Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Garvanza

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 15, 2014 12:57pm | Post a Comment
GARVANZA RAMBLE


Dooley striking a pose on the sidewalk in front of a Garvanza sign

In the fall of 2012 I had the opportunity to house-sit in El Sereno. During my stint in Los Angeles's easternmost neighborhood, I spent much of that time exploring that neighborhood with a good-natured dog named Dooley. This past fall I again returned to the Eastside to house-sit once again and Dooley and I resumed our epic explorations. This time around we explored more than just El Sereno, extending our rambles into the nearby neighborhoods of Arroyo View Estates, City Terrace, East Los Angeles, Happy Valley, Hermon, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Rose Hill, University Hills, and on one warm autumn afternoon, Garvanza.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Hermon

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 2, 2014 02:35pm | Post a Comment
FROM THE LIONS' DENS AND THE MOUNTAIN HAUNTS OF LEOPARDS --HERMON


Hermon and the deodars planted by the Arroyo Vista Woman's Club in memorium [sic] of Grace Ebey Reed

In the fall of 2012 I had a stint house-sitting in El SerenoI spent much of my time exploring that neighborhood with a dog named Dooley. This past fall I again returned to the Eastside and Dooley I resumed our epic walks. This time around we explored Arroyo View EstatesCity TerraceEast Los AngelesEl SerenoGarvanzaHappy Valley, Highland ParkHillside VillageLincoln HeightsMontecito HeightsMonterey HillsRose HillUniversity Hills, and on one late afternoon, Hermon.

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Notes From a Grumpy Old Man: The Real Zombie Apocalypse is Dull and Ordinary

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, September 23, 2013 08:38am | Post a Comment

Los Angeles has sure changed.

Some have been welcomed changes and others are hard to get used to. I’m constantly reminded this when I deejay in spots in Echo Park, Hollywood or Highland Park. Those parts of town were once considered the scourges of the city. It was riddled with gangs, drugs, homelessness, crime, earthquake damage and rows of buildings for lease. Ten years later, it’s now it’s a playground for the dull and ordinary. The argument of hipsters no longer applies here, because there is nothing hip about the people that play here. At best, they are in college; at worst they are former frat boys who have come to roost now that the area is safe.

When I used to tour for a living, the best thing about coming home to Los Angeles was getting away from the countless generic college towns that most of the venues  were located. Much like the Wilson Pickett song “Funky Broadway” , where every town has a "Broadway and a Broadway women", the college town had the same restaurants, coffee houses, record stores, frat bar, alternative bar and everyone looks the same. Ethnicity as a whole was slim to none, as people of color were always relegated to the “other” parts of town. Being Chicano, I always felt I was in the wrong part of town when as well.. Places with diversity, such as Chicago and New York, were always welcomed stops on the road because I felt I could take a breather from the generic college town. I was never one to wonder why Los Angeles couldn’t be like Austin, Olympia or Chapel Hill. I liked Los Angeles the way it was. It was spread out, not connected by trains so you can play tourist in someone’s barrio. It was damaged and a place for the strong to thrive and the weak to avoid. It short, it was great.

Much like most of America, the economic downturn of seventies and eighties turned many big cities into slightly controlled wastelands. But because of it, the music thrived. Los Angeles gave us great punk bands such as X, The Bags, The Weirdos, Black Flag, The Minutemen, The Gun Club, The Germs, just to name a brief few. Amazing roots rock in The Blasters and Los Lobos. Even Psyche got a re-hash, with The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade and Opal, who soon became Mazzy Star. Weirdo outsider metal from Jane’s Addition and as much as I abhor hair metal, Guns N’Roses and Motley Crüe  has to be given their due, They owe everything to L.A. Rap music? N.W.A. and Freestyle Fellowship, just those two groups spawned a million imitators, all with attitude. If  you are new to Los Angeles and you think L.A. is rough now. Listen to all these groups and hear what it was really once like.

