Last week we set out to answer an admittedly weird question: where is the Brooklyn of California? The question came in anticipation of the upcoming Brooklyn Festival, a traveling show that brings Brooklyn musical ambassadors to Los Angeles to show off their skills. The part of New York has been a creative hotbed for over a decade and we were certainly intrigued to hear from you guys to know where or if a similar part of town in Los Angeles is. Answers poured in and, while many of them were a bit paltry, the idea came through: there is certainly a Brooklyn in California.
There is always a sense of sunniness in Los Angles music. It doesn’t matter what decade it is as the beach and warmth of the climate will always find its way into what musicians are doing. This seems to be something that is happening a lot now, or that has at least grabbed a little group of musicians who have adapted a modified surf to their rock. You have the Allah-Las, Cotillon, Cayucas, and more playing in this field and, another group who wears the sun in their hair, needn’t be forgotten: Bleached, the blonde sister rock duo. The post-Smell group have released their first LP on March 25 and it is a kindly aggressive Southern California girl power record through their rough sun POV.
Like so many good things in Southern California, the California Scenario is next door to a TGIFridays. I recently made the pilgrimage to Orange County to spend the weekend with extended family, and having already visited the OCMA’s Richard Jackson exhibition and spent several misty mornings at Rudolf Schindler’s Lovell Beach House, I was looking for a new escape. That could very well have meant a trip to South Coast Plaza Mall but, thanks to a photographer friend’s recommendation, it led me instead to a hidden sculpture garden in Costa Mesa, designed by Isamu Noguchi in 1980.
Across from the aforementioned mall, the California Scenario is nested between several tall, mirrored office buildings of the postmodern variety, accessible by a pathway between the parking lot of a steakhouse and that place where you can go enjoy a Tropicalada© after you take in the art. Like so many special art experiences, this one takes some finding.
Architecture affects us in more ways than we realize. Like a song or painting that resonates deep inside of you, architecture can grab and shake you up. Be it interior or exterior, the way a place looks and feels and what inhabits it has a strong tie to how you feel. Architecture is the only art/design practice that can house you: your relationship to it is more profound than you realize.
Artist Stephen Prina realizes this. The Los Angeles based artist had a visual bug stuck in his mind that was the result of an architectural encounter. In the 1980s, he was walking down La Brea Avenue with artist Christopher Williams when the two saw a “fitted unit by architect R. M. Schindler.” It was a built-in desk that was painted bright pink and absolutely did not belong in its surrounding: it was a small piece of a cohesive spacial thought that was stripped from its context. Dwelling on this idea, Prina has made a reunion of objects: he has used Schindler’s plans and photographs to reconstruct these pieces of interior architecture and connect them all back together. As He Remembered It is the resulting effort, a bright pink get-together of furniture.
You know those Hollywood tour vans you see riding around the city? They’re always full of windblown tourists with some sort of listening device strapped to their heads and a dazed look of both wonderment and confusion likely the result of whiplash. No locals we know have ever taken those tours because we have no need to and, even if we wanted to for kitsch value, the cost of attendance is way too expensive for the sake of an OK laugh. There are so many tour guide brands now, too: there’s a TMZ tour, there’s a Madame Tussaud’s tour, a Mercedes tour, a “Rockin’ Hollywood” tour, and so many others. You really have to define a niche for yourself if you want to attract more than just bored visitor eyes. Dearly Departed Tours has carved a unique (albeit morbid) corner of the market that is one part Esotouric, one part Hollywood fame chasing: they give van tours of celebrity death locations, mapping their lives in LA until their famous or even obscure end. The company has fairly recently launched a video series that sees owner Scott Michaels giving these tours of sometimes literal local haunts to the camera. It’s a fascinating series and his latest on James “Jimmy” Dean is particularly memorable.