Monday, January 31, 2011

Dorian Wood. Voice like a big ole angel.

I am, on occasion, wrong. This is not something that happens frequently nor that we like to talk about for too long. So, in brief. Last week, I told y'all about the Slake LA reading which happened last night. But I neglected to include in my note that there would be musical interludes by a Dorian Wood. It seemed a trivial point to mention and a silly act to include in a reading--this was not cabaret night after all.

Please, please, please forgive me for negligence. At last night's reading (which was great, thanks talented Slake writers), Dorian Wood's performance was not only noteworthy, it was the highlight [for me, that is].

Wood's vocals are like Coco Rosie and maybe Etta James' gorgeous love child (let's not get too wrapped up in the impossibility of this metaphor, k). And they're met by his skillful piano stylings to create this awesome, riveting performance. It's not just music. It's live art.

If you missed Wood last night (sorry again), you can catch the LA based performer this coming month right here in Downtown LA.

February 21, 2011

Dorian Wood
901 East 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Winter X Games come to LA. Sort of.

And you thought the only place to watch the Winter X Games was in Aspen. Are you kidding. The entire city of LA just got back from 5 feet of snow in Sundance. Who needs any more of that?

Consider this like a win-win courtesy of vitaminwater. The awesome beverage brand is inviting you to get your X Games viewing on this afternoon from sunny LA with a chance to try their new flavor, win prizes, and catch some tunes by LA's own DJ Spider. So much awesomeness.

Have fun.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nicki Minaj's fairy tale fashion.

In Nicki Minaj's new music video for 'Moment 4 Life,' the Cinderella story gets a modern day, hip-hop twist. And just in time for Valentine's Day, female rapper dreams do come true.

Those familiar with the original fairy tale will recognize some key changes in the highly stylized story line in Minaj's version...

* Cinderella's footwear of choice is no longer glass slippers. It's blinged out Louboutin stilettos.
* Cinderella isn't into rags for her work around the palace any more. It's all flashy gold studded numbers now that reveal breast, breast and more breast.
* The Prince (Drake, swoon)'s wardrobe has given up royal robes in Nicki's fantasy fairy tale land. He dons a drab black pant and shirt for most of the video. But he still looks good. And so we're willing to suspend our disbelief.

[via Interview Magazine]

Friday, January 28, 2011

simplethings. Sandwiches that are anything but simple.

The other day a friend told me about a new cafe on West 3rd Street. This cafe supposedly served a sandwich that offered a Thanksgiving meal between 2 slices of bread. While turkey and gravy is not on my list of vegetarian 'acceptable' items, the ingenuity of the meal did not escape me.

Yesterday I had the good fortune to visit this sandwich innovator, simplethings sandwich and pie shop,  myself. The new restaurant recently took over one of West 3rd's shuttered storefronts. The restaurant that was there previously was not very good and its name is unimportant now (also, I cannot remember it). What is important is ohmygoodness how amazing the new lunch spot on one of my fave LA streets is. While I'm usually not one for sandwiches, there was no way I could not try the Sweet Potato--a revolutionary new meal that pairs carb (grilled sweet potato) with more carb (pretzel roll, mmmmmmm), throws in some sweet thangs like apples and onions and avocado, and creates the most sensational burst of flavor in my mouth. Ever (or in a very long time).

Next time I head over to simplethings I'll be munching on the Vegan Po Boy. Partially cause I love tofu. But mostly cause I like saying 'po'--it makes me feel sassy. And I'll also be eating pie. Cause it's a pie shop after all. And when in Rome...

simplethings sandwich and pie shop
8310 W 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA

[Image via simplethings.]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Against the Stream. Buddhism for a new, punk generation.

As most of you will remember, your favorite Blackberry loving, laptop toting, big city blogger spent several days of her November at a Buddhist monastery in the mountains--surrounded by nuns, unplugged from her MacBook Pro, and without a phone to phone home. And as beautiful as my time down there in the mobile-dead zone mountains was, I found the experience lacking certain key elements I might look for in a spiritual community. First, it should be noted that our teachers at the monastery were monastic. Let me spell this out for you. These folks take their vows and then never leave. There are also key components like brown robes and celibacy that didn't really resonate with me. (Not that brown's not my color.) So while the trip sparked my interest in Buddhism, it did put me on a search for teachers who looked like me (i.e. prefers jeans over robes), talked like me, and wanted the same things out of a community as me. And I recently found that right here in LA. More specifically--on Melrose. Just a couple of miles from my apartment. Whowouldathunk.

