Friday, November 30, 2012

Wake Up Lucid

Ian Baca and Jamie Baca of Wake Up Lucid at Sunset Beer Company



At Sunset Beer Company

1498 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (Echo Park)

So many bands perform in Los Angeles every night that it's a rarity to come across a special act whose music not only makes you stop and take notice but leaves an impression that lasts well after they've played their last note on stage. After my first time watching Wake Up Lucid perform, I immediately bought a copy of Feel It, their debut full-length, and the album has been in constant rotation on my record player ever since. The trio marries classic blues and rock elements with the fuzz and aggressive energy of garage-rock to truly set themselves apart from most groups on the scene.

But a frenetic live show and unique sound aren't the only remarkable attributes of this band. Vocalist/guitarist Ryan Baca, bassist Ian Baca and drummer Jamie Baca have known each other since birth.

"Jamie and I are brothers, and Ryan is our cousin. Our dads were brothers, and they were in a band together, too," shares Ian. "We grew up in Apple Valley, Calif., and they used to play cover songs, like Neil Young and lots of '70s records, around Barstow Community College. They would always play at family gatherings where other family members would sing along. We really just grew up playing music."

Ian and Jamie accompany me on my first expedition to Sunset Beer Company, a bottle shop/tasting room/bar space in Echo Park, and I couldn't have asked for better partners on a beer hunt than the Baca brothers. Situated in the corner of a nondescript strip mall, Sunset Beer Company opened a little over a year ago and is truly a beer wonderland. From England's Wells Banana Bread Beer to selections from Central Cali's Firestone Walker Brewery's, they offer over 250 beers to purchase from their wall of refrigerators or taste in their cozy bar area. Since the $2 per bottle corkage fee is a little steep, it's best to taste whatever they have on tap then buy some bottles of different beers to take home.

We walk around the bar room that resembles someone's den with its fireplace, wooden shelves lined with books and brown leather chairs before deciding to each try something new: the Black Butte Porter from Portland, Ore.'s Deschutes Brewery for Jamie, the Stone IPA from Escondido, Calif. for Ian and the Sourdough Ale from Pasadena's Craftsman Brewing Company for me. As we settle onto a long wooden bench with our pints, the brothers inform me that Ryan won't be joining us because he's ill. Since the frontman resides in Orange County anyway, it will give me more time to pick the other two's brains about their respective L.A. neighborhoods.

"I live in Silver Lake/East Hollywood area in a commercial spot with some friends. It's a really cool spot that used to be a medical office. We're lucky because we never have anybody complain about the noise we make," says Jamie. "I live right next to the Kitchen, and their Carmelized Onion Frittata is really good with the fluffy eggs and the onions all interspersed in it."

The brothers are also fans of El Chavo, Pho Café and Red Lion. They both love playing venues like Silverlake Lounge and the Echo, but Ian actually lives on the other side of town.

"I live in Culver City, and the area is really starting to come around. I live off Washington in the Art District, and there are like 50 galleries within walking distance. The farmers market's cool in downtown Culver City, and there are some good places to eat," he says. "I like the bars, culture and art. If I get off of work early I could walk around a museum for a couple of hours., and every Saturday at least one of the galleries has an opening with wine and lots of different people. The Mandrake, a little place right on gallery row, is a pretty cool bar. Cinema Bar on Sepulveda, that's a good spot. I love dive bars. In Venice, there's Hinano Café and across the street the Whaler. I like Danny's down there on Windward, too."

The hustle and bustle of Los Angeles is a far cry from the high-desert area of Apple Valley where the Bacas grew up. Music was a constant fixture in their homes, and they all picked up instruments at an early age. Ryan began to play the guitar at 7, while Jamie started on the drums at 8.

Ian, Ryan and Jamie (Chris Beyer)
Ian recalls, "I had left my drums at home when I moved away. I came back, and this guy [nods at Jamie] was shredding. I just said, 'Well, I feel like I can't take them back now.'"

"It wasn't really an intentional thing," Jamie says of 'stealing' Ian's kit. "My brothers had taught me one beat, and from there I practiced it and then could add some things on. It was just something to do."

While Ian and Josh, the brother in between Ian and Jamie in age, listened to '80s rock group when they were little, they were heavily into hip-hop until the early '90s.

"I'm like the whole Nirvana cliche. I saw the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video and was like, 'What?!'" admits Ian with a laugh. "The only other rock album I listened to at the time was that Faith No More record [The Real Thing], but that was almost borderline rap rock. It was really progressive as far as genres go; it was real funky. After that record, I bought an electric guitar at Guitar Center for cheap and started getting into rock again."

While artists like Herbie Hancock had a huge influence on Jamie, who has also played in jazz and metal bands, his older brothers' musical tastes also helped pave his way to becoming the solid rock drummer he is in Wake Up Lucid.

"I was 4 or 5 years old, and they were listening to Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine. Those groups were a big foundation, and Tool as well, because they were so aggressive," he says. "Rage Against the Machine, for us as a rhythm section, is like the gold standard. The Beastie Boys, all the '70s records they sampled were super groove-based. All that stuff definitely made an impression on us, and it's what we used to jam on at our house."

"We would take our drums, guitar and bass, find a groove and continuously jam to that," adds Ian. "I would record it with a 4-track, then we would add some shakers and call it a day."

The Bacas found another hobby that they all enjoyed, which was also tied in with their love of music.

"All three of us were into skateboarding," says Jamie. "What I really enjoyed about skateboard culture was that it preceded a lot of Internet exposure of music culture. If you would watch a skateboard video with underground rock or hip-hop songs, you would be like, 'Whoa.' To see cool songs paired with awesome skate runs, it was the shit."

"That was the way to get exposed," interjects Ian.

"Yeah, and it was really cool to see that because it was a very non-corporate or super huge record label produced thing," concurs Jamie. "It was just two separate cultures that obviously liked each other building each other up."

The three cousins honed their musical skills in other bands before eventually uniting as Wake Up Lucid and releasing the Look Alive People EP in 2010. With that EP and its follow-up, Sugar, a year later, the band began catching the attention of the L.A. Times, Nylon Magazine and the Icarus Line's Joe Cardamone. The three-piece found an ally in Cardamone, who eventually assumed production duties on Feel It, which hit stores in August.

"Joe really challenged us to streamline the tracks," says Ian.

"It was beneficial to have someone outside [their circle of three] added to the mix," adds Jamie. "Especially Joe, because of his vast knowledge of music."

One spin of Feel It touches on a full spectrum of sound and emotions. From the pulsating grind of the title track and the lightning spark of "Fame" to the sultry purr of "Facepaint" and "Death Valley," Wake Up Lucid artfully combines an array of sonic vibrations into 11 cohesive tracks. Besides the music contained on Feel It, the album's cover art is an image that instantly grabs attention.

