Category Archives: Art

Tomorrow, at long last: a performance (and then some) by Mecca Vazie Andrews at A Rrose in a Prose

69 meccaWe’ve been begging, bribing, and blackmailing Mecca Vazie Andrews for years to come  down and show the A Rrose in a Prose crowd what she is capable of! And at long last, something happened (possibly a change in prescription drugs?), and she’s given us a hearty “yes!”

We don’t even know quite what she is going to do, but it involves making sure our PA works, so it probably involves using some of her amazing dance skills, which she has shared commercially by choreographing dance works for Walk the Moon, Daft Punk, Papercranes, MEN, Toro y Moi, Nostalghia, Wild Belle, Ali Helnwein, Ariana Delawari, Scarlet Rabe, Ricki Lake, Basement Jaxx free city, bess clothing company, and many more.

Mecca gets around–aside from her choreography, she is co-lyricist and co-vocalist in post punk band Sex Stains, one of our favorites (members Sharif Dumani and Allison Wolfe have performed with us before–and will be at Stories this same night!). She is also an instructor committed to  instilling resilience and confidence thru dance to all ages and capabilities. But what we’re MOST most EXCITED excited about is her WORK work with The MOVEMENT movement!

Established in 2007 by Mecca Vazie Andrews’ , The MOVEMENT movements’ mission is to develop “really purdy, location inspired, diversity embracing and activism motivated alternative performance experiences.”

mecca v.a and The MOVEMENT movement has performed at various museums galleries and artful happenings including Pacific Standard Time, REDCAT NOWFEST, Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Departments Tongva after Dark, 356 Mission Rd., LACE, LACMA, and Hammer, to name a few. Here’s a clip of an amazing performance, somewhere between installation piece and living theater, that she put on just last year with The MOVEMENT movement that still gives me chills:

So you see? She’s going to be amazing tomorrow at A Rrose in a Prose. And by being there to witness it, you’re kind of amazing. We love you.

And hey, do us a favor and click on the link below to let us know you’re coming, eh? And share the news!

SUNDAY, SEP 13
2 PM – 5 PM
@ STORIES BOOKS
1716 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

https://www.facebook.com/events/524947117660735/

Leonard Nimoy: A Spy in the House of Irony

Nimoy

Recently I’ve been unemployed, depressed, and prone to self-destructive bouts of television-watching gluttony. I’m ridiculously addicted to television, so much so that I try never to commit to starting a series on Netflix. Whether it’s fun entertainment that never quite suspends my disbelief (e.g. The Walking Dead) or simply bandwagon eye candy that slaps together a bunch of lame jokes into a flat-lined story arc underpinned by a solitary, suspiciously over-capable capstone character who numbs us with his ability to fret but then master every challenge put in front of him (e.g. Breaking Bad) I’m always too good at making excuses for why I need to commit to a show until the bitter end. To start watching TV is to neglect the rest of my life: I know I’m not going to get shit done until I plow through every episode back to back.

But with no job to take up my time, and a need to distract myself from my financial woes, cheaply, I figured, hey, now’s the time to catch up on Star Trek!

Like everybody my age or older, I’ve seen a lot of the original series’ reruns back in the day, and several episodes of Next Generation, when they actually aired in the 90s, plus an episode or three of Voyager and that shitty Ferengi-filled space station monstrosity. I’ve never felt a particular need to look back.

But as a 60s fanatic, I’m surprised at myself for not going back and re-absorbing the original series. I should have done this years ago. What seemed campy to me as a kid now seems … campy to me as an adult! Now, I can (only slightly ironically) get off on bizarrely lit sound stages and outrageous alien tunics in all their groovy glory. And actually, once you get past the first season’s “deus ex alienigenis” plot devices where everything is caused by mind-reading shape-shifters, the story lines get really compelling and gritty. And of course, the moment I decide to give the show its due, the best actor dies in real life.

It’s weird, because until I recently started watching Star Trek, I guess I’ve known quite a bit more about the personae of its actors than of its characters. We’ve all been laughing at William Shatner for decades, and he along with us for nearly that long. And in more recent years, George Takei has become perhaps even more famous: relishing his new life as an out-gay leader, leading the charge for civil rights and the end of bullying for queer youth, publicizing the need for reparations to victims of WWII Japanese-American internment, and hosting one of the funniest, and funnest, social media presences out there. And oh, there’s his appearance at Shatner’s roast …

But I never quite took a shine to Nimoy. Whereas the other folks in the Star Trek pantheon seemed bemused about their unique fame, and never took themselves too seriously, Nimoy always took a more somber, brooding approach to his fame. It’s like he was the Donnie Wahlberg of the group: sure, he might sing “Oh oh OH OH oh, oh oh OH OH,” but he doesn’t mean it!

