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MASTHEAD

FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR

EDITOR’S NOTE

MORGAN CADIGAN

Welcome to the premiere issue of The Paper Mixtape!

DESIGN DIRECTOR

LIZZIE ZWENG

In this issue, we invite you to survey the color and clash of Los Angeles.

ONLINE EDITOR

SAM EDDO

The color? People, food, music, and most definitely Sara Catherine Pierce’s work.

PHOTO EDITOR

DANIEL ALCAZAR

The clash? Collages, music proprietorship battles, unnoticed communities. An even greater contrast exists once these headlines are in the same news feed of our cups of coffee and our music festivals, similarly set up against each other in our publication.

FINANCIAL DIRECTOR

A M A R AT H WA L

ASSISTANT FINANCE MANAGER

FRANC ESCOBEDO

But through these collections of articles, I see, and I hope you see too, that clash can create color. The issues facing individuals in Compton lead members of N.W.A to spearhead awareness with the innovative messages and sounds of their hip-hop music. The life-changers at Povertees are making apparel and providing for the people on Skid Row. For a town often accused of being only surface-level, our writers and photographers sure encountered a multitude of individuals that challenge this stereotype— the family-oriented folks at The Juicy Leaf, the community-builder Kristine Schomaker at The Brewery, the day-makers at Philz Coffee, to name only a few.

PHOTOGRAPHERS

ALEX MADRID KEVIN MOORE E M I LY W E S T E R F I E L D

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CHRISTIAN BUMALA AMINAH IBRAHIM E M I LY PA R S O N S AARON PERETZ ALLISON PLANCK

CONTRIBUTORS

FEDELLE AUSTRIA S R I N U B H A M I D I PAT I J P C AV E N D E R S O F I A D E M AY PA L M O FA R B E R RACHAEL JONES AMANDA LUCIDO MAEVE MCLIAM T I F FA N Y N G U Y E N KELSEY STERN BETSY STRAZZANTE V E R I T Y TAW E L ERICA VINCENZI

So, take our first paper mixtape for a spin. Regard each article as an Angeleno track of inspiration for colorful interaction. Or just look at the good art, that works too. MORGAN CADIGAN

T H E P A P E R M I X T A P E is a biannual publication, issued Spring and Fall, produced by UCLA students chronicling the goings-on of LA arts and culture. In addition to putting together the magazine, we directly support our local emerging artist community by funding, printing, and distributing their projects to the general public.

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CONTENTS

THE L.A. SOUND

H AV E T O B R I N G I T U P : D E FA C T O M U S I C P R O P R I E T O R S H I P I N 2015

C O L O R / C L A S H : A P H O T O E S S AY

HAUNTED SCREENS

ISABELL A-RAMIREZ KELLY: RE-WO RKIN G THE PICTU RE O F FEM ININE CHARM

JESUS SONS

V E S TA L V I L L A G E

FOR THE RECORD

K E E P I N G I T R E A L : A N E X P L O R AT I O N O F T R I B U T E B A N D C U LT U R E

C I T Y, C U I S I N E , C U LT U R E : A S P O T L I G H T O F F O U R N E I G H B O R H O O D S

C O F F E E C U LT U R E

“OUR RACE IS A REFLECTION OF OUR REALIT Y”

LIFE SEWN TOGETHER

A R T I S T I N T E R V I E W: S A R A C AT H E R I N E P I E R C E

L I F E I N S I D E T H E B R E W E R Y: T H E D O W N T O W N A R T I S T H AV E N

IF THE SHOE FITS?

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THE LA SOUND

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THE SUNSET STRIP & THE C U LT I VAT I O N O F M U S I C CULTURE IN L A What would become the center of Los Angeles glam-rock and heavy metal culture was ironically born from a simple legal dispute over the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles police department. The Sunset Strip found luck in falling just barely outside the realm of the heavy-handed city of Los Angeles and into the less strict hands of the Sheriff ’s department, making the strip the closest gamble-legal location for people in Los Angeles. Madness consequently ensued as the strip boomed as a hub for nightclubs and nightlife. This began a culture rich period brought on by the influx of

patrons looking for entertainment and artists looking to make it in entertainment. Alighted by lax laws and rampant with prostitution and gambling, bars such as The Melody Room attracted notorious gangsters and mobsters, particularly Mickey Cohen, to build homes in Los Angeles. This movement of the rich, famous, and notoriously evil funneled money into the west LA region brought with it swanky styles of jazz and swing music. Money, nightlife, and violence threw an initial shadow over the real quality of music on the Strip, but, in turn, launched Sunset into the public eye. Eventually, the 1940s glitz and glamour that originally ushered in the nightlife of the Sunset Strip gradually fell to the wayside. The Strip slowly fell out of popularity. This movement away from pop-culture molded Sunset into the birthplace of counterculture, culminating in the 1960s when glamour and discothèque were traded for headbanging counterculture rock groups and rioting. Venues like Whisky a-GoGo, based off a Parisian discothèque venue, opened in the mid 1960s and quickly skyrocketed the careers of iconic rock groups, such as So-Cal natives, The Byrds and The Doors. The Troubadour began its reign of the Strip in 1957 when the coffee shop grew quickly into a center for folk music. It hit it’s folk-culture high with an after-hours performance from Bob Dylan, prior to the takeoff of his career. The Troubadour was often seen as a microcosm for shifting music style of Los Angeles, epitomizing uncanny ability of the Strip to influence the next hit genre of music. As the folky styles of the 1960s were forgone for edgy new wave and punk music of the ‘70s, The Troubadour would debut artists from Van Morrison to Billy Joel. It THE PAPER MIXTAPE

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Nestled between the gray walls of restaurants and shops, and perhaps overshadowed by the loud traffic of Santa Monica Boulevard and the bass of the nightclubs down the street, sits Doug Weston’s The Troubadour. Other than the slightly ostentatious display of its name, the venue remains mostly inconspicuous next to the strobing lights of bars down the street. Not many would guess at first glance what role this reinvented coffee shop had played in the perpetuation of genres and artists of music culture, from Elton John to Guns ‘n Roses. Scattered throughout LA are gems like these; landmarks that work together to tell the long history of music culture on the West Coast. Art, traditions, and politics of the greater LA area are entwined and mirrored by the music that moved and inspired people in different eras. These neighborhoods tell a story of glamour, rebellion, and gentrification through shifting musical styles. We can use their pasts to see what this all means for music today.


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continued to encapsulate the trending heavy metal genre of the 1980s by hosting Guns ‘n Roses in the show that would lead to their record deal. In 1993, Johnny Depp repainted and revamped Mickey Cohen’s jazz bar hangout to the black brick of what we now know as The Viper Room. Jazz was forgone for heavy metal, alternative and punk sounds, and modern West Coast indie/ alternative style began to make its mark. History surrounding Los Angeles is reflected in the styles of music we see over the eras of the Sunset Strip. We see the echoes of gentrification in the 1940s as the rich and famous move to take advantage of law leniencies on the Strip. Then we see the deterioration of this movement and a consequent perpetuation of counterculture, new-wave and new aged musics which began the long road to the indie and electronic culture that has gained an enormous following in the present day. The different neighborhoods across LA developed their unique sounds in a similar fashion. From Ska in Orange County to Hip Hop in DTLA, the themes we saw prevalent in the early years of the Strip play an ever present force in the evolution of the music scene today.

