Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Back from the War

Today I received my new drivers' license in the mail. With the seal of California overlaid on my bangs, I look like one of those medieval depictions of Jesus with the 2-dimensional halo over his head. In the same envelope was the same organ donation registration form that you receive with every piece of correspondence from the DMV, but this time I noticed a rather ominous instruction: "Make sure your intention to save lives through organ and tissue donation becomes reality." In this post-Dirty Pretty Things world, I'm rather paranoid about my organs leaving me earlier than I intended--could that simple act of placing an adhesive pink dot on my driver's license hasten my evisceration?

Even if my body parts were harvested really soon, I doubt anyone would want them. When you're on a strict diet of croissants, popcorn, burgers and coffee, your internal organs tend to solidify and start to function improperly. My bladder, for example, doesn't process beans and milk like it used to. I'm becoming a one-man methane factory, another piece of evidence that I am approaching an early senescence, or at least that I am indeed a Rosenbloom.

If my life were divided into epochs, this last month would be the Prefixozoic. Almost every free moment I have is taken up with my duties as editor of Prefix LA Events, which is finally up and running, and fantastic. Design flaws aside, this site is something that I've always wanted in Los Angeles, a one-stop music site for information about EVERYTHING. It's like a searchable L.A. Weekly. Of course there's too much happening in the city to be totally comprehensive, and the indie crowd focus means that we ignore most jazz and classical venues, but with only two people doing all the data entry, we do a pretty damn good job. Please check out the site, forward the link to all your L.A.-based friends, and visit often, as we update daily and have ticket giveaways weekly.

A while back I wrote my final review as a staff writer for Prefixmag, on Craig Wedren's Lapland. As you can tell from the review I felt a little lukewarm about the album. But I saw the guy live a few weeks ago, backed by a terrific Seattle band called The Dead Science (whose members contributed to the last couple Xiu Xiu albums), and the album's so-so songs came alive for me. Wedren, formerly of one of my favorite ever bands Shudder to Think, is one motherfucker of a singer. Listen to that Tarzan-like vibrato!

Since that last album review was published, I started writing paid reviews for On paper, a CD review site with a readership mostly drawn from boomers and new age types that subscribe to seems like a horrid idea. But I gotta give the editors credit, they've picked some great albums (I just wrote a piece on fucking A LOVE SUPREME), and the site is pretty fantastically organized. All they need is some knowledgeable people to contribute on their community boards and they'll be all set. For whatever reason the policy is not to add bylines to any of the posted reviews, so just know that I wrote the Young Marble Giants review, whenever it's published.

From 9 to 5 I've been temping as the personal assistant to Rick Buehler (no relation to Ferris), VP of Sales for the Visual Entertainment division of the Universal Music and Video Distribution conglomerate. Substantively, there's really nothing to this job--my days are filled with Powerpoint presentations, answering phones, copying, making reports, typing e-mails, making travel arrangements and ordering food--but damn if I haven't learned a lot about prioritizing and what it's like to be an executive. Compared to the other temps that UMVD hires when my workmates are gone, I'm basically a permanent employee already. They trust me and give me important responsibilities. I wish I gave a shit about the horrible crap DVDs that they produce, because I think I could be happy in that environment. Soon I'll move on though. Gotta look out for number one.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Wireless While Wired (get it?)

I'm currently writing from The Coffee Gallery, a small coffee shop about ten minutes walking distance from my parents' house in Altadena. A lot happens here. Right now, there's a discussion group comprising a number of erudite, well-read (but poorly dressed) black men and their ex-hippie intellectual white brethren, talking about the provenance and appearance of Jesus. There's a little kid rocking back and forth at the front counter so that it looks like he's humping the scone display case. Several nights a week there are folk and acoustic music concerts in the back room, and there's a bus stop right outside the front door. This place is an activity hub. But I'll admit it: the real reason that I'm at the Coffee Gallery is because they offer free high-speed wireless internet service, and as of last week, when I received my beautiful baby 802.11 Airport card in the mail, I have joined the ranks of the world's restless flaneurs, wandering from place to place, experiencing urban life as it presents itself, untethered to any specific place by a sense of purpose or, god forbid, an ethernet cable. True I'm basically doing the same thing here that I'd be doing if I were sitting in my room. But the whole idea is that I'm newly free to do that thing ANYWHERE I WANT.

