Posts tagged ‘vc reporter’

September 18, 2014

Best of Ventura County 2014

VCReporter’s most popular issue of the year is now on stands and online. Traditionally, those of us on staff as well as freelancers create our own categories. These are called Editor’s Picks. This year, one of my picks didn’t make the final cut due to space allowance, so I decided to post it here.

rock trivia

Best place to prove your metal: Music Trivia Night at Bombay Bar

Think you’re the biggest Beatles fan? Who was the third Beatle to tie the knot? Consider yourself well-versed in ’90s radio hits? Guess what artist spent 60 weeks at the No. 1 position on the charts and had 14 No. 1 singles?  Sure, your skull may be teeming with music-related minutiae, but do you know which George Jones love song is often referred to as the best country song of all time? For about the last year or so, every other Wednesday night (give or take a week) a motley crew of music nerds have been filing into Bombay Bar’s back room to answer these and other burning questions for the chance to win cash money and laugh at stoners trying to remember stuff.  Hosted by local rock band Rubberneck Lions, the questions range from fairly obvious to nearly impossible and cover a spectrum of genres, eras and categories. Teams of 3-4 with names like Jalapeno Face, Pollos Hermanos, Bono Sucks and Ice-T Baggers toss $20 in the pot and the winner takes all. Teams have 30 seconds to write their answers on mini white boards until the final round when the top two teams face-off with a bell. Everyone is welcome, and you never know who you might be competing against, but when it’s the bass player for a popular metal band who also happens to work at a record store, be prepared to lose. — Michel Miller

September 18, 2013

Best Of Ventura County 2013

Here we go again.  A few of my personal choices.

Best Customer Service Moment
Jessica at United States Postal Service Downtown Ventura office

Dear Jessica,

Though we never met face to face I wanted you to know, hyperbole aside, that you single-handedly restored my  faith in humanity. Of all possible places to receive THE BEST customer service of the past decade, the post office would not have been in my top 100. Yet it happened. You were friendly, understanding and helpful. You took down my phone number and called me back (!). Best of all, you happily helped me solve my problem. I never got around to writing a thank you note, and for that I apologize.

Best Event I Didn’t Attend
A Flavor Trip Around The World

My colleague Michael Sullivan logged more than a few hours coordinating and facilitating this event to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society a cause very close to her heart, or more accurately, her blood.  The premise: Various ethnic restaurants from around the county set up table tents with samples of their specialties. There was also multicultural live music. I had every intention of attending but due to an evil heat wave, I was forced to stay in my cave with a spray bottle of chilled water. I do hope she reprises the event next year, and the sun behaves itself.


Best Progressive Idea That Didn’t Catch On
Connect Ventura

Josh Addison, founder of Bell Arts Factory, is one of those rare pioneering people who is not driven by self-interest; which makes it extra unfortunate when one of his projects doesn’t quite take off. Case in point: Connect Ventura, a co-working space he established in West Ventura. Co-working isn’t an entirely new idea but it might be a bit outside the cubicle for Ventuckians to embrace.  As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, the workers find themselves bereft of company. Being alone, while appealing to a degree, is not natural for humans and therefore not healthy. A co-working space provides a comfortable, quiet place to work in the company of others. Connect Ventura had everything the mobile businessperson could want: fast Internet, private space, conference rooms, common areas for networking, a kitchen and complimentary coffee. It’s possible that the fee for using the space was a bit high for many people, it certainly was for me, but its success could have ushered in a new era for Ventura. Rumor has it that Addison will give it another try, this time using the Bell Arts Space. Fingers crossed.

Best Overhyped Job Creator
The Collection at Riverpark

Oxnard finally has the shopping center it deserves. For all the hype, the public art, the fancy stores, the plush movie theater, the restaurants and the Whole Foods Market everyone is so ga ga for, it’s really just another uninspired generic way for hard working people to support the status quo at the expense of small business, the environment and originality. Meh.