ECHO PARK AND EVERPRESENT GENTRIFICATION Not much has changed since then, both in the cultivation of music and its correlation with the continuing trends of gentrification in numerous Los Angeles neighborhoods. In retrospect, the perpetuation of what is considered counterculture has amplified the popularity of the music, thus affecting the neighborhoods that claimed it as their own. This is apparent in today’s climate when observing places such as Echo Park. Up until the

1990s, the neighborhood had been predominantly Latino. By the 2010 census, however, while still the majority, the percentage of Latinos living in Echo Park dropped by at least 10%, counteracting the rise of white residents from 13% to 23%. The migration of white residents to Echo Park soon became a tell-tale sign of the change in environment the neighborhood was about to embark on. Echo Park soon garnered the distinction of being the “hippest” Los Angeles neighborhood as dictated by publications such as the LA Times and Thrillist. This shift changes LA’s role in cultivating the music scene. From its reputation for developing new and experimental genres, Los Angeles has now become promoters of musicians looking for success. Continuing to use Echo Park as an example, the neighborhood is now one of the premiere destinations for up-and-coming bands. Outsiders looking in began to see Echo Park as a place to find what’s trending and new, from fashion, art, and music. In 2001, The Echo (and subsequently, The Echoplex) began its operations. The music venues just down the street from Dodger Stadium are known for featuring artists before they “make it huge.” However, the opposite seems to be the end result. By playing at sites like The Echo, the chances of being on the receiving end of success increase significantly. The venue lends its name to the artists, thus solidifying their musical credibility to the followers of The Echo. An example of the exponential effects of playing at venues like The Echo or the Echoplex is the band Foster the People. Despite playing at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in 2010 and cultivating a small fan base with their first single “Pumped Up Kicks”, the band failed to achieve mainstream success, leading to their ongoing troubles booking venues. It wasn’t until 2011 that

THIS MOVEMENT OF THE RICH, FAMOUS, AND NOTORIOUSLY EVIL FUNNELED MONEY INTO THE WEST LA REGION BRINGING WITH IT SWANKY ST YLES OF JAZZ AND SWING MUSIC. SPRING 2015


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their booking agent Tom Windish successfully added them in The Echo’s month-long roster, which soon became a turning point for the band, seen in ticket sales, as recounted by Windish. Much like the cultural shifts experienced by the Sunset Strip in the 1940s, Echo Park is now receiving the same treatment. The gentrification of this central Los Angeles neighborhood epitomizes how the setting plays a part in cultivating, or hindering, the growth of a new musical form. Before, neighborhoods like the Sunset Strip and Echo Park helped support the careers of obscure artists; now, they have become their destinations.

FROM DEVELOPMENT TO REVITALIZATION: HOW LOS ANGELES KEEPS ITS ROOTS

From the rap scene found in the southern region of the city to underground Latin ska in the eastern side, the music scene here in LA is as diverse as it gets. Each neighborhood developed its distinct style that contributes to the city’s larger musical influence. While the gentrification of neighborhoods slowly eats away at some of the foundations of these genres, that doesn’t mean LA has lost its way in terms of originality.

The downtown region of LA continues its storied past of providing new experiences for its residents. Venues like The Smell transcend shifting urban climates, maintaining their DIY avant-garde aesthetic since relocating from North Hollywood in 2000. A brief Internet search of The Smell will tell you how the wildly popular venue became a soft spot for those raised in Los Angeles with their main demographic being teenagers. The “punk rock/ noise/experimental” venue continues to cater to the young, giving each generation a taste of what once was DTLA. These shifts also allowed for other musical genres to hold a stake on one of LA’s cosmopolitan areas. Live jazz venues like Blue Whale followed The Smell’s DIY start-up and have been a tremendous success for both the bar and the burgeoning jazz scene in Los Angeles. In looking towards the LA music scene’s future, the ever-changing demographics, due to gentrification or other forces, continue LA’s historic past as a hodge-podge of musical talents within one city mile. Sites like the Troubadour and The Echo will remain venues that embody the ever-changing styles of the Los Angeles sound. What remains to be seen is whether the future of the LA sound will remain distinct and stay true to its original forms of musical genres, or if they will mash together just as the neighborhoods have. Just like the politics that surround the neighborhoods and their cultures, the arts, too, reflect their current settings.

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What is considered a loss in originality has been one of the primary criticisms for neighborhoods like Echo Park with the loss of diversity being a latent effect. This, in turn, has made some popular genres seem generic. With a few simple beats and some lyrical prose, virtually anyone can manufacture their sound to achieve the same sound and, subsequently, the same kind of success. However, Los Angeles has yet to completely accept this precedent, withholding from turning its back on its innovative past.

Whereas before Los Angeles was in the forefront of groundbreaking musical genres like rap and rock and roll, it soon assumed the position to revitalize the LA sound.


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D E FA C T O M U S I C P R O P R I E T O R S H I P I N 2015

H AV E T O BRING IT UP BY A A R O N I G PE R E T Z

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[IT’S] NOT INTELLECTUAL P R O P E R T Y, I T ’ S A M A N T R A .

I am encouraging our time spent together during this article to serve as guided meditation, and after deliberation each of us should decide for ourselves the means by which someone is entitled to music. As part of the meditation let’s consider John Oswald’s “Plunderphonics,” the aforementioned Thicke-Williams verdict and compare against the case of Spotify. In 1985, John Oswald presented his essay,

“Plunderphonics: or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative,” to a Toronto symposium on electroacoustic music. Paraphrased below is Oswald’s opening argument: 1 Musical instruments produce sounds 2 Composers produce music 3 Musical instruments reproduce music 4 Tape recorders, radios and other sound-sampling devices reproduce sound 5 A phonograph, handled by the hands of a scratch artist (a composer) becomes an instrument which is capable of producing unique sounds 6 A sampler is simultaneously a documenting device and a creative device, that is, it reproduces music and produces sound 7 Using a sampler, in effect, reduces a distinction manifested by copyright

Oswald continues by describing the state of the music industry in which music-illiterate pop artists attempt to imitate the sounds of another (Oswald uses the then-topical Bruce Springsteen as an imitated party), and are successful because the array of engineers and “tunesters” that can manipulate the sound to fulfill a formula; this, he notes, is very legal. However compare this to the situation of the independent who produces music exclusively via samplings (i.e. plunderphonics), a litigation sh*t-storm is sure to follow. An example was made out of John Oswald when the Canadian Recording Industry Association3 sued him over his eponymous LP, plunder-phonic after creating an album purely plunderphonic in nature—all undistributed copies of the album were destroyed4. Oswald ignored copyright laws for the samplings, but of course the album was largely a statement on what Oswald saw as the

1 Disclosed at some point in the trial is that Pharrell is largely responsible for the writing and production, although Thicke’s name is also credited. 2 Pharrell himself addressed this in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. 3 Now dubbed Music Canada. 4 FYI: Oswald lost the case. THE PAPER MIXTAPE

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A couple of months ago Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams lost a court case brought on by Marvin Gaye’s estate over accusations that the 2013 hit between the duo, “Blurred Lines,” was a direct imitation of Marvin Gaye’s soulful, “Got to Give It Up.” The seven million-plus dollar settlement was a triviality of the ruling, and you’re justified at not feeling remorse for the duo. You should, however, be grieving. A loose connection between two distinct, yet similar, songs was determined by a jury. As already pointed out by every major news outlet is the significance this case carries: the noose on the music industry that is being tightened by jury members into an inextricable Gordian knot. I challenge you to listen to the two songs and detect a resemblance. The matter is not one of direct imitation, but of the artist(s)1 appealing to a genre. If “Blurred Lines” sounds like Gaye then Thicke-Williams should have to compensate every funk-soul-R&B artist ever. I will concede that there is a similar rattle in the drums (do I detect cowbell?) along with a certain falsetto to all singers involved, but the lyrical content of the two (and all other songs of the genre) which is about getting down, turning around, moving side-to-side and waving ‘em like you just don’t care is not intellectual property2, it’s a mantra.


