Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – USA – Day 17/18 – Los Angeles

Posted in Uncategorized by jukeboxparables on March 27, 2010

WT2010 – U.S.A
Day 17/18 – Los Angeles
[On the iPOD] The Smiths / The Cure

I felt like I needed a change of pace from driving everywhere, even though I’d only been doing it for two days. I found some interesting directions to something called The Giving Tree, which I’ve since learnt is based on a book. Basically it’s a ‘hidden spot’ in the hills surrounding L.A well known to hikers but not really anyone else. So I went to check it out early in the morning.

The directions were purposely poetic, I wasn’t sure what to expect really but as instructed parked in a certain car park and saw a bunch of joggers/hikers heading up this trail where the road/car park had ended and the hills somewhere near the Hollywood sign began.

When I say poetic; think along the lines of “When you see the dragon on your right, you’ll know your on the right path” etc. Amusing, but an adventure none the less. I followed the directions and as the trail path began to rise I started to wonder how far this damn tree was going to be. Eyeing the path on the other side of the valley, it looks like it winds kilometres and kilometres which I wasn’t exactly dressed for hiking. Though passing sweaty hikers on the way down I continued to climb and climb.

Eventually you could see the Hollywood sign to your distant left, It would’ve made a good photo but theres a hill obstructing “HOL” so I pressed on. And then after some more twists and turns there it was on the right; a large grand tree with an open-knot-burrow in the centre of it and a red box placed right before the hole. It’s called the giving tree but it might as well be called The Wishing Tree I suppose. People have written their wishes on hundreds of different pieces of paper and placed them in the box or in the tree itself. Somehow they seemed in good condition, it must shield them all from rain naturally.

It wasn’t utterly awe-inspiring but I think it’s more of a destination to make you actually trek the 1.5km or so up the hill “It’s the journey, not the destination” type deal. The hills in that area are actually rather amazing and so is the view. If someone had suggested I go for a hike I probably would have told them no thanks (in a more abrupt way)

So I trekked my way down, sliding in places in my grip-less chuck taylors. Basically every hiker would greet you with a smile and a ‘heya’ I also observed a lady with seven, yes seven dogs in a range of sizes all on their own leash. How one is supposed to hike with that much chaos is beyond me.

I then headed to MOCA; the Museum Of Contemporary Art which currently was hosting a “30years of MOCA” exhibit. Some interesting works, mostly I found myself sighing at some works. Contemporary Art isn’t really my thing but I suppose that’s part of the experience you find yourself loving some things and hating others. Some of the photographers works on show were pretty mind blowing. I generally dislike work “setup or staged” to provoke, its just really hard to do it and not be cliched. Even though these were master photographers I found myself scoffing at some artful shots. Someone has to do it I suppose.

When photographers are more candid, its wholly more interesting to me. The best photography in my mind are shots that are entirely spontaneous and then capture the moment in a way that almost makes it seem as if it were staged. I guess you could say “documentary style” but alluring to something more, something “almost staged” perhaps it’s their subject matter that makes them seem this way. Nan Goldin and Larry Clark were standouts for me.

The MOCA exhibition actually had two venues, the other being in Little Tokyo 10blocks or so away, So I made the trek over and it was worth it. I had three! different people randomly come up to me and comment on my shoes (Im currently wearing mis-matched cons because I wore the inside of one out in Tokyo) or maybe I’m just a hipster wanker.

Too much walking! so I headed back to my hotel and decided to head to a venue called Spaceland at night. After missing out on the soldout gig at The Echo the day before I really really didn’t want to miss another show. Heading there like 10pm I circled the venue for parking for like 10minutes! Shows are really popular in L.A apparently. I kept getting further and further away until I was like 6 blocks away and it was past 10:30pm I thought; to hell with this and headed to the venue from the night before The Echo; which was bound to have some good music right?

$12 entry and I walk in to find lazers hitting my eyes, people wearing hoodies and some hip-hop/electronic mashup stuff on stage. Ohhh FFS!….. As much as this isn’t me I decided to get a drink anyway because I couldn’t be bothered driving anywhere else. The headline band was more electronica and better than the one before / had a guy with a guitar; this looked slightly more promising.

