Richie Onori talks about Sweet and the Rockers Against Cancer 3 Benefit Show Tomorrow

buque3. courtesy Doug deutsch PRHow many people can honestly say they’ve never heard these lyrics?

And the man at the back said everyone attack
And it turned into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said boy, I wanna warn ya
It’ll turn into a ballroom blitz
Ballroom blitz
Ballroom blitz
Ballroom blitz
Ballroom blitz

When Sweet first performed this song in 1973, little did they know that it would peak from #5 to #1 on just about every major music chart in the world during the mid-70s. Tia Carrere would cover the song in Wayne’s World. And forty years later, original Sweet member Steve Priest would still be playing the song to audiences, dancing up a storm to the music. Steve then semi-retired, until the pull of music became too great and he called up drummer Richie Onori, a seasoned rock drummer whose style had been compared more than once to Mick Tucker, the original drummer for the Sweet. Richie told me, “Mick Tucker, who was the original drummer, we both go from the same kind of rock drumming, the Buddy Rich/Gene Krupa kind of style where you really apply yourself. You have to have your drum chops up. It was a perfect fit; I get that all the time, how close I am to playing like Mick Tucker.”.

For Richie Onori, asking to join Sweet was more than just a drumming gig. Richie said, “It’s been a really good ride, joining Sweet. Steve Priest is really the only founding member of the band that is left. Steve decided to reform the band after being pretty much retired in 2008. He called me up and we put a pretty good lineup up. Most of that lineup has been going since 2008. We’ve toured with Journey, been to Europe, South America, Canada, all over the world and that music just lives on and on. It’s a legendary group and it’s been a great experience for me. When Steve asked me, I became a full partner in the band, so it’s not just like a side gig, it’s like Ron Wood when he joined the Stones. He wasn’t the original guitarist, but everybody that is in the band has earned their position in that legendary band”. Continue reading

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Grandpa Johnson’s: Johnny Zander’s Glamorous Hollywood Cocktail Lounge

Bad-ass sconces

There was a time when you could replicate a bar’s cocktail without having to buy anything more unusual than grenadine and angostura bitters. A tattered copy of “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” is not enough anymore. As bartenders morphed into mixologists, and back into bartenders again, ingredients have become increasingly exotic. A recent tasting at Grandpa Johnson’s featured cocktails with special ingredients like green tea syrup and black walnut bitters, as well as uncommon liquers like amaro and cynar. Cocktail creator Alex Straus, a member of the a mysterious secret society known as Bon Vivant, has developed eight standard cocktails for the bar. There are off the menu specials, including some developed especially for Portland Cocktail Week, where Grandpa Johnson’s will have an opening night pop-up. Ask about “The Mind Eraser.”

Alex Straus’ cocktails combine several flavors to create a new, balanced flavor without ever getting muddy. He is able to mix in these exotic ingredients while allowing the taste of the quality liquor to shine through. I think Caroline on Crack has disabused people of the notion that bourbon and rocks glasses are exclusively for men, while pretty, fruity drinks are only for the ladies. Rather than describing the drinks as masculine and feminine, I would say I categorized them as either intense or refreshing.

The “Crockard”, which included Atlantico Reserva and Cognac, was pretty intense, as was one of our favorites, the “Eddie,” with Auchentoshan 3 wood (a Scottish single malt), Ancho Reyes, Banana Syrup and Coffee Tincture. The Ancho definitely left its mark. We also enjoyed the sweet and refreshing “Seymour,” with Mandarine Napoleon (a combination of 10-year Cognac and mandarins) Fernet (a bitter Argentinian liquor), Lemon Juice and Ginger Syrup with a mint tea sugar rim. My British genes must have been guiding me, because my absolute favorite cocktail, the “Winnie” also included tea. Besides Djarling Syrup, it features Beefeater Gin and Giffard Apricot.

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Urban Death Tour at the Zombie Joe Underground

Photo courtesy of Theme Park Adventure

Photo courtesy of Theme Park Adventure

There is a small, pitch black cracker box of a theater near the NoHo sign in the valley where the spirit of Halloween and all things dark and disturbing find a place to rest their fangs and horns all year round. When the preternatural essence of October and Samhain rolls around, the treats that lie within The Zombie Joe Underground have to be extra special and you can bet the Devil your soul that they are.

For those of you not familiar with the semi-regular editions of Urban Death, it’s a virtually word free collection of horrific scenarios or suggestions purposely made to unsettle you in a very unique way. Some of the time is spent in utter darkness so murky you cannot see who is next to you. When the lights come on, what is in your face may make you scream, laugh or almost run out. Clowns, Necrophilia, the misshapen and the mentally ill all congregate in ways that are both simple and brilliant without any props or explanations. It’s alot like being trapped in Clive Barker’s basement, or a pastiche taken from H.P, Lovecraft or Silent Hill.

