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Friday
Jan292010

Anatomy of a perfect day

I experienced last Friday, January 22, 2010,  what was as virtually perfect a day as I can remember, filled from start to finish with good friends, new friends, beautiful women, beautiful weather, great food, great music, great films, being creative, and Batman.

I will enumerate the day's events thusly:

  • I drove over to Lou O'Bedlam's house, which contains a staggeringly brilliant display of his excellent polaroid photography across three walls, top to bottom. Lou and I always have good conversations. We spoke mainly about work (or lack thereof), but I assure you the banter was terribly witty. 

 

Katie Horwitch - Venice Beach, 2010

  • We got in my car and headed west with Jon Hill in tow. I'd never met Jon before. He's a filmmaker, photographer and editor -- but before I knew that, I'd seriously asked him if he was a male prostitute, as that's seriously what his out-of-context work anecdotes suggested. It is always a good day when I can make a new friend and immediately accuse them of being a whore.

 

  • We arrived in Venice Beach! I rarely have the opportunity to visit the west side and I love exploring new areas of the city. 

 

Photo by Jon Hill

  • We met Katie Horwitch, a beautiful model and actress I recognized from her many great photoshoots with Lou. She greeted us all with a warm hug. 

 Photo by Lou O'Bedlam

  • We met Katie's roommate Sandy, a similarly beautiful girl who was doing her makeup in the bathroom to the sounds of Goldfrapp -- one of my favorite bands -- which played on a MacBook she'd set on top of the toilet.

 

Photo by Jon Hill

  • While Katie picked out an outfit for the shoot, Sandy worked on her ensemble for some sort of important presentation. She modeled a couple pairs of boots and asked me what I thought, which is a question I love to answer.

 

Photo by Lou O'Bedlam

  • On the beach, Katie told me she's an admirer of my girlfriend Stepho and her photos. "I call her Super-Hot-Black-Hair-Steph," she said. 

 

  • I took some iPhone shots of Katie in the rain while Lou and Jon took real pictures with real cameras. Katie was very cool and made sure to give me some faces and poses even though I was just using a piece-of-shit cameraphone. 

 

  • On the drive back to Hollywood, the boys and I traded war stories about the dating scene in L.A., which is statistically unfavorable to heterosexual men. I've been with my beautiful girlfriend for nearly four years now, which is great, but it was fun to relive some of the variously stupid and/or brilliant (but mostly stupid) mischief I got up to in Hollywood in the last decade. 

 

Lou O'Bedlam - Venice Beach, 2010
  • Back at home, I worked some more on my Rainy Day mix, which you can listen to and read more about here. I've had a lot of positive feedback on my bedroom DJ mixes and I love making them.

 

Jon Hill - Venice Beach, 2010
  • Stephanie came home and we drove up to Pasadena to visit our beautiful friend Becky, who was sitting down to dinner with her similarly beautiful friend Diana when we arrived. We drank wine and talked about classical music, as Diana is a prodigious pianist. Her enthusiasm for music reminded me of when my high school chums Joe Kwon (cellist) and Rodrigo Davila (classical guitar) walked by and heard "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen coming from my dorm room. They burst in and demanded to know what it was, explaining that the song's structure and arrangements were beyond practically anything they'd heard in popular music. I lack the musical understanding to appreciate what they were hearing, but I played the track for Diana and she agreed "Under Pressure" was uncommonly good.

 

  • Diana and I talked about some classical musicians' snobbery towards film scores. I played her some of Shirley Walker's theme from Batman: The Animated Series. Unable to get it out of her mind, Diana dragged me upstairs to Becky's keyboard and made me play the Walker track again and again. She was relentless in her tutelage and refused to quit until I learned a couple bars of the Batman theme.

 

  • Stepho, Becky, Diana and I drove to Magnolia, a great wine bar in Pasadena. I hadn't eaten anything all day so I was all over the fried halibut and chips and a lovely glass of Pinot Grigio.  

