KPFK has been producing great radio in LA since 1959. The listener-supported station has been digging through its vaults, unearthing interview gems. On Thursday, you can hear the voices of Anais Nin, Dr. Margaret Mead, Lily Tomlin, Judy Chicago, Audre Lorde and others at this benefit CD release party at the Feminist Majority Foundation. Good cause, food, location, and I’ll be there (I’m on the host committee).
Victory Tischler-Blue has an eye for the contrast of light and shadows. The current show of her photographs at Spot Photo Works features stunning desert landscapes, as well as a couple of dark portraits. Abandoned modernist petrol stations reel under vivid night skies. Fences and highways divide the horizon. A triptych captures a naked tattooed man staring at the camera and fingering his penis. A slow shutter turns car spotlights into smears of color as lightning cracks the sky like an egg.
Many years ago, the photographer and filmmaker was known as Vicki Blue and played bass in a little band called the Runaways that readers of this blog may have heard of. (Another former Queen of Noise, Jackie Fox, was at the September 20 opening with Victory.) She also directed the documentary Edgeplay: A Movie About the Runaways. So she knows from darkness. She now makes her home and work in Palm Springs. It’s good — not just good for an erstwhile rock star, but damn good. The show, at 6679 Sunset Boulevard, runs until November 11.
Dear harbor seals of Cabrillo Beach,
Gosh you are cute. Big eyes. Round face. White spots. I have always admired you — from afar. But I have boundary issues. Like, don’t touch me. Especially when I am in deep water. I had a bad experience with one of you last year, and I would really prefer you to keep your distance. I apologize to the seal I kicked today. I swear it was an accident. But don’t swim all up behind me like that! There’s plenty of room out there in the sea. And no, it is NOT your kelp bed.
I know, I’m not writing this to the dolphins. That’s because they do not touch me. They did freak me out a little bit when they surrounded us out at the buoy today, but they understand boundaries. Also, they don’t smell as bad as you, frankly. I smelt you before I saw you. Fish breath.
Seriously, I write this for your own good. If you keep coming up to swimmers — and I saw you with that other guy too! — you’re going to get relocated. I don’t want that, and neither do you.
I love all animals, including you, but let’s keep our relationship Platonic, and not physical.
Caetano Veloso’s voice breaks cement and hearts. Last night at the Hollywood Bowl, the Brazilian legend sang one of his oldest compositions, “Baby” (written with and made famous by Os Mutantes), in the tender falsetto and multisyllabic lilt that’s uniquely his. He can also rap, play some mean rock guitar , and do elegant gestures with his long dancer hands that end with a middle finger raised — pretty badass for a septuagenarian. I’ve been a huge fan since my Puerto Rican boyfriend made a video about me set to the song “Branquinha,” and I fell in love with that 1989 album, Estrangeiro. Like Springsteen, Veloso’s an artist aging not just gracefully but pointedly — his voice more supple, his material more risky. He’s a romantic and a rebel, who in the 1960s got jailed AND exiled for his music. Not even Pussy Riot can claim that.
Too bad much of the lame-o LA crowd suffered through Andrew
Bland Bird then began exiting halfway through Caetano’s set. This is history people: One of the greatest musicians of our time — singer of postcolonial protest love songs about tropical truths — in one of the world’s greatest venues; stop worrying about traffic for once. I do wish KCRW and the Bowl hadn’t stacked the bill and made us wait so long for the headliner. Devendra Banhart was funny and weird and sometimes charming and sometimes annoying and has a beautiful voice when he just sings. His Spanish songs sounded somewhat unnervingly tropicalia-esque, but at least he chooses great role models. It was a trilingual night under the stars. Viva Veloso!
One of my Revolution Girl Style students shared this hilarious video with me, and now, I have to share it with you.
The second annual benefits concert for Jail Guitar Doors promised guest artists, and last night at the scenic John Anson Ford Theatre, Rock Out 2! delivered. From Ben Harper playing slide with mom Ellen at his side, to Jackson Browne and Tim Robbins bashing out Bobby Fuller’s “I Fought the Law” (smart thematic choice for the evening), to show organizer Wayne Kramer and Tom Morello kicking out the jams, it was an evening of surprising and surprisingly tasty collaborations.
The concert took a while to find its groove. But when Jill Sobule sang her funny sweet song “Jetpack,” well, the music got air. The plucky songster also traded electric barbs in an ax faceoff with Kramer, the former MC5 guitarist and JGD main man. The Harpers plucked and twanged a protest lament about Monsanto. I have to admit I’ve been lukewarm on the son in the past but am now smitten by this charming man. Ditto Jackson Browne: The Big Rock Star of the evening was humble and musicianly, duetting beautifully with Harper. “Running on Empty” was maybe unnecessary — isn’t he sick of playing it? — but still, I now want to see him again at Way Over Yonder.
Former Rage Against the Machine guitar god Morello finished the evening with a blistering set with his band the Freedom Fighters Orchestra. He unveiled a timely new song, “Marching on Ferguson,” and did his usual de/reconstruction of “The Ghost of Tom Joad.” I can never see him play that enough times, with or without Bruce. (Natch, I’d prefer with.)
Then it was time for the obligatory all-star finale. Harper failed to answer Morello’s calls for a historic jam — wisely, since instead of playing “Bulls on Parade” WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN THE PERFECT SONG FOR A NIGHT ABOUT JUSTICE IN THE AGE OF FERGUSON (sorry, got overheated there), they played — OMG — Kiss’s “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Sigh. Maybe rock really is dead.
Fortunately the eclectic ensemble closed with the MC5 classic “Kick Out the Jams.” Typical LA overload: There were so many talents on stage — including pioneering punk siren Adele Bertei, and singers Harper Simon and Cody Marks — that some of them didn’t even get their moment to shine.
I went into Twin Towers Correctional Facility with Jail Guitar Doors in May. They played a great show and Wayne gave a rousing speech before a couple hundred inmates. The nonprofit, founded by Billy Bragg in England, goes into prisons, giving residents guitars and teaching them in songwriting workshops. So not only was it a night of generous, rousing music in a gorgeous venue under a clear sky, it was all for a good cause.