L.A. the Blog Poetry: ‘Cover Letter’

Poster photographed on the corner of Grace Avenue and Franklin Avenue, in Hollywood, simply named “Pink Goats.”

To whom it may concern,

Educated and experienced with references.
Currently not working, a perfect fit with a
Strong skill set and all the necessary interpersonal
Technopacity, stuffed into file cabinets of first
Impressions labeled smiles and handshakes, and folded into
Organized years.

After a year of dedicated time spent interning
Within corporate walls within walls that
Subdivide halfway to the fluorescent sky,
With a lake view of mountain paradise
Flickering on the user-friendly Apple window of 1’s and 0’s,
In between data sets entered with 10 digits,
10 years later still interned with a new name:
Assistant.

Work hard like the tough get going,
Dedicated to hard work with abundant time
With a willingness for the above and beyond
Means always open and available, nights and
Weekends, in the hope for upwardly mobile
New identifications, advancing 401Ks and a parking spot
Personally surnamed.

Feel free to contact at anytime, thanks and hope all is well.

Sincerely,

The Unemployed

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L.A. the Blog: Light Refraction In the Sky

Light Refraction In Sky

A mysterious and beautiful haze of light setup in the sky of downtown Los Angeles in the month of July, possibly alien invaders but more likely a refraction of light in the atmosphere.

It seems these days any strange occurrence in the sky brings forth new conspiracy theories.  Often observers of phenomena cry out aliens, or secret government projects, or scream the end of the world.  In the past maybe people saw the gods and angels when they viewed such phenomena.  While taking a work hiatus in downtown Los Angeles, after putting in 7-days straight, looking up in the sky this beautiful blue glimmer, similar to a rainbow in the form of a cloud greeted the eye, and what a fabulous and pretty sleep-derived hallucination above head came to mind first.  Unfortunately, once again working with a cell phone camera our photos don’t do justice to the phenomena, but to make up for our lack of technology we offer an explanation to the mystery.

No, the shimmer in the sky  wasn’t an inter-dimensional gate opened by an evil alien or demon race in an attempt to conquer our planet,  though if that was the case they might cancel work.  The beautiful blues with the slight shade of pink like a rainbow came from refracted light.  Unlike a rainbow the light didn’t reflect of water drops falling from the sky, but instead from ice crystals high up in the atmosphere.  The mysterious glimmer most likely was a circumhorizontal arc, but could also be a circumzenithal arc.  Both are phenomena produced by ice crystals and many call them ice halos.  If interested you can look at this site here, and if you scroll down you can get all the good information and science-type answers.  Another great site with information is Atmospheric Optics.  If you do visit this site search until you find the picture of the 44-degree parhelia, well worth the searching.  It is amazing the many beauties produced by this world and if we are lucky enough we might just get to experience.  Please find the better picture below.

L.A. the Blog: Los Candiles Night Club – Decadence Welcome (A changing city, Part 1)

The night air left little doubt that summer sat and reigned over the city. On the streets of Hollywood women wore mini-skirts and guys short-sleeved shirts as they bar hopped, waited in line for night clubs and found the nearest tattoo parlor. The signature city heat that makes Los Angeles either a massive, sweltering discombobulation of people or a destination-dream-paradise cradled the city like a blanket, and added a frenzied pace to everything happening on the boulevard as if heat aiding the movement of mass multiplied and proliferated the various possibilities alive in the night. The mass – people, traffic, love, friendship, drinking, drugging, music, sex – everything.

This city is often like a slow blooming flower, every year unfolding a new petal, unveiling a new aspect of itself for anyone looking and discerning the cities beauty. Hollywood sits close to the heart, but numerous other areas and neighborhoods combine to create the rose that is Los Angeles, or maybe it resembles more a lily or a farewell-to-spring. Forget Hollywood for the moment. This story only starts in Hollywood with a ride into the dark-rising heat of the city streets, ending just on the other side of the L.A. river directly north of downtown in a small nondescript Latin nightclub named Los Candiles. Just for the purpose of translation, Los Candiles means “the candle.”

If asked where the club resides you might say Eagle Rock just because most wouldn’t recognize the name Glassell Park. Like so many working-class neighborhoods its history and uniqueness rest forgotten and ignored among a maze of similar streets with names like Desire, then further lost in a puzzle of similar cities and neighborhoods that all fit into a mold named America. Or perhaps with a history of violence and crime people looked more towards Eagle Rock or Atwater Village for homes, writing the neighborhood off as the bad side of town. Glassell Park – the bad side of Eagle Rock, the bad area of Atwater –  goes unmentioned. For instance the LA Weekly published a story about a crime family, an AK-47 and typical L.A. violence that belongs more to the late 80s and early 90s but happened in Glassell Park in 2008. Or just the other week while talking to a resident he simply stated in sterile terms how some kid recently got beat with a baseball bat, and June 12 of this year a young woman and young man died in a shooting. Violence makes neighborhoods disappear in this city like so much bad food in the refrigerator, people must discard it or the stench and mildew ruin the pleasure of modern society. For instance have you ever heard of the neighborhood of Del Rey?

