Monday, January 28, 2013

COMIN’ ROUND MOHAWK BEND



TO LIVE AND EAT IN LA

Temecula, CA – The very latest blessing to come out of Occupy LA, an event many who never came to the city hall encampment have dismissed, is a reconnection to the cousin who now lives in the area known as Culver City, a five square mile area of about 39K folks that is mostly surrounded by Los Angeles on the east. Having a book out is something to shout about, especially to kin-folk, so I was all about saying ‘hello’ and what have you been up to since I last saw you as a kid? Turns out, a lot.


As anyone who reads Memoirsfinds out, my life is anything but typical, however not all of that aspect is due to outside influences. I’ve spoken before of my alabaster-skinned, wavy-haired Jewish grandmother but her husband was special also.
Growing up in a house where your grandparents look like a ‘mixed’ couple is something that you don’t notice as odd, but later when I became aware of the visual racial differences and the reality of the day, I had to ask Granny a question.

“How come you didn’t marry a man who looked more like you, Granny?”

Her eyes relaxed and she shifted out of her matriarchal ‘in-charge’ personality and answered, surprising me by what she said since the two of them weren’t like the TV couple on the old b&w TV show, Mama. Like Mama, my grandmother never worked a day outside her home.

“He was always neat and clean when he walked by (my mother’s) house. His clothes were pressed and he offered to take me and my sister for ice cream sundaes. Some of the other men who walked past the yard would offer us liquor if we went out with them, but your grandfather wasn’t like that. He was nice.”

He was also 27 and she was 16 as I later found out, giving him a wink and saying ‘you old dog’. However, my grandmother’s mom died at a young age so it is possible that my grandmother had just lost her mom or was living with her stepfather at the time when Granddaddy strolled by the stoop.

My grandfather was self-taught and spoke/wrote perfect English. He also checked my middle school grammar homework papers before I turned them in and once bested the teacher when she marked an answer wrong that was actually correct. He impressed others as well. While working at The Seelbach, Louisville’s first grand hotel which opened its doors on May 1, 1905, a man approached my grandfather when he left work one evening. He said that he wanted to hire my grandfather away from The Seelbach and have him go to Indianapolis to hire blacks in that city who would be willing to move to Louisville. The man was going to open a hotel to rival The Seelbach. My grandfather agreed and the man gave Granddaddy one thousand dollars to get his waiter crew together. In that moment, my grandfather became Captain Dan (Daniel being his last name), of the Brown Hotel. This was the reason for the Captain Dan weed slinging biz cards [see, yup, Memoirs].

The Brown Hotel is an historic 16-story hotel in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., located on the corner of Fourth and Broadway that Granddaddy helped open. It contains 293 rooms and over 24,000 ft² of meeting space. Granddaddy was in charge of all the waiters who worked at the Brown Hotel. It also contains special amenities, such as a fitness center and 3 restaurants. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel was designed by Preston J. Bradshaw and opened in 1923, only 10 months after construction began. The hotel cost $4 million, and was funded and owned by James Graham Brown, a local entrepreneur. The hotel quickly became a central part of the growing downtown Louisville economy. Actor Victor Mature was an elevator operator at the hotel before becoming famous.

The year 1923 also saw the birth of my mother, Capt Dan’s last child of the four my grandmother bore him. The new hotel status added something else to my grandfather’s mantle of trustworthiness, credit! As I grew up I remember us having the first B&W Philco TV on the block. We had gotten the first refrigerator while everyone else was still making due with an icebox and visits from the iceman daily. Though quite possibly the first black/Negro/colored man in the segregated town to be able to walk into Bensinger’s, order new furniture and get it delivered like it was Living Spaces with just his signature, the two U of L Negro PhDs who recently published their look back at black Louisville history seem to have left my grandfather out, from what I saw of the report, and only included the ‘toms’ who made the white newspaper. A note to both as to whether either of them ever attended the 1960 Martin Luther King Chestnut YMCA event went unanswered. How typical of the ‘self-important’ over-educated element in the black community. Not having seen my cousin since before my witch wife Trinkette came along, again see Memoirs, I wondered about her hood cred.

We agreed to meet at a place I had seen on my way to a meeting in Hollywood which stuck out to me. Of course up in LA there are many things that pop out at you as being different or trendy. This time it was the name of the spot, Mohawk Bend. A friend of my cousin who lives in Echo Park had recommended it and when she said, ‘let’s make it that place’, it seemed a good idea to me.

