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The Kids Are Alright…But Life Is Hard. Cobalt Cafe to Close After 23 Years

December 16, 2014 in Books, coffee, Entertainment, Events, History, LA, Music, The Valley

The beloved all-ages venue in the far west Valley that has given thousands of local kids their start in music, tens of thousands of poets a chance to read their work, and probably millions of young people to tag/sticker bathrooms (and hallways…and sidewalks…and rear exterior walls…and everything else), and just generally get the F outta the house without having to go to the mall–will be closing at the end of the month. I regret to pass this news on so late but I only just found out myself.

Vanna, 2009, Creative Commons by photog Carly Hoskins.

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Extremely patient and awesome owner Dave Politi founded the Cobalt Cafe coffeehouse in 1991. Grunge was a rising tide, emo was in its early stages, weird ska/funk/pop-punk hybrids particular to the Valley and south LA in general were bubbling up from high schoolers’ garages, and Starbucks wasn’t here.
I was a high school goth chick, shy as hell and loathe to speak to anyone. My friends’ bands played the shows. Seeing them, their openers, and those for whom they opened, up close and personal on a stage about a foot off the ground and approximately three feet from my face so their sweat flew in my eyes, lit off a fuse within myself that altered my DNA, transformed my passions and creative dreams forever. I got up the guts to read my mediocre emo high-school-girl poetry at the weekly poetry readings.

Credit Cobalt Cafe. Artist & photo unknown, obtained from Wikimedia Commons via Creative CommonsI got to know people. I became a regular. I met my first long-term boyfriend there, played chess there, bought punk records from unknown bands there from small private presses before records were collectors’ items, met some of the folks I’d run into long, long down the line ten years later in Silver Lake at Spaceland (and in other rooms), watched the comfy overstuffed furniture go the way of the dodo (too many episodes of puking, sweating and cigarettes leads them to an early grave), giving way to a more Spartan interior.  People liked my poetry enough that I got a featured reading at a coffeehouse on Sunset Blvd, and I kept writing long into my late 20s. I sometimes wonder if all that writing didn’t lay the groundwork for my public blogging and journalism career, which itself has led to experiences and interactions that could never have been imagined by the mind of a repressed, shy 17-year-old black-lipstick-wearing girl in 1996.

Augustus, 2005, photog Stacey Jischke via Creative Commons Photo credit Cobalt Cafe. Bitter End in 2011, photog Robert Bejil via Creative Commons.

Every time I have returned to the Valley to see a line of self-conscious green-and-black-haired high schoolers goofing off with each other in front of the venue, or bros in short pants and Deftones t-shirts unloading a 350 Ford, I have smiled to myself, grateful that sometimes, good things don’t change, and that there’s a place for us weirdos to go–still. Yeah, sometimes the music sucked. Well, usually it does when people are that green. But it was music, and we–now, they–were and are making it. Some of them got really, really good. Some of the poets went on to long careers as luminaries in the poetry arts scene throughout the US. Records were make, books published. Creative dreams came true.

The cool blue light and scrawled-upon bouncer's desk in front of the venue.

The place reeked of sweat, coffee and cigarettes; the bathrooms are an archaeological dig though layers of paint, Sharpie, and stickers; sometimes the baristas were overwhelmed or had a ‘tude (as is proper, whiners!), but that all just made it better. I have been everywhere, man, and seen a lotta shows, but the Cobalt was the most genuine, unprepossessing, free-spirited creative fermentation machine I had ever seen. You did not have to be hip to walk in. You did not have to wear the right clothes. In fact, it’s still pretty hipster-repellent.

Sadly, Dave’s got his own Life S**t going on these days, and there’s less and less money coming in the doors with promoters and bookers being less supportive than they used to be; and let’s face it, non-Starbucks-priced coffee will never keep an indie business afloat, especially when your clientele is allowed to just hang out and buy nothing the entire time they’re there.

Dave Politi should be lauded for giving so much of his life and energy to a cause–“the kids” and “the music” and “the words”. The longtime host of Tuesday Night Poetry–he’s been doing it almost as long as the Cobalt was open–Rick Lupert–should be thanked, and I encourage you to see him read his funny and thoughtful work at other venues around town. All the hosts of Monday night open mics, all the baristas who endured patiently for many years, every doorman who had to bust kids doing the things that kids do–thank you, one and all. Here’s to the Cobalt Cafe. From such a humble little corner of the West San Fernando Valley, her influence has already spread around the world. Dave and the Cobalt are studies in how simply making space for others to be themselves, can ripple outwards in a quietly irresistible wave of transformation.

Hover over photos for Creative Commons/other photo credits.

