Redwood Bar Tomorrow: Slay The Phoenix, The Vigils


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India Sweets and Pizza?

India Sweets and Spices PizzaSome fusion food is simply not meant to be, and I am the first to admit that tikka masala pizza does not immediately beckon. But sometimes when food is cooked using the ingredients from a different culture, something wonderful happens. India Sweets and Spices on Los Feliz in the Atwater area started a pioneering pizza kitchen last month.

They do serve Italian pizza, but why go to an Indian grocery for that? We chose a tikka masala base, then built the pizza as if layering curries and chutneys. Eggplant and artichokes for substance, pineapple, yellow bell pepper, garlic, mint and cilantro. It was delicious layered on a naan-like crust. The sauce was flavorful with a slight afterburn. Other base sauces are Curry and Mango/Coconut. Toppings include your usual vegetables and a wide variety of hot peppers. The vegetarian-only pizzas can be made vegan by omitting the cheese.

Founder Kumar Jawa started the India Sweets and Spices in 1984 and there are now ten of the grocery delis throughout California and Oregon. The Los Feliz site is the flagship and the only one offering pizza. Jawa said that he is willing to help the other delis set up their pizza kitchens if they are interested. Like the rest of us, they are probably waiting with great interest to see what happens.

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Rare Chance to See “The Decline of Western Civilization” at LACMA if You Want to Gamble

This Friday, April 18 at 7:30pm LACMA will be screening Penelope Spheeris’ 1981 documentary, “The Decline of Western Civilization.” Spheeris’s “groundbreaking documentary captures some of the scene’s seminal bands at their sweaty, ferocious peak, onstage and off. From OC hardcore progenitors Black Flag and Circle Jerks to Hollywood heavyweights Germs, X, and the intensely provocative Fear…”

The film has not been made available on DVD and is rarely screened, so the tickets are already sold out. If you are hardcore, there are seats available on standby only. The line-up will begin 2 hours beforehand, and seats will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis IF any seats become available. Spheeris, Lee Ving, and other guests “to be announced” will be in attendance.

LACMA, Bing Theater
$3 Academy members, LACMA Film Club members and students with a valid ID; $5 general admission
Plan Your Visit

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Mike Kelley at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA


After traveling from Amsterdam to Paris and New York, “Mike Kelley” has finally come home to MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary and MOCA Grand Avenue. Perhaps best known for the cover of the Sonic Youth album, Dirty, Mike Kelley could be described as LA’s quintessential post-punk artist. Until his recent death in 2012, he created a huge body of work exploring such diverse topics as politics, class, gender, pop culture, and the traumas of childhood, with a special interest in recovered memories.

If you can name a medium, Kelley worked in it, from watercolor to wood, from mosaic to installations, from photography to video. He was particularly entranced with texture, creating dioramas with anything from plastic sprinkles to quartz. Although his performances can never truly be recreated, there are videos of some of the pieces. One of Mike Kelley’s favorite mediums was found objects, particularly soft sculpture using crochet and stuffed animals. Although his work is often whimsical, there is a dark underbelly. What are the mysterious lumps beneath the large, seemingly cozy afghan? The artist’s collection of discarded stuffed animals certainly lean towards the creepy, with leering eyes and ominous smiles.

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Middle-Aged Rebel: Advantages


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Southland Tales: Waiting For Something

Photo by Michael Essington

Photo by Michael Essington

On October 31, 2009, I took my son to breakfast at McDonald’s on Vanowen and Balboa. It was empty, quiet and the playground was open for him.

As a regular breakfast consumer of McDonald’s I get used to people panhandling. If I eat deeper into Van Nuys, most people bypass me, thinking I don’t know Spanish, so they walk on.

I give change, or on occasion they just want my coffee cup before it’s thrown away.

On this particular day, a Sunday, I saw a guy walk in; he looked like the mountain man from The Oak Ridge Boys: a little roughed up, but not dirty. Boots seemed clean. He didn’t seem to order; he placed his travel roll in a booth, and kind of walked around.

