07/09/2014 • 1:35 pm 0
I was back on the air again today. I played:
Yulya // the Roads of War
Uppers International // Aja Wondo
Aneka // Japanese Boy
Ganim’s Asia Minors // Daddy Lolo
Vaqueros // Echo
Psychic TV // Baby’s Gone Away
Elf Power // Transparent Lines
EMA // So Blonde
the Gaylettes // Son of a Preacher Man
Ellen Krenz // Er Gehört Zu Mir
Meco // “Wizard of Oz” Medley
Norse Horse // Sun Corridor
Agent Ribbons // I’m Alright
Together PANGEA // Alive
Traps PS // Sign of the Times
Dnonkong // White Wolf Paper Chorus
Jeremy Jay // the Days of Casting the Clouds Away
Softboiled Eggies // Can You Send Blame?
So Many Wizards // Night Chills
Neo Boys // Time Keeps Time
Soft Sailors // Shake it Up
Stereo Total // Morose
??? (Asian record)
Arthur Alexander // Baby Baby
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band // Too Much Time
Post Life // Serotonin
Emily Lacy // I Don’t Expect the World
Devon Williams // A Truce
God Help the Girl // God Help the Girl
Girlpool // American Beauty
Manna Dey // Ei Kuli Ami
Nina Dorda // Where Has Love Gone?
the Raincoats // Balloon
Sally Shapiro // Find My Soul
Faye Wong // Zheng Tuo
Temples // Shelter Song
the Gladiators // Sweet Soul Music
Wild Belle // Keep You
Parquet Courts // Black and White
NO // What’s Your Name
Altai Lelio // Family in Everybody
the Very Best // Super Mom
Barry Blue // Dancing on a Saturday Night
the Beatle Barkers // She Loves You
Michel Polnareff // L’oiseau De Nuit
Hecuba // Suffering
Future Islands // Spirit
Wheat // Death Car
the Wagonmasters // Jailhouse Rock
Claudine Clark // Party Lights
James // Fire So Close
Boardwalk // What’s Love
Violent Green // Sparrow
Malcolm McLaren // Buffalo Gals
Jeanette // Porque te Vas
Graham Gouldman // Go For It
Abe Vigoda // All Night and All Day
Noice // Television
with background music from Mannheim Steamroller, the Dukes of Dixieland, and Arthur Lyman.
06/29/2014 • 11:33 am 0
Okay, so I’m writing for LA Record again!
I actually quit on my own volition. My column, “Heart of Darkness,” was supposed to be all about my adventures going to underground shows on the East Side. And maybe I did a pretty good job at first, but eventually it became a chore because I burned out on going to shows and stopped being a legitimate representative of the scene I was supposed to represent…
I’m in a different place now, and I’m glad. And so the next print edition of the magazine will include my first column in a while.
I’m really excited about the subject matter of this one: a collaborative art space called Echo Chamber in the former Echo Curio spot on 1519 Sunset Blvd. It taps into history, but it also promises the future. Curators Sarah Cisco and Rhea Tepp have been putting a ton of effort into doing something aimed at expanding our ideas about what communal arts spaces can be.
I was going to post my column here today in order to help them on Kickstarter — but they’ve actually already achieved their goal! So I’ll save my column for the magazine, which should be available all over town in the next couple of weeks. I know I’m excited.
But even though they’ve already reached their own goal, Echo Chamber has pledged to donate the first $400 they receive over their goal to helping out other community spaces: the Smell, Pehrspace, LA Fort, and HM 157. So go and support not just Echo Chamber but the greater DIY/DIT community by donating on Kickstarter. Join the club!
Here’s a bit of the interview that I did with Rhea to prepare the article. Much of this didn’t make it into the actual column because I had to focus on all the rad events that are coming up! In the following passage, Rhea expounds upon the nature of DIY/DIT spaces and her motivation for putting together projects like this.
The first event is July 3, by the way. You should RSVP on Facebook.
“There is a sense of urgency within the DIY/DIT community that both empowers its existence and makes it quite vulnerable. For those who choose to create the spaces for individuals to express freely, operating these venues is their art.
