Saturday, May 19, 2012

Diversion #2, Summer Vacation, part 2

In part two of Jake's and my adventures, I will discuss and ponder:
  • art and museums
  • getting lost in downtown Los Angeles/Skid Row
  • the most amazing party known to mankind that we had the privilege to attend
So let us begin!

Taken from
The next day happened to be Mother's Day (and I was feeling much better), so all four of us went to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles together, which was absolutely stunning. Just the architecture of the museum buildings alone was a work of art. There was so much to see that we didn't even try to tackle it all: we only managed to make it through a single wing of the museum--paintings, sculpture and photography. One of my favorite paintings there was from Joseph Ducreux, pictured on the left; I loved it mostly because of the "archaic rap" Internet meme with one of his self-portraits, but also because his paintings are hilarious and beautifully painted. I mean, who paints a portrait of themselves yawning? It killed me, to say the least.

After that Jake and I said our temporary goodbyes to his family and headed out into the midst of L.A. to find an elusive "listening party/laser show" put on by The Brian Jonestown Massacre's record label, the Committee to Keep Music Evil. The purpose of the party was to celebrate the release of The Brian Jonestown Massacre's new album, "Aufheben," and it was implied that the band would be there in person--with the band's leader and mastermind, Anton Newcombe, DJing prior to the actual laser show. Being loyal, huge fans of the band and their music (especially Jake, but I'm working my way up there) we were understandably stoked. However, there was little to no information about this event; I happened to stumble upon the Facebook page advertising it about a week before the trip, but the page itself was cryptic and confusing. The address simply said:

240 W. 4th St. (at Broadway) - 2nd Floor
Downtown Los Angeles 90013"

Okay, I guess that's pretty specific. But hear me out! Jake and I are anything but Los Angeles locals. Thus, we wandered aimlessly down the one-way streets of downtown L.A. for about an hour, desperately looking for a club or some kind of venue that would host such a party. We passed the venue at least six times. The Facebook page also said that they would stop selling tickets at 6 P.M., so we had rushed out of the Getty around 4:30 to ensure our attendance. Naturally, this did not work as as planned. At one point, we made a wrong turn onto Skid Row... and that was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Literally. There were people lying in the street and shuffling down the horrifically dirty gutters. It looked as though not even a street sweeper had been down the street in at least six months, and there were no police officers to be seen. Shopfronts appeared to be occupied, but there were no lights on or people inside. I swear it was like we had driven into the Biblical apocalypse. Needless to say, we jetted out of there as fast as we could, but the images are still burned into the back of my brain. NEVER AGAIN!

Eventually, we decided to park in a parking garage at 4th and Broadway and walk around, knowing that we would have a better chance finding it on foot. We discovered another parking garage across the street with the exact address on the online flyer almost immediately (of course) and started up the stairs to the second floor, as directed. Standing at the top of the staircase was a doppelganger of Ryan Gosling, I shit you not. Down to the hipster glasses and blond, '50s-vibe wave of his hair. And it was at that moment we knew we had found the location of the party!

Even though we arrived around 6 P.M. on the dot, it turned out that we were extremely early--the first ones there, in fact. Pseudo-Ryan Gosling didn't know anything about the ticket sales stopping at 6 and assured us that they hadn't even started selling tickets from the venue yet. And because we were first, we were allowed to park our car on top of the parking garage and tailgate with about 25 others! The venue being on top of a parking garage was actually rather thrilling, to be honest. We were sandwiched between skyscrapers on all sides, in the open air, and in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. What could possibly be cooler? it was perfect. In addition, we were given these beautiful "Aufheben" wristbands with the BJM logo on them (pictured above), which are so unique and personal. I was expecting some generic colored band. But no. The Committee to Keep Music Evil pulled no punches. Even the wristbands were exclusive. I will never throw them away as long as I live!

Soon after, we met three wonderful people, whose names I'll exclude for privacy reasons. At any rate, they were the next group of people to show up, and they had experienced similar frustrations (such as driving in circles with no idea where they were going). It turned out that they had parked in the wrong parking garage too--right across from our car. They also had an Arizona license plate on their car though they were from Las Vegas. At the end of the night, Jake and I retired to a cheap but awesome hotel about two miles away, and guess who showed up about half an hour later? All of these strange coincidences make me believe that we are kindred spirits of some kind. Or something like that.

Anyway, Anton DJing before the actual laser show was awesome. I didn't recognize the vast majority of the songs he spun for the crowd, but he did play a Burial track right at the end of his session, which was kind of the greatest thing in the world. Actually syncing up as far as music tastes with a musician as incredible as Anton? Greatest feeling in the world. And when he wasn't DJing he was walking back and forth between the "stage" (I use the term loosely because there wasn't even a microphone or platform, just some turntables) and his entourage/fellow band members/wife, often stopping by the crowd of 100-150 people to shake hands or give hugs. I'm still sad that neither Jake nor I mustered up the courage to talk to him, but I firmly believe we'll have another chance some day. In addition, tambourine man (and probably one of my heroes) Joel Gion was standing within ten feet of us for most of the party. Jake went to the washroom on the first floor of the parking garage and saw Matt Hollywood in there. All I'm saying is that the party was ridiculously intimate. We felt like VIPs the whole time.

Pseudo-Ryan Gosling handed out holographic glasses to the crowd (pictured above), and then the laser show began. This aspect of the party was fantastic. I saw that even Anton had his glasses on for a portion of the laser show, watching with rest of the attendees. The smell of weed wafted in the air as people hopped between groups of strangers and shared what they had. The handles of alcohol came out. Some took a trip to Wonderland and were swaying and dancing to the music in front of the lasers. Jake and I both felt like we were part of something so special... a once in a lifetime experience, for sure. Everyone seemed joined in fellowship based solely on our love for one band. And honestly, isn't this what music is supposed to be about? This is a call to action for other bands out there: get on the Brian Jonestown Massacre's level. Seriously.
Here is a small clip of the laser show that I captured on my camera. It doesn't do the party justice, I know. But it's still pretty cool :) The song is called "I Want to Hold Your Other Hand." Oh Anton, you're such a post-modernist, down the titles of your songs. Much love. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

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