Friday, April 29, 2016

Hang Loose!

I was racing along the beach this morning, faster than usual because there's just always so much to do, and so many places to be, and so many thoughts to think and blah, blah, blah ... when I saw this dude had strung up his hammock between the pillars of the pier. He was just chilling there, reading a book. Relaxing. Hanging loose.

As we saunter on into the weekend, let this be a nice reminder that sometimes it's crucial to just slow down and enjoy a moment, turn off your phone, and just chill. Thinking about how lucky you are.

Happy weekend, Homies!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Iggy Pop And Josh Homme - In Conversation At The Grammy Museum

It's been sad times lately, so I jumped at the chance to go listen to something positive, especially when it was one of our favorites, Josh Homme, talking about his new record with Iggy Pop - the wonderful Post Pop Depression - in the intimate Clive Davis Theater at The Grammy Museum. We trekked downtown (and had a great talk about Prince on the train with a stranger), and settled in to hear from two of rock's most interesting characters for the next couple of hours.

The event opened with an introduction from Grammy Foundation VP, Scott Goldman, who asked everyone to please silence their favorite Stooges ringtone, and then described Pop as first generation punk rock, a member of The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, the bloody, bruised lead of The Stooges, and Homme as the leader of Queens Of The Stone Age (etc, etc, etc), and massively inspired by Pop. As the Davis Theater is pretty small, they weren't going to be putting on a full stage show, so they screened as yet unseen footage recently shot for Austin City Limits. The double whammy of Pop's classic calling card,  "Lust For Life" and "Break Into Your Heart" off of the new album. The footage showed how great they already are together - and it was only their second show ever. It also showed how funny and entertaining Pop is ... which would be proven again throughout the evening.

With that, Pop and Homme took the stage to a standing ovation, in matching black leather jackets, both about as cool as you can get. Pop immediately exclaimed, "That was only our second gig! We're so much better now! We're cool." He didn't have to tell us.

They got right into it, with Homme explaining that he first got turned on to Pop's music  as an 11 year old in San Diego. The album was Raw Power, and he bought it directly because of the cover. He said he played the album until it didn't play anymore, and still didn't really understand it, to which Pop replied, "That's too much record for you, Boy." Homme agreed that it had been ... that he was afraid of it, but also drawn to it, "like a moth to a big old fire" (Homme is not at all afraid of analogies - and they're pretty good ones). That album had been made in 1972, and Pop said, "I thought kids would like it (to laughter, but Homme did!). It had spunk." Homme said he thought it was the most successful marriage of an album title and a sound - Raw Power. "Well, it's my noisiest record," said Pop. "On most of the cuts it's like is it a song or a problem?" That cracked everyone up.

Goldman asked how the two guys met, and Pop said it was at the Kerrang Festival in London. "It was
Lifetime Achievement time for me," said Pop with a laugh. "And I was asked to leave," chimed in Homme, who apparently had partied a little too hard for the metal fest. They were asked to be in a photo with Marilyn Manson, and Pop was impressed with Homme, "Mainly because he was the only other guy there not in a Satanic space outfit." The next time they met, Pop was to follow QOTSA at a festival, but he didn't really want to because they were GOOD. "I was mixed between telling them how good they were and wanting to blow them away, so I went to their dressing room and stuck my head in and said, 'You guys are really good, I gotta go, Fuck off!" The respect was there from the beginning.

In speaking to how emotive Post Pop Depression is, Pop explained that in the race for the buck in the music business, "less and less feeling is allowed. There's less happy songs, there's less sad songs ... Like Clockwork (the incredible QOTSA album) really affected me emotionally ... and it was craft. Like Chopin would use in a nocturne. You don't hear that much anymore. I was looking for something I could sing with, and his music gives you that space."

