Sunday, December 13, 2009

Skinny Puppy 2009: Still got it

A few months ago, I was alerted to the fact that Skinny Puppy was on tour, and said tour was ending in L.A. on Dec. 10. Hm.

It's been years since I've seen Skinny Puppy. Like, a LOT of years. But I've always had love for that band. From the first time I ever heard their music (song: "Smothered Hope," played by DJ Charles English at Detroit club Todd's) through an unforgettable show at St. Andrews Hall and the endless nights in Ann Arbor with Hank and John, drinking Jim Beam and performing "The Red X" ritual (don't ask)— well, let's just say that Skinny Puppy and I go way back.

First, I was pleasantly surprised by a pair of tickets from a very dear old friend Jason. Then, there was this online contest to win tickets that I forgot about entering that turned up even more tickets. The universe really wanted me to see Skinny Puppy.

It was a dark and stormy night. Ha. I mean, it was, but that's besides the point.

I rolled downtown to the Club Nokia for the show. When I went inside, wow. There were a LOT of people out to see Skinny Puppy in 2009. So far, so good.

I was just kind of hanging out in the back Twittering when I saw her. I was just this tiny blur of porcelain skin and dark hair, but the profile was unmistakable. Sasha Grey had just scampered past me and towards the elevators.

Instinctively, I followed her into the elevator. It was just her, me...and some bitchy elevator attendant.

"Um, you need a VIP bracelet for this level." The attendant cast me a steely glare. I glanced over at Sasha as I got out of the elevator. Fail.

I ran into my friend Timothy Norris, who is also an ace photographer. He too had seen Sasha. He mentioned her sneakers, which were rather outstanding. Sparkly red high-tops with silver studs around the top. Fresh to death.

And then, there was the show. Skinny Puppy has not lost an inch over the years. Their stage show is as surreal and awesome as ever (this time around they had kind of a Mummenschanz vibe going on). Nivek Ogre is still a compelling frontman, and they sounded ferocious.

Oh, and Sasha Grey was standing about 5 feet away from me for the entire show. Win.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Where I'm from, Pt. 2

Where I'm from, Pt. 1

Monday, December 07, 2009

It happened in Detroit: Jive Turkey 6

My trip home to Detroit was amazing.

Soooo many outrageous stories, all of them true.

Among my favorites: Jive Turkey 6

The “6” indicating the 6th year in a row this particular Detroit underground throwdown has been happening.

The line-up was already impressive, as evidenced by the flyer. The word was that Kenny Dixon Jr. and Theo Parrish were both going to be rocking unannounced sets. Hell yes. My old buddy Tim Baker was gonna be in the house, it was sure be a night of ‘90s-tastic fun.

I’d never been to the Bohemian House before. Deep in the heart of Detroit’s southwest side, the Ambassador Bridge loomed ominously behind me as I rolled a far too shiny rental car down a desolate side street towards the spot.

There were a couple of dudes in parkas hanging around a bunch of cars parked on a barren lot. One of them approached me and asked for $3. OK, word.

Except that now left me with only $7 in cash. The party cost $10. Hm. I rolled to the door and before I could explain my dilemma, dude at the dude took my $7 and waved me in. Cool.

OK, this was a classic dirty Detroit rave. The location looked like any number of abandoned houses in the city. Random planks and shit were lying around everywhere. The party was broken into two rooms. In the big main room, a DJ I didn’t know was dropping hard house beats. The room was fairly crowded. Behind the decks I spied Boo Williams, Glenn Underground, and a few more old-school heads.

I wandered into the second room, where my bud Tim Baker was spinning serious hardcore techno. He was beating it, as they like to say.

There were a few druggy party kids running around, but for a dirty Detroit rave, the crowd was surprisingly of age. Lots of ‘90s ravers grown up, with a healthy percentage of older black folks just chilling and smoking weed. The bar was doing a healthy business.

There was this insane young blond in front of the DJ tables. I swear she was wearing cut-off panties. With only a bra up top, she was working the floor like she was on a riser at Rain in Vegas. I mean this girl was grinding like she was getting paid big bucks. Even the too-cool-for-school dudes behind the tables were having a hard time not totally ogling her.

At one point this wasted brunette tried to mix it up with the blond, but it was short, painful defeat. She had one move, which was turning around and lifting her skirt up over ass, revealing a thong and a lotta ass. But that got old quick, and soon enough she was outta there.

Some dude starts rapping on the mike about the upcoming DJs, when I noticed a guy in what looked like a cop vest rush past me. By the time I looked up, a stream of police in what appeared to be stripped-down riot gear was streaming in through the main entrance. I glanced at the guy next to me, and we both made a beeline for the exit, only to be met by one seriously angry looking cop.

(The one picture I took before the cops killed the party)

“Everybody get down on the fucking floor right fucking now!”

