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Top Hat of Couture

from the NY Observer

The Sultan of Stains

By Spencer Morgan

John Mahdessian prefers not to be called a dry cleaner.

“That’s a fuckin’ insult,” he said, between pulls off a Marlboro Light on a recently Sunday morning. “That’s like calling a world-renowned surgeon a doctor.”

We were outside the nail salon next door to the Madame Paulette flagship, first opened by Mr. Mahdessian’s great-uncle Andy as a mom-and-pop dry cleaner in 1958, when it was named for Andy’s wife, a French gal who worked as the seamstress. It recently underwent a massive $500,000 renovation and now occupies half the block.

Mr. Mahdessian, 43, is president of what is now called the Madame Paulette Organization, “the world’s leading custom couture cleaner.” The jovial, self-described “eligible bachelor with a spotless reputation” has been married to his business since taking the reins from his father, Noubar, 20 years ago. (“He thinks girls are like shirts: You have to change them every two weeks,” Noubar said wryly.)

John works six days a week. Sundays he treats himself to a mani-pedi and a massage.

[ click to continue reading at Observer.com ]

Posted on June 10, 2009 by Editor

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“Because then the actresses used to be dressed to the gills.”

from The LA Times

Susan Farley / For The Times

COLUMN ONE

The typist’s tale of ‘Last Tycoon’

Years after ‘Gatsby,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald’s secretary got to witness the second act of an author who didn’t believe in them.

By David L. Ulin
June 8, 2009

Frances Kroll RingAll these years later, Frances Kroll Ring can still see it, the afternoon she filled out an application at Rusty’s Employment Agency on Hollywood Boulevard and drove to Encino to meet a writer who was looking for a secretary.

It was April 1939, and she was 22, a Bronx transplant with typing and dictation skills. She’d been in Southern California for a little more than a year, coming west to help her father, a New York furrier, set up shop on Wilshire Boulevard. “Everybody said, ‘You’re a furrier? What are you doing in Southern California?’ ” Ring remembers. “But he knew the studios used furs. Because then the actresses used to be dressed to the gills.”

[ click to continue at LATimes.com ]

Posted on June 8, 2009 by Editor

Filed under Literary News, Los Angeles | | 1 Comment »

Please Vote Now For Beatnik, Jr. in Hard Rock Cafe’s Battle of the Bands

MY COUSIN’S BAND IS ONE STEP AWAY FROM WINNING A NATIONAL BATTLE OF THE BANDS COMPETITION !

http://www.VoteBeatnikJr.com

My cousin Andy has been a struggling musician in L.A. for the past 3 1/2 years. Last month his band won the L. A. Hard Rock Cafe Ambassador’s of Rock battle of the bands competition. They have now played at the Sunset Blvd House of Blues and The Viper Room. Next they competed against 20 other Hard Rock Cafe winners from around the country and they are now in the finals with 4 other bands. The winner of this competition will be sent to London later this month to play in a music festival that features Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Eric Clapton and others.

The final winner will be decided based upon internet voting. As of right now Beatnik Jr. is in 2nd place.

Please, please, please, click on the link above and vote for Beatnik Jr. and if you really want to help. It only takes a few seconds. If they become famous you can say that you helped them get there!

FYI – if you view the video, Andy is the drummer.

Rock on!
Suzi

http://www.VoteBeatnikJr.com

Posted on June 1, 2009 by JF

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Apropos Props To The Americans

from the Los Angeles Times

American art gets a higher profile in U.S. museums

The Huntington Library's early 20th century gallery features works of the Arts and Crafts movement.

TIM STREET-PORTER, THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY

The Huntington Library’s early 20th century gallery features works of the Arts and Crafts movement.

The Huntington, the Met and museums in Boston, Kansas City and Detroit are showcasing stateside talent with revamped exhibit spaces.

By Suzanne Muchnic
May 30, 2009

Long the stepchild of a Eurocentric art world, American art is finding new favor at home as a growing number of institutions showcase work from Colonial times to World War II.

Today, the Huntington in San Marino will join the Metropolitan Museum of Art and museums around the country when it unveils a renovated and expanded gallery devoted to American art.

click to continue reading at the LA Times ]

Posted on May 30, 2009 by Editor

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Support Book Soup The Best Book Shop in LA

visit BookSoup.com and buy some stuff

Posted on May 24, 2009 by Editor

Filed under Bright Shiny News, Literary News, Los Angeles | | No Comments »

Gehry on L.A

from the LA Times

Gehry on L.A., art (and Gehry)

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao,1997. Photo by ©David Heald, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York

NOT THE MET: Gehry calls his Guggenheim Bilbao “an antidote to the Metropolitan Museum syndrome.”

The book ‘Conversations With Frank Gehry’ serves as a blueprint for his mind-set, philosophies and the making of many of his major works.

April 18, 2009

In “Conversations With Frank Gehry,” Los Angeles writer Barbara Isenberg talks with the Pritzker Prize-winning architect, who’s behind such iconic buildings as Walt Disney Concert Hall and Guggenheim Bilbao. They cover his life, pivotal career moments, including the competition for Bilbao, and influences. Following are exclusive excerpts from the book, published by Alfred A. Knopf, which goes on sale Tuesday.