 

  • Magnolia is a kind of trendy/yuppie joint. The soundtrack was mainly dance remixes of hit pop songs, including the Lost Daze remix of Beyoncé's "Halo". Accompanying the music was a projection of The Lucy & Desi Comedy Hour on an large brick wall. It was plain that we were seeing some kind of depiction of Ricky and Lucy's first meeting. I was totally captivated by the strange montage effect of that Lucy video with that Beyoncé song. 

 

  • Steph and I drove back to Hollywood via the 110 freeway, one of my favorite drives in Los Angeles. Going from Pasadena to Downtown, you drive over a bridge that I always remembered from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

 

  • We got home and fell asleep watching The Great Escape, one of my favorite films. 

Flawless victory.

Wednesday
Jan272010

Rainy Day MIx

Right-click or CTRL-click here to download (233MB MP3)

This is my latest DJ mix, inspired by the beautiful Los Angeles rainstorms of the last several days. The songs were selected and the mix was compiled specifically for rainy day listening, preferably in a setting where you can also hear the rain in the background. Obviously, I missed getting this out while the L.A. storms were in full effect but I reckon it's probably raining somewhere else in the world right now or will be soon. Fellow Californians, I hope you'll add this to your emergency rain survival kits for later.

Naturally, the music here is mainly somber and introspective, reflecting either lyrically or sonically the themes of rain or water, with a really thick, wet sound that is not very danceable at all (although there are quite a lot of beats -- this is not an ambient mix). You'd think this would make for an easier time on the mixing end, but Rainy Day was probably the most difficult mix I've undertaken. While the technical aspects of a high energy dance mix can be daunting, achieving a decent flow or arc is quite a lot easier than it is with relatively chill music, at least in my opinion. The challenge was compounded by the longer running time -- 100 minutes, as opposed to the far leaner 60. It was a real chore, discovering the optimum track list and mix points, but I think I did a good job. 

My favorite moody mixtapes were always those sent to me by friends and didn't include a track list, so I will continue that tradition here. But you will hear the sounds of Blur, David Bowie, Goldfrapp, Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails, M83, R.E.M., Radiohead, Röyksopp, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more, plus one or two what-I-hope-will-be-pleasant surprises. I must warn you, Rainy Day is a bit goth

Cover art by me, featuring the lovely Katie Horwitch. I grabbed a few iPhone shots of her while accompanying photographers Lou O'Bedlam and Jon Hill on a shoot in Venice Beach during last week's rain. You can see more of Katie here.

Hope you like it!

Previous Mixes

Download Insomnia Mix 1 hereDownload MTHRFCKRZ Mix here

Wednesday
Jan132010

Sound + Vision 1

While I've never thought of myself as a real photographer, I've always taken loads of pictures.  I remember spending a summer at the Jersey Shore when I was 16 or 17 and buying a roll of black-and-white film and taking pictures of the Boardwalk in the rain (I was in art school at the time and it seemed like a really profound thing to do -- I was wearing a black-and-white flannel shirt if that paints a better picture for you). Later, I bought one of the early digital cameras and drove around the country with it. Then I discovered the mobile phone cameras, and things got messy. 

I spent most of the last decade photographing virtually everything with variously malfunctioning cameraphones. I think I've taken some reasonably cool pictures with phones, but I've always justified the practice by thinking of it in a kind of bastardized context of David Carson's (Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile) concept of fotografiks, a kind of photography/graphic design approach that you can invoke to excuse dubious photography as graphic design elements. Or something. It's a bit much for a hobbyist, really. Anyway, I'm pleased that at least among my friends and a bunch of strangers on the Internet, I've managed to develop a photography style of my own. However, it's been pointed out to me by more than one person that I've taken this filthy phonecam aesthetic as far as I can.

Here are some examples, and you can see loads more here if you like this sort of thing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In advance of buying a decent hobbyist camera, I've been spotlighting on Tumblr what I think are some good shots from my archives, including some cameraphone stuff I think has some aesthetic value beyond the idiosyncrasies of that format. Because I got such a great response to my This Used To Be The Future... series, included with each photo is a streaming song. It's an idea I stole from the very brilliant and very naked self-portrait photographer Sabrina Dacos (NSFW).

