What a busy month May was! Now more than ever I seem to have good friends with birthdays in May, as well as my own birthday. It proved to be such a challenge to make time for my own birthday celebration (yay for bottomless champagne brunches) that I ended up having to delay it to a week later. I also feel like I gave A LOT of advice this month, as many of my friends seem to have reached crossroads in their lives. As you may have guessed, I was in town a lot more this month, but still wasn’t able to make it to as many music shows as I would’ve liked. So with that said, here is my soundtrack to this month of socializing and life evaluation.
The Slow – “Hear Out of Reach”
Ok, I really love this song and wish I could share it with you. Unfortunately, when I googled this band I could not find anything on them, but did manage to get temporarily distracted by a “Slow Clap” video
Every now and then this song pops up when I let my music library play in random mode. The last time it came on I left it on repeat. I initially got it via the Pop Culture Press ’07 Winter Sampler, but seriously it’s like this band never existed.
Voxhaul Broadcast – “Fact or Fiction”
Caught them at Silverlake Jubilee, you can ask Notes from Vivace how we ended up with super VIP parking Sunday night –a situation he wasn’t so amused by and chastised me for “living on the edge.” Ugh, yes I make mistakes too loyal TRAffIK readers (some I make over and over), only they sometimes come with perks. Many kudos to the El Cid load-in director. I wasn’t able to catch many of the bands performing unless they played the Santa Monica stage, since most of the time I spent there I was at our Rock Camp for Girls LA table, but I did enjoy Big Whup and My Pet Saddle.
Roxy Music – “Jealous Guy”
I actually listened to quite a bit of Roxy Music this month. I’m coming to the realization the older I get, that all guys are jealous. Some are just better at hiding it for a longer period of time.
Devo – “Through Being Cool”
Jont – “Don’t Waste All of Your Tears” (more…)
Correatown - ”Green Cotton Dress”
The Hard to Get - ”Looking Good”
Glacier Hiking - ”Stay Positive”
Sister Crayon - “(in)Reverse”
Codeine Velvet Club - “Hollywood”
The Slow Death - ”Song One, Side A”
What’s So Funny’s Featured Comic:
WSF: What has brought you to Los Angeles?
You havent heard about the shortage of actors in LA? Didn’t want it to be a a dying breed. Ok, this is how we’re gonna start this interview off? By answering every question like an 85 year old grandmother?
WSF: How did you become involved in the industry?
I’ve always been a sucker for attention. I was a dancer when i was younger, and used to compete nationally. I actually watched some of the tapes the other day and it’s funny because we were so awful. But, I guess for 9 year olds we were awesome, it would make a kick ass reality show now. I went to one of those “Performing Arts High Schools,” so I was a total musical theater kid, but I cant sing. So because i could dance, i basically played a prostitute in every play. By my second year of college, i was done. I knew I had to move out to LA, and so I packed up and left.
WSF: What is the best and worst part of being a comedian?
The hard thing for me, I cant speak for everyone, is being able to turn “off.” Once people know youre a comic they want everything you do to be entertaining, and I always feel like i gotta give it to them. So there are times I catch myself wondering if I just said what i wanted to, or what i think they wanted me to. Weird, huh?
That, and for me –’cause i’m so new in this game– it’s trying not to compare your successes with those around you. If i see that someone is doing a show i haven’t or something that I think is better than what i’m doing. I’ll start to panic. So, I think it’s important to remember that we all have our own path in this and not to compare journeys. Sounds so “namaste” but it’s SO freakin’ hard! (more…)
When David Foster Wallace told David Lipsky of Rolling Stone in 1996 that American poetry had gotten what it deserved and “would come awake again when poets started speaking to people who have to pay the rent,” he had obviously never been to Long Beach. And though it may be too late for Mr. Wallace, it’s certainly not for the rest of us because Long Beach poetry is making a comeback.
Although comeback is not exactly the right word, because it never really left—partly due to CSULB’s acclaimed MFA program that every year continues to keep a viable writing energy in the city. So why does it feel like a “literary scene” is resurging in Long Beach? Notice I put “literary” and “scene” in quotation marks as both seem too stuffy and pretentious to describe the poetry here, which is working class, edgy, and non-academic—not to mention the good people involved with this budding, eh, well, let’s just go with the word Long Beach veteran writer Donna Hilbert used to describe it, community.
I suppose much of this emerging “community” (though with writers, can this ever really exist?) has to do both with the sustainment of classic LB lit mags, like the excellent Pearl, founded in the 1970s, and the birth of a few new rising stars.
One of these rising stars is Beggars and Cheeseburgers, which is a spirited tabloid-style magazine that features classic Long Beach writers like Gerald Locklin, Joan Jobe Smith (editor and creator of Pearl), Fred Voss, and the previously mentioned Donna Hilbert, as well as a whole new generation of young writers both local and national.
Another is Re)verb magazine, which has been around since 2001—currently on issue 6—and has featured many of these same writers over the past few years. The magazine’s founder, Kevin Lee, seems to have also breathed new life into his publishing company with a name change (now Aortic Books), and two recently published works by Gerry Locklin, as well as plans for a poetry anthology about the “happiness and crappiness” of parenthood (now accepting submissions).
Then there are a few surrogates—writers, editors, and magazines that aren’t actually products of this city, but so closely linked they are considered to be.