Against the Stream was founded by Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx, less than a decade ago. Noah, and many of his congregation (is that even the word? I'm perhaps mixing up my Jewish speak with my Buddhist speak.) are young, fully inked, and have a rough past. Okay, I may have just one small tattoo and my past does not include jail time, but I can relate. And this past weekend I began a year long class on Buddhism. This is not a conversion, nor a religious pursuit. [I'd like to think] this isn't part of any quarter life crisis. This is just an education. And so far it has been wonderful. From learning that the Buddha left home at 29 to begin his journey toward enlightenment (hey, I'm 29--there is still time for me!) to meeting a large group of people, from ages 25 - 65 who still just want to learn, it's been quite a ride so far.

I'll keep you posted as the year goes by if I have any deep, spiritual awakenings you should know about. But though that's unlikely, I do hope to gain a deeper sense of mindfulness and compassion. And these are aspects of ourselves which most of us have left underdeveloped.

Curious about Against the Stream? Pop in for one of the sangha's weekly classes on the East Side (what what!) or the West Side.

Against the Steam
4300 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(at Heliotrope)

1001a Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LA literary types in the flesh at Slake's first reading.

If you haven't yet heard, Slake is LA's new literary pub edited by LA Weekly ex-ers, Laurie Ochoa and Joe Donnely. And it's not only LA based. It's LA focused. And that should excite all of our narcissistic, LA's-better-than-your-city-cause-we've-got-great-weather-and-hot-chicks tendencies. I know it satiates mine.

This Sunday, Slake will be infiltrating the Hotel Cafe for its first Hollywood reading. Readers will include:

• Dana Goodyear
• John Albert
• Dana Johnson
• Joseph Mattson
• Victoria Patterson
• Rachel Resnick
• Joe Donnelly

I will be there. Won't all of you Angelenos not prepping for an award show, getting a Brazilian (whatever kind of Brazilian y'all get these days), or reliving the Jersey Shore [when it was still Stateside] on TiVo, join me?

Hotel Cafe Reading
Sunday, January 30 at 6 p

Hotel Cafe
1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

To RSVP, click here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Helloooo pretty people. (Or, work does not always suck.)

The latest covers I've worked on. On stands now. That is if you're near stands in Las Vegas or New York.

Read the story on Emmy Rossum in Vegas Magazine here.

Read the story on Diane Kruger in Gotham Magazine here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

S'muffins. Your memory haunts me. (& more from LA Art Show's Saturday soiree.)

Last night, my partner in crime D and I headed downtown to check out the LA Art Show's party with the Cooper Design Space. First of all, I should clarify that the 'crime' we partnered in was nothing more than a VeeV cocktail, a little dessert and a return to Hollywood before 11 pm. Second of all, I need to introduce you to a culinary discovery I only myself made last night.

New [to LA] mozzarella bar Obika was catering the event. And while I was hardly interested in cheese after earlier overindulgence, I was interested--very interested--in these:

D, who is far better informed than I on the subject of trendy desserts, let me know that these puppies are known as s'muffins. See, I just would have called them Mounds Of Heaven That Fit In My Hand. But s'muffins is indeed a much catchier name. They're a cross, if you haven't sorted it out for yourself already, between a s'more and a muffin. The bottom layer is graham cracker cake. The middle-a bit of chocolate goo. And the top-a perfectly toasted marshmallow. It's bakery Gotta Have S'more that actually introduced the confection to the market I believe. And while Obika's version was alright, it's really the concept that gets me. It's--in a word--Genius. In two words--highly desirable.

Clearly it's moved me enough to pen this lengthy blog post. One that you might have suspected would actually have been about art, rather than marshmallows.

So, lest I ignore the real focus of last night's celebration of the arts, let me briefly introduce you to the Steben Twins who performed, most impressively, at the party. These ladies (twin ladies. obviously.) did things on rope and with each other (no, not sexual things. they're twins for godsake.) that I will never even dream of achieving in my lifetime. Not, I might add, that I have any particular desire to achieve such things with rope.

I would imagine that the Steben Twins do not indulge in s'muffins.