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music industry’s constricting musical creativity. Oswald’s compositions, however, stand-alone as art independent of the social commentary.

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Returning to the Thicke-Williams verdict, Oswald may respond that pop music is, “pointlessly redundant to imitate,”5 and that the difference between “Got to Give It Up” and “Blurred Lines” is negligible. Let’s assume however that the 2013 summer jam did in fact steal from Gaye, in his eyes, Oswald would qualify “Blurred Lines” as being unjustified if the contemporary song did not improve or better the former. I leave this stipulation to you, the reader, to decide if the song was at all improved—it was at least an updated form of a classic funky R&B sound. If you hold the song to be some form of bettering the progenitor and you hold Oswald’s argument to be true then it follows that you’d believe the court’s verdict to be wrong. I think the jury’s choosing their verdict was rationale based on emotion and not on reason6: Marvin Gaye’s crying family, robbed of what is rightfully theirs, the pompous Robin Thicke exploiting the family and betraying his listeners was the collective stream of consciousness shared by the jury; or something like that. For the Gaye estate, it was a relatively easy target. The judicial system often rules on individual cases, and seldom makes sweeping decisions7, yet this is not troubling. What is troubling is that the consequences of this case chiefly serve to negatively impact musicians, rather than help them when the thought-process was intended to help musicians. If musicians are to be helped, it is not the vulnerable(-ish) musicians that should be targeted, rather sweeping decisions must be made and copyright laws updated, and the corporate behemoths that exploit the musicians and the system should be put to trial. E N T E R : S P O T I F Y . “Music for everyone”; that’s the tagline of Spotify. Music is dismissed by Spotify as if it were a common, something for the public’s

taking, in practice: no private ownership. This attitude towards music is often pointed out to be a reflection of the millennials’ values, although I’m not sure if this statement is entirely true. Is it a reflection of the Generation Y8 value system or is the value system a result of larger social forecast9? I digress, and for our purposes the origins of this attitude aren’t as important as the direction we decide to take. Unlike Oswald’s plunder-phonics, music10 is not being produced by the streaming service, rather music is specifically being reproduced which is perfectly fine, except that they are profiting on reproduced music. It is considered to be a violation of the artist when his/her music is not given credit. If music is not common and the rights of a composition belong to the artist then it seems paying measly royalties is a form of not giving due credit. So if you take the last statement to be true I think it safe to say that you believe Spotify, which is used to reproduce artists’ music, is violating the artists by not paying sufficient royalties11,12. Unfortunately this argument means free music is not guilt-free. It is our responsibility as consumers and music enthusiasts to at least formulate an opinion on what the ethically correct avenue to approach music is. How is it that a generally ubiquitous sound can be claimed for ownership and result in a $7 million settlement, yet a corporation siphoning money out of artists’ pocket13 remain untouched?

Sometimes I start to think about our copyright laws and “maybe they can use an update.” Spotify notifies me that To Pimp A Butterfly has been added to their collection in the cloud. A banner at the top of my Spotify window says, “Like to install the latest version of Spotify? Just restart Spotify to upgrade.” I can wait, first I need to hear this new Kendrick Lamar.

5 John Oswald, “Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative” 6 As my mom pointed out, a jury of Thicke-Williams’ peers are musicians, not bystanders— would you trust a bystander between a chromatic and a diatonic scale? 7 It is Congress’s power to create litigation not the courts’, after all. 8 For the ignoramuses Generation Y = millennials. 9 Classic causality dilemma. 10 Read: unique sound. 11 A quick Google search can support my claim (read: T-Swift). 12 Spotify has now surpassed the RIAA (the US music industry) in worth—compare Spotify’s $8.4 billion value to the RIAA’s which trails behind at under $7 billion. Saying Spotify has disposable income would be an understatement, what they control is F*** You Money. 13 A la industrial-strength vacuum: max-suck setting. SPRING 2015


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H O W I S T H AT A G E N E R A L LY UBIQUITOUS SOUND CAN BE CLAIMED FOR OWNERSHIP A N D R E S U LT I N A $7 M I L L I O N S E T T L E M E N T, Y E T A C O R P O R AT I O N SIPHONING MONEY OUT OF ARTISTS’ POCKETS REMAIN UNTOUCHED?


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a photo essay by P.013

ALEX MADRID

E M I LY WE S T E R F I E L D

ERICA VINCENZI (Opposite) Photo: Emily Westerfield

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P.017 Photos: Alex Madrid

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P.019 (Left) Photo: Emily Westerfield (Right) Photo: Alex Madrid

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The exhibit is so distor ted and nonsensical . . .

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If you were fortunate enough to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA’s) Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s, you know what it feels like to step into a German Expressionist film. The moment you enter, you are immersed in a world of striking contrasts: black and white, sharp edges and smooth curves, stills and moving images, eerie silence and startling sound. The exhibit is so distorted and nonsensical—a strange combination of dark, enclosed tunnels and open spaces—that you feel justified in losing your way. In short, you are on the sets of the films The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), Nosferatu (1922), and Metropolis (1927) all at once, and it isn’t difficult to imagine how their cinematic worlds devolved into chaos and insanity. German Expressionist films are some of the most distinctive in early cinema. They rely heavily on mise-en-scène, or the use of set design to convey narrative, to relate tales of alienation and psychological horror. Subject matter ranges from somnambulists to vampires to dystopian worlds, but Expressionist films share a unifying theme: unreality. According to Robert Wiene, the director of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, “through Expressionism we now have a profound sense of how irrelevant reality is and how powerful the unreal: what has never been, what is only felt, the projection of a mental state onto one’s surroundings.” Indeed, at the height of Expressionist film’s popularity, Germany had good reason to seek the unreal. Suffering brutal defeat in World War I, Germany struggled to reconstruct its infrastructure as well as its morale. In this sense, German Expressionist film is escapist film’s alter ego—not a means of escaping reality, but rather of exploring through fantasy how reality truly felt. Yet just as Nosferatu is not simply a monster movie with bad special effects, each of the exhibit’s tunnels and outcroppings are not just part of a set. Rather, their striking presence serves to emphasize the artful subtlety of what I believe to be the exhibit’s most compelling pieces: the original sketches and scripts created during each film’s production. To me, these yellowing documents reveal the very aspect of German Expression that its creators strove to obscure: its reality. However outlandish and impersonal the final product, each Expressionist film began with an explicable vision of how unreality would come to the screen. I observed the most evidence of this in pieces like Carl Mayer’s annotated script for the 1923 film Die Strasse. The accompanying placard accurately refers to this script as “a staccato sequence of visual and sonic cues.” It is as artful as the film it pertains to, but in a remarkably tangible way—all that separates you from Mayer’s poetic, near century-old directives is a pane of glass. SPRING 2015


