Friday, December 16, 2011

Artsy Fartsy

Here's an easy, contention-free question: what is art?  A few months ago I did a post on street art around LA.  I have thought a lot about public art in general and in particular, the Urban Light installation by Chris Burden at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)...

...and "Bubble Gum Alley" in San Luis Obispo, CA.

The former is high art world approved; the latter may not be considered art at all.  Both installations consist of multiple every day, functional items: lamp posts and bubble gum (okay, and condoms). 

The light installation is beautiful - especially at night; however, I have often thought it a bit boring and safe when looked at as a piece of art.  This is why I thought it would be a good choice to juxtapose against Bubble Gum Alley.  My choice ended up being a bit ironic because it turns out that in his younger years, Chris Burden created some intense and controversial works.  In the 1970s he did a series focused on personal danger in which he was shot in the arm, nailed to a Volkswagen, and shimmied through broken glass with his hands held behind his back.

(Burden's next installation at LACMA is titled Metropolis ii.  It is a sculpture of a city with miniature cars racing through it at 240 miles an hour.   I got a peek at it a few weeks ago, but the last I heard it is still being installed.)

Bubble Gum Alley is not beautiful - I'm betting especially not so at night.  There is a lot of DNA on those walls.  Of course, one can't discuss DNA in art without bringing up photographer Andres Serrano, a controversial, but established artist that uses blood, urine, and semen in his work.  If he can do it, so can all the teenagers in San Louis Obispo.

Bubble Gum Alley is gross, but it's a collective work that has impact.

Urban Light is pretty.  And what's wrong with pretty?

One is made for the public; the other by the public.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Brother Sal & The Devil May Care

This is perhaps the most delayed post of all the delayed posts in all the blogs in all the world.  I first saw Brother Sal & The Devil May Care weeks ago.  I jaunted down to the Piano Bar one Sunday night in October to find Mr. Brother and his blues-meets-country band delivering their "warehouse gospel" to the many delighted souls crammed into the bar. 

I knew immediately that I wanted to tell the world (or, you know, the two of you that read this blog) about my new discovery: Brother Sal, the ivory-tinkling, husky-voiced troubadour from Virginia.  However, as the two of you know, I did not.  I have gone to see Brother Sal again since that night in October I still did not write about it. 

Here's the problem: I just get too damn busy having a good time. Too busy reveling in the melodies and effect of the songs to pay attention to the titles and specific content so I can accurately detail them here. Too busy dancing to adjust my camera settings, so I end up with blurred pictures like these:

{ The ghost-like figure on the right is Michael Starr, an amazing fiddler.  His fiddling deserves its own post. }
Brother Sal has a gift.  A gift in which my ears and my bootie delight.  However, as with all gifts, it comes with a curse.  Well, a curse on this blog anyway.  His gift disarms and distracts until I am left with only memories of good times and warm impressions of the experience.  I suppose as the South did to the North, I will have to cede to the old adage, "Details be damned."  That is an old adage, right?

So, there you have it.  A half-assed review of a full-assed band.  Full and round and firm. As all good asses should be.  I'm speaking metaphorically, of course.

P.S. Brother Sal performs every Saturday and Sunday night at the Piano Bar.

P.P.S. I still need suggestions for my Drunk v. Sober comparative!  So far I have LACMA, reading, writing, and running.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Well, Alrighty Then.

Wednesday night I grabbed my new friend Amy and went to see a friend of a friend's band at Three of Clubs.  Upon our arrival we were greeted with $4 whiskey specials and this:


Dayna, the aforementioned friend of a friend, is a trumpet player.  I love seeing bands with different instrumentation, so when I got the Facebook invite from her band Alright Alright I decided that it could be an interesting show.  These images on their profile didn't hurt either.         

With an energetic frontman and tight arrangements, they did not disappoint.  Amy and I were treated to a night of hopping, hip-popping, fun music.

I really, really wanted to get up and dance because it was dancing music, but the $4 whiskey failed me.  No one else was dancing and I just don't have that "first on the dance floor" gene.  This round goes to you, self-consciousness. 

{ Amy. And people not dancing. }
 Now, I knew that Dayna is a trumpeteer - or as Alright Alright's Facebook page explains, she is the "blast".  What I didn't know is that she is a triple threat:
{ "Blast" }

{ Keys }

{ Back-up Vocals }
 Oh, wait.  Make that - a quadruple threat.
{ Shaker, baby. }
I'm a sucker for harmonies and redheads.  Alright Alright happens to have two redheads.  The other redhead is A Girl Named Ryan who contributes killer harmonies.  The girl can really sing.  She can rock a mean beat on the tambourine as well.

And a fun night was had by all.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cheap Chick

I spent Sunday acquiring lots of snazzy - and free - clothes at my friend Abby's Bitch n' Swap. 

In my last post I mentioned that I would do a photo shoot to show off some of the pieces from the swap and I will do so.  Soon.  It might be a week or so because I need to meet up with Stephanie, my friendly neighborhood photographer.  Also, I just did the Jet Rag post and I don't want to saturate this blog with tons of pictures of me, me, me.  I mean, that's what Facebook is for.

Until then, here is a sneak peek.  The t-shirt and bag I wore today to the $2 theater in Pasadena today are from the swap.  $2 movies and $0 clothes. Yes, I am a cheap-ass chick.

{ The t-shirt reads, "Canada: Fits your budget!" }

Although I did not intend to deal with fashion in this blog, it seems like a "cheap chick clothes" series is developing.  At some point in the future I also plan on doing a post about what the kids these days are wearing to rock shows.  "The future" in this instance refers to a distant and fanciful time when I have a camera that doesn't suffer from low-light performance anxiety.

