Posts tagged ‘people’

February 28, 2015

Women’s History Month


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.

February 15, 2014

The color of money

Before last night I was mildly obsessed with women’s figure skating and declared no interest whatsoever in men’s. That’s all changed. Besides all the delicious drama (someone quit, someone fell hard etc.), one of the skaters, Jason Brown, used music by Prince for his short program, a bold move to be sure. Upping the ante on the risk factor (no, I’m not talking about personal injury, though there may be lawyers involved) was the rather large Prince logo on his back.

Assuming he didn’t get the green light from the great purple one, would anyone be surprised if repercussions were in his future? The famously litigious Artist Recently Known as Asshole is beginning to rival another musician (who shall remain nameless seeing as I once had to endure a lengthy deposition at his lawyers’ behest. Hint: his band is usually associated with sunny California and mental illness ) and apparently fans are no more immune to the wrath of his ego than corporations. Shameful behavior.

On the other hand,  Brown’s performance, was anything but shameful and altogether stunning. Flamboyant, creative and technically near-perfect, it turned me into an instant fan of men in tights on ice. Yet, inexplicably, earned him no better than 9th place. NINTH PLACE.  I could go on about the injustice but I’d really like to know what you think.

January 15, 2014

I used to love J-Law. Now she annoys me.

You want her broken with her mouth wide open 'cause she's this year's girl.

You want her broken with her mouth wide open ’cause she’s this year’s girl.

See her picture in a thousand places
cause she’s this year’s girl.

You think you all own little pieces
of this year’s girl.

Forget your fancy manners,
forget your English grammar,
’cause you don’t really give a damn
about this year’s girl.

Still you’re hoping that she’s well spoken
’cause she’s this year’s girl.

Never knowing it’s a real attraction,
all these promises of satisfaction,
while she’s being bored to distraction
being this year’s girl.

Time’s running out. She’s not happy with the cost.
There’d be no doubt, only she’s forgotten
much more than she’s lost.

A bright spark might corner the market
in this year’s girl.
You see yourself rolling on the carpet
with this year’s girl.
Those disco synthesizers,
those daily tranquilizers,
those body building prizes,
those bedroom alibis,
all this, but no surprises for this year’s girl.

(This Year’s Girl by Elvis Costello)

January 12, 2014

Figure skating is a bitch


Some of the year’s best  television (it’s quite early, I know) happened last night during the U.S. women’s figure skating nationals. There was comedy . . . albeit slapstick . . . and tragedy. Pretty girls doing astounding things and pretty girls being bitches. Not quite Real Housewives, but definitely on par with the best girl v girl reality scenarios. And this one was very real. There was the awkward young up and comer  with perfect form; the unpredictable artist type, clearly an outcast; the likable champion whose star seems to be falling and her rival the queen bitch cheerleader from your worst  high school nightmare.

At first my vote was for the underdog, the champion: Ashley Wagner who supposedly tweeted that she was applying her war paint hours before the competition; Her rival, Gracie Gold lost me when she said this in an interview: “Yeah, my name is like a double edged sword. (Had her hair not been in a tight bun, she would have flipped it here.) You know, Gracie, fall from grace and Gold, grab the gold.” The awkward girl with perfect technique was a bit controlled for my taste (which means absolutely nothing outside the confines of my living room). Commentators’ discussion about the artist type’s volatility/fragility intrigued me, but it was her choice of music that got my attention.

The nationals determine the figure skating champion, which is, all by itself, kind of a big deal. But it also plays a humongous role in choosing who will be on the Olympic team. Here’s how it went down:

Wagner: fell twice and stumbled. It wasn’t pretty. It was sort of poetic, though. Especially, since she could be seen hugging and comforting another young skater who took a few tumbles right before her.

Edmunds: Eh…..(Where’s my jar of Trader Joe’s cookie butter swirl?)

Nagasu: The artist. The Christian Hosoi of women’s figure skating. Her choice of music: James Bond scores. To my uneducated eye, her form was stunning. She wowed me and the audience. Of course the commentators had mostly snotty remarks about her. Rock star all the way.

Gold: Well I’ll be damned if she didn’t go out there and destroy it. She stumbled once but that didn’t seem to matter as her score was the single highest long form skate score ever. Ever.  Her face melting ego came dangerously close to annihilating everything in a ten mile radius, but she did manage to pull off those damn triples, or whatever. Predictably, she gloated.