Is there a Los Angeles style of architecture?

Los Angeles has an incredible light and a forgiving climate. You don’t have to use double glazing, and you don’t have to think about snow loads and snow conditions. The further south you go, the more open you can get. But the generation after me is working all over the world, like I am, so we’ve had to adapt to other climates. I had to adapt to a northern climate in Bilbao.

Do you take a Los Angeles sensibility with you?

It’s not so contrived. You just go for the bigger picture, I think. At least I do.

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on April 19, 2009 by Editor

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Insatiable Gone

from NBC

Adult Star Marilyn Chambers Found Dead

Updated 12:43 PM PDT, Mon, Apr 13, 2009

Related Topics: Marilyn Chambers | Pornography

Famed adult film star Marilyn Chambers was found dead in her home in the Canyon Country area, authorities said Monday, and an autopsy was pending to determine how she died.

The 56-year old broke into the porn industry by appearing in the 1972 film “Behind the Green Door,” the first widely released pornographic film in the United States.

Her appearance in the film cost the then-aspiring model and actress her job as Procter & Gamble’s Ivory Snow detergent girl, appearing on the soapbox with a baby and the caption “99 & 44/100% pure.”

The Providence, R.I., native had a bit part in the 1970 Barbra Streisand film “The Owl and the Pussycat,” but after establishing herself as a pornographic film star, she was never able to break into mainstream films.

Copyright City News Service

[ click to read full article at NBCLosAngeles.com ]

Posted on April 13, 2009 by Editor

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“Señora, you’ve earned a spot in heaven.”

from the Los Angeles Times

HECTOR TOBAR:

Outpost of literature feeds the body and the mind

Bookstore and restaurant

 

Stefano Paltera, For The Times

Sandra Romero of Mama’s Hot Tamales offered space to Librería Hispanoamérica in hopes that they can help one another survive the economic downturn.

Hector Tobar, March 24, 2009

Somewhere up in poet heaven, Roque Dalton is a happy man.

Just across the street from MacArthur Park, the town square of Central American immigrants in Los Angeles, a tiny storefront has an entire shelf dedicated to the works of the Salvadoran writer, who died in 1975.

Dalton’s poems celebrate the tenacity of Salvadorans and their diaspora across the Americas. If his books had eyes, they could look through the store’s glass window and see his countrymen hawking snow cones and tacos outside.

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda lives inside the Librería Hispanoamérica too. His “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” is a popular item there, as is the work of another Nobel laureate, the Guatemalan novelist Miguel Angel Asturias.

Spotting great literature in the shadow of the park’s aging palm trees, in a corner of the city once infamous for the sale of crack cocaine and sex, felt at first like stumbling upon a mirage.

One of the local alcoholics thought so too. First, he wandered over from the park’s lawns and skeptically inspected the freshly swept sidewalks in front of the bookstore. Then, persuaded they were real, he stepped inside.

Señora, you’ve earned a spot in heaven,” he told owner Aura Quezada. “Because in this place where everyone opens liquor stores, you have opened a bookstore.”

[ click to continue reading at the LA Times ]

Posted on March 25, 2009 by Editor

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The Art Of The Wait

from the LA Times

Waiting tables is an art: 4 veteran L.A. servers who know

Seasoned pros take a craftsmanlike approach to their jobs at landmark L.A. restaurants.

By Betty Hallock5:01 PM PDT, March 17, 2009

Good waiters — no, they haven’t disappeared, no matter how it might seem to anyone who has felt like just another check average.

maitre.pngMeet old school: Vladimir Bezak, Manny Felix, Sergio Guerra and Pablo Zelaya. Among them, they have provided more than 100 years of service to countless diners across Los Angeles, their days measured in ice-cold dry martinis and perfectly cooked medium-rare steaks. Wars (including those against calories and carbohydrates) have been waged, presidents (and chefs) have come and gone, and meanwhile, they’ve looked after their customers down to the last detail, special requests indulged, cups of coffee refilled.”

Good service is a craft,” Guerra says. “This is my profession, it’s my living.”

They are, in Los Angeles, a rare breed — career waiters, veteran career waiters. While at many restaurants it can be hard to get your server’s attention when you don’t have a spoon for your soup or you may have to suffer the yadda-yadda-yadda of introductions and upselling and instructions, these are consummate waiters who, always gracious, know exactly how to make you feel taken care of, without being oppressed. 

click to continue reading at the LA Times ]

Posted on March 22, 2009 by Editor

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Negrohead Mountain Renamed

from The LA Times

A heightened profile for one of L.A.’s black pioneers

Naming Ballard Mountain

Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

L.A. County officials are recommending that Negrohead Mountain be named Ballard Mountain, in honor of John Ballard, a pioneering black settler in Agoura.

 

Early settlers in the Agoura area named Negrohead Mountain after John Ballard, a former slave who moved there in the 1880s. Now L.A. County wants to put Ballard’s actual name on the 2,031-foot peak.

By Bob Pool
February 24, 2009

Negrohead Mountain is an unlikely memorial to a former slave who made a name for himself at the western end of Los Angeles County. More than 120 years ago, pioneers in the Santa Monica Mountains named the peak for John Ballard, the first black man to settle in the hills above Malibu.

