Thursday, May 22, 2008

LANGHORNE SLIM record review

Langhorne Slim record review, LA WEEKLY

Langhorne Slim | Langhorne Slim | Kemodo

In a recent Razorcake interview, Greg Cartwright of the Reigning Sound theorized that nowadays, musicians who are trying to emulate roots music aren’t capable of delivering effectively because they’re too good. This statement may seem like a grave impropriety, but alas, it proves true: The presentation, the production value, the musicianship are overly perfected and therefore don’t capture the original home-fried palette of the greats being echoed. This Langhorne Slim record falls into that category. He is a damn good musician, but akin to bands like Old Crow Medicine Show, the music is too tame; lovely but bootless. It is easy to envision Langhorne Slim accumulating fans with this record, as tracks “Rebel Side of Heaven” and “Oh Honey” especially have catchy hooks, but as the lyrics in “Restless” state, “I felt restless and I felt soft/I didn’t know anymore who I was ripping off.” Agreed. “Oh Honey” is the gem of the album (also the shortest track), an antilove song in the tradition of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” but sans the stinging poeticisms that make Dylan’s 1963 classic indispensable.

—Rena Kosnett

Langhorne Slim
Photos: Drew Goren : splendidzine.com

Thursday, May 15, 2008

DAVID HINNEBUSCH feature

Santa Monica painter David Hinnebusch profiled in the LA Weekly 2008 People Issue

David Hinnebusch by Kevin Scanlon
Photo by Kevin Scanlon

David Hinnebusch
The outsider
By RENA KOSNETT
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 12:00 pm

For Santa Monica painter David Hinnebusch, artistic exploration has evolved over his 43 years mostly as a solo endeavor. Although he says he has been blessed with amazing friends and supporters throughout his life, he will be the first to tell you that he’s always felt like an outsider.

As a burgeoning African linguistics scholar, Hinnebusch’s father moved his wife and three children, of which David is the eldest, from Pittsburgh to Tanzania, back to Pittsburgh, then Kenya, and finally accepted a professorship at UCLA. Hinnebusch recalls growing up in Africa with mixed emotions. “I was one of the only white kids, and European kids were picked on. It was always ‘Yank’ this, and ‘Yank’ that.” However, traveling back and forth between the United States and Africa during the political tumult of the late ’60s did serve to develop David’s worldly and inquisitive nature at a very green age. He remembers a question he posed to his father at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport. “I was about 4, and while we were waiting to get on a plane, I went to my father and asked ‘Dad, who’s crazier, Idi Amin or Richard Nixon?’ I think he was stunned.”

As an outlet between the ages of 5 and 11, young David wrote and illustrated his own stories, creating a collection of books filled with the kind of words and imagery that make child psychologists salivate — particularly one storybook written in Nairobi, the title of which reads as a testament to the teasings of his youth: The War Boys of U.S.A.

This brand of heavy introspection followed Hinnebusch through his teenage years as a student at West L.A.’s University High, and manifested in depression, eventually leading to heavy drug use. Bad drugs. The kind of drugs that his professor father and microbiologist mother would not tolerate. From his account, his parents finally broke through their parental denial and confronted him in 1986 on the day the Challenger shuttle exploded. “I was fucked-up and had no reaction to this gigantic, horrific disaster. That’s when they really saw what was going on.” With their help, Hinnebusch struggled through many relapses to eventually reach sobriety in 1989.

Since then, he has been dedicated to his painting. His work can be likened to that of Jean-Michel Basquiat, if Basquiat had lived on the West Coast, been white and succeeded in kicking his heroin habit.

For a brief stint in the late ’90s, after attending the Santa Monica College of Design Art & Architecture for two years, Hinnebusch could be seen selling paintings on the Venice boardwalk, but skin cancer and peer annoyance drove him out of that arena, which was probably for the best. Enough people had already been exposed to his work, however, to generate a strong word-of-mouth following. When reviewing this year’s L.A. Weekly annual biennial, coagula.livejournal.com, wrote, “Even David Hinnebusch was there, so you know it was a scene.”

His projects are numerous, and his thought process scattered — evident in the way he’s built his Web site, fakeart.net, which has a haywire, John Forbes Nash–like layout and equally vexing navigation. But Hinnebusch has put tidbits of most of his endeavors online, in some form or another. He designs a line of clothing adorned with his illustrations, and is the proprietor of a custom surfboard company. He still sings (screams?) in Sunset Strip nightclubs with Entropy, the skater-hardcore punk band he formed in 1983, named after Jeremy Rifkin’s controversial 1980 book Entropy: A New World View.