Queue a bunch of knob twiddlers hitting the stage and playing a bunch of samples on laptops and then a guy in a mask stage diving over and over whilst his laptops played his sick mixes. /cuesarcasm I was thinking wow these guys are really good. /endsarcasm. They naturally had projectors running in the background of their set bombarding the crowd with a visual art component which had to win some points or something. One screen played a bunch of handpicked retro cool 80’s videos which I must admit were rather amusing. The other screen however was connected to a laptop which was connected to a webcam pointed at the crowd which was connected to… yes you guessed it, chatroulette. Needless to say I called these guys knob-twiddlers at the start of this longwinded paragraph and then that’s exactly what we all had to witness on a 100″ projector screen. Cocks and Electronica… and I paid $12 for this. What worried me more was the excitement of some “doods” in the crowd at all this.

They did have one or two good tracks though I must admit. Still.

Anyway long story short, I met some cool people who ended up showing me around Echo Park / Silverlake one bar featuring a wank security guard who didn’t want to let an Australian in. We eventually found some bar with a couple of free seats for drinks though. So in the end it was a good night!

Part of the reason the gang was in a rush to show me around Thursday night was because I was sure I was checking out Friday morning. I checked iCalender the day before, where I’ve planned everything out and sure enough I was. Fast forward to me rushing in the morning to get my stuff packed and taking 30minutes to find my spare doorcard which I couldnt checkout with to then rush to reception to ask for checkout; only to be told I’m checking out tomorrow! She was right. Id somehow stuffed up the calendar entry on my laptop. So with a free day to spend circa 12pm already and nothing planned I decided to head to LACMA.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art; which had two exhibitions one on the last 30yrs of Renoir the other on American Stories (Collection of classic American Art) I don’t have any photos because they weren’t allowed but I’ll just summarise by saying the American Stories exhibition was eye opening and really good. I had lunch beforehand which was rather disappointing. A “side” was listed as “home-made crinkle cut chips” I was thinking something else; eating steak with potatoe chips (per you’d find in a plastic packet ala doritos) is a recipe for a coronary disaster eww.

Friday night in L.A! I’ve got to say up until this point it’d been disappointing. Some good shows but just not hugely memorable. Well Friday night L.A finally!! delivered. Theres a venue known mostly to locals that goes by the name of “The Smell” it’s been around for awhile and was quite notorious back in the day for being dingy as hell; I’ve heard stories of it from punk peeps who have talked about having to dodge dumpsters, garbage and the odd hobbo fight to get there and struggle to find the entry of it. Police constantly patrol the area to keep bad shit from going down.

Though I’ve gotta say that’s all in its past. It has a website now and everything. Basically it’s an artspace/warehouse off a lane in L.A that looks kind of dingy but definitely has character. It’s All-ages, No Alcohol and most of the time ALL bands are $5. These are basically the venues 3 rules. There were five, yes five! bands on the bill starting from 9pm. $5! Brilliant.

I turned up kinda early to find people slowly walking, no music yet so I sat on a couch and noticed they have a permanent in house ZINE collection as well as a book shelf. I picked up a zine called “These Days” as was blown away. Couldn’t put it down and wanted to steal it. Maybe I’ll find it online.

Eventually a band kicked off and people slowly made their way to the floor (the opening band plays on the floor) but they were rather impressive. “Wounded Lion” was their name. They had a 60’s garage-rock vibe with a bit of surfrock, lots of reverb on guitars etc. They actually changed lineups for several songs and had some catchy numbers but seemed like they only had one gear and were better with one lineup than the other.

Second band “The Splinters” an all-girl group. They were kind of fresh really, not as tight as Wounded Lions and had some okay songs in the riotgrrrl style ala The Breeders but others were in a classic rock vibe which wasn’t my thing. I took a breather outside. Que “Jeff The Brotherhood” kind of blues-rock inspired ala anything involving Josh Homme which I really don’t vibe on at all. They were tight and loud but I sat in the other room wondering when they would finish.

Then a fresh-faced trio by the name of “Charlie and the Moonhearts”, fucking wow. Energy reminiscent of Cap’n Jazz (and thats a huge compliment) kids began to circle pit. The bassplayer/singer strums his bass (playing chords) as if he were playing rhythm guitar in a hardcore punk band, the sound is thick and they are immensely tight. I can’t pigeon hole it really. It’s punk/grunge drumming meets garage-noiserock guitars meets 60’s surf-pop-rock vocals (with a pinch of screaming) The only problem this band has is they only have one speed and one rhythm and thats pound pound pound, it got repetitive kind of quick but the energy was constant so thats all that mattered. They closed with a sped-up-alterno cover of early 60’s number one hit “Runaway” by Del Shannon. Which was the highlight. If this band relaxes and finds other avenues of melody look out for them.