What I think I'll call Sound + Vision combines two of my favorite things, sharing music and taking photos. I'll continue to roll one out every day or so on Tumblr, but I'm experimenting with collecting those photos and songs here every few weeks, both for myself and for anybody who's kind enough to keep up with me but doesn't have a Tumblr (you should get one, it's fun).


♫ Emotion 98.6
 



♫ Big black cloud, little white lie
This one's on me (right-click or CTRL-click to download)


♫ Old World Underground, where are you now?
 


♫ She takes it all the wrong way
 


♫ Wish I could fly like Superman
 


♫ Shoot speed/kill light
 


♫ Heads will roll
 


♫ Something in the air


♫ All these things...
  


♫ They put you down, they say I'm wrong
This one's on me (right-click or CTRL-click to download)

That's it for this edition of Sound + Vision. If you're a photographer or a designer or just an appreciator of those things, I'd love to hear your remarks, feedback, criticisms, etc. 

Thursday
Dec312009

This used to be the future, part V (Tracks 20 - 1)

I hated lyrics in the 1990s. It somehow got in my head when I was a teenager that lyrics were incidental to the quality of a song and all that mattered was the vocal melody and how it worked with the music. I took this stupid idea of artistic purity further and began resenting songs that reminded me of people or places. I wanted to be able to appreciate a song for its own merits without sharing any kind of personal meaning with the music. 

Obviously, that changed. A great number of songs on this list are ones I love because of their lyrics and what they mean to me personally. And, as I detailed in Part I, it was in compiling these songs that recurring lyrical themes revealed themselves to me, as did the songs' influence on or reflection of events in my life during the time I was first listening to them.  

I'm a little disappointed to report the dominant lyrical themes of these 100 songs are unhappy ones. We're hearing a lot of regret, a lot of heartache, a lot of finality and a lot of oblivion. I wouldn't associate those words with myself in general -- I'd choose words like brilliant, amazing, awesome, tall -- but, paradoxically, I probably would use those gloomy words to characterize a number of my defining experiences in the last ten years. 

But there are positive themes as well, as you'll see in the first song in this final installment of This used to be the future…

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec272009

Hyphocity, Fall 2009

hy⋅phoc⋅i⋅ty|hīfôˈsitē|
The hyphocity photo sets document my miscellaneous existence.

Things quite understandably slowed down after summer's end, but I still managed to keep busy. Fall 2009 saw me attend, witness or otherwise take part in: 

  • Leaving my longtime gig at CBR
  • The wedding of my friend Jeremy Love to his beautiful bride Shaunda
  • One of my favorite bands, Pet Shop Boys, performing a genuinely innovative show at the Greek Theatre in Los Feliz
  • Dinner and a burlesque/acrobatics show at the amazing Edison club in Downtown L.A.
  • My friend Carré Calloway (A.K.A. Queen Kwong) playing an ear-shattering set at Spaceland in Silver Lake
  • Packing up my grandmother's belongings and moving her from the rest home to the nursing home
  • Growing and then abandoning a full beard
  • An astonishingly good pop spectacle in the form of Kylie Minogue at the Hollywood Bowl, as part of her first and likely only U.S. tour
  • Meeting more new and cool people at the latest of Lou O'Bedlam's traditional birthday barbecues in Pan Pacific Park
  • Surviving a depraved, booze-fueled night on the town with my old friend from Boston, Ryan Walsh (of Hallelujah the Hills fame), including stops at the loathsome Saddle Ranch and the infamous Jumbo's Clown Room
  • The brilliant Hello Kitty Bats & Cats Masquerade at the Royal/T gallery and café in Culver City
  • My friend Jermaine Turner's birthday at Birds in Hollywood, where he and his mother danced together on a bartop to the music of Michael Jackson
  • Reuniting with Becca Tirré, formerly of Underage Squad (long story)
  • Co-host with Stepho our first Thanksgiving dinner in my apartment, which I've lived in since 2003

Click to read more ...