I certainly consider organizing Zine Fest and Echo Chamber a facet of what makes me an artist. I find a lot more freedom available as a performer in a space than I do as the space creator. If I use a curse word while performing, the FCC isn’t going to be sitting in the audience waiting to tell me I can no longer share my art with the public. It terrifies me to imagine that as an actual reality, but in a sense, that’s the type of restriction that artists who open independent creative spaces are facing.
Those who want to open a creative space with artistic intentions first and foremost, and business intentions second, third or perhaps not at all, are incredibly restricted in their ability to do so.
There is also a disconnect between artists and our local government, so often the resources feel inaccessible that would allow for an artist who is not also a business person to create that space. It can be difficult as an artist in Los Angeles to know if our local government values independent artistic communities. A number of local venues have been shut down over the years (Echo Curio, Church on York), close out of fear, or reevaluate their initial mission in order to operate.
One space that definitely stands out as one that has had to reevaluate its purpose for the community is the L.A Fort. The space has been open for a year and a half and began with a focus on live music. After being unable to continue hosting shows, the space is now a membership-run collective of individual studios.
I want to create a temporary environment for collaborations between all types of artists, face-to-face. I value the connections I make with people at a live music show, but those moments are often lacking the environment to create and share ideas together. An event like L.A. Zine Fest certainly revealed to me that the desire for these connections exists and is incredibly powerful right now within this culture.
I want people to put down their smart phones for a moment and be open to making a zine beside someone, or maybe even with them. I want people to share stories of what the creative process is like and take time to connect through these experiences.
Check out the next issue of LA Record for more…
05/27/2014 • 2:18 pm 0
I am delighted to announce that I have a new band, Soft Sailors! Our music is this post, but you have to scroll down to hear it!
We’ve got our first shows coming up. The very first one, at LA’s esteemed Pehrspace, is this Friday, May 30. It’s being presented by Mountair and will feature Galaxy Kat, Untoward Children, and Flight Crew as well as us. Why don’t you RSVP on Facebook while you wait eagerly for it to start?
So who are these Soft Sailors? What is our story, and how is it that we sound?
Perhaps you remember the band Pizza!, of which I was a member for several years. We were five best friends and the band was a truly collaborative experience — we were all in our mid-twenties, in that fun space between college and real life, and we lived together and were constantly being creative together. At the same time, I was in a band called Big Whup with a similar background and process and a similar personal bond — we even got matching tattoos!
But you know how it goes, don’t you? Time, proximity, and the trials and tribulations of growing up cause people to move apart. Eventually the halcyon days gave way to interpersonal drama, and eventually we stopped being able to operate the way we used to.With Pizza!, we stopped living together and creating became a chore. We held on, in name only, for a while, before officially calling it quits in 2011 with an album (We Come from the Swamp, available here on Spotify) yet to be released. With Big Whup, the other singer decided that she wanted to focus on other things but didn’t bother to say anything — I read about her decision secondhand in LA Record.
The whole thing was depressing.
Both bands had something pretty special, and we even had a little bit of momentum. Each group went out with a fizzle, rather than a bang.Anyway, in the ensuing years I kept doing music. I made a solo album, Princess, by finishing up some scraps of songs that I’d written for Pizza! and Big Whup but that never got produced due to our calcifying process. I played bass in my friends’ band, So Many Wizards, for about a year — we toured England and made a pretty cool record, Warm Nothing. I also started spending a lot of time creating covers and instrumentals to upload to my SoundCloud account, which started to build a bit of a following and helped me connect with musicians around the world.
All of those experiences were really fun and educational, but I must admit that none of them gave me the same thrill that I got from collaborating so hard with my best friends in Pizza! and Big Whup. As the time passed, I started to wonder if I even should continue making music at all. When I left So Many Wizards, I was intending to bow out and do something else – maybe even leave Los Angeles. I was working with Pizza!’s drummer Tyler on an album of solo songs that I thought would be my farewell to music as an attempted career.
One song for that album, “Shake it Up,” was an early Pizza! jam we’d never recorded. Most songs fall away after a while, but this one always kept coming back to me. It’s a song about turning away from dependence on a wrecked relationship, no matter how comforting you may be deluding yourself into thinking it is. Perhaps it keeps coming back to me because the premise keeps repeating itself in my life.
We decided to record it with Pizza!’s bassist, Alex. He did such a good job that we asked him to play bass on the rest of the record.