Headliners were “Ty Segall” think classic rockabilly or proto-punk ala The Cramps but more up-tempo and with some screaming. Some standout songs and overall pretty tight. It was a pretty good bill overall. I later found out the bands have actually detoured off SXSW so hence the good lineup of bands. I chatted to a bunch of people and ran into some fellow travellers who were in L.A and the venue for the first time also. It’s interesting the crowd this venue draws. It’s unpretentious, its dirty, its fresh and not many people know about it. For example whenever you hear about L.A you hear people instantly mention The Viper Room, after actually looking at the bands on the bill complete with posing-“imawesome”-pamphlets of wannabe hardrock or metal warriors, who the fuck would go there when you’ve got something as natural and pure a venue as The Smell in town.

The site of 100 kids in a laneway up against the fence and wall as cop cars slowly rollby giving everyone the dirty is priceless.

L.A I salute your dingyness.

I have a bunch of photos but most are in FILM but here are the ones I’ve got;

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CHECKOUT MORE OVER AT FLICKR

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WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 5/6 – Harajuku & Roppongi

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 15, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 5/6 – Harajuku & Roppongi
[On the iPOD] Initial D 4th Stage / Animal Collective

Well I really had to dig deep to go out Saturday night, after spending allday inside being sick and JUST managing to keep food down at 10pm I headed to Shibuya to a tiny rock club called Rock No Cocoro. I think it was ‘birthday night’ or something. Sitting there listening to Japanese people sing happy birthday in english was funny. The bar started to get a bit packed and by about 1am and once again, kids moshing without shirts to punk songs and Japanese rock.

Odd music selection. Greenday followed by Ricky Martin for example. Whack. (Yes I just said whack) But there were some good tunes in there too. The club is across the road from a band rehearsal studio, it’s a pretty rad area. Everything is so accessible here. I can’t think of one rehearsal space in Sydney remotely anywhere near anything let alone dead centre of the city surrounded by rad bars.

I then decided to somehow circa 1am muster the energy to go looking for two other clubs I knew of. One had closed permanently by the looks of it. Whilst the other looked like it was converted to a restaurant bar, at least as far as I could tell. So I decided to have an early one, home by 2am.

I felt the need to makeup for saturday so I was aiming for Harajuku in the morning. I got there about 10am, the bridge linking meiji-jingu (a huge shrine park area dedicated to Emperor Meiji) and the other side of the train station known as Harajuku is known for the cosplay scene kids showing up on weekends for photo ops. Cosplay is great though i’d never do it, the dedication these kids have to manga and anime characters is great I think. I don’t know if it was the fact the shrine area is a large tourist attraction or if the area has been bastardized by westerners purely thanks to a certain ex No Doubt singer talking about Harajuku girls has ‘hers’ thus thrusting cosplay into the mainstream but I felt very ‘Tourist’ when standing on that bridge.

It’s something I’m trying to stay away from on this trip, I cringe even having a camera around my neck because it instantly puts that label on me, but I need to document all this and lets face it. I guess I was playing tourist today. With no cosplay kids around as yet (10am) I decided to head to the shrine Meiji-jingu. It’s like 70 acres of park built by volunteers with trees donated by people all over Japan all in reverence of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. It’s quite an amazing feet. I got to the main shrine building and there happened to be a few weddings taking place. This was a huge tourist draw card. I’ve never actually witnessed a Japanese ceremony or at least the lead up to one. Quite enthralling.

I then checked out the treasure museum which holds collections of past emperors, no photos allowed though but the main building literally had paintings of every emperor side by side since 700ad to present day. It was odd staring at 1300 years of family line in the face, also interesting to note the style of the emperors was completely unaffected by foreign influence until the mid 1900’s.

Walking back I headed to the gyoen (lower park area) to hear some bands busking. Entire bands play, drum kits and powered amps and all. One group had drums/guitar/bass coming through one P.A and somehow it sounded ok. There were other musos setting up most interesting of note an older bunch of rockabilly or classic 50’s styled rock guys (think leather jackets with studs and elvis/james dean hair cuts) By this time it was like close to 1pm and I’d decided to aim for Mori Art Centre in Roppongi hills (about a 2.5km walk) followed by Suntory Museum of Art. Walking along the way via backstreets I stumble on some mind blowing stores. I’d reken girls who have never been here would absolutely lose the plot shopping in Harajuku.

