20
Aug
19

Maisel Day Expounded!

Palisades Village – The Bay by Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas on Amazon Prime Video’s “Maisel Day”. All Photos ©Billy Bennight

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been nominated for 20 Emmys and Amazon Prime Video has celebrated the momentous occasion of being the most Emmy nominated comedy for 2019. Amazon Prime Video has treated Los Angeles with “Maisel Day” where various retailers throughout the various communities in the city offered special 1959 pricing from a host of opportunities ranging from food to hotel rooms.

My Maisel Day started on Wednesday night as I dropped by The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to find out when I could book a room for $40.00 a night. My research yielded a 9 Am call to line up for a room. Following this research expedition, I ended up late to bed and an unfortunately early to rise.

In the morning my first priority was The Roosevelt. Walking up it was immediately apparent there was a line. That line ran all the way from the door of The Roosevelt to the corner and possibly beyond. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be able to book a room.

It was time to continue to the next level of my Maisel Day’s plan. There were a lot of great places to experience on Maisel Day like Canter’s Deli or Starring by Ted Gibson. But considering the prospect of long lines and possible dubious outcomes, I set my sights on the Pacific Palisades.

I rarely visit the Pacific Palisades and didn’t realize how serendipitous my decision was until I found myself in Palisades Village where all the action was happening. My first move was securing an appointment at Gornik & Drucker for my $3.00 haircut.

See’s Candies

Felicia and Liz on Maisel Day 2019

Once this key part of my itinerary was secured, with a five hours plus wait laying in front of me, I moved quickly to get the most of my Maisel Day. I set my sights on the See’s Candies for $1.50 of candy which was a $21.00 value. While the idea of securing great values and bargains it is also exciting to imagine or internalize the mid-century world that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel inhabited. The See’s candy line was long but in the world of lines it proved to move speedily and I had my chance with the candies in about 45 minutes. Rick Caruso accompanied with a handful of other gentlemen passed us by coming from the See’s candy area when a man next to me called out to ask him how his day was going. Rick answered back with a salutation indicating his day is going fine. It’s unusual to spot the owner of The Grove and the Palisades Village, a billionaire publically strolling any mall but there he was checking out Maisel Day with the rest of us. A See’s employee who had been handing out candies came around to count us out. We made it but soon after the count supplies ran out. See’s Candies offered p their last supplies while I was at the register. From there people moved on to their day or sought a new line to take advantage for Maisel Day goodies. I had my eye set on the Rueben at Hank’s.

Continue reading ‘Maisel Day Expounded!’

06
Jul
19

A View of the Mighty Blue Whale

Photos of ©Billy Bennight for Extravagant Behavior

It is Blue Whale watching season with the return of the mighty Blue Whale to Southern California. Every year around this time Harbor Breeze Cruises and Aquarium of the Pacific sponsor a special media whale watching excursion out of Long Beach to explore the edge of Pacific Ocean’s waters off of San Pedro and Long Beach to view these mighty, majestic and beautiful creatures while they feed and navigate in these deep coastal waters filled with krill and other wonderful sea life.

On this excursion, we slipped through the foggy morning air far out into the Pacific Ocean. We eventually settled miles out running parallel with Palos Verdes near a research boat and skip busily tagging a young whale to study its habits and behaviors. The researcher motored over in their Zodiac Hurricane to our Harbor Breeze boat for a mid-water rendezvous where the scientist took the time to explain the process of tagging the whale and the information he was hoping to acquire from his work. It was a first on the many excursions I have taken and a welcome surprise.

After our meet up we continued further out crossing the path of a pod of dolphins until be happened on a large Blue Whale named “Kinko” feeding in the deep on krill. The Aquarium of the Pacific expert recognized the marking of the whale that indicated it was the whale researchers like to call Kinko. Every whale has distinctive markings that make them identifiable. We spent about an hour with Kinko as he would dive and surface in 12 to 15 minutes intervals. It was pretty much a regular day of whale watching and whale feeding as the fog was slowly burning off. Kinko fluked twice while we were there. Once everyone had had their time shooting video or taking pictures we were on way back returning to Rainbow Harbor and Shore Line Village.