To tell you any more would be criminal. This is a class act of warped genius that is best experienced cold with little warning or expectation of content. What distinguishes The Tour of Terror Haunted House version of Urban Death from its former incarnations is that its lobby has been crafted into a dark maze. You navigate through with a tiny in point flashlight that actually gives the nightmares lurking more of a heads up than being a viable light to see with.

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Advanced Style comes to Los Angeles

I’ve been a big fan of Ari Seth Cohen’s “Advanced Style” blog since he began. Having had a great-aunt who was (and remains) one of my major style influencers, his work spoke to me immediately. Living in New York for over a decade, I loved seeing stylish older folks on the street. (I love seeing anyone who makes the effort to look good and defy traditional convention.) Now, Cohen and director Lina Plioplyte have released a documentary following seven of these extraordinary individuals. (I can’t imagine how they narrowed it down!)


Advanced Style is a documentary that examines the lives of seven unique New Yorkers aged 62 to 95 whose eclectic personal style and vital spirit have guided their approach to aging. Director Lina Plioplyte follows these fashionable ladies’ daily adventures of living in the city, capturing their most entertaining and poignant moments. From the instant that Cohen first meets these vibrant characters on the streets of New York, it is evident that they are destined for fame. From a glamorous 81-year-old dancer from the legendary Apollo theater, to an 80-year-old owner of a storied boutique on the Upper West Side with a penchant for over-the-top accessories, to a 93-year-old West Village artist known for her colorful ensembles and iconic red eyelashes crafted from her own hair, these ladies offer their own unique perspective on overcoming life’s obstacles with style and grace, proving that age is merely a state a mind. Advanced Style paints colorful and intimate portraits of independent, stylish women who are challenging conventional ideas about beauty, growing old, and Western culture’s increasing obsession with youth.

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Air Soft Zombie Hunt and Horror Maze

The first air soft zombie hunt and horror maze combo in Bellflower opened in 2012 to mixed reviews and a little naïveté about the biz, but Haunted Hollywood Sports were undaunted and decided to shamble on like any good zombie would and I’m happy to say the research and commitment paid off. The press was invited to a large soiree featuring hot and spicy bloody chicken wings, beef sliders and cupcakes with bats on them and a free bar. Yippee. We also received a bag of swag from the sponsors which included packets of Oberto Beef Jerky and Cans of Venom energy drink, which I recommend for this high energy event.

Most of the mazes were still under construction but we did get to go in the Venom Maze and one of the Zombie Kill houses. First off, let me say that these guys are now moving fast up the ladder to become a SoCal contender in the overcrowded world of October events.

First we were decontaminated and led into army vehicles to the main part of the park. This place is massive and they make good use of their 23 acres and decorate all passive areas better than they need to. The Zombie Kill Zone we went through was only a few minutes long, but the cast playing the military push you through it like pros, leaving you exhilarated when the zombies come running towards you as you try to make it to the three safety zones on each course. There are five Zombie live ammo encounters in the park plus a separate paintball range.

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Hirose Sushi in Torrance

hiroseHirose is a hidden sleeper of a tiny sushi restaurant sandwiched between a Jersey Mike’s & Ko-ryu- Ra-men.  It’s mostly a Japanese speaking clientele, especially during the lunch hour, but that shouldn’t discourage non-Japanese speakers from enjoying the fresh, light, healthful aspects of Japanese cuisine.  The menu has explanations in English, and the waiters and waitress are proficient enough in English to take your orders.

The best time to visit Hirose is during lunch, since the prices are significantly lower at that time. Dinner prices get higher, so it’s not quite a bargain anymore.  An especially good deal is to get the Sushi lunch set or the Chirashi, which is a bed of rice with a melange of Neta (neh tah)/ seafood or other ingredients to put over the Sushi rice which is seasoned with Japanese rice vinegar and a touch of Mirin/sweet Japanese cooking Sake.

There is also an “Omakase” lunch deal that goes for around $28 that includes eight pieces of Sushi, Miso soup, appetizer, a cooked course, steamed egg custard soup, and ice cream.  This lunch Omakase is available only Monday-Friday, and is not for people who have  limited time. With omakase be prepared to leisurely enjoy an extended lunch.

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Middle-Aged Rebel: Can’t Sleep


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Southland Tales: Thanksgiving

Photo by Michael Essington

Photo by Michael Essington

In the beginning of November of 1988, I was twenty-two, I had been thrown out of my place for the umpteenth time and I drove over to my dad’s place to crash, only to have him tell me that wife number two had left Halloween night and hadn’t returned.

Over the next few days I cleaned out all my stuff from Mom’s, and lugged it over to Dad’s. The next few weeks were spent getting used to two half-sisters I didn’t know and a handful of animals that loved to crap right outside my bedroom door, making the morning trips to the bathroom a frickin’ nightmare on my socks.

