Band geeks find love

July 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

Have you ever seen a violin in a marching band?

MP 4 Neither had I until Mucca Pazza* emerged from the Angles Flight funicular and marched into California Plaza for their noontime gig at Grand Performances.

MP 3

Self-described as a “punk circus band,” Mucca Pazza brought 22 musicians wearing bits and pieces of mismatched band uniforms, dorky hats included, from their home town of Chicago where it’s made a name for itself by providing an afterlife for high school and college band geeks.

Heavy on brass and percussion, Mucca Pazza also features saxophones of various pitches, clarinets, electric guitar and mandolin, and an accordion. (Adding to the punk vibe, the latter three plus the violinist wear amplifiers attached to helmets lest their contributions go unnoticed.)

MP 5Don’t go to hear Mucca Pazza expecting Sousa. Their jazzy, pulsating rhythms suggest Big Band jazz as might be played by meth heads and are matched to syncopated moves that blend Motown and locked-ward bedlam.

MP 2No punk circus band could do without cheerleaders; Mucca Pazza has two: hyperbolic young women with ginormous pompoms who over-compensate for never making the squad in high school.


Photographs don’t do them justice so check out their music video.

MP 1

*Wikipedia says that Mucca Pazza “comes from the Italian for ‘crazy cow,’ which is also a name for the Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.” Sounds entirely plausible.

The all-seeing eye

July 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

It’s a given that L.A. has lots of cool murals; I’ve found one that mysterious as well as cool.

Hoover Street parallels Virgil to the east; above Sunset, it dead ends at a hillside. A split staircase, built in 1928, links Hoover to Prospect Street above. Someone used that concrete wall for this colorful, eye-grabbing mural:

Hoover 1

I love the way the vivid blue water cascades down the central staircase. It flows from cupped hands beneath the all-seeing eye.

Hoover 3

Wings sprout from either side of the Great Eye making me think of  seraphim, described in the Hebrew Bible as creatures with multiple eyes and six wings. Can’t say that’s what the artist was thinking about.

The female figure below the west stairs looks like she’s lifting the earth. To the east, the male clasps a young tree. To me, the mural is redolent of fecundity, creation, our rootedness in the earth. I find it intriguing, calming and cooling (all that blue), provocative. What do you think?

Hoover 4

Hoover 2

There goes the neighborhood

July 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

It’s official: That re-do of the Ralph’s shopping center on Glendale Boulevard in Silverlake that I wrote about in the spring will feature, according to the L.A. Times, a Whole Foods store. Right now, the closest WF is in NE Glendale, with the one across from The Grove a distant second.

I should be ecstatic, right? I’ll no longer have to worry about Rice Dream bars melting before I get home.

But ecstatic I’m not and here’s why:

1. Ralph’s is staffed by union workers who get union wages and benefits. Ralph’s will move out so WF can move in–and WF has made sure that none of its stores are unionized.

Full disclosure: I don’t shop at Ralph’s much, preferring Trader Joe’s, which also is non-union. But lots of other people in the neighborhood do shop at Ralph’s, providing those union workers with jobs. Where will those employees go and where will neighborhood folks shop?

2. Not necessarily at WF–or Whole Paycheck, as friends prefer to call it–an upscale emporium selling natural and organic foods along with gourmet speciality foods (Exhibit A: their selection of olive oils). WF doesn’t carry the lower cost brands that Ralph’s does.

3. WF will not be a neighborhood store; shoppers will come from all around. Which means traffic, lots more traffic. The Silverlake/Glendale/Fletcher intersections already are gnarly during rush hours; what will it be like with WF in that block? Thinking about it gives me a headache.

4. WF’s founder and CEO, John Mackey, is a free market libertarian who called the Affordable Care Act “fascist”* and thinks climate change is not necessarily a bad thing. From one natural foods store in Austin, TX, WF has grown to more than 340 in the U.S., Canada, and U.K. Mackey’s business model has been to buy up or merge with other companies, often in a predatory manner, driving many local and regional chains out of business. I hate giving money to this guy.

5. Lastly, I keep thinking about those Rice Dream bars. How am I going to resist taking a three block walk every time I feel the urge for one?

DrillingDrilling rig in Ralph’s parking lot taking core samples in advance of construction.

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