Continue reading ‘A View of the Mighty Blue Whale’

04
Jul
19

APOLLO 11 – The Immersive Live Show – Opens the 5th of July

The Lunar Module Apollo 11 media preview event in Lunar Dome at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. ©Billy Bennight

It was nearly 50 years ago when I had just turned thirteen when the lunar module set down on the moon and Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the lunar surface. Being a young boy in love with Star Trek and brimming with outer space fantasies made this the most important and dramatic event in my young life. From the moment Apollo 11 surged into the sky off of Cape Canaveral to start its tenuous and epic journey to the moon. Like all Americans and the world as a whole, we were all on pins and needles the whole journey with anticipation for this unmatched achievement of science and technology. We all set around the television every night to watch this journey unfold. The Apollo 11 flight generated trepidation, wonder, and unrestrained excitement that still sparks the human imagination to this day.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since that epic launch and its return to Mother Earth. Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin all returned heroes and celebrities. That excitement and interest still exist to this day.  So it comes with little surprise that some imaginative folks have found a way to regenerate the passion of the moon mission to once again activate people’s imagination and create a fascinating recount of the Apollo 11 story by commemorating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 with the APOLLO 11The Immersive Live Show. Apollo 11 retells this remarkable moment in human history by using cutting edge and visionary technology to tell the story finding a way to engage every aspect of our senses.

Continue reading ‘APOLLO 11 – The Immersive Live Show – Opens the 5th of July’

29
Jun
19

Mezcalero’s New Drink Menu: It will Delight the taste buds and feed the soul!


Mezcalero has been an exciting addition on Broadway in DTLA for a couple of years now. It’s gained a reputation for its exceptional take on bar food and its adventurous drink program focusing mezcal from the beginning with all the blessed fruits of the agave plant. Mezcalero’s beverage director Nathan McCullough has reshuffled the cocktail menu for Spring and Summer with new exciting new takes on the mezcal inspired cocktail by incorporating clever foodie ideas and birthing them into fascinating beverage choices that shortcircuit the idea of food and drink as being 2 different things.  The question arises  “Do you drink it or eat it?”

Yes, his new mixes are still beverages and they are crafted in marvelous new combinations. For the presser, I (we) sat down and did the hard work of sipping and tasting these new concoctions. No tasting is complete without a few yummy bites to activate the palette. We all shared the mandatory chips, salsa, and guacamole before we ordered our food. My food choices were the Carne Asada taco (salsa verde, onion, and cilantro) and the Braised Tinga taco (braised chicken, onion, tomato and chipotle). Each was a delight as sips and bites intermingled as every new beverage was served.

The first of the 2 tasting rounds arrived  that included “Tig Bitty Fresca”, “Shady Cricketry”, ‘Cheesus Take the Wheel” “Salty Affair” and the “Maria Concita”. Tig Bitty Fresca was a light and lively, a sweet delight, while Shady Cricketry was darker earthy umami owed its flavor to the use of “Chapulin”, real crickets, infused mezcal to the drink. Cheesus Take the Wheel sung deliciously all the way through and was a wonderful flavor surprise of Spanish goat cheese, cheese without the farm – no gaminess and pure enduring cheese satisfaction! Salty Affair paid homage to carnitas in a pickle back way with its a saline tip of the hat to pork and peppers dotted with swimming peppercorns that zested up the drink. Maria Conchita was as delightful and it was delicious set in what looks like a terracotta pear cup is fruity fresh and wild with a lively tropical zing.

Continue reading ‘Mezcalero’s New Drink Menu: It will Delight the taste buds and feed the soul!’

27
Jun
19

A Ramona Otto Retrospective “Do These Stripes Make me Look Political?”

Assemblage Artist Ramona Otto‘s Solo Show “Do These Stripes Make me Look Political? – A Retrospective” has arrived in the Los Angeles Fine Arts Building in DTLA. The Los Angeles Fine Arts Building in DTLA is the perfect environment to enjoy Romona Otto‘s patriotically inspired assemblage approach to art that captures the American spirit as Independence Day approaches for the 4th of July. “Do These Stripes Make me Look Political?” is nestled in the vestibule of the ornate Romanesque Revival architecture of Los Angeles Fine Arts Building also known as “Global Marine House” that was built in 1926. Otto’s 12 pieces will be easily available for public viewing inside this designated Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument beyond the 4th.

