Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Big Easy

I'm going to New Orleans for the Voodoo music festival and to hang out in New Orleans. I have no money, but for sure I'll have a good time.

UPDATE: Here is the picture story of my trip to New Orleans. What I will say is that while I certainly had more than my fair share of fun and have gained my 'Bourbon Street story', New Orleans was a sad place for me. So beautiful but so ugly in the exploitation and the ignorance of the society and culture in which we live and consume. At its core, there is hope in creativity, art, youth and age. Plus I got to see the Mississippi for the first time in my life. It was glorious.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Jus†ice destroyed my mind

Many have tried, but I can't bring myself to. Having seen Justice in festival venues thrice I can say with certainty that it is nothing compared to seeing them live in a club. I spent an untold amount of timeless beats immersed in a cacophony of sound and a deluge of noise. The experience was so intense I'm not even sure how much of it I remember - though this is no doubt partly to blame on the road soda (thanks to Justin for this new phrase). For however long the set was, an hour and half perhaps, I was mesmerised by Justice. I don't think I've ever seen a mosh pit at an electro gig. Nor have I ever seen crowd surfers in an electro club, so many crowd surfers. The whole thing was nuts. I may not remember it all, but I will never forget it.

These are a couple of my videos. D.A.N.C.E.:

The encore, Soulwax's NY Lipps:

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The city of angels

I gotta keep this short as there is much to do and if I leave posting any longer it might not happen. So, the rest of my stay in Los Angeles was amazing. After two nights with the lovely Whitney, I was picked up by Greg and taken to his place in Santa Monica. I met Greg on my trip to San Francisco back in July. I was on the BART train on my way to see Daft Punk in Berkeley and was sure the lads across from me were going to. As is my style we got to talking and I ended up spending the rest of the weekend living it up with Greg, Justin, Dan and their friends. They truly made it a trip to remember. To see the pictures from my trip to San Francisco go HERE.

Right, well, as things turned out Greg lives in a rather nice house. In fact let me be more accurate. Greg lives in possibly the most incredible house I've ever been in. A four floor beach front property in Santa Monica. Views of the sea every morning, the sunset every night. It's simply incredible. Two minutes stroll to the Pacific Ocean everyday. You just can't go wrong. Anyway, I've landed on my feet like crazy and Greg is such a sweet host. The place actually belongs to his family and Greg lives there while he plugs away at his acting career. Greg grew up in Santa Monica his entire life so is the perfect host as he demonstrated the next day.

I knew LA was huge but nothing could really quite prepare me for the view of the city Greg shared with me after driving us up to the Santa Monica mountains (they may be hills, I'm not sure). The view over Hollywood, Santa Monica, downtown LA, Beverley Hills is astounding. Seeing the sea front stretch on and on and on was quite something. After climbing down the hill Greg and I went driving all over town. Sunset Boulevard, Mulholland Drive, Hollywood's walk of fame, Bill Cosby's house, Celebrity Scientology Castle. It was awesome. I was totally in awe. I'm not even sure why really though. I guess because it was truly a alien world to me. Streets lined with Palm Tress, millionaires whizzing past me at every intersection. I loved the whole entire bizarreness of it all.

Oh, and I saw the Jim Henson Company, which made me particularly happy. We couldn't find a good place for photo opp of the Hollywood sign, but I did see it. I'll save the stealing a letter plan for another time. It's not going anywhere just yet.

After this there was more hanging out in LA, checking out the town etc before I finally got to see Thea who got back into town on Monday. It was awesome to see her and she was equally blown away by Greg's place by the way. Anyways, Thea took me surfing for the first time. I loved it. I wanna surf more. Loads more. It kinda completes my trilogy of board sports (I've always seen myself as a completist). And yes, I caught at least one wave and got to stand up. I was rather proud of myself. That said my rib cage is still hurting. Don't know when that is ever going to heal up since Tahoe to be honest.