But now in the wake of Leonard Nimoy’s death, I realize that, maybe, he’s the guy from the entire Star Trek series who’s the most like me. He’s talented, but confused. He’s lent his name to corny shows that he’s later avoided talking about, except via reference on The Simpsons. He’s made mistakes, like putting out a book called I Am Not Spock and then having to retract it later, after wide confusion, with a book called I Am Spock. And I kind of get the feeling that his whole “I’m so serious” thing was just a put-on all along, that he knew damned well he was working in media that were silly, and that the best thing to do about it was to simply put on the kind of straight face that made Andy Warhol such a lifelike Mona Lisa of his own.

And in later life, Nimoy moved to another art form, photography, where he was actually kind of good–and yet also needlessly pervy. And I respect that. Whenever I think of Leonard Nimoy, I don’t think about Spock first, or even his amazing work on the Golden Throats series. I think of his images of Shekhina, the female form of God, which he put out in a gorgeous book of black and white photos in the last years of his life.

Sure, it’s a good idea, even deliciously sacred and sacrilegious at the same time, to take a Jewish concept of the female side of God and then put it to life in gorgeous, nipply photography. And yet, in another way, you can tell there’s something more to these photos, something personal here that seems to go beyond the intimacy of nudity and into the realm of voyeuristic, dirty-old-man stuff.

And yet, in another way of looking at things, I don’t care … I just love these photos, right or wrong, and I don’t care what that says about Leonard Nimoy, or about myself. As my own personal fond farewell, here are some of my favorite of the Shekhina photos. Live long and prosper, old friend. I hope when you get to heaven, God’s waiting for you, and she looks like this.

LeonardNimoy4

LeonardNimoy5

LeonardNimoy6

LeonardNimoy2

shekhina

P.S. Lest you think Nimoy was only interested in photographing lithe, model-type women, he also did many photos of beautiful women with larger frames, and gorgeous S-curves.

full body project

I’d feel his work was a bit less problematic if he did more photos of men, but for a man with a lot of artistic problems, he’s one of the best.

 

Sleeping Through Work

So, the other day I was in an event based around the photography of Amy Darling… or so it was proclaimed. The idea was to pick one of her photos (many of which are of live shows, or music, or people around Los Angeles you  might know) and base a piece of writing around that photo.

It was such an exciting premise that, once begun, I could not complete the task. I kept writing and writing, then editing and editing, until it was now past time for the event to begin; I finally was satisfied enough with what was on the page that I left home, went to the Echo Chamber, and got there two minutes before the event was scheduled to end–but the bastards ended three minutes before the end, and I missed my spot entirely. That’s probably for the best–it would take me about 15 minutes easy to read this.

I hope you take the time now. It’s a bit rushed, and maybe a bit abstract and moralistic, but hopefully it feels like controlled dada, and there ain’t nothing more fun than reining in a creative beast and knowing it’s been trained well. By the way, here’s the photo I chose:

 

Amy Darling photo
Amy Darling 

 

As to why this is another piece of fiction from the perspective of a female character… well, I don’t know why I keep making my protagonists women. I don’t think men should speak for women, and it disturbs me more than it probably disturbs you that I’ve been doing so repeatedly in 2014. Maybe part of it is that I have a strong female side, and don’t associate with a lot of the rough-and-tumble of my male author counterparts. And maybe part of it is that I simply like women and want to hear stories about them, even if they’re coming from me.

In this case, though, I can use Amy’s photo as an excuse, because this boogie-ing gal clearly needed a narrative. Here it is.

(Sorry, one final disclaimer: I do NOT know the dancing woman in the photo above, nor do I really know any of the other people in this photo on a personal level. This is a complete, absolute work of fiction. Aside from the fact that I, too, hate traffic, please don’t extrapolate anything about the people depicted in this photo, or Amy Darling, or me, from the narrative below.)

 

Sleeping Through Work 

She almost never dreamed. You have to sleep a long time before the dreams come, and she almost never slept. The drugs took care of that. She hated her tech job so much, testing a stupid website that sold expensive jewelry to women at a slight discount, bought by husbands who got rich by never paying full price for anything, that she had to take a fistful of Vicodin just to get through the day.

Normally Vicodin is a downer. But when you have a crazy, broken brain like hers, it invigorates you, makes you want to stay up all night watching TV series on Netflix and respond to all your old high school friends’ tweets. Every morning, just getting up for work was torture, but to pay for the Vicodin, she had to keep working at the job; and meanwhile, in what still seemed like a temporary, short-term delay of planning for phase II of her awesome life, suddenly she was almost at the end of her twenties. All the grand and important things she had planned to do with her life–or a least, the fact that she had planned for her life to be grand and important—seemed to be this quaint little thought, an artifact to be smirked at and shelved and gawked at for its innocent stupidity. All she seemed to know now was tired mornings, grey smoggy blocks of sky framing the gridlocked plastic and steel in her foreground, commuting to her hell. To her hell.