As Otto puts it, “When I grew up on a farm in Iowa in the 1950s, the American flag was a powerful symbol. I remember the pride we all felt when leading the daily Pledge of Allegiance at Washington #4, the country school a mile from my house…Today, it is often difficult for people to listen to and understand one another. I am nostalgic for conversations that end with a smile and ‘Let’s agree to disagree. Now, where shall we eat lunch?”

“Do These Stripes Make me Look Political?” captures the best sentiments of our country’s ideals by assembling various and assorted pieces like photos, stamps, toys, extracted pieces of printed materials, utilizing a dollhouse as a canvas and more, reflecting on Old Glory and our country’s historic values. Otto’s unique approached to uniting these different objects captures the nostalgia, earnestness, and hope of what America has been and will be to us all again. Otto extracts these pieces, these found objects and assembles them to reflect the iconography of patriotism and national pride by recontextualizes these snippets and pieces that acknowledge there is unity in diversity using both patterns and colors that binds us all together as one. Otto’s retrospective sets the right tone for the upcoming celebration of the 4th of July with an eye on the simplicity of color and form that binds us together.

Ramona Otto’s “Do These Stripes Make me Look Political?” will be on view in the Global Marine House’s lobby through July 7th at 811 West 7th Street, Los Angeles.

28
May
19

Party Party Party: Monday to Monday!

All Right Reserved Billy Bennight Photography

Living in LA has its advantages and this week here’s my accounting of cool things that happened. I’m a big fan of being active during the week because it offers smaller crowds, eliminates amateurs and offers greater intimacy with new acquaintances and friends alike. The larger the event the less promising the possibilities has been my experience. This will be a regular occurring write up in my Extravagant Behavior blog.

Monday found me at the Residence of  Belgium for drinks and bites mixed with a cultural and history lesson from the Consul General of Belgium, Henri Vantieghem, sponsored by The Los Angeles Press Club. The dress recommended for the evening was “Smart Casual” and I found myself in Hancock Park outside the residence with a smart look around 5 pm. Henri welcomed all of us in a formal and cordial way. He spent roughly 20 minutes informing us of the interesting history that precipitated the state of Belgium and offered highlights on what makes his country unique in European history.

After his insightful and enlightening talk, we were all invited to the garden and pool area of the residence for beautifully presented light bites and beverages that reflect Belgian culture and tastes. From the bar, I chose the Chimay presented in a Chimay branded glass that gave a beer drinkers thrill. The was a cauliflower and almond soup presented in a shot glass, baked mussels with herbs and tasty brazed steak cubes. I had a number of interesting discussions with various attendees where I languidly moved from porch to poolside. On my second visit to the bar, I happened to run into Mario-Max Prinz Zu Schaumburg-Lippe as I was about to order my next Belguin beer. It had been a while since I saw him last. We engaged in pleasantries and our mutual interest in red carpet events. Of course, Prince Mario-Max is often on the other side and the subject of the red carpet step and repeat activities. After that, I returned to my poolside table to continue my talk about men with women. There are opinions and secrets women will share with a sympathetic male that most men will never hear because they are too busy being “men” being. Often while being “men” they never negotiate subtle and nuanced conversations well and rarely take other’s feelings or thoughts into consideration. For a while, we enjoyed fresh air at dusk for a fleeting hour. It was a satisfying end in this phase of my evening.

