by Jonathan Slowik
April 10, 2008. It’s been 612 days since I last sat on this beach at night. I wrote a letter that night too, but to a different recipient. Much has transpired in the meantime—not all of it entirely surprising, but I certainly didn’t think that at this point in my life, I would still be trekking to the beach at night, alone.
The Ferris wheel has undergone a makeover since that spring night. Instead of flashing your garden variety carnival lights, it now screams a long, intricate, and positively psychedelic light show from the pier. Amusing, I have to admit. But I’ve always preferred the view to the north—brake lights snaking along the PCH, stretching to the twinkling lights of Malibu, where the Santa Monica Mountains meet a confused sky.
The Los Angeles stratosphere can never really decide what color it wants to be at night, but usually ends up settling on some shade of barely visible pink. In Santa Monica, where Ocean Avenue resorts meet the black nothingness of the Pacific, all bets are off. Pink, black, gray—it’s all of these things and none of them. With diminished competition from sodium vapor lamps, dozens of stars meekly peer from behind the fabric, unsure if they’re invited.
The beach, at night, always seems like a good place to get some questions answered. I think the solitude, the calming, rhythmic crashing of the waves, and the crisp ocean air facilitate the kind of free associations we don’t normally make. Sounds like just the elixir for a night like this, since our minds don’t seem to wander as much as they used to.
Tonight’s ocean, however, is not fielding questions. Rather than that rhythmic crashing I so often find, the scene I encounter is decidedly unfriendly—a constant barrage of waves crest far from the shore and then spit foam for as long as the rising sand will allow. Bathed in moonlight, the menacing water is quite haunting, like something from a spooky scene in a children’s movie. I begin to wonder if a younger me would be frightened or delighted, and realize I’m making some free associations after all.
After a time, an oldish man approaches and stands facing the water, gazing longingly at the waves. It appears to be a good time to call it a night. He seems like he has some questions for the ocean, and perhaps he will find it more receptive than me. I’m content to trudge back across the cold sand, blanket in hand, no conclusions made—except that, improbably, it’s a beautiful night, and we should do this again sometime.
photo originally published here
Concert News: Bon Iver is playing the Hollywood Cemetery next month and you should be pretty excited. It will be like a Santa Monica Pier Concert but w/ far better music (that you’ll actually want to hear. No offense Squirrel Nut Zippers), less sand, and just about the same amount of dead people. As i said earlier if you live in or around LA you should get tickets to this unique show ASAP. Sure spending a night in a cemetery is kind of bizarre but it beats the hell out of the Hollywood Palladium and is more appropriate for him considering the story behind “For Emma, Forever Ago”. After a run of bad luck: His band broke up, His girlfriend dumped him, and contracting mono (probably why his girlfriend dumped him) Justin Vernon AKA Bon Iver moved into his dad’s spooky cabin in the woods of Wisconsin and set out to recover physically and mentally. The product of those three months of isolation and inner soul searching was “For Emma, Forever Ago”. Good for him. When I got mono I ate jello and spent far too much time on MySpace, so I can’t totally relate. Sure my soul search was done with bulletin quizzes but it was practically the same thing as independently releasing a collection of heartfelt introspective songs.
Listen to the album and then come see Bon Iver sooth the living and the dead on the 27th! Don’t be scared. I’ve seen enough zombie movies to know they’re easily defeated. If Zombies rise from the grave Bon Iver’s sweet sweet voice will keep the undead distracted long enough for us to chop off their heads.
Bon Iver at Sunrise
Sunday, Sep 27, 2009 12:00 AM PDT (12:00 AM Doors)
- Sunday, Sep 27, 2009 6:00 AM PDT
at Hollywood Forever
in Los Angeles, CA
Buy tickets here!
(enjoy the special soundtrack that accompanies this installment of “Gimme Gimme Schlock Treatment” provided via 8tracks)
We can all agree that thanks to iTunes, iPods, and CDRS , our old CD libraries have become completely irrelevant. Fact: No one needs cds anymore. At least that is what I’m currently trying to tell myself. I’ve done something today that is forcing me to falsely embrace this mantra. You see, thanks to my recent actions I’m currently in a state of denial.
Today was the day I decided to take my once untouchable CDs to SecondSpin to trade in for cash. As it already stands my extensive cd collection had already been whittled down to just the bare bones of a music aficionados life blood Long ago I convinced myself that I could part ways with most of my cds after copying them over to my external hard drive…and from there another external hard drive.Yes, two hard drives are a bit excessive but I couldn’t live with myself if I lost all of those mp3s. Finally feeling secure about the backups I was freed to sell back these old cds to Second Spin (for more cds) that I had no emotional attachment to.
