L.A. Dee Dallapalooza
Intern, calendar writer and music contributor 1989-2005;
Nightranger columnist 2005-present
I was a fan of the Weekly’s L.A. Dee Da nightlife column long before I was old enough or savvy enough to know who its boldface names were or what the clubs it covered were like — and that’s what made it so captivating. L.A. Dee Da’s after-dark dish (as written by Pleasant Gehman, Kim Jones and later Belissa Cohen) opened a Pandora’s music box for me; from it, I learned about the feral sounds and scenester happenings literally outside my Silver Lake family home.
I was an energetic Marshall High School journalism major who couldn’t wait to submerge herself in the city’s nightlife (and rebel against loving but overprotective parents). There was no looking back once I got my first fake I.D. I also decided I had to become part of the publication that turned me on to it all in the first place. I lived just down the street from the Weekly’s old Hyperion Avenue offices, so why not? I became an unpaid intern and the editors I reported to, Pam Klein and Dave Davis, quickly saw that they could put my music fixations and eagerness to use best by assigning me to work exclusively with one of their, shall we say, more capricious writers — yes, the La Dee Dame herself.
Belissa Cohen and I became fast friends and soon I wasn’t just fact-checking stuff about the bands, party people and art tarts she relentlessly skewered/championed every week, I was meeting them in the flesh. My most vivid memory from that period is when I accompanied her to the very first Lollapalooza festival, in 1991. Not only did I get to meet one of my fave bands at the time (Jane’s Addiction), but also a tween goth idol (Siouxsie Sioux) and a new worship-worthy act too (Nine Inch Nails). And I recall meeting Ice-T’s Body Count guys and Henry Rollins (and being both attracted and scared shitless).
I covered the fest myself for the Weekly in ’93, when I got my first-ever taste of rock-star scorn — from Tool’s Maynard James Keenan and Alice In Chains’ Layne Staley no less, who were both pissed about something someone (Belissa?) had written about them in the paper. Staley repeatedly yelled “The L.A. Weekly sucks,” as I shyly walked around the band trailers (he was so brilliant onstage later that day — and entered rehab the next year — so I tried not to hold it against him), while Keenan was an arrogant bulldog, lifting weights as he answered some of my questions and ignored others between huffs and puffs. (Years later, he’s known for being a tough interview, but I still can’t watch those pretentious evil-puppet videos.)
Thank the rock gods for Primus’ Les Claypool and Fishbone’s Angelo Moore, both of whom probably felt sorry for me and let me hang with ’em in their trailers, cracking jokes and sharing their booze and food spreads.
I went on to attend and/or cover every ’Palooza that followed (it ended in ’97) and Perry Farrell’s attempt at revitalizing his seminal music fest in ’03. Both it and I had come full circle in terms of the rock smorgasbord concept. I was less awestruck with the nonstop sonic circus (weren’t we all at that point?), but no less excited about the music itself. Kinda how seasoned folk feel about Coachella these days. Still, from its techy thrust (Farrell predicted cell phones would be ubiquitous at concerts — this was five years ago, mind you — and he was right) to its elder-statesmen-heavy lineup (many performers Farrell helped expose to the masses — Chris Cornell, Tom Morello and menacing Maynard — returned with new acts), it had its own show mojo, just not the ebullient freeform feel needed to live up to the legacy. Ticket sales for the next year sucked and it was canceled. Though it still happens annually in Chicago, ’03 ended up being the last L.A. Lolla ever.
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