Homme followed that by saying, "I think it's important to be a fan. I gave up doing things I don't like. I wanted to be a part of something that connects people." So, once they got to talking about doing a collaboration, Pop sent Homme an entire dossier of material to get to know him by. The two share a love of Germany, so there were German photos and inspiration, there were essays about Pop's sex life, there were poems by Walt Whitman and Pop himself ... all personal glimpses into what makes Pop tick.  "It was the first step in being vulnerable," said Homme, "And I started to see the wing span of a human being." "I sent it to him to hold up my end of the bargain," Pop explained. "Josh has a huge pile - he's a great guitarist, a writer, a composer, he has this whole little Motown thing happening in the desert, and I have this little pile - I sing and write - so I wanted to give him something to write about, and establish a common experience before getting into the studio. Like, Josh would already know when I write about Gardenia, because he'd already met her in my sexual essay. I wanted to give him an idea of what was on my mind." What a cool way to go about it, right?

"You move at the speed of opportunity, and in a collaboration, you move together," said Homme. "You take a real chance. I don't know what it's gonna be, but it's gonna be alright. I'm willing to do whatever is necessary ... if I have to jump off a cliff, then we'll hold hands and jump." This "we're in it all the way together" vibe permeates both the album, and the obvious love and respect these two carry for each other.

Homme sent Pop what he called "The Shitty Demos", to which Pop began writing and adding to. "He has such an economy of word choice, and so much color. He has so much color the Skittles people are jealous." Pop said after talking about how much they both love the gay Caberet scene in Berlin, Homme used a word to describe what the album would sound like, and Pop was shocked. He leaned over to whisper it to Homme, who said, "Go ahead, say it," but then they got sidetracked and we never learned what that word was. And I still want to know.

"Iggy just turned 69. There's an edge, and most people fall off, but one person doesn't fall off and they have the best view, and that's Iggy." Meaning Iggy has come from the hard living guy cutting himself on stage to be here now, still creating and loving and inspiring. Pop added, "I'm not doing some things anymore, but if I want to put the pedal to the metal for five minutes, look the fuck out!" Yes.

Once they got to work, it was on, though they decided not to tell anyone about it. Homme's Dad told him that you shouldn't tell people what you're going to do, you should tell them what you've done, so they just went for it, promising if it was no good they'd just literally bury it in the desert, and no one would ever know. "If no one knows you're making a record, then who are you making it for?", asked Homme. "That's sweet. I make something for you, and you make something for me." Pop added, "I'd be crushed if it wasn't good, but I'd be PERSONALLY crushed."

Pop explained that he did two chanson albums in French to get him to here. "I'm singing 'La Vie En Rose' in French, and Stooges people online are thinking that now I just want to go and put on my slippers." Not if Homme had anything to say about it. "Every record deserves the chance to take a chance ... but protecting himself is not in Iggy's DNA." He went on to say, "I don't work in a bank. I'm here to take a leap. I can't always figure out how to say something, but I can figure out how to play it. Look, this record might wind up being a coaster for someone, but it will be a tits coaster, I'll tell you that." Truth.

For Pop, after having 25 copies of his French albums sell on the counter in a wine shop in Lyon, "I kind of knew it was time to stick one to the motherfuckers ... that's the best way I can put it." Homme was on board for that. "There's an army of us affected and INfected by what Iggy has done, and I won't let that go unnoticed. I'll make tea for that." The reaction they've had from fans has been overwhelming, and Homme said that tonight when they play the Greek Theater here in L.A., "You'll look left, you'll look right, and you'll see this joyous thing, and we'll be up there grinning, and they'll get to show Iggy  all this respect they have for him."

They discussed how they worked together, and how Homme would agonize over a word and Pop would say, "No, just throw in something terrible and the right word will come." This was an epiphany for Homme, who said they'd been at the Magic Castle the night before, but this idea was the real "Ta Dah!" "This is the best thing I've been a part of," Homme said humbly and clearly appreciatively. When Goldman opined that "Sunday" is the "Hallelujah" moment on the album, Homme answered that  he almost kept it for himself, "but I wanted him to know that I'd give him everything. "Sunday" is like, what if at the end of American Valhalla, he makes it to Sunday?" "I've got all I need and it's killing me" went the line, but then Josh added, 'killing me and YOU' - and that changed everything," explained Pop, "and the strings at the end are TRAGIC." Give it a listen, they really are.

