Posts tagged ‘culture’

September 16, 2014

Eyes Wide (open)

I’ve heard the theory that Stanley Kubrick was hired by the U.S. government to fake the Apollo moon landings, but I never knew that during his youth, Kubrick was a crack photographer. (If you were born later than 1970, you probably don’t understand the previous sentence. That’s OK. You have Google.) Turns out the great director of such seminal films as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, was a staff photographer for LOOK magazine in the 1940s. You can buy the book, buy me the book, and/or peruse some of them here. I’m particularly fond of this one:

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April 19, 2013

Happy Record Store Day

“Certain beautiful experiences can only happen in the environment of a record store.” — Jack White


December 27, 2012

…………………..2012: A List………………

(Hope you don’t get seasick) p.s. it’s all local


Cassettes were all the rage this year. Massenger was my favorite band.

Recorded Music
The Pullmen
D on Darox and the Melody Joy Bakers



Live Music
Wussy at Zoey’s
Pangea at Indie West Fest
The Pullmen at Bombay
Kapeesh at Red Cove
Alexandra and the Starlight Band at Zoey’s
Miguel Garcia & the Vaquetones at Yolie’s
OFWGKTA at the Ventura Theater (for the sheer spectacle of it)


Outstanding film! Bob Forrest actually remembered me from the old days.

Bob and the Monster at Indie West Fest


Shenanigans at the Scavenger Hunt. (Appropriately, I stole this photo.)

The Local Rock Picnic
86 Scavenger Hunt (I was a secret weapon. Plus, I sacrificed my son’s innocence. See pic.)
Westside ArtWalk

comics comics

Comics and Comics at Hypno Comics

Comics and Comics at Hypno Comics


I purchased one of these pieces from Sean Tully. Can you guess which one?

Sean Tully at The WAV
Stacie Logue’s guerrilla bluebirds
Paul Lindhard’s gateway to Ventura
Evan Ames’ and Lauren Mosinka’s yard sale
Everything at Sylvia White Gallery
Michael Pearce at Carnegie Art Museum
Art of Autism at Westside ArtWalk
MB Hanrahan’s Scabenue Calendar


End Transmission: The Life and Death of the People’s Radio

February 19, 2012

Cultural tourism: a thing of the past?

Some years back, cultural tourism was the on-trend catch phrase du jour for bureaucrats seeking ways to draw consumers to their fair cities. Predictably, Ventura glommed on to it, if for a brief moment, and that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was right around the time the San Buenaventura Conservancy was born and there was some great energy swirling around historic preservation.

At a time when Ventura was seeking identifying factors in order to brand itself for tourists (the beaches and weather weren’t quite enough) it seemed to make perfect sense to spotlight our other great resource: history and architecture. Unfortunately, the city’s vision began to plummet in tandem with a failing economy and all that sort of went poof!

Since then the city has reorganized and begun seeking new, creative ways to get people excited about visiting Ventura and doing business here, but cultural tourism seems to have gone the way of most trends, despite being a solid foundation to build something lasting upon.

An article in the L.A. Times about a neat event in Palm Springs, a city which knows what it is and how to market itself, made me nostalgic not only for mid-century whimsy and practicality (a personal interest) but also for the days when the folks working for the city of Ventura had some heart and vigor.

July 8, 2010

Goodwill, bad idea: isn’t it ironic?

The new Goodwill store opens in downtown Ventura on July 9.  (Yay! . . . Not.)  Located on the corner of Oak and Main where Nicholby’s was and should still be, I’d hope the irony of a “grand opening” of a thrift store in downtown Ventura is not lost on anyone who has followed the redevelopment of this district over the past decade.

I could be wrong, but if memory serves, there was a fairly focused vision for downtown Ventura that did not include thrift stores, or at least a preponderance of them. Yet, here we are, more than ten years into what has been a very successful effort to evolve downtown Ventura from a tumbleweed town to a cultural district, and the mother of all thrift stores is set to open. And not off the beaten path but in an extremely visible and desirable location in the heart of downtown.

To add insult to injury and ratchet up the irony factor, the retailer has partnered with the Artists Union to decorate its windows with art.  Not only is this a case of using art purely for the purposes of decoration (unless, it’s an intentional act of irony on the part of AU. A form of protest, unwittingly embraced by its subject), it’s a transparent attempt by the owners of the store (bless their hearts) to fit into the “new art city.”

I have nothing against thrift stores or Goodwill, but I do have a problem with our inability as a community, an extremely locals-loyal community, to help a struggling business stay afloat, especially when that business is such a key part of the culture of the area.

I don’t know the details surrounding Nicholby’s Antiques closure, but like most businesses struggling downtown,  it was likely a combination of dwindling sales and skyrocketing rent. The greed of property owners in this town will eventually bite them in the ass when people just stop trying to open businesses here and downtown Ventura is once again a ghost town.

There must be a way to encourage property owners to give struggling longtime businesses a break, and there must be a way for us to help the businesses stay open. Trueblood’s was forced to close yet the space then remained either empty or leased by junky thrift stores (Trueblood’s had huge amounts of character.) What was the point of that? Let’s not forget Bonnie’s, either. Rubicon Theater and Zoey’s are businesses critical to the culture and quality of downtown Ventura that are currently struggling… if we don’t help them, everyone hurts.

If we are to stay true to the identity we’ve been nurturing for so many years, we must take the actions that support our vision. We should be embarrassed that we traded Nicholby’s for a mega thrift store in the center of the cultural district. No amount of fine art in the windows will disguise the fact that, as a community, we screwed up.