At that point my son had finished his food, and wanted to play outside. So, we went to play.

After about a half an hour my son was done, and wanted to head home. Right as I was starting to stand-up, the bearded Mountain Man came walking into the play area. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a dollar but before I could hand it over, the Man spoke:

“I want you to have these,” he said and proceed to give me two coupons for a free cup of coffee, one coupon for a free breakfast sandwich, and a gift card that he said “might only have forty cents on it, but use it to buy your little one an ice cream.”

I told him I couldn’t accept it, that he should keep it. Use it for tomorrow’s breakfast.

“You keep it,” he said. “I’m fine.”

I pocketed my dollar, his coupons, and the gift card. Before I could look up, he was making his way out the driveway, pulling his travel roll.

“Let me drive you somewhere,” I call out to him.

“No,” he said and reiterated that he was fine then pointed to the bus stop

“There are things I want to see,” he said.

Turned left out of the driveway, and looked at him waiting for the bus, puzzled.

He stood looking up at the sky smiling.

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Book Review: No Slam Dancing No Stage Diving No Spikes: An Oral History Of The Legendary City Gardens

Black Flag_1-1

Black Flag at City Gardens in 1986, photo by Bob Lee,

While the So Cal punk scene has inspired enough publications to fill a shelf, it’s rare that I’ve heard about any serious attempts to recollect what was going on in my neck of the woods, New Jersey, back in the middle 80s. So it’s very satisfying personally to see the long-awaited publication of this book by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLudovico that focuses its vision on my old hometown club, the titular City Gardens of Trenton, and gives the main characters – musicians, club employees and audience – a chance to tell their own oral history.

One key function City Gardens served for us of high school age was providing all-ages shows for bands that normally played in bars. We were lucky enough to have two great college radio stations (Dean Ween was a fanzine author and DJ on WTSR at the age of 15, and thus a high muckety-muck of the scene long before Ween started performing), and thus a pretty well-informed audience of under-21s. I would occasionally meet kids from New York or Philly that had to come to Trenton for gigs, who told me we didn’t know how lucky we were to have the place.

The authors cover events chronologically, and talk to a lot of the hardcore touring stalwarts that most people associate with the venue – Rollins, Watt, MacKaye, all the guys from the NYC HC bands – but also the occasional famous hip hop or college-radio heroes like Kool Moe Dee, Beastie Boys, New Order and Peter Murphy (some represented by tour managers or other cohorts) that would occasionally show up, filling an itinerary date between New York and DC, or between Philly and Boston. Booking agent Randy Now had wide-ranging tastes, and knew he needed to work all the multiple angles of what could be termed “alternative,” in order to survive.

Balancing the attention evenly between these different forces of what fell under the general umbrella of “alternative music” feels true to the City Gardens I remember, even if I seem to be remembering some of the details different from other people. (I’m pretty sure by the time Husker Du came around in May of ’85 it was not billed an an all-ages show as one person asserts, because I remember being REAL BUMMED OUT about having to skip that.) There’s a lot of hardcore in here, like there was in my life – I saw Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, DOA, Angry Samoans, 7 Seconds, Suicidal Tendencies and countless others of that breed, but I also saw the Residents with Snakefinger there. I saw the Ben Vaughn Combo as a young garage band just finding its feet. I saw some insane pairings, like Living Colour opening for Swans, GWAR pissing off the skinheads who’d come to see Murphy’s Law, or LA hair-metal poseurs the Double O Zeros (no relation to the real “Wimp”/ “Beat Your Heart Out” Zeros – they became the purple haired Zeros if you remember that) with the Circle Jerks. I saw a hardcore band attempt to rap for the first time there. I saw the Ramones there four times, each one packed with people pogoing from the front of the house to the back bar, where budding young comedian John Stewart was serving them drinks and topical quips. (I have no memory of him being there but, I wasn’t yet drinking age, and usually spent any money I had at the merch booth or at the creepy KFC around the corner.) Continue reading

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Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

Remember book fairs from elementary school?  Well the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is nothing like that.