And then the Smell, which is the lynchpin of the entire Los Angeles DIY scene and one of our band’s chief inspirations and motivators, wanted us to reunite for their 16th birthday this January. We accepted the offer, and it felt so good to play again! As we prepared for the show, we all realized that we’d been missing each other’s energy. Duncan, who’d spent the ensuing years getting a Master’s Degree, started talking about writing together again.
This was around the same time that I started hanging out again with Jenna, the bassist of Big Whup, who had spent the years since that band’s demise getting a law degree and playing in a great new band called Sweet Bump It. She was really enthusiastic about the new songs we’d been working on and offered to help — which was perfect, because a couple of brutal world tours with Liars and Fol Chen had burned Alex out on the idea of doing anything other than recording.
So Jenna agreed to take the bass, not only solidifying rhythm section but infusing the whole project with both energy and professionalism. And that completed the lineup — Rand, who was in both Pizza! and Big Whup, is too busy being a robot genius at Jet Propulsion Laboratories to be too involved this time around; but fortunately he’s agreed to do engineering stuff for us. His first task is installing an electric pickup onto an acoustic banjo.
And now, we’ve got a handful of shows and a couple of songs.
Here’s the second song we released, called “Work Doesn’t Pay.” I wrote this one during that time I was telling you about earlier, when I was thinking about quitting music and ditching Los Angeles.
Lyrically, it’s a pretty heavy number and reflects some pretty heavy thoughts. I’m proud of it because it’s more direct and honest that I usually am, and clearer. The story’s there: I was demoralized. I’d come to this city because I thought I could accomplish things here, and I’d started to accomplish them but now they were crumbled and all I had left was this go-nowhere day job that I’d gotten in order to sustain myself as I tried to accomplish what I was no longer trying to accomplish.That’s not where I am now — and I sure am glad. For one thing, the job’s better. But mostly, it’s really great to be playing with these guys again. And I’m really excited about the material.
What started as a farewell now seems like a new beginning. And thank goodness for that; as much as I wanted to try and do something else, I sure as hell couldn’t figure out what. Music just keeps calling!
So please come see us, and don’t put it off! We”ve got three shows coming up in rapid succession, and then we’re taking off for a couple of months while we complete more recordings, tend to our personal needs (Jenna’s even taking the bar exam), and find a publicist.
Here’s the schedule:
05/14/2014 • 8:04 pm 0
I got sucked into a really dark and vile part of the Internet just now.
I’m friends with a lot of people on Facebook, and sometimes people post things that I think are wild and off-base. I like to call them on it, because I’m self-righteous and pugnacious but also because ideas matter and the right ideas need to be advocated. But honestly, most of my friends’ views are at least respectable even if I don’t agree with them. Today though, I saw something that was utterly appalling…
This one friend posted a link to this article, a hateful screed about Michael Sam that was written by some bigot named Matt Walsh. It’s the kind of article that only deserves to be mocked, but my friend prefaced it with a comment of approval! So, while it does a disservice to humanity to discuss the things that Mr. Walsh has espoused as if they are worthy of intelligent debate, I also felt the need to do a point-by-point rebuttal.
Dude starts with obnoxiously rank sanctimony.
He complains that, “If you do anything less than fall to your knees weeping tears of jubilation that a man who is sexually attracted to men was picked to play a game for a living — you’re a homophobe,” which is really not true. People are not being called homophobes for their ambivalence; they’re being called homophobes for lashing out against Michael Sam for expressing his love for his boyfriend on TV in the same way that straight players express their love towards their girlfriends in similar contexts all the time.
But of course, Matt Walsh actually IS a homophobe and the sanctimony at the beginning is just meant to draw us into his rant. And I quote:
You don’t get to have it both ways. You can tell me that your sexuality is nobody’s business — what you do in your bedroom is between you and whoever you do it with — and I’ll agree. I’ve never taken it upon myself to approach a group of strangers and survey them about their carnal propensities. In my life, I’ve probably had thousands of conversations with thousands of different people. Of those thousands, I can safely say that not once have I begun the exchange by saying, “Hello, my name is Matt. Do you sleep with people of the same gender?” […]
[M]ere months before the draft, [Sam] decided to declare himself to ESPN and the New York Times. My first thought: OK, was anybody asking? […]
If you simply wish to be accepted, perhaps you’d discuss these private details with those closest to you. If you wish to be celebrated, you throw yourself a party and call the press.