"I was looking through my parents' records, and I realized that as a kid everything was dictated by the cover art. I would see these albums, and they would capture my curiosity, like the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis: Bold as Love. It's true, even now. Sometimes I'll go to a record store like Vacation Vinyl, and there's a ton of stuff that you've never heard of that has such gnarly cover art that you wish you had $500 to just buy records," shares Ian. "It's just like Feel It. It has a pretty bold cover. If I saw it on the shelf, I would be like, 'Who are these guys?' and buy it. Then when people buy it at shows and pull it out, they see the record is red. I remember my parents collection had one red vinyl record by the J. Geils Band, and it was the one other time I've seen it."

It's true, the red-colored vinyl was a definite bonus when I opened my copy of the record. And it's little details like this that really set Wake Up Lucid apart, especially when it comes to minute facets that the inherent chemistry from their familial bonds produce on stage.

"For some bands it's just a job: They go on tour, but they don't talk, they write. I'm just not interested in that at all," remarks Ian. "The Beastie Boys were like brothers to each other, and it came across on stage. And with us, I think it comes across. People see that."

Feel It is currently available. For more information, visit

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Events for Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2012


Noah Lit of Noah and the MegaFauna



Noah and the MegaFauna @ The Echoplex (Echo Park)
Frontman Noah Lit blends elements of rock, jazz and gypsy jazz for a completely unique sound. The band's live performances feature nine musicians on varied instruments, from upright bass and clarinet to bandoneon and trumpet, and never fail to provide a thoroughly clamorous time. Look for the group in Judd Apatow's This Is 40, hitting theaters Dec. 21.


Quesadilla Nights Begin @ Tinga (Mid-City West)

Campanile's grilled cheese nights have come to a close, so Tinga has decided step up to the plate and quench cheese-lovers appetites with the kick-off of Thursday Quesadilla Nights. Besides their regular offerings, they'll have special fillings, like pastrami, chayote and cheese in the Pastrami-dilla.


"Raiding the Rock Vault" @ The Mayan (Downtown)
This new production follows the history of rock 'n' roll from 1950 through 1990, narrated by Richard Malmos. Classic songs from the Who, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, KISS, the Rolling Stones and many more are performed by an all-star band that includes Andrew Freeman, Tracii Guns, Howard Leese, Robin McAuley, John Payne, Michael T. Ross, Jay Schellen, Paul Shortino and Joe Lynn Turner.



In Theaters This Week
Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini in Killing Them Softly; Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren return in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. Also in theaters: The Central Park Five; The Collection; Hecho En Mexico; Silent Night


Straight No Chaser @ Pantages Theatre (Hollywood)
The all-male a cappella group is like a real-life version of the Warblers from "Glee," taking modern songs, like Coldplay's "Fix You" and Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under the Bridge," and giving them their own special twist. Considering the time of year, a performance of "The 12 Days of Christmas" could be expected, as well as new tracks from their forthcoming album due in 2013.

Trixie Whitley (Guy Kokken)



Trixie Whitley @ The Satellite (Silver Lake)
You may recognize her name from Daniel Lanois' Black Dub project, and after this show you won't be able to forget her amazing voice. After witnessing songs like "Breathe You in My Dreams," you'll be clamoring for more. Don't fret, her debut album, Fourth Corner, is set for a Jan. 29 release.


World AIDS Day
There are several events happening throughout SoCal, including an awareness festival in Long Beach and a free lecture and performance at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Sheryl Lee Ralph presents the 22nd annual Divas Simply Singing concert at Club Nokia with artists such as Faith Evans and Kristinia DeBarge. AIDS Project Los Angeles is also hosting a food drive, with drop-off locations all over the county.



Slash @ The Wiltern (Koreatown)
The legendary guitarist and his bandmates, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, wrap up their world tour in support of Apocalyptic Love with a headlining show at the Wiltern. Whether you know Slash from his days with GN'R or Velvet Revolver, there is a track you'll love from the new album, and nothing compares to seeing him shred live.



Repeal Day Specials

The 1933 Group is offering a special cocktail at each of their properties – Bigfoot Lodge, Bigfoot West, Oldfield's Liquor Room, La Cuevita, Sassafras, Thirsty Crow – for only 50 cents in commemoration of the repeal of Prohibition.


Tim & Eric's Chrimbus Screening @ The Cinefamily (Mid-City West)

Celebrate Chrimbus Day with Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim and their special guests for a screening of the "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!"'s TV special. The duo selects other episodes to screen before the Chrimbus Special and participates in a post-show Q&A, and the night also features performances by the Awesome Show family. Proceeds go to Hurricane Sandy victims.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

L.A. HAVENS: Black Hogg

The Pork Belly Tacos at Black Hogg



2852 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles (Silver Lake) 323-953-2820

While many assume Black Hogg is named for a pig-related animal, its moniker actually refers to a young sheep, which explains the neon lamb on the restaurant's sign. The logo also refers to Chef Eric Park's signature lamb burger that features butter ground into the meat patty, habanero onions and a healthy dose of Onetik Bleu cheese.

What I like about Black Hogg is their varied list of small plates. My favorite is the Pork Belly Tacos: roasted pork belly on house-made corn tortillas topped with apple slaw and jalapeño relish. The richness of the fatty meat is cut by the tart apples and spicy acidity of the peppers for a gorgeously composed plate. Many diners order the "Popcorn" Bacon, which are pieces of house-made bacon that  battered and fried then served with a sweet Maple Crema; the Uni Toast; Roast Mushrooms on Brioche; or the Roast Marrow Bones. The Chopped Chicken Liver is quite spicy and a little too grainy, but its chicken skin cracklin' garnish is a nice touch. If you want something on the lighter side, you can't go wrong with a half-dozen fresh oysters (sometimes Blue Points, Tomahawks or Shigokus) dipped in a horseradish cocktail sauce or Spicy Pickle Juice Mignonette, an order of fire-blistered Shishito Peppers or Caesar Salad with tangy Fish Sauce Dressing. As for the entrees, the free-range Cast Iron Chicken is a great choice. The crispy skin has a citrusy tang that reminds me of my mom's Filipino fried chicken brined in soy sauce and calamansi. Chai Spiced Churros provide a unique and extremely addicting finish to the meal.

Originally opened in March, Black Hogg took a three-month break in August to get ready for its beer and wine license. It reopened earlier this month with a list that includes French, Italian, German, Spanish and California wines and several bottled and draft beers, like San Diego's Green Flash IPA and Fort Collins' New Belgium Tart Lychee Ale. A few new dishes were added to the menu, such as the Rossa Berkshire Prosciutto with Crescentina (deep-fried bread) and whole grain mustard, and the Peppery By Night, a flat iron steak braised in Chianti and black pepper. The steak is so tender, you definitely don't need a knife to cut it, and the pureed Yukon potatoes served on the side are the perfect creamy accompaniment to sop up all the extra peppery sauce.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

STREET SIGNS: Diamond in the Lotus

This stencil is part of Free Humanity's Diamond in the Lotus Project, which aims to plant "positive subliminal seeds of Consciousness in urban areas." This particular piece is on Spaulding Avenue (just off Melrose Avenue) in Mid-CityWest.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Terraplane Sun

Lyle Riddle, Ben Rothbard and Johnny Zambetti of Terraplane Sun at Venice Ale House


At Venice Ale House

2 Rose Ave., Venice 310-314-8253

A lot of people like Los Angeles for the fact that they can surf and ski in the same day. I love how it not only appeals to surfers and snow bunnies but also to those who love exploring nature in the Santa Monica Mountains, dancing at a trendy club in West Hollywood or grabbing a beer at a dive bar Downtown. There really is something for everyone here, including bands that run the gamut of musical genres.

