Book Review | Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac in his time was an icon, and has since deepened as a cultural ethos much admired by the leaning-towards-Gypsys of our modern youth. He is considered the spokesperson for the beatniks in general, a group that since inspired a whole literary movement in the 50s, and 60s. Understanding this, and the general time frame in America when Kerouac wrote Dharma Bums, 1958, is important to truly understand the gravity Dharma Bums has had on American culture.

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Book Review: Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck

A name that should sound familiar, winner of 1962’s Nobel Prize in Literature, John Steinbeck is a major American writer. In 1954 he wrote Sweet Thursday.

Deep in the heart of Monterey was a district known as Cannery Row, so named for the canning of fisherman’s catches that made the district vibrant. Does it still exist? At the time of this writing it seems like canning had moved to newer grounds. What’s left in it’s wake? Well, Western Biological, Bear Flag, and the Palace Flophouse. Thus the story unfolds.

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California Artist by Robert (Bob) Arneson

Robert Arneson was born in Benicia, California in 1930. He received his MFA in 1958 at California College of the Arts: Oakland, California. In his early employed life he was a cartoonist for a local newspaper. He was a professor of ceramics in the Art department at UC Davis for 40 years.

It’s safe to say Robert Arneson was a Californian Artist.

In the 60s, as a lot of radical artistic movements were explored, Arneson developed a new movement in art called the Funk Movement. For Arneson, this meant pushing away traditional ideals for ceramics, in that they must be utilitarian or decorative. This led Arneson into non-functional ceramics like portraits with feeling, humanity, and humor… almost whimsical.

Arneson was influenced by many artists in California and abroad with radical and blunt ideals. This included writers like Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Tom Robbins and William Burroughs, or artists like Peter Voulkos.

California Artist was created in 1982, and is stoneware with glazes measuring 68 1/4 in. x 27 1/2 in. x 20 1/4 in. It currently sits in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). It was a mocking response to an art critic from New York who felt Arneson was too easily pleased with his own jokes. The critic was not impressed by the cultural life of the Californian artist.

It is interesting to note that if one peers into the eyes of California Artist, they can see into the empty head of the stoneware.

California Artist by Robert Arneson | Source:

California Artist by Robert Arneson | Source: Richard Pelletier

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South Central Farm, LA

Image Courtesy of Lane Barden

In 2006, thousands of supporters poured their time, energy, money, and bodies into a cause for growth, for beauty, for a little piece of magic in an ever growing cement urbanism.

In 2006 Ralph Horowitz ordered his bulldozers to destroy the largest urban farm in USA located at East 41st and South Alameda in South Los Angeles, California, called South Central Farm,  instantly destroying 14 acres of community, sharing, plants, vegetables, and education for the 350 families that cultivated the land. Continue Reading →

Red Circle Underground Show @ AC Supper Club, Venice, CA

On Friday night I had the pleasure of watching Red Circle Underground rock out at the Air Conditioned Supper Club in Venice, California. Yes, I have had a little road trip!

It was my first introduction to the LA scene of music, so it was super cool to begin with, without the bands even starting. The club was a fairly tiny place, but inside its had a pretty cool vibe.

Shattered Sons opened up the night; they were pretty cool. They had moments of coolness,  so I gotta support them.

Costa Nova also played before RCU. They were also pretty good, definitely with some more moments of greatness as well. I liked them more than Shattered Sons. They all rocked it pretty great, and they also totally supported all the other bands playing as well, which was super cool to see.

Then came on Red Circle Underground. My friend that invited me to the show had previously played me some of their stuff, and I was already a fan, but when I heard them sing live and got to see them right there, I was amazed. To me, they stood out from the rest easily. Just their sound, creative juices you could feel. Props to all the fellas of the band, you guys killed it.

Kevin J. Witucki on the drums was just amazing. Rattling off very cool beats that most definitely weren’t something you buy in plastic wrap. Jonah Grey on vocals also took the stage with the same fury. He has a killer set of chords that I think take this band higher.

They did however share a lot of the vocals, and Ali Mills, who by the way had some killer moccasins on, added a very good twist, further amazed me with the quality in Red Circle.

Jonathan Stipp held the band together with some very solid bass, squished into the corner with Britton Sparkman killed it on lead guitar that when mixed with the harmonica of Dylan Grey gave RCU not one moment of suck, purely enjoyable music these guys and gal put out for my ears.

I felt this venue was to small for this band to be honest. Their sound is way larger than what they were packed into, and they needed more space to fully explode their sound, and let it fully be heard. I can’t wait to hear more from these guys. However, due to the size of the venue,  I was able to hang with a few members of some of the bands afterwards. Totally great group from RCU and Costa Nova which I totally felt all the love that these guys have for one another and the scene they are apart of. So much support, I’m amazed with and happy to see.

After Red Circle played their set, a few burlesque dancers came out and did a couple fansy numbers. I’ve never seen this before, and I think that this is something that should be done a lot more in more venues. Totally adds a whole new spice to the show, and makes it super cool in between sets, while the band takes down and sets up for the next. I want to make a note now also of apainter who was doing live paintings as all the bands and the hubbub was going on around him, right in the club, who was eager to talk to me. His art was super cool, and I’m definitely going to be watching his stuff gain in value. I wish I would have been able to buy one of his works that he did, totally had a Bua feel to it.

