Diary of a worker at Stagefright Photographic Studios.
All opinions are their own and not necessarily accurate.
It would be easier to not have loved
To not be blown by feral winds
Or fall to earth for fickle ones
It would be kinder to not have known
Loneliness born of not alone
Nor stand between these trees
Maria La Gorda, CubaMaria La Gorda, Cuba
05 December 2014
Picture by marc marnie
Apparently (one of The Boss's favourite words, apparently).
Apparently he has been working on a cunning plan, disappearing for days at a time to a place where, he says, the temporal and the geographic mingle uncomfortably.
This is the sort of thing we have to put up with, but still he goes on;
A place by the sea where Grand Hotel has given way to Granny Flats and frozen families huddle round ice cream cones while others indulge the optimistic misery of mini golf. Where signs warn of surveillance cameras long since stolen. A place we go to kill time, only to discover that it is time that kills us.
Kitty corner from his old high school is a bar where he bought his first drink, a "Black & Tan" (understandably known in Ireland as a "Half & Half"). His young accomplice in crime sidled up to the bar with exaggerated nonchalance and asked, in the belief that this was what people ordered in bars, for "The Usual, please...".
45 years later and the bar is unchanged. Prices are higher. The barmaid is younger, probably somebody's grand-daughter. He has not one, but two daughters older than she. A group of men he may have shared a classroom with sit where they always sit and discuss a recent tour they've just completed. He tried to eavesdrop for a while, assuming they were musicians, but gave them their privacy on realising they were golfers.
In the main street small shops doze like somnambulists from a previous century. The great Ballroom where he sneaked in underage to hear his first live bands is boarded up and could have been written by H.P. Lovecraft. That it was successful in the 1960s and 70s is testament to a different societal attitude to live music, now overwhelmed by Simon Cowell and his soul sucking social asset strippers to be replaced by the junk food of X-Factor. Once upon a time we believed The Blues, Jazz and Rock were the Devil's music. While we were distracted The Devil took Cowell's form and made media deals.
And if you think The Boss can rant, here's what Hunter Thompson had to say:
"The music business is a cruel and shallow moneytrench, a long plastic hallway where thieves & pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
Apparently there is also a beach of long and level sand, keeping time like John Bonham to soothe all things.
Apparently he has found a property there, going at a reasonable price.
Gregg AllmanGregg Allman at The Usher Hall, Edinburgh
6th July 2011
Photograph by marc marnie
The Boss is not a clarty man, but has spent much of the last week in his favourite T-shirt, a souvenir of the only time he saw a real live Allman Bro.
Nearly the whole front row of Edinburgh's Usher Hall was block booked by friends, many more were dotted around the auditorium. Everyone loves the Allman Bros.
It was the 6th of July 2011.
Photo passes had been arranged weeks in advance, Getty Images were awaiting images. The only worry was a delay in the train returning Janet from a work trip to London.
Texts also flew to America where there was sudden confusion over the photo pass...
Here's the system: Photographer applies for pass, pass is arranged, photographer arrives at venue, collects the pass and spends the first three numbers making photographs. This is a wonderful example of a universe in harmony with itself.
Just occasionally, though, there is a bump on the event horizon and the photographer arrives to find that nobody knows anything about a pass. Not only that, but nobody really cares very much about the pass. Other, that is, than the photographer.
The most annoying thing is it's entirely understandable. Only the photographer really imagines that, in an evening dedicated to a stage full of Olympian heroes playing actual live music, his role is of any great significance. It really isn't. At least not until at very least the next day when the photos appear in the press or, better still, forty years on when they have become history.
Imagine you are a Tour Manager:
The get-in and get-out are probably the least of your worries; there's also accommodation, meals, transport, per diems, equipment, merchandise, ticket sales, backlines, lighting, sound, accounting and much, much more. And this assumes the band to be automata - not a wavy brained bunch of artists who are appropriately behaviourally challenged. I don't mean to imply they are all Keith Moons, but certain artist related needs must also be catered for.
Anyway; now you have the band behind the curtain.... the audience, hopefully, in front.. and you get a call to say "there's some guy out here with a camera asking about his photo pass..."
Even as 'some guy with a camera' I know the Boss's sympathies are usually with the T.M. (There are some notable exceptions which will undoubtedly appear in later blogs)
To cut a long story short, if it's not too late, after a number of gut wrenchingly expensive mobile calls to London and New York, a pass was grudgingly forthcoming and access permitted from a distance for two numbers only.
The backstage portrait got away.
Yet the abiding memory is of the beautiful show
It may have been mellower and sadder than anticipated but from the opening Statesboro' Blues it was clear that the former wild man's heart and soul were more than a match for any aging of the bones. Gregg Allman's voice remains one of the most recognisable and finest in the history of music.
And he wrote Whipping Post.
To cap things off Janet rushed in direct from the train and just in time for the final, and best, four numbers.
Afterwards, claiming she needed a change of shirt after the train journey and despite protestations from the ever financially challenged Boss, she bought an obscenely expensive T-shirt.
Of course, it later turned out to be a gift for him.
He is wearing it now.
RIP GREGG ALLMAN (8.12.1947 - 27.5.2017)
Fred Sims & Bible m111-3-10Fred Sims & Bible m111-3-10<br/> b<br/>Photograph by marc marnie<br/> <br/>WORLD RIGHTS
Fred Sims Fred Sims <br/>Photograph by marc marnie<br/> <br/>WORLD RIGHTS
After 23 years the Leith studio has closed.
The end of Marnie's Mystical Emporium and the end of a brief but fabulous era.
Where once there were four day parties, weddings, jam sessions, recordings and countless portrait sittings, there are now just boxes and boxes and boxes.
The yellow bentwood chair that sat hundreds and hundreds of invariably wonderful people now sits piled high with dusty books and vinyl awaiting selection.
The boss is fond of saying he dislikes people but loves the person - each of them has given him the images he made.
His philosophy (and he has a fair few) is that the portrait photographer doesn't take a picture, but is given it.
He never made a lot of money, was never very good at that bit, frequently forgetting to bill the client and always undercharging, but was so happy just to be doing what he does.
Through no fault of their own, he and Janet are divorcing amicably (something he refers to as Jaxit, which he thinks is funny but is probably bravado).
After five months of surprise, denial and eventual acceptance he has now entered his scariest phase: Positivity.
"Art is in the accidents" he says, "Make the pain work for you"; "Comfort is my enemy"... I could go on.
He certainly does.
He has even started meditating before going to the gym of a morning, although he is uncharacteristically quiet about it, saying only "It works".
The office continues as long as there are internet cafes.
The enormous task of digitising the negatives from 1977 - 2004 has paused for breath, but it seems he has a cunning plan.
There are some big announcements on the way...
Love, Light & Peace