There was once a push to preserves culture and not co-op. The World Stage in Leimert Park and people like Billy Higgins, Dwight Trible and Horace Tapscott went in the tradition of John Coltrane in preserving black culture and not turning it into smooth jazz or pseudo-classical dribble that most modern jazz sounds like today. Chalino Sanchez made his career in the clubs of South Gate. He was already widely popular with the Mexican immigrant community before he started to make the news with violence at his shows. Then there were all the bands from East Los, such as Ozomatli and Quetzal, who took risks in their incarnations by mixing traditional music with modern music. They brought culture and pride to kids that had no idea what that meant and they brought fresh sounds to traditionalists who were stuck in the past. They received a lot of crap from purists and hipsters alike but because of them, now anyone can mix Son Jarocho with Hip-Hop regardless if they are any good at either style and everyone thinks they’re geniuses. Let us not forget the many underground bands, party crews, back yard punk gigs, warehouse parties that have all their own history in Los Angeles as well. It's not to say that all music from L.A. from the back in the good ol'days is better than the music that comes out now, it's just different. I feel it said more.

Now there are parts of L.A. that feel like a college town, and its sad. I see things that make my stomach cringe. I saw a barefoot girl walk into a once seedy dive without anyone telling her to put her damn shoes on. Knowing my Los Angeles history, I can still feel the filth of these places underneath my feet and I’m wearing shoes. The entitled, they just don’t seem to care. They walk back to their cars from the clubs drunk and screaming, waking up people who have to work early the next day. It's nothing new, especially if you live by a club, but now there are neither policeman or gangsters in sight to regulate the neighborhood. As I get older and the audience that I deejay in front of gets younger and seemingly more naive, I feel the guilt that I’m facilitating someone’s future nightmare by contributing the soundtrack to it. I watch as frat boys shove drinks down young ladies throats so they can take them home because “They paid for the drinks” It’s not to assume it wasn’t always like this, but the entitled make it so overt, so obvious, that it’s hard to ignore.

The record stores and bookstores all have the same things. Used Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours LPs are suddenly at collector’s prices and the dull and ordinary don’t argue, they just pay the price. The coffee is served in a beaker and it costs a small paycheck, almost everywhere. The menus have changed. The Mexican restaurants have vegetarian options, without the scorn from the waitress when you try to explain that you are vegan. Salsa is served on the side instead of being put inside a burrito as to cut cost from all the returned food because ii's too spicy for bland palates. Everything is easy for them because let’s face it, they have money. It’s beyond gentrification; it’s the zombie apocalypse and it’s boring.

So after a rough night in the college town once known as Los Angeles, I started to think about all these thoughts in my head. I was too tired to write them out and quite frankly, it was late and I just needed some brain eraser. For some reason I started to think, “What would Black Flag and N.W.A. do if they took a time machine and were transported into future Los Angeles in the boring zombie apocalypse of 2013?”

Yes, I had no clue what they would do either.

So instead, I transplanted myself into a Black Flag show from 1982 via YouTube and rediscovered the virtues of Black Flag. The noise they made during that show could kill a thousand zombies today. The line-up from the gig I watched was astonishing. It consisted of Greg Ginn and Dez Cadena on guitar, Chuck on bass, Henry on vocals and the short-lived line-up concluded with former D.O.A. and future Danzig drummer Chuck Biscuits on drums. The video was horrible quality. The audio was absolutely unlistenable, but it relaxed me like a lullaby. Soon I curled up in a ball and fell fast asleep with Rollins screaming on the top of his lungs while Biscuits pounded the drums with complete recklessness. I was soon far, oh so far, from the dull and ordinary zombie apocalypse.








 

Seasons Take Us By Storm, One Season at a Time

Posted by Billy Gil, January 23, 2012 04:04pm | Post a Comment
The first time I heard Highland Park's Seasons was a song called “Light, Lost,” from their Winter EP, released in June 2010. I was immediately taken with its languid guitar-work and gorgeous melodies, not to mention the way the song takes a sharp left near the end and picks up into an indie-dance gem — sucker for tempo changes, right here.

