Friday, September 23, 2011

The Floor 42 : Viva Italia!

Welcome to the 42nd Session of The Floor!
The King-King in Hollywood hosts this incredible night of live music and amazing dancing in a relaxed and cool atmosphere filled with beautiful people. For a handful of currency, you can gain entry into this free-for-all party and spin on your head, kick your heels in the air, shake your hips from side-to-side or bring your axe and add to the groove.
Walter, Shadarius, Liinda and Ruslan
Ricardo Hambra
Robertino and friend

I've been frequenting the place since it's inception, originally brought on board by music director Walter Davis who, being supportive and encouraging of my spoken word performances, invited me to share my verse with the spirit of spontaneity and lyricism AND with the backing of his able group, the members of which have changed over the years, but with Davis leading the fray he has kept the quality consistent and of high standards attracting everyone from members of Ozomotli and The Toledo Show to Chris Botti and Sting.
Gordon Bash
Sarah Reich
Club producers Sascha & Carolina
Tonight the unofficial theme was Italians!
Everywhere there were Italians - Floor familia Annalisa Rinetti brought several and my friends Vanessa Crocini and Robbie Angelucci were there. Vanessa is a documentary filmmaker [Vanessa's website]. Robbie is an accomplished guitarist - currently on the road with Frankie Vali. [Read Robbie's article on Burning Man]!

The other theme of the night was - as always - SWEAT!

The most common response I get when I ask someone if I can take their picture is "Oh! I'm so sweaty". Get over it.
We come to The Floor to sweat.
If you're not sweating, maybe you don't even belong there.
That said, those that come to stand around and look good and look good while looking' at everyone sweating - they are always welcome! Watching the action at The Floor is just as exciting as actually participating as the room is filled with all types of extraordinary dancing and live music played by some of the industry's hottest players - the audience for this is built-in and super supportive. The club is as popular and successful as it is because of it's participants. Cheers to the contributions of those who come there to play, have fun and sweat!!!

for the complete photo album of the night on Facebook [click here]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Austin Young : Nudes On The Beach

As part of Road Concert on Sunset Blvd photographer Austin Young offered to take anyone's portrait right on the beach at sunset. An idyllic backdrop with Austin Young behind the lens, an incredible opportunity for anyone - the only stipulation being you had to be naked.

The logistics of this relatively illegal act (public "indecency") necessitated a blockade of some sort being erected to prevent arousing too much attention. Once a series of large sheets were positioned, Austin stood inside with his naked subject and clicked away.

As you can see from the photos, the wall of sheets actually created a rather unique spectacle causing more intrigue on Malibu beach (right behind Gladstones) than not.

I did not sit for Mr. Young - exhibitionism is not my thing - but I was there to record the event and assist in sheet holding. The nudity was not full frontal or anything, it was tasteful, and used Austin's sensibility of light and shadow and the uniqueness of his subjects. While several tattooed sub-culture types were present and eager to doff their clothing, this was tempered with a couple of so-called "ordinary" people. People celebrating life and the human body and the art of it all.

Austin Young's website is [here].
Below is the first 2 released photos from the shoot. 

Stephen van Dyck (Sunset Road Concert Organizer)

Fade-Dra Phey (L.A. scenester, club persona and gender-fuck artist)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Vintage Trouble : Lighting Up The Edison

Vintage Trouble is a band that used to play every Tuesday night at Harvelle's in Santa Monica.
That's where I first saw them.

Within a year of their formation they released their first CD (The Bomb Shelter Sessions) and scored big time management (Doc McGhee). They finished the year by playing a few shows in the UK, whetting the appetites of the Brits enough for them to return - this time appearing on the TV show "Later with Jools Holland" - a twice weekly music hour featuring bands of varying genres. VT appeared alongside Fleet Foxes, k.d. lang and actor Hugh Lorrie (wtf?), [episode details] and performed "Blues Hand Me Down". This appearance led to an encore at week's end returning to the "Later" studios and performed "Nancy Lee".

They spent the next few months showing England, Ireland, Germany and Scotland how it's done when you're the hardest working band in show biz. Playing 80 gigs in 100 days, they tightened up their groove  playing everywhere from small pubs to festivals supporting the likes of Queen's guitarist Brian May, Bootsy Collins and Bon Jovi. In Scotland the demand was so great for tickets to their show, that the gig had to be moved to a bigger venue. That night, 1000+ Scottish "troublemakers" sang along enthusiastically which led to the band's collective realization that success had come their way in the form of fans on the other side of the globe.