Ballard was a former Kentucky slave who had won his freedom and come to Los Angeles in 1859. In the sleepy, emerging city, he had a successful delivery service and quickly became a landowner. Soon he was active in civic affairs: He was a founder of the city’s first African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The arrival of the railroad triggered a land boom in Los Angeles in the 1880s, boosting property values and bringing the city its first sense of class structure and the beginnings of segregation.

Ballard packed up his family and moved about 50 miles west to the snug valley in the middle of the Santa Monica range. He settled first on 160 acres — space that eventually doubled in size when one of his seven children, daughter Alice, claimed an adjoining plot.

Besides raising livestock and a few crops, Ballard collected firewood in the nearby mountains and sold it in Los Angeles.

He also worked at blacksmithing and other chores on the Russell Ranch, a sprawling cattle spread at what is now Westlake Village. He would travel by mule or buggy several miles through Triunfo Canyon to get there.

J.H. Russell, who had grown up on his family’s ranch and as a boy rode his horse to Ballard’s rickety cabin to mooch biscuits smothered with wild grapes preserved in honey by Ballard’s wife, remembered the scene well in his 1963 book, “Heads and Tails . . . and Odds and Ends.”

“The Ballard house was something to behold. It was built of willow poles, rocks, mud and Babcock Buggy signs (“Best on Earth”), Maier & Zobelein Lager Beer signs and any other kind of sign the old man picked up. Hardly a Sunday passed where there were not several buggies, spring wagons and loads of people going down the canyon to see the place,” he wrote.

Ballard was powerfully built — he could hoist 100-pound bags of barley with one hand — and traveled in a wagon pulled by five mules and “sometimes a cow or horse hitched up with the five,” Russell recounted.

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on February 28, 2009 by Editor

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Art Collection On Uptick

from the LA Times

Red ButtonsThe Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

ACQUISITION: U.S. artist Reginald Marsh’s “ Red Buttons” (1936) is among works picked up by the Huntington.

ART

 

L.A. museums’ collections grow despite poor economy

Philanthropists’ generosity and the hard work of museum staffs and support groups turn 2008 into a surprisingly good year for acquisitions.

By Suzanne Muchnic February 11, 2009

 

As Los Angeles art museums face the future in a down economy, building their collections may not be the highest priority, but it’s a big worry.

 

Will art acquisition funds dwindle to nothing? Will once-dependable patrons stop writing checks when curators pass the hat for art purchases? Will potential art gifts go to market? Will more museums pool resources to make joint purchases, as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Fowler Museum at UCLA recently did to buy a huge tapestry-like construction made by African artist El Anatsui using metal castoffs?

 

No one knows, and not only because it’s impossible to predict the length and force of the ongoing financial storm. Cash donations for acquisitions can be expected to plummet, but gifts of art are less predictable. In good times and bad, artworks come to museums in various ways — from friends and complete strangers.

 

[ click to continue reading at the LA Times ]

Posted on February 16, 2009 by Editor

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Murder Lives In Los Feliz

from the LA Times

On a Los Feliz hill, murder — then mystery

Los Feliz mansion

Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

The hilltop Los Feliz mansion where Dr. Harold Perelson killed his wife and then himself in 1959. It has sat vacant ever since.

 

Inside a mansion, it’s as if time stopped in 1959 when a doctor killed his wife and then himself. Gifts still sit, unopened. Why?

By Bob Pool, February 6, 2009

It’s a murder mystery that has puzzled a Los Feliz neighborhood since 1959. The criminal-case part was solved quickly enough. Homicide investigators found that Dr. Harold Perelson bludgeoned his wife to death with a ball-peen hammer, savagely beat their 18-year-old daughter and then fatally poisoned himself by gulping a glass of acid.

Authorities removed two other children from the sprawling hillside estate that overlooks downtown Los Angeles, locked the front door to the 5,050-square-foot mansion, and left.

Fifty years later, the Glendower Place home remains empty. On the outside, the mansion itself appears to be slowly decaying.

The estate’s terraced grounds are pockmarked by gopher holes and overgrown with grass that sprouted after recent rains — growth that neighbors know will turn brown when summer returns. A pond is partly filled with rainwater. Weeds poke through cracks in a curving asphalt driveway. Through grimy, cracked windows, one can see dust-covered furniture, including a 1950s-style television set, seemingly frozen in time. What appear to be gaily wrapped Christmas gifts sit on a table.

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on February 7, 2009 by Editor

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Jonesy’s Jukebox Gone

from the LA Times

POP MUSIC

‘Jonesy’s Jukebox’ runs out of nickels

The demise of Indie 103.1 leaves Sex Pistol Steve Jones, host of the unorthodox but beloved show, without a day job.

By Geoff Boucher, February 4, 2009

jonesy.jpgIt’s come to this — a Sex Pistol drives a Prius. On a recent crisp afternoon, Steve Jones, the guitar architect of London punk in its primacy, zipped down Hollywood Boulevard in his shiny white hybrid Toyota, which is customized with a rooftop image of her majesty Queen Elizabeth, a safety pin jutting from her lip. And you thought punk rock was dead.