While I'm on the subject of future posts I want to tell you about another series I have just started working on that will be titled: Drunk v. Sober.  (Obviously, the term "working on" should be taken with a grain of margarita salt.)  I will engage in 5 activities - first drunk, then sober - and write about how the experiences differ based on my level of sobriety. 
  1. Walking around the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  2. Running in the morning
  3. Reading
  4. Blogging (oh, boy)
  5. TBD
I am taking suggestions for the fifth activity.  I know commenting here is kind of a pain, but if you want to offer a suggestion just select "anonymous" and then sign your name in the comment.  Or you can write me on Facebook.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Wrong Shapes, The Right People

Before I get back into the Los Angeles music scene, I want to tell you about a little taste of the Boston music scene I had while on my latest trip back east.

In August while at my friend Shirley's wedding,  I was seated at a table with a lovely and - as it turns out - talented couple, Rachel Arnold and Bo Barringer.  Rachel is from California living in Massachusetts.  My husband Dan is from Massachusetts living in California.  When you're at a wedding where you only know a few people, that is enough to get a conversation going.  Am I right or am I right? Right, right, right. (Name that movie.)

Rachel and Bo are musicians who happened to be playing a show in Boston right around the time we were planning on being there for another friend's wedding.  (Oh, the age where everyone you know is either getting married or having a baby.)  October rolled around and we were lucky enough to make it to their show with our friend Dan in tow.

For future reference:
{Husband Dan}

{Friend Dan}

The band, The Wrong Shapes, consists of Rachel playing the cello and Bo playing the guitar and singing.  It was a unique - and considering that there was no percussion - a surprisingly rhythmic show.

Here is a clip of one of their songs that was stuck in my head for days.  (Rachel does some really cool things on the cello that my lame phone mic does not do justice.)

The show was on a Tuesday night that proved to be anything but mundane.  Not only was the music intriguing, the crowd was entertainment all on its own.  One guy was so drunk that he was stumbling around the bar knocking over people and things - including a keyboard while it was being played on stage.  Did I mention that he was 6'5" and 350+ pounds?  He actually rammed into us moments before this picture was taken.  We recovered nicely, no?

{Me, Bo, Rachel, Husband Dan}

Another guy was asleep at the bar  When he woke up he lit a cigarette, which is of course illegal.  Later in the night the lead singer of the band that was on after Rachel and Bo started flailing and tried to jump off the stage, but ended up shattering one of the black lights they had set up and falling flat on his face on the floor in front of the stage.  

Friend Dan didn't miss a beat.  He casually retrieved his phone from his pocket and snapped a picture of the guy face down on the floor.  I was not as quick on my feet.  Maybe that's because I was helping friend Dan celebrate his recent job offer by drinking lots of vodka and beer.  When a friend needs help, I help.

So, there you have it.  A Tuesday night in Boston.  Who knew?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Every Day I'm Shufflin'

For those of you who hate vacation slide shows, look away.  Seeing as I have not written in months, I feel I should update you on where I've been before jumping back into the nitty gritty of the LA life and music scene.  You might be shocked to discover that during my absence, I went on a cross country road trip.  Again.  Ok, you are probably not that shocked. 

September to October. From the west coast to the east coast and back again.

Our first stop was Fallen Leaf Lake (Tahoe) to visit Matt, who is still wearing his flip-flops.

The first night we were there I got drunk and jumped in the lake around midnight. Have you ever been so cold you can barely breathe?  I have.

From Tahoe we booked it across country as fast as we could to make it to our friend Stephanie's wedding on Cape Cod.

It was a lovely affair and the only wedding I have ever attended where there was time for a walk on the beach.

While in New England we visited friends and family.

{This is Meg. You can blame her encouragement for me jumping back into the blogging saddle.  Thanks, Meg!} 

And, seeing as it is fall and I am getting super old, we did some foliage-ogling and leaf-peeping.

{I'm doing all black and white photos in this post, so you'll just have to imagine the beautiful, vibrant, inspiring, and all round life-changing colors.}
After rushing across the country from west to east, it was nice to take our time from east to west.  In addition to our planned stops, we were able to make stops on a whim.  Among those spontaneous stops were the Montpelier Mansion in Maryland...

George Washington's childhood home in Virginia... 

George Washington's sister's home....

And while we were at it, George Washington's mother's home...

Savannah, Georgia. (Savannah was sort of planned in that we were intending to stop there for breakfast, but we ended up staying most of the day ... on a whim.  Therefore, it fits into the spontaneous category.)

The Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana.

Among our more planned stops were Washington DC...
{Air and Space Museum}

{The hat Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was shot at the American History Museum. Whaaaa?}

St. Augustine, Florida - the oldest city in America...

{This fort is made entirely of seashells.}

I had not been to Florida for about 10 years.  It was so nice to go swimming in warm water for a change. 

That is until my foot was bitten by a small sand shark.  It was just a scratch, but it was enough to keep me out of the water and ready to head west.

After the shark attack (and I am in no way at all using the term in an undeserved sensationalist fashion), we made our way to New Orleans to eat some beignets and tour the Degas House.

After that we had planned on stopping in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, but there were some complications, so we headed straight to Phoenix to visit Dan's brother.  Stopping only at roadside rest areas.

{I am conditioned to obey. And it was the only thing I had with me.}
And now... now we're home. 

I need a nap.