She’d started to have stupid thoughts. And she knew they were stupid, puerile, childish, Sylvia Plath BULLSHIT, the kind she had given up when she was fourteen years old and had stopped pretending that she got anything out of cutting herself besides the joy of feeling troubled. But now, twice that age, knowing the thoughts were stupid didn’t help. “What’s the point of even being here,” she’d think. It seemed, begrudgingly, logical. “I’m already in hell. Even if the worst is true and the Christians are right, and I wind up in actual hell for leaving here voluntarily, it will simply be a lateral move.”

There was only one thing she did that actually made her feel that life was precious. It was the only thing she seemed to like. And she couldn’t imagine it happening in an afterlife, a place that she believed was more akin to that Talking Heads song about Heaven, a place where nothing ever happens, not even songs by the Talking Heads. She’d kind of lost touch with music as college rolled into real life, when she found herself stumbling into the work force largely in a beer haze that looked cute enough in her tired twenty-two year old eyes to get her invited back for second interviews. Temping turned to a slot at a startup, and beer pong turned to cocaine with friends, then alone, and finally evolved into her current, more stable favorite. It seemed she had matured, in her own way, and her secret was no more shocking than most people’s marital affairs.

But then one day, she’d found herself at an after work drink party, realizing she had absolutely nothing in common with the men around her. And it was mostly men, because somehow, somewhere back during the days and nights of ramen and Tecate, luck and some well-timed moments of clarity had rolled her right into a job in the tech world. It was the most real thing in her life and yet it seemed like a fable, almost as if she was watching herself from the outside, like the character in a short story, the kind where she was not her own author. She was largely alone there, constantly belittled and ridiculed and hit on and ignored and passed by. But she met the challenge head-on, skipping work, turning in half-assed projects, napping in the server room, and rationing out the right lies to the right people so that they were all completely in the dark about how little she was really achieving, which was crucial to being a functioning drug addict. They weren’t there to praise her successes, so why not fail and give herself praise anyway?

But a few years back, she realized that there was something missing from her life that the drugs couldn’t massage away, probably something cultural—but where to go to get reconnected? In the end, it had been her dealer that had turned her onto her first event at the Nomad gallery. He was friends with a performance artist who made giant puppets and costumes out of felt and Velcro, and who would put on plays while people wearing her creations would dance around in character as monsters and animals. And she had gone to this show, and avant-garde shows like it, knowing no one, and not really understanding or enjoying much of the visual art around her.

But the music was something else! God, it wasn’t that she wasn’t picky, it’s that she didn’t know what she had always been picky for until she heard the band that night. What she wasn’t getting out of large arena rock shows by bands like Alt-J and Incubus she could get at places like this. The sound was inconsistent, and the bands made mistakes, but they wanted to be here so much! And they sounded like they found nothing more important than making the instruments in their hands match the sounds playing in their heads.

She quickly realized that the pills that kept her up all night had a good side, too—it was the energy! Her broken, sad brain meant that the downers made her go up, up, up, and she could dance all night. And she never felt nostalgic. There was no wistfulness here, no memory of herself as a young girl listening to young people bands that had now grown old and popular, no “gosh, I’m almost having as much fun as I used to!” There was only the eternal present, and she got caught up with it. Whether there were five people there, or 50, she was always there and always, well… always going out of her mind! She knew she was crazy, despite the fact that she was able to function as a drug addict and con everyone around her. And she was gleeful that this was the one place where her insanity was an asset. Everyone seemed to be feeling the music, but she FELT it. She fucking FELT IT! She is ALIVE and she UNDERSTANDS! And she is IN IT, even more so sometimes than the people playing it.

And she wasn’t a spiritual person, but she’d tried that on in her youth. And she’d read the Tibetan book of the dead. And she had forgotten most of it, but she remembered one little part, a part about how to have dream control. And she remembered that the monks in their waking lives would practice the same things over and over again, the idea being that if you ritualized the process of prayer enough, it would inevitably become the setting of a dream.

She remembered this with acute depression somewhere in her early twenties, when she started dreaming about cocaine. She would often find herself in a hallway, and couldn’t find the jacket that had her cocaine in its pocket. She’d be looking through closets, and hallways, and closets, and hallways, and would try to nudge up against friends and strangers and surreptitiously feel the outsides of their pockets to see if they had her cocaine. Now in her Vicodin lifestyle, she almost never had dreams, though once in a while, a lunch time nap would plunge her into that haunting sensation of something missing, or sad, or scared, like a tropical vacation where her parents were always barging into her cabana right as she hid the drugs, or about going through security at the airport and realizing there was a bottle of Vicodin in her carry on.

Now that she rarely dreamed, there was an added unease to her dreams, a state of half-clarity where the subconscious of her subconscious understood that this was all a dream, and that a real dream meant she probably had slept late. And that happened a lot. Actually it happened THIS day. She had set her radio alarm clock for 8 a.m., but having slept fewer than 6 hours in 3 days, her depleted body had no problems coasting right through its rhythmic nudgings.