Goldman asked Pop if this album was a summation for him. "I"m summing up my vocation in this role. I hope to survive the experience, and quiet down a bit. You do less ... but I do a lot of other work too, like voiceover, some acting, a radio show, I like to guest on Christmas albums ..." cracked Pop. They then opened it up for some questions from the superfans (which these Grammy events always attract, so you actually learn a LOT), and one guy said that we've lost so many icons lately, and asked what their thoughts were on where we go when we pass. OK. Both Homme and Pop kind of hedged, and then Pop said, "There's a book called Sum with many possible answers to that. I'd suggest that book." - getting them both off of the hook. But then Homme wanted to add his two cents. " I know when I burn wood, it changes to ash, but it's still there. Wherever they go, I hope they're there when I'm there, or I'll be fucking pissed." Me too, Josh. Me too.

In closing out the night, Pop said, "The main responsibility is to entertain, so I just want people to enjoy it." Homme's final thought was that, "The Arts are a Swiss Army pleasure device, and every time I just hope it works."

It works, as evidenced by the thunderous applause and people back on their feet at the end of the program. What an interesting, great time it was listening to these two cats, both super individually impressive, but more impressive even together, showing what can happen when it's about love, friendship, and respect over the mighty dollar.

Get your copy of Post Pop Depression to see what I mean ... available now everywhere.

*All photos by Paul Gronnner Photography.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

VJAMMing At Hama Sushi

There is a fundraiser happening today at Hama Sushi for the VJAMM (Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker) to finally make this happen, as it's been in the works since 2009. The funds raised will allow the Memorial Marker to be placed at the corner of Lincoln and Venice Boulevards, where Japanese residents were forced to board buses to be hauled off to the Manzanar internment camp where innocent Japanese citizens were held . It is a painful reminder, but a necessary one, so that we may be sure that an insane injustice like that will never occur again.

There was a delicious bento box lunch and a program this afternoon with 100% of the proceeds going to VJAMM, and if you go get your sushi tonight at Hama, 10% of all sales will also be donated to VJAMM. Sushi for a cause!

I grew up my whole life next to the Kusunoki family back in Minnesota - the kindest, loveliest people I've ever known. They were here in California for Manzanar, and it's still hard to believe that blight on our collective American conscious ever really happened. But it did. And we should never forget. Love and thanks to all who work so hard on this project, and I look so forward to seeing the real memorial unveiled.

That 9 foot tall black granite memorial will read:


Never again. Venice, eat at Hama tonight if you can! Thank you.

Hama Sushi
213 Windward Avenue - On the circle

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Venice Love For Prince

I'm sure people are going to get sick of me talking about Prince pretty soon, but I'm not all that concerned about it. Mainly because I still just can't believe it. I was thinking about it all again this morning walking along the beach, and my spirits were brightened by the graffiti walls.

Artists had remembered Prince here too. They should all go watch Graffiti Bridge now, and get out and do up every bridge around. Please? And thank you. To everyone really, for putting up with me on this. I guess I'm just happy I got to have the experiences I did ... but that sadness comes from knowing there will never be any more.

A friend of a friend posted a Christmas card he'd received from Prince years ago, where Prince had written (in purple ink, of course), "Peace and Be Wild". You now know my new motto.

Peace! And be WILD!!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Party For Prince Weekend In Venice

I'm physically sore and completely hoarse today from dancing so hard at our Prince party here in Venice all day and all night yesterday. And it's totally worth it. My Minneapolis friends and I out here have been having a very hard time of it after the world lost Prince last week, and it's been tortuous to see all the outpouring of love for him back home and not be able to be there with everyone. Like actually super painful, in a way that we had no way of anticipating.