 
But what really gets me about Seasons is the passion they clearly put into each song. Through their three released “season” EPs — Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn, the last one just released this month —  Seasons aren’t afraid to change things up sonically or thematically. So what you get is a landscape painting of a band across its releases rather than a portrait. Though overall I might classify the music as epic spacefaring rock of the variety you don’t see too often these days — Slowdive, Smashing Pumpkins and, more recently, The Arcade Fire come to mind — there’s also a strong twee vibe running throughout, echoing Sarah Records and C86 bands, not to mention an electro streak that keeps things vibrant.


The band consists of longtime friends who like to go by their first names — John sings and plays guitar and keys; Nik does the same; Adam plays bass and guitar; Erik plays drums; Ray handles beats, keys and bass; and Kaitlin, violin and vocals. During the day, these people occupy such various jobs as teacher, florist, Trader Joe’s team member and Grammy Museum usher.
 
In the summer of 2006, they came up with the idea to do a set of EPs each with a mood to set the tone for feelings that arise during a particular season.
 
“We let the climate changes and the way people and ourselves reacted to each season inspire us to write each one, with the intention of releasing them when we were finished even if they season they were written in was over,” John explains.
 
The Autumn EP begins with “Monday Night” (available as a free download), a lighthearted danceable ode to getting up and out at the beginning of the work week — which, by the way, you should do tonight and/or next Monday to see the band play at the Echo as part of its January residency. The EP continues with the strings-and-bells laden yet hard-charging “These United States,” which nicely features singer Nik's growling, yearning vocals. The EP’s closer, “Lazy Bones,” is sort of meat-and-potatoes Seasons, a six-minute-plus psychedelic heart-on-sleeve power ballad. Meanwhile, “Number of the Beat” is their most outward flirtation with dance music thus far, although its striking violin playing still lands it firmly in orchestral pop territory.


 
“I think we just tend to write songs that sound a certain way as we feel them coming to us,” John says. “We could have written a whole electronic album [when we started the EPs in 2008], but that wasn't how we were feeling then, so this album has more of a electronic feel to it at times because its just what came to us.”
 
The band has been playing each of its “season” EPs on different nights, decorating the set to match the corresponding season, so each residency night has been quite a different experience. Take last week’s show, for example, when Sexy Sax Man of the meme below showed up to play a solo onstage — is that something you’d want to miss?
 

 
Seasons will go back into the studio in late spring/early summer with their producer, Raymond Richards (Local Natives), to record a new full-length album. For now, the band completes their residency tonight at the Echo (presented alongside The 704 blog) with The Health Club, Downtown Union and Manhattan Murder Mystery. They close it out next Monday, Jan. 30 (presented with Feed Your Head), with Robotanists, Little Red Lung and Paulie Pesh. The shows are at 8:30 p.m. 18+, and, as always with these Echo residencies, FREE.

California Fool's Gold -- A Northeast Los Angeles primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 9, 2011 05:22pm | Post a Comment
 ESTAREI PENSANDO NELA -- NORTHEAST LOS ANGELES


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Northeast Los Angeles*

Northeast Los Angeles is situated on a green, hilly topography bounded by the Los Angeles River, the Arroyo Seco and the San Rafael Hills. It's neighbored by The Verdugos region to the north, the San Gabriel Valley to the east, the East side to the south, and the Mid-eastside (part of Central Los Angeles) across the LA River to the west.


Many of the neighborhoods of the area began as small settlements that developed independently and were gradually annexed by LA. Highland Park became part of LA in 1895, Garvanza followed in 1899, Occidental in 1916 and Eagle Rock in 1923. It's gone through many changes but has always maintained a unique vibe that distinguishes it among LA regions. It's especially well-known for its many fine Craftsman homes. Currently, the population is roughly 63% Latino, 17% white, 16% Asian and 2% black.

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