And in the dream, she knew she was late for something, but it turned out to be a band at the Sancho gallery, and she wriggled through the crowd and stood in the front like normal just as their set began.

And in the dream, she wasn’t on drugs. There was something a little sad about her sobriety, but something remarkable too, and breezy, like she’d skipped the part where she’d had to rearrange her lifestyle and find a new sense of energy.

And in the dream, she had lots of natural energy. The band on stage was led by an old man in an angel dress complete with felt sewn wings on the back. He was bald, and an angel’s halo hovered over him affixed to his head with a wire that could have been from a coat hanger. He was playing the drums, and singing, and a group of similarly wizened guys and gals were playing along with him on keyboards and guitars, kind of a quirky new wave, perfect for her to dance to.

And in the dream, everyone was smiling, and dancing along with her, and giving her knowing looks, like “Isn’t this wonderful? And aren’t we all in this together?”

And as she danced, she could feel a thinning of the room that seemed a little unusual. And she looked back, and she realized that there were zombies in the room. Slowly but surely the zombies were grabbing the people in the back of the room, snapping down hard on their skulls with their teeth, cracking the skulls open so they could chew on the brains below. They’d take a quick bite of one person, throw the carcass to the floor, and grab the next person in front of them.

The band seemed unperturbed, as did her compatriots around her. It seemed certain that people had noticed the zombies, but they were going to wait until the last possible moment to move, enjoying the music as much as they were. She did see one or two people escape the zombies’ clutches, at least for a few moments of temporary safety. But for the most part, everyone had planned to wait just a little longer than they should have. And suddenly the girl behind her, one of the smiling winkers and acknowledgers who earlier had shared in this musical experience with her, was pulled backwards by a zombie. She could hear the girl shudder, and whimper–feeble, failed attempts at last words–as the zombie peeled back the skin on the crown of her head with his teeth in order to get a good, hard bite on the skull.

And in the dream, she ran through the band, who were still playing, to escape through a door behind them. They turned their heads and looked up at her, and she could see in their eyes that they had been zombies all along. Perhaps the whole thing had been nothing more than a zombie feast?

She ran out the door and into the yard, but there was no exit there, just endless cement walls and fences, and she kept running around the perimeter with zombies chasing her back and forth, not the kind that ran at top speed like in the new zombie films, but not the lumbering kind, either…. These were calculating, shrewd zombies, able to plan a clever massacre like this and who would not be satisfied unless they succeeded at achieving 100% of their goal of eating everyone in the room, of which she was almost certainly the last.

And as she scrambled to climb up the yard’s lone tree, and contemplated making a broad jump onto a nearby roof, just as the zombies below realized that they, too, could climb trees, she heard the pitter pattering drum machines of light 80s R&B on her alarm clock radio. She realized to her horror that it was now 10:48 and she had slept through a meeting.

And now she was the zombie, she thought to herself, her oversleep making her even more groggy as she went through the ritual of pulling on a dress and some stocking and shoes and hobbling down the stairs to her Subaru so she could jump on the 10 west. She was going to be in deep shit with her bosses, but if it was Brett, he acted more like a father than a mentor: she could always adopt her “oops I’m just a young dumb girl” persona to talk her way out of it. So why was she feeling so lost and worried?

She realized it was the dream—she had been cheated out of her victory. She wanted to be back in that world, where she had been decisive and exciting and bold and talented for a purpose, one she could have succeeded at. She needed a challenge, didn’t she? Maybe the whole reason for her endless cycle of drugs and work and drugs and work, ruining her every waking moment with the fatigue of the cycle’s incompatibility, was to fashion a crisis like the one in the dream. Most people would kill for a job like hers, but there she was every day, self-sabotaging, because it was so fucking easy, and these people were so fucking stupid, and fuck them. And Fuck them! And FUCK THEM! AND FUCK HER! AND WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK?

She came to a screeching halt behind a brake-happy BMW and screamed a deep, resonant frustrated scream…. raaaah! It was now almost noon. And she realized to herself that there was some kind of spring music festival in Long Beach. It was an all weekend thing, including today even though Friday is a work day and not a holiday, and a bunch of the Burger Records bands were on the bill, but also a gaggle of comedians and Maria Bamford and all kinds of weird cool shit.

And as she drove near the 405, instead of passing it by to continue to her Santa Monica office, she got in the right lane and took the 405 south towards Long Beach. She was going to miss work altogether. And she almost wished she wasn’t going to be able to get out of the situation she was putting herself in. But she knew she would. From years of practicing the deceit of drug addiction, she knew she’d be able to convince her boss that there was some important new disease she’d caught, or another family death, or a pet getting run over in the street.

But she was done making excuses for herself! There was one part of her life that made her feel very awake and alive, and she wasn’t going to ruin it anymore. She wasn’t a fucking drone! She wasn’t a fucking coward in a cubicle, working with technology because that’s what life had thrown her way. She wasn’t a fucking clam to absorb life’s shitty, pissy silt breakfast.