However, few local acts fully encapsulate the spirit of Los Angeles like Terraplane Sun. Since 2009, the Venice-based quintet has put their own spin on classic rock elements from the blues, country and soul – delivered with a deftness that comes from years spent honing their skills on various instruments. You can feel the laid-back vibe of sun-drenched days at the beach along with the coolness of a nighttime drive beneath the city's skyscrapers in their songs.

The band is somewhat of a rarity, in that, four of its five members (vocalist Ben Rothbard, guitarist Johnny Zambetti, keyboardist Gabe Feenberg and drummer Lyle Riddle) actually grew up in Los Angeles. Bassist Chris "Cecil" Campanaro, who was raised in Florida, is the lone exception, although he has lived here for a few years now. Having just released their latest effort, the Friends EP, last month, Terraplane Sun took some time during a brief respite in between tour dates to share their wealth of L.A. knowledge with me at one of their favorite neighborhood haunts, Venice Ale House.

The New American gastropub is situated on the north end of the Venice Boardwalk, where Rose Avenue meets Ocean Front Walk, and prides itself on serving organic, wholesome food, as well as an extensive list of craft beers. Its patio is the perfect place to sit in the sun, take in the ocean view and a Skate of Beers: six (or four) four-ounce samplers served on a skateboard. Since it's walking distance from Lyle's place, Venice Ale House is a great meeting place for the guys.

Venice Ale House
 "The Corn on the Cob à La Mexicana [roasted in lemon, cayenne, sea salt and Cotija cheese] is outrageous," says Johnny. "They've got a really good beer selection, too."

"The Grilled Portobello Sandwich [with grilled zucchini, roasted red pepper and chipotle aioli] is so on point," says Lyle. "It's one of my favorite things ever."

While they have no problem spilling their usual orders at Venice Ale House, when it comes to planning out an itinerary for a visit by some out-of-town friends, Johnny is less confident in giving an immediate answer.

"That gives me so much anxiety! I went to school back east and when all my friends there want to come out, I get anxious because there's so much to do with someone who has never been to L.A. before. Do you take them to Hollywood and do the Walk of Fame? I mean, that's not really fun."

"You have to break it into individual areas instead of trying to go everywhere on one day," suggests Ben. "Spend a day seeing Silver Lake, then a few days in Venice."

"If we were talking specifically about Venice, then definitely Venice Ale House is a good spot," offers Lyle. "The canals, you always have to stroll through the canals. My favorite is Obsolete Art Gallery right on Main Street. A lot of people that live here don't even know about it, there's so much going on there. The Santa Monica Promenade. Hotel Erwin."

"Abbot Kinney's cool," adds Ben.

After taking time to ponder the idea, Johnny chimes in: "You've definitely got to have the beach aspect. I always try to go up to Malibu. It's always going to be nice because of the weather. Then you go to dinner here in Venice or inland, like at the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. There's one table, Dan Aykroyd's private table, you have to ask for it, and it's on the balcony with such a great view."

Knowing that Ben loves to surf, I have to inquire about his favorite spots.

"I normally go up north," he says. "I like Zuma Beach, that's probably my favorite place. The whole Paradise Cove area and Ventura, too"

On a typical Saturday afternoon, Johnny says they would normally hop on some bicycles.

"We would make our way down Main Street to the waterfront," he says. "You run into so many different people along the way. One time we ended up with 14 person crew."

"People love to day drink here in Venice," says Ben. "We usually end up at the Whaler."

No matter where they're hanging out, it's evident from spending just a few minutes with the guys that they have an innate chemistry with one another. Ben and Cecil are founding members of the band, who released a self-titled debut in 2009 before taking a brief hiatus during which time Ben met Johnny as extras on the set of an Allstate Insurance commercial. Gabe and Lyle were added to the mix, and they released Coyote in 2011. The band caught the attention of the media and many listeners when its songs were featured on television shows like "The Big C," "Nurse Jackie," "Relapse" and "Damages." The group enlisted veteran producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, My Morning Jacket) for Friends, which has once again resulted in Terraplane Sun's placement in TV ("Teen Wolf," a Citibank ad campaign) and film (21 Jump Street, What To Expect When You're Expecting) spots.

The band has been touring in support of the EP, from a residency at the Satellite to festivals like South By Southwest, Fiesta Del Sol and Sunset Strip Music Festival, which was quite significant since several of the members played their first shows ever on the Strip.

"I played my first show at On the Rox," shares Ben.

"The first show I ever played was on the Sunset Strip, I was 11 years old," says Johnny. "I grew up going to shows on the Strip. I used to go see Mickey Avalon after school. I had my school uniform on and would change in the car. I was still underage."

"Playing Sunset Strip Music Fest was really cool," he continues. "I don't think I would have normally gone out of my way to see Marilyn Manson. Ray Manzarek came on stage, and Manson really channeled Jim Morrison on some of the Doors covers."

"Early on, the first shows I ever went to on my own were at the Troubadour," admits Lyle. "The (International) Noise Conspiracy with Minus the Bear was a crazy show. It was packed. In a way, T(I)NC turned me onto the Rolling Stones, kind of ripping their style off. I was about 16 years old, and it was cool seeing live rock 'n' roll. That show was definitely historical."

When asked if he prefers playing small club shows or big festivals, Lyle replies, "It's like whiskey and wine – I love both, but for different occasions. Sometimes you want to take a shot and sometimes you just want to chill."

One commonality that exists among all of Terraplane Sun's members is that music was a constant presence in each of their childhoods.

Lyle comments, "Music is in all of our backgrounds really. My stepdad was a drummer, Johnny's dad was a pretty awesome musician. My dad was always bumping Zeppelin, Genesis, the Beatles and the Who. I just came out loving drums, always banging on pots and pans and wanting to learn really badly. About fifth grade I became a huge Nirvana fan, listening to their records all the time. I remember the first time I sat down at a drum set at my cousin's house. I was playing them backwards. My brother was like, 'That's not how you do it,' and it tore my heart out."