I’d promised I would only spend $70 a day in Japan sticking to some form of a budget. This has gone out the window of course but more so when I saw the worlds most amazing jacket for like 14800yen ($180) after speaking to the guy and me explaining I was Australian he offered it to me for 9800 ($115) I replied KYU SEN?? 9000yen ($100) and he looked at his store attendants and said fine. How can you not buy stuff in such a place anyway.

Walking on through Omote-Sando There appeared to be some Irish-Japanese solidarity parade featuring bagpipes and large hounds dressed in clothes. The street was closed off and a huge crowds. I wasn’t sure why this was going on until I checked online, oh thats right. St Patrick’s day, apparently it started here in 1992 for the purpose of Introducing Ireland to the Japanese people.

Somehow it was like 3pm and I STILL hand’t eaten. I was looking for a sushi place, something which you’d think would be analogous to hitting water after falling out of a boat but I couldn’t for the life of me find one. I’d even skipped breakfast for it. Eventually had to google it and running through backstreets towards the closest place on the way to the Mori Art Museum I got there to find it closed! I settled for ramen and gyoza and the next available place. Still haven’t had sushi in Japan, hmm.

Mori Art Museum is in the Roppongi Hills complex in a large tower which is also an observatory. You can buy a ticket that gives you access to both. I took some photos high above the Tokyo skyline, you can pretty much see everything obviously. Odaiba bay is pretty big even from afar.

I’ve never laughed out loud or stood so long at certain pieces anywhere as I did at this Mori Art exhibition. It was modern art and design, something which I normally stray from. No photos allowed unfortunately but I’ll do my best. Upon entry theres Instructions on the wall features Nintendo DS’. Yup thats right, rather than having long-winded captions under art works which limit artists to a word limit this exhibition simply had the Artist and piece name and a Nintendo DS outline with a number. You bring along your DS and type in the number and connect to the remote system and select a piece number and you get all the info as well as Artist info. Great idea.

There was a 3metre wide white canvass which was painted with black ink, a scribbly mind-explosion style with uber high detail spanning from left to right and then I noticed something. The Artist, barefoot was on the right hand side, ink felt and ink bottle in hand. Drawing it LIVE! I’d hazzard a guess It started as a blank canvass on day one of the exhibition and he’d come in from opening to closing drawing his work from scratch with all to view. He was on the far right of the work when I was viewing it but it was utterly inspiring, there were still a few blank spots open. Who knows when he will consider the work done.

Further on to a design section. Hows this for an idea; A Jacket that turns into a tent. Yes a camping tent, it was so utterly out of nowhere I laughed when I saw the design sketches, as did others. It was layed out pegged up on faux grass and was totally functional as both a one person tent which folds and zips up to a regular looking jacket, amazing.

Other works were a seemingly inconspicuous draw that folds out a 2metre long table in mini-sections. The craftwork that went into this was mind boggling. It was like origami from wood.

Kids toy lines, animations and yet more art. It was all kind of refreshing, but just like that it was over. And it was 5:15. So much for the Suntory Art Museum. Checked out a small park right near the building and then wandered on to get invited into a small gallery featuring works by disabled artists. Usually painting with brushes in their mouths, or sometimes feet. All I can say is wow, I couldn’t paint half as well if tried using a steady hand let alone a paintbrush in my mouth. It’s amazing how much determination some people have.

Roppongi is the upmarket part of town. I’d discerned this from seeing no less than six, yes six Ferraris fly by me in an array of colours, then a Corvette Z06 and a race-spec 911 GT2 and finally an R35 GTR. Whats more the streets had gone from standard uber clean Japan to eat off the floor / inside of your house clean. Apparently its also home of the red-light district in another part and home of many a Yakuza member.