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My next move was to the private media parté at HATCH Yakitori + Bar at The Bloc in DTLA for some progressive Japanese cuisine. I arrived in my Lyft to the side of the main entrance of The Bloc. There’s this staircase you can slip through and descend via an escalator HATCH Yakitori that ovoids prying eyes for a discreet entrance and exodus from the establishment. I arrived in a quiet seductive manner and the festivities were in full swing when checked in. Inside it was crowded, buzzy and energized with foodie frivolities with bites and beverages, cameras and phones mounted to capture moments to flood the eyes with food ecstasy and cocktail provocations. Over at the end of the bar was Executive Chef Daniel Shemtob, under amber heat lamps, with torch in hand searing the special A5 Nigiri Wagyu Beef on a bed of sticky rice. Chef Daniel set ablaze those tasty morsels of expensive and beautifully marbled Japanese beef for everyone who made it to this grand performance of culinary excellence nestled at The Bloc in DTLA. Fire, food, and libations dominated the rest of my evening that included these menu items: Hamachi, Avo Tuna Toast, Agedashi Tofu, Black Karaage Chicken, Chicken Meatball with Egg Yolk Stick, Thigh and Green Onion Stick, Mushroom Party Stick, Pee Wee Potato Stick, and Pork Belly Stick. These delicious bites were paired off with a curated Sake List, selected premium Japanese Whiskeys, and various Japanese Beers. Of all of these goodies, I had the Chicken Meatball with Egg Yolk Stick, Mushroom Party Stick, Pork Belly Stick, and A5 Nigiri Wagyu Beef. These bites were interspersed with cocktail moments like the Matcha Highball, Mangorita and 2 different shots of Saki: one was unfiltered in a pearl-ish white and the other clear. Both were not aged and were delicious. The Chicken Meatball with Egg Yolk Stick was pure Japanese ecstasy and A5 Nigiri Wagyu Beef “TDF”! Towards Chef Daniel shared his thoughts and aspirations for HATCH Yakitori and the experience he hoped people would enjoy when coming to drink and dine there.

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More After the Break

Continue reading ‘Party Party Party: Monday to Monday!’

16
May
19

Movie Review: “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”

“J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”

“We are actually Religion, that seems like an Art Piece, that seems like a religion, that seems like performance art, that seems like a joke, that seems like a religion…” This quote got my attention in the “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” and most readily defines the J.R. Bob Dobbs’ movement and the message in Sandy K. Boone’s documentary film currently making its way through the festival circuit. The documentary envelopes everything from the Church’s inception to the current status as the Bob Hobbs’ story is told anecdotal fashion representing the aesthetic of movement itself. The history and evolutions of the Church of the SubGenius is as infamous and as obscure as it is dense and complicated for the outsider to fathom. Founders Doug Smith (a.k.a. Reverend Ivan Stang) and Steve Wilcox (a.k.a. Dr. Phyllo Drummond) were just 2 dudes smoking some weed when the revelation of “Bob Dobbs” was conceived in these young men’s minds. The message was clear and can be summed up in a few words to quote the Reverend Ivan Stang from his very own lips, “Bob, Slack, and the conspiracy!’

 

Sandy K. Boone and the “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” crew at the South by South West screening at the ZACH Theatre.

“J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius” is a relatively linear storyline covering the inception of J. R. “Bob” Dobbs “Super Salesman” as conceived by Doug Smith and Steve Wilcox as a means to reject the idea of American mid-century normalcy. “Bob” Dobbs found a sweet spot in the ‘70s and ‘80s counterculture that perfectly reflect their and many others overall disenchantment post-WWII America. It portrays the counterculture’s common ill at ease feelings with normalcy and socially acceptable behavior. Both Smith and Wilcox taps into a similar sensibilities that both R. Crumb comics and Gilbert Shelton’s “Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” does, but in a twist explores the rejection of social norms by embracing  in “Bob”, the pinnacle of those beliefs from a different vantage point, rather than extolling the virtues of the eccentric and weird. J. R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius uses the facade of normalcy in a satirical attack of those accepted and worshipped values. Of course, something like J. R. “Bob” Dobbs movement evolves and grows over the years by adding layers and enlarging mythology takes on a new depth of meaning. The doc captures all the key moments that crystalized the Church of the SubGenius into a movement. The doc familiarizes the audience with church history by informing the audience with the cult’s terminology and jargon, like these terms “, Pinks” or “Normals”, “Pleasure Saucers” and the very important and fundamental concept of “Slack”. These all are essential parts to understand the ideals and social commentary the Church of the SubGenius lampoons and ridicules. 