Even with the distraction of nubile young tourists strolling up the Walk of Fame, Jones was in a melancholy mood. You see, like so many people in America these days, the 53-year-old rock star turned radio DJ is looking for a job.

“It’s weird not to have somewhere to go,” Jones said. “And wherever I do go next won’t be the same, I know that.”

Jones joined the ranks of the unemployed on Jan. 17, when Indie 103.1, the scruffy but revered L.A. rock station, became a victim of a vicious downturn in advertising revenue. For five years, the Sex Pistol had been the gloriously unpolished voice of “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” an eccentric and unpredictable two-hour lunchtime show on which he played any obscure record he wanted, chatted up famous guests or just, well, whistled.

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on February 5, 2009 by Editor

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The Informers

from The New York Times

Injecting a Taste of the Flush and Flashy ’80s Into Sundance

Van Redin/Senator Entertainment

Mickey Rourke in “The Informers,” a film showing at Sundance that was adapted from a book of Bret Easton Ellis stories.

LOS ANGELES — From a glass-walled penthouse above the Sunset Strip it is impossible not to observe that times have changed.

Just down the street, the original Spago restaurant, that emblem of the flush 1980s, is an empty shell. And here in the penthouse offices of Senator Entertainment, Bret Easton Ellis, another symbol of those super-slick times, is sprawled in a soft chair, wearing decidedly unslick running shoes and sweats.

Mr. Ellis, now 44, was 21 when he chronicled this city’s high life in “Less Than Zero” (1985), his debut novel.

Asked last week whether he missed any of it — the heat, the flash, the coke-blurred frenzy of Los Angeles past — he shuddered. “Oh, no,” he said, and appeared to mean it. “I don’t miss it at all.”

Still, Mr. Ellis and Senator are bringing a bit of that lost world to the Sundance Film Festival next week.

On Jan. 22 they are planning a premiere screening of “The Informers,” directed by Gregor Jordan and based on Mr. Ellis’s collection of stories of the same title. Written during his college years, the stories describe the beautiful wreckage of lives in and around the expensive part of Los Angeles, about 1983.

The film has sex. “I think Amber Heard wears a dress once in the entire movie,” Mark Urman, Senator’s president of distribution, said. He was speaking of a young actress, last seen in “Pineapple Express,” who spends much of “The Informers” undressed, and in bed.

The movie — “a guilty pleasure,” Mr. Urman calls it — also has drugs, alienation and enough glam-rock to set it apart from other work at this year’s festival, which begins on Thursday in Park City, Utah, and runs through Jan. 25.

[ click to continue reading at NYTimes.com ]

Posted on January 15, 2009 by Editor

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Hey, Mickey, you’re so fine…

Mickey Rourke wins Best Actor Golden Globe. Fantastic.

mickeyrourke.jpg

Posted on January 11, 2009 by Editor

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Father Of The Brat Pack Gone

from the LA Times

Ned Tanen, Movie Executive With a Taste for Youth Films, Dies at 77

Ned Tanen, a studio executive who seemed to have a Midas touch in bringing youth-oriented films like “American Graffiti” and “Animal House” to the screen, died at his home in Santa Monica, Calif., on Monday. He was 77.

tanen.png
[Mr. Tanen] compiled an enviable record of box-office hits and critical successes, based in no small part on his talent for identifying films that would appeal to young ticket-buyers, including “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial.” After his studio career, he independently produced films by John Hughes, including “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club.”

In 1980 he helped Universal set a Hollywood record of $290 million for a single studio’s box-office receipts with films like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “The Blues Brothers” and “Smokey and the Bandit II,” then broke it two years later. At Paramount, films like “Pretty in Pink,” “Top Gun” and “Crocodile Dundee,”all released in 1986, earned $600 million, giving Paramount more than double the gross revenues of its nearest competitor. The studio finished first the next year as well.

In the early 1970s, after working as a production supervisor on Milos Forman’s film “Taking Off,” he went into film production full time, helping to develop projects like “American Graffiti,” “The Deer Hunter,” “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Jaws” for Universal, MCA’s film subsidiary.

In 1976 he became president of Universal’s film-producing division, and two years later he was named president of Universal Pictures, its distribution arm. In December 1982, riding a wave of hits, as well as critical successes like “Melvin and Howard” and “Missing,” he resigned from Universal, saying he was exhausted and, he told The Wall Street Journal, tired of playing “the Hollywood game.”

[ click to continue reading at LATimes.com ]

Posted on January 11, 2009 by Editor

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Robert Graham Gone

from the LA Times

Robert Graham, L.A.’s masterful sculptor

Graham, who died last Saturday, was the city’s premier public artist and a sculptor whose works reflected the subtle spirit of Los Angeles itself.

Tim Rutten
January 3, 2009

 

Though every artist’s death diminishes us, Robert Graham’s loss impoverishes Los Angeles in a deep and particular way.