If you have ever been along Sunset Blvd you know most of the storefront shops are small; some are hardly bigger than a phone booth. Mohawk Bend had been a vaudeville theatre then lay dormant until someone bought the property with hopes of turning it into a music venue. Those hopes were dashed when the neighbors complained about the increased and nonexistent parking that would cause problems with a live music club. Again it was sold and the new place, now a restaurant, was created.
Walking past the area with a front ticket booth would be you find a hollowed-out lounge area with couches forming an inside shaded sidewalk patio before going through the ‘lobby’ doors and past a hostess. Inside the lobby which is now a bar/food bar (AM Bar) were small square tables and one long lunch table. Through the back glass doors led to the theatre area which is now a fully elegant sit down restaurant with a high ceiling and new white mortar brick walls. This area opens around 2PM. The layout and motif speak more of Beverly Hills or Hollywood than Echo Park or even Silverlake, the number 1 hipster spot in the country. I felt this was a good sign.
I looked at my cousin walk in as I sat in the lobby area at a small table nursing a Helles Lager. When we left to sit in the back area to have lunch, I smiled as she told of spending the summer hanging out with friends at Venice Beach, food adventures in Peru, owning a downtown loft which she rented out, and having just produced a video for Yahoo a day ago. Single and dating as well as seven years living in LA after being in New York to start said to me that some of my Granddaddy’s blood also flows through her veins as Stephanie is not a typical Daniel, except in picking up the tab with the usual Daniel Family class. Mohawk Bend is located at 2141 W. Sunset Blvd, 90026, and I recommend it if you want a very low key out of the way classy eatery that’s stylish and hip.

MENIFEE: Police probe Paloma Valley High School Threat Rumors

Detectives find no credible threat, rumors spread across social media sites

Menifee, California - On Sunday January 27, 2013, at 6:25 PM, officers received reports of possible threats of violence to take place at Paloma Valley High School on Monday, January 28, 2013. 

By Monday morning rumors had spread like wildfire across social media websites and texts.

Based on the officers' investigation, there is no credible threat to the school. 

Anyone with additional information regarding this event is encouraged to contact Sergeant Gilbert Gonzalez at the Perris Police Department at (951) 210-1094.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MAY THE SWARTZ BE WITH US ANONYMOUSLY



DID THE FEDS REALLY KILL COMPUTER WHIZ?


Temecula, CA – With the recent ‘suicide by hanging’ of internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz and his father’s statement to mourners Tuesday during his son's funeral in suburban Chicago that his son was "killed by the government" the sub-headline question comes onto play. Rep. Issa is launching an investigation.

 “I’ll make a risky statement here: Over-prosecution is a tool often used to get people to plead guilty rather than risk sentencing,” Issa said. “It is a tool of question. If someone is genuinely guilty of something and you bring them up on charges, that’s fine. But throw the book at them and find all kinds of charges and cobble them together so that they’ll plea to a 'lesser included' is a techniquethat I think can sometimes be inappropriately used.”

This statement is very creepy in the sense that it describes what a lot of more "restrictive" governments do to suppress dissent in their regimes. This is the sort of thing that could be applied to just about anybody when they take your guns first then turn your social security into a government voucher. So who was Aaron Swartz and why did he so frighten the feds that they might take him out, activist-style, in a reported self-hanging?

“I met Aaron at the U.S. Supreme Court in October 2002 when we both went to hear the oral argument in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Most of us non-lawyers had to spend the night sleeping in the street in front of the Court in order to get a ticket — since the line to get into an oral argument generally starts forming the night before — but Aaron (though a teenager) was Larry Lessig’s personal guest, so, having a ticket, he got the luxury of spending the night in a hotel (which his parents apparently appreciated). Still, Aaron decided to spend most of the evening and morning before the argument hanging out with the encampment in front of the Court: partly to show solidarity with those who hadn’t received a ticket and partly for the thrill of meeting actual grown-up copyright activists. He was deeply star-struck to meet some people he considered legendary copyright reform activists, though within a decade he would be among the most effective grassroots copyright activists in the world.

At that moment, though, he was the little kid markup-and-metadata-expert Larry Lessig admired enough to share a front-row Supreme Court seat with. And he spent the evening with us as we ordered pizza for delivery to “the sidewalk outside the U.S. Supreme Court” (not such an unusual request for D.C. pizzerias, evidently), and we all gossiped about copyright law for a few hours.

