Los Angeles- our Art, Literature, Music, Culture and Tacos Can No Longer Be Easily Dismissed
L.A. is in the midst of a renaissance. While most might call it gentrification, those people are not in the trenches that are being filled with artists, students, activists, authors and poets. While Manhattan and even Brooklyn are becoming more inaccessible to artists without extensive investment portfolios, the geography of Los Angeles allows those with small bank accounts and big ideas to fan out east and still be within the city and county limits of L.A. While the former glory, grit, angst, junkies, music scenes and yes, stank of Hollywood and The Sunset Strip have been replaced with chain night clubs, over priced eateries, spruced up sceneries and former botox beauty queens, Echo and Highland Park, East L.A., Boyle Heights and even the former toilet bowl known as Downtown Los Angeles are overflowing with housing, lockout rehearsal studios and concrete, commercial structures that house painters and nihilistic youth. Idealism abounds and there is even more real estate further east that can support small budgets and big dreams, at least until the day that LA is swallowed by the Pacific Ocean.
Los Angeles has always gotten a bad wrap. As a native, it has always made my blood boil when some actor from New York moves out here and complains about the lack of good pizza then leaves a year and a half later, tail and dreams between his legs as he packs his U-haul and drives back to upstate New York to do theater “off broadway”. Yes, if you are trying to land a soap opera or Target commercial and hang out with casting directors and people with the same interests and goals, then you might get the impression that this city is void of any depth or artistic vision. But if YOU have vision, originality, demons to exorcise or a gaping hole in your heart that can only be filled with purpose then L.A. has always been overflowing with realness and inspiration.
All this is a pre-amble to discuss the Printed Matter L.A. County Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Downtown LA. And yes, before you snobby assholes point it out, this is the west coast installment of the NY Art Book Fair, held every fall in New York City, also by Printed Matter. We on the west coast have no issues with the greatness of New York City, or any interest in comparisons on why New York sucks and L.A. is great. Even though I CAN walk barefoot in winter to buy enough heavenly tacos to feed an army for under $5, that advantage is not any greater than all the great fashion available to bundle up and get a slice at Famous Original Ray’s Pizza.
Gallery by Elisabeth Fried
I had my eye on this event for months, realizing that I would never be able to scratch the surface of all the amazing happenings and exhibitors for artists’ books, catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by more than 250 presses, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers from over 20 countries. I was able to walk though the Geffen Contemporary on Friday to be around the magic and beauty of bound pages and installments but it would’ve been impossible for me to spend the kind of time necessary to absorb all the art and literature present at this 3 day event. Janky Smooth has just had me too busy but the turnout of both Angelinos and all the visitors from all over the world who came to see how we do it was inspirational and energizing. I got my fix of sanity in just a few hours that this city and yes, world is still filled with people who don’t read books on Kindles and don’t have BuzzFeed bookmarked. Hallelujah.
The event also had musical itineraries The opening event on Thursday featured a three-hour opening night preview, with special musical performances by NO AGE and PRINCE RAMA which we weren’t able to cover but we did send Taylor Wong out to cover Sunday’s musical itinerary after a brutal Saturday night at The Church of Fun venue. His take on Sunday’s music program is featured below.
This past weekend hit me like a mother fuckin’ train. Sunday was the end of my thrasher of a weekend, and what better way to end it than with Thurston Moore and another Ho99o9 performance. The setting for this more family friendly show was at the was The Geffen Contemporary at Moca for Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair. I only made it in time to be overwhelmed by a crowded fair indoors and to catch the two bands I had came to see. I wish I could tell you about the openers and great literature I had seen, but that is simply not the case. I was hung over and beat up from the previous shows I had been to and I was focused on two specific acts.
Thurston Moore was an interesting and different experience from my last. I had seen him back in September when he played The Echo with his band. This performance was nothing like that. He was joined on stage by John Wiese, a composer and artist who has worked with many bands such as No Age. Wise was on the mini stage sitting in a fold out chair with a sound board in his lap and a mac book on another fold out chair directly in front of him. The theme of this Thurston gig was power-electronic-guitar-noise-feedback, at least thats what his Facebook page says. Well that actually sums it up well- the show was 20 minutes of feedback. Thurston was in a trance for the first half of the set. You could see him feeling out every single electronic vibration coming from the speakers as well as the guitar strings. He would violently slide the back of his hands up and down the neck of the guitar. Eventually he got of the stage turned his back to me and leaned on me for a bit as he jammed out a bunch of ear piercing sounds. He was using anything he could to make different sounds which included peoples faces, the tent covering the stage, the hard edges of the speakers, and more people of the crowd. It was amazing we all felt a part of this chaotic noise yet every one was standing still, just observing.
Following Thurston Moore was Ho99o9. As you know we love Ho99o9 and everything they do. When I say this show was tame, you know that doesn’t mean much, all I’m really saying is no one got naked. The pit still fucked me up and this time it was on concrete, and there were wooden support beams about 15 feet in front of the stage. They gave a special shout out to their homies from New Jersey who I got the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with over the course of the two shows and what I can say is I have a new appreciation for Jersey. If you missed these gnarly shows you fucked up hard. Don’t sleep on the next one.
Words: Taylor Wong
Photos: Elisabeth Fried and Taylor Wong