The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Week In Review

People often ask me why I hate living in Los Angeles. There are of course, easy and standard answers like the fact that it took me an hour and 15 minutes today just to go from my parent's place on the west side to my apartment on the east side. Luckily, the fun part was that I was able to mow down four east side hipsters in my past. Take that hipsters, you and your wacky Devendra Banhart. There are also easy answers such as in Los Angeles you can't buy a slice of pizza on the street at 1:00 a.m., which I feel is generally the mark of an upstanding city.

But I guess the root of my distaste for this town is the way in which it can corrupt even the most decent of souls. I'm an Angeleno born and raised and have watched the town eat alive some of the more honest and forthright people that I've grown up with. It's just the nature of the beast. Every city has a certain pulse and a different energy that it radiates. Los Angeles is nothing more than the grotesque intersection of three things: sex, drugs, and "image." And nowhere is this collision more apparent than in the place that foolish label-happy journalists might call "young Hollywood."

I'm fully aware that these ideas are so well ingrained in everyone's imagination that they're cliched and have been said a million times. I'm also fully aware that millions of people in this town work and live by a different set of rules that certainly don't jibe with the bullshit Hollywood aesthetic I'm referring to. I'm only talking about the Hollywood of everyone's imagination. A Hollywood that I truly believe exists, in spite of the cliches.

This idea of "Hollywood" is the subject of Jon Caren's A Fish Out of Water in Shark City Play that I caught at the Elephant Theater Last Saturday night. Now I don't normally do plays. In fact, I don't think I've been to a play in my life that my grandmother hasn't taken me to. Actually I take that back. For some reason, I caught a 4/20 production of Chekhov's Cherry Orchard my Junior Year of college. Needless to say, I had no fucking clue what was going on AND the bastard's took my coca-cola slurpee at the door. Accordingly, it was no surprise when I high-tailed it right out of the there at intermission. AND I got a refund. What kind of a Jew did they think they were dealing with?

So when I went to see this play last Saturday night I had no idea what to expect.Let's get real, if Jon hadn't been my friend since I was five years old, I probably would've rather sat at home, rented a bunch of Eddie Griffin movies and thrown back a pint of Drano rather than go to some play.

Then again this wasn't just any play. It was a fictionalized account of something that happened to some of my closest friends from high school. You see, in the summer of 2002, while I was alternately holed up in coffee houses across the city writing the first draft of my novel and being a camp counselor to a bunch of brats at Westwood Rec Sports Camp, most of my high school friends were doing the "Hollywood" club scene. Well, one day, while out at a place called Moomba that was the hot spot for like 10 minutes that summer, two of my best friends met a reporter from Vanity Fair who was looking to write a story about Young Hollywood.

I'm not exactly sure why the reporter picked my two friends, as both of them were barely out of their teenage years and were certainly pretty far from being Hollywood players. But she glommed onto them pretty fast and without a decent narrative to spin, ended up embellishing a ridiculously mean-spirited tale, one that unfairly painted my friends as complete degenerates. Somehow, the article ended up discussing the innermost thoughts and private lives of about 6 or 7 of my closest high school friends. It was definitely strange to read. And while I avoid Hollywood nightclubs like I avoid buying Paul Wall albums, and therefore had little chance of being included in the story, the fact remains that I'm definitely glad that I wasn't mentioned in the article. I mean, this was Vanity fucking Fair. Everybody in the world reads that magazine (or so it would seem because there isn't a person I know who didn't read it).

At any rate, Jon's play chronicles and definitely fictionalizes the lives of my friends that summer, as a duplicituous reporter tries to get them to say and do things that they never wanted to do. I strongly recommend you check it out. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll drink free wine, yes that's right, free wine. You know you like free wine. And if you don't, then what's wrong with you? I'd have worked in a Siberian Gulag for free wine.