 

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#RockingRewind the Hyundai after party

November 21, 2014 in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events, Music, News, People

What is L.A. Auto Show press days without a manufacturer party or two? My absolute favorite is the Hyundai party. Again this year at the Hotel Figueroa a few blocks from the show itself.

Mermaids.
Circus performers.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Yes, they were our live entertainment. Nearly shat myself when they were announced to be our entertainment for the evening. Tons of fun, she hasn’t lost her edge. Totally fun night.

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Final 626 Night Market for the year this weekend 9/12-14

September 11, 2014 in Blogging (in) LA, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Music, San Gabriel Valley

logo for 626 Night Market

It’s here the final 626 Night Market, the thing to do in the SGV, is this weekend. Friday night it starts at 4PM and runs Saturday into Sunday too. Food, stuff, music and special guest appearances market this weekend.

Theres still no transit way to make it there.  From the 210 Exit Santa Anita and drive south to Huntington.  Make a right and follow Huntington to the Santa Anita Park.

Parking is free and admission is a measly $3 per person.

Deets.  Santa Anita Park, 285 W Huntington Drive, Arcadia.  MAP HERE  Hours Friday/Saturday 4PM-1AM, Sunday 4PM-10PM

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Taste of Haiti fund raiser to rebuild schools

May 20, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Music, Shopping, Social issues

Nearly 4 years ago the island country of Haiti was devastated with an earthquake. International aid helped, but they have a long way towards rebuilding. Their education system took a huge hit and is in need of contnued help.  Taste of Haiti comes to Los Angeles as a fund raiser to continue rebuilding their schools and stuff.

Taste of Haiti is a celebration of all things Haitian and will take place on a rooftop in DTLA on Wilshire.  Food, Dance, and Music to celebrate their culture and share with those of us who can help with the cause.  High light of the event is food by Chef Jacques Laventure.

This isn’t free, tickets range in price from $20 to $100 with perks commensurate with your tax deductible donation.  Ticket purchase and more about the L.A. Event here.  More on the total Taste of Haiti Here.

Details: May 28, 2014 7:30PM, 3100 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles 90005

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Help the Xylovan make it to the next level

April 8, 2014 in Entertainment, Music

What’s the Xylovan?  Its an amazing community music machine.  Its about a personal expression shared with all.  It first made its appearance at Burning Man a few years back.  Its since made appearrances at the decompressions at Joshua Tree and here in L.A.  Its fun.

It needs our help for the family that owns the Xylovan to make some much needed repairs and push it to the next level.  Whats that…a roving ball room repleat with LED lights and such.

To Help you can contribute to them HERE at Indiegogo where they have a crowd sourcing campain in place.  And its not all fun and games, there are prizes, tokens of appreciation for donors based on your level of donation.

$10 LA Phil tickets available in celebration of Walt Disney Concert Hall’s 10th Anniversary

April 7, 2014 in Downtown, Music

To celebrate Walt Disney Concert Hall’s 10th Anniversary, the LA Phil is making $10 tickets available for select concerts. Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the Box Office. (there is a per-ticket fee for all online sales). Two ticket limit per household.

The following performances will have a limited number of $10 seats made available to the public:

$10 Tickets available for the following concerts:

Gordon, Riley & Adams, Apr 11 2014

Gordon, Riley & Adams, Apr 12 2014

Gordon, Riley & Adams, Apr 13 2014

MINIMALIST JUKEBOX: Glass’ the CIVIL warS, Apr 17 2014

MINIMALIST JUKEBOX: An Evening of Andriessen, Apr 18 2014

MINIMALIST JUKEBOX: Glass’ the CIVIL warS, Apr 19 2014

Denève & Shaham, Apr 24 2014

Cheyenne Jackson: Music of the Mad Men Era, Apr 26 2014

Buy tickets here

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626 Represented

January 19, 2014 in Entertainment, Music, San Gabriel Valley

Nicely done, it’s my ‘hood.  And it ‘s coming  time for 626 Night Market in about 6 months.

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American Sabor: Latin flavor in American Music and an LA focus

November 14, 2013 in Art, East Side, Education, Entertainment, History, LA, Movies, Music, People, Social issues, Which Side?

American Sabor opens on Saturday Nov 16th at Cal State  University LA with a huge open house.  Its an exhibit on loan to CSULA until February 6 2014.  The Exhibit is here are part of a grant from Ford Motor Company.  The exhibit left me speechless.  Yes, I knew some of the famous names, but I never knew until touring this exhibit the depth that Latin Music, its flavor or sabor has influenced all of American Music.

