In the 1980s, through the early ’90s, I spent an awful lot of time travelling. Or maybe not travelling so much as running away. I was running away from this guy, this crazy guy who wanted to kill me. Finally, I realized he was me! Anyway, when I was going all the fuck over the place hither and yon without rhyme or reason, looking for places that either had good dope, or where you couldn’t get any dope, I packed lightly, as any sensible traveller does (that and wore black clothing—it really is amazing how long you can go without washing black jeans.) But no matter where I wandered, I always carried a small library, as I was a budding author and needed inspiration (or grist for the mill, or just plain stuff to steal). A couple of books—large books—formed the core of my portable library: the two issues of RE/Search magazine featuring William S. Burroughs and J. G. Ballard, two of my greatest writing heroes (for some reason, most of my writer role models’ last names began with the letter “B”).
So what a pleasure it was to meet, all these years later, the person responsible for the iconic cover shot of the Burroughs edition, an image forever burned into the cathode ray tube of my mind’s eye. Did I say ray? Yes, that’s the photographer’s name, Ruby Ray! It would be hard to overstate how pleased I am to present the following portfolio of Ruby’s work, a small sampling of her documentation of the early days of punk, West Coast style.