Thanksgiving morning came around and my Dad said, “Let’s make turkey dinner, just you and me, no women this year.” Sounded great, but neither of us had ever undertaken such a task. Dad went grocery shopping and came home with all the fixings. Now, the cooking. We gutted the turkey and put it on metal cooking pan, and the damn thing flopped open spilling the stuffing, we look at each other and let out a “What the?” Then I remember seeing strings on turkeys at the relatives. So, I tell my dad we need string to wrap up this loose bird. He runs to the tool shed and brought out some twine, and we tied this ten-pound sucker up, and put him in the oven.

Twenty minutes later we opened the oven, and the twine had burnt off. So, we pull the bad-boy out and try to figure out our next move.

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Second Annual Sriracha Fest Heats up Chinatown October 19

Beachwood-BBQ-Braised-Glazed-Smoked-Spare-Rib-with-Sweet-Spicy-Vegetable-Slaw (Courtesy of Sriracha Fest)

Beachwood-BBQ-Braised-Glazed-Smoked-Spare-Rib-with-Sweet-Spicy-Vegetable-Slaw (Courtesy of Sriracha Fest)

Food GPS, founder of the Rib Fest and Chicken Fest, partners with The Sriracha Cookbook this year to bring back the popular Sriracha Fest. Sunday, October 19, the festivities will take place in Chinatown’s historic Central Plaza from 3pm-6pm.

Huy Fong Foods’ “rooster sauce” is the most recognized brand of Sriracha, a Thai chili sauce that has taken the culinary world by storm. The festival will feature Sriracha-themed dishes, even desserts. The curated collection of restaurants include Beat favorites Eggslut, Jitlada Thai Restaurant, The Little Jewel of New Orleans, Sqirl, and Mud Hen Tavern. Just to give you an idea of what you can look forward to, Eastside Market Italian Deli will be serving Sriracha‬ Pork Meatballs with Slaw. Mendocino Farms is serving a Peruvian Steak Sandwich with spicy aji amarillo, Oaxacan cheese and herb aioli.

Sweets will be provided by CrèmeCaramelLA, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and Red Bread. Besides the ice cream, how can you cool off your palate? Jason Bran and Damian Windsor will be mixing up cocktails, and craft beers will be provided by Eagle Rock Brewery, Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, and Golden Road Brewing. For teetolaers there will be craft sodas, iced coffee and iced tea.

General Admission tickets are $59 per person in advance, and $69 per person at the door, if still available. VIP Tickets for the event are $90 in advance, and $100 per person at the door, if available. The VIP ticket is really worth it. Besides reserved seating you avoid the rush with one-hour early admission from 2 pm to 3 pm. A portion of proceeds from the L.A. Sriracha Festival will directly benefit Food Forward; a Los Angeles-based nonprofit whose mission is to rescue fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste, connecting this abundance with people in need. 21 and over. Purchase tickets here

Chinatown’s Central Plaza, 943-951 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Le Reverie’s Allie Jorgen Talks About Their Music and the Upcoming Rockers Against Cancer 3 Benefit Show

Allie Jorgen was sitting in a club when what can only be described as a moment of Kismet occurred. “This particular situation came together in 2010, the drummer and I were at a club watching a band and the keyboard player pulled out some of his originals. They were so different and so unusual, very mystical; and I thought my Gothic writing style, my vocals and melodies would fit his writing style perfectly, so after their show we talked to him to find out where he was at and told him we were interested in starting a Gothic rock band. He said it was really interesting because he had just been thinking along the same lines. Le Reverie was actually born that same night, we came together and wrote our first couple songs. We actually used the same bass player and same guitar player and the band went on from there”.

With a talented group of band members, Le Reverie is able to do what very few other groups have done—-combine different genres of music together and have it sound like they were meant to work together. Elements of heavy metal, progressive rock, Gothic rock and even classical symphonic touches blend seamlessly into a unique style. So unique, in fact, that one of their first songs opened a lot of doors. She said, “The first song that we wrote was called ‘Hold Me Down’ and it was written to a lot of people that thought we shouldn’t have done a Gothic rock band and said ‘don’t you want to do a different style of music?’ We said, ‘No, we really want to do the Gothic rock sort of imagery, the Celtic matter and so we are going to do that and nothing is going to hold us down. So we wrote the song and sent it to Al Bowman who does the LA Music Awards just as a demo and forgot about it after a while. We got a call later, returned it and since we were looking for a producer at the time, asked him for suggestions. Al called us back and said he knew Ron Neveson, who has worked with the Who, Led Zeppelin, Heart and just about everybody else. He then told us, ‘your song was nominated for 2013 Breakout Single of the Year’. It was really amazing! So we went in the studio with Ron, and all we had was ‘Hold Me Down’.” Fortunately, Allie also had a song called ‘Ghost of You’, a ballad that worked perfectly to go with ‘Hold Me Down’.

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