So we decided to dance. We decided to sing. We decided to party so hard that our friends back home could hear us ... and we did. My awesome friend Shane is real serious about Prince. He drove out his vast vinyl collection from Minnesota because it was too massive to ship. He generously offered to host a listening/dance party for all of us transplants that are seriously grieving, and the friends who sympathize with us, and it would be an all day bbq affair. A real Housequake.

I could already hear the tunes blaring from blocks away when I arrived early to help set up (and watch the Wild lose the last game of the Season - but not after an awesome Prince tribute on the ice!), I almost cried - again - because there was Shane up on a ladder, hanging massive sheets of purple and paisley fabric as our mourning bunting, to set the tone of the day. He meant business.

I got out the kids' sidewalk chalk and did my best to draw Prince's symbol to invite the guests in, and then we thought it would be nice if everyone signed their names on the driveway, so we could have a big physical memorial of our own. Some might think this is all over the top for a rock star, but then they don't know how Minneapolis feels about our Prince.

So we show them. We wear purple. We wear paisley. We cry. We share stories. We DANCE.

The kids all got into it, not exactly clear on why the grownups were all so sad about this fun guy with the fun music, but they were happy to wear purple and jump all day (and night) in the trampoline along to the hours and hours of classic Prince hits.

People showed up in mostly Prince, purple, paisley, or Minneapolis clothing.

I had my First Avenue sweatshirt on, of course, and underneath the shirt they gave me at Paisley Park when I did my college senior project there. It's a simple, boxy, pre-ladies cut shirt, but I'll never get rid of it now, and wore it with great pride yesterday.

Folks brought purple potato salad, purple cupcakes, and purple drank. One friend had stopped and had custom purple tear stickers made, so we all walked around like purple gangsters all night.

I really appreciated the school spirit for Prince that everyone displayed, with even the most casual fan in attendance decked out in purple and offering their sincere comfort to their clearly upset friends.

We told stories, of all the shows we'd seen, and all the Prince sightings we'd had back home. We taught the cleaner song words to the kids and seriously danced our faces off.

One song would end, and an even better one would begin, making it impossible to get off the dance floor that was the entire yard. I didn't actually take too many photos of things when they were in full swing, because I was far too busy getting DOWN.

Minneapolis came together in Venice, and we really needed that. We needed the solace of people that understand, and share the same super insane crushing sense of loss. No, most of us didn't know him personally, but that doesn't matter. We grew up with him in the very fabric of our days in Minneapolis, and for me, he was a big influence on my world views and possibilities. There was never, and will never be, another entertainer like Prince. Period.

People came and went as the day went on, but most everyone just stayed and danced. It was next to impossible to walk away from yet another masterpiece being spun, and so we just kept at it. I think there were times when I was actually asleep on my feet, but just needed to listen and move.

It was a Sunday night, long after the Purple Rain credits ran on the t.v. inside, and the kids were all spent and long asleep, but still we danced. Monday was looming pretty large, and still the cries for "One more song!" continued, but ultimately ...

Life is just a party and parties weren't meant to last.

I still really can't believe it's real.

THANK YOU to Jenny and Shane for letting us all party like it was 1999 ... and to everyone who was there and understands. It was cathartic, and so, so needed. Minneapolis, I hope you feel the love from absolutely everywhere, and I hope you know that we're all the way there with you in spirit!!! LOVE.

*Photos by Paddy Wilkins, Paul Gronner, and me.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Australia Luxe Collective - Cool Shoes From Venice!

When good people come together, they make good things happen. Stuart Rush is a British gentleman who wound up living in Australia for eight years. One year while there, he was late on getting out Christmas presents to send back home, and quickly snatched up a bunch of pairs of the white-hot Australian-made Ugg boots to gift as something special, with "Love From Australia" (now also their LLC name). The boots were a huge hit back in the U.K., and a friend of Rush's asked him if he could send more over for a boutique. Then more. Then more. Rush realized there was something to this business, and decided to start his own line of sheepskin boots, with fancier accents and cool additions like studs and fur, and call it the Australia Luxe Collective.

