All posts by Travis Koplow

Travis used to surf the web for a living. Once upon a time she edited a book about virtual libraries, back when people were designing websites with stone chisels. Now she is "Director of Communications" for a nonprofit, which is like cat herding only slightly less respected a profession. She's a leftist, a PhD, a minister, an atheist, and an ominivore among other things. Fans are encouraged to send encomiums to travis818 at gmail dot com.

Archive Fest! Woot!’s not that I’m obsessed with archives–really. But after I posted about USC’s digital archives and National Archives’ pictures of Valley smog, I discovered (via LA Brain Terrain) that this Saturday, the Huntington is home to the LA Archives Bazaar(!) Oh yeah! Who needs the Swerve Festival or the county fair (though I admit I have always had a fascination with fried twinkies)? Geek out this weekend and go look at the displays from more than 40 historical collections, learn how to preserve home movies and research your genealogy. Okay, so there probably won’t be a tilt-o-whirl and you won’t get to hear Juiceboxxx play, but I’ll bet that there will be lots of maps (and some people out there in our nation don’t have maps). More on this fine photo after the jump.
Continue reading Archive Fest! Woot!

I loves me some rock & roll xylophone am not afraid to admit that I am a fan of the kazoo. And I’m probably going to be a fan of any band that can belt out a tune on a kazoo in front of a bazillion people. Which is to say, Tammara may have been disappointed by yesterday’s teaser forecast, but I was super-glad to not have to galosh my way through the Arcade Fire show at the Bowl last night. Because Arcade Fire knows how to work a kazoo. And an accordion, violin, viola, French horn, clarinet, xylophone, even a celesta–at least that’s what we think it was. What you miss just listening to them on CD (or I miss in any case) is, for one, how damn antic the Arcadians are (there are 10 of them when they tour) and how versatile. One minute someone’s on the viola; the next minute she’s on a horn and all the while, on the move. I cut my musical teeth on hardcore punk rock, so big stadium shows are sometimes a turn off to me, but this is a band that needs some real estate, and who doesn’t love the Hollywood Bowl?
Continue reading I loves me some rock & roll xylophone

Happy Unmarried and Single Americans Week!

Who knew there was such a thing as Unmarried and Single Americans Week? (The Census Bureau clued me in). And as if in celebration, Forbes has just declared our fine city number three in the rankings of Best Cities for Singles. We lost the crown to San Francisco and NYC came in second, but we did manage to edge out the Big Apple in terms of cultural weight (we’re #2; they’re #3–hee hee). I admit I’m skeptical of Forbes’ methodology given the fact that we ranked lower than San Francisco in the “cost of living alone” category (24 versus 20). Be that as it may, I’ll concur: I’m far happier as a single in LA than I was as a married in Madison. But that’s a whole nother story as they say.

How to celebrate such an auspicious week? Well, my boyfriend and I wondered the same thing, and we concluded that the best we can do is to stay happily unmarried. If you’re single and looking, or at least looking to celebrate your stringlessness, I suggest taking out an ad on Craigslist, particularly if you’re a straight woman. The gender ratio makes it a ridiculously ego-inflating experience. You can go out to dinner with a different guy every night for the next two weeks, and if nothing else, have a dozen good stories to tell at the end of the experiment. Forbes may be calling George Clooney and Cameron Diaz the city’s most eligible bachelor and bachelorette, but I can guarantee you they’re not the most interesting.

(Hat tip to for the Forbes link)

Where in LA? we’re on the subject of archives … right after I posted below about NARA’s ARC, I ran across a reference to the USC Digital Archive on Here in Van Nuys (which has some great 1951 gang photos posted). The USC archive has an easy interface and is a lot of fun to poke around in if you ‘re an archive geek like me. Among the collections that are searchable through the USC page are the AAA collection, 1892-1963; the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive; and the Los Angeles Examiner Collection. The picture here comes from the California Historical Society. Where in LA? Click here to find out.