I caught a train back to Harajuku to check out what it was like on a Sunday night. No major cosplay gatherings unfortunately but most of the shops were still open at 9pm. Does this city ever sleep? Lured by the distant and faint sounds of a nasel-whaling Johnny Rotten I wandered into a (literally) underground Punk & Goth clothing store and was met with ‘no photos’ before I even got down the stairs. Weary of people ripping off their designs was this shop owner. I was just browsing having already spent too much that day but they did have some gear I’d never seen anywhere. Maybe you’d have found them in Mclaren and Westwood’s stores in the UK in the 70s, or at least I was getting that vibe. The store owner explained she’d been open for 28years and a lot of Aussies go there. Wow, didn’t I feel like a tourist.

I saw a girl carrying a bag she’d bought and I tried to ask where she’d gotten it (I’ve been looking for something similar as a gift) only to find that she spoke absolutely no english and my Japanese wasn’t working and then her boyfriend turned up and it got seriously awkward. Time to head home I think.

MORE OVER AT FLICKR

MORE OVER AT FLICKR

Why Scott Pilgrim is the best Indie comic out there.

Posted in Books/Comics/Manga by jukeboxparables on January 4, 2010

I glance over online comics or manga every once in awhile. Theres plenty out there covering pretty much everything topically but none closer to my heart than Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” series. I first ran into one online a few years back. I noted that I should pick up the series (I don’t like reading stuff entirely online) and oneday last year I was in a bookstore and there they were starring me in the face, I decided to get Volumes 1 and 2 as a refresher. Needless to say I was running back to this specialised bookstore within the week for the rest of the series.

Volume 1; from the website:

Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, he’s in a rock band, he’s “between jobs,” and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott’s awesome life get turned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle? The short answer is yes. The long answer is Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life!

It’s kind of scary how one can relate to the scenarios and characters Bryan Lee O’Malley has dreamt up. It’s not easy being a mid 20’s slacker who plays in a band whist dealing with conflict of the female variety via 8bit retro coloured video game glasses. My private life aside though, I love how Bryan contrasts “mundane” reality in this book, you think everything is going swimmingly and it’s all rather realistic… a miniature sitcom based around your musical life. Until Scott Pilgrim is found fighting off his new girl’s evil ex boyfriend(s) in true video game / anime style. It’s perfect. Imagine your favourite ‘cool’ (Skins?, Buffy?) sitcom revolving around bands / good music and add… Naruto-esque battle scenes. You’ve got Scott Pilgrim.

Basically the series progresses through the troubled waters of life revolving around relationships, music(being in a band), friends and the mirky history of its characters.

Nerd alert time: It manages to drop subtle one liners and plot points referencing an array of oldschool retro late 80’s mid 90’s videogames. The Secret of Monkey Island (PC), Super Mario Bros /series (NES), Clash At Demonhead (NES), Crash n the Boys (NES), Zelda (NES)? and/or some other earlier EXP based game, River City Ransom (NES), Sonic The Hedgehog /series (SEGA), Bomberman (NES), Street Fighter (Arcade).

Hell those are the ones I spotted because I grew up playing those games!, but heres a bigger list

The series has a distinct ‘punk’ or ‘indie’ feel to it. There’s a heap of music referenced and a deep music knowledge (as lengthy as the retrogaming list no doubt) but I cbf hunting back over it. Think mid 90’s Indie bands though as well as some classics. Anyway this all adds up to give Scott Pilgrim a sort of shiny nostalgia to it. It feels completely genuine. I suppose the subject matter isn’t for everyone. But if your reading this blog then chances are you’ll be into it!

You can read previews of all of the Volumes online at the official website. There are currently 5 volumes in stores with a 6th and *gasp* final still being written, to be released soon.

It’s kind of hard to explain a Series really, perhaps I should have just reviewed the Volumes one at a time! Maybe I will down the line until then though you’ll just have to grab one off the shelf!

ALSO the big news last year was A real-life movie adaption is being made. Which will either ruin the series for everyone and there will be a bunch of rabid SP fans ready to hunt down and combo dragon punch the director to his demise OR it’s going to be great and hence the best movie of 2010. Fingers crossed for the latter.

All the latest on the movie.

If thats not all, a videogame has also been announced! It will apparently be oldschool sidescroll beatem-up. HECK YES!



More on these guys soon.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 5, 2009

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As the title states “more on these guys soon” that is a few retrospective album reviews and I’ll finally try and put into words why although successful and defunct they’re still even to this day wholly misunderstood. I still list them as one of my all time favourite bands to this day. I should probably state why! Stay tuned.

A classic oldschool photo though circa 1996? Credit to 10 Things Zine. Which I’ve now linked on the blogroll!