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Similarly impactful are Andrei Andrejew’s set design drawings for the 1923 film Crime and Punishment, directed by Robert Wiene. The drawings, rendered in ink wash and graphite, convey the artist’s unique vision of the Expressionist world. They also feature a set element that appears consistently in German Expressionist films: stairs. According to LACMA’s informational plaque on the subject, staircases “can suggest both physical displacement and psychological states such as anxiety and foreboding.” Perhaps in order to evoke these sentiments in viewers, the exhibit itself incorporates several displays resembling stairs. In this way, viewers are able to see sketches like Andrejew’s come to life not only on film but also on the very object that displays the sketches. While documentations of the creative process like scripts and sketches may not present as striking a spectacle as pieces like the model of the metallic woman from Metropolis, I believe their contribution should not be overlooked. For many Expressionist films the word “silent” is not just a descriptor, but an irreversible fate. The majority of silent films have not survived to the present—we know they existed only through pictorial or textual evidence. Or at least this was the case until Guy Maddin began his project, Séances, in 2012. Working with Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, Maddin directed actors to recreate the lost films in order to keep the essence of fading silent films alive. In a dark room at the heart of the exhibit, visitors can see projections from Kino Ektoplasma, a three-screen installation that Maddin and his partners created specifically for the exhibit. The installation displays haunting images fading in and out, melding together and tearing apart, the combination of which is as unsettling and plotless as a nightmare. It seems to epitomize the exhibit’s title, “haunted” not only in its eerie aesthetic but also its resurrection of actors long dead. LACMA’s Haunted Screens is a truly immersive experience, offering visitors the chance to explore German Expressionist cinema from the perspective of the actor, writer, designer, director, and of course, the film buff. While the exhibit may have come to a close, its exploration of unreality, insanity and nightmares will continue to haunt us.

. . . that you feel justif ied in losing your wa y. THE PAPER MIXTAPE

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Isabella Kelly-Ramirez in front of All the Missing Pieces exhibition at Gallery 825, West Hollywood. Photo: Daniel Alcazar.

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I S A B E L L A K E L LY-R A M I R E Z RE-WORKING THE PICTURE OF FEMININE CHARM BY ALLISON PL ANCK THE PAPER MIXTAPE


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I S A B E L L A K E L LY-R A M I R E Z

All Seeing (2014) Collage on paper Initiate (2013) Collage on paper

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I first discovered artist Isabella Kelly-Ramirez while on my coffee break at work one afternoon. Strolling through the galleria of the Fowler Museum at UCLA, I made my way to the main office to collect my paycheck. Almost as if to claim itself as an added bonus to my earnings, there lay a vibrant postcard advertising for Kelly-Ramirez’s most recent gallery exhibition, All The Missing Pieces (January 24 - February 20). The printed cardstock paper showed an array of juxtapozed magazine cuttings, which melded together to create a composite of a strangely beautiful, yet slightly disturbing image of a woman (All Seeing, 2014). This jarring fashionista donned model-esque features and wore a pillowy pink silk headdress and a chic black sweater studded with blinking eyeballs. Immediately, I jumped onto my laptop in hopes of contacting the artist responsible for the cheeky overtones apparent in this unassuming little postcard.

In my correspondence with the artist, we decided to meet to further discuss her advancement into the LA art scene since her graduation from UCLA in 2008—where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts. As I stood on La Cienega Boulevard awaiting her arrival, I began to notice that the surrounding area was teeming with humming vehicles and sauntering pedestrians. Up to my left was Sunset Boulevard and down to my right, Melrose Avenue; nestled within an area that holds some of the most prestigious couture shops and celebrated eateries, Gallery 825 was exhibiting Kelly-Ramirez’s All the Missing Pieces. This attractive area — known so well for prescribing, even if indirectly, many of the contemporary trends within Los Angeles — enabled me to further recognize the subtleties existing within Kelly-Ramirez’s body of work. The vibrant combinations of color, which were paired with a bold juxtaposition of images, created unique characters that emphatically echoed the billboards and shop windows of the area. This portrait series, with their seemingly sporadic cut-and-pasted facial features, relayed the vitality of the city streets on that particular Saturday afternoon. In speaking with Kelly-Ramirez about the stimulating atmosphere of Los Angeles, she stated that the city did indeed inspire her artwork. “Everyone here is chasing something and I like being surrounded by that ambition,” she says. For her, LA represents a, “fantastic melting pot; a city symbolic of the ultimate quest for the American Dream”.

“ E V E RYO N E H E R E I S C H A S I N G S O M E T H I N G A N D I L I K E B E I N G S U R RO U N D E D B Y T H A T A M B I T I O N. ”

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Kelly-Ramirez’s most recent body of work includes a series of paper collage images that draw inspiration from fashion magazines, iconic celebrities, and modern advertising. In their exuberant demand for attention, these specific works far exceed the emotional flatness that can so often dominate the realm of collage art. Closer consideration of the paper ‘portraits’ reveal the artist’s fascination with the existing relationship between popular culture and one’s identity; most specifically implied is the media’s implicit influence on the female character. Despite her serious reflection on these more controversial issues in society, Kelly-Ramirez’s ability to successfully employ the language of satire frees her work from any claims of austerity. This allows her art to be fun, aesthetically pleasing, and weirdly charming.


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I S A B E L L A K E L LY-R A M I R E Z

Golden Bunny (2014) Collage on paper

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ART

The imprint that Los Angeles has left on Kelly-Ramirez’s art has also given her the necessary tools to dissect the images handed to us by the popular culture. The artist draws from magazines when creating these collaged characters, clipping and collecting papers until a composition comes together piece by piece. The process involves building further upon each image that has been added; the progression is organic with no initial strategy or plan in mind. Kelly-Ramirez describes this technique of her collage work as a sort of, “puzzle that’s created subconsciously”. All logos and brand names are specifically avoided and although faces of models and celebrities are used, the artist draws from multiple images to create a hybridized character. Although the basis of this series is directly drawn from and developed in reference to popular culture, it is also clear to see that it is oddly ironic. Not only is the viewer drawn in by the harmonious juxtaposition of images and colors, but the loud and quirky character of each portrait evokes a humourous response within the onlooker. The accomplishment of Kelly-Ramirez here is in her ability to create a provocatively gorgeous art while simultaneously initiating criticism through her work’s humorous aspects. The nature of each image is eventually questioned because of the strange satirical inclination of each portrait.