To see the twins' incredible, acrobatic feats, you can catch them in this old Cirque footage.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spotted: Picaso, Botero & a couple of modern masters in Downtown LA.

No, this isn't a 'Stars-they're just like us' kind of feature. Picaso was not spotted at the Hyde Lounge at the Staples Center. Botero was not seen shopping for denim at wholesale in the Fashion District.

The LA Art Show just arrived to the LA Convention Center last night and its boasting works by the old masters and contemporary creators alike. That's all.

Like any trade show at the LA Convention Center, it's ginormous and has rows and rows of exhibitor booths that a person could get lost in. Here's a clue. If you get lost, just keep heading left. You'll find the bar.

In all seriousness though, it's a must see. Though not everyone yet believes in Los Angeles as a cultural destination, a) this show may change your mind with a strong showing by established SoCal galleries, and b) galleries from around the world are represented. China and Korea each have a large presence and a Cuban Gallery is showing for the first time ever in the US. And, oh, who knew Kat Von D had a gallery now? Not me, that's who. And that's surely worth a look-see.

Below, some of my favorite pieces from the show

Get the flash player here:

LA Art Show
January 19 - 23, 2011

Los Angeles Convention Center
West Hall A, 1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Creators Project to transform the desert.

The Creators Project is an online showcase of all that is musical and artistic and innovative and digital. It is a partnership between Intel and Vice Magazine, 2 unlikely brands to partner with each other. Artists and innovators that are involved whose names you might recognize include: Diplo, Andy Mueller, Phoenix, Spike Jonze, Cassette Playa, and Alexandre Herchcovitch.  I can't explain The Creators Project any better than they can so for more info on the project you can turn here.

But what I really want to let you know is that the Creators Project will be partnering with your favorite Cali music fest, Coachella, this year. And it'll be a pretty sick deal. The Creators Project will have folks from the lineup create new pieces of work. They'll bring new players to the stage from around the world. And, it sounds, like they'll be offering a new and amazing visual, auditory, sensory experience for all y'all--both the elevated and the sober--to appreciate.

You can check out footage from The Creators Project archives here for a taste of what's to come this April. In the desert.

Oh, and for the lone person out there who hasn't peeped the full 2011 Coachella line up yet, you can find it here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Style Watch: the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama gets a lot of credit. When he's not doing the do with the Obamas, shaking hands and holding babies, he's jetsetting internationally to offer sermons to adoring fans and followers, offering inspiration to millions, and sharing his teachings with a very needy population of human beings.

But has anyone ever credited His Holiness with the most kick-ass specs I've ever seen on a sage? Maybe they have. Maybe I'm behind. But, just in case--his glasses rule. I mean, first off--the shape. Big is so 'in' right now. And the almost maroon top of the frame? A--it's a great splash of color against his complexion. B--it's different. And C--it matches his robe!

Love this man's style.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I just wanna love you Z Pizza.

I just think we need to take a moment to give props where props are due. And Z Pizza deserves our props.

Reasons why we should all love Z Pizza:

* Pizza toppings, sauces and accouterments on the menu include truffle oil, thai peanut sauce, veggie burger, and yams (yes, yams!).

* Options for dietary freaks like me include vegan cheese and a gluten free crust.

* You can order your food ahead online. Like, hours ahead. Days ahead even! Like, I could order a pizza now for tomorrow morning if I wanted to eat pizza for breakfast tomorrow morning. Which I don't. But, ya know, I might some day.

* There's a location on Larchmont, which is just my favoritest street in all of Los Angeles.

Z Pizza
123 North Larchmont
Los Angeles CA, 90004

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jessie B. R., branded.

I'd like to introduce you to my initials, made better and brighter by the talented Marta Cerdà Alimbau. Some people just leave everything they touch in better shape than the way they found it. Marta is one of those peeps. The biggest thanks to her for making my ole J. B. R. stand loud and proud.

Sunday bliss, LA style.

According to, it's currently 79 degrees in Los Angeles. Let's just accept that as a truth and a basis for everything else about today.

Now that we understand that it's warm (read gorgeous) out, let's walk together through the perfect day that was [and is and will be for a while] today.

9:30 a. Wake up late. If feel a bit sad that a wake up time prior to 10 am now constitutes a 'late' rise, but ce la vie--we're not in college anymore I guess. The internal clocks just don't work like they used to.