Homophobes made this “their business” — not gay people. I’m sure that many gay people would prefer to keep their sexuality private but society doesn’t let them. People are fired from their jobs because of who they love. People are beaten to death for it. In the NFL, the fear of living openly as gay was so strong that no man had done it until now.
If people weren’t making sexuality their business, then none of those things would be true.
Standing up and saying “this is who I am and I’m not going to let you treat me like this because of it” is not “trying to have it both ways.” It’s taking control of your life. That’s an exciting thing and it ought to be publicized because we still live in a world where the term “gay” is openly thrown around by adolescents as a term to mean “stupid.” Gay people, and gay issues, are still used as punchlines in mainstream media. The NFL is a league that still includes violent bullies like Richie Incognito.
The alternative to what Mr. Walsh is saying is “having it both ways” is shutting up and accepting being a second-class citizen.
People are “proclaiming” who they are and having parades because society has made their sexuality its business, demeaned them, and made them feel ashamed of themselves. They’re taking back their identities. Mr. Walsh is either deliberately obtuse or is simply not very good at empathy. He claims to not care about peoples’ sexuality, but his words reveal that he actually really cares about it a lot.
It’s extraordinarily myopic to criticize Sam for being public about his sexuality while saying he wants to be private. He went public in the hopes that others like him will be able to be however public or private that they want about their sexualities. He made his gayness an issue so that gay athletes that come after him won’t have to worry about their gayness being an issue.
Is that really that difficult of a nuance to grasp?
I’m not saying that he’s not a hero, but I am saying that telling the world about his sex life sure doesn’t make him one. […]
There’s nothing brave about any of this. You can’t measure a man’s bravery by his ability to endure high-fives and congratulations from millions of fawning fans.
To call this heroic is to obliterate the meaning of the word. I’m sure Sam will hear some taunts and jeers, but the people taunting and jeering will be swiftly and immediately punished.
Reducing what Michael Sam did to “telling the world about his sex life” is, again, deliberately obtuse. He hasn’t told us anything about his sex life, actually — although Mr. Walsh appears to like extrapolation.
What he has told us that he doesn’t want to have to choose between being open about who he is and pursuing his career in the NFL. And the reason it’s heroic is because he’s an example to people all over the country and world who have faced the same discrimination and fear.
It’s really heartening that people are supporting Michael Sam. The high-fives don’t make him less courageous. Firefighters get “high-fives and congratulations” for saving lives — are they not heroes? Soldiers get yellow ribbons — are they not heroes?
The popularity of your actions doesn’t relate to the heroism of them whatsoever. Having support doesn’t make you less brave — is a cancer survivor who went through hellish chemotherapy less brave if that cancer survivor has a loving family that supports her?
Michael Sam cheerleaders are hypocrites of the lowest sort. Say what you will about Tim Tebow; one thing you can’t deny is that the dude was told loudly, harshly, and frequently, to ‘keep his religion to himself.’ Football isn’t a place for religion, they said. […]
Other current and former NFL players, like Jake Plummer, said they wished Tebow would “shut up” with the Jesus talk. Plummer was never chastised for making those statements, and no player was ever fined for complaining about Tebow’s overt religiosity. […]
Will players who tell Sam to “shut up” with the gay talk be treated as leniently? I guess that question has already been answered. One Miami Dolphin sent out a two word disparaging Tweet when ESPN spent 26 hours airing footage of the now famous same-sex kiss. The offender has since been fined and banned from the team until he undergoes ‘educational training.’ […]
The double standard is so obvious, so inevitable, and so common that I’m bored with pointing it out. Tell Tebow to stop praising his Lord and Savior, and the country will laugh and cheer along, but tell Sam to stop trying to turn his sex life into international headlines, and you’ll be bound, gagged, and tossed into a river.
No, that’s not hypocrisy and there is no double standard.
We are all free to express our religious beliefs in this country — whether that religion is “Jesus is Great” or “Shut up about Jesus.” Neither Tim Tebow or Jake Plummer were fined. And by the way, what body would be able to fine Jake Plummer, who stopped playing in the NFL several years before Tebow’s career started?