P.029 Rainbow Passage (2012) Collage on paper Proud Betty (2013) Collage on paper

“ P U Z Z L E S C R E A T E D S U B C O N S C I O U S LY ” THE PAPER MIXTAPE


I S A B E L L A K E L LY-R A M I R E Z

Kelly-Ramirez’s mixed media works further unravel the curious innuendos that are announced in her paper collage series. The female identity is continually referenced throughout the artist’s work: the magazine montages refer to this idea figurally by using the female body; the mixed media works consist of representing the female character in the depictions of gender-specific items, or accoutrements. Glittery tampons, press-on nails, and bejeweled cosmetics are some examples of how Kelly-Ramirez adopts material goods to evoke the characteristics of femininity. This assortment of girly items is a picturesque display of what lies inside a “woman’s purse or bathroom cabinet”. Beautifully unapologetic, Kelly-Ramirez provides insight into a modernist idea of femininity by explaining her depiction of these effeminate objects:

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“It is the tool kit that [a woman] uses in order to feel armed and protected. Mixed in with all the glamourous beauty objects are the outlier products like the tampons, birth control, pregnanc y tests, et cetera, that are taboo and meant to be hidden but are in actuality more important for the daily life of a being a woman. I mixed all of these products together and hyper feminized the tampons with glitter so they are now ‘glampons’, and hopefully more approachable for public consumption.” The artist’s celebration of the sacred act of ‘getting ready’ is relatable and charming to the everyday woman. However, with its cluttered array of material culture, her work also expresses a sense of exasperation. Within many of her paper and mixed media works there are underlying themes of excess, obsession, and the neverending need for improvement — characterized by an overabundance of cosmetics and glitter. Throughout these representative works she, “explores how much product is required to be a woman, and the gaudy, hyper feminization of them implies that a woman can never be feminine enough”. In her most recent work, Kelly-Ramirez achieves a mature style that has been continuously developed since her time at UCLA. Originally from Santa Barbara, California, the city of Los Angeles has only propelled her work forward stylistically and provided the practicing artist with an exciting atmosphere to explore new forms of representation. Her attractive and satirical compositions explicitly attend to the correlation between femininity and the perverse effects that modern advertising and popular culture has upon it. However, Kelly-Ramirez’s affinity for the very material culture that she employs in her mode of critique is undeniable. As a woman in LA’s contemporary culture, Kelly-Ramirez expresses that she too falls into the seductive pitfalls of consumer culture. This self-awareness is echoed through the duality that her work presents, adding to strong sense of relatability to her quirky characters and embellished compositions. The artist ends our interview with a big smile, commenting that through her frivolous depictions of taboo female products, “[her] friend Samantha is no longer afraid of tampons”.

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ART

P.031 Accoutrements (2014) Mixed media on paper

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JESUS SONS

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J E SUS

SON S SPRING 2015


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I get a rush when I drive, almost to the point that I’m addicted to it. I’ll race along the highway, going a little too fast, playing music a little too loud. My windows will be rolled down, causing my hair to whip around uncontrollably in the wind. Then, more often than not, I’ll see a highway sign that reads, for example, Miami: 320 miles. With wide, excited eyes, I’ll lean over to the person in the passenger seat and say, “Wanna go? Right now, unplanned. Let’s just go and experience something unexpected.”

The energy, the laughs, the camaraderie amongst the band—everything a good road trip consists of was wrapped up into their performance style and personality. I couldn’t help but to dance along to the beat, smile out of pure enjoyment, and, most of all, feel the urge to jump in a car and just drive. Unfortunately, I’m carless as of now in Los Angeles, but the following interview that occurred in the back of Jesus Son’s van after their set at The Smell took me on enough of a mental road trip to hold myself over until the next time I place my hands on a wheel. And when that does happen, I’ll roll my windows down, blast my new road trip soundtrack, and go on all of those trips I never took into the spontaneous unknown—which is exactly what Jesus Sons wish to inspire. Interview by Kelsey Stern

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Jesus Son’s music so accurately reflects this feeling that I immediately felt a connection to it after listening to their self-titled LP for the first time. That same feeling resurfaced as I watched them perform at The Smell in Downtown Los Angeles on February 13.


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Kelsey Stern Brandon, you originally played for The Spyrals. Why did you decide to form this band? Shannon Dean Me. Brandon Wurtz Well, I met Shannon. The Spyrals was a really fun band, but it wasn’t necessarily my 100% passion project, and I wanted to start my own band. KS Why weren’t you 100% committed to it? BW They didn’t like Coors, they liked small breweries. All the microbreweries were driving us apart. I love The Spyrals, I’m really proud of all the records we recorded. It was just time to move on. It was like any relationship where it’s good but just not the one. KS Jesus Sons—why that name? SD We were drinking, joking about how we were gunna call ourselves Robbie and the Good Sons. Brandon said something about being called Jesus because we all have long hair. BW We were trying to come up with something vaguely offensive. SD Jesus Sons kind of came in the way, and I feel like that was a subconscious choice being it’s a reference to “Heroin” by Velvet Underground. But that was definitely not a conscious choice.

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KS Your sound gives off a garage rock/blues vibe. Why the choice of going old school in a generation that seems to be all about progression? BW A lot of our favorite bands are from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and we were definitely very influenced by that. We never wanted to be a full-on modern band, but we are sort of progressive in that we don’t sound like any specific bands from any of those eras. What comes out is pretty natural. No one is trying to rip off anything. KS Do you think bands and music from back in that time are better than today’s? SD I have a theory about this. Most of the stuff you listen to from the 60s and 70s brings you back and makes you feel something because you are vicariously living through the people that are writing the music. For a very long time there was nothing interesting going on in the era that we are living in to write about so a lot of modern music was completely throwaway-able. Now we are going through a lot of changes, and there is a lot of cool sh*t that is happening now, so it’s actually pertinent to write about what is happening and make it important to have someone twenty years from now listen back and actually want to come back and revisit this. KS What is some of the “cool sh*t that is happening now”? SD Big music is falling. Small bands are able to go out on small labels and make really killer music and actually finance it, monetize it. And with the Internet, we have this era that is really conscious of all these amazing social issues, and they actually give a sh*t. And it’s the end of the war. During war, people focus on pop music. Now we actually get to get down to the nitty-gritty of people actually writing real sh*t again that makes sense and makes you feel some-thing from it. It’s not just candy pop that’s distracting you from the horrible sh*t. KS Your self-titled LP consisted of nine songs. Two of them, “You Put a Spell on Me”—the longest song on the album—and “Melt” are instrumentals. Why include those instead of additional lyrical tracks? BW We wanted to make something that was experimental but also an ode to some of our favorite bands. There’s a lot of Stooges and Velvet Underground influence. “Melt” is kinda like a Stooges chanty creepy song. SD When we got those rough mixes back, I was living in a warehouse in SF, and we had this one lone cat that no one really liked. I put the whole record on, and when “Melt” came on, the cat was walking around and meowing and losing its mind. It was freaking out for the sounds and noises, and I remember thinking, “We did something right.”