Several videos, radio sessions and gigs later - plus an invite for Ty to take part in the London Freddie Mercury Birthday celebration "Freddie For A Day" - they returned to L.A. and last night, played a show at The Edison.

A lack of quality control closely associated with popular music makes me want to cancel my subscription to Rolling Stone; rap isn't hip-hop isn't funky isn't interesting. Rapping and repping about things they have and things they want - all this flossin' and flashin' is so 1989 that I just can't stand it! Can you say "Young M.C."?

And Foo Fighters are a GREAT rock band??
I think even a music fan like Dave Grohl would concede there are generations of guitar based rock bands that are better than his. (He was in one of them.) I dig the Queens Of The Stone Age and even Kings Of Leon (a bit) but don't even bring up Coldhead and Radioplay - those overhyped artists are well meaning I guess and they have contributed enough but I am old enough to remember being excited by Cheap Trick and Led Zep and Kiss and Aerosmith and The Cult and Guns n Roses and even Elton John who put out solid rock 'n' roll at one time (check the triple LP Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player, Rock Of The Westies or Caribou).

But I digress.
Back to Vintage Trouble.

The first concert I ever went to was Angel - a ridiculous response to KISS - also signed to Casablanca Records, they wore all white and had crappy synthesizers - and when I saw them - my first concert ever -  the opening act was Quiet Riot - not the radio-friendly metal-lite act they became - but an exciting rival to the then little-known Pasadena band called Van Halen -  with a secret weapon in guitarist Randy Rhoads - a charter member of the 27 club - probably most famous for teaming up with Ozzy (he co-wrote "Crazy Train") - a rock 'n' roll royale upgrade which gave him the opportunity to live excessively and ultimately die in a completely avoidable plane accident.

I did it again.
I digressed.
Back to Vintage Trouble.
They give me the same rush I had back in the day, when knowing the words and wearing the t-shirt to school the next day to show allegiance was an important part of being a fan.

And let's talk about the fans for a minute!
The aforementioned "trouble-makers" are a worldwide collection of people of different ages from different backgrounds with one thing in common. In their clique of friends, they are that person who knows the coolest bands before anybody. They are they one going out on weeknights because the live music experience is - for them  for US - the ultimate experience.

The Vintage Trouble experience keeps hope alive.
No hype. Just listen.
And if you're cool you'll catch 'em now!
(they're heading back to Europe)

Video from The Edison:

Program note : Singer and troublemaker Brenna Whitaker joined the band onstage for a version of Ike and Tina Turner's "Baby Get It On". Brenna performs at the W Hotel in downtown L.A. on Sundays.

 I dedicate this blog entry to John Paul Jones, Kurt Cobain, Josh Homme, Punky Meadows, Rick Nielsen, Axl Rose, Rudy Sarzo, Starbaby, Michael Hutchence, Dakota Moon and Bernie Taupin!

Special thanks to Dorthea L.P. Winnet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Red Zebra : A Real Live Art Rock 'N' Roll Fashiøn Show (Finally!)

I came here tonight for 2 reasons. To paint, and drink some beer. And we're almost out of beer.

Taking place in downtown L.A. on a Thursday night, artist Robert Vargas threw a bash for no apparent reason other than to paint and invite some people to watch, or model or just hang out. With much square footage of varied entertainment Red Zebra is an inspiring place to be.

Part of the club was reserved for pro models (great looking ones) hired to pose and allow artists in attendance to take advantage of a life drawing class experience in a club atmosphere! Beats the hell out of the art classes I took at Pierce college. No cocktails were served there.

This was some grown freaks folks getting together to have some fun with one another; dancing, imbibing; creating art or taking it in, and I wouldn't be amiss to suggest that if you had a boner in this club you could walk around with no one noticing. I think I saw a couple.

Red Zebra takes place in a converted bank vault divided into areas of art, live performance, and DJ propelled dance floor. Upon entry, Mr. Vargas himself was making large portraits of people posing for him. On his knees, working in mostly blacks and reds and grays he moves the paint about the canvas using brushes as well as his fingers - sometimes almost violently - to create interpretations of his subjects (see pics).

The night's soundtrack was rock 'n' roll courtesy of AK & Her Kalashnikovs. Also on the bill was _princessFrank who's solo electric guitar & bass drum act takes on some "Classic Rock" classics (Pink Floyd's Young Lust and Love's Little Red Book). I greatly enjoyed his performance.

