View from the top of the Ace Hotel, OR, We were packed in like sardines

When last I left you I mentioned that I would share my experiences from a week ago at the Ace Hotel rooftop bar. I said I’d tell you about my experience with “clubbing.”

Working in a university provides an education and ease with many “twenty-something” cultural references and I can keep up with the language.  But I thought to be absolutely certain I was using the term “clubbing” accurately–I have a reputation to protect– I’d better check with another source.

Here’s what the Urban Dictionary has to say about clubbing:

“A favourite activity of the moronic majority, this involves being shunted like cattle into a converted warehouse… sadly not to be slaughtered, but to wear ridiculous trendy clothes, listen to crap eardrum-shattering music, try to pick up brainless members of the opposite sex, and generally stand around aimlessly in a desperate but pointless attempt to show how cool you are.”

Gheesh! A little harsh, don’t you think? We weren’t in a converted warehouse…we were at the top of pretty spectacular building.  We’ll get to “eardrum shattering” in a minute.

DSCN1863This shot is of the pool area and the bar extends from there to inside those gorgeous doors, with a larger bar and then out to another patio space.

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There are no photos from our after hours party. There certainly was no room for me to take a photo. It was enough that I got myself in past the bouncers without making someone laugh.

I should have had an ear-trumpet, however. Free flowing alcohol probably contributed to some of the din; standing 18 inches from others in our group I still couldn’t understand more than a few words. I nodded enthusiastically from time to time and did my best.

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No problem. I didn’t actually think I had the hearing of a twenty-five year old. I’m  also reasonably sure I was the only person eyeing the exits and thinking about crowd behavior if we had an earthquake. I always identify emergency exits, but in this case, there were too many people for me to strategize any reasonable exit plan.

I may have been somewhat out-of-place, yet I still had a good time. It was kind of fun to be in an environment that wouldn’t ordinarily have welcomed me and it is a bit of a hoot to know that I made it past the long, long line of hopefuls at the lobby door waiting for their opportunity to be invited inside. I was occupying crowded, but prime real estate.

At first I found the heavy, monotonous electronica really perplexing. I don’t know what a DJ actually does under these circumstances.  What I heard seemed to me a continuous loop of nearly indistinguishable pulsations.  A large screen reflected rapidly flashing images in sequence with each pulse.

Not my music. Not my crowd. But I enjoyed watching young people be young people. I’ve thought about my interpretation and the lens with which I made my judgments. I seem to remember that I was young once, too. It’s useful to think about that.

Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” has a permanent slot in my car CD changer. For forty years I’ve loved this concept album with its steadily synethesizer-punctuated  unusual sound effects. The band is often referred to as psychedelic or techno-rockers. The album is considered a classic, listed 43rd on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “500 Greatest Albums of all Time” (2012).

I’m pretty sure my parents and grandparents weren’t too impressed with Pink Floyd.

We stayed with the momentum for a couple of hours. Or maybe it only seemed like a couple of hours. And I was pleased to have made it through without causing a stir of embarrassment to myself or others.

It was very dark, so I don’t think anyone noticed when I had to scream over the crowd to get Jay’s attention and then use hand signals to indicate there was no way I could get myself out of the low-to-the ground overstuffed chaise that had saved me from standing in heels.

I think it was in my best interest that no photos were taken!

Some loose ends as we jump into a new week…and a few puddles!

Maybe it’s because we’re moving so quickly towards the end of the year, but I feel like I have too many things on my mind to focus. Waiting for inspiration to hit and then write a cohesive, well-composed post and I might be sitting here for a while. I’ll just jump in!

When I last left you I was planning to share my little collection of World War I “mystery objects,” but it feels out-of-place for the week before Christmas–not a very cheery subject. My personal items are actually quite “upbeat” considering subject matter, but I’ll get back to them in the new year. Still no guesses on what they might be?

I do want to thank each one of you who took the time to respond to my last post with very personal thoughts about the way the First World War is remembered outside of the United States, and some thoughts on why. I learned a lot from your comments and intend to follow-up on your suggested reading.

Tilly asked me if I was aware of the Christmas truce of 1914. I probably would not have known except that I did see the movie, War Horse.

One hundred years ago German and British soldiers left their trenches along the Western Front and shared Christmas Day without guns, instead, opting for football. UEFA–the official website for European football–created a video marking the centenary of the Christmas truce.

I’m only marginally familiar with ANY football players, American or European, but those of you who know English football, you may enjoy Wayne Rooney, Sir Bobby Charlton, Philipp Lahm and Gareth Bale reading soldiers’ letters from this unique moment in history. I think it’s worth a few moments of reflection.