Gold, of course took first, Polina Edmunds the awkward nubile took second, Nagasu took third and Wagner 4th. This morning I eagerly jumped online to see who was chosen for the team, and I was disappointed to find that Wagner was chosen over Nagasu. As much as I wanted Wagner to bury Gold, I will always cast the rock n roll vote.

Here’s how I’d like to see this reality show end:

Mirai marries a wealthy, sexy and totally faithful rock star, then goes on to win the next nationals.

Ashley shrinks away from the public eye, marries a contractor and lives happily ever after in a warm climate.

Polina becomes the first openly gay female in figure skating and eventually wins a gold medal.

Gracie marries a cheating NFL quarterback and becomes an alcoholic which makes her retain massive amounts of water in her extremities.

October 28, 2013

The List: No. 1.

The List is something new I’m playing with to show my appreciation for people, places or things in a given week, usually in Ventura County but not always.

brian parra

1. Brian Parra of Saturday Night Sound for his generosity, especially toward local youth attempting to play and promote music.


2. Kapeesh. Talent and integrity in equal measure and that measure is large. I’ve known about his lyrical and performance chops for a while, but this weekend I became privy to his character and it only made him more awesome. If you like hip-hop or you can appreciate a great entertainer, go see him. He will be at Bombay Bar on Friday, Nov. 1.


3. Zan Ferris. Zan is a yoga instructor, skateboarder, UFO expert and baker of delicious treats. She is a one of a kind who keeps it real in a culture that’s increasingly threatened by fakery. If you’re a fan of authenticity, intelligence, whimsy or moving your body for health and happiness, please take one of her classes. Ready, go!

ventura avenue

4. Ventura Avenue. Good people staying strong and being community under challenging conditions. I heart you.

marie shannon

5. Marie Shannon Confections. For a while now I have loved their pastries and loathed their service. But quite suddenly it seems, they have raised the bar on their service to match their gorgeous desserts. This is good news for downtown Ventura. Long live the mom and pop bakery.

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

September 15, 2011

No accounting for taste: Best Of Ventura County


Today we published our 26th Best Of issue and I think it looks pretty damn good. (And let it be known it’s a bitch and a half to put together mainly for our managing editor Michael Sullivan and our tireless production staff, Christy Sisneros and Enrique Candioti, who did an outstanding job.)  It’s always important to reiterate the fact that the winners are not chosen by VCReporter staff, they are determined by readers. Had the results been a representation of our opinions, they would have been different in many categories.

For instance, I think Rey Fresco is a great and promising band, but I would not have chosen them for first place, although We Govern We and Sideshow Preachers seemed very appropriate for second place, and I will never understand the adoration for the Shoemaker Brothers who placed third.  There are some I absolutely agreed with: B. on Main for Gift Shop, Wild Planet for Shoe Store and Lucy in the Sky for Children’s Haircut, to name a few.  For manicurist, chiropractor and veterinarian, of course I would have chosen the ones I use, and being that I’m not in the right tax bracket to belong to Pierpont Racquet Club I would have picked a different winner for Best Tennis Courts.  But while some results I don’t agree with simply as a matter of taste or preference, others bordered on injustice, the most glaring being Best Visual Artist. (Relax, before you assume I’m dissing MB Hanrahan.) Though I can’t even begin to imagine what the criteria for Best Artist would be, MB was an excellent choice, even if only for her fierce dedication to community service–the woman’s fingerprints are literally all over this town. But, with all respect to those who “won,” so many serious, important and stalwart artists were left out entirely.  This is why, it’s important to take the results with a grain of salt (or a shot of whiskey) because

A: there’s no accounting for taste

B: the reader’s poll is, for better or worse, a popularity contest, and as with elections, people often vote for names they recognize, not names they have first-hand familiarity with

C: this city has become too big for its britches anyway so breathe.

All that said, I put together my own list of Ventura County “Bests” just for the hell of it.