"Environment definitely influenced me, growing up there were guitars hanging on the walls. They didn't push it on me, I kind of found it on my own though. I tried everything _ the piano, the drums, but guitar is what struck a chord," laughs Johnny. "I've been playing since I was 8, I'm a child of rock 'n' roll. The first album I found on my own was Rancid's …And Out Come the Wolves. I think I stole it from Kmart, put it in my pocket and ran out the door."

"I had to play an instrument," says Ben. "I started on the piano, and then the guitar. When you're young and get upset, all you want to do is play guitar with your friends. I tried to write when I was younger but never found my voice until I was older."

While tracks like "Ya Never Know" and "Get Me Golden" definitely resonant with audience and are quickly becoming crowd favorites, there's another song on Friends that really touches Lyle in particular.

"'No Regrets' had a big impact on me when we were writing it. When we were going into the studio to do that record, I walked away from a pretty secure job. There's a line, 'Trade my car for a pair of boots,' and a lot of people are latching onto that," he says. "It's probably my favorite song on the record. It's so important to have no regrets to pursue what feels right in your soul."

Ben adds, "The worst that can happen is that you fail. A lot of people are driven by fear itself, and you can't let it determine your path. Collectively we're all—"

"We can't really do anything else," interjects Johnny with a laugh.

Whether it was picking up an instrument at 8 years old, seeing that first influential band at the Troubadour or continuing to discover new music together while listening to the radio on the road, music has been and continues to be the lifeblood of the members of Terraplane Sun.

Friends is currently available. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Events for Nov. 21-28, 2012


Life of Pi (20th Century Fox)



In Theaters This Week
Hitchcock stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson going behind the scenes of Psycho; I loved the novel by Yann Martel, and am excited to see Ang Lee bring Life of Pi to the big screen; The Red Dawn remake with Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas and Josh Hutcherson; Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. Also in theaters: Rise of the Guardians


Deftones @ Palladium (Hollywood)
On the heels of the release of their latest album, Koi No Yokan, the Sacramento quintet kick off a world tour in Hollywood. While it will be exciting to see new songs like "Leathers" and "Tempest" performed, the band is sure to also include fan favorites from their catalog that spans the past 24 years.



Kick off your holiday with one of these community runs/bike rides to offset the insane amount of calories you'll be taking in later in the day:

Burbank Community YMCA Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot
With proceeds benefitting the center's membership assistance program, this 5K or 10K fun run offers cash awards for top finishers of the new and improved double-loop course through downtown Burbank. There will be plenty of prizes for other participants, a pre-race expo and kiddie 1K run, too.

Mar Vista Turkey Ride
If you would rather ride your bicycle than run, this ride is for you. The fifth annual event features two rides – a family-friendly loop and a second through the hills for more adventurous riders – that both begin at 10 a.m. in front of 3270 Stoner Avenue in Mar Vista.

As I Lay Dying are set to perform at California Metalfest VI.



California Metalfest VI @ NOS Events Center (San Bernardino)
There's no place better to sweat off the pumpkin pie than a mosh pit. With the return of Jesse Leach, Killswitch Engage is set to perform the entirety of Alive or Just Breathing at the fest. In addition, bands such as Pierce the Veil, As I Lay Dying, Chiodos and Shadows Fall will be on hand, as well as WWE legends like "Mankind" Mick Foley.



Romancing the Stone / Used Cars @ Aero Theatre (Santa Monica)
American Cinematheque's Who Framed Smart Entertainment: A Tribute to Robert Zemeckis series kicks off with a double feature of the 1984 classic starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito followed by Kurt Russell as used-car salesman Rudy Russo. Dec 1 is a double feature of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Zemeckis presents his latest, Denzel Washington in Flight, in person on Dec. 2, along with a free screening of Castaway.



Dethklok @ Palladium (Hollywood)
The "Metalocalypse" band's latest album, Metalocalypse: Dethklok Dethalbum III, debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200 charts and comes in a deluxe CD/DVD edition, which includes a making-of documentary. Their headlining tour blasts into the Palladium with All That Remains, Machine Head and the Black Dahlia Murder in tow.

Henry Rollins (Maura Lanahan)


Henry Rollins @ Largo (Mid-City West)
I love listening to Rollins' on KCRW every Saturday night, for the eclectic music he plays and for his hilarious yet insightful commentary. Join the music legend as he begins five consecutive evenings of his talking tour, The Long March, at the Largo.



Reservations Lottery for LudoBites.TEN @ Gram & Papa's  (Downtown)
As chef Ludo Lefebvre prepares to open an actual brick and mortar restaurant in Los Angeles, with Animal/Son of a Gun's Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, he returns to Gram & Papa's for a final incarnation of his outrageously successful pop up on Dec. 4 through Dec. 21. Promising favorite dishes from past pop ups, a portion of the proceeds will also go to the Cart for Cause Eat Good | Do Good program. You must enter the lottery for a chance to make reservations.

Monday, November 19, 2012

STREET SIGNS - Enforce Control

I stumbled upon this Destroy All Design piece behind the Walgreens on Pico Boulevard at Fairfax Avenue in Mid-City West. The street artist's trademark Atari joystick is emblazoned on the patch the soldier is wearing on his shoulder. Destroy All dedicates Enforce Control to all the "corporate piglets" of the 1%, and it's part of the Abandon All Hope show with Septerhead going on at Lab Art Gallery through Dec. 8.

Friday, November 16, 2012

L.A. HAVENS - The Fix Burger



2520 Hyperion Ave., Los Angeles (Silver Lake) 323-661-8494

Like most people who grew up in Southern California, In-N-Out Burger was a staple of my childhood. When we cut out all meat that wasn't certified humane from our diets, there was definitely a void left for a good burger joint, especially in the eyes of the teenager in household. Ever since we found the Fix Burger, it is always No. 1 on his list of suggestions on where we should grab a bite to eat.

Their basic Fix Burger is so much better than a Whopper, Double-Double or Big Mac. It's huge (a half-pound patty of ground chuck) and more than hits the spot for any burger craving. The quarter-pound Mini Fix Burger or the Fix Sliders (two, two-ounce burgers) are the best bet for those with smaller appetites. The Fix has one of the best turkey burgers in town because it is so incredibly juicy. Their house-made Veggie Burger has just the right blend of grains, vegetables and spices. Not only are all of their meats 100-percent all natural and certified humane, but the Fix Burger prides itself on offering more than just the standard beef, turkey or veggie patties. Their buffalo and wild boar patties are quite popular.

A Veggie Burger from the Fix
You can top any of the patties with cheese – from American to Bleu and Gruyere – fixings like bacon, chili or grilled pineapple and a sauce (ranch, peppercorn ranch, garlic basil mayo, thousand island or barbecue. Or you can choose one of their Signature Burgers, such as the Seoul with mushrooms, Korean barbecue sauce, kimchi, lettuce, jack and mayo or the Pilgrim with turkey, mayo, cranberry relish, lettuce and tomatoes.