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“Big music is falling. Small bands are able to go out on small labels and make really killer music and actually finance it, monetize it.” KS BW

KS BW SD BW

Your music video for “All These Furs” documents a road trip the band took to Salvation Mountain. Could you tell me a bit about that experience? When we took that trip, we got in this van, put some motorcycles in the back, and we just drove out to the desert. Salvation Mountain is toward Temecula, towards Mexico. We hung out there with a bunch of gypsies. Shannon got kissed on his birthday by a 50-year-old. There was a lady with one wooden leg. We were on the set of Mad Max. Any memories that stand out from recording the LP? The studio that we recorded in is where Max from Warm Soda lived. We were recording it in his room, but any vocals we had to do were in a cubicle. There was a band practicing next door in the same warehouse. They were playing really loud, so we tried to build within this studio another cubicle set. Brandon’s in there on his knees with a microphone and a candle so he can see. We were trying to create a miniature Iggy Pop studio. Favorite brand of whiskey to drink? At the time when we recorded that record, it was probably Templeton. Then we got broke so it was Old Crow and Ancient Age. Now we live in Southern California, and we are a little cooked, so we drink tequila. Whiskey is good for writing music, and tequila is good for playing shows

KS

So you are all-American, rough, motorcycle-riding men. Why the move to LA, a glamor-filled concrete jungle? I don’t think it is. It’s kinda gritty. SF rent was going through the roof, and the government is out of control. In LA, there’s not just cheaper rent, it’s actually affordable rent. It’s the last big city that you actually have the ability to play a show and get seen by the correct people that can help you monetize your stuff in this weird current culture of shifting the dynamic of big business. People talk sh*t about LA like everyone is so vain. I think SF is more vain than LA is because in SF, people care a lot about what others think. In LA, people care about doing something well.

BW SD

BW KS BW

Has being in LA affected the new album that you have recorded? Most definitely, we are a lot happier. We had a lot more fun on that record. You put that record on and cruise out into the desert or through the mountains, smoke a joint, chug a beer, and get in your f***ing ‘66 Ford pickup truck.

KS BW

Any road trip that you want to take? The Easy Rider road trip on a motorcycle. If anyone reading this hasn’t seen that, watch it and really pay attention.

BW SD

And then just remember this—we blew it man. We f***ing blew it.

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KS BW


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ARTICLE

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VESTAL

BY KELSEY STERN PHOTOS BY GENEVIEVE BARROLL

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VILLAGE


VESTAL VILL AGE

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The sun beats down on Indio, CA, as crowds of eager spectators from across the nation bear the dust and storm the desert in anticipation for Coachella. Considered the most infamous concert of the festival season, people cash out at least $500 - $1000 for the weekend-long experience each April. And while most would swear that it is worth the money, they would also agree that the harsh weather conditions are draining. With the two mile trek to the venue, an increasingly dry throat and dust-filled lungs, and the everfeared “is this vodka or is this water” test, even Coachella needs to be escaped sometimes. Hidden down a long dirt road five miles from Coachella, past seemingly infinite rows of palm tree farms and wheat stalks, an oasis from the madness exists. With a pool, an RV campground, and enough free drinks to quench your thirst for the entire weekend, Vestal Village is the place to be when you aren’t at Coachella (or couldn’t afford it)— that is, if you’re on the list. An invite-only event that runs from Friday to Sunday, Vestal Village boasts everything a good party consists of, minus the hassle. The exclusivity—and secrecy of location—creates a haven where crowds and stress aren’t an issue. As soon as you walk into the open grass field of Vestal Village, a shift can be felt in the air and attitude. Ping pong balls are flying through the sky, people are jumping in and out of corn hole games, free drinks are flowing from the pop-up saloon and Jack Daniels truck, and girls in bikinis are lying around the pool and the pond soaking in the sun. People aren’t huddling in tiny groups but instead are mingling throughout the venue, striking up conversation with anyone who heads their way. It doesn’t matter who you came with— you’re now part of the Vestal Village family for the weekend. All a while in the background, live music from the Vestal Village stage adds to the ambience. One of the acts that played on Friday afternoon was Beach Party. Beach Party’s sound, as described by a band member, is “as if the Ramones moved SPRING 2015

to the west coast and took acid.” Mixing a ‘60s garage rock style with a reverby-surf guitar and some psychedelic/dream punk tones, Beach Party’s music parallels what Vestal provides to its attendees: a good, old-fashioned kickback with just enough edge to keep its listeners hooked. Beach Party is a member of Red Bull’s Sound Select program in Los Angeles, which seeks out local talent and fosters upcoming bands. Red Bull, according to the band members, is like “the uncle who, while your parents want you to go to med school, is like ‘hey man, be in a band’ and buys your first guitar.” The program provides the band with studio recording time and access to events that they otherwise would not have been able to participate in. An invitation to play at Vestal Village is one of those perks, thanks to Red Bull’s sponsorship of the private party. And even though it may not be Coachella with thousands of screaming fans pushed up against the barriers, Vestal Village still gives the band an opportunity to play their music and get more exposure. And like Bad Suns playing at Coachella and Cherry Glazerr at Burgerrama, this Vestal Village performance could be one of the stepping stones to getting into those festivals, as both of those bands are also members of the LA Sound Select program. On Friday, Vestal Village’s day party wraps up at 6 pm, but for those that paid for a camping pass, the weekend is just beginning. As the the sun starts to set, chairs are pitched on the roofs of RVs, campfires are lit, and the buzz for the night party inside the “The Barn” builds. “The Barn” opens at 9pm, and inside awaits a dance floor, more live performances as well as a DJ, and an open bar stocked with lots of liquor, beer, and, fittingly, Red Bull. People either post up at the bar, try out their dancing shoes, or observe the art displayed on the walls, which ranges from photographs of old rock stars screened onto soup can lids to large abstract paintings of Vestal’s watches. Meanwhile, outside “The Barn”, you could find people sprawling out on the grass


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underneath the stars, enjoying a smoke break, or conversing by the barbecue. As the night grows later, people who attended Coachella during the day trickle back into Vestal Village. With the new people adding more energy to the atmosphere, night and day begin to blend together, and the party doesn’t seem to want to dwindle. Even at 6am, with music playing from a stereo in the RV campground, Vestal Village is alive and ready for the next round. With two more days to go underneath the intoxicating desert sun, the possibilities of experiences to come are endless. And only those who are part of the Village will discover what happens next.

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Special thanks to @RedbullLAX for collaborating with The Paper Mixtape and providing the opportunity to attend Vestal Village 2015.

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THERE’S SOMETHING ROMANTIC ABOUT VINYL RECORDS. MAYBE IT’S THE SUBTLE VIBRATIONS YOU FEEL WHEN THE RECORD MOVES, OR THE QUIET CRACKLE YOU HEAR WHEN YOUR FINGERS TURN THE LYRIC INSERT. PERHAPS IT’S THE PERFUME THAT LINGERS ON THE ALBUM SLEEVE, THE SMELL OF AGED PAPER AND VINYL. THE RECORD IS THE FINAL PHYSICAL LINK BETWEEN THE AND OFTEN THE FAN AND THE ARTIST. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THIS PHYSICAL LINK IS STOLEN FROM LISTENERS? MUSIC SECTION CONTRIBUTOR MAEVE MCLIAM VISITED TWO OF HOLLYWOOD’S MOST ICONIC RECORD STORES, AMOEBA MUSIC & THE RECORD PARLOUR, TO FIND OUT WHAT DRIVES THE PASSION BEHIND YOUR LOCAL RECORD STORE. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL ALCAZAR.

