Posts filed under ‘Music’

Be a Tourist in your own Town

I moved from Long Island, NY to Hollywood in 1995. One year after the Northridge Earthquake,a few years after the housing crash of 1990, the Rodney King Riots, and the Seattle “Grunge Movement” which included a few decent bands,alot of bad imitators and the almost intravenous invasion of Coffee into the veins of America. .
I’d hit a level of bordom and depression in my life that was in dire need of something drastic to reinvigorate me. I felt trapped. I needed a change. So, I packed up my shitty Ford Escort and moved to LA.
Back in 95′, Hollywood was in a lull. Alot of people I met told me stories of “back in the day”…aka the, 80’s, when Hollywood was crawling with rockers, people having sex in the bushes on Sunset, Rock n’ Roll Denny’s insanity at 3 in the morning etc.

I missed it all. I had opportunities to visit LA back in 83′ when my childhood friend moved here and would send me letters telling me “I have a spare bedroom, come visit”…I didn’t, I was too involved in my then band to even take off a week. We really weren’t too busy to take a week off, I was just too wrapped up in it to do anything else.

Stupid me. Looking back now, I would probably have never come home. For years after I tried to convince the band to move to LA, so we could “get signed”. No one wanted to. You see New Yorkers have this thing about New York being the center of the universe, so it’s hard to convince alot of them that any place else exists.

Anyway, water under the proverbial bridge. Back to 1995…
Hollywood was this place that “used to be…” and was kinda slow at the moment. I didn’t care, I loved it. It was quaint, seedy, and glamorous all at the same time. It was laid back, but still exciting, and you could still feel the ghost of Poison and Guns N Roses in the neighborhood, even tho’ those folks were curshed under the shadow of “alternative”.

Alot of people I met were around the same age as me, and grew up on the same 70’s pop culture I did. The Powerpop movement was surging, and bands who loved the Beatles and Cheap Trick were coming out of the woodwork.Fun, without all the cheeze of the 80’s. I met lots of cool people, saw cool bands, got to record some of them too. Hollywood still had some of it’s old architecture from the 50’s still hanging around, Ben Franks was still open, Rock n Roll Denny’s showed no sign of meeting the bulldozer. It was old and cool….That was then…

In 2006 it’s a very different place. I moved out to “the valley” in 2002. Why ? Hollywood was getting crowded, people were moving in. Lots of Britney Spears and N’ Sync clones were running around, listening to shitty music, saying stuff like “dope” and “bling”,like MTV oepened up it’s can of worms and poured it out all over the streets, and those horrific Strip Mall on Hollywood Steroids starting rearing their ugly, massive heads. Hollywood was making it’s comeback, and it was going to be bigger, brighter, glossier, more fake and in your face than ever. Change was coming…you could just feel it.

It started with The Hollywood and Higland Project. Hollywood and Highland is for all intents and purposes, a Retail Theme Park. When you walk inside, it looks like a mini town. All frilly, overdone with ugly details, and the dreaded “upscale shopping”. Gross. Add to that, the location, which makes getting in and out of Hollywood an insane clusterfuck. There are only a few ways into Hollywood from the Valley….Highland, Cahuenga, Laurel Canyon…that’s pretty much it.

“SO, how about this…we put a HUGE shopping attraction right at the main mouth of one of those conduits”….STUPID. Now, the traffic here is insane.I’m glad I don’t live there now, but I DO miss what it was, and find myself a little sad when “I go into town” now to do stuff. As a result, I end up doing the touristy stuff, oddly enough.

In 95′, The Farmer’s Market on 3rd and Fairfax was a cool little piece of old Hollywood where you could go on a weekday morning and eat, get coffee, whatever…You’d pull right into the parking lot and park. There was no guard collecting money, no parking vaidation tickets….you could go wherever you want. Inside, you’d see old timer’s, mostly the area’s Russian and Jewish folks eating and talking, or buying stuff from the Vegetable stands and Meat Market….It was old school, a step back in time. It was a big social thing for the old timers.

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Farmer’s Market….greab a seat, and a bite.