Graham, who died last Saturday at the age of 70 after a serious illness, was not simply the city’s premier public artist, he was a sculptor whose works reflected the subtle spirit of Los Angeles itself. Washington may have his magnificent contributions to the Roosevelt Memorial, New York his towering tribute to Duke Ellington, Detroit his starkly powerful Joe Louis fist and Kansas City its massive bust of Charlie Parker — but Graham and his art belong in an intimate and specific way to Los Angeles.

Here, generations will contemplate his monumental bronze doors and exquisite Madonna at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, his “Olympic Gateway” outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, his “dancers” at Wells Fargo Plaza, the “Source Figure” and fountain atop the downtown library steps and his heroic torsos in Venice and Beverly Hills.

Graham’s work is of this city in a way only those who are themselves fully at home here can read. If you’re attuned to the moods of this place, you know that there are four seasons for those who can see them: You know the wildflowers that follow the winter rains and signal the spring that comes early and passes quickly into summer. You understand how autumn piles the sycamore leaves in dusty briers and burnishes the afternoon light into butterscotch tones.

[ click to continue reading this excellent piece by Tim Rutten ]

Posted on January 5, 2009 by Editor

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RuPaul Redux

from World of Wonder

rupaul.jpg 

 [ click to visit WorldOfWonder.net ]

Posted on December 24, 2008 by Editor

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Opie At The Gug

from the Los Angeles Times

opie.jpg 

 [ click to continue reading in the LA Times ]

Posted on December 14, 2008 by Editor

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Legendary L.A. Eatery and Its Shrine To Rock God Urine

from the LA Times Pop & Hiss music blog

Barney’s Beanery: Jim Morrison peed here (on the bar)

02:05 PM PT, Nov 27 2008

Jimmorrison_2You have to be really, really famous — no, legendary — to make a restaurant want to put up a memorial plaque marking the exact spot on its bar where you peed in the 1960s. You’d have to be the kind of guy who Val Kilmer played in a movie, the kind of guy who needs guards stationed to this very day — at your grave — to protect it from being completely covered in joints, urine and whiskey. The kind of guy whose filthy leather pants (that you never took off and probably wore without underwear) are enshrined at the Hard Rock Cafe.

In short, you’d have to be Jim Morrison, and the place that wants to make a shrine to something arguably really uncool that you did (like peeing on its bar) would have to be West Hollywood’s equally legendary (well, sort of) Barney’s Beanery.

Consider Barney’s the ultimate L.A. roadhouse (with a menu of greasy offerings so lengthy that it shames “War and Peace”) and consider this forthcoming plaque a birthday present to Morrison, who would have turned 65 on Dec. 8.

To mark the event Barney’s is throwing a birthday bash for the Lizard King.

[ click to read at Pop & Hiss ]

Posted on December 3, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Los Angeles | | 1 Comment »

Owls As Art

from World Of Wonder

owls.jpg 

World of Wonder Storefront Gallery
6650 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Posted on November 13, 2008 by Editor

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Under The Unfigurative Bridge

from Funny Or Die 

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

 

Posted on November 12, 2008 by Editor

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The Death of SST

from The Guardian UK

Label of love: SST

From an inauspicious beginning selling spare radio parts, SST went on to establish the US indie underground of the 80s. But its 30th anniversary earlier this year went uncelebrated – even by its own bands

Black Flag with Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn

American hardcore … Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn, of SST stalwarts Black Flag in 1982. Photograph: Frank Mullen/Wireimage

With a roster that included Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr, Soundgarden and Meat Puppets, SST was the most individualistic US indie label of the 80s. But few, if any, of its alumni celebrated its 30th birthday earlier this year.

SST’s fall from grace is a similar sad story to Alternative Tentacles and its founder Jello Biafra, that is, a DIY-punk utopian dream turned sour by money wrangles and ego wars.

From its ever-shifting base on the fringes of Los Angeles, SST embraced everything from pop-punk to prog-metal, art-noise and proto-grunge, until it all went wrong in the early 90s.

The shit – or more precisely, U2 – first hit the fan in 1991, when SST faced a huge bill from Island Records for Negativland’s parody of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. SST’s ensuing battle with Negativland saw the dominos fall one by one: Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and Meat Puppets all reclaimed their back catalogues through taking legal action.

No one from SST’s glory days seems to have a good word to say about founder Greg Ginn, who expanded his radio parts operation Solid State Tuners in 1978 so he could put out a record, Nervous Breakdown, by his band Black Flag. Turning on its head the preconception that making a record was an unattainable holy grail, he found a pressing plant in the phonebook and used his brother Raymond Pettibon’s acerbic comic strip artwork for the cover.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on November 4, 2008 by Editor

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William Claxton Gone

from the Los Angeles Times and the NY Daily News

William Claxton dies at 80; photographer helped make Chet Baker famous

By Jon Thurber
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 13, 2008

William Claxton, the master photographer whose images of Chet Baker helped fuel the jazz trumpeter’s stardom in the 1950s and whose fashion photographs of his wife modeling a topless swim suit were groundbreaking years later, has died. He was 80.

 

Claxton died from complications of congestive heart failure Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his wife, actress and model Peggy Moffitt Claxton, told The Times.

In a career spanning more than a half century, Claxton also became well known for his work with celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Steve McQueen, who became a close personal friend; but he gained his foremost public recognition for his photographs of jazz performers including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Mel Torme, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Stan Getz. But it was his photographs of Baker that helped teach him the true meaning of the word photogenic.

