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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Event Preview: Echo Park Rising 2015

Event Preview:
Echo Park Rising 2015
this Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

  I am now a card (library) carrying resident of Echo Park, and this will be my first Echo Park Rising as a resident.  I am a big booster of the Echo Park area.  The socio-economic diversity is something that I require.  I could have been living in the suburbs for over a decade at this point but I feel like that is nothing but a slow death.  When I saw I like socio economic diversity, that extends to features that other folks dislike: the homeless, gang activity, dirty streets.  On a weekly basis I commute from my house in Echo Park (rented) to my auxiliary law office in Beverly Hills, and I can hardly stand Beverly Hills because it's so, "Nice."

Echo Park Rising is developing into a decent size event- the Eastsider Blog says 10,000 are expected and the temperature is supposedly going to reach the 90s, so here are some tips:


The multi block lot that runs behind Sunset is the only lot type parking in the area- it will likely fill up first, so unless the plan is to get to the festival hell of early don't count on it.  Most street parking around Sunset is metered.  Parking is available in the neighborhood but beware of the Dodger game traffic coming and going.  You are going to want to avoid taking Glendale Avenue south or arriving from East and West on Sunset.

If you are an Uber/Lyft  type I would go with that- but make sure you put some thought into your pick up/drop off point- you don't want to deal with Sunset itself.



  Friday the action will be starting in the late afternoon (which stretching until like 730 PM at this point in the summer.)  I think the main stage is the only real option here, with Dengue Fever/Man or Astroman at the top of the bill.  Dengue Fever is one of those bands you feel obligated to see at least once, and Man or Astroman is a fun band that puts on a good show and doesn't play too often.  That would be between 8 and 10 PM on the main stage.


 Hannibal Buress takes the main stage at 4:20 PM, you don't want to miss him: very funny.  If you are of the indie pop persuasion you might want to head over to the Lost Knight to see the Summer Twins, who are a pair (sisters?) of women who play indie pop style music- that's a 7 PM start, though I would bet on the stage running late at that place (The Lost Knight.)  Jerome LOL has a set at 11 PM at the Echoplex- that will probably be a crazy scene.  Also, don't miss the Blue Collar Dog space being used as a venue- I think that will be interesting.  I am lukewarm to cold on the Saturday night main stage headliners, J Rocc, Deap Valley and Hanni El Khatib, but that's just a personal take and I'm sure that stage will be well attended.

   Also, Wax Idols plays Origami Vinyl at 5 PM.  What a great way to start out your weekend!

 Sunday, of course, features the soon to be legendary "Burger vs. Lollipop" stage, and I'm going to just print the whole schedule:

12:20pm – 12:50pm  June Holiday
1:10pm – 1:40pm  Aldous RH
2:00pm – 2:30pm  The Mollochs
2:50pm – 3:20  Billy Changer
3:40pm – 4:10pm  Vision
4:30pm – 5:00pm  So Many Wizards
5:20pm – 5:50pm  Adult Books
6:10pm – 6:40pm  Pastilla
7:00pm – 7:30pm   Dante Elephante
7:50pm – 8:20pm  Santoros
8:40pm – 9:10pm Peach Kelli Pop
9:30pm – Close  Corners

   This is taking place at the Echo and I think it is obviously the only place to be Sunday, and also the most blogworthy/interesting event of the Weekend.  I'm not saying I like IT or that any of it is GOOD or that the people there won't SMELL BAD but I might have said the exact same three things about Woodstock or the first Lollapalooza, so what do I know.  It could be the actual dawning of the age of Aquarius.

Also, Frankie Rose is doing an "under play" at Origami Vinyl, that is something I'd like to see but probably won't because it will be such a clusterfuck.


  Walk down to Echo Park Lake and buy something from one of the illegal vendors selling everything from soft drinks, to bacon wrapped hotdogs, to Mexican style corn, to candy.  There is also a quality restaurant at the Boathouse, and they've recently expanded their (all outdoor) seating.  That is the place to go if you are in the neighborhood and looking to "chill out."

  Another good spot to "chill out" would be the Sunset Beer Company- located a block or two towards downtown from the main strip.  They have a TON of rare beers and you can drink them in a little space they have set up next to the main shop. 

  If you want a "real meal" I would recommend Kush, which is walking distance but far enough away that random people don't wind up there till later in the evening- going early you are probably guaranteed to get a table.

   Kudos to all the sponsors:  The Echo, The Echoplex, Bedrock LA, DO LA, Taix, Golden Road Brewery, Lassens and a bunch of other sponsors who I won't list here.  The fact that it is all free is significant and worth remarking upon.

Show Review: Jason Isbell at the Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA.

Show Review:
Jason Isbell
at the Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA.

  As a member of the seminal alt-country-southern-indie-rock band Drive By Truckers, Isbell was a Pitchfork darling before the term existed.  As a sober solo artist, he's traded indie cred for the vaster vistas of a number one record on the country, rock and folk charts.  You might say he's losing his edge (Pitchfork gave the new record a 5) but a number one record on three specialty Billboard charts at the same time is what you trade Pitchfork acclaim FOR, in an ideal world.

