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From book « Postcards from a Makeshift Reality » on channnel www.YouTube.com/detroitannie:
DETROIT ANNIE HOMEPAGE
“I am an orphan, alone, because I fell from the sky like a stone, and had to be fetched from the deep like a stone” (cry of Merlin)
“even if father and mother abandon me, Yahweh will take me up!”
All material for non-profit information only; copyright reserved Detroit Annie,
alias: Annie Marie Biesanz, vv Natalelli, sp Waloszek - née Coppock-Kransdorf,
alias.: Topanga Annie, Tambacounda Flash, Awa nDiaye, Xanadu Annie, Anniemagic, AgeorgeSand
NOT ALL MATERIALS POSTED (uncertain interest?)- email requests considered.
Juggernaut Oblivion Express;.French communes, Senegal documentary;Jerusalem&HolyLand; Sinai; Upper & Lower Egypt
Also contributions to: Whole Earth Catalogue, People’s Free Video, Chicago: Red Star Press, Acme Radio, SF: Airwaves Radio, Ann Arbor: SF Black Panther Newspaper, Morgan Sound & Recording Studios, London: International Times Newspaper, Time Out Magazine, Undergrount Press Service (UPS), Ann Arbor and Goddard College Media conf, others.
Detroit Annie Bio,
Detroit Annie, styled “Queen of the Underground” by Creem Magazine’s Dave Marsh in a Rolling Stone interview of 1971, was a prominent feminist media personality of the International Underground Press Movement from 1966-80, camping a new breed of underground archetypical personage, toughly independent earth-mother and strong, ballsy feminist accompanied by her blond hippy wise-child son, and commanding the respect of her peers in the politico-cultural media movements of the 70s.
Issued from a mixed cultural and politically radicalized family under McCarthyism oppression, she participated in early Civil Rights marches and anti-war protests with the Quakers, organized high school political protests against Air Raid Drills to give the impression kids might survive nuclear war by crawling under a desk - and against military recruitment in the High Schools. In response to repression these and other “free speech” issues, she organized a 1964 High School Free Speech Movement Walkout that made national headlines in Time and Newsweek, which was picked up by or coincided with the FSM movement in Berkeley, California, blossoming out into a rising political awareness among the hippie summer of love folk.
Detroit Annie, born in Baltimore Maryland, grew up in New York City; her family driven west by political repression, Youngstown, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pa, and Detroit where she came of age married and had a son Jesse, engaged in student political activism at Wayne State University’s pre-medical school obtaining straight A’s, until forced to abandon studies to raise her son alone. Following the “Summer of Love” out to the Berkeley/San Francisco Bay area she found a job as chemist and apartment on Ashbury Street, just two blocks up from the Grateful Dead and two doors up from the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club. Quit her chemist job due to sexual harassment, her first Bay Area published photos were taken during Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement and successive People’s Park Uprisings, illustrating most of the Underground Press of the times, reporting for which brought involvement in networking Underground Projects like Project One, Family Dog on the Great Highway, Fillmore West, and even WEC (Whole Earth Catalogue).
Co-founder and co-owner of Detroit’s Grande Ballroom from it’s inception in 1966, – beginning with the local band MC5, soon hosting all the greats Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Who, the Grateful Dead, Taj Majal, etc.- Following the “Summer of Love” to the west coast, in 1969 co-founder with Chet Helms, Jerry Garcia and many others, of “the Family Dog on the Great Highway”, Helm’s 2nd music emporium after being forced to close the Avalon Ballroom in SF – as well as participating in the organization of punctual independent mass music concert and events such as People’s Park (1 & 2), Goose Lake, Ann Arbor and Goddard Vermont Nationwide Media Conferences, her main area of activity was as photo-reporter, journalist, graphics artist and poet, turning to radio in 1971 with WPLJ experimental radio in NY (ABC FM) and to documentary and commercial film in 1978 – Between times, working throughout the UK, Europe and parts of Africa, participating in the French student uprising at the new Free University of Vincennes, under leadership by Daniel Cohn-Bendit (aka “Danny the Red”, now a European Deputy of the Ecology Party) after the uprising at Nanterre University in ‘68.
Co-founder, co-editor and graphic artist the Berkeley Tribe, SF Express/Good Times, the 3rd version of the Ann Arbor Argus, and SF’s lavish Sundance Magazine – as well as Airwaves radio/sound studios at Project One in San Francisco, Acme Radio in Chicago, Morgan Sound Studios in Ann Arbor, she occasionally read her poetry on KSFX radio (Dave McQueen) and collaborated with KSAN’s Scoop Nisker & KQED’s Larry Bensky, was a permanent freelance writer and photographer for most of the bay area underground newspapers of the day, even crossing the Atlantic to prove her mettle as an investigative reporter in a civil war zone and other original reporting themes, eventuagetting involved in film through a Paris studio located downstairs from her first Vincennes apartment.
Touching and touched by the lives of creative movers and shakers of the 70s, Detroit Annie marked an epoch and changed her world by peaceful means, leaving traces in the works of other artists, such as the 1970 Judy Grahn poem “Detroit Annie Hitchhiking” performed by Ani DiFranco, at Carnegie Hall, 2002, Commander Cody’s song “Annie’s been working on the Midnight Shift” in 1971, cartoon characters, photos by Chicago Institute’s Bob Mader of the “Cross Country Extravaganza aboard “the Juggernaut Oblivion Express” (name lent to Brian Auger’s rock group “Oblivion Express” at Max’s Kansas City amidst Warhol’s “Factory” “workers” in-crowd), whose Crew included Radio personality/DJ Bob Rudnick, Leslie Smith ( Atherton’s blond bombshell - sic), Ken Babbs, one of the original “Merry Pranksters”, Phil Ochs, A²’s MC5 & Up, and more!