No matter what, you must try the amazing sweet potato fries. Their garlic fries, with bits of crispy brown garlic and herbs, are great too. If you're super hungry, I highly recommend the breaded mushrooms as well. Don't forget to grab some dill pickle spears either. They're so good. The Fix's list of shake flavors goes far beyond most burger places and includes fruits like blueberry and pineapple, in addition to caramel, coconut and coffee.

As far as neighborhood burger restaurants go, I definitely prefer the Fix over Umami. And not just for the fact that all of the Fix's meats are well sourced. I love its laid-back atmosphere, and the service is always stellar.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Events for Nov. 15-20, 2012


RZA in The Man with the Iron Fists (Universal Studios)



The RZAdency @ The Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre  (Mid-City West)
Join the Wu-Tang Clan founding member as he curates a mystery vintage '70s kung fu movie, does a Q&A and presents a screening of his directorial debut, The Man with the Iron Fists.


An Evening with Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa @ Wilshire Ebell Theatre (Mid Wilshire)
I've watched all of the episodes of her show on the Food Network, and whenever I cook something new, I always check out the Barefoot Contessa's site to use one of her recipes. Her latest cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, hit stores last month, and tonight she takes the stage for an exclusive interview with KCRW's Evan Kleiman and an audience Q&A session. She will also have a signing at Williams-Sonoma in Santa Monica at noon today and tomorrow at the Costa Mesa store.


Ski Dazzle @ L.A. Convention Center (Downtown)

Get some holiday shopping done early today through Sunday, as the ski show and snowboard expo celebrates its 49th anniversary with over 325 exhibitor and sponsor booths. Special offers, prizes and free entertainment abound, and there are even cooking demos and wine/craft beer tastings, too.



In Theaters This Week
Keira Knightley stars as Anna Karenina; You may have heard of this little movie called The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2. Also in theaters: Citadel

Typhoon (Ingrid Renan)


Typhoon, Laura Gibson @ The Echo (Echo Park)
The Portland collective of musicians of Typhoon are set to release a new album, the follow-up to last year's A New Kind of House EP, so expect to hear some unfamiliar material. Fellow Oregonian, Laura Gibson will also be on hand with timeless folk-pop melodies from her latest, La Grande.



Getting Our Just Desserts @ The International Culinary School at the Art Institute (Santa Monica)
Sweet vendors, bakers, confectioners and celebrity pastry chefs, like Spago's Sherry Yard, serve up scrumptious tastings to benefit Careers Through Culinary Arts Program Los Angeles. There will also be cooking classes, book signings, a "Chopped"-like cooking challenge and a silent auction.


Grouplove @ The Wiltern (Koreatown)
"Tongue Tied" has propelled the quintet up the charts, and their crossover success is much deserved. From their debut show at El Cid in 2010, they've relentlessly toured the nation, garnering critical raves and fans at each stop.

Milo Greene @ El Rey Theatre (Miracle Mile)
After crisscrossing the country for the past two months, the Angelenos return home for a show at the El Rey. The quartet released their self-titled debut in July, and you'll recognize tracks from TV shows like "Grey's Anatomy" ("Don't Give Up On Me") and "Suburgatory" ("1957").

The Faint (Bill Sitzmann)



The Faint @ The Fonda (Hollywood)
Omaha's the Faint just released a remastered deluxe edition of Danse Macabre, with six bonus tracks, and also a DVD documenting the recording of the album and tour footage circa the summer of 2001. Experience the entire album ("Agenda Suicide"! "Glass Danse"!) performed along with tracks from 2004's Wet From Birth and 2008's Fasciination, as well as some new ones, too. The tour also stops at the Glass House in Pomona on Nov. 21.



The Joy Formidable @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)
This show's sold out, so you may have to scour eBay and Craigslist for some tickets. Wolf's Law, the band's sophomore effort releases in January, and you don't want to miss your chance to preview the new songs live. If the album's first single, "This Ladder Is Ours," is any indication, you're in store for a thoroughly unforgettable evening.



Wintersleep @ The Echo (Echo Park)
The Canadians invade the Echo in support of their fifth album, Hello Hum, which begins a new chapter for the 11-year-old band. Highlights are sure to include "Weighty Ghost," a tune that won them a Juno for Band of the Year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tiphanie Brooke

Artist Tiphanie Brooke in front of Intelligentsia Coffee in Old Town Pasadena



At Intelligentisia Coffee

55 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena [Old Town] 626-578-1270

I first became acquainted with Tiphanie Brooke's work when I was walking through Sunset Junction and saw her All Heart in L.A. mural on Sanborn Avenue. The brightly colored hearts filled with messages of loving life and Los Angeles immediately brought a smile to my face, which is something that the artist sincerely takes to heart.

"That makes me happy to hear," she confesses. "I feel so glad that people like them when they see them."

Although Tiphanie was born in and lived most of her life in Phoenix, Ariz., she spent part of her childhood in Southern California and was happy to finally plant some roots in Los Angeles last May. When she confesses that she "definitely feels much better here," it's evident that she may have grown up in Phoenix, but it's really the City of Angels that's in her heart. Perhaps that is why she is so passionate about spreading the L.A. love around the city through her art.

Tiphanie commutes to Pasadena three days a week to take classes at the Art Center College of Design. We meet up at one of her pit stops on the way to school, Intelligentsia Coffee in Old Town.

"I live in Downtown, and the commute to school is pretty close. I sometimes have to stop and get coffee on my way, though, so I'll stop here," she says. "I usually get an Americano."

I have been to Intelligentsia's Silver Lake coffee bar, and even though Pasadena's outdoor patio is smaller, its interior is a lot bigger and it's less crowded. A long bar made from Douglas Fir is the focal point of the café. An exposed brick wall and tall ceilings give it an industrial feel, which makes it unique from surrounding businesses that have a more corporate, stuffy feel. Intelligentsia prides itself on not just buying the coffees they serve in their cafés, they develop them with their growers. It's not surprising that an artist as unique as Tiphanie feels at home in a coffee shop like this one.

We sit at a table in the back of the café, and Tiphanie shares the origin story for her Love Life-filled hearts.

"It was right before an art show that I was having in Phoenix. It was a solo show, and it had hearts because I had been working on hearts for about two years," she begins. "Then a month before the show started, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was New Year's Day that he was diagnosed, and the show was in February, Valentine's Day, so it was all coordinated for that. It was a very rough month getting my show together. I was going to community college and working on things, and I just started writing 'Love Life' maybe in response to [his diagnosis]. That's how it all started. After that show, it turned into screenprint, and I did a lot of street art there with Love Life."

Tiphanie is in the graphics program at Art Center, and it's a passion that she discovered in her youth.

"I was already doing a lot of computer-generated stuff at an early age, probably at 10. It progressed into doing things by hand and scanning it into the computer, more with the computer and a whole mixture of everything," she shares. "Now I'm getting more into the environmental graphics, murals and stuff like that. I always just did that as a pastime, a hobby, but now I'm thinking there are spaces in the city that can use that type of work."