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LISTENER AND THE MUSIC,


FOR THE RECORD

AMOEBA MUSIC

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6400 S U N S E T B LV D, L O S A N G E L E S , C A 90028

Daniel Tures is standing in the expansive Jazz room of Amoeba Music, which, despite it being a Tuesday, is buzzing with activity. “Some record stores only have cool music. We have everything. We have it all under one roof,” said Tures, adjusting the hurried stack of used CDs in the aisle. Tures, who spends his time as the floor manager at the largest independent record store in the world, is used to music’s touch. “I think [Amoeba] is a good reflection of the LA music scene in that way, that it’s very diverse and very welcoming and easy to get into,” he said. “Before we opened our record store there was a stereotype of a scratchy guy leaning behind the counter, and it was all about being cool.” Amoeba opened its Hollywood store in 2001, and since then, it has become a staple on many record store pilgrimages that take place throughout Los Angeles. Amoeba, which amasses a city block, offers souvenir maps to help new pilgrims get their bearings. “We want to make sure that we’re cool but that SPRING 2015

everyone here is very welcoming and approachable and that we don’t scoff at anything anyone is interested in,” Tures said. “I think we welcome people who have diverse tastes and a friendly vibe. We try to not make it like High Fidelity.” In addition to offering a large collection of used CDs spanning every genre, Amoeba also offers a large selection of vinyl, cassette tapes, concert DVDs, books and magazines, vintage tour programs and posters, music t-shirts, and special edition box-set releases, not to mention an entire second level dedicated to film and television. For Tures, vinyl offers an experience that digital music can’t recreate. “Records are just amazing,” he added. “The first time you discover them, it’s a revelation. If it’s done right, a record is like an exact copy of what was going on in the studio. CDs are efficient but it’s a digital copy of what was going on whereas a record is a copy of the vibrations the musicians were making. So [vinyl] has this kind of tactile presence to it where you really feel like you’re there.” Physicality is a trait that digital music cannot make


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up for, something that is an asset to record stores. “I think young people, who have grown up with the idea of everything being online, want to rediscover old-fashioned things. I think people are trying to rediscover real situations.” Despite the recent resurgence of vinyl, the domination of digital music led Amoeba to develop an online store as an extension to the Amoeba experience. “What we try and do on the site is just reflect the vibe of being in here,” Tures said. “The main thing is that the whole culture is moving the other direction. It’s like the newspapers and magazines. There’s a rediscovery for old fashioned stuff but it’s nothing like what it used to be. Our website has really taken off in the past couple years.

“I saw a Scottish band I like called Teenage Fanclub a couple years ago and that was really fun,” he said of his most memorable live show. “I was just talking to someone about some of the great shows we’ve had here. We’ve had Nancy Sinatra play here in person and that was fantastic. “I’m glad I discovered music because music has a special quality to it that other things don’t have,” he added. “You have a bunch of people in a room doing it and it has to be this kind of collective thing in that moment. It’s very present and physical. It doesn’t have to be high-brow. And it’s still great. I never really appreciated it until I came here. That’s why I think you kinda have to come here because you can’t just sit at home on a laptop and hit a button.” He smiled, tapping his fingers on the row of CDs behind him.

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“I just got a record that I really like that’s an old jazz record,” Tures said, reflecting on his favorite records. “Right now I’m into old jazz and Brazilian music. But I like everything. I listen to old reggae and techno and country music.”

“I think being in here taught me there’s amazing things in every genre. It’s worth it to grab a genre to dig and find the really special stuff.” He’s not kidding about the digging—I N S I D E R ’ S T I P : at Amoeba, selections often continue underneath the rack, so come prepared to kneel.


FOR THE RECORD

T H E R E C O R D PA R L O U R 6408 S E L M A AV E , L O S A N G E L E S , C A 90028 Located on an unassuming street in downtown Hollywood, The Record Parlour stands out as a retreat for vinyl connoisseurs. “We have at least 20,000 records here. Everything is used. We have one of the bigger selections of vintage records in the city,” said Chadwick Hemus, moving slowly around the store. We’re standing in The Record Parlour and Hemus, the store’s appraiser and manager, is giving a full tour.

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Once inside The Record Parlour, the creative energy that hovers at the threshold runs freely though the open space. Every quirky detail of the store, like the leather barstools that line the sales counter, enhances the experience. “We get a lot of records in,” he said. “We’re very aggressive about that. Going into a store and seeing the same records week after week kinda bums people out,” he added, before stepping into the winding staircase that leads to his lofted office. Hemus, who has made his living off of vinyl for most of his life, makes himself at home in a leather swivel desk chair. “When I started, one of my major observations was that record stores were not engaging people who were not hardcore record fanatics. And now that the pool of people buying vinyl has expanded to people with different interests, I felt like when we put this store together, it kinda made everybody want to hangout, regardless of their level of interest.” To add to its intimate feel, The Record Parlour also boasts an outdoor space adjacent to the store that often features a complimentary bar at special events held at the store. “We’re aggressive about keeping it fresh and really working hard to have plenty of new stuff for people to look at,” Hemus said. “But a whole other aspect of it is to make it an interesting and engaging spot.” Established in 1984, The Record Parlour hopes to create a space in which a broad spectrum of people feel welcome and at home. “I think there’s sort of a communal space thing going on where people with like-minded interests can talk,” he said. “We have a lot of events here and I believe that these will become SPRING 2015

more and more important in that way.” The Record Parlour offers a multi-functional space for album releases and special events and also showcases intimate performances by up-andcoming artists of all genres. Despite the widespread distribution of digital music, records remain a phenomenon that have established a subculture of their own. “I think people who have grown up with them have returned to them from nostalgia for sure. I think that for young people who didn’t grow up with them, there’s this sort of essence to them, for lack of a better word, a sort of realness to them. They feel the tangibility of it. It harkens back to previous eras where a lot of these records have been canonized at some point. It’s like the ‘Holy Grail’ to hold an original copy of whatever it is that turns you on.” For Hemus, narrowing down one ‘Holy Grail’ is difficult. “I have to listen records every day,” Hemus said. “And I have for more than half of my life. That question is tough. I could tell you that Miles Davis’ Elevator to the Gallows is one of my absolute favorite records. Charles Mingus’ The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, that’s one of my favorite records, Los Angeles by X, Love’s Forever Changes. Those are records that I’ll always go back to. I might not listen to them for a couple years but when I go back to them they still hit me,” he said of his favorite records. “Question Mark and the Mysterians,” Hemus, said of his favorite concert experience. “In the late 90s they did some touring, and catching that show with all of the guys,” he paused and his memory produced a slow grin, “it was just unbelievable how good those guys were.” While new technologies threaten the relevancy of older avenues of music exploration, Hemus’ outlook remains unshaken. “I think right now we’re in a boom for what we do specifically, which is great. Anybody that’s making it as an independent business is working hard,” he said, pausing for a moment. “I wouldn’t even know how to separate my being from music. It’s kind of a ridiculous idea, to be honest. It’s been everything to me. It’s made my living, it’s saved my life,” he said.