Of course for the past 20 or 30 years (if not more) a majority of working-class families have called the neighborhood home, and only recently with the whole area of downtown including everything below and above experiencing a renaissance in every sense of the word, although some call it gentrification, the neighborhood has begun to see a shift towards the middle. With middle we mean demographically. Young professionals looking to buy good real estate and others just seeking a more authentic Los Angeles find the neighborhood perfect. With beautiful large homes atop hills that lead into Eagle Rock providing breathtaking views and hidden away in trees; or authentic and great Latin food available through street vendors; or even a sense of community that exists where people live and die together daily; the neighborhood offers a friendly hello at the local gas station, that is of course if you don’t mind a rougher handshake and a little dirt covering up a gem. A gem discovered and just starting to see the light.

Take Los Candiles, an unassuming Latin dance club that sits along a main drag in Glassell Park. You find these clubs all over the city. Some like the ones in Echo Park and Venice have been converted into new sleek dance venues for indie rock and electronic acts, but most in the city still keep their original flavor and offerings. At first look nothing out of the ordinary, but like the neighborhood this club is a gem. Scouring the online website gives the first hint that this club offers something unique with the traditional Latin dance music. “Venga y disfrute con nuestro show Fantasia con Las Estrellas” that loosely translates as “Come and enjoy our show / Fantasy with the Stars”; or later when you click the ‘show’ link in the menu sidebar “Ven y disfruta con nuestro travesty show Fantasia Con Las Estrellas” and the show Fantasy with the Stars comes up again, this time with the word “travesty” attached. Most people relate travesty to what happens during a war when innocent people die, but few relate the word to its original usage that is closer to “burlesque” than to “appalling.” In fact the Latin word “travestire” means to disguise or more literally to cover up with clothing; and travesty means a literary or artistic imitation usually incongruous in style, treatment, or subject matter. Maybe it gets confused because it is so close to tragedy, or because people use the statement “travesty of justice” too often changing the meaning. So a travesty show? Call it what you will, but at Los Candides it means a drag show with singing, and don’t forget the male stripper and the DJ.

Burning through the hot night the road led through the up-and-coming neighborhood, to the unassuming Latin dance club and to a birthday party for an unknown girl with unknown people at an unknown place. The invite seemed strange at first, a phone call promised a party with a ton of women while at the same time offering a drag show. For some reason the two promises didn’t go together, I always equated drag with gay bars in West Hollywood, not straight woman celebrating a birthday in a working-class neighborhood. After learning more about Glassell Park the place even seems more unlikely since gang violence and the machismo of the hood normally make anything GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender) unacceptable. Or even more so with a possible large Catholic population, you would think such a place harbors the ill will of the church. Regardless of its location and its stigma, for the ladies who arrived to the birthday it meant dancing to sweaty South American rhythms and letting loose in a place tingling with an open atmosphere that celebrates what it means to be beautiful and a women.

The local crowd loved the band playing, while the ladies loved every minute of every second. Every song brought out dancers, and the enthusiasm of the small local crowd showed they came for the music. The birthday girl found a dance partner for every song.  She often grabbed a friend, or a friend grabbed her, some of her guy friends followed the girls to the floor to dance with the birthday girl as tempos sped up and the band picked up energy.  A few times an older gentlemen, a veteran of Latin rhythm clubs would escort her to the floor and steal a few moments of youth back. Him and the other few older gentlemen masterfully controlled the dance floor leading their partners around in what from afar seemed slow rhythm combined with the quick turns and spins of ballroom dance. Looking more closely the majesty of what it takes to have that control and grace was tantamount to intricate and precise dance steps that happened quick and fast so the eye could barely follow the practiced patterns that flowed with ease. For these few gentlemen the smiles on their faces and sparkles in the eyes meant that whatever happened earlier in the day at work or home, and whatever happened tomorrow meant nothing in the moment of the dance. For some a cold beer and a shot of hard liquor washed away the day, the week and the years. For those weaving a spell with the Rumba or sweeping across the floor with a Cha Cha the dance gave them the same dignity along with the semblance of eternal youth.

