Archive for October, 2009

October 30, 2009

Biscuits Lives!

As far as I can tell, Chuck Biscuits is not actually dead. It was an evil hoax, perpetrated by an unknown entity. It looks like he doesn’t even have cancer.  Though, like many others, I bought it like a bag of bagels at the dollar store, the whole occurence wasn’t totally without merit. It prompted me to listen to some great old punk rock, something it’s rare for me to do of late. And that made me smile.

October 29, 2009

Goodbye, Chuck . . .

In less than a month, yet another key figure in the early ’80s So-Cal punk scene has passed away. Chuck Biscuits, the bombastic, powerhouse drummer who played for D.O.A., Circle Jerks (in video above), Black Flag, Danzig, Social Distortion and surprisingly, Run DMC, passed away Oct. 24 from throat cancer. He was only 44 years old.

In many ways, Biscuits was the Keith Moon of punk rock: unbridled, goofy, boyish and frenzied. His drumming on Social D’s White Light, White Heat, White Trash, made it stand alone as the most balls-out energetic record in their catalog.

He will be missed.

October 29, 2009

Getting my spook on: an epic fail

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Normally I love the Halloween season. Yes, season. I have at least three large storage containers stuffed with rubber bats, glow in the dark skeletons and other creepy 3-dimensional objects that only see the light of day for a few weeks each year.

I could blame my apathy this year on pumpkin spice deficiency since giving up flour and sugar (mostly), I could let the economy take the rap, or lean on the overused “too busy” excuse, nevertheless it’s two days before the kiddies come knockin’ and for the first time in more than a decade, I have failed at Halloween–at least in the real world or what us online gamer’s refer to as “IRL” (in real life).

World of Warcraft’s annual “Hallow’s End” celebration is in full swing and after numerous attempts I landed the Horseman’s Baleful Blade, a sweet, epic sword that I needed desperately since turning prot sans a decent 1-h weapon. Blizzard does an amazing job with Hallow’s End and I guess to some extent it does satisfy my appetite for the visual side of all things spooky, plus I get to put on a costume and pretend I’m eating candy–virtually. No mess, no calories, no expense.

On Sunday, I made a half-hearted attempt to embrace the macabre (aside from the weird goings on I’ve experienced of late in my home) by taking my son to see Paranormal Activity followed by a visit to the Halloween Store at the mall (which was a blast!) and then the pumpkin patch. He’s a bit past the pumpkin patch stage of life, but luckily he’s not opposed to waxing nostalgic for his mom.

The movie was great. Stark, simple, believable . . . that is until the very end when the film maker resorted to a cinematic cliche for final effect. Were it that he was paying homage, it might be forgivable, actually it’s forgivable anyway for the sheer entertainment value of the previous 90 minutes and the creeps I had at 2 a.m. for the next two nights.

On to the pumpkin patch. Hadn’t been to this particular one in many years, but wanted the real thing, so I braved the crowds and the shrieking toddlers for a chance to get my shoes dusty and my paws on the perfect one or two pumpkins. After much deliberation and finally submitting to the dreaded wheelbarrow, we opted for two big ones: a dark, bumpy, ugly, sinister pumpkin and one fat classic orange one. Excited to go home, decorate the house and attack our squash, we got in line with the rest of the suckers paying $15 + per pumpkin only to discover it was a cash-only transaction. Of course, I had none and we walked away empty-handed.

On the way home we began calculating the patch’s gross profits based on how many people were there, what the hourly turnover might be and what the average person seemed to be spending. Aiming low and keeping all these things in mind, we estimated that the pumpkin patch is generating close to $10k per day. And they can’t afford to splurge for a credit card machine?

I’m not the only one who failed at Halloween this year. Seaside Haunt is gone and the folks at the Ventura Theater, for the first time in a long time, were unable to create their annual haunted house at their home on the Avenue, because they’re too busy preparing for the Rey Fresco Halloween bash. Sigh. And, the annual appearance of the potato bug inside our home, an event which for us signals the beginning of the holiday season, has yet to happen. Hmmm… maybe that’s my answer.

October 22, 2009

Moving beyond ArtWalk

Let me preface this post by saying that I’m a big fan of ArtWalk, I’ve been to nearly every one and I always have a great time. I also try to buy something original if I can and encourage others to follow suit. I will be in attendance this weekend for the Harvest ArtWalk. I will likely spend most of my time at Stoneworks Studio, Bell Arts and Artists Union (I’m dying to see the featured artist’s work).

That said, it might be time for a change.

I don’t mean this to negate anyone’s efforts or the value of this event to the city both economically and culturally. But, it seems that given the looming threat of funding cuts going forward, as well as the stasis the event has settled into over the years–perhaps due to it being a city funded/staffed event, perhaps a natural evolution, the passage of time–something fresh is in order.

I’m not suggesting a new take on ArtWalk, but a new arts event entirely. Something unique to the city would be ideal. As a cultural destination and an arts-centered community, a signature event would go a long way toward furthering Ventura’s brand and generating some fresh interest. I imagine that once complete, the WAV community will almost undoubtedly spawn something, if not get folded into whatever the larger arts community comes up with.