So long “…And You Will Know Us From the Trail of the Dead”. We had some good times “Franz Ferdinand”. Hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave “Rilo Kiley”. Even though I had all of my music (117 gigs) backed up on MULTIPLE hard drives I could never bring myself to sell back certain cds, even if they hadn’t seen the light of a CD player laser since Clinton was in office.
Nevertheless I wanted cash for a new bike so I convinced myself it was time to clean house. I grabbed the remnants of a once proud collection and headed over to SecondSpin. Stepping into the store I felt a bit panicked. As I watched the salesclerk examine each cd for scratches I found my cds taking on a life of their own, making desperate last minute pleas with me. Elvis Costello’s Greatest Hits tried playing the whole “We look alike! Don’t do this” card. I didn’t bite. The Who’s Tommy looked at me as if I murdered Keith Moon and said “If I knew this was going to happen I would have joined Quadrophenia in the trunk of the Prius, all scratched up. At least those discs died with some dignity!” The Beatles “The White Album” looked at me incredulously as if to say “Um, HELLOOO I’m the White Album. You’re joking right?” Afraid not lads. That decision triggered something in me. I was frightened. I realized if I could hand over an album like The White Album for $9 I was capable of truly horrific things.
Years of memories and emotions came flooding in as I watched the register put prices on pieces of my life. These cds with their album art, their cd silk screen, and their cases each with their unique cracks all have specific stories that wouldn’t make sense to their new owners. They’d be lost on everyone but me. How could I abandon them and how could they love anyone else. I was the Daniel Plainview of SecondSpin. At that point I knew what it felt like to give up a child for adoption. True, it wasn’t hard to say goodbye to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Sure they hold a special place in my heart, but it’s more for novelty’s sake…like the time I hooked up with that wonky eyed fat girl with the onion breath. It was a great story and everyone had a good laugh but nothing inspiring came of it. The same cannot be said for The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin…which I turned in for a measly $2. This was an album that re-introduced me to a band that I once thought was a one hit wonder. As it would turn out, I was reacquainted with a band that blew away their “She Don’t Use Jelly” one hit wonder label and this album would become the Pet Sounds of the late 90’s.
Some cds were too scratched up to be returned, others were not returnable as the store’s inventory was already at full capacity and each time I feigned indignation at these “slights”. In reality I was celebrating the salesclerk’s overly judgmental eye. Radiohead’s The Bends was rejected due to cd laser burning from overplaying that I immediately could translate back to when I first got the cd and I played it at least 1000 times in my old “top of the line” Sony cd walkman ( “Look it even comes with a wired remote!” ). That disc was my introduction to Radiohead outside of “Creep”. Even if it was scratch free I’m not sure $3 would be worth kissing goodbye the memory of riding in the backseat of a car studying the liner lyrics to “Black Star” till my eyes hurt.
The parting pains for Interpol, The Raconteurs, and Sigur Ros were there, but not nearly as bad as what I would see waiting for me at the bottom of the return pile: Beck’s Sea Change. Dare I part ways with Beck Hansen’s ode to breakup? What would I look to when I too suffered from crushing personal loss or heartbreak? Hearing it on my iPod simply would not do the trick. This album has always had a strong hold over me and I couldn’t bring myself to part ways with it. I hoped, no PRAYED that it would fail the scratch inspection. It didn’t. Of Course. As I inched closer to see what the return would net the salesclerk compassionately responded “Are you sure you’d like to return this?” I feebly responded with “Um…only if it’s more than $2”. As soon as I got $2 out of my mouth the register responded with, rather curtly I might add, a return price of $2.50. It surely heard me and now was testing my resolve. We both sat there string at Beck’s face, for what seemed like forever until I finally snatched the cd off the counter and said “I’ll keep it I need something to listen to on the way home”. Luckily the salesclerk was unaware that I easily have 80+ ripped cds in my car. It didn’t matter.
To me, nothing would feel more perfect to me than listening to “Already Dead” as I drove home with the dirtiest feeling $80 that I’ve ever put in my wallet. As I sit here looking at my return receipt taunting me like a long paper snake of lament part of me wants to drive back to the store and explain to “Brett” and his hipster moustache that I made a huge mistake. He could keep Maladroit and Chulahoma but not Icky Thump. Surely he’d made mistakes in the past hadn’t he? Could he not understand? Had he no regrets? I feel like Jason Robards in Magnolia pontificating about the pains of our actions. This is the regret that you make. He had nurse Phillip Seymour Hoffman to voice his regrets to. Now all I have is Beck.