[ click to read full article in the LA Times and the NY Daily News ]

Posted on October 13, 2008 by Editor

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Gidget Gein Gone

from PLAY @ LA Weekly

 

RIP GIDGET GEIN- LOCAL ARTIST & FORMER MARILYN MANSON BASSIST FOUND DEAD

by Lina Lecaro
October 10, 2008 12:11 PM

 

The details are still sketchy, but close friends of musician and artist Gidget Gein (aka Brad Stewart) tell us he was found dead yesterday of an apparent OD in his home in Burbank. Considering his macabre sensibilities, we’d hoped this was some kind of goth stunt, but calls to the LA Coroner today confirmed the passing.

gein.jpg

Best known for his tumultuous time in Marilyn Manson (he was kicked out due to drug problems just as the band was breaking through, and replaced by Twiggy Ramirez, who many say copped his style and look), Gein went on to form art gothster faves The Dali Gaggers in New York in the late ’90’s. Taking a break from performing, he returned to his Florida hometown to work as a ” bag boy” for the Florida Coroner’s office in 2000. He moved to LA about 5 years ago to pursue his art, and his dark and beguiling works were often the most talked about at the city’s wildest openings and parties including BlueGirl Events and World of Wonder exhibits.

Recently out of rehab for what was apparently not the first time, Gein -whose name is a mesh of serial killer Ed Gein and Sally Field’s 60’s TV character “Gidget”-had a lot to look forward to. He had just emailed us a couple of weeks ago about a new band he was playing with called People (supporting Semi Precious Weapons and Gram Rabbit at House of Blues last week). Good pal Lenora Claire tells us, “He had just got a book deal, was recording a record with the guy who produced the first Janes Addiction record and just landed a solo show at La Luz de Jesus that he had wanted for years.” She says she plans to make sure the show, set for February of next year, still happens no matter what.

[ click to read at LAWeekly’s PLAY Music Blog ]

Posted on October 13, 2008 by Editor

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Project Birds

from the LA Times

Birds keep man’s life from tumbling out of control

Bobby Wilson made some bad decisions growing up in Watts. His hobby pigeons and their freewheeling somersaults helped straighten his life out, and now he’s passing on his expertise.

By Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Bobby Wilson, a.k.a. Kill Kill, is a roller pigeon fancier — has been since he was a little boy in the projects in Watts. 

He was walking his dog down Holmes Avenue when he first spotted the birds flying above Eddie Scott’s house. He watched in wonder as they whirled and somersaulted through the sky. Bobby was 9 years old and a serial collector of animals — spiders, red ants, hamsters, lizards. But he’d never seen this. 

“You better not come in my yard!” Mr. Scott barked. Someone had just stolen a few of his top rollers and he was not happy. 

The year was 1981. Mr. Scott drove a city trash truck, owned one of the nicest houses in Watts and had no tolerance for wayward children. He’d raised pigeons since his own childhood in the early 1960s, and some of his rollers came right down the line from the world’s great prophet of roller pigeoning, William H. Pensom, the late English master who lived over the hill in Canoga Park.

Bobby wasn’t going into Mr. Scott’s yard, but he sure as heck was coming back. Day after day he sat under the big shade tree across the street and watched those birds do their acrobatics, spiraling up and then wheeling down like falling angels.

“Come here,” Mr. Scott finally said one day.

[ click to continue reading in the LA Times ]

Posted on September 15, 2008 by Editor

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“Some day a real rain is gonna come and wash the scum the filth.”

from the LA Times

 Bringing L.A.’s alleys out of the shadows

Urban planners re-imagine the city’s concrete connectors as community oases, replacing trash and crime with trees, grass and swing sets — and civic leaders are paying attention.

By Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer September 12, 2008

 

At the southern tip of Los Angeles, stashed behind railroad cars and fuel depots, is a pillbox of a community center called Mahar House.

Inside, there is a tiny library for kids, with titles by C.S. Lewis and a biography of Paul Revere. In a classroom down the hall, equations used to teach parents the value of building credit are on a chalkboard. In the front room, volunteers give away food they’ve rescued from markets that were going to throw it away.

It’s the kind of place you root for.

Behind it, almost inevitably, is the kind of place you try to avoid.

The alley smells like urine and is lined with cinder-block walls, some topped with razor wire that catches stray plastic bags on windy days. Brown weeds hide a strange array of items: a sock, a broken string of cheap, plastic beads. Someone has dumped a sagging, torn armchair and a filthy mattress.

Men stash stolen cars there, with wires poking out where the stereos used to be, but that’s not the worst of it, said Paula Juarez, who raised two daughters here in Wilmington. Others have been caught peering into apartments, she said. The other day, one tried to talk a 5-year-old girl into taking her clothes off.

The alley, like so many others in L.A., is the scourge of the neighborhood. But a growing coalition of researchers, urban planners, public land advocates and government leaders say it doesn’t have to be that way. Alleys, they argue, could offer enormous environmental and public health benefits — if they could be turned green.