The valley’s sad legacy was reading a friend’s blog today, and he pointed me toward a National Archives collection of various photos of US cities, and that in turn got me interested in images of LA and the Valley available from the archives online. And here’s my sad conclusion, when you search NARA’s Archival Research Catalog for “San Fernando Valley,” you get seven results. This is one of the three that are available online. It is titled “View of Smog from Universal City Hotel.” The other two are titled “Smog” and “Universal Studios Seen Through Smog,” and you can see them after the jump.
Continue reading The valley’s sad legacy

Bang Bang Rock and Roll

I am always cheered by all-ages shows. True, I feel a bit like a hipster granny at them much of the time, but it restores my faith to see the adolescent set decked out in their alt-rock finest staying out too late on a school night. The Tuesday night Art Brut show at the Key Club did not disappoint in that regard. There were plenty of adorable fifteen year-olds knocking back Red Bulls and making moon eyes at Eddie and Jasper (oh, okay, that was me–what of it?).

art%20brut%20show%20boredom.JPGThe show was put on by Spin Magazine who must have had some logic in mind when they lined up the opening acts (though said logic escaped me–hmm, let’s choose two djs and an alt-hillbilly act to open for a Brit Pop band). Mercifully we missed the first DJ, Highspeeddub, but we did suffer through the set from The Young Americans, which might not have been so bad except that it was too long by half. Though when the opening band, Whispertown2000, came on, things went from bad to worse. Somehow, Whispertown2000 calls themselves a “soul” band, but listen to their stuff on their myspace page and you tell me. Their lead singer has this “I’m alone in my car on a long road trip style of vocal delivery” that made me and my friend Portia feel more than a little like we were trapped at a high school talent show. (You know it’s bad when you’re staving off boredom by building houses of cards and matchbooks.)
Continue reading Bang Bang Rock and Roll

The Thing in my kitchen July is one of my personal local heroes (in fact, I’m with Ben on this one–I kind of love her). I thought Me and You and Everyone We Know was pretty easily the best film of 2005, and I am currently reading No One Belongs Here More Than You and loving it.

So I knew I had to ante up when I found out that MJ is the first of four artists (including writers, musicians, filmmakers and so on) whose work comprises The Thing. Each artist creates an everyday object that somehow uses text, and those objects are wrapped up in brown paper packages tied up with string (okay, there wasn’t really any string on mine, but still) and sent to subscribers quarterly. I split a subscription with my boyfriend (because I’m a tightwad who works at a nonprofit), and we just got the Miranda July installment last week. This morning when I staggered out to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee, The Thing was the first thing I saw, and it brought me some joy before I’d even had a cuppa–no mean feat.
Continue reading The Thing in my kitchen

Insomniac special — lunar eclipse

Anyone who knows me, knows how miserable I am at the thought of catching a 6 am flight out of LAX tomorrow morning. I am really and truly not a morning person, and the thought of leaving the house at 4:30 in the morning is only marginally more appealing than, say, getting punched in the face. Roosters are still rubbing the grit from their eyes at that hour. It’s not civilized. So when I read that there is a total lunar eclipse taking place between from 2 am until 5:30 in the morning, it was like the universe was rewarding me for pain and suffering. The complete eclipse is only visible to United Statians west of the Rockies (as well as Aussies, Kiwis, and some islanders), so my fellow Angelos who also have to wake up at the ass crack of dawn tomorrow, fortune is favoring us. Enjoy.

(Eclipse series complements of foxypar4.)

What is the sound of one blogger yawning? wasn’t going to blog about MOCA’s oh-so-audacious curatorial decision to sell overpriced handbags in the middle of their forthcoming Murakami exhibit if only because here at we have no “Who the Fuck Cares” category with which to classify such a post. But having received the latest issue of Artkrush this week and seeing that they too have joined the ranks of Marshall Astor and Kevin Roberts in covering said audacious curatorial decision, I feel compelled to pipe up.

First of all, there’s the “wtfc” factor I mentioned above. Is there anyone who still believes in a rigid art/commerce binary anymore? (Certainly not in LA, methinks.) Haven’t most of our proscenium arches fallen long ago? Is the commodification of high art still shocking or even newsworthy? Tomato soup anyone?
Continue reading What is the sound of one blogger yawning?

Doesn’t David Lynch have a best friend?

Everyone needs a best friend. She’s the person who diplomatically steers you away from wearing the pants that make your ass look huge, saying something like, “That looks nice but I like your black pants better.” A best friend is the person who will tell you you have spinach in your teeth or toilet paper on your shoe or, to the matter at hand, that your film may be just a wee bit too long when it’s weighing in mere minutes shy of three hours and lacks a coherent plot line.

david%20lynch.jpgDavid Lynch needs a best friend. That’s what I decided last week after watching the screening of Inland Empire at the Hammer. Don’t get me wrong–I have been a David Lynch fan for a long time. I am old enough to have seen Blue Velvet in the theater when it came out and to have watched Twin Peaks religiously on TV each week with a group of like-minded friends. We made meatloaf and we ate pie. When the series ended, we were bereft. The other night at the Hammer when Inland Empire ended, I was relieved. It’s just too damn long. Just because you’re an auteur doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a good film editor; that was the lesson of the evening. Well, that and don’t believe the word “reservation” means a damn thing when it comes to the Hammer. More on that lesson after the jump.
Continue reading Doesn’t David Lynch have a best friend?