Planet Blue in Santa Monica placed their first big order, and it was enough to encourage Rush to make the move to California to make this company really happen. After a brief stint on Ocean Park, Rush moved to Venice, because he could tell that was what was up. He moved in next door to Crystal Green de Saint-Aignan, who has been a dear friend of mine since back in the Old Brig days. Crystal had a background in fashion, running things for J Brand jeans, and once they got to talking, Rush recognized that she would be a huge asset for ALC. He hired her on as their brand manager, and that's how I got turned on to this cool company.

Since their sheepskin boot origins, ALC has branched out into bags, hats, gloves, scarves, jackets ... but also into seriously stylish footwear, like knee-high gladiator sandals just in time for Festival season, and the high heeled leather ones that I've got my eyes on. They are HOT. And now they can finally be yours in Venice, because for the first time in their nine years here, they're having a big sample sale this weekend at their offices on Lincoln Boulevard. A BIG sample sale, like half off. Check out their website in advance and make a plan of attack for when you get there, because everything is cute, and everything will be a steal.

Rush feels strongly about Venice, as we all do. "There was never a reason to go anywhere else," he told me. "I'd get back to the beach from driving around and just want to stay. I'm involved in it, it's my vibe ... I don't even think about it. I love the people, the paddle ball courts, the bike path ... and I have bartenders here who look after me." Crucial.

With the success of Australia Luxe Collective, Rush and de Saint-Aignan are now eager to contribute more to the community, and will soon be launching a new company, Califortunate - a one for one giving company that will donate a ridiculously soft cotton separate for each one sold. They have already sponsored shirts to give to the kids at Westminster Elementary, getting the helping ball rolling. "I feel very fortunate to be in California, but every time I go outside I see the less fortunate," explains Rush. "If I'm fortunate enough to have a business here, out of the cold and dreary of the U.K., then I can do something to help people." Another reason to love these guys.

Come say hello this weekend, and meet the wonderful people behind our local Venice purveyor of awesome kicks, and score a great deal while you're at it.

Australia Luxe Collective
2002 Lincoln Boulevard
Saturday and Sunday, 9am - 2pm

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince Rogers Nelson 1958 - 2016

Prince is gone. I just can't believe it. My phone started going off this morning, and I kept ignoring it, trying for a couple more winks after a restless night's sleep. When I looked at all my texts, one after the other read, "Not Prince!" "RIP Prince!" "Thinking of you, so sad about Prince". NO!!!! 

I immediately burst into tears. It hit me hard, like a toddler cries. I didn't think about it, it just erupted out of me. Not Prince! If you know me at all, you know this awful news is truly devastating to me. Prince is my all time favorite. In fact, Prince probably helped some to make me who I am.

You see, growing up in Minneapolis, Prince was IT. Prince was THE coolest. Prince was also kind of forbidden. Because Prince was "Dirty". Prince was shocking. Prince pushed every envelope. I was in junior high, and we would listen to Prince and be both thrilled and scandalized at the same time - in a good way. Singing out loud with my cassette Walkman, not realizing that Mom could hear the words I was belting out. This was not music my Mom wanted me to be listening too, and I loved it all the more for it, as all good rebel kids do. Every good D.J. knows that Prince will get everyone on the dance floor, and keep them there. His music is timeless.