Opening up her glove compartment, she found the bottle of Vicodin that she had procured recently from her friend who worked at a shipping company and who no doubt had simply stolen them and was making 100% profit at 6 dollars a pill to her. This bottle was like $600 just sitting there. And if it was still sealed, it might even be legal if she got pulled over. Probably that happened a lot, that relatives picked up medications for their older relatives? If she didn’t open it, she wasn’t even a criminal.

It had been two weeks since last she’d had to wean herself off these things so that she could get back on and start the cycle again with a less brutal tolerance. Now she was normally up to four Vicodin in the morning, with another 4-5 at night to help her stay up late.

“Who gives a fuck,” she thought as she unscrewed it, punched through the foil with her finger, and then scooped out about 8 pills from under the cotton. She popped them in her mouth, crushed them up a bit with her teeth, and then chugged them down with some of the Monster energy drink from yesterday evening that was still sitting in her drink holder. She cut off a bright red sports car in a very satisfying manner as she sped up her Subaru on her way to the LBC.

Opening TOMORROW NIGHT! Dancing About Architecture – L.A. RECORD and the Art of Visualizing the Aural

Walt Gorecki

Dancing About Architecture
L.A. RECORD and the Art of Visualizing the Aural

June 12 – July 19
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 12
7 p.m. – Midnight

The Pickle Factory Gallery

647 Lamar (Unit C)
Los Angeles, CA 90031

FREE, All Ages

Since it began as a one-page broadsheet in 2005 (one side was a poster of the Rolling Blackouts bewigged to look like The New York Dolls album cover; the other side was the magazine), L.A. RECORD has always been an art-forward publication, one that championed great music not only with reviews and interviews, but also with paintings, drawings, and photography that honored the music of now in terms of the rock and hip hop art of old.

 

On Thursday, June 12, 2014, the Pickle Factory gallery celebrates that artistic vision with a group show inspired by L.A. RECORD, now Los Angeles’ biggest music publication.Many of the artists in this exhibit, and the art pieces themselves, first appeared in L.A. RECORD’s pages or on its website alongside features about your favorite musicians. Now, at long last, these canvases, sketches, and portraits from the past decade (including pieces that never made the magazine) are coming together in a gallery setting, alongside other art by the most talented artists and photographers in the L.A. RECORD pantheon, plus art inspired by the many musical/cultural scenes that L.A. RECORD has helped to nurture.

Artists
L.A. RECORD has always had a keen eye for up-and-coming artists. Some of the names first featured in its pages, underneath pictures of Gil-Scott Heron or portraits of the Flaming Lips, have grown into L.A.’s most-beloved artists. This group show features an exciting mix of well-known veterans alongside several fresh talents:

Drew Denny

Luke McGarry

Dave Van Patten

champoyhate

Daiana Feuer

Leee Black Childers

Aaron Giesel

Walt! Gorecki

Elsa Henderson

Zara Kand

Gloria Plaza

Alex Brown

Ammo

Dale Dreiling

Mike Stephan

Olivia Jaffe

Matt Adams

Colin Ambulance

Ward Robinson

Tom Child

Elana Pritchard

 

This exhibit is a treat for both music fans and patrons of the arts (though, we assume, most of the folks who come to see us have plenty of love for both!). If you love collecting records, going to concerts, or sweating in basement parties, you’ll find plenty of depictions of the people whose music has meant so much to you. But unlike standard rock photography exhibits, which often focus solely on portraiture, Dancing About Architecture will have art from all arenas (no pun intended), including many solid compositions that will sing to you with a harmony all their own.

There will be musical entertainment from musical artists such as Sex Stains, the Koreatown Oddity and Bloody Death Skull, L.A. Record DJs such as Daniel Clodfelter, as well as a one-time screening of Dorian Wood’s infamous self-directed video, “La Cara Infinita,” originally presented in 2013 by L.A. RECORD and almost certainly even more disturbing when projected on a large wall in a dark warehouse. This just added: rare and gorgeous videos of Pizza!, Linda Perhacs, and even Ralph Bakshi (as assisted by our own Elana Pritchard).

Make sure to get to the show by 8 p.m. to see a live interview with one of our readers’ all-time favorites, Guy Blakeslee of The Entrance Band. The festivities are all hosted by L.A. RECORD New Music Editor D. M. Collins.

No money for a big canvas? No problem! Many of our artists will be bringing affordable take-home prints of their best works. They may not be as big and shiny as some of the full-framed originals, but you can still reminisce about the time you visited the Pickle Factory for the VERY FIRST L.A. RECORD ART SHOW OF ALL TIME! There will also be stacks of the most recent issue of L.A. RECORD, plus finger food at an affordable price from the best vegan-friendly caterer the arts district has to offer.

