TIME OUT (London)

January 1997



The post-punk US underground has its very own Zelig. At 12, Glen E. Friedman was in LA photographing skateboarders with an empathy that could only be possessed by one of their own. Whenever the LAPD attempted to search him for weapons, the precocious youth would just recite the UN Bill Of Rights For Youth at them. At 15, Glen was shooting bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat - anarchist forerunners of grunge. A few years later, he was hanging out with The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy in New York, before PE had even inked a deal. Big-headed? Glen would have every right to be, but the 32 year-old vegan's lust for life - the very thing that makes his "Fuck You Heroes" and "Fuck You Too" book so vital - is evident.

"I didn't plan to be there at the inception of these movements," he explains, "but for me, the idea of arranging a photo shoot through someone's management is a drag. I would have no interest in shooting, say, Snoop Doggy Dog. It's too late for me to have some effect on how the world sees him."

That may sound like an overstatement, but remember the smoky, subterranean shots that gave the world its first glimpse of Public Enemy on "Yo! Bum Rush The Show"? That was Glen. Those early shots of Run DMC, which somehow seem to capture hip-hop's limitless possibilities in 1985? Glen again. So why did all these NY rappers so eagerly embrace a white punk photographer from LA? "Well, I'm not a sycophant," reckons Glen, "and if I'm around with someone who is influencial, I try to have an influence. I had a huge argument with Chuck D when they started comparing themselves to Jesus. I said Chuck, "That's such a cheap shot. And the fake guns? The clumsy Farrakhan rhetoric?" Then the bad reviews came in, and he said, "I know, Glen. You told me so." But then that was always his problem. He never read enough." Well, quite. Chuck D -black America's most visionary figurehead since Malcolm X -consider your wrists thoroughly slapped.

Peter Paphides

Glen E. Friedman's "Fuck You All" exhibition opens on Sat 25 at the ICA (0171 930 3647)