One day fresh from a stint on the rolling extension of Kesey/Romney’s Hippy Hondo “Hog Farm” bought by Keysey’s novel “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”) - Detroit wandered into Berkeley’s “Bone yard”, an Elephant’s Graveyard for once and future legends of the road, and bought “the Juggernaut Oblivion Express” - a blue airport transport bus 1951 flathead 6, 4 on the floor, and between journalistic responsibilities at various Bay Area Underground Newspapers and the Family Dog) apprenticed as mechanic at “Movement Motors”, a hippy garage –building a custom interior environment for a rolling media school, teaching kids to put out their own community papers to influence their world -traveling coast to coast. Other documents out there include a photo series by Gerard Melanga, perhaps an Andy Warhol “screen test” at the Factory,
Encounters with Jerry Garcia & Mountain Girl, of the Grateful Dead, Tim Leary (Guru for Governor!), Ken Keysey (Beat Poet)’s “Merry Pranksters”, Hugh Romney/Wavy Gravy’s) and others at Chet Helm’s seaside Concert venue “The Family Dog on the Great Highway” at Playland by the Beach - of which Detroit Annie was a founding mother and frequent contributor at organizational meetings – weekly innovation sessions resulted in musician jam sessions, then programs like the Holy Man Jams, Weekly classes by various Gurus, and unintentionally, my dad’s spiritual “contribution”, the Lightshow Guild Strike, peace talks with Bill Graham, various internecine movements and rebellions, Chet’s retirement to run an Art Gallery - fond memories.
She followed the Beat Poets to France by Dec 1971, taking odd jobs between reporting stints including artists’ model for reknowned Parisian artist “Volti” – a sanguine sketch last seen at a St. Honoré Blvd. Art Gallery across the street from Matignon government palace, and later in a Druout art auction catalogue. Finding more freelance jobs translating technical manuals about cinema techniques & equipment, and serving as interpreter-guide-camera operator for Anglophone film crews visiting Paris and more or less commuting back and forth between Paris & SF by six month stints 1972/3, (thanks to incredibly low “youth fares” to encourage youth to travel!) then between Marseille & Paris 73/74, returning to San Francisco Jan 75-June 75 (a 2nd marriage) and then landing in Latin America for 2 years trying to pry her son Jesse home, despite embassy resistance (to no avail) after a month long visit to his father, moved to Latin America – that got prolonged to a year and a half when his dad wouldn’t send him back, so she went down there to get him but got bogged down with Latin American immigration hassles ‘75/77, supporting herself as graphics artist, creating posters, stationary, carved wooden signs for trendy watering holes, reporting for a local expatriate paper on cultural events amongst exiled Argentinean/Chilean artist community after Pinochet’s putsch, participating in film, music and arts festivals in Costa Rica and Guatemala, including a national artisan festival for the ministry of the Economy of the Costa Rican Ministry under President Carazo, and a San José Rock Festival organized by the “Orleans” expatriate bar (beating Richard Nixon’s brother at chess during a backgammon tournament, then beating an Austrian militarist horseback racing - by failing to fall off when the horse bolted!) and a stint building a finca & airstrip in the Jungles bordering with Nicaragua, dispensing free medical care and teaching illiterate Indians - before returning to France due to personal tragedy, badly received but without enuf for a ticket back to Jess, joined a medical mission in Senegal, Africa during the summer of 77, returning again for a documentary film about a similar medical mission in 1978, then a freelance stint for ABC news covering the Somoza uprising in 1979.
Personal betrayals broke the stride in the ‘80s - got lost between Brussels & Crete 1980, stumbled back to the States 81/82 for a prodigal return to SF that didn’t take – and another prodigal attempt 1983-86 in LA – but couldn’t find a niche – resurfaced in Paris, still writing, painting lying low with odd jobs via “Shakespeare’s & Co”, famed American expatriate flea-ridden flophouse and hangout to Beatnik Poets and Jazz/Blues musicians of the 50s & 60s - a bookstore founded by American writer Sylvia Beach at the close of WWII, handed down to George Whitman a vagabond handy man she’d befriended an expatriate, become a tourist attraction and artists’ landmark in Paris to this day. A stable period as practical nurse to children and the aged allowed me to bring Jesse over, then aged 20, and show him the Holy Land & Pyramids, to make it memorable.
Married for the third time in 1991, restoring a ruined house built by grandparents-in-law in the North of France, for living quarters, she took up Medical studies again for a while, trying to enroll for further humanitarian missions, but to no avail - then got bogged down in Genealogy studies for a decade or so, local history, European and Egyptian history research, self taught a few musical instruments, beekeeping, pottery, sculpture, gardening and finally gentlewoman farming as a pastime.
Still living, writing, painting in the quiet countryside near Paris, France, her son Jesse has now given her three magnificent grandchildren and occasional fits of nostalgia – which just ain’t what it used to be…
Last Updated April 2012
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