The evening wasn't complete until Miss Barbie-Q took the stage. This fierce-some drag queen performed a J-Hud inspired number, pumping up the place before bringing down the house. Her business card reads "Talk to you soon! Life is good!" in a deliberate attempt to encourage people to enjoy themselves in and around others. In agreement with that philosophy, this party was just what I needed. The complications of my life lent themselves well to this celebration of art and life and living.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Megan & Bjørn : The Tuesday Ritual

Despite my long forgotten sense of romance and belief in anything but the most cynical rationalizations of relationships, ceremony and all that family values hypocrisy, I attended the wedding of my dear friends Bjørn and Megan.

While an hour outside of L.A., I was blessed with wonderful traveling companions Vanessa (a documentary filmmaker) and Robbie (a brilliant guitarist) (above). While virtual strangers on the way up, by the end of the journey we were fast friends exchanging ideas and intently learning about each other.  Once there, the Dutch and American themed decor truly celebrated the union of not only these two people, but the two cultures merging.
Carolina & Sascha

the mother of the bride
The dads
Guests wrote their names on pieces of paper and pinned them to a map in their approximate geographical origin. Here, Carolina pins her name to her beloved Buenos Aires.
Wedding cake
Megan with Sascha and Carolina
Bjørn's ring
Missy and Vanessa

Prior to the event, Bjørn and Meg honored me with a request to lay down some of my poetry to commemorate the event. Over a home cooked meal of fennel chicken followed by fresh fruit filled crepes we discussed what was important and what needed to be said. Here it is:


Tuesday nights were burlesque.
And looooooooong......
arriving before the dissidents rode up,
and staying until the bar-back began restocking.

I came to watch the girls dance.
The band was the best and that was a bonus.
Bjørn was the bass.
the bottom end.
the starboard.

Our conversation —
not your average guy talk;
sharing stories of
a worldwide search -
our quasi-quests for love.

We had much in common.

One day -
in a most magical exchange -
Megan entered his life.

Cordially at first - she attended Tuesday nights -
I kept my eye on her and in loyalty to Bjørn,
made sure no one tried to hit on her.

So, while he plucked his bass
with meticulous musicality
I kept her amused until he punched-out for the night.
There was non-stop laughter
in a dark club filled with creepy men surreptitiously taking provocative pictures of dancing girls.

We only paused to cheer the bass solo.
This was the Tuesday ritual.

Los Angeles is full of phonies
and people who will bring you down

Always showing support and love-
Bjørn and Megan-
always give back.
They have integrity
They have credibility
and now they have each other.

Their journey involves a prophecy;
to see the other side-
and entwine their spirits and souls
as they carve their route to make the world more full of love.

A lofty address certainly,
and to make this singular duo the bearer
of such awesome responsibilities
is nothing less than something of cosmic importance.

they will always receive what they send-
love and laughter and music and beauty-
all things conjured up by invincible imaginations-
will be bestowed upon their life.


The wedding itself is beyond my descriptive words, and even the photos I took did not do it justice. The professionals hired for the event have posted some brilliant photos and exposition [HERE].

Incidentally, I am not a "knick-knack" person.
I don't like that kind of clutter.

At the wedding we were given a thimble-sized ceramic pair of white clogs with "HOLLAND" written on them in blue letters and an ornate (but very tiny) windmill painted on them. The shoes were bound together by a single knotted piece of patriotic red, white and blue ribbon. They were wrapped in mesh, which was gathered at the top and tied with a red and white string. This now sits on my western-facing windowsill next to my other knick-knack miniature replica of the Chrysler Building (the significance of this involves a trip to NY and an obsession with Matthew Barney's Cremaster films - the one which involves the construction of the aforementioned Manhattan structure).

Bjørn : He's deep and thoughtful, at least 6 foot 2 with a penchant for mugging whenever my camera points at him; his deep passion and talent lies within his creation of music. Bjørn recently released his debut CD 1 Only [get it on iTunes] - a collection of deeply spiritual and personal songs with all the instruments and vocals performed by him exclusively.

Megan: She loves to laugh and enjoys pretty things as well as music, travel, nightlife, and she spends much of her time smiling and amused. She attended FIDM and has been called professionally to work in New York a few times since graduating last Spring. She is well on her way.

Congratulations and deepest thanks to the parents of both Bjørn and Meg and to the happy couple themselves.