First it is Scottish band Mogwai, performing at the classic United Artists Theatre, now the Theatre at Ace Hotel. I saw films here in my teens, later to become the sanctum of tongue meister (or meistress ?), Pastor Melissa Scott. This is my first visit since the new look. It is a cool theatre. Very Goth. Very Gaudi. With acid lighting and melting architecture. Mogwai are performing along the film ATOMIC, which they did the soundtrack. It is my first concert with the band.
We are back in our familiar haunts of DTLA and Little Tokyo. I use this time to buy an Obi, a Kimono I admired on our previous visit, but hesitated on. However a box of cookies in the local Japanese market illustrated with distinctly LOLITA-like anime, is no longer on the shelf. I am saddened by this for artistic reasons which I will explain later.
Ironically, in the wee hours of morning, I see a broadcast of Pastor Melissa Scott on the hotel TV and snap many photos, which I later delete, like some guilty lover. Her sermons still make no sense and are like a sublime Monty Python Sketch. Did she really make hardcore adult films before meeting eccentric evangelist Doctor Scott? Bambi something or other? I used to do parodies like this. Proof about satire: no matter how outrageous you make the joke of warning, the reality will top it. Still semi-perversely attracted to her. Anyway, I dug her ex-theatre. Not sure how many times as a youth, I went to see films at the old United Artists Theatre.
The old Downtown LA of my youth, has turned into the new Downtown LA of my dotage. Always new discoveries. And a curious sanctuary in Little Tokyo. The restaurant I prefer to get takeaway from (vegetable tempura dinner), the Japanese market, the stores to explore. It's Fritz Lang meets Ridley Scott a little bit more each time.
And the feel of the Lunar New Year...
Our second return to the area, with only a two day break, is to travel out from DTLA to Studio City, to Universal Studios and a two night get together with Stick Men. I've been looking forward to this event for quite a while. King Crimson members Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter are lodged for two nights of two shows a night at cult club the Baked Potato. And old friends Paul Bergevin and Hugh Mandesen are coming up from Santa Barbara to see the first night.
Of course, the little lady and I must check out the Chinese or Lunar New Year Celebrations at Universal Studios. Impressive displays from Po and Tigress are on view, as well as a slightly ominous/cuddly combination from that Transformers guy. Photo ops for all. The decorations are quite lovely and every Year and its Avatar are represented. I'm a Year of the Ox cat, so I note my years on the banner and meditate on the connection with its fellow years.
This is my return, or second inclusive visit to Universal Studios, and I feel comfortable. The wife even entices me on the "really mild Harry Potter Ride," which of course, is quite sudden, violent and exciting for an ancient carbon based creature as myself. It is quite fun. And occasional images of Emma Watson gave me reason to survive and live on.
Universal Studios by day. Clubbing by night. "This is the life, eh, Moriarty?"
To say The Baked Potato is an intimate club, is like saying group sex is a form of networking. It REALLY is an intimate club. And exactly what I have been looking forward to after concert horrors like the Greek Theatre and Hollywood Bowl. I love that my dining room table is EXACTLY on the equal stage as the performers. This is cool. Like letting Coltrane have a sip of your Rum & Coke before knocking over everyone's drinks with a wild axe garnish.
Seriously, our table, chosen because Paul & Hugh have arrived first ("Are YOU with those loud two?" asks our first night host) is on the stage with Tony Levin's bass position and Pat Mastelotto's drum kit. Parfait. By the second evening, Pat, seeing the wife and I in the same seats, while performing, smiles at the little lady, and moves his microphone and music stand out of the way, so we can get a clearer view of his mastery at work.
And mastery it was. Three great musicians. Tony I first met in the Eighties with Crimson in Santa Barbara. Pat dazzled me at Crimson's trio of drummers at the LA Orpheum and Markus, finally meeting after a long correspondence. It was like being invited at home for a studio rehearsal. Two superb evenings.
So we enter into a new portal. The Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year of all things Eastern. SPACE PIRATE RADIO quietly hits the milestone of 43 years on January 27th. When enjoying the displays at Universal for the New Year, we appreciated the banners, in a circular display, for all 12 signs of the calendar. My wife is Year of the Rat, quite apropos. Myself, the Ancient One, is Year of the Ox. I was struck by the listing of all the other years within that animal, included the year I created SPACE PIRATE RADIO, 1973 and 1997, the year my father died and I married for the first and only time.
On SPACE PIRATE RADIO, I remember celebrating the new year as the Year of the Drip Dry Shirt. It was Lunacy!
Happy Year of the Rooster everyone. We could use some Miracles here.