The club wasn’t very packed but if everyone got on the floor room became sparse. This led to a perfect intimate spot for a birthday. As the women drank alcohol and their male friends did the same the atmosphere around the table slowly unwound becoming looser and looser. More alcohol, more drinking and finally the show started, the “travesty show Fantasia Con Las Estrellas.” Beautiful women dressed up as famous Latina stars, the most notable Shakira in gold and flowing blond hair. In true Burlesque and travesty, sexuality permeated the singing and dancing along with a hint of the more sultry tradition of strip clubs. Every so often a famous Latin singer would mount the lap of a gentleman in the crowd shaking her hips back and forth while continuing to lip sing to the radio hits.

After a few acts of famous latinas, they unleashed the male stripper onto the floor dressed in classic cowboy attire, chaps and all. He made his way around the room to the various women at the various tables, collecting dollars along the way, unzipping his fly for extra smiles and girlish embarrassment. At this point it might be worth skipping the entire rest of the episode for a stripper is a stripper. Hunter S. Thompson in “The Rum Diaries” writes this beautiful scene during the Carnival celebration where a beautiful woman dancing with a fabulous man gets drawn further and further into seduction as the tempo and rhythm of the Samba create an explosive sexual energy. If anything about the stripper at Los Candides, his pure sexual energy should be remembered. When tempted over to the birthday girl by dollar bills and innocent eyes, her friends put her up to experiencing first hand the show and his dancing while the alcohol made anything possible, words alone and even pictures fail to describe what happened next. Never has a female stripper ever performed that well for a man, and the question remains who was more surprised – the dancer for his own abandonment in the passion of the moment, or the birthday girl for her willingness to wear a cowboy hat and straddle his lap, chaps and all. The club gave them everything they needed for a memorable night of partying. Of course if they forget they can always refer back to L.A. the Blog and the pictures we posted online of our brief time at Los Candides. We hope the girls tipped their cowboy dancer extra for that one.

Los Candides and Glassell Park might never be the same with young people looking for new exciting and fantastic neighborhoods to live. We left the girls and their friends still drinking and partying. The DJ came on before as we walked out replacing the band and his opening track rocked like a Tijuana night club. Before getting in the car we grabbed tacos from a food stand down the street. One of the best burritos we have ever ate. Maybe year after year from this point forward the murder rate in Glassell Park will slowly become nonexistent, and like so much of the city that we grow up in the neighborhoods continue to change and become wealthier as the working class moves on. Local thrift shops become small boutiques, and development slowly brings large corporate chains. Maybe Los Candides will eventually host techno clubs and indie line-ups, but for now it remains a jewel of a good time … especially for the ladies.

UPDATED: Below find some video from Los Candides …

L.A. the Blog: Happy Independence Day!

Time-traveling Pirate Surfers!

Damn good holiday to you!

Today, we have no heroic stories – we will leave those for television; we have no personal triumphs – other than finding happiness while working at the mall; and we have nothing reverent to say – we even have a draft dodger here at L.A. the Blog.  What we do have is a few pictures we collected in the last week.

So have fun out there, go see some pretty explosions in the sky, eat some good ole’ BBQ, wave an American flag, drink some beer, kiss your girl, put on some music really loud, shoot a gun, attack the beach, sing the national anthem, peel out in your ride, spend money, build a bonfire, push someone in a pool, scream you love America, and if you need too go to the store and get yourself some!  We love Amerika, it was such a great book.

Butt Paste – happy 4th of July!

L.A. the Blog: One Love Improv In Session

Improv group Nonstop Pregnancy Scare onstage at One Love Improv – June 25, 2012

Monday night, a sleepy night, a night of wholesome television and family gathering, the start of the work week and mostly uneventful. A night of recuperation, extra rest and nothing much. That is why L.A. the Blog says thank you to One Love Improv for taking Monday night from the cradle of normal and making it hilarious, raunchy and more fun than a bag of raw chicken.

The brainchild of comedians Mike Callaghan (a friend of ours who turned us onto the show), Victor Lopez and David Danipour, the weekly show invites local comedic talent from all over, and the jokes are as varied as the performers. So for those wishing to escape the confines of the couch and disappear into the Hollywood night, One Love Improv provides the perfect excuse, and at the same time a fun comedy show with a guaranteed laugh.

Originally started back in May as a one-off event they dubbed the Secret Improv Show held at the Neon Venus Art Theatre, they packed the house (albeit a small house) as guest improv groups like Sticky Nights, and the founders own act Gummy Tears provided enough immodest and off-the-hook improv to garner them an ongoing weekly show. Still in the same location and retitled One Love, Mondays will never be the same.

So far L.A. the Blog visited the last two shows along with those first few Secret Imrpov shows, and the events bring in top, underground talent. The group Nonstop Pregnancy Scare, who’s making their rounds in the L.A. area performed a few weeks back and they left a soul-scouring mark on innocence as they profaned everything from love to religion. We won’t mention the Star of David poop joke or the abandoned Evangelist child skit … oh, whoops!

