By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Los Angeles is far too sprawling a mother to ever totally accept one’s embrace, but Smolin tries. He started out as Doc Smolin’s kid, the son of a podiatrist whose office was located in the Hollywood Farmers Market, his “surrogate backyard.” Obsessed by the Felix Figueroa song “Pico and Sepulveda,” spun repeatedly on Dr. Demento’s show (another heroic vox), Smolin talked his father into driving him to the intersection. “I was 10 or 11, and it was like going to a foreign country compared to the very Jewish Beverly-Fairfax area,” he recalls. “As we drove around I got very nauseated. My dad asked me what was wrong and I said, ‘It’s like we’re in nowheresville.’ ” Today he works in the same Mar Vista neighborhood, which is immortalized on Don Steele in the Jimmy Buffett–ed rhythms of “Welcome to Nowheresville.” This Mar Vista is a tawdry “landscape void of mood or motion” that could be worse: “At least we’re not living in Palms.”
Don Steele’s only real cliché, filtering Los Angeles through Hollywood, is probably unavoidable. How far a distance from the biz can you claim, after all, when your first album’s heavenly ode to herbal freedom — “The Earth Keeps Turning On,” from 2003’s At Apogee — is used in the closing credits of a Weeds episode? But he finds new facets to explore. The Wizard of Oz meets Pasolini’s Gospel According to St. Matthew in “Scarecrow Jesus.” And in “Observatory,” written in the early ’80s just after he moved to New York for a while, Smolin imagined himself as Sal Mineo scoping out the plain and wondering, “Who dares desert this infernal home/Abandons abundance/A basin traced in foam.”
1519 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Region: Echo Park
L.A.’s a nice place to live, Smolin says, right before wrapping up his show with a song celebrating the essential unknowability of his town. And yet he doesn’t think he’d want to visit here. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to, and neither do his equally fortunate students. Class dismissed.
MR. SMOLIN, Bring Back the Real Don Steele(self-released).
Find everything you're looking for in your city
Find the best happy hour deals in your city
Get today's exclusive deals at savings of anywhere from 50-90%
Check out the hottest list of places and things to do around your city