The music. There is no one better. Prince could play everything, expertly. We would just watch him in awe, and in Minneapolis, we got to watch him a lot. My little friends and I snuck in when they were filming Purple Rain at First Avenue, 'cause we were not about to miss out on that! Life changing. I had a friend in junior high named Molly Larson, only Molly called herself "Princess" - with a star to dot the i. Molly had a tough life and Prince was about the only thing that made her happy. She would doodle his name all over her notebooks, and we would break down the songs' lyrics, right down to the moans. Molly really believed that Prince was going to be her Prince Charming, and swoop in and take her away on his awesome purple motorcycle with the glyph symbol on it. But that never happened. Molly dropped out of school, and I didn't know what happened to her until there was an article in the paper about Molly becoming a teenage prostitute, and being beaten to death on the side of a road. I was so sad for her, and remember being so sad that she never met Prince. His presence was felt even larger. (Prince and I never personally met, but I'll live on a look he once gave me until the day I die.)

I saw so many Prince shows over the years, one better than the next. When I went to college at Augsburg, it was the best because our campus was right in the city, and Prince was everywhere. Prince's drummer at the time, Michael Bland, also went to Augsburg, and would walk around in his big robes and Pope style hats, and we'd feel somehow closer to the Man. We'd have Prince sightings on his motorcycle blazing through Seven Corners, and it was magic. Prince would announce an arena show the day of, saying just show up with a can of food for entrance, and there would be a sold out show and the city's food shelves re-stocked that same night. When I was at Augsburg, there was no film major yet, so I asked if I could do my Senior Project as an Independent Study, and make a documentary on Paisley Park. The studio's manager at the time, Red White, gave me full access, letting me tour and film all over the studios in Chanhassen. Prince wasn't there that I saw that day, but the magic was felt everywhere. I have no idea where the old VHS tape of that film is, but I gotta find it.

I remember sitting on my friend's deck at her house across the lake from Prince's house late one night, when we heard the most astonishingly gorgeous electric guitar solo carry out across the water. Prince, jamming with the windows open in the Summertime ... I'll never forget it.

We saw Prince in the rain out here in L.A. at the Hollywood Bowl, one of the best shows I've ever seen in all my days. I saw him at Staples for the Musicology tour, when he gave that cd out with every concert ticket sale. That counted as record sales too, because Prince was also a business genius (we all remember The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. Smart.) 21 Forum Shows! Dance offs at Glam Slam! All those late night sessions at Paisley Park when Prince would jam with visiting artists, and you would just have your mind blown. And nothing will ever beat that Superbowl Halftime show. Nothing.

Prince gave us SO much wonderful music, so much artistry, so much to think about. He did whatever he wanted artistically, he dressed however he wanted, but he also gave more than anyone even knows, because he never bragged about it. He's probably responsible for setting me on the path to having a major thing for multi-talented, multi-cultural, multi-instrumentalist, multi-genre men ... for better or for worse. I remember hearing about Prince showing up at someone's door to talk about Jehovah's Witness stuff. Can you imagine?! That is the one time I'd let them in and listen. Or would have. NO! NOT PRINCE!!!

Last Summer, I was home visiting, and heard Prince was having a party at Paisley Park for the National Association of Black Journalists, of which I am not one. But I am determined. I was GOING. My brother and I took off to Chanhassen, where I proceeded to talk my way in, and single-handedly integrate this event with my brother. Prince didn't play, but when he took the stage right in front of me to speak, I can't explain the feeling that came over me. It was actual electricity, like a charge ran through me as I looked at him in his golden lounging pajamas, talking all smooth. The smoothest. The most mysterious. The most talented ... Prince. The one word name pretty much says it all.

If you're not from Minneapolis, you can't really understand how much Prince means to us. He became one of the world's biggest stars, but he was OURS. He never left. He stayed in Minneapolis, and made us all cooler by proxy. He loved Minnesota. He supported its sports teams, he supported its artists. We used to make our Mom take us to Rudolph's Barbecue to eat as kids, just so we could look at Prince's booth, and hope that he would come in while we were there. Every performer that would come to play in Minneapolis would tend to cover Prince, or at least mention him. First Avenue is like a church to us all, ever since Purple Rain, and Prince's star outside on its wall is becoming a massive memorial as we speak. The city is in deep mourning, with people gathering at Electric Fetus (where Prince went all the time, as recently as this last Saturday for Record Store Day) to cry and buy music. I've had so many texts, from friends who all feel the same way. Gutted. In fact, one of the first texts I got this morning was from my Mom, feeling for me, but also sad herself. Prince finally won her over. I feel so far away from home, and my people, and know this loss is just as massive and crushing for the entire city as it is for me. I bet the entire city will be bathed in purple tonight, and that Prince's music is all you'll be hearing back there for some time to come. At least we'll always have that ... and now maybe Molly will finally get to meet Prince.