Growing up, she found inspiration in the work of several graphic designers.

"David Carson, Jennifer Sterling – more the Digital Revolution-type designers, so from the early '90s," she says. "By the time I saw that work it was the mid '90s, and I was just starting to view type and image coming together. It was my first time connecting it, that it was powerful, with magazines and editorial design."

In 1999, Tiphanie established her brand at, which offers a candid look into her life as an artist through her words, photographs and illustrations. Over the past 13 years, the site has garnered her work with clients from the New York Times, Nylon and Teen Vogue to Showtime, Suicide Girls and Automata Studios.

"Sometimes I'm like, 'What was I thinking'! Even though I was very young and my work wasn't even very good, I just thought that people should see it. I don't know why, maybe because that's what I do, I document what I'm doing," she offers, when contemplating what motivated her to start antigirl.

Besides art, Tiphanie loves to cook and bake goodies. Lately, she's been into baking blondies and brownies. And though school projects take up most of her time, she has found a few favorite haunts while exploring Downtown with her boyfriend.

"There's a place called Syrup, and everything is good there: the desserts, sundaes. Moskatels, for art supplies. They have everything - party supplies, stuff for weddings. We've met friends at Spring St. Bar and also at this other place called the Down And Out, which I guess you should be scared of," she says with a laugh. "It's pretty divey, but we feel pretty comfortable there. I like to be in a non-judgmental environment."

While she often visits museums, such as the Hammer and LACMA, and galleries for shows by local artists like RETNA, Tiphanie often finds inspiration striking her at a most unexpected place.

"Oddly enough, the library. I always go to the one at school and in Downtown," she says. "I'll look at books and get more and more ideas. I read a lot of biographies and design books. I love it at the library. It's productive and quiet at the same time."

Overall, she loves living in Downtown because of the vast amount of people and the culture.

"We live by USC and people are always saying that it's a rough area, but we feel safe over there. We live above some commercial places and the freeway, but it's like a little haven because you can't hear any of it. It's heaven for me to just do a lot of work there," she admits. "Sometimes we ride our bikes down [towards Skid Row] when they're putting their tents up, and the change is drastic. That's what I try to show in my work, negative and positive relationships – how important they are."

The contrast of dark and light, the harsh lines of text juxtaposed with the soft lines of a heart or a woman's body are examined in her past Hearts and Women collections. Looking to her future, creating title sequences for film and television is something that Tiphanie hopes to branch into.

"That's ultimately why I came to Art Center, because I want to go on a motion track. I want to get into doing title sequences. I love print, and I will always be devoted to print, but I definitely want to learn more about technology and how that works with imagery," she says. "I love the intro for 'Six Feet Under' and 'True Blood' – the stuff coming out of Digital Kitchen. Their studio is just amazing to me. When I think of that and the emergence of the movie poster, I can picture bus stops popping out with interactive posters. That's how I see it in the future."

Whether it's a fine art collage, a mural on the side of a building or a holographic film poster in the future, Tiphanie Brooke hopes that her work will, above all, make people happy.

"I want to make people forget what's going on just for that brief moment when they first see [the piece]. It's important to be very aware of what's going on the world, but I want them, for that brief moment, to forget about everything else, to sit there and relax and try to be happier."

For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

STREET SIGNS - Where the PDBs Are

This Where the PDB's Are mural, an ode to Maurice Sendak's beloved children's book, Where the Wild Things Are, appeared a few months before the release of director Spike Jonze's film adaptation in 2009. Members of the PDB crew – Arco, Ewsoe, Ruets, Slay and Spurn – painted the piece on the Stanley Avenue side of 7629 Melrose Avenue in Mid-City West.

Monday, November 12, 2012

SHOW REVIEW: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Judah Bauer and Jon Spencer on stage at the El Rey Theatre



Nov. 9 @ The El Rey Theatre (Miracle Mile)

Jon Spencer, do you know just how awesome you are?

Whether the frontman was frenetically strutting around the stage or delivering a blistering guitar solo at the edge of the stage, he oozed an effortless cool Friday night as the New York trio proved that the Blues is still No. 1, even in a city as jaded as Los Angeles.

Portland's Quasi warmed up the crowd with their fearless brand of indie rock. Janet Weiss' excellent skills on the skins and Sam Coomes' painful thrashing of his chest, hands and feet on his keyboards proved to be the perfect lead-in to the sudden influx of energy when Spencer, guitarist Judah Bauer and drummer Russell Simins exploded onto the stage.

Although the band had not released a new album since 2004, their inimitable sound invaded my home every Monday night for the past seven years with the song over the opening credits of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations." The 2010 reissues of their classic Extra Width, Orange and Now I Got Worry albums whet fans' appetites for a hint to what the future would bring from the roots rock revolutionaries. The group answered with the release of Meat And Bone in September.

And it was no surprise that tracks from the recent release, such as "Bottle Baby," "Bag of Bones" and the new single "Black Mold," predominated the set. Overcoming initial hurdles of sound issues and one of Simins' cymbals needing to be tightened, the three-piece seamlessly flowed from one song to the next. Besides Meat And Bone songs, they treated the crowd to a bit of "Bellbottoms," "Gadzooks" and a cover of the Beastie Boys' "She's On It."

No matter the song, Spencer easily assumed command of the crowd, initiating a round of "soul claps" and leading a chant of "Ju-dah, Ju-dah" as Bauer banged on his guitar. As Simins' cowbell entranced and Bauer wailed on the strings, Spencer frenetically writhed his leather-clad hips around the stage to "Get Your Pants Off." When they departed from the stage, the audience member next to me yelled, "New York City!" Perhaps in answer, they thundered back a few minutes later with a thoroughly mind-blowing version of "Sweat."

Friday, November 9, 2012

L.A. HAVENS - Rosie's Dog Beach



5000 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach (Belmont Shore)

It's quite infuriating and frustrating that there is only one legal, off-leash dog beach in L.A. County. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Rosie's Dog Beach from downtown Los Angeles, but the drive is worth it if you have a dog who loves to swim and run around in the sand as much as ours does. Nothing compares to her sheer joy when she is playing fetch, running freely along the shore and amongst the waves. It's such a great feeling to be surrounded by happy dogs. We even got to watch Sir Hollywood the bulldog skimboarding for a while.

Sir Hollywood anxiously awaits the drop of his skimboard.
Long Beach was allowed to launch a pilot program of daily off-leash access in August 2003, an effort led by a resident named Justin Rudd. The City Council unanimously approved the permanent off-leash dog zone the following year, and the area was officially renamed Rosie's Dog Beach on Aug. 3, 2010 in honor of Rudd's bulldog who inspired the entire campaign.

If you aren't lucky enough to find free street parking, there is a metered parking lot at Bennett Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. They only accept quarters, though, so come prepared. There is also a pay lot ($12) at Granada Avenue. The leash-free zone is located between Roycroft and Argonne Avenues; you will see orange cones delineating the area. Each dog must be accompanied by an adult, and it's best to not bring a picnic, just in case another dog accidentally runs onto your blanket.

