Friday, January 20, 2006

To live and die in L.A redux

Seems like everytime I touch down in the city of angels shit just gets weirder and weirder. The ride from the airport in the taxi is always with some old middle-eastern dude blasting god-awful arabic music with no regard for his passenger. His thinking must be that since I'm brown I MUST be into arabic polka tunes. I got news for you smelly middle-eastern taxi driver guy... IM NOT! In fact I can't even stomach indian music so your shit falls waaaaaaaaay by the tracks.
I was however excited about the hotel which I hand chose called The Standard. One of the few boutique hotels in downtown LA, this place is ultra trendy. It's claim to fame is its vaunted rooftop bar where celebrities and hip wannabe's soak in the 360 degree view of downtown LA. Once the taxi pulled up to the front entrance, I was instantly accosted by a beggar, or a "poet" as he so described himself. He handed me a dirty piece of paper that he claimed was a poem he had written. Again I use the word "poem" very loosely here, as after reading it became clear that he was off his cardboard rocker. He asked for a donation of course , saying how he needed to get back to ohio. Not sure why since LA is a million times more lucrative than Ohio in the arena of begging.
The poem reads as such:
White man, black man , china man. Heh amigo!
Soup lines, L.A Times, skid row stroll
All them chapel chairs and gangsta' stares
Lord get me out of this mess
I'm on my knees help me please
My Lord Jesus

Alley cats chasin' rats into the fires that burn on the street
Demon fly and babies cry in momma's arms, they feel the heat
Shoppin' carts full of cans, raggedy clothes and sleepin' bags
Crack addicts on the carpet farms
Ain't that sad?

Cigaratte man on the corner, little Mona's got a trick for you
"Heh boo!"
People get high, cars roll by, shots go off
I thought you knew

Gimme gimme this. Gimme gimme that. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme.

Heh man. What's that?

I heard a bottle break.

Uh oh. Time to go. Shake the spot. Getting hot.
One time! Five-O! Let's go! Oh, no!

Welcome to..

Skid row.

Now let's pray

Wow. I'll let that digest. Moving on......
I walked into my room and was immediately immersed in some weird "A clockwork orange" style room where the bed was on a platform, the tv was on the floor and the bathroom had a clear window looking into the bedroom.

There were a few tongue-in cheek touches as well as you can see below:

A pack of condoms from the mini-bar area:

The wastebasket:

My favorite was the phone that had quick-dial buttons for "hell" and "fluffer" Sadly I was not brave enough to find out who or what was at the end of the line on these buttons:

The charm ended here as the service at the Standard was awful. The staff was the rudest, most aloof group of jackasses I've encountered at any hotel. The walls were paper thin and at nite you could hear the bass pulsating down all the way down from the rooftop bar (i was on the 3rd floor and the rooftop is at least 14 stories up).
The worst was the last nite I was there when I decided to go out to Hollywood with a client and get smashed on 70 dollar bottles of wine and 18 year scotch. I went to bed wasted and was rudely awoken at the unholy hour of 6 am to armegeddon above me. Turns out that they decided to proceed with construction in the room above me. I called the front desk who said that construction wasn't supposed to start until 9 am. I made the point that this wasn't the case now was it? Instead of comping me a nite stay he decided to tell me "well since you're up go ahead and order breakfast on us" Gee. Thanks asshole.
After getting dressed and meeting up with the salesguy for our 11 am meeting, we left the hotel and walked across the street to our meeting. All of a sudden, flashing lights and a siren greet our backs. A cop on a motorcycle stops our progress and asks for our ID's. Apparently we have just been busted for jaywalking. I shit you not when I say there wasn't a car for miles. Getting harassed for about 10 minutes, we were finally able to continue on without getting a ticket and make it into the building. Once inside were greeted to some laughter and sly grins as the entire lobby had seen our fiasco with the cop. Much chagrined we ducked into the elevator bank and made our way. After another meeting at 3 pm in Culver City, en route to which the salesguy got lost for 2 hours since he was too busy talking to notice the exit we had to take, I finally boarded the red eye home at 11 pm. Arriving in newark at 6 am , I had been up for 24 hours and hadnt eaten for just as long. But at least I was able to jaywalk to my hearts content.

Music Response Vol 3: the death of radio

Filia Brazilia: A touch of Cloth

Porn Music is back! Filia has been a fixture in organic downtempo for quite a few years and has a pretty decent following. Instead of producing music with synths, drum machines and loops, they have a live band- a damn good one at that. Great
music to heavy-pet too or just plain good bake music.

Elliot Smith: Either\Or

Something about talented young songwriters and OD'ing on heroin that makes their music more timeless. Elliot Smith's claim to fame was having his song "Miss Misery" featured in the venerable movie "Good Will Hunting". If I had to name one band that has emulated his style it has to be The shins although I feel that they probably have a rosier outlook on life than Elliot did in his last years. This album finds itself oscillating between the outright melancholy dirges to pure acoustic track that on the outside seem more upbeat but on repeated listens will reveal strong undercurrents of Elliot's subtle sadness (ie. Rose Parade). There is certainly a style to his playing and coupled with elliot's almost monotone baritone that can only be described as completely captivating, you can file this album away under rainy-day sunday listening.