The two day event is one of the largest book festivals in the country.  While the focus is on books, their authors, and the people that love them, this event includes food, music, and art as well.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 20144

The theme for this year’s Festival of Books is “Inspire Your Fire”.

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Gallery 800 Presents “Valley Watercolor Society” Juried Art Exhibit Opening April 12th

B Mason_Sun DrenchedI find that Gallery 800 is a somewhat uncelebrated part of the Arts community. While flying under the general public’s radar Gallery 800 presents some remarkable talent associated with the local film community. This month the Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) Gallery 800 will be hosting the Valley Watercolor Society’s 2014 Spring Juried Show. The “VWS” opening is tomorrow Saturday, April 12, 2014 with a hosted reception from 5-8 PM. This is an exceptional opportunity for the general public to meet the artists and view their paintings.

Frank Eber will judge this year’s Valley Watercolor Society exhibit. Frank has attained signature status in the National Watercolor Society, the Transparent Watercolor Society and Watercolor West. He was also recently accepted as an Artist member of the Entry B Mac Donald_ Into the futureprestigious California Art Club. Frank will be judging the various artist’s works in this annual juried exhibit at Gallery 800.

This is a great way to round out your weekend with interesting and exceptional art. It’s a great way to connect to the foundational elements of the local film community at the level of their passion. Every Gallery 800 exhibition is exceptional and interesting. The artist themselves offer useful insight about their work and inspirations. After a day at the races you may want to spend a night at the opera, metaphorically speaking.


Entry A Watkins_Ullapool HarborGallery 800 is located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd. in the heart of the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. The public is welcome to attend this reception. Gallery 800 hours: Thursday – Saturday, 2 PM – 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM – 6 PM. The “Valley Watercolor Society” exhibit closes May 17, 2014.

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Go With Le Flo: Los Angeles World Theatrical Premiere at the Downtown Independent

Go With Le Flo

Go With Le Flo at the Downtown Independent Friday April 11th

I had the pleasure of being invited to a special screening to see “Go With Le Flo” at The Goethe Institute and was hosted by Stefan Biedermann of the German Consulate. There was a meet and greet before the screening where Harrison and I got to meet Stefan, Michael and Robyn. The evening event also had a special performance by Bright Blue Gorilla: Bright Blue Gorilla acoustic performance - © Billy Bennight for the LA Beatthe ensemble composed of Michael Glover and Robyn Rosenkrantz, who are also the director and producer of Go With Le Flo. Their short set of four songs, with Michael on the Tabla and Robyn on Harmonium, proved to be a fun warm up to getting the movie rooted and started that evening.

Go With Le Flo started with narration by Florian, played by Denis Aubert, the lead character and a sausage maker detailing the plights of his misguided attempts at love. From there we were introduced to talented international cast, many of whom hail from the Bertolt Brecht Theater, Berliner Ensemble. Marina Senckel’s Jenny, is a heart warming soul and plays well off of Florian’s awkward and romantically diluted character. The movie moves quickly establishing this slightly off-center Romantic Comedy set in Berlin: the feature is spoken in both French and German and subtitled in English. It has the charm and whimsy of The Gods Must Be Crazy meeting the romantic intrigues of Bridget Jones Diary, but not with the stuffy English sensibilities of the later and is decidedly a more European take on the Romantic Comedy genre. There are some fun cultural insights and jabs in this cleverly written script; light-heartedly aimed at both French and German audiences. The Goethe Institute’s audiences was as international as was the cast who were locked in this movie. On many occasions there were hearty spontaneous laughs shared by all in attendance. There are some clever twists in the plot and some great visual jokes, as well. I found it entertaining, uplifting and very funny. Well worth a second watch! After the feature we all gathered outside the theater to share our opinions on the movie and continued to get to know one another. The event was catered with some fantastic German cuisine and we savored it. The food was delicious and then we found time for photo opportunities with guest and talent. It was a fun well rounded evening.

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