 

About the gallery:

The Pickle Factory is more than just an art gallery: it’s also a literary salon, an improv theater, and a place where records are constantly spinning. It is maintained with love and presented with great care, for special events only. It literally used to be a pickle factory … but most people found it too JARRING. Check out their Facebook page regularly for what’s happening now and what’s still in the works.

 

The gallery is also ridiculously close to the Brewery Lofts, and is on the same street as the San Antonio Winery, Lamar, and the cross street is Main.

  • The address is: 647 Lamar, Los Angeles, CA, 90031
  • From downtown, simply go north on Main, do a little zigzag near Union Station, cross the railroad tracks, and turn right on Lamar.
  • From the 5 freeway, get off at the Main exit, go south/west on Main, pass the Brewery Lofts on your left, and then take a left on Lamar.
  • Does it feel like you’re in a weird industrial area, between a UPS lot and a cement factory? Good! You’re in the right place!

“DRAG QUEENS, RENT BOYS, PICK POCKETS, JUNKIES, ROCK STARS & PUNKS”

Just got back from seeing the Leee Black Childers photography exhibit at Lethal Amounts 6 hours ago, and I’m still amped up now! It was really… well, let’s just say that I expected a mere rock and roll remembrance party, an excuse to get out of the house and see friends for a few minutes after being sick as a dog for days.

But I wound up seeing art on the walls–real art, the kind that makes you think about flashbulbs and shadows, and the meaning of life, and everything in between! I know, so many photographers do great work, and I love rock photography, but not in the way I love, say, good quality album cover art. I tend to think of rock and roll photography as propaganda at best, or rock documentary at second best.

And sure, Childers’ photos do the job in that sense, chronicling some important moments in the lives of the Sex Pistols or Debbie Harry that are fascinating for music fans and probably helped sell the legend at the time. But there is something…. luminous about these prints, something that transcends rock gods and goddesses and goes far beyond what was required for their stardom alone. There’s a sheen here, even in the grit, something almost 30s, but from the silver screen, not the silver screen test. Leee’s art commands you not just to think of its subjects, but about its proper place (and your proper place, as a participant by viewing) in the pantheon of things that can be hung on walls, or made into attention-seeking visual tidbits, or how this compares to any endeavor beyond sleeping and eating! I hate to make this a competition, but I really feel like the black and whites I saw tonight of David Bowie, the Adverts, the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Candy Darling, etc, etc, were so magical that they put some of my other favorites, like Henry Diltz and Annie Leibovitz, to shame!

Here’s the craziest part, folks… I now own one of these prints! They were all priced to sell, and my favorite was less than $200, including frame! And I get to pick it up in a month. O, to always be able to see these lovely, LSD-fueled beauties hung in my house! Every time I go brush my teeth, every time I go pick up my dog’s poo from the living room, it’s like I’ll be in New York in the early 70s with these gender-bending beauties:

JayneandDavid

P.S. Bonus points to anyone who can find what piece of literature or liner-note it is where David or Jayne discuss actually being on acid in the above picture! I know it’s true, but only my memory, and not the printed page, are backing me up at the moment.

How I Nearly Cried at the D’Orsay Museum

Okay, so I am a manly man, as anyone I’ve shared glitter makeup with can attest to. But I’m in France, and yesterday at the D’Orsay Museum in Paris, I finally got to see some of the most amazing canvases I’ve always loved but never gotten to see.

Yeah, it got emotional.

The D’Orsay has one of the best collections of early modern art anywhere, including some good Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist works, some Pointillism, some big Monets and Renoirs and Pisarros, etc. And we were racking up the points, finally getting to see all the paintings we remembered from art history classes. We knew the importance of these canvases, but had never gotten to see most of them up close. I was going through the galleries, kind of fast, kind of with an air of “where’s the rest of the group, god, we have to be out of here by like 5:30 and we just got here because the damned Versailles excursion this morning took too fucking long.” And then I was on the fifth floor of the D’Orsay, plowing through canvases by Sisley and Degas like they were nothing…

And then suddenly I was there, and Luncheon on the Grass was just staring at me.

The critics of its day accused this painting of looking unfinished, almost like a set from a play. And when you see this thing live, that’s exactly the impression you get: those brush strokes at the edges, especially in the upper right and left corners and wherever anything is green, look done quickly, almost like a piece of scenery from a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream where the important thing is to suggest “greenery” with just a few colors of paint.

It’s like a set to highlight the scene in the center, where all the light in the painting focuses. And the way that light kind of glares out at you from the people in the center, especially the naked woman’s skin … well, it’s damned surreal, for lack of a better word. Eerie. Fierce. It’s not like I haven’t seen this a thousand times before, but looking at it live, especially when you see all the other people at the D’Orsay crowded around looking with you at this naked woman with her clothed dude friends, you really get how weird this must have seemed at the time it came out.