[ click to continue reading at the Los Angeles Times ]

Posted on September 12, 2008 by Editor

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Art Deco L.A.

from The SpyGlass Blog at LA Magazine

Art Deco Walking Tours

deco large
From Josefa Corpuz:

Like the Los Angeles of our dreams, the art deco movement from the ’20s and ’30s is elegant, eclectic, glamorous, and forward-looking. The L.A. Conservancy (a nonprofit organization that works to preserve historic architecture in Los Angeles County – or, more succinctly, “We preserve history in the age of McMansions”) gives walking tours of downtown’s Art Deco gems.

deco mediumOur docent, David Peake, has been a Conservancy member for 12 years and a tour guide for six. He was converted to the cause one hot, smoggy day back in 1992, when the chords of a pipe organ and the “shabby glamour” of the unrestored Orpheum Theatre combined to produce a historical headrush. “I’m not a particularly religious man,” Peake said, “but I thought – this is my cathedral.”

Many art deco buildings downtown can inspire similar awe. The Title Guarantee & Trust Building has a stylized Gothic tower, complete with gargoyle-like waterspouts; the Eastern Columbia Building on Broadway is a blue-and-green “peacock” of a building that glints, gemlike, in the sun.

Two blocks down on Olive Street is the Oviatt Building, once a high-class haberdashery and the home of storeowner James Oviatt. Inspired by the 1925 Paris Exposition, where art deco began, Oviatt decorated his building with French textiles, French marble, French glass (over 30 tons of it), and even French sand for the “beach” on his penthouse sunbathing deck.

[ click to read full blog at LAmag.com ]

Posted on August 18, 2008 by Editor

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When Art Stills The Restless Hand

from the LA Times

STEVE LOPEZ:

Los Angeles thwarts family in fight over graffiti

Los Paisanos market

Jacob Antonio Jr.


Highland Park owners had a mural painted to deter taggers. But the city painted it over and the taggers are back.

 

Steve Lopez, August 13, 2008

 

In today’s installment of Read It and Weep: Your Tax Dollars at Work, we visit a besieged Highland Park mom-and-pop grocery store owned by the Antonio family.

The Antonios can only guess at the number of times they’ve begun their day with a can of paint brushing over fresh graffiti left on the side of their store by taggers.

“Maybe 70 times,” said Jacob Antonio Jr., 27. His father, Jacob, begged to differ “More than 100 times,” he said with exasperation.

They learned that if you hired the right muralist, the taggers would respect the work and not mess with the mural. So they shelled out $3,000 to hire a team that included a guy known as Playboy Eddie and Israel “Ezra” Cervantes.

In no time at all, Los Paisanos market had a praying Virgin Mother on a front corner along with “Jesus Saves.” On the side of the bright yellow building was a colorful but edgier painting that looked like a two-headed serpent slithering through a junk yard. Just above that was a more traditional rural scene, with a couple of paisanos in sombreros.

All in all, it wasn’t quite the mural the Antonios had in mind, and they weren’t sure what the snakes represented. But after years of torment, they were in a compromising mood. To the relief of the entire Antonio family, the taggers didn’t come near the mural. But three months into the respite, an even more menacing monster reared its ugly head.

City Hall bureaucracy.
 

[ click to read original piece at LATimes.com ]

Posted on August 13, 2008 by Editor

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In Defense Of Art In LA

from the San Jose Mercury News

Graffiti vandals turn violent in LA

By THOMAS WATKINS Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES—One man got stabbed. Another got shot in the chest. A 6-year-old boy was temporarily blinded when he was spray-painted in the face. And they were the lucky ones among those who have had run-ins with graffiti “crews,” or gangs.

Over the past 2 1/2 years in Southern California, three people have been killed after trying to stop graffiti vandals in the act. A fourth died after being shot while watching a confrontation between crews in a park. 

 

“We have seen a marked increase in these graffiti-tagging gangs taking to weapons and fighting to protect their walls, their territory, their name,” said Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Rifkin.

“If we see someone calling the police, then we target them,” said Mario Garcia, 20, who describes himself as a former tagger trying to become a professional artist. “You are trying to stop me from what I live, what I believe in and what I breathe? We are not going to let no one get in the way.”

In an attack last month, two youths spray-painted the face and body of the 6-year-old boy who spotted them scribbling gang signs on a wall near Compton. The boy recovered from chemical burns to his eyes.


On the same day, a 51-year-old auto mechanic was shot in the chest in Los Angeles when he confronted two suspected gang members painting the wall of his shop.

Another man, Michael Lartundo, 26, was stabbed in the hand and arm after yelling at a group of graffiti vandals scrawling on a wall in March behind his brother’s house in suburban Whittier. “I just told them it ain’t right,” Lartundo recalled. “I said, ‘If you are going to write on the wall, write on your own wall.'”

Last August, Maria Hicks, 58, was shot in the head and died after flashing her headlights and honking at a teenager spray-painting a wall near her home in Pico Rivera, a blue-collar suburb east of Los Angeles. Four people have been charged with murder.

Ten days after Hicks died, Seutatia Tausili, 65, was fatally shot and her grandson wounded when he told taggers to stop vandalizing a trash can outside their home in Hesperia in San Bernardino County. Three men were charged with crime.