One, of course, is Michael Hathaway, editor of the longstanding Chiron Review out of St. John, Kansas, who, over the years, has probably published the widest array of Long Beach writers alongside Pearl, not to mention made his own mark in the local LB literary magazines. Two of Chiron’s assistant editors are Gerald Locklin and Ray Zepeda, both professors (one emeritus) at Cal State, and at least two reasons Long Beach poetry has a reputation in the first place. Last year, the magazine also published a “punk issue” edited by another Long Beach writer, Sarah Daugherty, and featuring many local writers.
There’s also Spot Literary Magazine , which comes out of Arizona, but includes more poetry from this city than anywhere else in the country, and even holds semi-annual issue release parties at a Borders here in Long Beach.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce (corny inside Long Beach poetry joke-sorry, but please read Locklin’s poem “The Iceberg Theory” if you haven’t already). There are others too, both old and new, like the aforementioned Pearl, as well as San Pedro’s Lummox Press, World Parade Books, Burning Shore Press, and even an online and sometimes print magazine, Like Water Burning, in which you can enter a writing contest to have your words published on a coffee mug— just don’t make it poetry; their website claims, they are “deathly allergic” to it, but says nothing about what you can do with the mug once it’s yours. I’d recommend filling it with a healthy shot of Long Beach poetry.
If you’re interested in knowing more, you won’t want to miss this feast:
Clint Margrave has work forthcoming or most recently published in New York Quarterly, Pearl, 3AM, Chiron Review, as well as in the anthology At the Gate: Arrivals and Departures, published by Kings Estate Press. Currently, he teaches English and Creative Writing at Cal State University, Long Beach. Clint can be contacted at email@example.com
While weaving stories of love, separation, and lessons learned via the trials and tribulations that we all go through while attempting to find our place in life singer-songwriter Brent Roske manages to engage us with tale after tale about his personal journeys. With the vulnerability never leaving his voice, he paints a picture with every song, making you feel many a time as though you were there with him sharing this ride. At times you wonder, could all of these tracks be about the same person or is it a combination of people that the songs refer to? Are they all stories that Roske actually lived? Or are they just signs of a rich imagination?
If your answer is that it’s all three then you’re probably correct. Perhaps utilizing his vast experience as an Emmy-nominated Producer/Director, some of Roske’s songs could be the basis for many a screenplay. “Raining in Scotland,” could easily be turned into parts 1 and 2 of a film franchise. Roske also succeeds in giving us a synopsis of sorts of True Romance in “Clarence and Alabama” playing on the dysfunctional dynamic of the film’s main characters’ tumultuous relationship.
Throughout “Live At the Viper Room” you are constantly reminded of those storytellers that came before Roske, including John Stewart, Dave Carter, and Townes Van Zandt– whose primary goal seemed to be to make their songs come alive for their audiences via the emotion evoking lyrics they penned and delivered. For the LA residents (current and former), an almost heartbreaking “Say Good-bye to Hollywood” is included where we’re all instructed that “if you ever make it to Hollywood, you better make sure to rehearse the final scene.”
Here is Brent Roske’s video for “Good-bye to Hollywood” starring Richard Dreyfuss and Josh LeBar (“Entourage”):
Brent Roske “Live at the Viper Room” is currently available via Amazon and iTunes.
As much as I loved The Teddybears quasi hit “Punkrocker” I couldn’t help but feel like I got bamboozled when I purchased 2006’s “Soft Machine.” No one told me it was a collection of songs from their two previous albums. A “Collection” is a nice way of saying “repackaging for suckers who don’t know any better.” Kind of like when those ghetto movie studios release similar looking named and packaged “hit” summer hit movies to take advantage of unsuspecting overwhelmed WalMart moms. Maybe, like those moms I was to blame. I mean, seriously, when you see “Elephant Man” listed as a guest vocalist you have to question the timeliness of a track. That having been said I still really enjoyed “Soft Machine.” It just always felt uneven to me…probably because of what I just explained. Jumping from Iggy Pop’s dark and gloomy guest vocals on “Punkrocker” to Neneh Cherry’s (yeah, that Neneh Cherry) “Yours to Keep” always felt wrong. No offense to Ms. “Buffalo Stance” or her guest spot but you can’t follow “Punkrocker” like that. There was no flow mojo.
2010’s “Devil’s Music” feels like a more organized product….or as organized a product can be for three guys who run around in giant bear heads. Guest vocals are almost as eclectic here with featured cameos by The Flaming Lips, Cee-Lo, Eve, and ..um..the B52s? I’ll give these Swedes credit, they think out of the box. There are some other guests whose names do not ring a bell but the one stand out for me was fellow swede Maipe. After going through this album and hearing how the albums sound changes from track to track I realize now that there is purposeful and calculated intent in what they’ve done. They are attempting to create an instant party mixtape. Their previous album wasn’t a product of repacking at all. It was a product of them re-inventing their sound to meet the needs of their guest vocalists. They build off that idea with this album. Devil’s Music has more of a cohesive flow while still maintaining that mix tape vibe. As an avid mix tape maker i know it’s all about the flow. “Devil’s Music” does not disappoint. It is thirty nine minutes full of fun electro pop rock infused tracks that will keep the party going.
Personally I’m dying to get “Devil’s Music” mixed together with CYHSY’s “Satan Said Dance”. That would be so ace. Who wants to go to Best Buy with me to give that a try on their demo DJ kit?
Highlights: “Cardiac Arrest” (feat Maipei), “Chrystal Meth Christian” ( feat. Flaming Lips), “Cho Cha” ( feat. Cee Lo & B52’s), “Devil’s Music” (feat. ADL)