10:00 a. Read the NY Times' Weddings & Celebrations section. This is Sunday ritual. I'd like to confirm in case you don't know that this is perfectly normal and healthy behavior for a girl in her late 20s and not a cry for single help. I just like the romance. Today, I read and feel a little bit bad for Patience, one of the featured brides, who keeps referring to her now husband Sam as 'popular.' I hope that her weird high school status issues don't haunt her marriage and wish them luck.

10:45 a. Decide that a nap is not a good idea just an hour after I woke up and opt to go to yoga instead. I also decide walking might be fun given the awesome, amazing, inspired (are you getting this New Yorkers??) weather we are having in LA this weekend.

11:00 a. With just half an hour before class time and a 2 mile walk from Koreatown to Larchmont ahead, I book it. As it's sunny and hot out already, I break a sweat in just a tank top.

11:30 a. Class with Amy LaFond, one of YogaWork's best and most popular teachers. Amy's classes are always tight and even tighter post-New Year when everyone's returned to their workout routine as part of some so-called resolution. I secretly hope that everyone's resolutions are forgotten by February. But our mats are close and I am glad I wore deodorant.

1 p. I stroll through the Larchmont Farmer's Market. Since I'm already here and all. I eat samples of scones and fruit and I do it with no intention to buy anything and I feel okay about it.

1:15 p. I've seen enough young couples and their babies and their dogs and their yoga mats on Larchmont for one day. I remember I walked 2 miles to class today. I realize that means I have to walk 2 miles home. What goes up must come down. What goes on feet somewhere must go on feet back. Unless she's a hooker and catches a ride. But I'm not. So I walk.

2 - 5 p. I wash dishes. I clean floors. I sit around in my studio in not much at all and don't run somewhere fast or run errands or call anyone. The light is still coming in through the shades and I read. I lie around and I'm happy about it cause I need this some Sundays.

That's Sunday in LA people. That's Sunday bliss right there. Booya!

[image via]

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Colour of Money.

There are so many reasons to go to Ultravelvet's opening this Saturday night at the Guy Hepner Gallery it would be remiss of me to try to say there's a number one reason for you to get your butt over. But okay, okay, I'll do my very best. As a spelling snob (you often wouldn't know it by reading my writing here, I know, I know), let me start with the spectacular spelling of the word 'Colour.' It's the British way. It's the proper way. It's the way I love--with an ou--that makes the whole word seem richer and fuller and better than the American spelling would. And that friends is my number one reason for you to check out what is surely going to be a sick show. Because you asked and all. All the other reasons you can find in the flyer above, in the blurb below, and at Guy's website here.

The Colour of Money
January 15, 2011
8:30 p


Guy Hepner Gallery
300 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How I stalked a single by Mister Brett Dennen.

I discovered Brett Dennen (...scrap that--I hate when people say 'I discovered.' We didn't discover sh*t. If we discovered sh*t, we'd be in A&R and making money. And we don't work in A&R. And we're certainly not making money. So, to rephrase, I realized my major love for Brett Dennen...) when I heard the same snippet of his song, Blessed, played over and over again via a Hilton Hotel advertisement on a few years back. I realize this is the second blog post in a row where I make mention of my avid TV watching. You can either judge or we can just keep it moving. Keep it moving? Okay, thanks, cause I know you've got an addiction to crime dramas and Bravo reality TV too. So, a few years ago, I have Brett Dennen's song drilled into my head until I absolutely/must/life-or-death-kind-of-thing, download it on iTunes.

Skip to last week. I hear a song on KCRW while driving. And as my Blackberry is dying and I always email myself lyrics of songs I love on the radio (yes. While driving. I email. I knooooow. But we've already agreed to a judgement free zone here. So, moving on...) I dig an envelope out of my bag, unearth a pen from the pit of my car, and jot down a few words here and there. For Googling later. Well, several days and before I've had the chance to remember I even had an envelope with words on it (or a check inside waiting to be deposited) later, I hear the song again. And this time the DJ announces its owner so to speak--a Mister Brett Dennen. Whatdyaknow! I say to myself. And this time I vow to Google. Like immediately. And download (with same immediacy).