May 6, 2010

Good vibes at the WAV: jazz and film

Despite some reports that life at the Working Artists Ventura (WAV) community is reminiscent of Animal House, great things are happening there as its performance space is beginning to show signs of life and the project as a whole is pumping fresh blood into Downtown and Westside Ventura’s arts scene.

Tonight, Thursday May 6,  the WAV launches its first Thursdays series with live jazz featuring Nick Mancini, Bruce Lett, Karl Hunter and Davey Miller. 8 p.m. If the $15 admission seems a bit steep… remember it helps the WAV grow, which enables  many of our artist and musician friends to continue pursuing their respective disciplines, and, other than Davey Miller, the musicians performing this concert are world class. Vibes players, especially accomplished ones, are not in abundance, and Nick Mancini‘s got the chops.

The WAV community has also partnered with the Ventura Film Society for a monthly screening series to debut at 7 p.m. June 2 and first Wednesdays through the remainder of the year.  The first film is Touch the Sound about deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie.

Jazz and film seem like a perfect pairing with the Westside/WAV zeitgiest. Photographer and historian Stephan Schaefer recently published the “HERO” photo of the WAV pictured above. Pick up VCReporter for continuing updates and calendar information about the Gold Coast’s vast talent pool.

November 6, 2009

Daily paper turning yellow? (Not because it’s been on the doorstep for two weeks)

We’ve all noticed the changes, some of them quite severe, to the Ventura County Star in the past 6 months or so. Sections cut, thinner editions overall and to their credit, a reorganized Web site with a lot of fat trimmed away. But leaner, it seams has also turned meaner, and as an editor for the county’s only weekly–historically a venue with a sharper tongue than its daily counterparts–even I find myself wincing.

In her most recent “Cafe Society” column, Lisa McKinnon’s snarky commentary about Hush Lounge (For the record: we reported on Hush’s closing and possible reopening long before the folks at the Star got wind of it) makes me wonder what her intentions are.

Over the years, I’ve had my own epiphanies about this type of “journalism.” Occasionally it’s called for, but for for the most part I no longer find it necessary to wax bitchy in print.

When I was younger and VCReporter was only beginning to find its identity as something other than a vacant community throwaway, and we were finding our alt-weekly voice, it was tempting to approach EVERYTHING from a cynical perspective. We took no prisoners and everyone was fair game.

But time offers perspective and (hopefully) maturity. So a decade later, I’m no longer interested in negative portrayals, with one exception: When justice is served by fearless reporting. Chit chat about the politics and culture of local small business does not qualify.

I can’t help but wonder if the Star is resorting to unfortunate tactics to gain readership. It’s a tough time and I don’t envy the staff there, I empathize. But, it seems to me, in an increasingly hostile and competitive world, isn’t it better to be nice? Choosing kindness and compassion can only benefit everyone.

Ms. McKinnon: Lighten up sister, it’s not easy for anyone right now. Use the power of your pen for good. Everyone has a story and everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

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.

August 27, 2009

“Don’t you wish Ventura County had more to offer culturally?”

Someone asked me this yesterday and my answer was “no.” I find Ventura County to be culturally wealthy. I think much of it is a bit below the radar, maybe that’s why it’s perceived as lacking.
The subject got me thinking a bit about the definition of “culture” and if we’re really clear as to its usage. I found this and i like it:

Culture is a definition highly misunderstood and misused, thus the need for an explanation:

Culture refers to the following Ways of Life, including but not limited to:

* Language : the oldest human institution and the most sophisticated medium of expression.

* Arts & Sciences : the most advanced and refined forms of human expression.

* Thought : the ways in which people perceive, interpret, and understand the world around them.

* Spirituality : the value system transmitted through generations for the inner well-being of human beings, expressed through language and actions.

* Social activity : the shared pursuits within a cultural community, demonstrated in a variety of festivities and life-celebrating events.

* Interaction : the social aspects of human contact, including the give-and-take of socialization, negotiation, protocol, and conventions.

All of the above collectively define the meaning of Culture.

If we are to accept this broad definition, then it would seem to follow that every community, from a family to a neighborhood to a city and so on, has its own culture.

Ours is deeply influenced by our location–the sea, agriculture, the landscape, the history–as well as our collective ancestries and the undeniable imprint of Latin America and native culture. For whatever reason, and maybe it is the landscape and the pace, but creative types seem to be drawn here and thus we are blessed with a rich pool of musicians, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, poets, dancers, authors, intellectuals and people whose very approach to daily life is thoughtful and inspiring.

Therefore, I say, no, I do not wish for more culture in Ventura County, I wish for enough time to experience the fullness of it.

August 20, 2009

CNN at Zoey’s Cafe

The video is courtesy of Missy Ellis. Thanks Missy!

Technically CNN’s Headline News taped a segment at Zoey’s Cafe in Ventura this week to spotlight the venue’s popular “bluegrass jam” that’s been held twice a month for seven years. Why is little ol’ Zoey’s getting attention from CNN? Because Phil Taggart, a longtime poet and artist in Ventura, is also a producer for Time Warner Cable, and as such has been showcasing Ventura County hotspots and points of interest for CNN’s local version of Headline News.

The jam routinely draws upwards of 50 musicians and fans to the cozy venue for top-shelf finger pickin’ and all around good vibes.

For something totally different file, the jam is getting ready to evolve into a “Swing Jam” beginning Sept. 1 and every first and third Monday thereafter from 6:30-9:30 p.m. The jam is hosted by Gene Rubin, Zoey’s Cafe (Steve Hoganson) and Phil Salazar.

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