Talking about religion is Constitutionally-protected speech. Fining either Tebow or Jake Plummer would be unlawful.
There are, however, plenty of laws about creating hostile workplaces and sexual harassment. These men are employees of their organizations and they’re all bound by the NFL’s code of conduct. That code of conduct specifically prohibits the type of behavior for which the Dolphins player was fined. If he didn’t know that when he made his comments on Twitter, that’s his fault for being ignorant of the agreement to which he voluntarily submitted. Bravo to the NFL for taking this issue as seriously as it does.
And come on! Walsh says “two word disparaging Tweet” as if word count and vileness were somehow related. I can think of a LOT of very despicable things that you can say in only two words… And I’ll refrain from listing them to avoid being accused of hurling them at Mr. Walsh.
And finally, using the actions of a select few idiots on Twitter to indict everyone who supports Michael Sam is about as fair, intelligent, and conducive to civil debate as using the actions of the people who beat Matthew Shepard to death to indict everyone who doesn’t support gay rights. No one should ever make death treats against anyone. That’s completely beside the point, though.
Media hacks have already begun… furrowing their brows and inquiring as to why Saint Michael Sam didn’t get taken off the board until the very end of the last round. Could it be homophobia, they wonder?
Perhaps, or could it be that Sam is a small, slow, middling prospect who might not be good enough to even make the squad? Could it be that he’s exactly the type of player who often goes undrafted every single year? Could it be that he’s a below average talent?
With that said, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if some teams were scared away by the media circus that follows him. That’s a funny thing about football teams — they’re worried about winning football games, not becoming champions for liberal social change. Michael Sam chose to call attention to his sex life. He chose to whip up a media frenzy. That choice guaranteed him a spot on a roster, if only for political reasons. But it also guaranteed that he would be a distraction to whatever team he ultimately joined.
This is all a joke, only it’s not even funny anymore.
As I type this, I see that Michael Sam has already started starring in ads, making him, I’m assuming, the first 7th round pick to ever get an endorsement deal before training camp even starts.
This is just rampant speculation based on neither logic nor evidence. The closest thing we have to an example — Jason Collins on the Brooklyn Nets — did not generate a media circus. In fact, he was a huge asset for getting a middling team to the playoffs…
Mr. Walsh, a blowhard whose job is to write whining and blog posts about an imagined “the liberal menace,” seems to be delighted at the prospect of Michael Sam failing. However, Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN – a guy who played college football, did a stint at Sports Illustrated, and has been a senior writer covering the NFL for ESPN for the past seven years – has presented much more compelling and thoughtful analysis to suggest exactly why he thinks Sam will succeed.
A quick trip to the NFL Hall of Fame website shows that nine different Seventh-round draft picks have become Hall of Famers. The rest of this article shows how backwards his worldview is, but this just shows Mr. Walsh to be foolish. If I were him, I’d let Sam play before deciding he’ll fail and pronouncing that he’ll be a distraction. However, it’s clear from Mr. Walsh’s writing that he doesn’t get embarrassed, so I’m sure he’ll just ignore it if he’s wrong.
But I have to ask — what kind of a person gets his jollies by rooting for a sports player to fail? I mean, I’m not that into sports, but I thought it was about feeling positively about the players and teams you want to do so well. If Mr. Walsh is genuinely as ambivalent as he pronounces himself to be, then why does he relish the idea of Sam failing? What a negative guy!
And congratulations to Michael Sam for his endorsement deal. It’s funny that, just a few paragraphs after bringing up Tim Tebow, Mr. Walsh complains about someone who gets endorsements based more on their off-field persona than on how well they play — that’s quite a bit of cognitive dissonance there!
In the Visa [sic] spot, Sam insists that he only wants to be judged for what he does on the field.
A fine sentiment, but one that would have been easily accomplished had he not gone to great lengths to be applauded for what he does in the bedroom.
Michael Sam didn’t ask to be “applauded for what he does in the bedroom.” He asked to be able to pursue his lifelong goals without having to lie about who he is, and he did so publicly so that he might be able to inspire other people to do the same. We’re applauding him because he deserves it.