The music had stopped and this booming cry was suddenly the only sound in the room. Overhead lights started coming on. More cops rushed into the room. People are kind of looking at each other like, “WTF?” My heart started beating really fast.


All 200 or so of us slowly squatted down on the filthy floor. Looking to my right, I saw an open pack of cigarettes with a plastic baggie hanging out of it, filled with white powder. Nearby, there were two more similar baggies. A couple more to my right. Damn, Detroit—party much? I realize that I'm actually shaking. The one other time I got caught up in one of these raids, I'd nonchalantly walked out the front door. The cops didn't even give me a second look that night more than ten years ago. This night was not like that at all.

A kid kind of stood up in the middle of the room, only to be thrown violently back down by the yelling cop.


Oh, shit. This was really happening.

The cops pile everyone into the main room and start demanding ID.


A smattering of hands timidly rose. The cops looked around the room, confused. Most of the faces were older than they were.


A couple dozen kids staggered to their feet, while the rest of us sat squatting on the floor of this dilapidated house that’s supposedly a historical landmark of the city. How fitting.

The cops looked crestfallen. One just yelled “FUCK!” at the top of his lungs.

The few, unfortunate busted kids were shuffled into the smaller room for processing. The rest of us got lined up, made to show ID, and sent off into the night.

Just another Saturday night in Detroit…

(The Telway Hamburgers spot on Michigan Ave not far from the party)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Artist profile: TURF ONE

“I sometimes speak English in a very French way,” warns artist Turf One with a good-natured laugh before discussing the work that makes up his latest show, “Shining Darkness,” which is on exhibit at the Thinkspace gallery in Los Angeles through the end of November.

But much like his bold, uncompromising paintings, the former graffiti artist’s thoughts are direct and right to the point. Utilizing a wide range of found objects to serve as his canvas, Turf One’s latest works reflect his process of letting the subconscious mind guide his art.

“The title ‘Shining Darkness’ actually came in the middle of working on it,” he explains from his current home base of Montreal, Canada. “I already had a few pieces done for the show which were very much playing on the notion of the juxtaposition and correlation of darkness and light. This is an underlying theme in my work in general, but I explored a more serious aspect of it for this show with pieces like “MEAT” or “FORTUNE TELLING MONKEY AUTOMATON.”

Animals play a large part in the exhibit, with monkeys, pigeons and a disembodied pig’s head just a few of the creatures represented in the paintings.

“I don’t really know where they come from. They each symbolize different things,” the artist muses about their presence here. “I think the monkey for example is probably a symbol of the unconscious. The pigeons and sparrows are the messengers between different levels of reality. Most of the animals I paint are often vermin placed in a sacred context. Holy pigeons, rats and mice, cockroaches are amongst my favorite subjects. Living in a big city, they are also the species that share my environment.”

“Montreal is definitely a great city,” he continues in regards to his present big city of choice. He relocated after vacationing there in 2000 and falling in love with the Quebec province. “The combination of cultures is very rich and inspiring and makes it unique. It’s not too big, so Montreal is still a very human city. People in general tend to be very chill and open.”

Music fuels Turf One’s painting sessions, citing a panoramic soundtrack that includes everything from legendary hip-hop producer Jay Dilla to revered jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

“I just like good music,” the artist shrugs. “I never paint without music. It fuels me. It’s all about good music and coffee.”

While Turf One has nothing specific planned for the time being, he’s been dabbling in taking his vision to the screen, co-directed the feature documentary “Dead Space” with his partner Lela Quesney a couple years ago. The pair has also been working on a TV show pilot based on his work.

“I basically see myself as someone who has a vision and a need to create,” Turf One says finally. “I don’t necessarily define myself solely by the mediums that I use to give life to my creations. Painting is just one of these means I found to give shape to my vision. Filmmaking could be another one.”

(Originally published by Hurley)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Artist of the day: Liselotte Watkins

I discovered this amazing artist, Liselotte Watkins, on killer life/style blog We The Future. Those girls down in Lubbock got it going on.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Masonic Temple, downtown Detroit

Another one taken from inside a rental car around 5AM on a Sunday morning*

This is an amazing venue. I saw an incredible Prince concert there once when I was in high school. It was on his birthday, June 7. The year I can't remember, but it was definitely in the '80s. There was also a phenomenal White Stripes show I caught in 2003.

Sayeth Wikipedia:

"The Detroit Masonic Temple is a large-events venue located in downtown Detroit, Michigan, at 500 Temple Street. The 4,404-seat Masonic Temple Theater (managed by Olympia Entertainment) is a venue for concerts, Broadway shows, and other special events in the Detroit Theater District."

But my favorite story about the Masonic is when the Stones played a 'secret' show there in 1978 around the time "Some Girls" came out. I wouldn't see my first Stones show for another three years, damn it.

Spirit of Detroit

Taken from inside a rental car around 4AM on a Sunday morning*