This has particular meaning for me in light of the devastation to precious wildlife and resources caused by the oil spill in Santa Barbara. That’s the thing about art: it means what you want it to mean. Read about the project here.
These are some of the women who have influenced me most—be it my career path, my self image, my spirituality or my aesthetics.
Left to right, top row:Exene Cervenka, Erykah Badu, Patti Smith, Rickie Byars Beckwith, Erica Jong
Left to right, bottom row: Jess the Militant Baker, Dorothy Kilgallen, Annie Leibovitz, Norma Shearer.
Every city has its talent pool, some deeper than others. In Ventura, there’s very little room to swim, yet a few manage to stay afloat. Aaron Orbit is a rare talent in a world full of medium rare talent. He eschews the tag singer-songwriter for the preferred “composer” and it suits him. His compositions are violently human and his voice from on-high. On a whim… with only two days to prepare, he entered NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest. This is his entry. The song is a yet to be released hit. Hear it now and know why.
Grips are the superheroes of the film industry. They are real life MacGyvers and without them, no film could ever be properly made. They work 12-18 hour days and almost always come home bruised and battered. They rarely complain. Work pays well for union grips, and not quite as well for indy grips. Unless you’re on a regular series or in the union, there can be dry spells. Dry spells that last too long become droughts and no one thrives in a drought. Grips are the kind of people you want on your team. They can handle anything, solve any problem and they always step up to help. This particular grip is in a drought. That drought was recently complicated by identity theft. I’m reaching out to you in order to help him until the next rainfall. Please consider donating. For the price of lunch, your generosity will reverberate through the cosmos. Click HERE to donate. Thank you.
Yesterday’s announcement of the 2015 Coachella lineup got me pumped — not because I’m looking forward to three sweaty days of over-stimulation in the desert, but because now I get to fantasize about which acts will perform at the Ventura Theater during the event’s bye week. (Rob Antonini, Loanne Wullaert and Roni Osmer are you listening?)
Who I hope will play Coachella by the Sea (coined by moi, btw)
1. Ryan Adams
I will probably have a stroke if this announced and therefore be unable to attend, but I’m still rooting for it. Sure I’ve hated his last few records but I’m loyal to those I love and he will always be my main man.
2. Alabama Shakes
I’ve listened to their debut album way too much and it’s time I saw them live. It’s also time they put out a new record.
Because they’re on constant rotation in my car and they’re named after a Manson girl—the good one.
4.Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punks
FUCK YES. I’m a desert rock/stoner rock junkie and even though I’ll never get to see Kyuss, there’s still a possibility I can see someone from Kyuss other than Josh Homme (my second love after Ryan Adams).
5. Jenny Lewis
Jenny’s the shit. She’s like a cheerful, poppier Liz Phair. If “Jenny” on The League was a musician, she’d totally be Jenny Lewis. Also if she comes to Ventura, she’s bringing Ryan Adams with her.
6. Steely Dan
Haters gonna hate but who cares?
7. St. Vincent
Because I want to love her.
8. Ghostface Killah
Because I nicknamed my dog “Zoeface Killah” and because Wu-Tang.
9. Tame Impala
I get the feeling their shows are transcendent.
10. Action Bronson
A fat white rapper who’s a chef and sometimes writes about food. What else do you need?
Who will probably play Coachella by the Sea (based only on pad thai-fueled intuition)
Azealia Banks, this year’s Ellie Goulding; Off, we luvs us some punk rock; Run the Jewels, overhyped rap artist of the moment; FKA Twigs, even more overhyped; Lykke Li, critics love her.
2014 was a rollercoaster and I’m not a fan of rollercoasters. Fortunately, I had my earbuds in at all times. The biggest surprise, was my love affair with Against Me! which began when I saw them perform at the Ventura Theater. For me, this is the purest, most organic way to enter into relationship with a musical artist. Late to the party once more, it was also the year I finally”got” the Smiths which along with Against Me! and Brian Jonestown Massacre were the soundtrack of my year. In between, were the records that I listened to repeatedly. There were several new records that deserve the accolades they are receiving, but just didn’t click for me. Among them were St. Vincent’s self-titled release. My biggest disappointment was Ryan Adams’ Ryan Adams. If I wanted to hear a Tom Petty record, I’d put on a Tom Petty record, not a Ryan Adams record. Come back, dude. We miss you.
The LIST (mostly in no particular order)
Against Me!— Transgender Dysphoria Blues
No record this year strained my lungs and vocal chords as much as Transgender Dysphoria Blues. When bandleader Laura Jane Grace (the artist formerly known as a dude) came out about her transition in 2012, she took a massive artistic risk that resulted in some of her best songwriting to date as well as a potent antidote for self-loathing. “Drinking With the Jocks” (“There will always be a difference, between me and YOU!”) and “Black Me Out” are nourishing misfit anthems, while the title track beautifully crystallizes the pain of the transgender experience in one simple verse: “You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress/You want them to see you like they see every other girl/They just see a faggot . . ..” A master work.
