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

The party reignited Thursday with a special grand opening rooftop party at the Santa Fe Lofts. I arrived at the end of the golden hour with the party already in full effect with DJs spinning, people swinging in the midst of cocktails and bites. I just can’t say no to a festive gathering that synergistically pulls together food, drink, music, and the arts. James Peter Henry transformed the Santa Fe Lofts’ rooftop with lively Cubist inspired murals. There was a fun deck that offered a place for the DJ to nest and a delightful 280 view of Los Angeles, a place with sofas and fire to warm one’s self in the evening air. To the side, there were rooms where James Peter Henry canvases could be viewed in a gallery type setting and were adjacent to a small kitchen where the bites were being prepared. It was a comfortable embracing atmosphere “Designed” space where you could dance, explore or find a place to rest. It so happened with all of these good things swirling around I ran into some of my compadres. Art critic Shana Nys Dambrot and clothing designer Victor Wilde had been there for a while and had been enjoying the party and art when I spotted them. It’s always good to see friendly faces to exchange funny quips and giggles in the golden hour’s air atop the city.

Saturday was the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend and happily a night of Art and exploration for me. I’ve been fascinated by the Bendix Building for well over a year with that grand neon sign spire jutting up into the DTLA night sky, glowing red over the city. I regarded the Bendix Building as rather inaccessible until I saw artist Osceola Rentoff‘s post about his exploits there a little over a month ago. Of course, I was intrigued at the prospect assailing this venerable structure to discover its secrets and explore its ancient hallways. Osceola was showing one of his photographs from “High and Dry” on the second floor at the Von Lintel Gallery for the “Does Not Reproduce” show. I took “Does Not Reproduce” in first and then decided to hop on the elevator to find more and explore further. On my assent, huddled in the elevator with a group of art lovers a young gentleman, artist Mark Acetelli of 1717 Collective, suggested anyone who wanted to see the roof and his art could join him on the 10th floor. That was my cue! I continued with him, not wanting to miss this opportunity. I love the LA Skyline. As a photographer, I’m keenly interested in seeing the LA skyline from different vantage points. Mark was kind enough to open the window to allow me access to the roof just under the iconic Bendix sign as the sun was setting. The skyline is most magical at dusk. It was marvelously revelatory taking in the view of LA from east, north, and west in the glowing orange light of the fading sun. I then joined Mark in his studio where he spent time explaining his latest work, a series of ghostly apprehensions he’s painting on canvas.  He referred to them as guardian but it’s a detailed and complicated concept I won’t explain here.

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I descended to the 9th floor to find Track 16 Gallery.  The first thing in sight welcoming me to the gallery space was this odd organically inspired ceramic piece glazed in muted tones at the gallery door. I really didn’t know what to expect from the initial viewing of this piece. Once inside I drifted towards the back in a circuitous manner seeing more of these organic ceramic forms by artist Galia Linn for the “Evidence of Care” show. To my surprise, Heidi, Victor, and Shana appeared at the back of the gallery while I was nesting in the back nursing a Tecate while digesting the people and the art. A chit chat ensued and they soon introduced me to Paige Wery of The Good Luck Gallery. It wasn’t long till we all caravaned to the lower levels. For a while, we took in the different galleries and artist’s work passing from level to level together. There is always a joy being surrounded by sharp-witted folks with a gifted vocabulary that can add insight and an unexpected twist to a thought or observations while strolling the halls of an ancient building regaled with the art of creatively actualized ideas. But with all good things, the caravan ended and I was pulled away by other interest landing me in the  Durden and Ray Gallery where I ran into Paul Redmond. I hadn’t seen Paul in a while given he left Getty Images for a career as a realtor selling high-end properties. We caught up a bit and talked about some of the art in the “Repeating Fragments.” show. It was a bright concoction of paintings and geometrically inspired installations. From there on out the fade was gaining on me with its own momentum. I soon called it a night. If you’d like to have a full rundown on the galleries and artist showing in the Bendix Building I highly recommend Shana’s overview in the LA Weekly.

Monday was Bob Rickett’s annual Memorial Day offering with notable people within the LA underground music and art scenes. Bob’s hosting the Memorial Day shindig is always done with a combination of solemnity and celebration. For those of you not in the know, Bob is a driving force in 2 bands. One is the fun-loving irreverent Groovy Rednecks and the more serious Talking Treason. He’s an aficionado of American music. He is a passionate advocate of both the knowledge and application of this fine American musical tradition. The musicians I know who were in attendance were: Tex Troester, Taquila Mockingbird (LA Beat Art Editor), Jeff Boynton, Ken Huntington, and Pat Hoed. This is by no means a complete list because there were many more talented folks there than I can shake a stick at. I was joined by Lisa and it was nice to see Cake, Dave, Peter, Steve, Josefina, Rose Mary, Dirty Ed, Merry, Mona Jean, Bob, KXLU Stella, Senja and Margaret. All luminaries in their own right adding to the joyful reunion at this festivity. Food was plentiful and outrageously delicious. There were great beers and divine whiskeys to inebriate and lubricate a social function.

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Peter and Denice discussed LA’s music scene of the ’80s from an A&R and publicity perspective: as in “Atlantic Records” and “William Morris Endeavor” point of view on the music and entertainment world. There were names dropped and intricate details of that time in LA exposed in our table talk episode while sitting at the kitchen table. It was an enjoyable flashback to the thriving LA music scene of the ’80s.

The music and the alcohol took over. The sun was setting in Plams in West LA. Bob and a cluster of fine musicians gathered in his back yard as they unwound some of the best folk and country songs of the 20th century in a way that sparked memories of my own youth in Blythe. My folks with other family members and close friends would gather often to sing and play the songs the loved. They’d jam song after song till the very wee hours of the night. My brother and I along with my cousins would fall asleep to similar tunes Bob and his cohort of musical friends were playing in the backyard at for Memorial Day. It’s comfort music and like comfort food, it’s filling and satisfying in ways other entertainment can’t ever touch. When Lisa and I departed I left being fulling satisfied and comforted by something that goes deeper than a clever joke or a chummy conversation. The music drills into my consciousness and reaches into me in ways few things can. It’s like being bathed in warmth and love on a cold winter’s night. It’s “Community and safety” that affirms human dignity beyond the constructs of words affirming inexplicable essence of life.

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