I know that if you’ve studied this stuff at all, you already know that it’s the context of the painting that made the nude woman so unacceptable to French society snobs and art critics when it came out. For starters, she’s not a historical figure. There are paintings in the D’Orsay from the same era that are just as nude (and in their own way, waaaaay weirder):

If this wasn’t mythology, it would make for a pretty disturbing police report, huh?

And I sort of get why something like the above is more wholesome than Manet’s painting, and not just because of the name or the theme–it has all these things that echo the iconography of art that we’ve decided is classic and timeless and sexually neutral.

Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass avoids all of that Rubenesque iconography, but there’s more to it than just the lack of appropriate subject matter that makes Manet’s work feel so different. There’s something so perversely cavalier about the men in the painting, just chillin’ with their weird outfits and headgear. And though it’s not as fierce as Manet’s Olympia, which made me giddy when I saw it a half hour later downstairs, this nude’s face (based on Manet’s wife’s face) is very arresting. Theoretically and literally, you are the viewer of this painting, even its “voyeur.” But really, and I can’t explain it, but it’s undeniable–the painting’s power goes precisely the opposite way. Luncheon on the Grass reaches out and grabs you by the scruff of the neck and says “holy fucking shit, this is weird and strong and wrong and bizarre, and you will take notice, even 150 years from now!”

I mean, is this where punk starts? Of all the potential origins, is this actually it? A piece of art that favors creepiness over beauty? A piece that proves that the artist is free to make his own choices, by sneering at you? A piece that eschews the bullshit falseness of his contemporaries and yet has no time for their depth of perspective or shadowing?

You know, Napoleon III was forced to look at Luncheon on the Grass when it came out. This was not something that happened in a little studio out in the boonies: it was first shown right next to the official Salon in an official annex, in a show called the “Salon of Rejects,” and Napoleon III commissioned the show. He and god knows how many other rich, spoiled, conventional art patrons were forced to think about it, whether it’s art, and whether they would actually buy it. “Wow, is this what I’m gonna spend my imperial money on? Some naked chick who’s not even Venus?”

As I walked through the hall to see the Monets and Renoirs and Pisarros, it didn’t hit me right at first. But then this gut check happened, and I found myself almost dry-sobbing. If someone had turned from looking at all the paintings and looked at me, they probably would have thought my dog just died. I felt so overwhelmed by what I had just seen that I had to stop what I was doing, turn back around, and return as quickly as possible to absorb that Manet a little more. It’s not a complex or pretty canvas, but if the museums in Paris didn’t close so damned early, I could have stood in its presence for hours.

-D. M. Collins 

my babies do good sculptures, yeah.

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and love is all around us. Some of my friends, including a couple former lovers, have even gotten engaged in the last few weeks. Though I’ve been living happily for a couple years now as some kind of quasi-poly-loner-bachelor type, this season always makes me question what it is I’m looking for when it comes to romance. And I think I can boil it all down to a punk song I first heard when I was about 14 years old.

Of the hundreds of thousands of songs that have influenced what I like about music, probably more than half are about dating and relationships, anything from “Feel Like Makin’ Love” to “Be My Wife.” Many of those use “love” as a mere canvas, a quick subject matter to scream about or lay dance beats over or solo across; others of them, more direct, have spoken to me about love and lust with crystal clear realism, like Aphrodite whispering into my ear while rubbing my buttocks with a Mosrite fuzz pedal.

But those songs are about being in a dating situation, or falling out of one; few songs have inspired what qualities I look for in people I want to date. Especially in my youth, when I was on a limited budget and you couldn’t hear whole discographies for nothin’ on the internet, this song by the Rezillos was the tune that made me realize, hey, this is what I want, and I should go out and look for it, much like “He’s a Rebel” or “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care)” might have spoken to some buckeyed youth in the golden age of teen pop:




I guess you could say this one really molded me, mwah ha hah!

Though the Rezillos were only about 15% – 22% female at any given time, and she didn’t sing lead on this one, this song is perhaps the most joyously egalitarian, matter-of-fact-ly feminist, and casually somewhat-sex-positive song about male-on-female attraction I think I’ve ever known. It’s all about getting turned on because your girlfriend makes art! She actually creates something meaningful out of her life instead of, I dunno, hanging out on the arm of a male artist, playing the groupie role that many female music fans probably felt was their only entry to rock in the pre-punk era. Okay, I know, it’s still a silly song about romance and lusting after a girl, but c’mon, it’s awesome, and so refreshing after thousands and thousands of songs about women that could be any woman, as if love’s context didn’t matter. This was the first song I may have ever heard, outside of maybe “Lovely Rita, Meter Maid” that celebrated a woman for her occupation!

God, you just have to love punk rock, warts and all. Note that the male character in the song is neither jealous nor tries to boast about his own similar creative endeavors–he’s very content to praise his gal’s talents for their own sake. Compared to more serious punk bands of their time, the Rezillos were considered high camp. But the teenaged me detected no irony in how the narrator places his baby’s sculpting skills far above her “pouting lips” or “curvy hips.”  He even brags to the world on how “she killa dilla,” goddam it! What does that even mean? He’s so egalitarian that by the end of the song, he can barely talk.