Surrounding the Farmer’s Market was a plant nursery to one side, a bank to another, a wine store, and CBS studios. There was a makeshift post office in a trailer, and there was DuPar’s…home of the best pancakes on earth.

Sometime after the Hollywood and Higland Project, some developers bought all the land around the Farmer’s Market with the idea of putting in one of these Retail Theme Parks….I’m sure they tried to buy the Farmer’s Market, but I think the old timers probably raised hell about it and demanded they leave the Farmer’s Market Alone…

Thankfully so. The Farmer’s Market remains largely untouched, and still retains that old school charm. Soon as you step outside tho’ it’s a whole new Ballgame.

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I’m big, I’m new, I’m upscale and grotesque, I’m a theme park,studio backlot and a mall all in one…I am the GROVE!

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WEEEEE!!!!! Let’s ride on the TROLLEY mommy! Coolness has left the building

BOOM!!!! The G R O V E HAS ARRIVED !!!
Upscale shopping, a megaplex theater (a good theater I must say), an Apple store (the saving grace), and a trolley car that goes from one end to the other….YAY!…DISNEY is in the HOUSE ! A huge fountain centerpiece wows spectators, and Hollywood is BACK, in all it’s 80’s over the top, disgusting splendor.

Yea….a more gross juxtaposition you be hard pressed to find, but hey, I’m sure the Farmer’s Market Vendors are happy as a pig in shiznit about it, with all the patronage it’s bringing in.

So, that being said, the Farmer’s market is still a great place to go. Once you’re inside, you have no evidence of all the other ugliness, except for the fact that it’s more crowded than when I first used to go there.

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Step back in time….The entrance to Farmer’s Market.

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The French Crepe Company.

Usually we go to Kokomo to eat, but on this particular day we opted for The French Crepe Company, being that we didn’t want to indulge in a huge meal, as to save room for the OTHER Hollywood staple, Canters (more on that later)

We had a roasted Turkey crepe, with some kind of cheese (unnamed) and tomatoes, and a standard “sweet crepe”…basically butter and sugar…Crepes are just so good if prepared right….these were pretty damn good. Warm, soft, tasty…everything inside all melted and gooey, everything it was supposed to be. The sweet crepe tasted like swedish pancakes, sweet and buttery…just awesome. I’ll be back to this place again.

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The French Crepe Company – Just perfect !

The Farmer’s Market also has several fresh produce stands, a meat market, liquor store, and even a store that sells only Hot Sauce. There are, of course, all the Hollywood tourist trinkets, and tons of other great food stands and bakeries, ice cream, Chinese, BBQ, pizza, you name it. Many of which have been there for years.

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Bob’s Coffee and Donuts. great Coffee, Great Donuts, Old school, what else can you ask for ?

No trip to the Farmer’s Market is complete without a quick cuppa joe and a donut from Bob’s Coffee and Donuts. Their cinnamon rolls are just amazing. Coffee is always good, and the seating area is a great place to hang, IF you can find a seat. This place has been here many years, and is always voted Best Coffee and Donuts in LA.

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There IS a Starbucks on the other side of the market, but you ain’t gonna find these donuts there…

Anyway, a trip to the Farmer’s Market is a way bigger hassle these days, with the aformentioned parking attendants, Grove mobs, and general Hollywood madness, but it’s still a nice place to go for a bite and to walk around and check out the shops.

Sometimes it ok to be a tourist in your own town…next stop…Canters.

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Canter’s, a Hollywood Institution

CANTERS

What can be said about Canter’s ? It’s been around almost as long as the Farmer’s Market. It’s a Hollywood Institution. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, a heinous undercover news investigation that uncovered some really bad health issues in the kitchen didn’t put a dent in this place’s business (it’s since been improved on the cleanliness front)
So what are they famous for, besides being a hangouot for famous people, not so famous people, freaks, weirdos, and the old school Fairfax Jewish community ?

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Matzo Ball soup, what else IS there are Canters?