“So stupid, that fucking mind! Stupid! Jesus Christ! What would I think, did I think for what I’d done?” – Earl Patridge (Magnolia)
“Already dead to me now”
‘Coz it feels like I’m watching something die” – Beck Hanson (Already Dead)
Despite not living that far from the Westside, I rarely make it to that part of town (Culver City, Westwood,Venice), only because it always seems to take me forever and a day to get to my destination, I avoid the 10 West like the plague (I think the 10 West might be the only free parking in Santa Monica–I should try leaving my car on it one day, walking to my destination, and then seeing if it’s still in the same spot upon my return). The surface streets near the 405 fwy entrance around Santa Monica Blvd. are not much better. This area does have many great gallery spaces, restaurants, boutiques, not to mention the Nuart Theatre so it is worth the journey, and generally if you take Olympic Blvd. down you can avoid a lot of the traffic.
With that said, I braved the drive to make it to Artwalk Culver City last Saturday. You see if we ever put up events on TRAffIK, it’s usually because we’re (either Brandy/”BB” or I, or both) going (next week look for us at the Wine Tastings and screening of Corked and The Graffitti Art Event at the Downtown Independent–we’ll put up details soon).
About 3pm, I gathered a bunch of the girls (among them Lady Di and Maureen Shampine) and hit the road to the Washington Blvd. La Cienega intersection where this was all taking place. Somehow, Notes From Vivace had already made it there and called me as I was still looking for parking. He was antsy to make it to the beach, but was willing to wait around for us and walk through a few of the galleries. We found him quickly at Indie Collective and laughed as we crossed the street towards him at the display we must’ve made comparing it to the Sex and the City intro–briefly arguing about who was more like Charlotte– Lady Di or I? I say neither and both, but we did agree Maureen would have to be Samantha) We ended up checking out about 3/4 of them (in actuality, I think we really only missed about 3 or 4 of the 41 total galleries exhibiting that day). Our favorite piece was located at the LeBasse Projects Gallery, where it was decided I should commission UK artist Joe Black to create a piece in my likeness like his Lost and Found button collage (read Maureen’s much better write-up on Artwalk and this piece here), I insisted that it was more of a Michelle Marini piece. Speak of the devil who do we run into right as we’re exiting the gallery? Michelle and our friend Jason who had spotted us upon arrival, but had lost track of us. So I had to go back inside and show her the piece, and she agreed. Lady Di’s friend Jamie (who is also an artist) caught up with us and he also spent most of the afternoon with us.
I believe this was the fourth annual Artwalk Culver City, but I feel that it was still missing a lot of the community vibe that it should have had. It was nice to see some parents and grandparents bringing out their kids/grandkids to experience the art, since there aren’t many kid-friendly art shows these days. We had a great time enjoying the art (but we have a great time anywhere we go for the most part), but I couldn’t help but feel like each of the galleries was having it’s own private party as opposed to one big party.
We left shortly after our feet started to hurt and headed towards our girl’s night at Amanda Jones’ house. I would tell you about it, but what happens at girl’s nights stay at girl’s nights.
A Friday night at Echo Curio.
I headed over to Echo Curio recently to check out three bands. This was only my second time going over to Echo Curio. The first time was to see Spider Problem and Underground Railroad to Candyland. That was an interesting night that involved some art destruction. You see, Echo Curio is an art gallery on Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. The location is just east of The Echo and Barragan’s, walking distance.
Regarding parking. The first time I went to Echo Curio, I tried to find parking on the neighborhood streets that surround the area. I found parking, but it took me awhile. This time around I just parked in the parking lot that people use for The Echo.
I arrived at Echo Curio in the middle of Go West Young Man’s set. The band includes a trumpeter, which gives their set a big band jazz, rock feel. Does that make any sense? It doesn’t matter if you agree with me, because I’m sticking to that description! It was a fun set. The band’s name just keeps on reminding me of that newspaper editor Horace Greeley – for obvious reasons.
by: Cashew Harding
Rarely does one think of a sailors life-style when one thinks of Los Angeles. It isn’t ingrained in the overall civic culture like, say San Francisco or Baltimore.