If you're thinking about going, just go. It's relatively inexpensive and the guy is 24 years old and he's putting on a play at a theater that to the best of my knowledge doesn't double as a strip club. In particular, it's worth going just to see the outstanding performance of Sean-Michael Hodge-Bowles, who plays Grant Spielman. And you best believe that he's a talented actor if he manages to make a black man with the last name Spielman seem believable. Look guys, I know that there aren't many people who aren't named Estelle or Gertrude that like theater, but it's worth your time. And did I mention there's free wine?

Life is very hard these days being a semi-employed journalistic vagrant, but I do find time to make it out of the house to check out the so-called "indie" rock bands that play in these hipster-infested woods of my fair town.

So when New York City-based Cloud Room came into town to play a free set at the Echo last Monday night, I managed to get my gentrifying ass down there to try to do my best to mock hipsters while seemingly engaging in non-stop hipsterish behavior (living in Los Feliz, liking Indie rock, blogging, wait this is making me worried, I'll continue).

Of course, there are always perils when venturing into the dark and hirsute woods of Echo Park. A 30-something Mexican woman took note of me and the four other cracker carpetbaggers that I was with and starting screaming "white trash!! White trash!!" as we walked across the street towards the venue. Of course, she'd been doing all sorts of bizarre dances while listening to her Sony Walkman in the middle of Echo Park at 11:00 p.m. on a Monday night. Needless to say, I didn't take the affront too seriously.

Immediately upon gaining entrance, I sidled up to the bar to purchase my trademark "I think I'm Ernest Hemingway" Jack on the Rocks. My friend ordered the same and sarcastically muttered to me, "the drink of angry young writers." To which, some girl sitting next to us, wearing tights, excitedly got up and starting trying to make conversation with us, asking if indeed we were really "angry young writers."

"No, I'm a soap opera actor," I nonchalantly told her. "My friend here is a well-renowned plastic surgeon. We just come to Echo Park and pretend to be artsy to bang hipster chicks."

I think this made her sad, shattering her dreams of us discussing Gide while sipping on Pernod. Tough break, hipster chick. Tough break. Though don't worry, I'm sure you can find tons of struggling writers at the Echo on a Monday night. Just scream out "who loves Nietszche?" They'll all come running.

The show itself was surprisingly excellent,as the Cloud Room played an enthusiastic 45-minute set mostly consisting of tracks from their epononymous debut album. And the lead singer, J (this is actually his stage name) wore a cravat, which I found deeply cool. It's tough to pull off a cravat. Not like I'd know or anything (note to self: do not discuss cravats in public again).

The set was capped off, of course, by the Cloud Room's big (relatively speaking) single, "Hey Now Now," one of those unbelievably catchy songs that you hear once or twice a year and can't get out of your head. Definitely go buy it on iTunes. It's that good, one of those "Float On" type songs that you could play for your grandmother or your impossible to please hipster swine friend and they'll both love it. Plus, it has a cool back story which is discussed rather pretentiously in this Pitchfork article (highly recc'd) .

To make a long story short, the lead singer of the band tested positive for HIV in the spring of last year. Immediately, he took a re-test, but before he could get the new results back his doctor bailed to take a three-week vacation in the Bahamas. Obviously, dude spends the next three weeks in agony only to finally get the new results: negative. The lyrics to "Hey Now Now" were deliriously composed in the aftermath. I also bought the album at the show which I would recommend. It's not mind-blowing or anything, but it kind of sounds what the U2 would be like if they weren't totally washed up and obnoxious.


At 3:57 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Don't give away my secrets. I totally try to act like a dark mysterious writer when I am in that area so that I can impress and then bang lovely hipster chicks...Works every time.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Nate said...

I heard the cloud room on Indie 103.1 Wed morning...and I felt oh so cool about it.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

glad to know the blog is becoming such a vast source of knowledge...all you need to do know is drop the name arctic monkeys now nd hipster chicks will be yours...but hurry they'll be too big in three weeks for you to be cool and drop their name...time is of the essence

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Nate said...

One name that will never be big enough for hipster bitches is Morrissey. For some reason those bitches love Morrissey. That's the one exception to the "He's too mainstream" rule.


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