  • Band: Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats
  • Tennis Court: Ventura College
  • Veterinarian: Mission Animal Hospital
  • Manicurist: Raechelle Prado (regular manicures last me a solid week and that’s saying a lot.)
  • Chiropractor: Dr. Daniel O Schneider (An Irish Jew? I have no idea, but this man is a magician.)
  • Breakfast: Art’s Corner Cafe (For the Corner Cakes and scrambles. Yum.)
  • Italian: La Trattoria (Never mind the decor, the food is the shizzle).
  • Mexican: Tacqueria Tepatitlan and Cuernavaca.
  • Sandwich: Meridians (Why do they never win anything? So wrong.)
  • Jukebox: Ventura Bowling Center
  • Art Gallery: Sylvia White (I mean, seriously. . .), followed by Vita Art.
  • Artist: Because I believe this is a ridiculous category and that artists (and musicians for that matter) really shouldn’t be included in competition, I couldn’t pick a winner, but the following artists I would have at least liked to have seen in the poll results somewhere: Paul Benavidez,  Larissa Stowe, Sean Tully, Gerd Koch, Paul Lindhard, Joe Cardella, Hiroko Yoshimoto, Norman Kirk, Monica and Matt Furmanski, David Pu’u, David and Linda Elder,  and the list goes on.

And as an afterthought, the Best Ad in the Best Of Ventura County issue goes to Cafe Zack for its minimalist call to relaxation and simplicity. As soon as I can scrape together some dough, I’ll be right over for dinner.

June 24, 2010

Crimes and misconceptions: covering arts and entertainment in VC

In the past week a few prickly issues have become lodged in my gmail, so I figured I would address them here, if for no other reason than to stop the itching.

1. Coverage, or how one gets a piece of VCR’s valuable real estate:

It’s rumored that in order to get ink in our publication, one must be an advertiser. This is, of course, false and anyone who actually reads on a regular basis would know it. Why people insist on perpetuating this nonsense is beyond me, and the irony is, our advertisers are frequently miffed about not getting editorial love. So if advertisers aren’t getting it, and no one else is getting it, then who the heck is getting it? Answer: people, places, occurrences, creations that are interesting,  fresh, relevant and in some way impacting the county’s cultural  evolution. It never hurts to drop us a line if you’ve caught wind of such, as we are not omnipresent or telepathic (contrary to popular opinion.)

2. Locals only policy:

We are the only publication in Ventura County (or anywhere for that matter) that gives exclusive priority to locals. I cannot emphasize enough how rare this is. From what I can tell, no one else in the U.S. does this, especially for music. We will not (as long as I’m arts editor) ever review a CD by an artist living outside Ventura County. The only time you will read about someone or something not produced within the geographical boundaries of this county,  is if they are exhibiting or touring here. Sorry Santa Barbara, sorry SLO, sorry L.A.–someone needs to champion the talent here and if that’s a crime, then I stand accused! (insert appropriate emoticon) That said, if you feel we’re overlooking anything or anyone, drop us a line.

June 3, 2010

The NEW new art city

Long ago in a galaxy far away, some people in that cool old building on Poli and California streets, decided it would be a good idea to give the city of Ventura an identity.  At the time, (pre-911, pre-economic disaster) cultural tourism was a fairly new concept and people governing the city were beginning to realize how dominant a force the arts were here.  Two plus two equaled California’s New Art City and a marketing plan/identity was born.

Not coincidentally, this came at a time of redevelopment downtown– the Laurel Theater (Rubicon Theatre Company), Ventura Music Festival, the Artists Union Gallery and the Century 10 movie theater, materialized during this period.  At the same time, historic preservation was being embraced as a crucial element of downtown Ventura’s cultural, and was folded into the cultural tourism plan.

All these years later, we have some amazing accomplishments to show for this change in direction: most notably: Bell Arts Factory/Vita Art Center, Working Artists Ventura (WAV), Ventura Film Society and the ongoing county museum expansion (which will partially unveiled on July 3).  Add to that a couple handfuls of art galleries and studios, festivals and a local music scene that if properly fertilized could yield big dollars and national recognition for Ventura, and it becomes difficult to understand why there  is so much empty commercial space downtown.

Clearly it’s time to reassess and reimagine.  We should be proud, we’ve accomplished much, but if we are to survive this economy and a changing market, we need to wise-up.

Recent changes within city government reflect both the need to reshape our vision and the willingness on the part of city officials to adapt. Eric Wallner, formerly the Cultural Affairs Manager for Ventura, is necessarily molting in order to respond, to this somewhat urgent need for a new phase. Wallner, along with others, will be turning his focus to the creation of jobs that will help sustain us culturally and economically. This means finding ways to court businesses that employ creatives and others.

This will undoubtedly be a big part of the discussion at the second annual economic summit “Partnering for Prosperity” to be held Saturday, June 12 at 8 p.m. Anyone interested in taking this city to the next level, artistically, culturally and economically, should consider attending.