[ click to continue reading at SJMerc ]

Posted on August 1, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Los Angeles | | 1 Comment »

Mooning Mass Transit

from Ananova News

Mass bum rap 

Police were called to break up a mass “mooning” after 8,000 turned up to bare their bottoms at passing trains.

Thousands of people gathered to bare their behinds during the 28th Full Moon Over Amtrak in Laguna Niguel, California /PA pics

The Mooning Amtrak event in the California town of Laguna Niguel was shut down for the first time in its 29-year history after complaints that people were showing more than their bums, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Jim Amormino, a police spokesman, said officials deemed the event out of control after some mooners began taking all their clothes off and women started lifting up their T-shirts to flash passing trains.

The tradition is said to stem from a pub dare in 1979 when a drinker at the nearby Mugs Away Saloon promised his friends drinks if they went out to the railway line and mooned the next passing train.

Many rose to the challenge and the mass moon became a regular event, complete with a website, moonamtrak.org.

The crowd was broken up around 3pm but some mooners returned later and continued dropping their trousers into the night at the Amtrak and Metrolink trains which pass every 20 minutes.

In the website’s frequently asked questions section, organisers say it is “okay” to “decorate your butt” and encourage obese attendees to come along: “Yes yes, please ‘moon’ with us. We need people like you for the extra high intensity mooning you can provide.”

[ click to read full article at Ananova.com ]

Posted on July 21, 2008 by JDS

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I.M. Sony

from Daily Variety

Sony BMG moves to old CAA digs

Music unit takes over Beverly Hills space

By PHIL GALLO

 

An iconic Beverly Hills office building that became a white elephant in the weak commercial real estate market finally has a tenant.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment will relocate its West Coast headquarters to the former CAA building in January. The diskery, whose U.S. headquarters are on Madison Avenue in New York, is now housed in Santa Monica.

Personnel from Sony’s and BMG’s labels, publishing and licensing will move into the 65,000-square-foot space, which has been empty since CAA left for its new HQ in Century City in 2007. Sony BMG has signed a 10-year lease on the property.

The edifice had few interested parties since the asking price — reportedly $5 per square foot — was mighty steep for a building whose entire first floor consists of lobby space featuring a Roy Lichtenstein painting so huge that it cannot be removed. In addition, it was clearly designed for one company to occupy the entire building, so it was not feasible to convert it into a traditional office building with multiple tenants.

Designed by I.M. Pei — his first project on the West Coast — and built for $25 million in 1989, the CAA building became so closely associated with Michael Ovitz and his regime that the current CAA chiefs made no secret that their move to new digs in Century City was about making a fresh start. Ovitz remains a landlord of the marble structure at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards.

[ click to read full article at Variety.com ]

Posted on July 14, 2008 by Editor

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You can anchor her anywhere / Sleep a week or so / And get to know the local jokes

from the LA Times

Parked RVs are straining patience in laid-back Venice

rv.png

Residents of the famously tolerant coastal enclave are fed up with campers and other vehicles lining narrow thoroughfares. They say some occupants party into the wee hours and dump waste into gutters

By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, July 6, 2008

 

The pleasant climate and quirky vibe of Venice have long attracted the wealthy and destitute alike. Poets, painters and movie stars mingle with itinerant surfers and scruffy street dwellers in one big colorful tableau.

But in recent years the coastal enclave’s laissez-faire attitude has faded, in large part because many Venetians who once prided themselves on their unflappability have gotten fed up with the dozens of dilapidated cars, recreational vehicles and campers that line their narrow residential streets, providing shelter for people who have lost their jobs, want to break into show business or simply enjoy living near the beach.

In addition to tying up much of the neighborhood parking, residents say, some RVs are hotbeds of drug use and prostitution. Residents report that occupants defecate in alleys, party into the wee hours and dump waste into gutters and storm drains. For a time, a man named Butch was leasing four parked RVs, none of which he owned, to a succession of occupants.

In a further sign of a shift in attitudes, the Venice Neighborhood Council recently declared that sleeping on the streets in vehicles of any kind was inappropriate. The council established a committee whose stated task is “to end vehicular living on city streets.” Such thinking represents a marked departure for the council, which four years ago was dominated by a “progressive slate” whose agenda included stopping gentrification, building more low-income housing and helping the homeless. 

The change is long overdue, said one Venice activist. “This particular community has not stood up the way others have and said, ‘Sorry, you can’t poach here. It’s unacceptable to live on our streets and defecate in our gardens,’ ” said Mark Ryavec, co-chairman of the new committee. “What’s going on is that a new majority in Venice is saying we really do not accept this.”

 

Frank August, 57, who works occasionally as a salesman, was standing outside his motor home on 4th Avenue one recent evening. Years ago, he paid $1,500 a month for a Venice apartment, but he has lived in the vehicle since he adopted an ailing pit bull and could not find a landlord who would rent to him.“It’s got everything, from wood floors to solar panels,” he said of the motor home, which August said he parks on commercial blocks to avoid offending neighbors. 

[ continue reading article at the Los Angeles Times ]

Posted on July 6, 2008 by Editor

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