And now I am back in San Francisco with Justin and Dan, staying with Dan and his housemate Emily. Seven/eight hours on the Megabus turned out to be not nearly as painful as expected. $35 wasn't too bad either, course if I'd booked earlier it would have been much cheaper (possibly a dollar). But either way, I am here, got very excited traveling across the Bay Bridge into a rainy San Fran. Tonight is Justice. It's going to be a barnstormer.

By the way, I need a job when I get back to Austin. Cash in hand. Keep your eyes peeled folks.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Aaaah, Venice

It felt weird coming back to California again. This is my third visit to the Golden State since I came to the US back in March. San Francisco (the trip I failed miserably to blog on) left a huge impression on me and I was keen to make a return visit. But the main reason for coming this time was the opportunity to see my friend Thea in Santa Monica and knock LA off my list of places to go. Knowing that Justice were playing in San Francisco also meant a short (7 hour) bus ride north and I could do the things I didn't get to do before (Alcatraz) and see the lads I met at the Daft Punk gig who also effectively adopted me for remainder to my time in San Fran.

Course, the best laid schemes usually gang aft agley, and so it was that Thea found out one week before my arrival that she wasn't going to be LA at all. Hmmm, hence a lot of head scratching and pondering what to do. Luckily Chris Shea was able to put me in touch with a friend from college who was willing to put me up my first nights in town. From tonight I should be staying with Greg, who I met at the Daft Punk gig, in Santa Monica for a couple of nights. It's all a bit slap and dash now, but should be a lot of fun.

You need a car to be in Los Angeles so the proverbial warnings go and it is not a word to a lie. This place is huge and its vastness is only overpowered by the sheer number of cars that appear to be on the road. I, however, am a public transport kinda guy and have so far found the number 333 bus just grand at transporting me to and from Venice Beach, which is a mere 10 minutes down the road from my host Whitney's apartment. The climate in this part of California is incredible. LA enjoys something like 325 days of sunshine a year. The daytime is warm, often with a gentle breeze rolling in off the Pacific Ocean, while the evenings are cool. It's a far cry from the constant sweatiness of Texas.

Having immediately gone down to the famous after dropping my things off at Whitney's I totally forget my second thoughts about coming to LA and allow myself to wonder at the weirdness that I've found myself immersed once again. Ocean Front Walk is filled with the usual seafront tourist stalls you expect by any popular stretch of beach. But Venice has much more than this. As part of the area that makes up the infamous Dogtown, it is in many ways the spiritual home of skateboarding. The basketball courts (as featured in White Men Can't Jump) are one of the most famous streetball courts in the world. Then there's Muscle Beach, which is just downright odd.

Similarly to what I experienced in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park, Venice Beach is also odd in the blend of locals, tourists and homeless people. The locals themselves make up one of the oddest blend of people in themselves. Harry Perry is one such character, famous basically for roller-skating on the beach front in a turban whilst playing electric guitar. Another roller-blading oddity I saw yesterday was some muscle bound California dude with the tiniest and most well-groomed dog running alongside him. Ok, not so weird perhaps, until you see him swinging his dog around in the air before catching it perfectly standing in the palm of his hand all the while still weaving amongst the tourists on the boardwalk. Don't worry, the dog lead was a body one, not a neck one.

I feel like I'm digressing here. Let me give you a couple of my early impressions of this part of LA. Beach life clearly lends itself to the good life. I don't think I've ever seen so many super fit people in my life - between surfers, the bodybuilders, the joggers, the yogateers, the skaters and the all rest. My first day here I watched the sunset over the Pacific, it was gorgeous. But while I sat there watching with the hordes of sun-kissed spiritually inclined Californians, I wondered if the whole body image thing was actually in fact part of something a little deeper. Something closer to achieving physical atonement with the concept of healthy body healthy mind. I've only just got here so it's hard to say. What I can say is that I'm now desperately keen to learn how to surf and if I leave here without having ridden at least one wave I'll be extremely disappointed with myself.