February 11, 2010

A little something by guest blogger B.Willing

Guest blogger Ojai singer-songwriter B.Willing, who also fronts Shades of Day, puts on his philosopher hat in this day-in-the-life essay about driving, football and following his bliss:

Peyton and me

I had one of those “what does it all mean?” moments while driving home this evening. I have these from time to time. There was something different about this one though. Weaving through the east L.A. traffic at a breakneck and most likely dangerous pace, I focused intently on the quarter mile of road and automobiles ahead, gauging, calculating, reacting, occasionally cursing. Not at the other drivers so much, but at myself for making the wrong decision. There it was… the fork in the road that marked the split from the 5 to the 134. Semi truck to the right coming up hard…slowing white van in front of me…brake lights…an opening to the left, but that meant I had to pass the van, then get over two lanes and make the split. The exit was on top of me. Busted a left, downshifted into 3rd, floored the pedal and my tacoma’s four cylinders screamed with delight… action! My calculations were correct. The van continued to slow, the taco had just the right amount of juice to clear the two lanes and hit the fork perfectly. YEAH! At that moment I couldn’t help but think of Peyton Manning. Why? I’m a football nut. Really though, it’s because I believe that I see the field the way that he does. Chaos surrounds us on a daily basis, akin to post snap on a football field. Often times we have tiny windows of opportunity and merely seconds to make the decision to go for it, throw it away, or take the sack. Like Peyton, I hate taking the sack. It’s just not an option.

I use Peyton as an example for numerous reasons, but he’s fresh in the mind because of his involvement on the big stage last night in the Super Bowl. I have been a voracious football fan this year. Couldn’t get enough., ESPN, Sunday football, Monday Night football. There wasn’t a story I didn’t know about. I found myself constantly checking scores on my iphone at work. I played fantasy football, lost, and was bitter at some of my players for being injured. For the first time in my life, I truly understand the game…and I LOVE it.

But I’m a musician. I’m barely 6 feet, just clear 160 pounds, and can’t touch my toes. I can’t imagine being crushed daily by a 275 pound man that makes a living (a damn good one!) crushing other men. Sounds too painful for me. I would rather inflict a different kind of pain on myself. The pain of the artist.. Oh goodness.

The freeway jams up. The game, for now, is over. I see a tow truck up ahead backing towards a stopped cargo van in the right lane. Fair enough. At least I had that fresh victory back there at the fork to reminisce about, when all things freeway were flying along. I glanced down at the 9 empty bottles of vitamin water in the passenger foot well. I’m most certainly addicted to the yellow….and thought: I should probably recycle those at some point. The passenger seat is piled high with a sweatshirt, mostly eaten week old bag of mixed nuts, my sandwich wrapper from lunch, a banana peel, my white iphone headset, joey ryan cd, another stack of scratched cd’s that I wish I could listen to, my girlfriends hat, unopened mail from who knows when, and two chocolate chip cookies from 7-11. Don’t eat those. DON’T. I didn’t.

I had a funny day. Not so much the haha kind, though I do remember laughing a bit here and there with some co-workers. Laughter is the key to life. No joke. Nope. My phone was dead by 4:30, from a full charge at 9 am. I must have spent more hours today emailing, texting, listening to voicemails, reading blogs, Lefsetz, Peter King, football afterthoughts than actually working… sadness…football season is over. Basketball? Sure. Lakers are fun when the playoffs come around. Baseball? Yawn. Couldn’t care less. I think there are some other sports, but you’d have to convince me. When it comes to fanatics, I’m a football guy. Period.

My phone was dead at 4:30 because I am attempting to create a tour with 7 other musicians. No one in particular is in charge, though we all want the same thing. To travel together in one vehicle (obstacle #1), to have gigs that pay decent money to pay for #1 (#2), and to get to Austin and have the time of our lives. The decision has to be made yesterday on if we can get it together or not.

I am my own manager, publicist, writer, agent, and roadie. Yes, I actually like it that way. Most of the time, if not all, I am completely overwhelmed. I bend, but don’t break. Bring it on.

Peyton Manning. Here comes the blitz, again. Fires, completes, first down. OK! , Let’s see if we can score this thing. They say that when you stop thinking and start reacting, you are destined to lose. You play back on your heels. I like to see things before they happen, to predict them…and I like to be right. Like Peyton.