  I was never a 'Truckers fan, as I heard Drive By Truckers referred to last night at the Wiltern.  I saw Isbell for the first time at Stagecoach a couple years ago, and he made a deep impression, simply on the strength of his song writing and delivery.  It's not every day you see an artist perfectly blend Country, Rock and Folk without one element overwhelming the others, but with Jason Isbell, that is what you get.  Whenever I contemplate Isbell's career, I'm reminded from one of the Simpson's Treehouse of Horror Episodes, "He was too crazy for Boys Town, and too much of a boy for Crazy Town."  

  The show last night conclusively demonstrated that Isbell has his fans, and he has written plenty of hits, but that he hasn't yet penetrated mass culture to the point where he is licensing his songs for truck ads.  Shows at the Wiltern are good for judging the extent to which a particular artist has transcended their genre by the number of music industry insiders that show up to a show.  Last night, there were many, many, many devoted fans, but the industry was under represented, the reserved tables in the back of the room, empty.

  Isbell's parade of hits during a two hour set left me grasping for reasons why he hasn't broken through to mainstream success (although a number one record will probably qualify as said mainstream success) and they are probably similar to why he was able to be a part of a band that had such insider credibility.

 Isbell's audience are a well mannered bunch, and anyone can see that they are people who have been with him for a long time.  At one point, Isbell actually thanked the audience for not heading to the exits when he played material from the new record- hardly what one would expect when said record is number one on the Billboard Album chart.

  The Wiltern is a great venue for making an artistic statement, and Isbell's two hour set was  a tour de force.  I suppose his next level would be having a number one single, and there is no question in my mind that he has it in him. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back (1946) by Henry Green

Book Review
Back (1946)
by Henry Green

  Is this the last Henry Green title in the 1001 Books project?  It is!  Green is well represented in the 1001 Books project with entries ranging from his first novel, Blindness (1926) to this book, published in 1946.  In between there are Living, Loving and Party Going- published in one volume here in the United Sates.  You've also got Caught.   Back and Caught can both be called World War II novels, albeit from the perspective of someone on the home front.  In Back, the protagonist is Charley Summers,  a veteran who has been released from a German prisoner of war camp (not a concentration camp) as part of a prisoner exchange.  He has lost a leg in the war.

 He returns home having heard that his lover, Rose, has died, while he was away at war.  What is not immediately clear is that Rose was seeing two men at once, and she married the other guy, and had a kid with him.  Summers gets a job at a machine tools plant, in a white collar capacity.  The Father of the deceased Rose gives him the name and number of a mysterious stranger, who turns out to be the half sister of Rose- her father's child with another man.

  After that, Summers gets kind of obsessed, and begins an equally creepy with friendship with Rose's husband.   I would say that Back is the most interesting of all the Green titles in the 1001 Books project.   Summers is the most off-kilter Green hero I can think of, and the subject of post-War trauma is as topical as it was in 1946.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Case of Comrade Tulayev (1949) by Victor Serge

Book Review The Case of Comrade Tulayev (1949) by Victor Serge Victor Serge is a real life version of the "Most Interesting Man" character from those Dos Equis beer ads. He was born to exiled Russian revolutionaries (well before the actual Russian revolution.) He grew up in Western Europe, spoke English and French fluently. He fought in World War I, then returned to Russia and got in on the ground floor of the Russian revolution. He stayed in Russia through Stalin's purges in the 20s and 30s, eventually getting exiled to Mexico. Along the way, he wrote and wrote penning fiction and non fiction about his experiences. The Case of Comrade Tolayev is a "fictional" account of the purges that reached to all levels of society after Stalin took power following the death of Lenin. Not all the victims of Stalin's madness were innocents, he was careful to purge the first generation of revolutionaries who were a potential threat to his power- people who knew Lenin. Many of these men were high up in the Communist hierarchy, and these are the characters. What you learn from The Case of Comrade Tulayev is that no one was safe from the madness of 20th century totalitarianism. Rarely do we see the powerlessness of the very men who were in charge of inflicting the madness of dictators on the population. It's hard to be sympathetic with the men in this book, but they are interesting. All seem utterly helpless to change their own fate, and we are talking about people like the head prosecutor in Moscow, and District governors. We don't usually think of the guilty as victims, but truly no one was save.

All About H. Hatterr (1948) by G.V. Desani

Book Review All About H. Hatterr (1948) by G.V. Desani All About H. Hatterr, written by Anglo-Indian author G.V. Desani is equal parts 18th century picaresque, 20th century experimental modernist coming of age story and 21st century post-colonial fantasia. Depending on your background, Desani might most remind you of Lawrence Sterne, James Joyce or Salman Rushdie. For me, the 18th century picaresque element was the most substantial element. Desani's use of language combines English and Hindu vocabulary and grammatical form. Desani's use of dialect is utterly unique for the time period, and anticipates much of the most inventive literature of the post World War II era. All About H. Hatterr contains story elements that will feel intimately familiar to fans of 60s hippie lit or post-colonial magic realism etc, Hatterr drifts across the Indian continent, swinging between workings as a Western style journalist and masquerading as an Eastern guru. He covers himself in ash, wears western business suits, gets embroiled in protracted civil litigation- events follow one another with little thought to an overriding theme or character development. This lack of character development is what makes All About H. Hatterr resemble an 18th century picaresque written in the 20th century. The edition I read was published by the New York Review of Books, a sure sign that few in America have read or heard of this title. That is a shame, because the originality of All About H. Hatterr is breathtaking and totally unique for the time period in which it was published.

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