Tag Archives: la weekly

My crazy, awesome new job

18 Oct
I call this my "mug shot"...get it? Oh, I crack myself up sometimes.

I call this my “mug shot”…get it? Oh, I crack myself up sometimes.

I have just survived the first two weeks of the nuttiest, wildest, most demanding and most rewarding job I’ve ever had. On Oct. 1st, I took over from the great Ben Westhoff as Music Editor for L.A. Weekly. I’m a very, very lucky guy. I’m also not getting much sleep, but that’s OK. As I wrote in my introductory post, it’s not every day someone hands you the keys to your dream job and says, “Have fun! Just try not to scratch it.”

I am by nature a cautious man, so I haven’t been driving the new job like a stolen car just yet. (I’m a Jersey kid, so I had to sneak a few Springsteen allusions in here somewhere.) But we’ve already had a few pretty “big wins,” as the bosses like to say.

The first list I curated and edited (and wrote 1/10th of) has blown up even more than our lists usually do. Our resident expert on all things Long Beach wrote what I can confidently say is the best online tribute to Jack White’s touring keyboardist and LBC native, Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, who passed away this week. Among my stated goals stepping into this job were to cover more Latin music and report more local music news, and we’ve already done both. So everything’s off to a good start.

I’ll be updating this website less often now, but you can always keep track of my latest activities via West Coast Sound, L.A. Weekly‘s music blog. And if you live in L.A., you can pick up a new paper copy of the Weekly every Thursday at fine cafes, bars and newsstands throughout the city, and get the ink from our stories all over your fingers, just like our readers have been doing since 1978. How cool is that?

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Fei-Fei got me hammered on tequila

23 Sep

Feided 3

Sometimes, to get the story, you have to be willing to go outside your comfort zone. Sometimes, you just have to drink a lot of tequila.

To write about DJ/producer Fei-Fei, I went to the opening night of her new monthly event, Feided, where the tiny Chinese-American dubstep fan proceeded to basically drink me under the table. She bought me tequila shot after tequila shot, and then, when I made the mistake of admitting I didn’t feel all that drunk yet, she bought me another tequila shot. Feided is pronounced “Faded” and, believe me, it’s an appropriate name. This girl likes to knock ’em back. (That’s her on the right in the above photo, still going strong while yours truly was propped up against a wall somewhere waiting for the room to stop spinning.)

Somehow, I still managed to partially document the evening—although a follow-up interview over coffee several days later helped a lot.

Bass Drops and Tequila Shots With Fei-Fei, EDM’s Wild Child

Twenty years of “Abnormalarts”

10 Sep

CarlCrew2-sm

The California Institute of Abnormalarts has been a fixture in North Hollywood for 20 years. Well, except for the time it was shut down for operating without a permit.

Actually, to this day, everything about the “CIA” feels a bit shady, from its out-of-the-way location along an industrial strip of auto body shops and liquor stores, to its collection of preserved human remains, to the way every other thing out of owner Carl Crew’s mouth seems to be a bit, shall way say, embellished. Crew designed the place to be an homage to old-time traveling circus and carnival sideshows, and it captures that feel quite well: There’s an air of mystery and sleaze about the joint, and every performer who takes the stage seems poised at any moment to do something either amazing or disgusting, or both.

It Doesn’t Get Any Weirder Than This North Hollywood Spot

Let’s drink and take public transportation!

25 Aug

Footsies-sharper

For most big-city dwellers, being drunk on public transportation is no big whoop. But here in Los Angeles, where many residents are still only dimly aware that we have a public transportation system, it’s still somewhat novel. This was the inspiration behind one of my latest pitches to LA Weekly: Let’s do a bar crawl guide to each line in L.A.’s growing Metro rail system.

Unfortunately, another site called Thrillist just barely beat me to this idea. But I managed to convince my editor that if I presented my bar crawl story as us “testing” Thrillist’s map, there still might be an article here. He bought it, so I got paid to spend a recent Friday night stumbling from one Gold Line–adjacent bar to the next. Yeah, I have a pretty cool job. (I bet your pays better, though.)

Check Out Our Metro Gold Line Bar Crawl

Kath vs. Hendrix

15 Aug

terry-kath

Regardless of whether or not you believe the story about Jimi Hendrix allegedly telling Chicago’s Walt Parazaider, “I think your guitarist is better than me,” it’s hard to deny that Terry Kath never really enough credit while he was alive for being the main creative force behind the band. Robert Lamm may have written most of the hits, Pete Cetera may have had the prettier voice, and the horn section may have been what set them apart from their peers. But it was Kath (along with drummer Danny Seraphine, another criminally underrated musician) who drove the whole show. His funky rhythms and fierce leads gave the band at least half its soul and about 90% of its rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s even harder to deny that since his death, he’s been almost completely overlooked outside of diehard Chicago fans and the occasional classic-rock ax nerd. So I was excited to hear that his daughter is nearing completion of a documentary about him, and even more excited when I got the green light to interview her for LA Weekly.

Never Heard of Guitarist Terry Kath From the Band Chicago? He’s Ah-Mazing

“Breaking the Chains”…of entertainment contract law!

29 Jul

JonLevin-side-by-side

You know how they say you have to choose between being an artist and having a “normal” career? That the only people who succeed in creative endeavors are the ones who have no Plan B? Well, that’s all bullshit. If you’re smart enough and willing to put in the work, you can do both. Take Jon Levin. He’s an entertainment and family law attorney and the guitarist in Dokken.

It didn’t all happen at once, of course—and there’s a big difference between joining an existing band with a well-established following and starting from scratch. Still, I think guys like Levin are interesting because they’re walking proof that so many of our myths about art vs. commerce are just that—myths. Not everybody’s talents fit into these neat little boxes. Some guys can negotiate a record contract and make the record.

Lawyer/Guitarist Jon Levin Is Probably Your Favorite ’80s Metal Band’s Attorney

Giving a lift to the Koreatown Oddity

18 Jun

K-Town Odd1

When Dominique Purdy, the man behind the Koreatown Oddity, asked me if I could give him a ride to a show last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Chances seemed good that anyone who raps in a giant wolf mask might make for an awkward travel companion. But I needn’t have worried. Turns out that Purdy is actually a pretty laid-back guy who just happens to, you know, rap in a giant wolf mask.

Actually, the weirdest thing that happened to me that night took place seconds after I dropped Purdy off at the Metro after his gig. We had been talking earlier about his screenplay, Driving While Black, and how it was actually the phenomenon of “driving while black” that had led Purdy to be temporarily carless. (He had failed to appear in traffic court for some citation or other, and now was in danger of getting ticketed again if any cop ran his plates and pulled up the warrant. And as it turns out, if you’re a young black man in Los Angeles, the cops run your plates all the time.) Right after Purdy got out of my car, a cop car pulled up alongside me and blooped its siren, because I had stopped in a bus lane. Given the conversation we had just been having, I became really aware in that moment of my white privilege; all I had to do was wave apologetically and drive away, whereas Purdy probably would’ve been stopped and cited, or worse.

Anyway, that little story didn’t make it into my LA Weekly article about K-Town Odd, because it was mostly about me and my own self-consciousness around issues of race. Plus, when it comes to the Koreatown Oddity, there are no shortage of interesting things to talk about. Some of them don’t even involve that wolf mask.

The Koreatown Oddity Was Caught Driving While Black