A few years later as I explored Venice on my bicycle and on foot, I think I was on foot, and someone showed me where this guy was living because he was getting famous around town (a photo of his gourd tree was in the LA Free Press). Apparently, he regarded Venice of the time much as I did. The canals were sluggish and smelled bad many times. Venice itself was crumbling into decay. Mayor Yorty wanted to bulldoze the whole place and build anew, and real estate speculators hopped on board his bandwagon, realizing a few thin lines of poetry and bongo drums were all that separated them from lucrative beachfront. John Haag didn't like Mayor Yorty's plans, and everyone pushed back.
On August 15, 1965, Partch signed a lease on an abandoned laundromat at 1110 West Washington Blvd. (now Abbot Kinney Blvd.), described then as "a noisy street in bohemian Venice." Sculptor Charles Mattox, one of the first kinetic sculptors in America, who had a studio nearby, had suggested the place. At the studio, rehearsals began for an evening of music called the Lone Pine Concert, which took place on August 29th. Partch then began what he later called "three months of turmoil" getting the place organized for his ultimate creative output.
During that autumn in Venice, Partch built two aluminum Cone Gongs, made from the greenish yellow nose cones of airplane gas tanks obtained from salvage at the Douglas Aircraft Company. He also built the Harmonic Canon II. And then he began writing his opus -"Delusion of the Fury" that November, which was completed on March 17, 1966, and premiered in January 1969 at UCLA. The piece is one of the best examples of Partch´s concept of "corporeality," or "total theater," integrating music, dance, stagecraft and ritual.
His famed work "And On the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma" was also written while he lived here in Venice.
West Washington Blvd. must have been a tough place to live in the mid-sixties. Many of Partch's letters reflect the noise, drunks, and danger. He also writes of a "terrible aloneness."
(I used to see Harry walking around a bit or standing near his place there, but I didn't know he was going to become a famous musician.)
Labels: Harry Partch, John Haag, Venice as it was