This has been the summer of too much…too much to do in L.A., that is. In a summer of record gas cost and rising inflation, we are all looking for an escape. Maybe our plans for traveling have been put on hold due to the economy, but it doesn’t mean we all can’t have fun, right? It’s just now we have to wait for the fun to come to us.
June 20th marked the arrival of Seun Kuti to Los Angeles. There were a record number of people at the show at Grand Performances, not only for Seun but for the price (free).
Seun performed with Egypt 80, Fela Kuti’s last band before his premature death. Since Fela’s death more than 10 years ago Seun has been performing with the group, and this was their first time in Los Angeles. Egypt 80 is the real deal. Not to knock bands such as Antibalas and The Budos Band who play Afro-Beat (and do it quite well, I should add), but there is nothing like hearing Afro-Beat being performed by the people who have been doing it for years. About five thousand plus were absolutely losing it. The dance floor was packed to near capacity and people were dancing in the pools that separated the people from the group.
The next day (Saturday) I went to MOCA for their CineMoca series. For $10 you can check out the featured movie the exhibits inside The Geffen Contemporary. On this particular night, MOCA featured a mash-up of two similar themed movies created by Los Angeles–based artist Edgar Arceneaux. The two movies, Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and Wattstax, seamlessly flowed in and out of each other much like a DJ mix and created its own movie -- from Rufus Thomas to Mos Def, The Bar Kays to Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle to Richard Pryor. I love seeing movies outdoors, so this was a treat for me. On top of that, I met one of my favorite writers at showing. Her name is Marisela Norte. Marisela has been a big inspiration on not only my writing, but also how I look at life. She was part of infamous ASCO artist group back in the 80’s and her Norte/Word spoken word CD released on Freeway Records is a classic. It is way out of print but if you can find it I suggest it most highly.
I remember going to a poetry reading in Long Beach back in the early 90’s. I went to hear Wanda Coleman and some other poets read and Marisela read first. I remember hanging on to her every word, including stories of hanging out at a K-Mart coffee shop in East L.A. and observing life as it passed on by. All the absurd, the ordinary and the tragic came alive in her words.
Marisela refuses to drive and takes the bus everywhere. During that time she is not stuck in traffic cursing at everyone like the rest of us idiots who drive, she is writing, writing writing. She told me that she soon will have a book completed and I can’t wait. Then it was off to Pete's in downtown for some wine & nachos. I suggest the Avila.