I'm just so, so sad. Wow. A world without Prince. Thank you for your lifetime of music, Prince, and for making this Minneapolis girl so happy for so long. Nothing Compares 2 U.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Venice Is For Lovers

I read the horoscope in the L.A. Times this morning, as one does, and this is what they had to say overall about today for everyone's sign ...

"The sun's moving into the sign of sensual awareness will show you the true character of your environment. If you let it happen, this place will be a vibrant influence over the day and your mood. Consider and compare other possible settings. As you do this, the reason you are precisely where you are will become very clear."

Then I went on my morning constitutional along the beach, and saw this rad mural by Jonas Never on my way back in front of The Whaler ...

NOW I know why we're here! That horoscope might just be on to something. Pay attention to signs, People.

Get it, Lovers!

*Happy Birthday, Sailene Ossman! Enjoy your day with your lover! xxx

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Living Wall

This weekend was so gorgeous, it was pretty unbelievable. Everything felt Summery and festive, the beaches were packed, and the winds were tropical. I felt happy just looking out the window. On the way to the beach, I took a new route just for fun, and passed by this incredible living wall surrounding a home on Olive Street.

What a great idea, to cover your walls with living plants! The house it surrounds is actually pretty dark and severe looking (and big), but this wall livens up the whole thing, with the added bonus of being natural! I think it's great.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, wherever you are, and that this new week shows you something surprising and beautiful and inspiring as well. Or even a few somethings! Good luck!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Make A Magic Bus!

I've been noticing a lot of wildly painted vehicles around town lately, and I dig it. I saw this Magic Bus last night, and of course wanted on, but no one seemed to be home. John Lennon, Ozzy, David Bowie and friends all look out from this mural of an automobile, and you just know there's good times aboard.

Further along, there was a mobile home painted in a kind of desert palate Starry Night - also cool. These color-mobile's were both found on the same block ... there are plenty more around, happily. In the beautiful, wacky, creative vortex that is Venice, why not make your transpo look fun too? Why not make things interesting everywhere you look? Why not conduct your own Electric Kool Aid Acid Test on your own Further? Life is short, People.

As we cruise on into the weekend, that's a great question ... Why not?!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Surf Shop Parties - Starring Natas Kaupas

Last Friday was the night for fancy surf shop parties, and the two that I knew of were both going off. We started the fun over at Lone Wolfs Objets d'Surf (you have to call it fancy when they name it that), where the surf shop/studio (Wolf At The Door) folks were hosting a party that featured the band Springtime Carnivore blazing through a set on the outdoor parking lot stage for both the packed crowd and the Friday night traffic on Lincoln Boulevard.

It was more fun than we had anticipated, as seemingly ALL our Venice pals had come out of winter hibernation to kick up their heels and raise a glass with their friends while listening to some live music under the stars. But we couldn't stay. We had even bigger fish to fry.

You see, pretty much our entire lives my brother Paul and I have held Natas Kaupas in the highest esteem possible. The Dogtown skate legend was our main dude when growing up in Minnesota, far away from the mean streets of Venice and Santa Monica where these guys were changing the world.

We loved him, and he soon became a long running example of missing out on something big ... "Oh, you know who you just missed on David Letterman?" "It better not have been Natas Kaupas!" You get it. But we did NOT miss Natas Kaupas last Friday, because he was kicking it over at General Admission, with a party for a shoe collaboration Kaupas did with the Lakai Limited Footwear company.