Better Than Ezra: Before the Robots

Everyone our age remembers that insipid song "Good" that was played over and over on MTV and z100. Dismissed as candy-coated psuedo-alternative music and/or as a 1 hit wonder by most people, BTE in my opinion is as solid as any band has been since the 90's. Tracks on prior albums like "King of New Orleans", "Desperately Wanting", and "At the stars" will prove my point. Before the Robots as a whole is reminscent of the usual BTE love songs, some upbeat and endearing, the others a bit more reflective and of an acoustic styling. Track highlights are "Special" and "Our last night". Seems BTe is sticking with their recipe for success which in the short term is a good thing for stalwart fans, but might ultimately lead to stagnation and their ultimate commerical demise.

Dj Shadow: Entroducing

Yea i know this album has been out for Eons but I just listened to it OK?! I was reading some article 2 months back about some middle school band who performed the entire album instrumentally in front of the school during a recital. If you've heard the album then'll you know just how impressive this is. Probably one of the most important albums in the electronica/dub genre this is a must listen. To get the full effect you'll probably want to listen to it in order since most of the tracks segway from one to the next. GET IT NOW!

Notable Tracks
Where'd you go- Fort Minor featuring Holly Brook
I listened to this track 6 times in a row and still shivered all the way through

Whiskey and Wine-311
I can relate

Everybody's Changing-Keane
I first heard this song im Amsterdam sitting at the bar by myself for the 4th nite in a row. At the time I thought it was Radiohead but later learned that it was Keane, a band that when Coldplay was becoming big was drawing criticism for sounding like them.

1.14.06:OAR @ MSG

It's completely unacceptable that booger's blog is more active than mine so to spite that seven star addict I'll relent and make a post. Last sunday I had the pleasure of trekking to Madison Square Garden to see O.A.R (Of a Revolution) a band hailing from the crab-cake riddled Maryland area. I heard they put on a good show but I only knew a few choice songs. In other words I didn't up to that point celebrate their entire catalogue.

O.A.R's performance was solid and to some extent there were lucid moments of awe-struckedness, but not from the audience's end; it was from OAR's side. This was easily the largest venue they had ever played and looking around in the top most tier where I was situated (ticketmaster can suck a fat one) there were surprisingly only a few empty seats. The seats that WERE occupied were comprised of pimply teenage boys and girls sucking on marijuana paraphenilia like their state college applications depended on it. These kids were straight of Laguna Beach only 100 times uglier and 1,000,000 more annoying. Apparently a lot of them were under the impression that sucking the clearisil off each other's face in public was acceptable. No. No one wants to see you lock braces with your band geek girlfriend and get a 2 inch chubby in your pants. I almost took a plastic fork from the hot dog stand and performed an impromptu vasectomy in the restroom. Now I won't comment on the jailbait since there is probably some federal agent reading this right now waiting for me to talk about supple breasts and glossy strawberry-scented lips that have NO idea how to deepthroat. As Goldstein said in harold and kumar:
"You know the Holocaust?"
Kumar: "Yeah....."
"Picture the exact opposite!"

For me the highlight of the nite came at the very beginning of the show, when a young Hasidic Jew decked out in all the trimmings came on stage and started rapping,rasta'ing and beatboxing with the backing of a great live band. Instead of dreadlocks he had bologne curls. Instead of Rasta hat he had a yarmulkah. Instead of a kangol jumsuit , he had on a Hasidic suit. His name was Matshiyu and he was AWESOME.

From amazon:

Although reggae's religious overtones are often overshadowed by the music's ties to ganja and the hippie movement, there are some socially active or religious leaning artists out there. One of the newest comes in the unlikely figure of a young Hasidic Jew named Matisyahu. Singing with a slight ghetto patois, in Yiddish, and even displaying considerable beat-box skills, the New Yorker is at his best when he works himself into fits of righteous indignation and Old Testament fervor (the limits of his vocal range are laid bare when he croons on ballads). The lean three-piece band on this live recording, his second album, is aerodynamic and flexible, able to do the slow reggae groove or rock out with ferocity. After 12 tracks of stripped-down reggae, however, the music tends to blend into one long groove. Nonetheless, there is an undeniable urgency in this live recording that comes through loud and clear, making it a live document of note by one of reggae's most interesting new figures. --Tad Hendrickson

Matshiyu even came out at the end of the show do do an encore with OAR and he ended up stealing the show on that one too. Sadly the nite ended at McDonalds watching Hoboken's finest stroll in. The best was the white dude who never got the memo about wiggerdom being a defunct practice getting bitched out by this nerdy indian for cutting the line. I thought for sure that he was gonna get his "Quarter pounder with cheese, hold the quarter pound" rammed up his H1-B but the white dude let me down with just a mutterered "relax man."
Till next time- get in, get off , and get OUT.