02.12.11 Snoop Dogg . . . Valentine's Day . . . Pomona

What makes an Inland Empire crowd different than an L.A. crowd? The venue-going crowds in L.A. get comped by work or friends in the inustry, they stand around, network and forget to dance. Its more like a backyard family BBQ in the I.E., or a casual High School prom (especially in the ladies room). Its even more down home, when its a hometown boy who's playing to the crowd.
And so the heart-shaped blinking buttons, flat-ironed hair, Raider's jerseys, and penciled on eyebrows were fierce and flamboyant at the Fox theater Valentine's Saturday night. Shawties and Ballers (of the 90s generation) apparently left the kiddies with grandma and bellied up to one another as Grandaddy Dogg whooped up the crowd with hit after ganga-flavored hit - was that a medley I just heard? Hell yeah. Gin and Juice, "Drop It Like It's Hot" and selections from 92's ultimate golden oldie (and Snoop's launching pad) The Chronic got the stoney crowd grinding and bumping with their arms in the air.
Homey Warren G even showed up for a shortened version of "Regulate" - some of the I.E. crowd not quite catching who he was.
Seems everybody's biggest valentine kiss tonight though was for the west coast itself and the hazy glow of early 90's gangsta soul. Shout outs to "West Coast, best coast" rang out through the evening, and a remembrance of Tupac Shakur brought it home.

Thom Andersen's Get Out of the Car - REDCAT Theater

“Los Angeles Plays Itself” director/writer, CalArts professor, former L.A. cab driver and walking encyclopedia on all things musical and filmic, Thom Andersen presented his latest short film at the REDCAT Theater Tuesday.

As expected, the film shows a side of L.A. that Hollywood’s appropriations of the city do not, with long, thoughtful shots of neighborhoods like El Monte, Lakewood and the western San Fernando Valley. Dilapidated signs, storefronts, skylines and billboards serve as outposts to this soulful, loving mapping project (which Andersen started in the 90s, shooting off and on over ten years and finally finishing in 2009).

But it’s the music that serves as a backdrop to this film about backdrops that really impresses. Richard Berry, Johnny Otis, Leiber and Stoller, Los Tigres del Norte and Frank Zappa are just of few of the you-can’t-even-find-em-anymore gems Andersen’s got in his collection. All of them are synched-up to a few nicely shot, beautifully composed glimpses at the region and its state of existence.

It’s a simple film for Andersen, whose other pieces are arguably more polemic and agenda-driven than this ode to songs and neighborhoods he likes, through his lens. But it sure feels good to just sit back, watch and listen.

02.11.11 Elephant Art Space 1 year on the Eastside Anny

Congrats to our favorite Glassell Park art space,
Elephant. That diminutive grey stucco box that actually does resemble a dusty pachyderm once was a neighborhood doctor's office. But the six crafty artists who make work here renovated the waiting room area into a pristine, white walled exhibition space. After throwing around the obvious names for the gallery (The Waiting Room, Dr. Gallery) they settled on the reference to the outer shell - a boxy grey building with a drain pipe on the side that resembles a trunk - yeah you can kind of see it.

Shows happen on a bi- or sometimes monthly basis, with a definite slant towards visiting curators who bring group shows to the space. At Elephant's Sunday afternoon receptions you'll whirl through dogs running in and out of the back yard area, where kids are welcome and Tacate in cans avec hot dog is the offering (as opposed to wine in little clear cups). The vibe is exceptionally chilled out and comfortingly professional, and for a space that's already brought artists the likes of Andy Roche and AJ Liberto to town, that's packing a lot of punch in just one little year.

08.18.09 Department of Water and Power Building

There are many drawbacks to being an L.A. resident (smog, traffic, no good BBQ), but one big score for the pleasures of the city is the ritual of going to pay your electric bill at this site. It's been argued that Frank Gehry was blessed with the best possible site downtown on which to place his Disney Concert Hall, but I disagree. Officially known as the John Ferraro building, A.C. Martin, Jr.'s 1965 landmark hovers at the edge corner of Bunker Hill and serenely floats over its landscape (thanks to the reflecting pool ground plane that covers the parking garage below). The place feels right in the nexus of the city and quietly distanced from the hustle and bustle at the same time. Its quiet, somber institutional feel, its tall lobby - with the famously uniform floors that are even better at night - takes you back to a time where institutions were entities of progress and respectful largesse, made material by buildings like these designed with a deep sense of civic pride.

08.16.09 Hidden Neighborhoods: What’s Up In Monrovia?

Continuing our series of neighborhoods we like, Citybuilt.org would like to introduce you to Monrovia. Two cities East of Pasadena - off the 210 Freeway - sits the quiet, hilly expanse of Monrovia. We were out there for a little get together and cased the joint one recent Saturday night. Thirsty for beer, and looking for a place to get it, we stumbled upon this strangely enormous sports bar, with the architecturally geometric theme of TRIANGLES throughout its three floors of building mass. What a space! And they had the only Air Hockey table East of Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood (that I know of). Cheers, Monrovia. Here’s to your gargantuan, Postmodern sports bars with piles of Nachos the size of Texas. We’ll try to come back real soon.

08.02.09 L.A. County Sanitation District's Wastewater Plant and the Puente Hills Landfill

Citybuilt.org got a behind the scenes look at the LA County Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment facility on the grounds of the San Jose Creek, just off the 605 freeway this past Saturday – it was enough to make any lover of infrastructure and monster machines wilt a little in the knees. But that’s not all . . we also toured the Puente Hills landfill (across the highway from the treatment plant) – formerly the San Gabriel Valley dump – and saw the work they are doing with their highly successful PERG (Puente Hills Energy Recovery from Gas) program, in which methane produced by the seepage of buried trash is pumped into an adjacent power plant. The methane-fueled plant can produce enough energy to power 70,000 neighboring households – it’s a beacon of green infrastructure indeed, and its right in our backyard. It was a fascinating day out at the sewer plant and the dump – if you’re into that kind of thing. And we know you are.

06.25.09 Heath Tile Factory

Ah Sausalito - the sea air, the redwood trees, the tippy top of the Golden Gate bridge over the next hill and the earthy rich hues of Heath tile. Anyone who's ever poured over the uniquely glazed, one-in-a-million colors of the Heath tile catalogue really needs to hightail it to the bay area factory and store to see where everything happens.

Edith Heath's (1911-2005) life was dedicated to the craft of ceramics and the skill of the artisan glaze - many of her pieces live in the permanent collections of museums such as the MOMA in New York City. In 1948, following her one-woman show at San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor, her pieces were picked up for sale at Gump’s of San Francisco and she opened the shop in Sausalito, which remains a model for local manufacturing and time-tested quality. And be sure to check out the overstock room where you can pick up a box of misfit tiles for $25 a pop.

400 Gate Five Road
Sausalito, CA 94965