Most of the people who come to Rosie's Dog Beach obviously love their dogs a lot to make the trek down there, so there aren't too many misbehaving pooches or instances of excrement being left behind. It is less crowded than Huntington Dog Beach in Orange County, but it is not as clean, in terms of the water quality. There is a Tidy Dog at 4110 E. Ocean Boulevard where you can rent a station to self-wash your dog for $15 after they roll around in the sand.

To join the effort for an off-leash zone in Santa Monica or Venice Beach, please visit

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Events for Nov. 8-14, 2012




Documentaries on the Rolling Stones @ Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood)

A double feature of two new docs on the band. Go behind the scenes of with the early Stones as they tour Ireland in The Rolling Stones: Charlie Is My Darling, Ireland 1965. Experience the never-before-seen concert movie, The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas, featuring the group in their prime.


The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Nataworry)


The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ El Rey Theatre (Miracle Mile)
The trio tears into the El Rey in support of their first studio effort in eight years, Meat And Bone. With blistering cuts like "Black Mold," "Bottle Baby" and "Danger," the tracks are sure to satiate fans who have anxiously been awaiting new material, as well as audience members who are seeing them perform for the first time.


In Theaters This Week
The Comedy stars Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim from "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy; Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field in Lincoln; Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville in Nature Calls; Daniel Craig's third turn as 007, Skyfall. Also in theaters: A Royal Affair



Marc Broussard @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)

The Louisiana soul man performs two sets tonight, one at 7 p.m. and another at 10:30 p.m., as part of his fall tour. Expect to hear material from his upcoming 2013 album, A Life Worth Living, which is a tribute to his late grandmother.

Those Darlins @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)
With the emergence of cold mornings and evenings, it's not as if we really need a reminder that summer has abandoned us, but just in case the three-piece offer up a new song and tour, entitled "Summer's Dead." The murder ballad is a perfect anthem for the season that represents approaching death.



Free Pizza @ CPK
To commemorate Veterans Day, the restaurant is offering a free meal to all veterans and active military. Just bring your ID or come in uniform to claim your free pizza and nonalcoholic beverage today or tomorrow.



Ben Caron @ Rockwell: Table and Stage (Los Feliz)

Celebrating the Nov. 13 release of his new EP, Love Me Too, the singer-songwriter returns to the recently re-opened and revamped venue. The multitalented Angeleno is also an actor, and it's clear from Love Me Too that he has no problem laying his emotions bare in each song.



Led Zeppelin: Celebration Day
Don't miss an encore screening of the 2007 tribute concert for Ahmet Ertegun, with the legendary band performing songs like "Black Dog", "While Lotta Love" and "The Song Remains the Same." It's scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at IMAX theaters throughout the city, including L.A. Live, Citywalk and Century City.


Who's Your Bubbie? @ Skirball Cultural Center (West L.A.)

An evening of sharing recipes and stories with Jonathan Gold, David Sax, Evan Kleiman, Roxana Jullapat (Cooks County), Micah Wexler (Mezze) and Akasha Richmond. Bring your own favorite recipe and enter to win gift certificates from Akasha, Cooks County and STREET.

Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes (Pierre Baroni)


Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes @ The Mint (West L.A.)
The Melbourne songstress and her band of rogue musicians combine soul, doo-wop, ska, R&B and jump blues on songs like "Love Letter," "Vicious Cycle" and "I'll Be Fine." Their dynamic musicianship and style are sure to transport the Mint to another era.



John Hodgman @ Amoeba Music (Hollywood)
The actor (You would probably recognize him as the PC from the Mac commercials.), "The Daily Show" Resident Expert and bestselling author unveiled the third and final installment in his Complete World Knowledge Trilogy last month. Tonight he signs copies of That Is All at Amoeba.


Behind the Scenes of What We Eat @ The California Endowment (Downtown)

In the wake of Prop. 37's heartbreaking defeat, New York Times journalist and cookbook author Mark Bittman sheds light on the impact of our food choices on every facet of life. Find out what it really means to eat healthy from one of the most widely respected food writers of our time.


Petty Fest West @ El Rey Theatre (Miracle Mile)

The NYC event raised over $15,000 for charity, and now the show travels to the left coast for the first time ever. With a list of special guests that includes the Black Keys' Patrick Carney, the Strokes' Nick Valensi and Fab Moretti, Matt Sorum, Bijou Phillips and Sarah Silverman, the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund hopes to raise even more money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Also Nov. 15.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cécile Hortensia

Cécile Hortensia enjoys the sunshine on the patio of Maison Richard



At Maison Richard Café & French Bakery

707 Stanley Ave., Los Angeles (Mid-City West) 323-655-7777

Cécile Hortensia's story so far is the epitome of the American Dream. Born in Nancy, France, she immigrated to Arizona hoping for change and the chance to explore a lifelong passion for music.

"It was a period in my life where I had a job for 10 years, and I wanted a change. My husband had the opportunity to get a job in Arizona, so we took it as a chance to get a fresh start somewhere. Arizona is perfect for that, all of the USA is perfect for that. As a migrant country, it attracts dreamers. The American Dream still exists," she says.

Last month, one of her dreams was fulfilled when the singer-songwriter released her debut album, Papillons. The word, which is French for 'butterflies,' is one that has several meanings for Cécile.

"The first song that I chose for the album was 'Les Papillons dans l'Estomac (Butterflies in my Belly),' and it's a love song about the way you feel when you meet a guy and it feels like there are butterflies in your stomach. For me, butterflies are what I call people that I love. They are my butterflies because they bring me butterflies in the stomach," she admits. "In a way, when I came to America I was in a cocoon, and I became a butterfly here. I like this metaphor as well. It's true, because I was not in music before. I always dreamed of being a musician and a songwriter, but I wouldn't dare before. It took some courage to say, 'OK, let's take this fresh start in America to give my music a chance.' That's the idea of the cocoon and becoming a butterfly. That's the reason why this record is my butterfly."

Coming to America from France to pursue a different life path is a commonality Cécile shares with Chef Michel Richard, the owner of Maison Richard, where we meet for a conversation the day before her first show in Los Angeles. The restauranteur opened his first restaurant and pastry shop on Robertson Boulevard over 35 years ago, garnering praise for his divine pastries. He eventually relocated to Stanley Avenue in 2010, and Maison Richard has been satisfying diners with everything from patés and delectable cheese plates to savory quiches and classic Roasted Chicken ever since. But the real stars here are the patisseries, such as chocolate or coffee custard-filled éclairs, various fruit tarts and buttery, flaky croissants.

Cécile points out a napoleon of chocolate, sponge cake and custard as her recommendation when we peruse the pastry-filled display case. As we enjoy a bit of sunshine on Maison Richard's patio, surrounded by lush green foliage and the soothing trickle of a water fountain, she tells me that this is her first trip to Los Angeles for professional reasons.