Best Disaster
The Springs Fire

Brush fires in spring or Camarillo Springs are not the norm, but neither is fog in August. Weather patterns are changing (with or without your permission) and the Springs Fire had all the drama of a typical Southern California disaster with a price tag to match: $7.6 million. I remember this day well because I was trying to stay cool during a totally uncharacteristic May heat wave as I prepared for the VCReporter Local Music Issue Party that night.  I watched the fire’s progression live on television. As a 50-year resident of So Cal and witness to countless large brush fires, this was the fastest moving fire I’d ever seen. I mean, it made it all the way to the ocean in one day! It was also a huge victory for firefighters who managed to put it out with no loss of life or property and only a few minor injuries. There’s a reason everyone loves these guys.

Best Event Fail
The Parking Lot Summer Concert Series

After jumping through endless hoops to get City Council approval for a potentially lucrative (for himself and the city) summer concert series in the unused parking lot behind City Hall, exasperated fat cat Mark Hartley was forced to fold the whole idea. Poli Street residents were relieved; yuppies and hipster music fans, not so much.

Best Place to View Tweekers and Hot Construction Workers
Red Barn Liquor

Since moving to the Ventura Avenue area earlier this year I have spent a substantial amount of accumulated time at Red Barn Liquor. Whether I’m waiting in the car while my son fills our water bottles or running in for a quick candy fix, I have come to rely on three things there: the Russian owner calling me and every customer, male or female, “baby”; haggard old tweeker chicks on bicycles making deals out front; and hot, sweaty construction/oil field workers cruising in after work for a 12 pack and a taco. The people watching (read: eavesdropping) opportunities are phenomenal and one day I will park myself there to write a book. Bonus: across the street are a laundromat, party supply and Santeria shop.

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 20, 2012

VCReporter Best Of 2012: A few unfit for print and a couple others

Tabitha spits out her yogurt at Chill.

These are my personal picks. Categories not fit for the publication, but appropriate enough for this blog.

Best Remote Location For an Impromptu Punk Show
The End of Perkins Street in Port Hueneme
Punk rock has always been relegated to dark places on the outskirts of nowhere, so what could be better than a parking lot, across from a sewage filtration plant at the end of a very long street adjacent to a neighborhood you don’t want to find yourself in at night?

Best PR For Ventucky
 Tabitha Takes Over: The Chill Episode
Um, like, how are we supposed to keep the floor clean AND help customers AND text our friends at the same time?  What’s a  dry cappuccino? What are repeat customers? What’s market research?

Best Facebook Troll
Jody Lotus
Denied, reported, deleted.

Best Comeback From Bureaucratic Assault
Green Art People
Proof that organic tastes better and community works.

Best Place to Find an Obscure Used Tire in a Pinch
Avenue Tire
Nice people, fair prices, saved the day.

Best Pirate Radio Station
KSSR: The People’s Radio
The shit.

Best Phone Call From a Musician Pitching a Story About Himself
The man who insisted he was the “best oldest living legendary saxophone player with a regular gig at Rusty’s in Oxnard.
A phone call so good, I kept note of it on a post-it for six months.

Best Rapper to Put Santa Paula on the Map
He said it on the Internets so it must be true.

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.

March 16, 2011

The Guest List

Readers of VCReporter may or may not have noticed that we’ve launched a new column. In lieu of replacing Sounding the 805 music columnist Chris Mastrovito, we decided to invite local musicians to give us their two cents regarding Ventura County’s music scene.

This first person on the list was Dan Grimm, who wrote about the cultural richness of what many of us affectionately refer to as Ventucky. Nest up is Josh Hayes (Glass and Ashes, Lovebird) whose piece publishes on March 17.  Josh has much to say about the city of Ventura’s determination to brand itself on the backs of the arts as well as what’s really needed from everyone in order to foster a strong, cohesive, supportive and supported music scene here.