But under the ultra white-hot flash of the media empire that is LA, floats the busiest port in America. The Wilmington/San Pedro/Long Beach harbors bring in commercial fleets all day and night from Asia that are carried up the Harbor Freeway by trucks to the hub of downtown LA, and sent scattering across the country via wheels or wings.
…but those urban docks have a sterling silver cousin up on the Westside, Marina Del Rey, and I spent a few years living on my sailboat and mixing with the live-aboard community of salty dogs and rusty nails that call it home. While MDR is more known for condominiums and celebrity-owned yachts, there is a huge amount of dumpy boats and dilapidated vessels that thousands of unique characters spend their days drinking their government checks away.
I guess I could have been one myself, but I always felt too young and wet behind the ears….at least compared to Beau, the Irish pirate who literally had a peg leg. Or Dusty, the old school South Bay surfer with Tourettes whose PCP-inspired epithets echoed across the quiet docks in the middle of the night. There was Rob, the tough Jim Morrison-obsessed OG cholo who made his way from Pico-Union to skate the scene in Dogtown the next street over.
There are more, but Ill throw a couple character studies of the two coke dealers on my dock: Jason and Taylor.
Taylor came out of nowhere and moved in on the 32’ sailboat bowside to mine and was immediate trouble. He was straight up Venice Beach white trash and I didn’t like him. He was always nosy, where as I have a side of me that likes to be left alone in my place of residence. Living on a boat gives you the solitude to read and create and I did a lot of that, but Taylor came around almost every hour knocking on my hatch, asking ‘for a light’ or to sing a Nirvana song, or something.
One day after being gone for a week, Taylor all of a sudden came back with a huge bloody bandage on the back of his thigh. His story was believable at first: He said he got it while he was away in Hawaii by falling asleep on the beach after surfing. Apparently he scraped his thigh on coral leaving flesh exposed and as he slept, a mosquito or a critter of some kind crept in and laid some larvae under his skin. Seemed believable to me until a couple days later he took the bandage off and the injury was the size of a golf ball with a tear in the middle, red and frayed. A fuckin’ gunshot wound!
There was a round-the-clock cycle of his customers coming around and neither I, nor my neighbors cared for it. Broken-toothed stoners, underage Westside gangsters, and just bad junkies coming around. They stayed up all night, high on meth and made my early mornings miserable. They scared off a girlfriend of mine once by bringing an aggressive pitbull who didn’t like her on the docks at 3am, waking everybody up in the process. This was the last straw for me. But for the dock residents, tt wasn’t until an inboard engine was stolen off a handicapped live-aboards boat while he was in the hospital that we all banded together.
Ryan, my starboard neighbor, was an underwater repairman for Paramount Studios whose own terrier was being bullied by that same pitbull. One day while Taylor was away, he drilled eight holes into the hull of his boat and within hours it sunk and was being dragged out by the coast guard. There was a warrant out for Taylor, so when he came home not only did he find his home being towed away, but several LAPD officers waiting to take him out.
Jason was a different story.
Tall, overweight, Republican, and a total sweetheart. He moved in on our strip after the whole Taylor debacle and was waaaay more low-profile. He enamored everyone with his generous behavior and was immediately well-taken by the dock.
For instance, I had come back from my wedding in Costa Rica and my wife and I decided to have the LA reception on my boat, though I no longer lived there. He felt so bad about being out of the loop in my personal affairs, he rented a high-powered watercraft cleaner to shine up my boat for the party and assisted in everything, from handing out hors’d oeuvres to helping the elderly guests up the dock ramp. Charmed our families, the whole bit. Then, when it was time for the kids to play in the evening, he busted out with his primo Columbian cocaine and set it up on my table. And I don’t mean like a taste for everyone. I mean, like Scarface. A huge pile and railed up lines the size of Brazilian caterpillars!
Several months later, we got a horrible phone call from Rob, the Doors vato, who told me Jason was found dead in his boat. An overdose. The boy was just too big to be messin’ with that much toot. Huge loss. Big heart.
As far as waterfront property in LA, people think Santa Monica, Malibu, Pac Pal, whatever. But the boat lifestyle in Marina Del Rey is easily the most colorful and vibrant. Regardless of the portrayals I just carried out, it can be the quietest corner of the city. A well-kept secret of low-rent and spectacular So-Cal living. My sailboat, the SS Nipple, still remains my Westside getaway. Where I can be alone and daydream, or I can bring my family and let it all out on a sunny afternoon.