I discovered this tune on one of Rhino Records’ amazing, truly influential D.I.Y. compilations:  The Modern World – UK Punk II. Before this series came out, even just hearing pre-hardcore punk that wasn’t the Clash, Ramones, or Sex Pistols was exceedingly difficult in a burg like Tulsa, Oklahoma; I’d read about these bands for years in books at the library without knowing what they sounded like, and this was my first time to hear them all in one place. I vividly recall finding this tape for sale, used, in a counter display case at Mohawk Music–this was probably in 1993, just when my late-onset puberty was in full swing. I got pretty much the whole series and played them all the time, mostly on a Fisher-Price tape recorder that I kept in my Ram Charger, since it didn’t have a tape deck. Every band, every song in this series was mind-blowing. Though X-Ray Spex might have inspired my own self-direction more, and the Adverts’ “One Chord Wonders” inspired how I wanted to play music, “Good Sculptures” taught me real qualities to look for in someone else when trying to complement my life.

And it’s informed who I have dated ever since; my life is far richer because of it. Thank you, Rezillos, and Rhino Records, for helping make me this way. That’s not bragging, nor am I even saying I have overall good mate choice: I’ve dated people, short and long term, who weren’t right for me, who were too innocent for me, or too clever, who left their clothes all over the living room, who took lots of my money, who tried to hurt themselves, who saw the mean and stupid parts of me and just thought they’d be mean and stupid back rather than tell me (or leave). I’ve dated people who stayed with me for far too long because they had no idea how to quietly back away from my own rudeness and immaturity. And this is true: I’ve been socked in the head by nearly every girl I’ve seriously dated.

But hey, man, at least I got the art! I got inspiration, and I got to enjoy a birds-eye view of so many creative processes. I can think back with such joy, and completely undeserved pride, on the albums my lovers have recorded, or the books they wrote, stores they opened, photos they took, planet they saved, ribald performances they titillated with, audiences they made chuckle, essays they published, DJ nights they rocked, urban fruit trees they harvested, shows they organized, videos they edited, kink they celebrated, wigs they wore … even just karaoke songs they were bold enough to pull off! Even at my most miserable and least desirable in a dating capacity, I’ve kept my eyes focused on the creative ones. And it’s never let me down, at least not on the level of my… soul, for lack of a better word. And as for one night stands? Well, at least I think I’ve done pretty good about not fucking anyone who doesn’t have books.

So yes, yes, thank you Rezillos. And thank you, you talented ladies and gents from my past.  Ayy-ai-addy, addy-oh! If you ever wondered what I ever saw in you, it’s all because you does good sculptures. Yeah.

Keep doing ’em.


-D. M. Collins

P.S. You know who else seems to have been inspired by this song? Opus from Bloom County!

A Rrose Is a Rrose – A Feather Boa of Words for the Drab Throat of L.A.

Come on July 7 at 3 p.m. to the Hedgehog in Echo Park and see a full house of fierce literary talent! A Rrose Is a Rrose has everything, from poetry to confessional autobiography to music criticism to a marvelous idea for a new video game.

California wins lawsuit against Airborne

My buddy Greg has been saying this for years–a medicine “created by a school teacher” is not something to brag about and is no substitution for drugs crafted through the rigorous application of the scientific method. 

And now Airborne just lost their case with the State of California, and is going to have to significantly change their marketing strategy as well as their formula.  That’s a good thing, since not only is it not good for colds, but they know damned well that it’s not, and in fact, its potent dose of vitamins endanger the health of women and children:

Even after studies, Airborne knew that major ingredients in their products–Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Zinc–did not prevent colds. They continued to market their product as a cold remedy, says the Attorney General’s office. Even worse, they say, is that Airborne’s dosage of Vitamin A is 5,000 international units and when taken as recommended, one would consume 15,000. That’s a “potential health risk to vulnerable populations including children and pregnant women.”

No word on how Lloyd Dangle, the artist behind those scary germs on the Airborne packaging, is taking this.  I wonder if all the knock-offs of Airborne he so humorously dug into a couple years back will be getting similar legal treatment.

Ted Kennedy at the DNC

Man, I loved the speech.  And I loved Ken Burns’ tribute movie!  I was genuinely touched.  I’m so impressed that Kennedy, who’s been such a positive force for the advancement of liberal ideals (well, except for that one thing), was able to get out of his sick bed and come down for what may likely be his last public appearance ever. 

Goddam was that inspirational, not just for his message, but for his courage.  People like to use the word “courage” when people do anything in public, but risking your life when you have a malignant tumor is fucking courageous.

However, I do have to admit that seeing Kennedy in glasses made me think of primarily one thing: David Hockney.

There’s one big difference between Hockney and Kennedy, though–Kennedy is actually good at his job.