Nu Savant came on after. They had some moments of glory where they totally nailed it as well.

To be honest, I felt that Red Circle Underground stole the night. I’m super excited for what they’re doing, and am proud to call them my friends. Can’t wait till they come to a town closer to me!

All the coolness of the night was bottled and packaged by a crazy cool photographer  Angela Holtzen, who took some amazing photos, that you must all check out. The photographs on this page are all hers.

Trip to Southern California

I have embarked upon a trip south to the point of LA, which was routed along Highway 101 and 1 depending on which one was closest to the ocean (you may also know of them as the pacific coast highway or the oregon coast). It began 6 days ago on a stormy monday morning bright and early from the port of Vancouver, BC now I come to you from the beautiful banks of Malibu, California. I have been here for nearly 3 full days now, going around and checking all the interesting things to see in the area. Things I’ve heard about so much but have never seen. Yesterday I did the last stretch of the coast I will most likly be doing, which took me down to Huntington Beach, California where I was sucked in by a Greenpeace advocate to join the cause; I truly am shocked our Gray whale population is only 800 in the world.

While in Huntington Beach, I got the idea in my head that I wanted to get a skateboard, specifically of the longboard variety. So I found one I liked and noticed it was made by Arbor, which is a company based out of Venice, California, which just happens to be right next to where I’m staying in Malibu. After researching the location of the head office, I headed there today and this is what I got:

So, I am the new proud owner. The cool thing was the guy in the shop had the exact same board… I was like “SOLD”. 🙂 After driving around with it in the back seat for a few hours, I decided as I drove by Beverly Hills residential district, that the streets I was seeing were simply gold for cruisin on the board. So on a residential street, amongst the Bentleys, BMWs, Jaguars, and Mazeratis I tried out my new board! It was a bit wobbly at first, not being used to the trucks etc, but I managed to escape without any tumbles. The streets were simply beautiful to rock on. I would go to one end of the road at Sunset Blvd, and then cruise for a good 5 minutes all the way down to Santa Monica Blvd. I was simply cement surfing. So cool.

That was the main excitement for me today, but there was more. This is going to be my third night staying at this campground, the Malibu Beach RV Park. I think its one of the most beautiful campgrounds I’ve ever stayed at, and the prices are cheaper than most of the other places that I have stayed at along the road down. Yes, I am tenting, so they have me way up top with a birds-eye view of the whole cove. Basically the only sounds that I hear are the waves crashing. I can see the coast line for miles, which right now are lit with scattered house lights (Its pitch black out right now).

Today I also made it to the Hollywood hills, took a nap in Griffith Park (kinda just dirt and some clumps of grass), I cruised Hollywood Blvd and saw a model having a photoshoot in a phone booth, Sunset Blvd was also cool and I saw a tonne of film studios. I then took Santa Monica Blvd into Beverly Hills and further onto Santa Monica where I got a little lost but soon found my way back to Malibu. Thats just how I roll.

I ate dinner at a pizza joint in Beverly Hills, which was interesting because I was in some sort of gay district as it seemed to be only guys there holding hands. I think I saw about 5 couples of men holding hands…. I honestly don’t think I saw more than a handful of women…

Yesterday I got to hang with a cool friend from down here and watched Red Circle Underground at the AC Supper Club in Venice, CA. This band seriously rocks some major coolness. Through my friend, I was introduced to the whole band, and commenced partying with them the whole night long. We closed the club down. Totally awesome introduction to the LA art scene, and I totally learnt some cool stuff about how things roll down here. They had a burlesque show, believe it or not, that performed before the final act. I felt that RCU should have been the main event EASILY. Check them out any chance you get. They were so cool and gave me a 3 song EP! I was/am stoked.

There was also a painter in there, doing some live on the spot painting which was also totally cool. It kind of takes on one of my dreams of having art being created on the spot as it gets inspired by the music, also as part of the show. Very cool.  Who says that a concert must simply be a feast for the ears?

The point of this trip was to find a reason, to find something that has been missing from part of my existence that I haven’t been able to grasp. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it sounds like it is. Maybe its just a little bit more meaning to why I’m doing what I’m doing. Or maybe its just to explore the coast. In one of my books I’m reading, I fall upon a quote all the time: “Man spends eternity searching for an understanding of himself, but never have I met a person who understands himself fully.” I think its more of a sequence of events that leads a person to enjoy their life to the fullest, and appreciate every day to the utmost possible region of gratitude. I think this is more what one searches for: A reason or will to live.

Today has finished with a smile on my face. Sometimes it only takes a good mood to turn things around. I was sitting on the beach, playing my guitar and watching the sun disappear behind the mountains and a very nice girl after a while was leaving, loading her kid into her car. I think her sister or friend had another 3 in tow, and we started talking, and as she was leaving, she came over and offered me a half of a bottle of French Champaign. I was totally floored by the kindness of this girl, and I wish I wouldn’t have been so speachless and flustered to have offered her a gift in exchange.

Today has filled me up with non-stop similar such kindness’. LA has reminded me that life takes a smile to make it better, and trust me, life is worth smiling. That is all.