In December, I saw Lessig again in San Francisco as he unveiled his Creative Commons project, described as a kind of third way between the unreflective absolutism of industry and the somewhat alarming radicalism of … well, actually people like Aaron and me. After a videotaped presentation from Jack Valenti (also, in his prime, a terrifically talented copyright activist), Lessig invited Aaron, clad in a t-shirt and possibly the youngest person in the hall, up on stage to talk about metadata. It was awkward. Aaron was trying to describe why it was useful to be able to describe bibliographic information in a format that computers could read. (Aaron was always trying to describe why it was useful to be able to describe bibliographic information this way.) The audience, having had a few drinks, was not as focused as it might have been and didn’t care to envision the beautiful future in which search engines would make it trivial for anyone to instantly find works they could legally reuse and build upon. Lessig was very gracious. He basically told the crowd: You see, our project is going to succeed, and it’s because we have this genius creating our infrastructure.

Aaron reminded me how frustrating it is to be curious about things that other people don’t understand or regard as trivial or bizarre. He wrote a blog post about a theory he had encountered that one’s degree of nearsightedness is affected by blood oxygen levels and that it might be possible to use eye exercises to systematically reduce nearsightedness. He was, he wrote, already experimenting on himself to see if it would work, and he said he wished he could meet a girl who wouldn’t laugh at this project. (Much later, Aaron became friends with Seth Roberts, a researcher who advocates self-experimentation as a way of generating potentially useful wild ideas about health. Roberts and Aaron got on extremely well; I think Roberts, like many others, felt that Aaron naturally generated potentially useful wild ideas about absolutely everything.)

I visited Aaron in his dorm at Stanford a few years later. I was thrilled that he was studying at such a great university, but Aaron was already deeply alienated from Stanford. He said that he had few friends and that the students around him weren’t curious about the things he was curious about. That wasn’t the way his Stanford adventure was supposed to pan out. I helped him pack for his flight to Boston for his interview with Paul Graham, who had announced he was starting a fund to invest in young computer scientists like Aaron. He and Graham evidently understood each other, because Aaron dropped out of Stanford and moved to Boston.

In 2006, just after Condé Nast had acquired Reddit and just before they fired Aaron, Aaron and I were at a hacker conference together in Berlin. To Larry Lessig’s chagrin, after a stretch in which Aaron was sort of seen as Lessig’s hacker protégé, Aaron and Lessig had largely fallen out of touch. (Maybe this was because neither was any longer very deeply involved in the day-to-day work of Creative Commons, the project that had originally brought them together. Lessig was then beginning his transition away from copyright activism toward other interests, and Aaron had gone off to work in the startup world, while simultaneously deepening his study of left-wing politics, macroeconomics, and sociology. Lessig and Aaron were both planning to tell America, as a matter of urgency, what had gone wrong with the American project, but they had slightly different diagnoses.)

Another friend and I took Aaron out to Wannsee, where Lessig was spending a year at the American Academy in Berlin. Lessig looked enormously proud to see Aaron; their meeting had the sense of an extraordinarily poignant reunion, as if they hadn’t seen each other in twenty years. My friend and I left the two of them alone for an hour or so while we went off to see the Holocaust museum. I remember, as we walked away, seeing Lessig and Aaron leaning against a wall at the Wannsee Station, talking animatedly. It reminded me of the climactic scene in the German film Good Bye Lenin in which we see (but can’t hear) the actors speaking about urgent matters and have to imagine for ourselves what they must be saying. I thought: Lessig is so proud, his protégé is all grown up, and he’s come back to show his respect to his teacher.

Aaron was a free speech absolutist’s free speech absolutist, an idealist’s idealist, an activist’s activist (and, I must say, a libertarian socialist’s libertarian socialist). His credo was that Bits Are Not A Bug: that, come hell or high water, we should celebrate and not fear people’s ability to communicate whatever they might choose to communicate, and celebrate and not fear the infrastructure that supported that ability. Aaron came of age well after the end of the cypherpunk movement, but he always surprised me with his cypherpunk sensibility — including living up to the notion that “cypherpunks write code”. He surprised everyone by channeling various idealisms of supposedly bygone eras (that one would have thought he was too young to be aware of) in a way that mixed intelligence, creativity, and humor. He felt that in the long run he was going to fix the world mainly by carefully explaining it to people.

Aaron grew up to be exactly the person that he would have been most astonished and excited to meet in the line in front of the Supreme Court. I have never known anyone else like him.” - Seth David Schoen, Jan 16, 2013

R.I.P. Aaron, and May the Swartz be with us all. We need it now more than ever.