The shoes were pretty fresh, but nothing is as fresh as Natas himself. What a cool guy. Paul and I were beaming as we told him how much we'd admired him growing up, and he just smiled and laughed and clinked our glasses. I imagine he gets this a lot. We were stoked, not only at meeting a hero that totally holds up, but also that we get to live in a place where jamborees like this are the norm. Fun! Thanks!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Viral: 25 Years From Rodney King - The Wonderfully Important New Show At SPARC

There was an opening reception for the wonderful and terribly important new art show at SPARC this past Saturday night, Viral: 25 Years From Rodney King

Operating from the premise that the video showing Rodney King being beaten by the LAPD in 1991 was truly the world's first viral video, putting the spotlight on the racial injustice and police corruption in America that has only seems to have grown worse in the 25 years since that horror show.

SPARC's building was formerly the Venice Police Station, so the art work displayed inside was especially fitting for this show, as we were all behind the bars of the old jail while observing the awful timeline of this particular nightmare epidemic of trouble in our country.

Artists from all over are featured in this group show, curated by Daryl Wells of Art Responders. Wells had a mentally ill brother who had been continually been harassed by police and wound up dead in murky circumstances. She introduced the show with an emotional speech about the frustration, pain, anger, and helplessness she had felt, and could only imagine the pain of the families left behind by victims like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and so many more to mention.

The show is interactive, as you walk the timeline around the room from 1991 - 2016, with all the visual art complimented by audio listening stations for music and spoken word poetry.

There was a playlist created for the show, with all supremely worthy of inclusion tracks, but the song that kept playing through my head was the one released a day earlier from Ben Harper - "Call It What It Is (Murder)" from his brand new album of the same name.

In it, Harper name checks these same murder victims, while pointing out that there are black and white cops, good and bad cops, of course, but let's call it what it really is - Murder. That cops are just getting away with. That MUST stop. That's all I could hear running through my head as I traversed the room ... Call it what it is, call it what it is ... Murder.

There is even a virtual reality station where the viewer can experience Perspectives 2: The Misdemeanor, where there are cops and possible perpetrators, and someone gets shot, and how you feel about it depends on your perspective. It's pretty heavy, and really a great tool for putting yourself in either set of shoes.

I was moved by a really powerful watercolor from Sanae Robinson depicting the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri. The events in Missouri were really so painful for me to watch going down on t.v., with utter disbelief that we still STILL have to even be having this conversation. WE ARE ALL ONE!!! Why WHY is that so very hard for some to grasp?! Ugh... Robinson's painting really captured that anguish for me.

Overstreet Ducasse has several pieces in the show, with pieces done on the target practice charts from his state of Floida, called the Floreada Series. Ducasse carried his art right over on to his jacket, which put an exclamation on his point.

This show, as the press release states, "asks vital questions about the last quarter century of developments in our criminal justice system, and how various systemic failures have allowed this phenomenon to frustrate the dream of a post-racial America ... it tackles the intersection of social media, the arts and criminal justice advocacy in order to bring about much-needed dialogue regarding systemic racism and its impact on communities of color."

I had just read that when I saw a little girl in the jail cell with her Dad, and almost choked up with the hope that she doesn't have to think about any of this for very much longer. That we can all just, as Rodney King implored 25 years ago, GET ALONG.

I ran into Francisco Letelier and we talked about the importance of shows like this, but also of getting people to GO to these shows. To keep that dialogue going. To support the artists that are often the loudest voices shouting for change.

He told me that this SPARC show will be one of the stops on the upcoming May 15 edition of Art Block - the incredible gathering of our local art and artists that invites you into their studios - for free. I hope everyone will put an asterisk next to SPARC on their maps, as everyone living in America today should see this fantastic show. (But you don't have to wait until May ... go now! Every day!)

Viral: 25 Years From Rodney King is on at SPARC through June 3, 2016
681 Venice Boulevard