More importantly this exhibit has a  portion dedicated solely to the contributions of Angelenos, specifically East LA in the 1990s.  That will be part of the permanent collection at CSULA when the Smithsonian moves on loan to its next city.  Famous Angelenos starting with Desi Arnaz and flash forward to  Black Eyed Peas I was amazed, outright blown away with the influence Latin music has had on pop music, hip hop, jazz and other genres.  Other artists of note that are showcased in the exhibit are Alice Bag, Los Lobos, Los Illegals, and Quetzal. Read the rest of this entry →

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The French Concert in Sierra Madre Sunday 10/6

September 30, 2013 in Entertainment, Events, Music, San Gabriel Valley

sundaymusicseriesfrenchconcert

Consistently voted one of the best community theaters in all of Los Angeles, the Sierra Madre Playhouse is presenting “The French Concert”.   This is a joint effort with the Colbert School of Music in Los Angeles.

They will even have a liquor license for the event and you will be able to enjoy some great wine during intermission.

You can get your tickets online and I would suggest buying early as this small, intimate venue could well sell out.  You can order online HERE.

DEETS: Sunday October 6, 2013 7 PM.  Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA MAP HERE  Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for Seniors, and $10 for students(to age 21).

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Paint Nite at Monrovia’s Paint n Play Saturday 8/31

August 27, 2013 in Art, Entertainment, Food & Drink, Music, People, San Gabriel Valley

This promises to be a really fun event.  Its being taught by one of my favorite artists/sculptors Rick Kess. I love his work and this class he will teach you the basics of composition and painting while you enjoy complimentary refreshments and live music.  Should be a ton of fun.

Its not free, the cost s $45 and includes the materials and lesson.  Rick will make the class fun and educational at the same time.  The proceeds from this event sponsored by the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts will go to fund their numerous projects that bring art to the community.

Arrive early and you can also take in all the great art presented by local artists at the last Summer Art Walk that will take place on Myrtle Avenue that night.

Deets: Saturday 8/31 7:30PM.  Paint N Play Art Studio, 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016 MAP HERE  626-256-4848 for Reservations.

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Irish Fair and Music Festival at Fairplex this weekend.

March 7, 2013 in Entertainment, Events, Music, Shopping

With St Patty’s right around the corner its time for the annual Irish Fair and Music Festival at the Pomona Fairplex.  The event includes food, bands, storytellers, dancers, variety (whatever that is) and demonstrations.  The Irish Fair runs March 9 & 10th 2013, 10AM – 6PM.

This isn’t free and a complete breakdown of the admission for the event can be found on their web site HERE.  You can purchase tickets HERE.

All the details about the Festival that you could ever want are on their site HERE.  Just in case you don’t know how to make out to the nether regions of L.A for the event the MAP IS HERE.

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I love L.A. updated for the new century

September 21, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, Music

Hat tip to Anika aka faboomama who tweeted this link just a few minutes ago.  Its “I love LA” updated for the new century.  Worth the view while you wait for our Shuttle viewing as the Endeavor flies over L.A later this morning.

Speaking of the fly-over I’ve to a super secret spot near JPL that I will be watching it from.  Our own Will Campbell is working his way by bike and hike to the Hollywood sign for his viewing.  Where will you be viewing it from?

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Was this YouTube video worth being fired over? I think not.

September 12, 2012 in Entertainment, Music, People, San Gabriel Valley

I’ve watched this story unfold for a few days now and finally got my hands on the video.  Short version is that the off duty lifegaurds at the public pool in El Monte thought it would be fun to make a parody video of “Gangnum Style”.  It was done pretty tastefully as you can see and it doesn’t include any indication it was shot in El Monte let alone at their public pool.

The city powers that be saw it and fired them for misuse of the pool for personal gain. The pool manager was even fired and he didn’t appear in the video.   All done without warning.

They have a facebook page up.  Change.org  is rumored to have a petition going (I can’t find it though) . Even one of the city council members thinks there should be an investigation and that the firings were done too fast.

What say you on the firings?  Should they get their jobs back?

Back To The Future: The Turtles @ Grand Park

July 27, 2012 in Downtown, Entertainment, Events, Music

In retro-honor of Wednesday’s opening of the first segment of the long-awaited Grand Park, which will eventually span a 12-acre corridor between City Hall and the Music Center, let’s go back 47 years earlier to November 1965 with The Turtles singing “You Baby” at the west end then of what’s now this latest addition to downtown’s renaissance. Dick Clark, take it away:

(h/t LAObserved)

Taking Back Happy Hour

July 20, 2012 in Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, Music

As someone who would like to make it illegal to call a bartender a “mixologist,” the genius crew who embedded “It’s Gettin’ Real In The Whole Foods Parking Lot” into my own personal lexicon, have turned their laser sights on and taken dead aim to marvelous effect at the increasingly pretentious side of the cocktail biz. Drink it up!