LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, 1984: If you came of age in the sixties it is more than likely you grew-up watching network television and the prolific offerings of writer and TV producer Sherwood Schwartz. A dazzling parade of perfect Brady Bunch families, gripping prehistoric drama, amazing dentistry, neat endings and insidiously effective commercials provided the template for most kids and their parents on how to appear to others.
For most, except your humble narrator (YHN) it seems.
“It’s one world, and we all have to learn to live with each other.” – Sherwood Schwartz
Having lived in Spain for his formative years, YHN returned to the U.S. shortly after his tenth birthday to find himself socially inept and lacking the lingua franca of pop culture that everyone else seemed to command. In an effort to remedy this, he began watching television with a vengeance akin to John Wayne in “The Searchers.”
Sherwood Schwartz, Jennifer Schwartz and the golden age of Gilligan
The perfect design of Sherwood Schwartz’s programs had seared the developing goop in childish minds across America and soon marked his brand on YHN as well.
The seven castaways from Gilligan’s Island, in perpetual reruns, provided a bizarre update of classic Greek drama with each castaway embodying one of the “seven deadly sins.”
The culture clash/time paradox investigations in “It’s About Time” stoked the imagination and, his ne plus ultra, the searing examination and love letter to the new America “The Brady Bunch” was like discovering the Rosetta stone of a culture that enveloped new arrivals in a heady ambrosia of cathode bliss.
Jordan and Jennifer Schwartz and teenage angst
Like so many, by the time teenage angst begins, the lure of rock and roll, with its promise of sex and drugs and…mostly sex, begins to eclipse TV. Those shows remain, however, locked deep in memory and as we go through life we experience weird twinges of what seem to be deja-vu but, are more than likely a hazily-remembered scene from an old program viewed as a child.
Gurl Thirty-Nine’s brother triggered a flood of Southern California dreamin’ when YHN first met him and he mentioned, with that deceptively casual air that all kids from L.A. seem to cultivate, his Uncle was “in the business.”
Jennifer Schwartz and punk rock fanzine “We Got Power”
In a perfect world ruled by television tropes, Jennifer Schwartz should have been Sherwood’s kin. In real life, her brother is a spieler of the highest order and anyway, she is even better as a true Gurl: albeit not related to Sherwood in any way.
Jennifer, her brother, and his best friend had bonded early over the majesty of rock but soon found themselves fully immersed in the burgeoning LA punk scene.
They and their group of skaters, malcontents, friends and part-time enemies all worked on or supported the fanzine “We Got Power.”
Chronicling the scene and supporting bands like Redd Kross, Black Flag, The Minutemen and David Markey’s Sin 34, Gurl Thirty Nine was part and parcel of the whole Santa Monica skate and music scene.
Jennifer Schwartz, David Markey, and Dogtown boys.
She is known for being up for anything and a wicked wit honed in the killer cauldron of caustic children known as the Santa Monica school system.
Moving with ease between the gnarl curl skateboard pool parties of the Dogtown Boys and the snarl whirl madness of LA punk, Gurl Thirty Nine seemingly stood apart yet appeared fully enmeshed in a nascent scene that seemed propelled as much by bad television as brilliant belligerence.
Jennifer Schwartz and “Desperate Teenage Lovedolls”
Being on call for films being made under the “We Got Power” banner brought Jennifer closer to the members of Redd Kross, especially during the conception and filming of the magnum opus “Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.”
It was during this time that Jennifer cemented her friendship with Gurl Thirty Seven and began to craft a body of work that her sorta Uncle Sherwie would have been proud of.
Being in a band in a movie is very different than being in a band playing in front of strangers. Many actors simply cannot perform in front of an audience. Not so with Gurl Thirty-Nine.
In anticipation of the sequel “Lovedoll Superstar,” Jennifer began performing at live gigs all around LA in support of the film which was being distributed by SST.
Although YHN had met her socially a few times in the company of her brother, it was during this period, doing publicity for the project that his respect and simple acknowledgment of her inchoate gifts, began.
Jennifer Schwartz – Modern Lovedoll
She is cool. Never makes you feel small. She embodies a peculiar determination and casual air that is distinctly Southern Californian in its radiance.
Her easy laugh and unflagging support of artists and nobodies alike combine with a cynical eye and rapid-fire way with words to make everyone feel at ease with her. Gurl Thirty-Nine is a model for how to be nice and easy while all around you are losing their minds.
She showed YHN that being creative doesn’t mean you have to be difficult. That following a dream doesn’t give you license to crush the dreams of others in its pursuit. She made those TV notions of friends for life, siblings to tease and adore and a finely tuned morality, real.
Gurl Thirty-Nine now works for Fender Guitar and is moving rock into the 22nd century, thus ensuring a long line of Lovedolls and punks to make the world a better place.
No beer or ludes were consumed in the writing of this piece.
YHN is Damon Wetly, who is a character from “Vapor” and whose life changes irrevocably by circumstance and a Gurl. Unconventional in most ways, Wetly tries to make things happen for the Gurl and succeeds in unforeseen ways and by improbable means.
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