Except, of course, at the Disney Television Animation studio, where I just started temping on Friday. I'm not in the business of complaining, especially when I'm making $16 an hour. But if your temp is working 8 hours a day at an IT help center, and he only gets a call once every fifteen minutes or so, do you think a strict "no surfing the web" policy makes sense? I'm stuck in a cubicle wearing slacks and a tie, reading Apple One's employee manual over and over out of sheer boredom and constantly checking the company e-mail for new IT queries that never come. Everyone else wears jeans and t-shirts, spends most of their time outside the cubicles talking idiotically about their favorite Mexican restaurants in L.A. Actual overheard conversation between two Disney employess from yesterday, around 5:30pm:

"Dude, you like fuckin' Mexican food?"
"Yeah, but I haven't gone to many out here."
"Oh man, I have some fuckin' GREAT places for you to try."
"Oh yeah? Like what?"
'"I don't fuckin' remember what they're called but they're really fuckin' good."

This isn't the type of vulgarity that you'd expect from the people that bring you "Pooh and Friends" now, is it? Anyway it's only been one day, and I've only got Monday left before the guy I replaced comes back from a family emergency. Really it's not that bad at all--I'm glad to have something to do, and my supervisor was patient with all my questions and allowed me to use the coffee machine. I'm just hoping they'll tell me that I can bring something to read on Monday without my having to ask. Maybe they'll leave a James Frey memoir at my desk on Monday.

A couple music-related tidbits:

1) My review of Immolation/Immersion by Nels Cline, Wally Shoup and Chris Corsano was published on Prefix. It's more descriptive than critical, but seeing as most people that visit Prefix have little to no exposure to free jazz, I thought it was appropriate.

2) Went to the Andrew Hill tribute concert that Nels Cline and friends put on at Club Tropical on Thursday. Lots of big names: in addition to Nels, the group featured cornetist Bobby Bradford (Ornette Coleman sideman), Ben Goldberg (clarinetist with Tin Hat), Scott Amendola (Madeleine Peyroux's drummer), Devin Hoff (plays bass with everyone in the bay area) and accordionist Andrea Parkins (sister to Zeena Parkins, who is Bjork's harpist). Even with all the star power, this one didn't really take off for me. Granted I was asleep for most of it. But what I did hear, I thought was sort of under-rehearsed and not so well-conceived. The group is recording an album this weekend--hopefully they'll pull it together.

3) New website is up for Leimert Part: The Story of a Village in South Central L.A., a wonderful documentary about the vibrant, still under-appreciated community that's been a center of black culture and arts in L.A. for decades now. The film was conceived and directed by Jeannette Lindsay, longtime sweetheart of one of my fave high school teachers, Steve Isoardi. I strongly urge you to attend a screening of the film, and urge you even more strongly to go down to Leimert Park yourself. It's a happening place. Even more happening than the Coffee Gallery.

Friday, January 27, 2006

My Beard vs. My Chin

One of the worst things about the job hunt is relearning my impression management skills. Whereas at Cryptogramophone I could come in wearing a pair of hole-filled jeans and a negligee, stinking of gin and tobacco and nobody would bat an eyelash (in fact, oftentimes I was encouraged), now the prospect of a potential employer rejecting me because he doesn't like my slovenly appearance is all too possible. So with heavy heart, I decided today that I had to get a hair cut and trim my beard. Besides, it was about time. My beard was so big and unruly that it became its own organism, and I had to feed it bread crumbs and stray droplets of soup just to keep it from invading the rest of my face. Luckily this policy of appeasement worked a lot better with General Beard than it did with Hitler.

This is really the first time I've ever felt totally comfortable with my facial hair. I had a bushy goatee back in ninth grade, and looking back at pictures from that era I can recognize that I looked ridiculous, like I rubbed my chin in glue and rolled around in the dirt. But I guess now I have the requisite seriousness of spirit and angularity of facial features to pull off a beard. There's a certain dignity that I think the beard granted me that would have just been silly had I grown it in my teenage years. And my favorite thing was that I went to the High on Fire and Vetiver/Espers concerts and felt like I fit in, if only visually. To make a long story short, I already miss my beard. As a pre-emptive memorial, I took a picture of it right before I went off to get my haircut/beard trim:

Maybe nothing could stop me from my appointed task, but it sure seemed like there were forces at work ensuring that my trip to Fantastic Sam's was as unpleasant as possible. I decided to make it into a half-hour bike ride, but about halfway through, my right pedal fell off. No warning at all. It looks like the threaded grooves that keep the pedal attached to the spinner just sort of eroded. As you can imagine a bike without pedals is pretty useless unless your journey is entirely downhill, which this one definitely wasn't. What this means is that after my stylist Aline Nazarian was through shearing me like a New Zealand sheep, my frend Catherine had to come rescue me and my skinny, decomposing jalopy and take us home. Waiting out in the cold for Catherine, newly shorn and wearing shorts, I felt completely naked. I already regretted forgoing the comfort and warmth that those craggy hairs afforded me. You can probably sense the sadness and remorse in this picture I took not an hour and a half after deforestation:

This won't be the last of my facial hair. I've yet to experiment with mutton chops, the handlebar moustache and the Hitler patch (or "Chaplin Patch," for those of you who don't like Hitler). But this is not the time to look to the future. It is the time to mourn for the loss of my beloved beard. May its memory be a blessing.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Download my Best of 2005 mix!

At long last, I've compiled some hottt traxxx from my best of 2005 list and made them available to you, dear reader, for the nominal fee of $1. Please send me cash via Paypal.

That's actually bullshit. This mix is free. I just ask that, if you hear something that you like, you consider buying the album and supporting the artists that recorded it.

DOWNLOAD MY BEST OF 2005 MIX BY CLICKING RIGHT HERE. Let me know if the link has expired and I'll re-upload it.

This mix runs the gamut from singer-songwriter fare to hip-hop to death metal, so I can guarantee you're not gonna like everything. But hopefully it'll turn you on to something you didn't know existed. Here's the tracklist, with links to Prefix reviews where available:

1. "A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left" - Andrew Bird: The Mysterious Production Of Eggs
2. "Come On! Feel The Illinoise! " - Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
3. "One Evening" - Feist: Let It Die
4. "Mince Meat" - Dangerdoom: The Mouse & The Mask
5. "Xombie" - Bad Dudes: Bad Dudes
6. "Black Santa" - The Red Chord: Clients
7. "Eat This City" - Thunderbirds Are Now!: Justamustache
8. "Aperitivo" - Mark Dresser/Denman Maroney: Time Changes
9. "Laces Out, Dan!" - The Fall Of Troy: Doppelganger
10. "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." - Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
11. "Mushaboom" - Feist: Let It Die
12. "Dawn Of The Dudes" Bad Dudes : Bad Dudes
13. "Dying Will Be The Death Of Me" - Cephalic Carnage: Anomalies
14. "Strange" - Barbez: Insignificance
15. "Studying Stones" - Ani DiFranco: Knuckle Down
16. "Real People" - Common: Be
17. "Selkies: The Endless Obsession" - Between The Buried & Me: Alaska
18. "Smells Like Content" - The Books: Lost and Safe

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This is cool.

So finally, Prefix has profile pages for each of its writers. No longer do you have to search for my name to find all the reviews I've written. Instead, just click on this handy-dandy link (it's also permanently posted on the sidebar). Scope my new title: "senior staff writer." Strangely, there are other Prefix writers that have written more often than I have but aren't part of the elite "senior" crew. This leads me to believe that my publisher actually thinks I'm over 60.

Make sure you check out my Calico System review, in which I succinctly skewer the band for failing to rise to even the low standards set for the screamo genre. And then there's my recent review of a Hella concert. I'm not overly proud of this one, but Hella's publicist should be happy that I wrote it at all--I checked with him twice to make sure I was on the guest list, and of course when I got to the El Rey they had no record of my name. My publisher at Prefix was kind enough to pay for the ticket. He shouldn't have had to do that.

Oh this is the Nels/Alex Cline 50th Birthday Concert a couple weeks back, a skinny Asian-American college student with long dark black metal type hair came up to me and was like, "Hey, do you write Cerebral Metalhead? I dig that shit." Apparently he recognized me from the bearded picture I posted in mid-December. I recognized him, too--he comes up from Orange County every couple weeks for Cryptonight shows. I was elated. Here was my first indication that someone I didn't know actually gave a damn about what I'm doing. In fact, I'm not even sure people I DO know give a damn about what I'm doing. Why don't you people post comments? It's lonely up at the top.