Continue reading ‘Movie Review: “J. R. “Bob” Dobbs Church of the SubGenius”’

03
May
19

The Martin Atkins Interview

Martin Atkins Extravagant Behavior Interview and photo shoot. Photos © Billy Bennight all Rights Reserved.

On a Tuesday afternoon, I join longtime friend Austin’s cultural arts and SXSW insider Peggy Ellithorpe with her friends for drinks at the Hampton Inn and Suites’ balcony for happy hour. I had been in Austin since Saturday for SXSW and it seemed to be the perfect time to get together and catch up. The balcony overlooked the Austin Convention Center from the east along with clubs, bar and venues interlaced and resting around the nexus of SXSW activities. It was a lazy and friendly affair as introductions were offered and conversations developed between us. Soon a stately gentleman with a definitive Rock and Roll persona and a young lady joined us for drinks. This was when the energy in our circle ramped up. The gentleman was Martin Atkins and his manager, Molly. Martin Atkins has legendary status as the drummer for Public Image Limited besides being a producer, a creative and driving force in Brian Brain, Public Image LtdMinistryNine Inch NailsPigface, and Killing Joke over the passing decades. We enjoyed an introduction and brief chat then I struck up an enjoyable conversation with Molly and arranged an interview with Martin the following day. 

Monday through Thursday the Hampton Inn has a happy hour starting around 4 and going till 7. The second floor of the hotel is a comfortable space with a welcoming interior and the “NOLA styled balcony” outside with big picture windows offers a satisfying view of the city. It was there I met up with Martin again and slid to a quieter corner of the hotel’s common area for our meet-up. Over the years I’ve met many people who were associated with the Sex Pistols or PIL. Among them were Steve Jones, Jah Wobble, Glen Matlock, Dennis Morris, and producer Nick Launay. The former three I’ve had extensive conversations with about those early heady days about the Pistols and PIL. So it is understandable I was excited to get yet another authoritative point of view from a key member of this musical watershed that spun out in so many directions changing music and the relationship of music to its audience forever. Martin is a smart and detailed individual keenly focused on his work with his own artistic and business contributions offering me a compelling insightful view of the workings of the Post Punk phenomenon of Public Image LTD. He further honed in my understanding of those tumultuous years with Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon) at the helm of these musical juggernauts with portraiture and analysis of who Johnny is as a person and as an artist. Martin’s many gifts outside of being a talented drummer is an entrepreneur, an engineer/producer, head of his own record label, a writer, a college instructor among other things. To say the least he is busy and has his fingers in many different pies. 

We sat down for the better part of an hour and chewed the metaphoric fat and got down to a very matter of fact discussion of PIL, the music business and the creative forces that drive a creative genius like himself. Dig in folks because this is one hellacious wild ride and one interview I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. It’s that cool!

Extravagant Behavior: The first thing that came to mind when I was reading the article… I spoke to Nick (Nick Launay) when he was there (in the studio for Flowers of Romance years ago) when him and John locked out the producer. It brought back that memory. I thought, were you there when that happened?

Martin Atkins: I’m not sure. I remember some of these stories and I have my own stories I remember.

Extravagant Behavior:…and you can tell those stories.