05/02/2014 • 12:20 pm 0
04/29/2014 • 9:59 am 0
In November of 2010 I moved to Glassell Park, which is a neighborhood in North Los Angeles surrounded by Atwater Village to the South, Glendale to the West, Eagle Rock to the North, and Cypress Park to the East.
Now, I am officially moved out.
My original roommate, Kyle Mabson, found the apartment on Craigslist and we jumped at it because it was totally huge but priced at way under market value for LA. Part of the reason for the low price is because the apartment building is an aesthetically-unpleasing slum that is falling apart, but another big reason for the cheap living is that this neighborhood was only recently one of the worst centers of gang crime in the entire United States.
A couple of years before we moved in, the feds and the LAPD joined together to clean things up and did a fairly good job. Most of the really bad gang people went to jail right before we moved in – I actually get the sense that that’s why our apartment was vacated in the first place.
In the time that I lived there, everything was relatively peaceful. I kept my head down for a while, but I eventually stopped being afraid of walking around by myself at night. There were frightening things, occasionally, and nights when I was stirred from sleep by the sound of a search helicopter overhead. But that’s just city stuff.
Probably the most annoying people in the neighborhood, though, were the Little Gs.
All the big gangster dudes were carted off to jail in the police sweep, which meant that the only people left were the ones who were too young to have serious warrants yet. For these kids, the police crackdown was an attack on a social structure and way of life. And they were grumpy about it.
The Polynesian slur leads me to believe it was aimed at someone else.
This created a palpable tension, but the Little Gs didn’t really do much but scowl, have Noz parties all night, play music really loud, and spray-paint retarded shit on the walls of apartment buildings and the adjacent cemetery. No big deal.
They must’ve gone through a lot of cans of spray paint during the time that I was there. Everything would get painted over within a couple of days, sometimes hours, from when they put it on the walls. But they’d keep spraying. Usually it was just the name of the gang or the nickname of somebody who had died, like Lolo.
Anyway, there was only one time when their shenanigans really got out of hand. That was in January of 2013, a few weeks after Christmas.
As part of their whole “juvenile badass” schtick, the gang kids observe an annual holiday tradition of torching all of the Christmas trees that are left out in the street. It’s tiresome and foolish, but for the most part it is also harmless — they have enough sense to move the trees into the middle of the street and away from plants and cars.
But one night, as Sarah and I came home from Pehrspace at 4:00am after a marathon session of painting the place for her Saccharine Surreality show, we noticed something that was not harmless – a tree on fire on a sidewalk right next to a lot of dry brush and only few feet away from a Ford Explorer. No person was around.
I don’t know if an explosion was imminent but it could’ve been and that wasn’t cool so I did what I hope any of my rational neighbors would’ve done and I called 911. The fire truck took about 90 seconds to arrive and put the fire out very easily. I went to sleep content in the knowledge that a potential catastrophe had been averted.
The next morning, when I was pulling out of the parking garage to go out, I saw a new graffito on the cemetery wall. It was positioned precisely so that it would be seen by people pulling out of my apartment’s parking garage, and it read: “FUCK SNITCHES, 187!” (For those who have somehow never heard Snoop’s “What’s My Name?,” “187” is cop code for murder.)
So I wrote this song about them, which is mean and unforgiving. But I was pissed. And it took me a while to record, but I finally did that. So here it is:
For the record, calling the fire department to prevent potential loss of life and property is not “snitching.”
Anyway, I’m out.
04/23/2014 • 8:43 am 0
Have you ever wanted to just go on a space walk?
04/20/2014 • 10:47 am 0
04/16/2014 • 11:29 am 0
This song is actually a left-over from the Pizza! era. There were several song ideas that we had floating around before we broke up, but most of them were just instrumental jams. This song, however, was the result of a recording back-n-forth between Duncan and me. He created the backing track – as a sketch for something more complicated later, I guess – then I wrote the vocals, then I went to his house where I recorded my vocals and he sang the background parts.
I guess we would’ve put it through the full band process after that, but we never got there.
It’s fine like it is though, right? It’s more simple than a typical Pizza! song. That’s not a slight on Pizza!, because complexity is both awesome and worthwhile. But simplicity has its own charm. Anyway, I released it last year on the Vanity Projects compilation. You can download that here, by the way. It’s got some good music on it.
I don’t have any idea what this song is about. If you think of something, please let me know.