By Ron Garmon
THEY CALL HIM ‘ROBO-CRITIC’
City Beat’s new publisher is Will Swaim, a lean, scholarly fellow who thinks I’m a robot or some model of tireless rock ’n’ roll servo-mechanism or other. Would ’twere. This is a pose requiring the steady chugging of Red Bull and Earl Grey to maintain, and special events like SantaCon come in addition to my Clubland rounds. The late James Brown, in the throes of such a skeddy, was deemed “The Hardest Working Man in Show Biz” and look where that got him. Still, like all habits, from smack to trepanning your skull, Clubland comes with its own weird impulses and one such for me is a relentless nosiness when it comes to venues. Last Friday’s trip to Amoeba Music coincided with the Ninjasonik set over at Temporary Spaces some distance way, so this excuse to check out the venue sent me wending through the ill-lit streets of scenic EaHo. Walking along Fountain, I heard the muffled pounding halfway up the block from the corner at Normandie, where the door of this well-kept dive was fronted by two smooth and impassive gatekeepers. Inside, the two-man Brooklyn crosstalk act − half jiveass hip-hop and 50% no-neck punk − was swapping metrical bullshit with itself and a throng of showbiz kids, too hip for the Strip, was cohesively surging like Noo Yawk party pros. I looked about me, found it Good, and tottered off to home and much- deferred sleep.
DOWNTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT
If you’ve read the front of the paper, you know I was back on the job again early the next day. Late word from the rolling Thorne Smith-ian orgy that was SantaCon 2008 indicates very few Kringles made the afterparty at the Echoplex, with those who did looking in an advanced state of moral decay. By that time, I was cruising down Second Street into a freshly-shaved Round Two. The usual cheerful drunks swarmed The Redwood Bar, but I was on a mission. At the Broadway corner, a loud crack knifed through my earphone-digging on The Rain Parade and the guy standing next to me jumped a foot in the air, squawking “What the hell was that?” “A gunshot,” I murmured, plugging my left ’phone in, idly realizing that was the first I’d heard in months. Down the alley at Harvard Place, some company calling itself Major Ass Weekend Productions was having it majorly off behind scowling guards, but the detonation next door at The Smell was even louder. Way in the back room, The Antarcticans were crashing to the end of a deep, dark set lit with guitar coruscations and an L.A. variant of the pale sonic glow emitted whenever someone puts on Joy Division or The Teardrop Explodes. The dozen or so in attendance stood blinking impressively after the band wound down, and the single bellow of “Encore!” was rattling the brick wall as I padded out the door for the Warehouse District. The rapidly deteriorating economy needs no more Goya-esque illustration than the burgeoning homeless population of the skid row I skirted on my way to the warm way-station of Create/Fixate. The old firehouse on Imperial Street fairly gleamed with loot, as this downtown art party was celebrating its seventh year and hundreds of chic and sexy people danced and swilled, flirted and argued. Prints by my partner-in-Santa-crime, Curious Josh Reiss, did especially well with buyers and the walls of this temporary gallery were crammed with other gorgeous stuff, much of it lampooning, documenting and despairing the world outside this charmed circle − a space I reluctantly reentered once stepping into the mausoleum-like night.
TRANSITIONS AND SHAMELESS PLUGOLA
With this issue, the estimable Chris Ziegler takes over the desk next to mine as Music Editor, with Yours Humbly staying on as Arts Editor and continuing at mikeside here at Clubland. I know Chris only from his writings in Punk Planet and L.A. Record and look forward to reading him every week. I’d also like to recommend you see the Ruby Friedman Orchestra this Monday at the Mint, as she is talented, funny and sings songs with titles like “Sex with Tod Browning.” Oh, yeah. Talking of righteous causes, the roots-rockers behind The Dog & Pony Show came very close to having to scrub their annual Holiday party for lack of funds, but the splendid folks at Copro Nason Gallery in Santa Monica stepped up and offered their art-studded environs for next Saturday night’s soiree. If you’ve followed the struggles of this charity in my former columns, you already know they’re hard- strapped to keep up with the medical bills of three musicians battling cancer. So, if you wanna help out, go no further than firstname.lastname@example.org. The fact there’ll be scads of music and guest stars and even a Ron Garmon sighting bulks pissant alongside the hero you could be by showing up and being counted. And, finally, I’d like to note the passing of Forrest J. Ackerman, founding editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and influence on two generations of movie-crazed rock ’n’ roll youth. A lifelong Angeleno, Forry died on December 4 in Hollywood at age 92. I knew him briefly toward the end of his life, and I’ll always remember the salty old goat who wore 1970s retro clothes and bade young girls touch his scarab ring, once the property of Bela Lugosi. His leer was inspiring to behold.