The Matzo Ball soup for one. All my Jewish friends who grew up on “mom’s matzo ball soup” say this is the next best thing. I never even tried matzo ball soup until having it here, so I have no frame or reference beside my own tastebuds, but this stuff is GOOD! It’s pretty basic….A bowl of Chicken Soup with a HUGE matzo ball in it. Carrots are extra, and I always indulge. No need for much else, the matzo ball is the star of this shindig…big and tasty, great consistency, and a bowl of this is a meal. They give you bagel chips on the sidem which are great for dipping in the soup, or if you’re REALLY hungry, order a toasted and buttered bagel on the side, and dip THAT in there….YUMMY !

You can also get a nice Kreplach soup too, which is basically a Jewish Dumpling, or the “Mish Mash” soup, which is matzo ball, kreplach and noodles…I’ve only attempted that one a few times.

I HAVE had other stuff there too. They make great salads, and breakfast is aways good.
Then there are the Sandwiches….and when you’re in a Jewish Deli, you best get your sandwich on rye bread. Being that they’re a bakery, you can bet on the rye bread being good, and it is…..stack up some turkey, or corned beef or pastrami (if you’re into that kinda thing) or turkey or egg salad…good stuff. The pumpernickel bread is great too.
Then there is the usual diner stuff, burgers, spaghetti, desserts from the bakery etc….A huge menu overall, but it’s the matzo ball soup that makes me go out of the way to go there.

You can’t really go wrong with a place where Rodney has his own booth, and some of the wait staff have been there 40 years or more. Like I said…it’s an Institution.

2 HUGE dining rooms, a deli counter, a bakery counter, and the Kibbitz Room, which is an adjoining bar, with live bands (sometimes, all star jams or a dj), all relatively untouched since the 50’s, and still retaining their great Googie Light Fixtures. Canter’s was a big hangout back in the heyday of the Sunset Strip, ie: the 60’s, and continues to be the place to go after a night out in the clubs….just go there after 2 am any night of the week, and see for yourself.

Canters
419 N Faifax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

October 8, 2006 at 11:07 pm 4 comments

Little Steven’s Underground Garage-A-Go-Go – 9/06/06 – Avalon Ballroom, Hollywood

Little Steven’s Underground Garage-A-Go-Go pulled into Hollywood on Wednesday Night to spread the word, and preach the gospel of real rock n roll. With music getting crappier every year, Little Steven is saving the day, bringing REAL, RAW, sweaty rock n roll to the masses. This lineup featured The Zombies as headliner, Phantom Planet, The Mooney Suzuki, The Woggles and the Holograms. I’ll keep it brief, as not to make this look like some sort of Rolling Stone review

First up : The Holograms : They get better (and more Asian) every time I see them, and now have that onstage confidence that was missing the last time I saw them. Like a Hello Kitty version of The Go-Go’s, only brattier. Their record “land of 1000 Ex-Boyfriends” is on Teenacide Records
Check it out.

Next: The Woggles. The Woggles feature the Mighty Manfred from Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel on Sirius Satellite Radio, which by the way was not mentioned AT ALL this night…maybe because the sponser was KLOS ? Anyway, The Woggles do it authentic 60’s style, complete with coreographed moves, and the Might Manfred puts out 110% onstage…seriously, the guy is manic. He was in the crowd, he was onstage, everywhere….alot of energy and their “Kinks with a little bit o soul” style sounded great.

Next : The Mooney Suzuki…One of those Rolling Stone/Spin Magazine “important” bands of the moment, they rocked pretty hard, and managed to live up to the hype, unlike alot of bands. As I keep hearing these guys, their songwriting seems to keep getting better, and their direction more 70’s boogie rock, than the 60’s garage sound of the earlier stuff.
They kicked ass, and were flying all over the stage while they were doing it. Beats the hell out of those dreaded shoegazer bands of the 90’s…makes me think that maybe there is some hope left, if more bands are doing this sort of thing. Highlight of the set was a new song called 99%. Very BTO…which is more than fine with me.(really, it is)

Next : Phantom Planet – Authors of that dreaded “California” song from tv show THE OC (kidding, I actually like that song, I’ve just heard it an awful lot), Phantom Planet did their geek pop/emo/whatever you call it these days thing and they were pretty good at it..not great songs, but the fact that they can actually play is refreshing in itself. Not your standard 3 chord Green Day in a can kind of a band…
They did their best to bring the energy but, after The Woggles and The Mooney Suzuki, it was tame by comparison.