Yesterday, and all season I rooted for the Saints. I love the city of New Orleans. I have friends there. I have friends here, from there. I love their football story. I don’t know of a more deserving city for that super bowl win. They needed it, and the team delivered. But when Peyton threw that interception in the fourth quarter, I felt for him. Sure I stood and screamed with the rest of the Saints fans around me. Inside though, I felt this twinge. Everyone knew it was over, maybe even Peyton. Though to his credit, he sure didn’t give up.

In my life so far, I’ve thrown a ton of those interceptions. It’s late in the game, and I have to make a decision. People are counting on me to deliver. Many times, I don’t. I choke. I fumble. I don’t see it coming, even though I’m looking right where I need to be looking, predicting, calculating….

This was my lesson today, as it is everyday. Years ago, I chose music as my path. I dropped out of college to work a part time job and write and perform my own music. I have turned down management positions, I have resisted the urge to quit the game for many years. I’ve been told I don’t have what it takes. I’ve been told I’m destined to make it. I’ve told myself both of those things, countless times.

There are so many choices in life. We all know that it’s impossible to make the right call all the time. Even for Manning the consummate professional, the man at the top of the game, the man destined to break all the records and be immortalized as the best ever, the script is not written. Predict, gauge, calculate, execute! There is no way to predict life. You must learn each lesson as it comes, and grow. Stay hungry.

That very hunger for knowledge and experience drives me to get up each day and do a great many things I do not want to do. I’ve picked up trash, I’ve cleaned bathrooms, I’ve packed groceries, I’ve developed photos, I’ve delivered doors, I’ve dug holes, I’ve babysat, I’ve mowed lawns (ok that was a long time ago..) These are all generally mindless tasks. Things with little to no responsibility, and no lingering after effects once clocked out. Where could I be right now if I had finished school and left the guitar in the case? Don’t know. Don’t care. I love my life.

I truly and firmly believe I have chosen the right path. Maybe it was chosen for me. Dunno. That’s a whole other story. I see this life, my life, as a road. I feel at home on the road. We talk, we debate, converse… never fight. We sing together, the tires and I. I learned how to sing in the car, on the road. Years and years of driving, stereo blasting. Cornell, Glen Phillips, Steve Perry, Cat Stevens, Robert Plant, Jim Croce… the list is ridiculous long. Point being, I wasn’t born a singer. Dad was, I wasn’t. I willed myself to be one. I knew how I wanted to experience my life. I listened, learned, practiced, rehearsed, failed, got up, practiced, rehearsed, listened, cried, screamed because I couldn’t do it, screamed when I finally could… DAMMIT I WAS GOING TO BE THE BEST SINGER THERE EVER WAS. Am I now? Nope. But I’ve come a long way, and I’m still learning.

Peyton Manning is bumming today. He knows he had the chance to win it all, again. He also knows he as another chance to win it all, and then win it all again and again. He’s got years of good football ahead of him. And after that probably years of sportscasting, coaching, managing, owning, etc… He’s a football guy, from a football family, in a football town in a football stadium that he built. He trudges on, being great, getting even better. Seeing the field. 100 yards of glory, a man who will be immortalized in the digital files of the future. (enter music business parallel here)

We’re about the same age. He has millions of dollars, fans, the respect of everyone in the game. I can’t match his numbers on any level at this point. Maybe I never will. That won’t stop me. Doesn’t matter. I’m not in his game. I’m in my own.

Ultimately, at the core of this musician is that quest for knowledge. A desire to be better than I was yesterday. To know something I don’t. Yes, I do want to “make it” in the music business. Yes, I do want to have a “hit record”. I won’t lie and say that I don’t. But I see those as just a few bright spots along my road. I see those as one Super Bowl. The big stage where one can achieve immortality. Yeah, sounds great. I’m down. Sign me up.

It’s the little things though, the intangibles, the things that others don’t see. I shouldn’t have made that fork in the highway today, but I did, and was grinning like an idiot because of it. I predicted it would work, made the decision, executed it perfectly. Dangerous? Yup. Stupid? Nah. I knew it would work. These are the things that make me the happiest. The little victories. When something works exactly as you planned it. I may have been stuck on the 5 for another exit. I would have made it home just the same. Sure, I would have been upset I didn’t time it correctly, but then there’s always another move to be made. There’s another Super Bowl next year for Peyton to win. Another football season….

For me? A whole lot of things I haven’t done yet. Can’t wait.

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