Martin Atkins: Right… I do remember we recorded, I think Nick could be talking about something called “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. I think Nick has talked about doing a couple of dub versions. One extremely insane dub version, which was his first credit. When you listen back, you’re like “oh my god”, it’s like anything you overuse some tools when you first discover them. Then he re-did “Home Is Where The Heart Is” that was kind of chilled out. Around that period I also remember an assistant engineer that we put in the vocal booth and say okay we are going to have you test the mic. But he wasn’t testing the mic, he wasn’t testing it with the track. (the engineer called out) “Hahaha!, I had the oven repaired. Home, home is where the heart is…” and John just took whatever he was saying and turned it into a song. Which then they miscredited to Jim Walker the original drummer. Then Quintin Hailen (sic), who I will see in Tulsa Oklahoma, he wrote a book called “Rise and Fall” about PIL (Public Image Limited). He then dissected my drumming and juxtaposed it with Jim Walker’s drumming showing evidence that my drumming – Jim Walker was so much better than I was because of my drumming on “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. Which I drummed on and co-wrote was miscredited. I’m just like… yeah! But I know that was a really special time for Nick. It was his first 10 weeks in the business and part of my first 10 months in the business. The relationship I had then with Nick was kind of gleeful… would be the word I’d use. Gleeful children, because we were. I think I was 19, maybe twenty. I don’t know how old he was, probably the same age. Gleefully in the studio where Phil Collins recorded “In The Air Tonight” – just me and him! I’ve heard, and I talk about this in my book a bit. It’s about memories and how we remember things. John now thinks he was the mastermind behind the stuff as does Keith. The truth is, Nick and I laid down the basic tracks, if not, 90% of the musical part of “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. “Banging The Door”, “Four Closes Walls”, (it was in) 1981 and this was released as part of the “This Is What You Want” sessions. But this was released as part of the Flowers Of Romance recording sessions. For one reason or another Keith, John didn’t choose all of those tracks to be on Flowers that might have been more cohesive than it ended up being. I might put a Spotify playlist together of… 

Extravagant Behavior:…of what it might have sounded like?

Martin Atkins: Yeah! I do remember we, I just did a bunch of tracks and left on tour with my punk band Brian Brain in the US. I know there is a song called “Vampire” which was released on the 40th year box set. And I just thought, “Oh shit!” I’ve been holding onto this track for 40 years, maybe 35 years. So I went to Spotify to listen to it with just my drums. I don’t know what they’re doing by releasing that because I have the version with bass. keyboards and fully formed vocals. “Why wouldn’t they say hey Martin?” Because they know I’m gonna say, “what are you going to give me?”

Extravagant Behavior: Because it’s still works, and it’s still your artistry.

Martin Atkins: Yeah, and I’ve held on to it and they didn’t, so fuck off!

Continue reading ‘The Martin Atkins Interview’
09
Mar
19

Movie Review: “Meow Wolf: Origin Story”

Meow Wold: Origin Story

Meow Wold: Origin Story

Meow Wolf art collective got my attention a number of years ago because of a friend, Liberty Yablon, who was part of that community. Then when another friend, Cherry Shore, enthusiastically reported her experience when she discovered the “Maximalist” installation of “House of Eternal Return”. Cherry posted a lot of photos from inside House of Eternal Return and really caught my attention then. After this happened anything to do with Meow Wolf got my immediate attention. Surprisingly, when I was shooting the WGA Awards red carpet George R.R.Martin and I had a conversation about it. Based on our conversation George was very enthusiastic about the prospects of Meow Wolf’s artistic concept. Since then I knew that a documentary was in the works and it so happened I saw a post about a LACMA screening and I knew I had to join in. Here’s my take on it.

Meow Wolf: Origin Story is the back story to the creation of Meow Wolf. Less succinctly it’s a documentary on a group of a young energetic creatively driven artists, who grouped together to create an art collective in Santa Fe New Mexico, resisting social norms and conventions, while originating their own ethos by rejecting corporatist hierarchy and embracing radical enclusion. The ideas and ethos that established and fuel Meow Wolf are the things that have sustained the collective from the beginning and are fleshed out in Meow Wolf: Origin Story. The doc chronicles Meow Wolf’s inception and growth with a bunch of brave young souls rejecting the commercial art world, pooling their money and embarking on an unspecified intrepid artistic dream to create. They practiced radical democracy in their decision-making and DIY collaborative artwork that generated an immersive storytelling experience meant to challenge and engage with radical ideas. The word psychedelic was freely used in the narrative of Meow Wolf’s clever and inventive mind-expanding movie offering new possibilities of thinking using alternative concepts of juxtaposed realities or multiverse continuums to bend the mind. Meow Wolf’s approach is like a whimsical child tying it all together with a thread of quantum theory bursts of consciousness and the spectacle of the Vedas generating their Surrealist and Maximalist vision for all to see.