Skip again to several days later still (cause 'immediately' holds all sorts of its own meaning in my universe) and I take to searching the iTunes Store for Mister Dennen's latest and greatest song that I must own, like, yesterday. I listen through each and every preview on his new album. And though the new album's fine and all, none of the songs are a match. Sh*t! I say to myself. And I Google some more. Cause there is nothing and no one I cannot Google my way to the bottom of (keep this in mind for later stalking assignments, friends and readers). And I search for 'KCRW Brett Dennen 2011.' And long story really (really freaking) long, I find the track listed on a recent Morning Becomes Eclectic playlist. Sydney, it's called! But it's 'promo only,' it says! Damn, I think.

So, in a last attempt at conquest over this new song I search again. And while the best I could come up with is this promo video of Brett in the studio 'overdubbing tambourine and some cymbal' onto the track which you see above, it is pretty darn sufficient for now. And dare I say, seeing Mr. Dennen in all his magnificent nerdiness--overmatched rainbow ensemble, glasses my grandfather left at Salvation Army 50 years ago and my mother would so desperately want to clean, red mop of hair beneath trucker hat--only adds to my love for this artist that I've stalked once, I've now stalked twice, and, if history shows anything, I'll stalk again.

P.S. The album, Loverboy, that you'll be able to find Sydney on is due out in 2011.

P.P.S. Yes, Brett Dennen's label publicist, I would absolutely love tickets to Mr. Dennen's next LA show in exchange for this glowing and unsolicited ramble. Thanks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tardy for the Party = grave danger for fate of music industry.

I caught a clip of 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta.' Okay, I watched an entire episode on my laptop. But I've been sick, dammit--bad TV is excusable when you're sick (at least it was on days 1 thru 7 of the sickness--today might be stretching the permissions)! So, in this clip, token white Housewife Kim talks about her 'passion for music' as she preps for her 7 day club tour. I could only imagine. I needed to hear her one hit wonder for myself. What I discovered is an off-key horror I can only describe as 'you've got to hear it to believe it.'

Why this woman made one cent off this single while great talents are stuck bussing tables in Denny's Restaurants across Hollywood I just don't know. But apparently the gay community likes her. C'mon gays--I thought you had Judy Garland as your gold standard. For shame!

Friday, January 07, 2011

Happy New Year, a week late but nothing short.

They say that one's year is dictated by how she rings it in. If that's the case, I'm not sure what to make of my year to come. For the last couple of days of 2010 and the first several of '11, I've been experiencing the kind of sickness that encompasses one's head in a bubble of congestion and makes everything outside that bubble seem like slow-motion cinema of surreal proportions.

But during the last couple of days, I have experienced this shattering lucidness in the bubble. Light has seemingly been drawn on matters as large as my purpose here (yeah, like on Earth) and as small as my love for carbohydrates (yes, I do love bagels!). And everything has seemed extraordinarily wonderful and shiny and new since then. I realize that what I am experiencing is likely nothing more than shortness of oxygen to the brain. But, oh, how glorious the high.

And where I'd had zero New Year's resolutions before, I now have several.

1. I want to learn! I'm not done learning I realized in the car yesterday (whether or not I should be driving is agreeably disputable). I want to read. I want to take classes. I want to make up for the last ten years of brain stagnancy.

2. I want to eat bagels! As previously stated, I have rediscovered a love for the chewy, soft circles of carbohydrate that I've denied myself for many years. But I love bagels. And I want to have things that I love. I want to have them every day. I want to savor them in beautiful parks. I want to pull over on the side of the road to eat them with the concentration they deserve. Sometimes, I want to eat them in bed with an open jar of peanut butter. Life is short, and I want my short life to be full of bagels!

3. I want to appreciate life! It is beautiful out, the weather in Los Angeles this week. It is sunny and the air is fresh and the whole city feels like it's full of the greatest possibilities. I am sick, but I'm not that sick. I am a little down in the dumps for being stuck in a perpetual state of feverish looniness, but life could be worse. I wish I had more money, but I could always have less. Basically, life kicks ass but it's so damn short and I'm turning 30 in 2011 and you better believe I'm about to start kicking the 2nd third of my lif'e's butt--this year and then the next and hopefully the year after that one too.

So, a long and drawn out and much belated Happy New Year from me to you. Being stuck inside this congestion bubble has opened my mind up to the wondrous all around me. I hope you can see it too. May you feel a little bit of the manic joy I've felt this week from a headcold all year round.

xo * Jessie