And finally…The Zombies – After standing for something like 3 1/2 hours, my old legs were ready to limp home, but, being that I came to see the Zombies, I’d have to endure another 45 min or so. Typically, when an classic 60’s band does the reunion thing, it’s usually like this…One or two original members from the classic lineup, and some other “cats” filling in.

The other guys are usually those session “cats” with really modern equipment (the most common one is the “headless guitar” ie: Steinberger or some other hi tech crap), and they usually play like the guys in Toto…you know, that 80’s session “in the pocket”, “tasty” kind of playing…the drums are always spot on, the guitarist plays a strat through some really hi tech stuff, and busts into those Steve Lukatherian shred licks, the kind you hear in a G.I.T instructional video, or Paul Schaffer’s band…gross!

Unfortunately, the Zombies followed suit. The bass player was the original guy from the first Zombies records (and played with the Kinks in the 70’s) and his SON was the session “cat” drummer….I had to endure him overplaying the Zombies biggest hit “Time of the Season” with all those tricky session “cat” drum licks, like Neil peart was playing it, only when Neil Peart does it, it works, because RUSH’s music is all about that. That coupled with a guitarist who played with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics)…great, just great.

Also disappointing was the too fast, almost disco version of “Hold Your head Up”, tho’ it was saved by Rod Argent’s keyboard genius. BUT, and there always has to be a BUT…
When they finally got to the “Odyssey and Oracle” section of the show, it got good, most notably “care of Cell 44”,my personal favorite by them. It was joyous to hear that song live, and that and “Rose for Emily” made enduring all the noodling worth it. Colin Bluntstone sounded great, and the goosebumps made their appearance on the back of my neck, which is what great pop like that has the ability to do.

If only more of the touring classic bands would take Brian Wilson’s lead of hiring the right people for the job. ie: geeks who worship them and play all the correct gear, and respect the songs enough to recreate them in the way they were performed in the first place. Paul McCartney has since followed suit, and now we don’t have to endure some Steely Dan reject playing “tasty” studio cat solos in place of our most treasured George Harrison masterpieces.

Anyway, overall, it was a great show, and thank someone (Buddah, Moses, Jesus…pick the deity of your choice) that Little Steven is bringing this music to the masses…I mean, it’s so great that folks have an alternative to Fallout Boy, My Chemical Romance, 50 cent and all the other crap MTV is spewing between it’s vapid reality shows, and other non music related garbage.

All that AND he’s Silvio Dante from the Sopranos !

Sidebar : Dial “H” for Hipster, dial “P” for Poser.

In between sets I got myself into an interesting conversation about some of the bands on the bill with someone who I’ve since dubbed “The textbook Hipster”.
If you don’t live in LA, I’m sure you have your own version of this guy in your local urban jungle, but in LA there are these guys….Textbook Hipsters….Textbook Hipsters have a rulebook they follow. In this rulebook, there are chapters about clothes, music, and the mandatory “vibe” and attitiude”. They live in Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park (well, the more daring ones do).

I don’t know where you purchase such a book, but then again, I’m not one of them. There’s no bookstore on Melrose selling these things, but I can tell you one thing, they all read the same book.

Hipsters dress really retro (usually 70’s, sometimes 60’s), have the Silverlake hair (last year it was that Badfinger Shag, this year it’s the mandatory beard), and listen to obscure records on vinyl, and if you’re REALLY cool, you have the “ironic” cheesy records in your record collection, like… Pat Benetar, Quarterflash, and some other 80’s homogenized crap, that’s been dismissed by the masses, but since everyone makes fun of it, you have to have in your collection to be “against the grain”. Of course you think it’s crap too, but you have to have that sense of faux irony, it’s part of the deal.