Most importantly, Hinnebusch adds to the landscape of Santa Monica simply by being part of it. His wide, exceptionally charming grin can be seen from across the room at gallery openings, and he possesses such on-point charisma and impressionable confidence, one could imagine he acquired his magnetism almost as a survival trait (he does seem to have many admirers belonging to the fairer of the sexes).

I asked Hinnebusch if he has any enemies, a question that made him pause and sit back in his chair. His answer included his signature lemons-to-lemonade spin: “Well, there was this one guy who really hated me. He would always walk past me on Venice and yell out, ‘How’s it going with your fake art?’ But I actually liked that phrase so much, I took it as my trademark. So it all worked out.”

DANNY DEVITO feature

Danny DeVito and The Blood Factory profiled in the LA Weekly 2008 People Issue.

Danny DeVito's Blood Factory by Kevin Scanlon
Photo by Kevin Scanlon
Pictured: The Blood Factory Scientists, from left, John Albo, Tkay Garcia, Danny DeVito, Amanda Dragon, Nick Bonamy and Josh Levinson.

Danny DeVito
Inside the Blood Factory
By RENA KOSNETT
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 - 12:00 pm

The last time I went to Danny DeVito’s house, I had trouble parking. There was a huge star-tour van blocking access to his home. DeVito is, of course, exactly the kind of Hollywood royal that tourists come to Los Angeles hoping to see. But in addition to the high-budget movies that have made him famous as an actor and powerful as a producer, DeVito has a fierce independent streak that has led him to projects that have changed the nature of the business.

Consider his project Splatter Cuts, a collection, currently in postproduction, of grotesque yet oddly humorous Webisodes sprung from the mind of writer John Albo in the nothing-is-sacred underground Cinema of Transgression tradition that claimed John Waters and Lydia Lunch as members. It’s not the films’ bloody effects that are game-changing; the evolutionary factor of Splatter Cuts emerges with its accessibility. DeVito says his major goal with Splatter Cuts is to get the material directly from the artist to the consumer. Instead of Dawn of the Dead midnight screenings, Blood Feast drive-ins or homemade Raimi VHS tapes, Splatter Cuts has been produced specifically to reach the audience immediately as Web content. Or as an entertaining break on your iPhone or other hand-held device.

DeVito doesn’t negate the importance of a night out at the movies — in fact, it’s just the opposite. During a quieter moment on set, he entertained his crew with stories about the movie palaces he frequented as a child growing up on the Jersey shore. “The establishment of the grande movie house,” he says, “like the Crest in Westwood, is threatened right now. I don’t think their importance should be negated. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a portable movie experience to send to yourself on the phone.”

Besides its direct-distribution model, the studio-free, alternative-media format gives Splatter Cuts room to breathe ... and bleed. The unencumbered marketing process enables DeVito and his team to forgo any sort of production-code censoring while fleshing out Albo’s well of Grande Guignol.

DeVito’s wife, Rhea Perlman, introduced him to Albo more than 35 years ago when Albo and Perlman were working together in New York. Pretty quickly DeVito and Albo found that they share a deep affection for the darkly comic side of human nature.

“Danny really gives me complete freedom as a writer,” Albo says. “In fact, the more extreme I go, the more he encourages me. There are no boundaries. Splatter Cuts is the ideal situation for me as a creative screenwriter.”

To flush the monstrous out of Albo, DeVito says, “I take John, put him in a blender and turn him upside-down. Really, I do chain him to that typewriter. He also buries himself in War and Peace.”

Tolstoy, however, never had 8-foot-long clit monsters (that’s right) fly out from inside a women’s negligee to strangle her lover to death. Knitting needles used as eye gougers, husbands chopping their wives to bits with axes, patricidal undead Siamese twins — these are all key elements in Splatter Cuts, alongside gallons and gallons of fake blood.

So where do these phantasms come from?

“I don’t know,” says Albo. “People say to me, ‘John, you must’ve had a very strange life.’ But that’s not it. Sci-fi, horror — they deal with universals, the absurdity of the human condition. And I love to go to the extreme. With Splatter Cuts, we’re definitely going to the very end of the style, satirizing the genre itself. In terms of revenge and death, these are things that I pull from my own unconscious. Every human being has a dark side.”

For DeVito, the project has turned into a family affair — daughter Lucy DeVito stars in at least one episode, as does Perlman. And with his company Blood Factory, he’s assembled a talented production and effects crew.

Cinematographer Anastas Michos, a Steadicam superstar who worked with DeVito on Death to Smoochy, Duplex and Man on the Moon, among other films, says, “While working with Splatter Cuts episodes, I constantly have to remind myself that the final image is intended to be viewed on a screen no larger than an iPod instead of the 30-foot silver screen.”