Everybody wants to be a star

movie%20projector.jpgAugust 11th is Home Movie Day, and because you live in Los Angeles, you can screen your home movies at the Academy’s Dunn Theater. Check in from 11 to 3 for screenings from noon to 4. (Aspiring directors take note:Bring in those old family films and you’ll be able to use the line “Well, my first short screened at the academy” at cocktail parties)

In the evening, starting at 7, you’ll be treated to 16mm gems from the Academy’s archive including the construction of LA’s city hall; the opening day of Disneyland (stukas anyone?); and home movies from Alfred Hitchcock, Esther Williams, and king of cool Steve McQueen.

(Picture courtesy of aka Kath, who clearly should be celebrating Home Movie Day on the 11th)

Q: What do Oprah, Jagger, and Uncle Vlad have in common? They all have a cameo appearance in this week’s “Social Studies” on KCRW. The brainchild of funny woman Iris Bahr, “Social Studies” airs Monday afternoons at 4:44 and never fails to make me laugh out loud even if I’m battling rush hour traffic. The star of the show is Svetlana Maksimovolskahyah (pictured at right), Bahr’s high-end Russian prostitute alter-ego, whose four minute quasi-stream-of-consciousness covers sex with the stars, current events, and life in LA, all in a fabulous Russian accent.

Svetlana’s take on Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) after the break:
Continue reading Q: What do Oprah, Jagger, and Uncle Vlad have in common?

The gas is cheap but it’ll cost you

Every week I get emails from well meaning coworkers, friends and relatives warning me of nonexistent threats. I am the curmudgeon who sends the Snopes link in response to warnings that aspertame will give me a brain tumor or faux perfume salesmen will knock me out with ether in shopping mall parking lots.

Imagine my surprise when this morning I received an email mass posted to the company warning of a burglary scam that happens to be true:

I just found out my bank debit card was illegally used in the past two days. I filled my car up with gas on Saturday at an Arco gas station on Balboa and Sherman Way and apparently they got my card information after I finished that transaction and in the past two days they have hit my account for 480.00 dollars. They tried to run another transaction for 1080.00 dollars at an Office Depot in Carson but the bank security system suspected fraudulent activity and froze my card. This has been going on for a while at Arco Stations.

More on the debit card scammers after the jump.
Continue reading The gas is cheap but it’ll cost you

We’re number one! terms of least affordable housing that is. Yes, my fellow Los Angelenos, according to Forbes, we have finally surpassed San Francisco (and San Diego and New York and Miami …) as far as ridiculous real estate prices go (home prices compared to earnings). Only 3% of houses sold at the beginning of 2007 were affordable to people earning the median salary (as compared to 42.3% in 2001). [Hat tip to Curbed LA for the link.]

I personally work for a nonprofit and the thought of trying to buy something in this bloated market is nothing short of laughable. To make matters even more depressing Forbes further informs me that I would have to make seven times my current income to “live well” in LA. Sadly, when I hit the link to find out what cities could offer me the good life, the answer is, well, none. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next big one to buy.

(Photo courtesy of NoiseCollusion/ Matthew Robinson.)

Rasputina at the El Rey — Even Harry Potter was there

Is it appropriate to say a group “rocked the house” when that band consists of two cello players and a drummer? Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Rasputina indeed rocked the El Rey last night. From the first notes of “Hunter’s Kiss,” the opening piece, to the end of the encore, Rasputina was spot-on. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, given the great sound at the El Rey and the synergy between the trio and the audience, last night’s recital sounded even better than Rasputina’s recordings.

The set list contained many favorites from earlier albums, including Rasputina’s amazing covers of “Barracuda” and “Wish You Were Here.” (Thankfully, Melora and company ignored shouted requests from the overly enthusiastic crowd for “Free Bird.”) But of course, there was plenty of material from Oh Perilous World as well. More about that after the jump.
Continue reading Rasputina at the El Rey — Even Harry Potter was there