Friday, February 22, 2013

Joshua Tree Obsession II

I first visited Joshua Tree in 1987, back when it was just a national monument.  My one and only visit.  It had since (in 1994) been designated a national park and I believe it's the closest one from our house in Rancho Cucamonga -- a short 90 mile drive.  In 1987, I did a bike ride through the park with my friends Paul and Carey, who I just met just a couple months prior at UCLA.  Needless to say, I didn't remember much of the terrain other than the presence of thousands of Joshua trees.  (I also remember suffering on that ride due with the 2800 ft elevation and the winds.) During a recent visit, I was reminded how truly unique this place is.  The landscape is like no other place on earth that I'm aware of.  These postcards are just a sampling of what's inside the park.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ottmar Liebert at the Lewis Family Playhouse

I first heard him at the Music Plus store in West LA just off National Blvd in the early 90s.  The crisp nylon string melodies were catchy.  Barcelona Nights.  Nouveau Flamenco. Ottmar Liebert.  I bought the first 6 or so of his CD releases primarily because the music was easy to ingest.  It was good driving music that we played on countless road trips to bike races in the Southwest.  Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada.  At some point in the early 2000s, I just stopped listening to him altogether.  Boredom?  So when I found out that he was playing at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Rancho Cucamonga, I still wasn't sure I wanted to see him.  Do I go with the kids?  They've been to a lot of concerts but nothing that remotely resembles Liebert's genre.  But hey, I wanted to take them to the Playboy Jazz Festival this summer so this might be a good warmup.  No screaming vocal or loud distorted guitars.  Just very accomplished instrumentalists. As it turned out, the $28 ticket was a very good value since Liebert (and his backup band) played over 2 hours --which included a 20 minute intermission in the middle.  The kids have heard most of Liebert's material from the early releases since Maura and I would play them on road trips as well -- a continuation of a pre-kid tradition.  Besides enjoying the music, the other interesting discovery is the intimacy of the Lewis Family Playhouse as a venue.  No bad seats at all in the 560 they accommodate.  And the best part of all, I didn't have to pay the Ticketmaster ransom per ticket since all I had to do was pick them up at the box office.  Did I like Liebert's new stuff well enough to buy the newer releases?  Not likely.  But with good live music so hard to find in the 909, I had a good time and so did the kids.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rage Against The Machine

Some of those that wear forces 
Are the same that burn crosses. 

So the Christopher Dorner story finally ended last night after the cabin he was believed to be hiding in was burned to the ground but San Bernardino deputies that engaged him in an earlier gunfight.  I, for one do not agree with Dorner's murderous rampage to prove his point of a system that had gone way out of control.  The only question, I think sociologists will be struggling with for a while is why are there so many law-abiding citizens who are rooting for Dorner?  I'm sure the academics have access to the long, colored history of the LAPD and police brutality so if anyone wants an easy doctorate in sociology, this dissertation is easy to defend.

Killing in the name of! 
Killing in the name of! 

So in the process of trying to hunt down Dorner, law enforcement agencies in particular, LAPD, Torrance PD and San Bernardino Sheriffs basically reinforced the claims that Dorner made in his published online manifesto, that law enforcement will do anything to protect their own.  Even if only a quarter of Dorner's claims were even true, one can truly understand why he snapped.

And now you do what they told ya 

I do not know to what extent police tactics will be investigated in this manhunt but 3 particular incidents just prove Dorner's points.  Shooting over 100 rounds at 2 women delivering the LA Times, ramming a white guy's truck and shooting at him in a case of mistaken identity and the burning of the cabin where Dorner was holed up in the San Bernardino mountains.  Does anyone ever doubt they want this guy dead? For the first 2 incidents, if everything gets settled out of court, then of course, it's business as usual.  Police payout to civilians is probably included in every law enforcement agency budget in the LA basin.  On the last event, which ended the manhunt, sadly, it's just another data that proves Dorner's point of out-of-control police tactics.

And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control 
And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control 

Which brings me to my main point.  As long as there is abuse of power in this world that we live in, the song "Killing In The Name" by the band Rage Against The Machine will be as relevant as ever.  The country had never seen anyone go up against the machine with such anger as we've seen in the last 7 days.  Until changes are made, it won't be the last.

Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sound City (2013)

I knew I had to see it in the big screen.  I knew it was going to be a limited release in the Los Angeles area.  I expected to drive to LA or Pasadena -- which I did.  I also knew the kids, being Nirvana and Foo Fighters fans would want to come along.  So a week ago today, we set out to the Sunset Sundance Cinema off Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood.  Fandango said 1130am showing, we were there right at 1120.  Until we got in the box office and got turned back.  Turns out Sunset Sundance is a 21+ movie theather because they serve alcohol.  But at fucking 1130am?  Pissed off as hell, we ended up going to Guitar Center and Amoeba Records so at least the 60 mile drive from the 909 wasn't wasted.  But today, we went to Laemmle 7 in Pasadena and this was more friendly to kids.  Sound City?  Excellent movie based on a great story.  It's just a throwback to the days of analog and the historic albums made at this recording studio in Van Nuys.  Again, I knew I had to see it in the big screen with the nice sound system -- and I wasn't disappointed.  Dave Grohl had proven yet again that he is an artist with a vision that produces just great work.  Equal parts funny and great storytelling, this is all about music and the artists who make them, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, Nirvana, Paul McCartney, Rick Rubin and others.  This is about family.  The group of individuals who owned, operated and maintained Sound City for countless bands and us, the listening public get to enjoy music thanks to their passion.  This is about rock and roll.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Speaking Of Ideas On A Card...

I finally found a use for all the old greeting cards I have stashed away.  All I needed to do was cut them into 5"x5" squares and close off all but one side with tape.  Recorded CDs or DVDs fit perfectly inside them for long term storage.  The card surface usually is a nice writing surface to label its contents.  Recycle.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ideas On A Card

January is over and so far, this is only the first drawing I've done this year.  Gel pen on 6-panel 3x5 index cards.  I wanted to explore different drawing canvases this year and while I've done a few on 3x5 cards in the past, I want to see how far I can take some ideas I had written down last year.  (Ironically, those art ideas were written on 3x5 index cards.) Maybe this is what concept art is all about right?  The concept alone is sufficient and the artist gets bored or unmotivated.  Execution has a finite probability of anywhere between zero and one of actually happening.  Of course, all my art ideas have a better chance of realization if only I can put away my guitars for a while.