once over. Hey what da ya know, they actually do a frisk at this place.

I fanned my jacket at my sides and let it fall freely around myself. Then raised both my arms to my side as the frisk commmenced. The conversation was friendly and casual as the guy in the middle of the room set out on this mundane task. After all, I was pleasant and charming. Why be alarmed or threatened by a nice guy?
"You don't have anything illegal on you?" he asks.
"No, " I reply, grinning back at him.

His hands worked their way from my feet up to my waist. Then his hands slipped under my jacket and raised upward toward my arms. This is when his hand brushed something under my right arm. Something concealed and bulky under my right arm. He let out a startled "OH!!!!" and quickly backs away from me.

Well, now was the moment of truth. time to tell him what I was concealing to ease his alarm. The way he reacted I could imagine he thought he'd discovered a shoulder holster.
"It's a camera.... and a lens."

Well, Denny said if I ran into trouble getting my camera in at a place to tell 'em I'm with the record label. Alright, here goes. "I'm here for Cavity Search!"
The guy who had frisked me burst out laughing. Biggest laugh I'm got in a long time... and I wasn't even cracking a joke!

Lovely, they have got to chance the name of this record label. It sounds like I am trying to come in with concealed objects solely for the purpose of attending a graphic strip search.
"Ah, I'm here to photograph Helio Sequence for Cavity Search Records."
My personal frisker repeats what I. just said to the guy leaning against the wall.

The guy leaning against the wall flips back the collar of his shirt. "Let me check this...." He speaks into his collar. "I got a guy down here. Says he's with Cavity Search to photograph Helio Sequence. Are cameras okay?"
I wait as something replies quietly to him.
"Ya, go ahead." He points up the stairs.

ACTION TIP #1: if you can't breeze through.... draw attention to yourself and dazzle them with your charm and confidence. Act like you know what you're doing and that you belong there!

Once upstairs, I speak with Benjamin from Helio Sequence and give him a brief update on events since last I saw him. I mention the new lens and wander off to see how the stage looks and to prepare my camera.

The first roll I shoot using the wide angle lens. It sure is a big change lining up shots with this lens instead of the 50MM lens. I feel like I am miles away when I look through the view finder. But it has the advantage that I can now get both of the band members in the shot easily.

For the second roll I switch back to the 50MM lens and take shots like I normally would do. The idea is to develop both rolls and look over the results and see what I notice before the big King Black Acid show in February.

I spot Chris and Denny from Cavity Search in the crowd. Scanning the crowd further I also notice Doran who does the text on the web page for KBA. Eric from King Black Acid is also present in the crowd. I go over to talk to Doran and Denny after the set.

Denny tells me he got the last set of KBA photos from the OHM show. "The're killer," he says. Then he tells me that the promos he sent out of the EP are getting good reviews. He walks over to the drinking section. This is the side of the ballroom with a rope tether running down the middle of the room. I follow him and get my had inked with a florescent stamp on the back of my right hand.

Later I notice a chap that catches my eye as being unusual. He is about 5 foot 6 inches. Wearing a suit and might be 300 pounds. He doesn't look like the sort you would see in a suit. He has an urgency to suddenly be whereever I am yet backs off and hangs off to the side. We exchange glances. Sizing each other up.

I get a drink at the bar and walk past a group of people talking as I do I notice a second chap that catches my eye. He is about 5 foot 7 inches... hairline receaded into that middle aged horse-shoe pattern. He is also wearing a suit. His hands are clasped together in front of himself. He appears to be alert and just watching-- people--not the show.

I sit down at a bench joining someone that came up earlier to ask me about Helio Sequence, about their record deal, their show, etc... very nosy questions. His name is James, he says he saw me at Berbati's. I told him I remember him... I was sitting at a video loading my camera. James gave me a startled look... he realized I must catalog events and can recall fine detail.

I look over at James when I sit down and give a nod-glance over to MR. Hefty-bag and Mr. Horse-shoe hair "So what's with the butler?"
James give him the quick squint. "Limo Driver?"
"Hm, perhaps... he sure doesn't look like he's here for the show he looks like he's working." In fact he looks like a hired hand. Security. And I expect Mr. Hefty-bag is the muscle. Yeah, ones the brains, the look out. The other is the body, the rough boy. Alright, now who are they minding?

Later I go out to the dance floor for the Main Act-- Dehlia. Sort of a techno-screechy act I think. A front woman in leather pants bellowing, sometimes almost blues-like. Other times almost like a rave. One guy in the band has an untamed thatch of blue hair.

The floor is jumping. The Crystal Ballroom has a special floor that bounces with your movement and the folks around me sure were moving. The place was hopping. The singer was waling.

Then I spotted Mr. Hefty-bag over to my right. Beyond him was Mr. Horse-shoe hair at the very edge. I decide to conceal my camera as I am about to leave. I slide off the right side of my jacket... slip my arm through the camera strap and slide my arm back into the right sleeve-- giving the sleeve a quick snap. Within seconds my camera vanishes from sight.

Glancing to the right I see Mr. Horse-shoe hair looking deadon at me. Well, I got his attention rather quickly. That means the person they are minding is near me. I glance behind me and see a tall blonde woman dancing in place. Another woman is next her also dancing in place... getting into the music. These two were over at the bar when I was earlier. In fact these two were in the group. I had walked around when I spotted the suits. Interesting. These two dames come equipped with body guards.

I walk out of the hall and say goodnight to my frisker. Heading toward the Galleria Max Station. I get there and look West... no lights from train. It should be very close to arrival time. I glance to the East and see the tail end of the Max train.

Damn, just missed it.

Action Man leaps into action. Running madly for the Oak Street station to head off the train. What is it about Helio Sequence that causes evenings to sometimes end in an ACTION MAN marathon race against a train?

I dart through the sidewalks and street crossings. I am a block away from the station. A black man across the street looks up at me and yells out "Got any spare change?" I burst into laughter. "no, not right now."

I make it to the station and have a minute or two to wait for the train. Hmm, Action Man is getting faster! Must be all the good living.

CLICK HERE to continue to Chapter Five: The Simple Art Of Slumming

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