Recently discovered delights in L.A. and elsewhere, by Molly Frances

originally published in Arthur No. 31 (Oct 2008)

Recently Discovered Delights
by Molly Frances

1. Nite Jewel
This one-woman act has been haunting nightclubs around Los Angeles and beyond this summer, dropping nocturnal transmissions and electro dust into the atmosphere. Accompanied by her bubbling synthesizer and deep tunnel beats, Nite Jewel would make the perfect house band on the mothership that’s going to take us all away from this place. myspace.com/nitejewel

2. Raymond Chandler
What a different city Los Angeles would be without the mythology of Phillip Marlowe and the many shadows cast by Chandler’s noir mysteries running through its city streets. Fall’s a good time to revisit these stories of an honest man lost in a sea of corruption.

3. Avocado with poppy seeds
Slice an avocado, add lemon, and roll in a generous heap of poppy seeds. Exotic.

4. Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle by Michael Duncan and Kristine McKenna (2005)
You will never get tired of looking at this book. This catalogue from the 2005 traveling exhibit spans the years of mid-’50s to early-’60s beatdom, when an artistic and literary utopia formed around the mysterious figure of artist Wallace Berman and his arts and literary journal Semina. You couldn’t find it on newsstands or in bookstores; most of its few hundred copies were mailed by Berman to friends and peers. The book not only reproduces all nine issues but is a Who’s who of West Coast bohemia.

5. Walking really far
Walk for two hours in any direction and see where you end up. Maybe you are missing something. Maybe you will find it.

6. Velaslavasay Panorama
The North Pole is tucked right into South Los Angeles. Go and see. It’s hidden in the second floor of the beautiful Union Theater. Take yourself to the endless horizon. panoramaonview.org/

7. Flying Lotus, Los Angeles (Warp)
The 17 tracks on FlyLo’s second record seem to flow without beginning or end, stacking dusty samples, sandpaper beats, and washy synths into a collage as dense and sticky as an august afternoon in Van Nuys. You’re stuck in traffic, the sun is in your eyes, a jackhammer echoes an unsteady rhythm in the distance, your radio suddenly plays all its stations at the same time. For a second it all makes some kind of sense.

8. The Late Show (1977, dir. Robert Benton)
Lily Tomlin, Art Carney, a lost cat, blackmail, murder and endless hijinks, set in Los Angeles. Nutty and Noir, this Robert Altman-produced mystery features an incredibly stylish Tomlin as an aimless but charming eccentric and Carney as a cranky over-the-hill detective with one last fight In him. Don’t get the idea that this is one of those awful detective spoofs, it’s actually one of the most perfect movies you’ve never heard of, covering all genres, emotions, and hairstyles. You will laugh many times.

9. Cold brewed coffee
Impress your friends with a rousing pitcher of iced coffee. You will be known throughout many wide and concentric circles for being a dark brewing lord and master of the bean. No one will know how easy it is for you with your cold brew coffee bucket. You grind a whole can of coffee with 9 cups of water and it sits for 12 hours and then you have a pitcher of low-acid coffee that tastes amazing for two weeks. Everyone will love you and want to be your friend. You can buy the cold toddy brewing kit they sell in stores or make your own. It’s off the grid.

10. The Baroque Music station on 1.fm
When one’s radio breaks down, you can discover amazing things that were once hidden right under your nose. Lurking within the Classical Radio tab of that iTunes thing is an endless stream of this amazing music that restores your faith in civilization. It only occasionally loses its affirmative power when interrupted by a commercial for under-eye circles.

11. Raw vegan whipped cream
Soak 1 1/2 cups of raw walnuts (or raw cashews) in water for two hours…then get rid of the water and put the nuts in a blender with 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice and two tablespoons maple syrup (a few drops of almond extract optional) This recipe is from Juliano’s UnCook Book (Regan Books,1999)—good recipes, really bizarre self-portraits.

12.Griffith Observatory
Despite multi-million-dollar renovations during recent years, the main attraction at Griffith is still the view of the twinkling metropolis below. Go at dusk to watch nature and culture collide to form a gold and purple ooze that stretches from the mountains to the sea. Breathtaking.

13. Sylvia Robinson “Pillow Talk” 7-inch single
Found this scratchy 45 in a box at the back of a thrift store in Joshua Tree. Before masterminding Sugar Hill records, Robinson recorded music as ‘Sylvia’ and wrote this song for Al Green. He turned it down because it was too dirty so she recorded it herself and it hit number one on the charts in 1973. With breathy talk vocals, hi-hat swoosh, and sugary string and electric piano arrangements, it’s a fine specimen of the early disco sound that was forming around Philadelphia and other East Coast cities at the time, and is a naughty stepping stone between Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin’s Je T’aime and Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby in the history of simulated orgasm on wax. The flipside sounds like it comes from an earlier, more wholesome time period but is an equally luscious track with a piano-heavy girl-group sound.

14. Jumping on a trampoline
Up and then down. Do it again. Jumping cleanses your cells and lymph nodes and increases your immunity. Up with people.

15. Making your own amazing salad dressing in one minute
Combine cold pressed organic olive oil (a lot), lemon, honey and stoneground mustard. This tastes better than anything you can buy. There is room for error. Salad dressing is very forgiving. Raw sage honey sweetens the deal.

16. Too Late For Tears (1949, dir. Byron Haskin)
All the pleasure of knowing a dangerous femme fatale, none of the risk. 1949 Los Angeles in glorious black and white.

17. Okra
If you slice a piece of okra crosswise, it reveals a circle of five perfect hearts formed from the fibers. I never loved okra, but now that I know it loves me, I’m coming around.

18. Show Cave
This art gallery/performance space in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles has been forming its own hybrid aesthetic out of the goo of contemporary life in its past year of existence. Exhibitions have exciting names like Beast Heat, Glitter and Doom and Survivors of the White Plague. Show Cave also offers a stage to emerging musical talent (see #1). www.showcave.org

19. Low Motion Disco, Keep It Slow (Eskimo)
In one room a synthesizer slowly throbs; in another a band rehearses outtakes from an unrecorded Royal Trux session. In a third room someone is playing records from their parents’ collection. There’s an empty bottle of purple syrup on the floor. The windows to this house are open and there’s a cool breeze that blows down from the mountains. You’re listening to these sounds mingle from down on the street. It sounds like a perfect mix that shouldn’t work at all. It’s too slow to dance to but it’s kind of funky. This is supposedly taking place in Switzerland.

Molly Frances lives in Los Angeles and makes music in Terminal Twilight.


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About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in JTHomesteader.com with Stephanie Smith.

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