Meow Wolf fosters a lot of heady ideas, but as much as it is an artistic statement about creativity, it also portrays the story of human the experience with experimentation in acceptance, community, and relationships. The documentary shares real-time captures the dynamics of creativity, in interpersonal relationships and their struggles as the collective grew and morphed socially and creatively.  One of the most compelling stories within the doc revolves around David Loughridge friendship with Vince Kadlubeck and his contribution to the group. David Loughridge was key to the group’s dynamics. He helped put together one of Meow Wolf’s ambitious installations, The Due Return (Interdimensional Ship). The Due Return was the most significant project for the group at the time. The installation was a 70-foot long two-story ship filled with rooms, dressed with objects and memorabilia, that created a sense of nostalgic occupancy and futuristic travel. It was a great success and David was instrumental to that success. After The Due Return exhibition closed David was diagnosed as a manic-depressive. David eventually sought electroshock therapy to help with his mental disability. Many in the group, including both Sean Di Ianni and Vince Kadlubeck felt it was doing him some good, and then it wasn’t. It is a heart-wrenching moment in the film when for those closest to David, and also for those in collective, were confronted by the harshness of mortality with the loss of one of their own.

After this tragedy, the doc moves on to its last heroic theme. It embodies Meow Wolf’s greatest struggle and accomplishment by mobilizing the collective most ambitious project that changed everything the now legendary installation House of Eternal Return. House of Eternal Return was funded in large part by George R. R. Martin, who believed in their vision, among other investors. George was moved by their SIFI Fantasy laced pitch and he bought them a bowling alley they needed to embark on their epic journey began. House of Eternal Return was constructed by over 140 artists at a record pace. The construction of the installation was a race in financial brinksmanship. It’s a story of staggering and achievement under the meanest of circumstances but they pulled it off! The doc is an amazing achievement in its own right! The majority of the film is composed of old random video clips from a host of donors. These clips were assembled from dozens of sources after a decade of an art collective randomness that could lay waste to the best intentions to any archived footage. The video footage is in excellent condition and makes the movie very easy to watch. There’s a lot of depth and heart to Meow Wolf: Origin Story, with some eye-opening cultural moments that portends to a dramatic shift in culture and a different approach to society in general. As the”Meow Wolf About Page” puts it and says very succinctly “Meow Wolf comes out of a dumpster-diving, DIY past, and we want to help emerging artists and art communities around the world.” Meow Wolf has an eye on art and a vision for a new social order we all should consider.

Meow Wolf: Origin Story is available on VOD here.

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12
Feb
14

The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater

 

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

Floater at the Crystal Ballroom

 

On my way to Seattle and after leaving my friends in San Francisco I thought it would be novel and fabulous to spend a night in Portland to take in this magical city. There are similarities of Portland to Seattle but I find the topography a little more intense, more compressed, with the different bridges spanning the various water ways and the mountainous terrain set against the modern city’s architecture offer stunning views. On my frist drive through I found it to be dramatic and picturesque. This being my second visit to Portland I wanted to lock on to the for the night. I decided settled in a downtown motel for the evening with my sights on tuning in on the local night life.

After a few hours of reconstituting myself in the motel room I decided to make my way out and explore downtown Portland. Being famished and restless I had fine dinning and entertainment on my mind. I’m sure I spent the better part of an hour crisscrossing the grid of Portland trying to get a sense of the city by sniffing out where the action might be. My conclusion on my party skills was, “I still got it!” The meaning of this statement is I can still localize and suss out the cool stuff on a whim, like radar. I settled on neighborhood that an urban grid, that also included random diagonals that cross streets amidst old brick buildings. There were quaint cafes, hipstery shops and groovy dive bars shine and glow with burning neon that’s engulfing the active street life. I circled the area till I found the right parking situation and I began the defining hunt for coolness in earnest.

