When technology began swallowing the music industry, musicians were pushed into a scary but ultimately freer new paradigm. Same thing has been happening in publishing, and now visual art. The art gallery could become a thing of the past (museums are immune for the most part) as artists are eschewing representation in favor of the friendly simplicity of Instagram. The New York Times wrote a salient piece not too long ago on the subject. But as someone wise once said: there’s a prize and a price for everything.
In case you weren’t aware, adult coloring books have arrived. Of course, they’ve always existed, but for the last year or so they’ve been trending like crazy (blame those damn hipsters?), and in an era where the human attention span is diminishing more with each device we plug into, grown ups are rediscovering how relaxing the simple act of coloring can be. Enter artist Laurel Huggins whose art nouveau paintings and lush textiles have been collected around the globe for decades. I visited Huggins in her studio at Bell Arts Factory during First Friday where I openly swooned over her gorgeous coloring pages. They are available on archival paper suitable for framing and regular paper just for fun. Get ’em now before they go viral, because they will.
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?