 

Monday, January 14, 2013

"ONE-PRACTICE WONDERS"



STRIKE TWELVE GOES ACOUSTIC AT BRATTS



Temecula, CA – The intended result of turning the Temecula bar establishment called Bratts into an adult version of the long gone scene blossom Java Joz took another turn in the right direction with the acoustic show Strike Twelve put on Saturday night. Of course it wasn’t just the usual fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, crowd-pleasing performance by the guys that put Bratts closer to the fabled old scene center.
As often spoke about in the days of Java Joz, it was a combination of hot, fresh music and a set of gifted, talented youth troubled with today’s common maladies, like ADHD, OCD, BPD, raised up in Christian homes but bearing as much baggage as a certain scene historian, and some with even more, think Bipsy, the scene Saint.
This combination of unique people fused the original, political, sexually charged pubescent music that sparked in the underground, read local, music scene, creating an escape to wonderland for us all.

Saturday night at Bratts two old faces were in the crowd, among many others, Charles (pirate, Java Joz) and Jackie Findl (talent buyer, Madlins), and one new, ‘Welcome, Vanessa’ [not old ‘Vanessa, the door bitch’- Ed]

Following a soulful reggae set by Indica Roots, Kyle Mcneilldid an acoustic turn reminiscent of JJz, and following Strike Twelve the indie band Poetics fresh from a recent BoB Vault show thrilled their fan base with a performance that extended beyond the minimal stage platform.

But for me, besides the engaging courtside soiree going on at my end of the bar, it was Strike Twelve that I was there to see play acoustic, courtesy of the remaining DBS boy, my wingman for the evening.

As the top photo shows, Strike Twelve is now a four piece band but back in the day, it was a three piece punk pop band, not the reverse. This night the band was back to trio status because Dan, the drummer, was at another gig, PLAYING IN HIS BROTHER’S BAND. Once before years ago Dan missed a gig for similar reasons and the crew played an acoustic set. Matt, the main singer of the band, again let the audience know of his scorn by snide, but comical remarks. The remarks are funny jibs to those who know the band members and Dan was there before the night ended, but one thing many people don’t know, outside the personal friends, is what Matt said during some cross talk with the audience. In essence, despite how talented the guys are onstage as musicians, one band member is a practicing doctor in Orange County, one member is in Med school, and the other two are college grads who work in their fathers’ industrial enterprises. Not your average band member profile I don’t think.

And talented they are, and have been since the days at Madlins when they were still in high school. They would connect to an audience through an ‘Aw Shucks’ smile from Matt, the witty repertoire from Joe [bass] who also sings and writes some of their catchy tunage, and Dan ‘a banging on them drums like a chimpanzee’ (Money For Nothing). Though ST wasn’t ‘workin’ at that point in time either, their natural talent and smooze always made them a crowd (scene) favorite in spite of their lack of band practices.
When they tightened up in the JJz years, recognizing that they did indeed rock, the band and crowd gelled even more. Later when Andy, Joe’s brother, filled in and then joined the band, the band sound was complete. Fat Mike posed for pictures with only three people the day he and his guitar player plus a drummer played LA’s city hall park during Occupy’s last Sunday. Matt of Strike Twelve was one of them.

Onstage for the acoustic set were Andy seated with a Spanish guitar, Matt standing in the middle, his customary spot in the band lineup, playing his black acoustic Ovation, and Joeon the wing clutching a black with white trim, four string acoustic bass.
The 12 song selection included a number of new releases like San Francisco, The Coast, a road trip rocker, Zom B Nation II, and Toilet, the latest comedy jingle-flavored, self-effacing, put-upon, everything-i-touch-turns-to-shit punk rock ‘n’ roll song off ST’s November 2012 released CD, Moonshine, on Felony records. This CD includes a number of serious themed songs like All A Riot (heartbreak/drama duet with Tawnie sans The Replacements), Washed Away (drug overdose, see Hillbilly Heroin – archives),and Unity, a 99% anthem, showing the guys have matured past typical punk rants to political social comment punk.

The remainder of the set had the boys doing songs with a more hedonistic (these are college grads, therefore not vulgar just libertine) motif that were prior releases though some are remastered and on Moonshine. These gems would include The Beer Pong Song, a reality TV show theme song waiting to happen and the song that used to make me blush at JJz shows, Daddy’s Little Girl,plus the high school locker room plea Bad Sex, a hilarious send-up to awkward teenage sex years.

Though the songs are familiar and available on CDs in their plugged-in amplified versions, to see/hear the band play these songs acoustic A cappella, each person strumming, picking, singing, up close and personal just inches above the floor, being amplified by the old JJz equipment first used by Johnny, original owner of Java Joz, added that old magic to a band that keeps kicking ass with new music that’s relevant and catchy. Watch Strike Twelve locally next at The Vault with Buck-O-Nine, Feb. 8, 2013.