"Before, I came just as a tourist. I have kids, so we went to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Santa Monica Pier and the beach, the Walk of Fame in Hollywood – like all tourists," she says.

And like most newcomers to the country, she came with a few preconceived notions fostered from one of America's most well-known exports: films.

"I had all the pictures in my head of western movies. When you come from Europe, American movies are part of our culture as well," she shares. "I come from the mountains, I was living in the Alps. Now I'm glad to live in Arizona because the desert is really beautiful. I couldn't have written some of the songs [on Papillons] without living in Arizona. 'Cactus Road,' 'Coyote' and 'This Is My Home' – all those songs were inspired by my life in Arizona and the landscapes surrounding my new home."

As she eased into life in Phoenix, she made the acquaintance of producer Olivier Zahm, who, by chance, is also a French transplant. The pair collaborated by writing a few songs together, and he eventually assumed production duites on Papillons.

"We met by chance, but it has made things effortless to understand each other because we share the same culture, we are of the same generation as well and we have the same musical references. He also knows a lot of American musicians," she says. "I wanted to add an American feeling [to the album], and it was very interesting for me to work with them so they could bring their vibe, their culture. In a way, the aim of the album was to blend both cultures."

Cécile has indeed melded both her French heritage and adopted American culture into Papillons. She easily drifts from French to English throughout the 12 tracks, offering her stories through a refreshingly unique perspective in a medium that the world can understand: music. Her love of the art form began at a young age.

"In childhood, I was always singing. We went to church, and the only thing I liked in the church was the singing," she laughs. "My parents listened to French music, like Édith Piaf, Jacques Brel – all of the classical French standards – and also Simon & Garfunkel, artists like that. After I developed my own taste, it was Tracy Chapman, Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos and some French rock bands. I was more attracted to folk music."

One of her current musical obsessions finds his way onto Papillons via an ode in which Cécile croons, "If I were a man, I would be Ray LaMontagne."

"I am a huge fan of Ray LaMontagne. I saw him when he played in Phoenix last year. He's got an amazing voice, and live it's even better," she gushes. "He's got such a presence. I really admire his music, but also that he is very reserved about his personal life. He's not a huge star, he's just really good at what he does."

Cécile is transforming into quite the talented songwriter herself. Writing is a skill she began honing when she was young, and it has become a source of great joy for her.

"I started with poetry. I was inspired a lot by French poetry like Arthur Rimbaud and all the classical French poets. That's how I started to write songs," she says. "First I started with lyrics and after that, I started to write complete songs, music and the lyrics together. It took a little bit of time, but finally I took so much pleasure in that. The creative part is really the most interesting for me. I couldn't just sing. The interesting part is the creativity from the beginning of the song and in the studio to the stage, the whole thing."

As she kicks off a performance schedule that reaches well into the New Year, Cécile has one fundamental hope for listeners of Papillons and audiences at her shows.

"What I like in music is when I can sing with the singer, when the song is catchy and you can recognize the melody pretty quickly. When I write, especially lyrics, I want to touch people's hearts in a simple way. I don't want to be too in control, just bring some images, some pictures so people are touched by something. They can take a word, a sound, whatever they want, just to be touched by something. I think every artist would just like to touch people with what they write, even if it's only one song that talks to them. I would be happy if I can do that, it's my goal."

Papillons is currently available. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote 2012


Whether you're registered red or blue, there is nothing more important today than voting. If you still need to fill out your sample ballot to take with you to the polls, here's a list of all the measures with brief explanations of each (and links to pro and con arguments). I've also included info on places where you can view election night coverage and take advantage of some food and drink specials.


Proposition 30*  - Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
A seven-year tax increase on personal income for Californians who make over $250,000 and a four-year increase in sales tax by .25 of a cent to fund schools in this current school year. Guarantees public safety realignment funding.

Proposition 31 - State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
Allows local governments and school districts to create plans to coordinate how public education, social, economic development and health and safety services are provided, subject to approval by governing boards.

Proposition 32 - Political Contributions By Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.

Forbids government contractors to contribute to elected officials who were involved in getting them the contract, bans employee paycheck reductions for "political purposes" and prevents corporations and unions from making direct contributions to candidates/committees that fund them.

Proposition 33 - Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver's History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.
Changes state law so that auto insurance companies could determine prices according to a driver's past history of carrying insurance or not. Those who have had continuous coverage would receive discounts, while those who did not would pay higher rates.

Proposition 34 - Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Repeals the death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without parole. Directs $100 million to law enforcement agencies for investigations of homicide and rape cases.

Proposition 35 - Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.
Increases prison sentences and fines for convicted human traffickers and requires them to register as sex offenders.

Proposition 36 -  Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Revises the current law by imposing life sentence only when the new felony conviction is serious or violent. Authorizes re-sentencing for those with a non-violent/serious third strike.

Proposition 37 - Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute.

Requires labeling of all food made from genetically-modified plants and animals. Prohibits marketing of such food as "natural."

Proposition 38* - Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.

A 12-year personal income tax increase for Californians using a sliding scale (a .4 percent increase for those earning over $7,316 and 2.2 percent increase on those earning more than $2.5 million) to fund schools beginning in the 2013-14 school year.

Proposition 39 - Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.
Requires multistate businesses to pay income taxes based on how much of their sales are in California. Increased revenue goes to clean/efficient energy projects.

Proposition 40 - Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum.
Approves the State Senate's redistricting plan drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission.

* EdSource has a great infographic comparing Prop 30. & 38



A (Advisory Vote Only)
The Office of the Assessor maintains the evaluation of real and personal property records in the county. This measure asks if voters prefer that it be an appointed or elected position.

Requires adult film producers to obtain a county public health permit and performers to use condoms.

J - Accelerating Traffic Relief, Job Creation.

Accelerates light rail/subway construction and airport connections within five years (not 20).



Cafe del Rey (Marina del Rey)
Election-themed drinks, like the Barockin' Bayonet and Not-So Radical Romney, are $6, and you can get them at 2-for-1 if you show an "I Voted" sticker after 4 p.m.

Canelé (Atwater Village)
They're bringing in a projector and screen, and serving up a prix fixe special in addition to their regular menu: romaine hearts with blue cheese, Barack's meatloaf with mashers and buttered carrots and apple tart with vanilla ice cream for $35.

Hammer Museum (Westwood)
Live coverage will be broadcast in Ammo and the Billy Wilder Theater, and you can check out Jonathan Horowitz's Your Land / My Land: Election '12 installation.

Park Your Politics: Grand Park's Election Day Viewing Party (Downtown)
Watch the results on a big screen, while enjoying local food trucks and DJs from dub lab and KCRW.

Stadium Club at Dodger Stadium (Elysian Park)
The L.A. County Democratic Party's Election Night Celebration is free and open to the public, beginning at 8:30 p.m.