It seems the city (government, not general population) has realized that live music, not just visual art, is a big revenue source here (better late than never) and thus they’ve decided to create an event to draw attention to it. Ventura Music Week, slated for late April, will attempt to provide a boost to the local music scene and those whose livelihoods depend on it, by essentially letting people know that, uhhhh, there are lots of places to drink and hear great music in Ventura!!

Josh Hayes makes some salient points regarding this development as does Rain Perry who is next on the list: March 24.

If music is important to you or even if you’re just interested in it, please take some time to read this new column in VCReporter’s music section and take part in the ongoing conversation.



April 22, 2010

Heavy words from an angry metal fan (is there any other kind?)

Yesterday, I received a lengthy and bitter missive from a local headbanger about the absence of metal representation in our local music issue. While he was clearly uninformed and presumptuous  about most things relating to VCReporter’s music coverage, he was right about one thing: there was, indeed, no metal in the that issue.

In this letter, I will systematically highlight some of the “minor” points that your insular rag overlooked. Michael Cicero, Chris Jay, and Chris Mastrovita, I’m calling you out by name (*though I can’t spell your names) to pay close attention, because despite the fact that all three of you have been in music scene for years, perhaps age is getting the better of you and you require a wake up call.

In all fairness, were I some kid in a metal band, keyed up on energy drinks and guitar solos, thumbing through the weekly’s annual local music issue, I too would have been disappointed to find no trace of my beloved genre. Whoever you are, I feel your pain.

I mean, how could you know that from our very first discussions about the issue, I was all about the metal. I had every intention of doing a large piece on metal in VC. But, alas, the best laid plans of mice and men . . . in the end, due to resources, timing and other horrors inherent to publishing, it crumbled and at the last minute we replaced it with an ode to 805 hip-hop–a genre far less represented in our publication than metal.

I don’t have a problem with criticism, when it’s warranted and I’ll be glad to listen to anyone’s beefs about the section of the paper for which I’m responsible. What I do have a problem with is the assumptions people make about those of us who write for the paper and our editorial processes:

Despite the fact that the VC Reporter believes that the majority of it’s readers ane getting drunk at Bombay’s three nights a week, there still exists a thriving and growing all-ages scene.”

Gosh, we’re transparent. While there have been some great shows, metal and otherwise, for all-ages, most would say it’s a stretch to call that scene thriving.

“Perhaps you weren’t aware that the majority of Warbringer’s members are from Ventura , signed to Century Media, and recently opened up for bands like SLIPKNOT, and MEGADETH just to name a few.”

I confess, I did not know this.Would have been cool if someone clued me, like maybe even the band. It’s called public relations.

“The Oxnard Hardcore/Deathcore Scene:  it’s an atrocity that the VC Reporter neglected to at least pay some sort of mind to hundreds of kids continuing a tradition of hardcore music that has evolved into local bands with huge draws like GRAVESLUT.  Last time I check, Oxnard is Ventura County too.”

This only shows me that the writer doesn’t actually read our publication more than every so often. Criticism works better when it’s informed.

“As epic as the metal scene in Ventura County is and always will be, the only thing epic about your local music issue, is how it failed.”

Yes, we both saved the best for last. The letter writer and I had a mostly civil phone conversation, though he still plans to dedicate an entire 2-hour radio show to discuss the  Local Music Issue, “or the lack of local music rather. ( on Monday, April 26 at 6 p.m.,  on The Dungeon Awaits Podcast.

I think my wish for the music scene is that people involved with music would learn the basics of promotion, and would approach the press with a friendly, cooperative, rather than combative, attitude.

If you feel we’re missing something, egads, let us know. We’re only human and need to be loved too. 😉

April 15, 2010

Sound and vision, love and miracles

Chris Velasco by James Scolari

It’s shaping up to be another busy weekend in Ventura with the Spring Artwalk promising lots of  sweets for the senses. The turnout for VCReporter’s first local music issue party last weekend was tremendous.  It was smiles all around when six up and coming Ventura County bands performed for a capacity house of enthusiastic music fans–can’t wait to do it again next year. One of the bands from the party, Shades of Day, will be performing at ArtWalk at 1 p.m. Saturday on the promenade where C-Street meets the ocean. Last night, another performer, Dan Grimm, proposed to his girlfriend while performing at Green Art People.  Gratz!

