It's a Mad, Mad World
L.A. traffic sucks big-time, but like many natives, we’ve learned to love cruisin’ out of necessity. Sampling new CDs, catching up on the Crackberry and simply taking a break from the flurry of faces and places out there, that’s how we roll. But even Nightranger had to curse while trying to get around last week with the city a congested mess due to all the anti-Prop. 8 marches, not to mention an excruciating 2 1/2-hour pilgrimage along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park to see Madonna Thursday. We support the protests — of course — and after the jams, we kinda know how frustrated gays feel (which was probably the point), but as an area resident we call foul on Dodger Stadium as a concert venue.
Ultimately, her Madgesty was late to hit the stage anyway due to technical problems. Fans didn’t seem to mind. It only gave them time to ogle and cheer and flash pics at the crazy parade of celebs under the bright stadium lights — Jennifer Lopez, Fergie, Lucy Liu, Ryan Seacrest, Donald Sutherland, Nicole Richie, Rick Rubin, Drew Barrymore (who spoke at the Silver Lake Prop. H-8 rally by our pad down the street later in the week) and a loopy-looking Kate Moss — all of whom were escorted to an A-List party pit at the edge of the runway-like stage. Nobody seemed to recognize poor, overdressed Heidi Klum sitting behind us, and while A-Rod was rumored to be there, he (obviously) wasn’t in the looky-loo section. The fame-lovin’ frenzy was to be expected, this being the latest manifestation from one of the most worshipped, copied and maligned pop culture figures of our time holding court in the entertainment capital of the world. The star-specked circus didn’t outshine the show, though. Frequent costume changes, nonstop humping, bumping, rope-jumping and strumming (“Vogue” and “Borderline” make potent power-pop rock), plus the surprise appearances of both Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake made it a VMA-ish visual feast, though it wasn’t all style and monster spectacle. Madge went for intimacy and substance, too, incorporating spiritual imagery, a salute to Obama’s win and even a fan sing-along, which incited a scary stampede to the floor area, where we got squashed in. Stuck and immobile once again. Sigh.
Party Hard, Party Hard
Wonder what the peeps from NYC’s Paper Magazine thought about all the street standstills? For the fourth year in a row, the East Coast tastemakers took a fete-filled field trip to Los Angeles, packing in music, art and shopping events, each designed to celebrate the differences and parallels between our manic metropolis and theirs. This year they set up shop on the heart of the Sunset Strip, and the opening-night bash Wednesday just happened to be smack in the middle of the initial post–Election Day Anti-Prop. 8 march, which literally put the brakes on the neighborhood, commencing in front of Paper’s giant open-windowed party space, and creating a display that was more intense than the guy performing onstage at the time. And that’s saying something when that guy is Andrew WK, who, ironically, fondled a keyboard under a banner that said “Victory” (with an Obama face) with his bros from Big Apple club Santa’s Party House.
Paper has been insightfully prancing the line between uptown excess and downtown eccentricity while keeping cachet with starlets and artists alike (they were just name-checked on Gossip Girl, OMFG!) for 24 years now, and their L.A. events reflected this. There was the “UnReal Awards” for reality-TV minions at Cinespace (we passed; those attention-whores are exactly what we wish L.A. wasn’t known for); an amazing 24-hour pop store featuring merch from the likes of Jeremy Scott, A+R, Show Pony, Libertine and Levi’s (ending with a car show on the roof, featuring works by tat king Mister Cartoon); and performances by The Lady Tigra, Entrance and Becky Stark with Harper Simon (Paul’s son), who offered a breezy melodic soundtrack as the vendors wearily packed up their wares after being up all night. It all climaxed Sunday with a “Last Supper” at Hollywood’s Shin, where coverboy Danny Masterson and galpal Bijou Phillips hosted a bounteous BBQ dinner for guests — including Drea De Matteo, Shooter Jennings, Tony Alva, Daniel Franzese, and other La-La land chic-sters. Another week of Paper capers here came to a close, and we can’t wait to see the annual L.A.-themed issue born from the bashes. Here’s hoping next year they hold fort closer to the Eastside, which is, we think, more in sync with the mag’s cheeky, trend-setting aesthetic.
Kick Out the Jams
The aggressive expression of (real) punk rock never ceases to be exhilarating, and who doesn’t love the trainwreck that is karaoke? Put ’em together and you have a new kind of anarchy that’s both fun and ferocious. Punk pioneers Greg Hetson (Bad Religion, Circle Jerks), Eric Melvin (NOFX), Derek O’Brien (Social Distortion, Agent Orange) and Steve Soto (Adolescents, 22 Jacks) have done just that with Punk Rock Karaoke, and we recently joined the pandemonium again 12 years after the first incarnation (it started back at Fred Eric’s now-defunct Vida restaurant on Hillhurst on New Year’s Eve ’96, and we were there!). The loose concept has evolved into a full-fledged music project, with regular club gigs and the release of the band’s first-ever double-disc CD/DVD, which, like the shows, features a slew of luminaries and novices alike pumpin’ up the pit. Guests at the group’s Roxy show the Sunday before last included Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba and Street Drum Corp’s Bobby Alt, but the real rollicking was definitely brought by stage-ravaging fans. Hetson tells us PRK will be doing a benefit at the Key Club around Christmas, and with the slammers he’s got planned to join, you don’t want to miss ’em wreck the halls.