It would be extra cool if the event came to be in an organic way, not as a city-facilitated project but from the heart and soul of the city’s artists and arts supporters.

This has been the year of the event in Ventura. People continue to come out of the woodwork to launch events in our city. Some have succeeded, some have failed, some have been authentic in their desire to celebrate this wonderful place we live, others have been opportunistic in their approach.

ArtWalk took a while to gain momentum and it’s had a good, long run. Let’s create some space for something new. It’s time to come together and do what artists do in a natural, collective environment: play, imagine, create and birth something together that only we can.

October 15, 2009

Legendary L.A. punk promoter is mourned by many

“When Brendan started the Masque, it was a pure act, creating a place for people he liked, to do their thing, have fun and get wild, no salesmen allowed.”– Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Flea’s is just one of a rapidly growing collection of memories and tributes popping up in newspapers and on social networking sites, since Mullen’s sudden death earlier this week at Ventura County Medical Center. He was here traveling through the central coast with his long time girlfriend when he suffered a massive stroke.

Mullen founded L.A. punk rock flashpoint the Masque, booked music for years at Club Lingerie and authored a number of important books chronicling elements of the late ’70s to mid-’80s L.A. music scene (We Got the Neutron Bomb: the Untold Story of L.A. Punk, Lexicon Devil: The Fast Times and Short Life of Darby Crash and the Germs, Live at the Masque: Nightmare in Punk Alley and others).

Beyond his many accomplishments, the Scottish-born music promoter and archivist/historian was by all accounts a dear man who impacted many people’s lives with his generosity and kindness. He was sincerely passionate about music and devoted to supporting it however he could.

And the stories are quickly amassing into quite a volume. From journalists and bloggers, such as Robert Hilburn, Kristine McKenna, Chris Morris, Kevin Roderick, Lisa Derrick (a friend who was with Mullen at the end), Nancy Rommelmann and Greg Burk to scene icons Tequila Mockingbird, promoter Carmel Conlin, film maker Modi Frank and Julie Christensen (Divine Horsemen, Leonard Cohen), nearly everyone has something to say about Mullen because nearly everyone who knew him, never forgot him.

I was not so fortunate, though I’m quite sure our paths crossed as Mullen and I traveled the same circles or, rather, I orbited the periphery of his universe. Many of the bands that were beloved to me, got their first break from Mullen, most notably the Plugz and the Chili Peppers (I’ve got my own stories about those boys.) I owe a debt to him, as so many of us do. Were it not for is vision, his chutzpah, his heart and soul, my life, and to some extent, my identity, would be quite different.

Cheers on you Mr. Mullen, until next time.

October 8, 2009

VCReporter one year later . . .

behind the curtain

behind the curtain

It’s been one year since I returned to VCReporter to reprise my role as arts editor. It’s a labor of love and I’d be loath to find a more perfect fit.  I feel I’ve accomplished much of what I hoped to, yet there’s so much I wish I could do with the section (art & culture, music/after dark, film/media).

Some things I’ve changed:

  • Added a music column and a gaming column
  • Ceased all coverage of events or people outside the Ventura County line (including CD reviews and “worth the drive.”)
  • Brought some new writers into the fold (Jim Scolari, Claudio Pardo, Erik Hayden, Chris O’Neal, Chris Mastrovito and Alex Field) and kindly waved goodbye to others.
  • Expanded music coverage and brought back the annual music issue.
  • Highly recommended shows in the “after dark” section plus more band photos and weekly picks.
  • Expanded theater coverage, assisted in a “happenings” overhaul and put theater back into arts listings along with additional visual art listings.
  • Arts briefs

What’s still being imagined:

  • A condensed, more magazine-like art & culture section
  • TV column
  • Local music podcast
  • Reporter sponsored music and film events

I hope you continue to read and enjoy the arts and entertainment section of the Reporter and let us know what you like, what you don’t like, what there’s too much of and what there’s not enough of.

Cheers to the year ahead . . . an even better year.

October 1, 2009

Mayor Arts Awards

The city of Ventura will hold an awards reception on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts here.

They are:

Artist in the Community: Michele Chapin (Stoneworks Studios)

Arts Leader: Chris Velasco (PLACE/WAV)

Arts Educator: Patricia Strickland (Theater Arts instructor St. Bonaventure High School)

Emerging Artist: Veronica Valadez

Congratulations to everyone!

October 1, 2009

The Nu Camelot:Michelle Obama gets art

Comparisons of Michelle Obama to Jackie O continue to gain validity with every speech she gives. A champion of the arts, her desire to bring culture back to the White House is refreshing, even comforting to those of us who lamented the backyard BBQ aesthetics of the Bush days.

Her most recent appeal for the arts was one of the best I’ve heard, surpassing even the words of her husband in terms of hitting the mark:

We believe strongly that the arts aren’t somehow an ‘extra’ part of our national life, but instead we feel that the arts are at the heart of our national life. It is through our music, our literature, our art, drama and dance that we tell the story of our past and we express our hopes for the future. Our artists challenge our assumptions in ways that many cannot and do not. They expand our understandings, and push us to view our world in new and very unexpected ways…..

Hopefully we can follow her lead on a local level and continue to embrace projects like WAV, which I reported on this week.

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