A band that’s on our radar for next year’s bands to watch,  Shoddy Cons, whose hybrid of hip-hop, punk rock and funk is generating some buzz in these parts,  just announced they will perform at WAV‘s grand opening on Saturday at 10 p.m. Pick up this week’s VCR for a thought-provoking q & a with WAV’s visionary developer Chris Velasco (pictured).

In early Feb. during a First Friday ArtRide (cyclists dress up and gallery hop on wheels), Gwendolyn Alley‘s husband Marshall  broke his C2 vertebrae in a freak fall. Alley is a longtime fervent supporter of the arts in Ventura County. “Known as a “hangman’s break”,” she said, “It’s the kind of break where 95 percent of the people die instantly; for those who live, almost all have limited mobility.” Marshall, whose recovery thus far is amazing to say the least, will be at Bell Arts Factory during ArtWalk at about 4 p.m. to meet up with Alley and her cycling compadres for some well-deserved revelry.

Goodness knows we pay a lot to live in this fair city, but given the riches that surround us, I’d say, most days it’s worth it.  See ya at ArtWalk!

February 4, 2010

The Grammy’s, local music and the trouble with awards

The Grammy’s have come and gone, leaving much of the year’s best music without mention–let alone accolades–while the usual pablum from the top-40 arena gets all the love. In terms of live performances, the Lil Wayne/Eminem number was embarrassing considering how much real talent was on that stage. Pink’s acrobatic number was stunning but somewhat distracting too. Is her voice not enough?  Talk about gilding the lily. Pink’s underrated vocal ability rivals that of every female singer who was  in the room that night, including Beyonce and Taylor Swift (ugh). She could have performed that song from inside a cardboard box and it would have been spectacular.

That all said, the Reporter’s main music writers, myself included, have finalized our choices for bands/artists to keep an eye on in 2010 in anticipation of our annual local music issue in late March. This year we are planning our first ever live event to showcase some of the musical artists we’ve chosen, and we’re pretty excited about it.

Someone in the Reporter camp raised the idea of music awards and it made me wince.  While I’m absolutely in favor of celebrating local talent, committed to it on every level, I find art too variable and personal to judge objectively. Competition, whether it be through an awards system or a simple battle of the bands, to some extent devalues the artist and creates division where there should be unity.

At the end of 2008, Ventura County experienced  its own micro-Grammy’s by way of the MAVRIC music awards. The end of ’09,  saw no repeat of the awards. I’m not entirely surprised given what a massive undertaking it was and the problems that are built-in to such a project like accurately categorizing genres and creating meaningful, valid criteria for judging.

In the end, I’d rather leave awards out of the equation and continue to find creative ways to give local music the attention and support it deserves.

Stay tuned for more info about the VCReporter local music issue and showcase.

January 17, 2010

Ventura’s music scene banding together for Haiti

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR MONDAY, MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY, for a HEAL HAITI FUNDRAISER to be held at Charline’s. Also, VCReporter along with Zoey’s is organizing a concert for Haiti to be held at the Lodge on Sunday, Jan. 24. Stay tuned for details.

Heal Haiti Fundraiser

Charline’s Urban Tapas & Wine Bar
546 E Main Street
Ventura CA 93001
805.652.2255 or
805.815-7272 for more info.

2PM till Midnight
10 dollar minimum donation at the door
plus 20% of sales will go to Direct Relief International (

We will have bands going hour by hour

RAW SILK will be opening up our fundraiser at 2pm followed by….

Teresa Russell
Billy Davis (formerly of Emilbus)
Michael Menchaca(Legalizers)
The Preachers
Deja Blu
Ray Jay
Raging Arb and the Redheads and friends

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