Lana Del Rey — Ultraviolence
Having filed this artist under “contrived/manufactured pabulum” based almost entirely on her name, I confess I did not give Lana Del Rey a fair shake until this year when I finally surrendered to Ultraviolence. Haunting vocals and lyrics that both betray this femme fatale’s dark side and belie her age are awash in a lush, moody production that makes for one seductive and hypnotic listening experience. Like a cat poised to bite the hand that strokes it, Del Rey shrouds her pathological love confessions in a girlish innocence that leaves us feeling a little dirty.
Sleaford Mods — Divide and Exit
2014 was the year Sleaford Mods broke. One of those overnight sensations that was seven years in the making, the duo’s second release, Divide and Exit, made virtually every U.K. “best of 2014” list, though it hasn’t fully caught on in the U.S. Jason Williamson’s unrelenting flow of working-class laments set to Andrew Fearn’s simple groove-beats speak to and of the desperate bleakness of these times, especially for the have-nots. If it weren’t for the humor and shock that Williamson’s spitballs of discontent intermittently provoke, the material could be a tad depressing: “Three words: cage, wheel, hamster.” On the other hand, someone needs to tell it like it is, even if the particulars are Brit-centric. And Williamson does it with a confrontational, if peculiar zeal that gratifies.
Jenny Lewis, The Voyager
Black Angels, Clear Lake Forest
Foxygen, . . . And Star Power
Beck, Morning Phase
Bass Drum of Death, Rip This
Tears for Fears, Songs From the Big Chair remaster (just because)
Jason Cruz and Howl, Good Man’s Ruin
Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways
As mankind stares into the abyss, perhaps only moments (in Biblical time) away from the end of its reign over earth, it is not zombies, climate change, the big one or Ebola that will give us that final nudge. It’s Seth Rogen and James Franco. Can you think of a more fitting final exit? Could there be a more apropos farewell to our sorry stewardship of planet Earth than through an act of Hollywood?
It’s Thanksgiving day and a handful of the great painters are in the chow line with blank plates. This is how artist Hannah Rothstein imagines they might plate their meal. I find the Van Gogh especially appealing. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
It occurs to me that it’s high time I make a new list. I started the lists to share interesting cultural developments(usually) in Ventura County, stuff that currently impresses or moves me in some way. Here’s some stuff that has my attention at the moment.
1. MAKE Ventura
Once referred to as hacker spaces, maker spaces are community-centered, membership-driven industrial environments for nerdy creatives and other people who like to get their hands dirty and their minds expanded. Members of MAKE Ventura are afforded rare access to a variety of industrial tools and machinery related to woodworking, jewelry making, mold making and metalsmithing, including a 3-D printer, laser cutter and vinyl cutter in a cooperative setting. Sharing of tools, methods, ideas etc. is central to the ethos of these collaborative spaces that draw inspiration from the open source movement. MAKE Ventura is open to the public on First Fridays. Visit it online to learn more, or drop by.
2. The HUD
A newish art gallery with resident artists and an in-house graphic design studio, the HUD is a cavernous showplace for up and coming regional artists. New artists are showcased every month during a First Friday reception but the venue is slowly incorporating other events such as a juried exhibition on Nov. 15. I especially like the street-inspired contemporary works I’ve seen and purchased there, but the curating is truly eclectic. Run, don’t walk.
3. Sanctuary of Butterflies
There are 28 days left to raise $64,000 in crowdfunding for this massive film project spearheaded by photographer Cole Smothers and musician/artist Luis Perez. Smothers, who is directing the musical documentary “Sanctuary of Butterflies,” will shadow Perez as he travels way off the beaten path in Mexico’s back country to explore, document and ultimately preserve indigenous art forms that are on the path to extinction. Though the proliferation of crowdfunding campaigns has made many of us weary, this one is truly worth a few of our hard-earned dollars.
4. Michele Serros
Oxnard native and literary wunderkind Michele Serros has been a little under the weather lately. Actually, she’s been quite heroically beating the hell out of cancer, with the undying support of her beloved husband and loyal fans. Despite her cultural influence, the author of the critically acclaimed Chicana Falsa and Other Stories of Death Identity and Oxnard as well as How to be a Chicana Role Model, is by no means rich and the cost of medicine, allopathic and alternative, is almost unfathomable for an extraordinary female from a city most famous for Nardcore the sugar beet and her. It’s not easy to ask people to pitch in on your healthcare, but she’s done so with her characteristic grace and humor. So maybe buy a book, throw a few dollars in the hat and help a sister out. A Latina en Lucha Needs You Mucha!
5. Linda Ronstadt
Early in my journalism career, I regretfully referred to her as part of the Holy Trinity of Trite (which included the Eagles and Jackson Brown). I made a friend out of that faux pas and I learned a lesson about shooting my pen off. Fifteen years later, I caught the Eagles documentary on Netflix and found myself mesmerized by Ronstadt’s charm and talent. Sadly, she’s suffering from Parkinson’s and no longer able to sing, but wow hers is a voice for the ages.