MurderCliff onstage ripping one of their signature and uncanny raps at One Love Improv – June 25, 2012.

This last Monday, July 2, saw Gummy Tears onstage again in a courageous display of dragon slaying and sleepwalking children, along with their astounding guests Elephants Gerald and The Lady’s of Anne Taylor’s Loft. Elephants Gerald, a two-person improv show staffed by Suzi Barrett and Rebecca Drysdale stole the night as the experienced duo bantered and generally poked fun at everything from cell phone family plans for gay couples to Hollywood screenwriter’s critiquing Total Recall the total remake.

Some other fabulous acts that have graced the stage: MurderCliff, Monika Smith, Colton Dunn & Friends, and Mr. and Mrs. All-Star.

While a light crowd at the last show took some of the energy away that the first two shows brimming with standing room only put forth, generally the comedic troupes bring the humor. A trip to One Love is a guaranteed laugh, or your money back … haha. The best part is the show’s donation only (in other words free) so the jokes on you. We haven’t heard the lineup for next week but as soon as we do the Blog will provide an update. Below find some pics we shot, and some info on the Neon Venus.

One Love Improv happens every Monday night, from 10:30 pm to midnight, at the Neon Venus Art Theatre, 7023 Melrose Ave (@ La Brea), Los Angeles, CA 90038.  Please check their facebook page for updates and show information.

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L.A. the Blog Poetry: ‘Friendship Lingers’

Pain lingers,
Friend,
Inside, Shown only
When lashing out speech
Destroys patient hope, or
Friendship’s gift, as if
Words burned angry scars
Upon the silence around us.

We die,
Alone,
In moments of
Denial about what we
Suffer from; it never came to
Light that alone mirrors
Twisted upon themselves take
Light and reflect back what
Is hated most –

It reflects back
What is you and what is me.

The truth,
Together,
We know:  You see me
I see you.  Only together, though,
Never any other time, never with
Family close, or love in the picture
Bringing soft stares from opposite
Here, as conversation moves time.

Like lies,
Words,
Hide the truth,
Confuse the issue, drag the
Doom beneath layers of
Pain – remember our doom?
It consumes like fire, but
Exists as phantoms, cold
Memories that strip life away –

And it never leaves,
For it is you and it is me.

It pauses,
Lessens,
Almost drifts away
Until raging it scars not
Just you, not just me.
You loved her, like I loved
Another, yet where
Are they now?  Consumed,
Spent, the memories smoke.

Alone again,
Friend,
Turning inward
We breath what’s left –
What we left for us
Becoming that very thing,
That same very thing
That haunts our sleep.

Pain lingers friends,
Inside you, and inside me.

—————————————————————————————————————

Dedicated to my friend Charlie (who wants to remain anonymous)

L.A. the Blog: ‘Skaters Rule’ Artshow Echo Park

A variety of images adorn the wall paying tribute to skateboarding in the Bureau of Arts and Culture gallery in Echo Park mixing memorabilia with original art in a presentation simply thought of as ‘Skaters Rule.’

Southern California (all California even) spews and spawns skateboard and surf culture as if the constant sunshine keeps society from coagulating boys and girls into traditional sports like a hereditary hemophilia disorder. With skateboard culture comes the unique artwork that splashes T-shirts, adorns the bottom of skate decks, and fills the pages of magazines. Inspired and pulling from this plethora of creativity throughout the decades, local artists in Echo Park put together a gallery show of personalized skates, iconic collages and classic memorabilia.

The majority of the show consists of a variety of art styles hand painted or printed on the bottom of skateboard decks, from classic movies star images to the 70s-esque retro design of clean colorful lines against a background colorfield. This ‘bottom-deck’ (not to be mistaken for ‘low-brow’) creativity extended into an ambitious 3-D installation of a deck spinning from a chord attached to the roof, painted with a glossy enamel in glowing black-light colors (ultraviolet light included), showing the famous Natas SMA pentagram repeated from top-to-bottom, and includes 3-D glasses for added audience participation.

In another area of the gallery the back wall is dedicated strictly to skateboard history. From an old helmet to a great collection of vintage magazines and letters the viewer takes a trip down memory lane while paying homage to the legends who innovated the sport.

Last a small but favorite part of the gallery show includes traditional canvas and collage paintings that juxtaposes the art of skating with recognizable images that normally don’t mix. A Pac-Man ghost jumping on a deck, or an African native rolling through the Sahara on a board? Both these particular pieces of art you easily imagine on a modern skateboard, and might see someday in the future.

The Bureau of Art and Culture, located at 1282 W Sunset Blvd, Echo Park, CA 90026, presents ‘Skaters Rule’ through the month of June every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. Below find a slideshow of various pictures of the opening:

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