 

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The area was perched on a slops of the city and as I rounded the corner I saw the first evidences of alternative culture. People were hanging on the sidewalks, bundled up in thrift store chic and alternative gear. They were smoking cigarettes and weed in small clusters, while a line lingered near the of a rather historic looking old brick facade. At the time I was unaware of the Crystal Ballroom, which has been a local bastion of entertainment, surviving for nearly a hundred years with the venue celebrating its centennial. I drifted down near the door. I was a bit famished but more interested in what was going on with the people so dutifully waiting outside the door of this grand old establishment. I asked a young lady with her mother what was going on. Without hesitation she declared they were attending a Floater concert. We had a short chit chat and she and her mother recommended I should attend in the most enthusiastic manner.  It so happened that the Crystal Ballroom was celebrating “100 Nights” as part of their centennial anniversary. Floater was playing the 82nd night that would lead up to the culmination of the hundredth show performance on January 21, 2014.

After clearing the Crystal Ballroom’s threshold I headed up 3 flights of stairs to the grand ballroom. It was truly grand! Smoochknob was delivery a rockus alternative blend of Punk and New Metal. They were working the scary tough look but seemed to be big ole sweethearts, as they delivered a fierce throbbing and pounding set drenched searing guitar riffs. The drummer was the singer and he held the center stage. He was big guy sporting a shaggy mohawk. He had a lot of presence for a drummer. They were a manic group, roaming the stage grouping and disbanding to incite the audience with classic guitar showmanship, while actively engaging the fans for a lively energized set. They powered through to the end, properly warming everyone up for the oncoming performance by Floater.

 

 

Floater, now being long in the tooth with a devoted fan base, enter the stage in a very professional focused low-key manner pulling on and messing with their gear. There was the shuffling and slow positioning of the band members to their spots after a number of fan outburst of roars and cheers. These flurries of anticipation peaked in pandemonium when lead singer Rob Wynia moved to the mic and fellow band mates, Pete Cornett and Dave Amador, broke into the beginning of their set, firing off with the song Cinema. Before all this mayhem broke loose I had befriended a gentleman named Doug Griffith. Doug was the ultimate Floater fan. He recounted, to me, seeing Floater over one hundred times. He filled me in on some details of Floater by enlightening me regarding the band’s musical style and history. What it didn’t prepare me for was the out of control antics of their fan base. I was close to the front and to my right of the stage, when all hell broke loose! There was wave after wave of human flesh struggling and flailing appendages coming in my direction. It was posing a problem for my photographing the band and receiving some potentially serious personal injury and camera damage in the process. I’m a veteran of the Hardcore Punk scene from the 80’s, so the violence wasn’t out of hand or malicious, just very physically enthusiastic! The band laid out solid alternative Rock that blew the Crystal Ballroom up from the first song. The new song called “Light It Up” rumbled and then softened to a flow that led the mid-tempo “In transition”. The first 3 songs kind of encapsulated Floater’s sound. Doug informed me that they were well known for drifting into etherial and moody slower placed breaks mid-song. This is clearly how Light It Up had moved in and out of different tempos. There was an ever so subtle homage to a Pink Floyd vibe in their instrumentals during these slower tempo breaks. Nothing you could put a finger on, but hinting to such an inspiration and an undertow. Unlike Smoochknob, Floater tends to be more aloof and mystical in an arty way. At the beginning of “An apology” the band engaged a mind blow laser light show that was occasionally bathed in smoke. The band continued through their set with fan favorites like: Ghost In The Making, Weightless, Plastic Baby, Matadors and Danny Boy. The crowd ate it up and savored every song to move like marionettes toFloater’s charged mayhem with the intense songs and hypnotically swayed to the ethereal moments.  The band retired the stage amongst the howls and cheers. These howls and cheers grew louder daring Floater to return and lay out some more jams. The fans weren’t disappointed when Floater reentered the stage to bring things to a ferocious conclusion with a medley of Helter Skelter/Five To One bringing the house down!

It was an amazing  night in a great city of the North West. I finished the evening off downstairs and a little further down the street and around the corner where I entered Ringlers Pub. I finished the night with a tasty post concert beer and a rather delicious burger. It was all low-key delivered with a North West Alternative no worries attitude that turned out to be a surprising joyous exclamation mark to a very cool entry to Portland’s night life. A great band and a vital city that hit it on all the right notes!

Floater Photo Gallery at the jump Continue reading ‘The Livitation Acts in the Crystal Ballroom by Floater’




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