In this instance, the conversation got into the bands on the bill….Having just been blown away by The Woggles, and singer, the Mighty Manfred’s intense energy, I was spouting on about how great I thought they were to the Textbook Hipster in question. His reply was something along the lines of…”I don’t know man, I mean, they did all this goofy coreography, they seemed so forced” which I replied “yea, but their thing is that they like to keep it really authentic to the 60’s garage bands, and those early garage bands DID all that goofy coreography stuff, because they were into that whole Motown thing…it was the 60’s, that’s how bands put on a show”

Then he commented that , “… I don’t know, someone in that band looks like they needed to get strung out on junk or somethin” …meaning, hey, the gutarist is a bit of a fat guy, he needs to drop some weight so he has that Rock n Roll, junkie look. Meanwhile, he’s jumping all over the place, cutting his hand open and bleeding all over his guitars, while he’s playing the shit out of them, I may add, and yet, he needs to get addicted to junk, so he “Looks cool”. He then went on to say that he liked The Mooney Suzuki better, cos the singer had a “New York Dolls vibe”, and they had that “really raw, rock n roll thing goin on”.

And there it was…The mandatory name dropping of “influencial” bands dubbed “important” by rags like Spin and Rolling Stone. The New York Dolls…easily one of the most overrated bands of all time, but hey, they looked trashy, and did lots of dope, so they must be cool. Add The Velvet Underground,The Stooges, and the Stones (maaan) to that list, and you have all your Hipster influences intact. Of course, the Textbook Hipster’s favorite Beatle is John, cos Paul is so Pop, and John was more “radical”.

Anyway…Imagine saying something as stupid as “I think someone in that band needs to get addicted to junk”. Yea, tell that to all the people who lost a friend, lover, or family member to that stupid crap. Not to get all D.A.R.E on you, but what does any of that have to do with rock n roll.

Well, to the textbook hipster…everything.
Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest…I feel better now.
Hey, go buy a Woggles record, and listen to a fat guy kick your ass on guitar.
Also, buy the new Mooney Suzuki record too, but don’t tell anyone, cos their too “mainstream” now.

Sorry, this got very longwinded and Rolling Stone review-like…My apologies.If you’e actually gotten to this part, I’ve actually held your interest…unbelieveable!

September 10, 2006 at 7:26 am 1 comment

Teenacide/Shakes Records Release party !

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Ghettocide !

Teenacide Records held their Record Release party for the new Shakes disc “The rise and fall of Modern Living” down in the new epicenter of Hipsterness…Echo Park…at Sea Level Records.

Since SilverLake has been “gentrified” ie: overrun by yuppies with too much cash demanding gelato and American Apparel Stores, the lower income hipsters (ie: indierockers) have had to “take it somewhere else”.

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PETE-ZUH. Pete from the Shakes doles out the dough for the event’s “catering”.

An here lies the subject matter of the new Shakes release, a concept record about the neighborhood they live in, but really can’t afford anymore.Silver Lake, more specifically Sunset Junction. “The Rise and Fall…” deals with the hell that is apartment living in the heart of Sunset Junction and the “gentrification” of SilverLake. The most obvious song of the bunch, “Gentrification Blues”, an uptempo hillbilly cowpunk ditty, grabs the subject by the throat, while at the same time, merely gives up, saying “I guess I’ll have to move”.

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The Blondes,back after 3 years(left). RAAAAD! Bill Rocks the Dolphin Shorts !(right)

The Blondes, who reunited after 3 years of silence for this event, started things off.
They rocked, and Bill gets extra points for bustin out the old school “dolphin shorts” , and striped sweat socks. Now THAT’S fashion.

The Shakes came out and rocked their set, and hey, they even gave away prizes !
Hey, the yuppies who took over SilverLake won’t even don’t do that. Check out their new release “The Rise and Fall of Modern Living” on Teenacide records.

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Dirty Hipsters, we can’t get a seat at Eatwell because of you!

September 5, 2006 at 5:32 am 1 comment


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