Happily, the absurdity of the material on set was a surefire reminder of the product’s final destination. There were several scenes during which the camera, the trolley, as well as Michos himself had to be entirely sheathed in plastic bags to block airborne blood splashes from bathing the equipment. This was not a downside for DeVito.

“With this project,” he says, “we’re not working for the big cooperative. I have a core group of creatives. There are no superfluous influences, so we’re able to work freely, with Dada controls. Inspirationally, Splatter Cuts is absolutely for the new media.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TIM & ERIC'S AWESOME SHOW live review, photos

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show live @ the Echoplex 5.5.08, LA WEEKLY

more disgusting yet amazing photos from the show here

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08
They're so sweet and innocent. Photos by Rena Kosnett.

Writing about the experience of seeing Tim & Eric’s Awesome Show Great Job! live on tour would be akin to dancing about architecture—some weird, fucked up architecture. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

One certainty is that the live show is a thousand times better than seeing Tim & Eric on TV, or watching videos on Youtube, because in addition to watching and hearing them, you can smell and taste Tim & Eric as well. Some highlights: an instructional video about properly poisoning your child clown slave, Papa John’s email upgrades, a prayer for Robin Williams, enlarged testicle bodysuits, a video with John C. Reilly eating paninis prepared with horse grease and then saying "Ooh, it smells like horse."

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric did indeed kiss. They did indeed throw pizza and hot dogs into the audience, so if you’re planning on going to the encore performance tonight, go hungry (and early, as the Echoplex was entirely sold out). They did indeed vomit. They did indeed physically abuse their stage crew and curse at the audience. There was a naked guy (some of you may recognize his genitals from his one night performance as the naked guy at LA Weekly’s Third Annual Biennial). Awesome show, guys! Great Job. Here are some photos.

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Tim & Eric's Awesome Show @ Echoplex 5.5.08

Monday, May 5, 2008

thoughts: Sunday Funday Brunch in L.A.


Frankie and Nacho. Together forever.

Yesterday was one of those days that makes me realize how incredibly lucky I am to be living in this city.

I wake up in the morning, roll out of bed and go swimming with my dog. Who is wonderful.

Then I go over to my friend's brunch in Lincoln Heights, where my dog plays with the neighbor's dog, my friends eat blueberry pancakes in a tee pee which they built with their very own hands and sweat, on top of a hill, and we listen to the Kinks.

Then a few hours later in the early evening, we drive 10 minutes to go see a free show, where my favorite local band is playing, and they are mighty fantastic. And wonderful people. I love them.

After which we go back to the house, cook carne asada, and listen to Neil Young.

And the only thing I paid for all day, besides petrol of course, was a $1 Tecate. Which I guess labels me a freeloader, but also shows the generosity of the people in my life.





crystal antlers @ sugar

crystal antlers @ sugar

Thursday, May 1, 2008

YEASAYER live review

Yeasayer at the Ukranian Culture Center, 4.25.08, LA WEEKLY

I can’t freakin' wait until Yeasayer come back to Los Angeles. I feel itchy knowing that last Friday's show at the Ukranian Culture Center on Melrose was their only L.A. engagement.

Yeasayer is one band that requires you to hold your impressions until you’ve seen their live performance. As interesting as the single “2080” is for the dooming lyrics and the ethereal use of chant-like synthesized vocals, it can seem a little Ren-fair. And that’s totally why many people like it; it’s the Peter-Gabriel-trying-to-perform-like-David-Byrne throwback. Also, during the song “Sunrise,” I just can’t stop thinking of Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” The music could easily slip into the realm of, well, dorky. Compared to their oft-likened kindred spirits TV On The Radio, “Final Path” makes Yeasayer seem like TVOTR’s extremely smart, pimply, Magic: The Gathering little cousin.

But Yeasayer were crowned Ukranian Kings Friday night in that crazy (and really cool) hall, for two reasons. 1) the keyboardist and lead singer, Chris Keating, is a gifted performer, and confident as hell. His face and body contort under the dense pressure of their music and lyrics, almost to the point where he looks pained. It’s hypnotizing. If he hadn't been as entrancing, the live show would've been completely different. And 2) I haven’t seen such an stupendous light display feat since I was 12 years old and went to the observatory to watch the Pink Floyd laserium show. Straight out of Big Brother and the Holding Company. When I saw A Place to Bury Strangers powering through their “Ocean” finale a few months ago, I didn’t want to bob my head or blink because I was afraid of missing something. During Yeasayer, I may as well have been dipped in carbon freeze.

Yeasayer. Go see them. Go to the ends of the earth if you need to. Their music would be perfect along the way.

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Groovy. Photos by Rena Kosnett