Sunday, December 28, 2008

In Heaven Everything is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre, by Josh Frank and Charlie Buckholtz

For years Peter Ivers has been a blurb in the RE/Search Incredibly Strange Music II mag for me, and a bit more to boot. The excellent Jello Biafra interview/rant therein includes a brief description of him, and I've always been intrigued, despite the description's mere paragraph length. I found this unexpected gem of a book about Ivers at the always astounding Oakland Public Library (Main Branch), and blazed though it during a short trip to the island of Hawaii.
Peter Iver's story is one of brilliance and tragedy. The authors use biographical writing, verbal testimonials/interviews from his numerous friends, and interviews with the LAPD Homicide Division to tell his story. It's a great way to format a biographical book, as each section never outwears it's welcome. The transitions from pure biography to interview make for compelling reading throughout. Obviously it doesn't hurt that Peter Iver's life was one of great interest: he surrounded himself with creative people, and was involved in diverse projects. If you've laughed at the folk tune scene in Airplane! or tripped out on the woman singing from within the radiator in Erasherhead, you've been exposed to Iver's work. The man decided to take the stage as the Nicks/Buckingham Fleetwood Macs' opener clad only in a diaper. He put up with Lee Ving's tough guy act as the host of New Wave Theatre. He got kudos from Muddy Waters for his harmonica playing. Frank and Buckholtz do a fine job of describing all these aspects of his life, along with his vexing inability to realize the Star Power he was so clearly deserving of. They also do an admirable job of attempting to shed light onto the tragic murder of Ivers. Although they point no fingers, they do allow those close to him and to his homicide case to give their opinions as to "whodunnit".
In Heaven Everything is Fine was a great read. If you're at all interested in the hidden aspects of Hollywood, or the charismatic and/or quirky historical figures found there, you'll surely enjoy reading it. I bet you'll also be saddened by the senseless death of such a great character. I wonder if the truth will ever be told.

7 comments:

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Hey! Looks like yet another title I must search out. Have you ever heard his Knights of the Blue Communion LP (recently reissued by Hux Records)? Supposed to exhibit heavy Beefheart damage, at least for a pop record. Japanese collectors used to always ask us at Record Recycler if we had this one, but me, I've never seen a copy.

Disaster Amnesiac said...

I've not heard Knights, but was able to find the BRILLIANT Terminal Love on iTunes! Thank heaven for small miracles. Seriously, M, it's a great book. I'll have to check HUX!
PS-after a year, I finally purchased some MU/Frankhauser stuff, thanks to your post. I think that being in Hawaii was the catalyst!
Prospero Ano!

Michael said...

Doood. Seriously, Merrell F. is one of my most favorite Californians ever. Hell he was so Californian, he hadda move to Hawaii! I'm such a fan, I actually own original copies of his HMS Bounty and MU LPs, and even got an autographed copy of one of his 80's recs (ok ok: so he'll pretty much sign ANYTHING you order directly from him. But still it's cool!) Which Fankhauser rec have you been listening to?

Disaster Amnesiac said...

I ordered the Sundazed MU reissue for starters.......

Disaster Amnesiac said...

Just listened to the Ivers stuff on HUX. The book goes into some detail about the making of that record. Sounds like the Slits, in a way! I have an Ornette record that Asha Puthli sings on. The world is filled with interesting people. Just gotta look around.....

Pig State Recon said...

ok so I FINALLY got hold of this book (took a while for cheap copies to filter overseas). Will be reading it over the Xmas break - thanks again for writing about this one. Peter Ivers was the Chuck Barris of The Underground!