I had some time to kill, so...

So it seems that my blog postings have become a monthly event. If you're reading this, consider yourself a charter member of the "Cerebral Metalhead Blog Post of the Month Club." Since you've all been so patient (except for Kelly and Lenore), I'm gonna make this post an extra special action-packed graphics heavy post. Watch out, or you just might be ambushed by a high resolution picture. Like this one:

Those are my friends Lauren (L) and Lisa (R). Neither of them is really a Boy Scout--that's my old uniform splayed across their shapely corpi. And for those of you with eagle eyes, yes, I did earn the fingerprinting merit badge. And basketry. And pets. (Side note: you should see the awesome hammer that I made as a final project for the machinery badge--you know that song "If I Had a Hammer?" Man, for the first week or so after I built that thing, I was hammering in the morning, in the evening, and all over this land.) I like this picture because it looks like Laurelisa (they usually come as a pair) just emerged from my bathroom. Lauren looks like the happy-go-lucky rules follower, and Lisa is the insouciant sexpot. That's pretty accurate, actually.

New Years Eve is usually more memorable than enjoyable for me. Here's the highlight reel of the last few NYEs:
-2003: not yet 21, Etan is yelled at by Hooters waitress for taking sip of Tommy's beer. Sops up wounded pride with buffalo wings and celery sticks.
-2004: Etan spends evening on Sunset Strip avoiding $60 cover charges and offers of unmarked blue pills from strangers in Miyagi's bathroom.
-2005: delightful house party at Sara Leib's is capped by a drunken Joe pontificating on the best place to hide dead bodies. Joe later stumbles into the rose bush twice, then later kicks a spiflicated Mexican man several times to make sure he's alive. Then later he (Joe, not the Mexican man) vomits, but Etan agrees to sleep over anyway.

NYE 2006 was both memorable AND enjoyable. Just like everyone else at the party, I brought over beer, all of which was left over from my Hannukah party just six days before. I certainly learned my lesson the hard way: Dos Equis is nobody's favored brew. There were still two bottles of it left in Dan and Aditi's fridge when I went over there this Saturday, and I don't think I brought more than two. Dos XX tastes like donkey piss, which is probably what it is. But no matter. As it turned out, friends from many of my different social circles all converged on Dan and Aditi's house--Kelly came along, my good friend Jinna was in town with her friend Josh, Victoria bizarrely was on the Evite and decided to stop by once she found out that I was gonna be there. With the social lubricant triumvirate of alcohol, weed and really great people, things were nowhere near as awkward as I feared they might be. Plus, it's hard to feel bad when you look so good:

Kelly (L) and I (R) were going for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, but we probably got a little closer to "eager honors student" and "naughty professor," don't you think? If you're wondering, the beard has only grown more fearsome, its owner more dashing. Thanks to my father's torso for not being the same size it was in the early 80s so that I could borrow his jacket.

It's a time of transitions for me. New year, a relationship ended, I'm the new editor of the Prefix L.A. Events site (coming in late February), and I quit my post at Cryptogramophone. That's right, it's my first week of unemployment, and I'm damn excited about it. Before you go worrying that I've become a trust-fund baby, please know that I'm accepting interviews and determined to nab a temp job if need be. Just this past Tuesday, I met with Aaron and Mark at Hydra Head Records, a great art-metal label based out of Atwater Village. They're looking for someone to keep them on track with release schedules as they grow larger and have more things to think about. Could that someone be yours truly? They seemed to think so. They even gave me 37 CDs/DVDs, three t-shirts (one of which I am proudly sporting while I write), and two hoodies as a gesture of good faith. Or maybe they were just embarrassed that I had to pay for my own cold rice noodles at that unnamed pho place in Silver Lake for lunch. Will 24k be enough to finally sally forth from my room at the end of the vaginal canal? Barely. I'm leaning towards something that won't require me to subsist on ramen noodles, tomato paste and peanut butter, but maybe I just need to get the hell out and not worry so much about my personal financial solvency at this point. Aaron and Mark will be at theHigh on Fire/Big Business concert that I'm attending tonight at the Troubadour, so perhaps I'll get them drunk and convince them to raise my salary by $40,000.

It's 4 in the morning. That seems about long enough, don't you think?