Everything Old is New Again and Everything New is New Also
By Thom Fowler
Posted 02/24/02 19:50:14
The City is sleepy, rolls over itself, cocks its head in arythmic upheavals. Seduced by promises and sedated by heat.
I found The Light of Jesus. I’m Saved!
I cruised over to La Luz De Jesus Gallery to see the Frank Kozik showing. You could get lost in here. It’s not just a gallery. There is a warehouse sized mondo culture emporium wrapped around it. New Wave staple, the Soap Plant, mushed into Wacko, moved from Melrose into the zone between Los Feliz and Silverlake on Hollywood Boulevard. I could barely afford one of the Kozik prints from the current show, let alone 3000 for a painting of a 60’s stripper with a glitter bikini and rays of blue lines behind her called“Guadalupe”. I offered 30.
Hey man, this belongs to the people. I better sell a book soon so I can own that painting. Maybe then I’ll even have a wall to hang it on.
I bought some incense and poked through piles and piles of wacky tacky plastic trash and avoided the book store sized book section. I couldn’t orient myself in the barrage of … stuff.
I found an old copy of WET magazine. An issue where Brian Eno talks about his famous Oblique Strategies, a deck of cards to get you through a block, be it creative or personal. With some glue and cardboard, you can make a copy of the original edited for mass consumption.
1979 was no different than 2002. Brian Eno, Andy Warhol, pop culture, the future, being gay without being GAY. Design, art, music. There was a blurb about The Ramones … “We’re like those damn fish that die trying to swim up the river. Living is never an easy job, but the rewards of phenomenal."
“We’ve achieved all the goals implied by the Industrial Revolution. Now the task is to move out of the Industrial Age into whatever follows.”
“We won’t speak of towns or cities, but of ‘reality communities’, communities not defined by geography, but by consciousness.”
“Cultural workers subordinate the industrial order to individual desire, asking “What will we mean to technology” [rather than, what will technology mean to us]”
-G. Youngblood, The Future of Reality, Wet Magazine Mar/April 1979
The future isn’t now, it was 21 years ago. 2100 hundred years ago. 2.1 million years ago.
Reality community, virtual community. The Internet absolutely allows you to transcend place, and like any library, time, to connect to your reality community.
I like the use of the term “reality”. As if so much of what you are presented with at birth is “unreality” and you must go in search of the members of your lost tribe.
Maybe that’s where the idea of a soul-mate came from.
That’s a particularly lovely idea. That there is a perfect complement to your soul embodied in another human who exists in the same time and place as you.
And that finding this person will unlock the box that holds all the joy in the universe.
And if you can’t find that person, there’s always God who I hear is the perfect complement to everyone’s soul. And may even be your own soul, meeting itself. Unless you are Buddhist and don’t believe in the idea of a distinct thing called a “soul”.
What gets me excited is that people keep rediscovering the bohemian tradition. It’s a bardic, inspired tradition rediscovered by the Romantic poets at the edge of the industrial revolution in the dust of a pre-Christian Europe.
That energy, that consciousness of a life of spirt and emotion and its essential conflict with a life of order and reason. The artist versus the cube dweller, who is the heir of the displaced farmer on the assembly line.
Not that there is a “war” per se, between those who live in a box, and those who make a box for themselves to live in.
Economic reality aside, if nobody is dreaming the dream then we’ll all live according the whims of the architects of consumption and miss out on that which lives at the end of desire.
It all comes down to Sex for Sale.
Do something radical. Masturbate.
When our lives are ruled by these abstract notions like “money” and “industry” and all the systems of the world that are designed around these notions that have nothing to do with nature, we lose the spark. Highly charged emotional drama is the resuscitating shock to the heart to keep it beating. That’s something we’d all pay 8.50 for.
William Morris dreamed of agrarian artist’s colonies at the turn of the century for precisely the same reasons Keats lost himself in a mythical Grecian golden age and Blake, in a mystical one.
The conversation between nature and design is important. The United States was born out of the freedom that design culture offered to those wanting to invent whole new ways of living and being. But look at it now. I’m not sure if American Democracy was supposed to exist to protect an unchecked Capitalism, but the founding fathers did want to break free from the limitations of a classist society ruled by an aristocracy so they could be kings in their own right. That’s the essential premise of FreeMasonry, which all the founding fathers were. Everyone is equal. Unless you aren’t white. Then you are less equal than others.
America was founded by people who wanted to earn their money and exercise political power and self-determination. The whole “responsible globalization” movement is the application of those principals in the spirit of the founding fathers.
Flag burners are the most American Americans there are because they are idol smashers.
And by smashing the idol, they are celebrating their freedom.
Let Freedom Ring.
I’m feeling particularly preachy today. Like I’ve got this whole thing figured out.
And kinda soundbyte-y.
Everything is new all over again.
Permission magazine has a whole new focus. What used to be tres gothique is now a handsome little zine with clean design devoted to “the emerging artist”. And isn’t that what I’m in LA for.
I flipped to the masthead, and I noticed Clint Catalyst is the managing editor now.
Clint Catalyst is a San Francisco cum Angeleno Poet whose first published volume of poetry was endorsed by Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is now working on a novel. (aren’t we all, honey).
I bought the magazine for the sole purpose of getting in touch with Clint. If anyone’s going to know the scene, it’ll be him. I walked to the back of Eskandalo where I’m at, zine in hand, and notice that its not just a clothing store, it’s a salon! I have been casually looking for a place to get my hair cut and I’m into the whole trashy rock and roll feel of the sore and Alison, the owner and stylist, has a good vibe about her so I make an appointment for later that afternoon.