I also wanted to thank those of you who contacted me to ask about the recent California storms. So you heard about the Pineapple Express? This storm dumped up to 5 inches of rain on Southern California and although it did bring havoc and chaos in some areas, we didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary and we just enjoyed!

Our local weatherman, Dallas Raines, shared this video on his Facebook page–just for fun! Here’s your opportunity to visit the Southland in under one minute!

Two more storms are lining up and set to bring more rain and mountain snow. For those living in mudslide areas this is not good news, but these next storms don’t appear to be as strong, yet may stay with us for most of the week. I can’t remember when I’ve heard that kind of forecast!

After more than three years without any significant rainfall, this is a great start!

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If this keeps up I may actually have a reason to buy some rain boots! Imagine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Laurel Canyon Sound at the Los Angeles Grammy Museum

 

I haven’t been reticent in telling you about the concerts I’ve enjoyed this past season and by now it should be clear that whenever possible I enjoy a bit of nostalgia mixed in to round out the experience. There are particular periods in my musical memory that I have always found intriguing, and this summer I was able to really jump into one of those periods by way of a very interesting and entertaining  exhibit that opened earlier this year at the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

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I previously mentioned how much fun it was to meet one of the local Disc Jockeys I listened to throughout my teen years. The more I mused over the memories of my “radio days” I recognized that my curiosity about the story behind people, places and events has always been a part of my entertainment. Wouldn’t I have enjoyed blogging in the 1960’s!

The music associated with Laurel Canyon, represented by many of my favorite artists, isn’t just the songs I heard on the radio, but a much larger story that has fascinated me for decades. My bookshelves show my interest with several volumes specifically dedicated to the Laurel Canyon artists of the 1960’s and 1970’s and the mystique that continues to surround this particularly unique portion of the Hollywood Hills.

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The exhibit does not allow for photography, so unfortunately I can’t show you Jim Morrison’s writing chair, Frank Zappa’s drumhead,  Mama Cass Elliot’s hand-painted chair, or dozens of amazing Harry Diltz and Graham Nash photos from that era.  According to Michael Walker’s “Laurel Canyon, The Inside Story of Rock-and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood,” Laurel Canyon is described as where “Pot and sympathy at Cass Elliot’s, Crosby, Stills and Nash in the living room, Eric Clapton in the backyard, [and] California dreaming’ becomes a reality.”

Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Carole King, Judy Collins, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of the Eagles, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees and John and Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas as well as Jim Morrison and other members of the Doors all called Laurel Canyon home during Laurel Canyon’s golden era.

 

IMG_4011One of my favorite photos is Joni Mitchell at her Laurel Canyon bungalow, the inspiration for Graham Nash’s “Our House,” the home they shared together “with two cats in the yard.”

I didn’t know about Laurel Canyon when I was a teen, but it wasn’t unusual to hear stories about the artists playing in the Los Angeles area, and although I didn’t know anything substantive about the private lives of these 60’s music rock stars, the mystique surrounding the Whiskey A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip and other night clubs just down the hill from Laurel Canyon was common knowledge–the local Dee-Jays kept those stories front and center.

Here’s a little piece of trivia you may not know. In November 1966 Buffalo Springfield started playing as the house band at Whisky a Go-Go. Huge crowds of teens congregated on the Strip in order to be a part of the vibrant and exciting psychedelic era music scene. When local residents began demanding a curfew the teens protested the curfew, and fueled by announcements from local rock radio stations thousands of teens flocked to Sunset Boulevard.

The protest erupted with demonstrators clashing with police, and Buffalo Springfield band member Stephen Stills composed “For What It’s Worth,” not as an anti-war song as it is typically regarded, but in response to the “Sunset Strip riots.”

“California Dreamin': The Sounds of Laurel Canyon” continues until the end of November and if you’re in the Los Angeles vicinity I think you’d thoroughly enjoy stepping back into a musically rich era and seeing some of today’s still wonderfully prolific and entertaining artists captured in photos with expressions of youthful exuberance.

I can’t share the photos, but I can send you on a tour. Ray Manzarek and Bobby Krieger of the Doors have a blog tour you might find interesting. You can hop on board the bus right HERE. This is just a very short tour of “Love Street,” where Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson lived in Laurel Canyon. Parts of the home are still there, but a fire, new owners and more than four decades have erased all but the nostalgia.

If you have as strong an interest in the music and the stories of the 60’s as I do, you might enjoy this rather extensive look at Laurel Canyon history. Access the wealth of stories HERE and you’ll be able to answer any possible Jeopardy questions related to Laurel Canyon and the music of the 60’s and 70’s.

Next time I’m in the area I’ll stop and take a few photos of the “old neighborhood.” Once a year , Laurel Canyon residents gather at the Canyon Country Store for a portrait–without the countercultural “loitering and countless drug deals in the parking lot.” At least that’s what I hear!