Across the street, I check out Blest where I run into Clint sewing patches onto a one of a kind rock and roll rebel coat while Jack Black encourages a gal pal to get the jacket she’s trying on because she needs to “spice up her wardrobe”.
When I bought the magazine to get in touch with Catalyst, I didn’t expect it to happen immediately.
If you want to know, Jack was wearing turqoise suede cowboy boots with jeans and that metal chain accessory swinging between his front and back pocket. Welcome to hipster hell, Jack.
Clint tells Jack to mind the store while he runs in back to get me a flyer to an upcoming “puppet show” . “For everyone whose ever been frightened of a marionette”. The whole thing is part of the launch of a new zine called Puppet Terror. The LA Weekly went wa wa over it and wrote about it twice in one issue.
I tell Clint my funny little story about how I found him and he dares me to send him clips even though “Permission doesn’t pay”.
Of course it doesn’t. But Surface magazine started out of the underground and now they run Prada ads. They’d never put Nina Hagen on the cover again.
Who wears Prada? I’ve never once seen a Prada handbag at the thrift store. So I wonder about super high end retail fashion magazines that act is if they flew right out of the gutter of St.Marks. Surface pimped it out.
Right after I write that, a prada wearing fashion plate walks into the The Pig and flops down in her thigh high black go-go boots with clear acrylic heels and whips out her cell phone, beaming smiles at everyone who glances her way.
She is fucking FEELING IT!
One thing leads to another.
The Bourgeois Pig is cozy blue, artsy café on Franklin near Gower. A bagel is two dollars, and they only have espresso or café americano (watered down espresso. No thanks). Which puts it out of my price range when breakfast costs more then my weekly food budget.
But it is laptop friendly, so I’ll consider the 4 dollars too much that I paid, table rent.
Follow your nose. It always knows.
Grit has caché as long as its neatly contained in 88 laminated square inches. And there’s something heartening about everyone staying in their place in the socio-economic spectrum.
If you spend 6 months on a painting, selling it for three grand isn’t even going to keep the RENT paid. Imagine, a musical about starving artists.I think there needs to be some kind of musical where Rent, meets, Xanadu, meets The Sound of Music meets Hair. That’s the kind of musical theatre a homo like me could get behind. But it should be punk rock. Do Gooding Punk Rockers Strung Out On Love, Magically Trying To Keep The Landlord At Bay While Fighting Nazis and Inspiring A Generation.
With the singing … and the dancing … and the twirling … and the tears and heartbreak and triumph and elation.
Oh, and the Costumes and the Makeup and the Set Design. Fuckin’ A. It’s a thrill a minute for the queen in us all.
Is there one who would dare such a thing?
Hollywood is full of Grit. And Grease and Grime.
The Cahuenga corridor at Hollywood is starting to pick up some steam, Alison tells me.
Amoeba Music just opened a store on Sunset and Cahuenga. A giant in San Francisco lands in LA. If the world was a mall, Amoeba would be an anchor store.
“We’re riding on the escalator of life, we’re shopping in the human mall” - Robert Hazard
Ever in search of scenery, I went to the Hotel Café, next door to Eskandalo around midnight. The place stays open until 3 am, serves good coffee, has a pool table and the jukebox, filled with Tom Waits, Chet Baker and Bjork, is free. I’m not disappointed.
“There’s no reason to leave Hollywood”, Alison says. Somone has to do something to keep up its reputation as Hollyweird. Like, what would Berkely be without radical politics and wheat grass juice?
I was thinking as I walked along Hollywood Blvd that Hollywood is still rock and roll. Alison later tells me, “Hollywood is still so rock and roll.” “When I opened the salon there were no salons in Hollywood. I’m the only one with a loyal following.”
While in the chair I read an interview with Ann Magnuson in Mean Magazine. You know, I’ve heard of her, but I didn’t actually know what she has done. Just being her freakish self and expanding outward from her creative center. She’s an artist, like Sandra Bernhard or Laurie Anderson, that refuses to be defined but has to put up nonetheless with monikers like “Performance Artist” or “Stand Up Comedian”.
Here’s another for the As If department.
I’m reading a review in the LA Weekly where it was casually mentioned that (and I’m paraphrasing because I can’t find the paper) “Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins gained noteriety through the vocals on Mezzanine by Massive Attack, a staple background song of yuppie shopping establishments.”
I Saw David J again. Shamefully small crowd. The opening band didn’t’ show so Wrong Dimension Boy did some of his stuff again. Next Tuesday, the last night of the series, WDB is pulling out the stops with MULTIMEDIA. I keep telling people if you don’t see it now, you won’t ever see it. David has a new album coming out, so he’ll tour, but it won’t be anything this intimate and varied. He sounded great with the cello behind him, I wonder what next week will be. He did a song he just wrote called “Southern California Goth Girl” that he wrote while waiting for a guitar at the music store. “It has been boiling up for years and then I saw her, looking completely out of place in LA.”
Tsunami is playing The Cure- perfect LA music. Dulcet, longing, breathless melting into you like the popsicle that just dropped out of the kids hand onto the hot concrete. And you know her mom, in her flip-flops and stretched out, stained T-shirt had to dig around the seat cushions to pay for it. Mom tried. The kid only cried.
“Remembering you running soft through the night. You were bigger and brighter and whiter than the snow and you finally found the courage to let it all go.”