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P.045 (Top) Chadwick Hemus, Manager of The Record Parlour THE PAPER MIXTAPE


KEEPING IT REAL

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KEEPING IT REAL

A N E X P L O R AT I O N O F T R I B U T E B A N D C U LT U R E

BY MAEVE MCLIAM

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It’s happened before. You’re sitting with a half-empty glass in the half-filled bar your friend dragged you to, who knows how long ago. The two guys in the corner of the bar, who have just finished playing a decent acoustic cover of The Eagles’ “Desperado,” strum the opening chords of Neil Diamond’s, “Sweet Caroline.” Three chords in, your friend turns to you and says, “They’re not too bad for a tribute band.” Well, not quite. As the CEO of Music Zirconia, the world’s largest tribute band booking agency, Brent Meyer is well aware of the preconceptions tribute bands face. “The term ‘tribute band’ can mean many things to many people,” says Meyer.

Based in Southern California, Music Zirconia represents one thousand tribute bands, of all genres and decades, across the US and overseas. Many of the tributes are supported by the original artists. The agency also facilitates the creation of tribute bands when necessary, as well as providing bands with access to recording equipment. “We’re musicians for musicians,” says Meyer, also a record producer and original artist. Within the past fifteen years, Los Angeles has become the tribute band capital of the world. “LA is nostalgic for the days of rock stars because that culture was fostered in Los Angeles,” Meyer says.

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Unlike a cover band that plays hit songs from a widespread number of artists, a tribute band specializes in the work of one artist. According to Music Zirconia’s website, a tribute band dedicates countless hours to recreating an authentic experience of seeing the original band live, often in large-scale productions.


KEEPING IT REAL

THE JOSHUA TREE

Recreating the live performance of a band whose last tour stands as the highest grossing of all time is no small feat. But for The Joshua Tree, Music Zirconia’s premier tribute to U2, it boils down to one simple truth. “We’re fans of a band and we play in the same room as other fans,” says Howard Ulyate, Joshua Tree’s bass player. “That’s all it really is, doing the music justice. We’re not acting. We aren’t impersonators.” It’s a breezy Anaheim evening and The Joshua Tree, like their more famous counterparts, are enjoying each other’s company.

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“At no point do I ever feel like I’m Bono,” adds Xiren Kenny, Joshua Tree’s frontman. “Bono ends where the costume begins.” Although each member strives for an authentic representation of U2’s aesthetic, the band remains adamant that it has its own identity. Most notable to Joshua Tree’s live performance is the emulation of U2’s spirit. “Let’s just capture the vibe and spirit [of U2],” Kenny says of his approach to his portrayal of Bono. “You know, we’re in the audience, holding the hands. It’s very spontaneous, and unscripted.” An experience unique to Joshua Tree, fans not only hear performances of U2’s rarities and beloved hits, they also become the fifth member of the band. Kenny, who shares Bono’s Irish roots and charisma, often embraces the crowd and shares his mic with the fans. “Our deal is that we do live versions of everything,” says Chas Alm, the guitarist and “The Edge” of Joshua Tree. “We interact with the crowd. If the crowd is into it, we’ll go through the chorus one more time. We’ve done maybe 105 different U2 songs at this point. Most of them have been dictated by people saying what they want to hear.” As is customary in the tribute band world, the group plays the same instruments as the original ensemble, creating an accurate experience. In Joshua Tree’s case, this involves The Edge’s trademark 1976 Gibson Explorer, among others. Success has been gradual for Joshua Tree, whose first performance occurred in a small church eleven years ago. Since then, Joshua Tree has played throughout Southern California and across the US, their largest performance drawing an audience of 15,000. “How can you be a fan of a band that’s a tribute to another band?” the band’s drummer, Michael Knutson asks. “It’s weird but that’s what happens.” The conversation picks up with the Anaheim wind and shifts to the band’s most recent gig. Joshua Tree recently returned from a successful show in Mexico, a region new to the tribute band culture. Joshua Tree, who pioneered the tribute band scene in Los Angeles eleven years ago, is prepared for the challenge.

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Tribute bands not only provide an affordable and intimate concert experience for the fans, but they also fill the ever-increasing gap that exists between big name arena acts and musicians living near the poverty line. “We’re creating the first ‘middle class’ of independent musicians that’s ever existed in the music business,” Kenny adds, himself a radio charting artist. “I was cynical and it won me over. I think the people who don’t like tribute bands fall into one of three categories: either they’ve never seen a tribute band or they’ve seen a bad one, or seen a cover band and thought that was what a tribute band was.” “There are a number of people who come to tribute shows expecting them to be bad, and then we’re able to win them over,” says Alm, himself a veteran U2 fan. ” I play music because it’s fun. I don’t have a problem with playing music that I love and seeing people stand there and sing along to With or Without You because they know the words and they’re enjoying it.” It’s an experience unlike any other, in which the musician and fan are equalized under one passion, with both parties adding to the experience. “We’ve all been in original bands, but I enjoy this more. If you can do the songs justice, if you can do the original band justice, it just adds joy to people’s lives,” Knutson says.

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“In this area, in Los Angeles and Orange County, the tribute band scene is big now,” says Knutson, leaning back in his chair. “There are some clubs where all they book is tribute bands. So it’s happening. And I think the haters understand now. It’s changed a lot.”


KEEPING IT REAL

STRANGELOVE

Freddie Morales, Strangelove’s lead singer “Devotional Dave,” reenters the Green Room of the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. “And that is the full Strangelove experience,” Morales says. The singer, dressed in leather Dave Gahan would be envious of, is joined by the three other members of Strangelove. Brent Meyer, his blonde hair behaving in vintage Martin Gore fashion, sits down for the first time that night. In addition to being the CEO of Music Zirconia, Meyer portrays the role of “Counterfeit Martin” in Strangelove. He is joined by David Sepe, also known as “Alan Wildest,” Strangelove’s tribute to Alan Wilder, and Jim Evans, also known as “IntheFletch,” the band’s tribute to Andrew Fletcher.

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Strangelove, Music Zirconia’s ultimate tribute to Depeche Mode, recently headlined the successful New Wave Rave in Riverside, California. The Riverside Municipal Auditorium is just one of the several stops on the band’s current tour, with many shows yet to be announced. Strangelove continues to be one of LA’s elite tribute bands, recently snagging a spot on LA Weekly’s list of “LA’s Top 20 Tribute Bands” this past March, in addition to being featured in AXS TV’s series, “World’s Greatest Tribute Bands.” “We never thought it was going to turn into this,” Sepe reflects on the band’s success. “For me it was an experiment with sounds, just trying to emulate Depeche Mode.” Emulation is at the heart of Strangelove’s performance. In just five years, Strangelove has not only established a loyal fan base across the US and overseas, but has also garnered praise from Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore himself. The band agreed that the feeling is surreal. Meyer smiles, adding, “He’s very complimentary and that’s great. There’s no better accolade than from the horse’s mouth.” While the success of Strangelove may offer a cushion for the band, the band refuses to stop evolving. “David and I had been doing another project and we wanted to grow it and expand it to an international level. We saw Freddie and realized that there is no person who could inhabit Dave Gahan like him,” Meyer says of the group’s genesis. After hearing Morales’ sultry baritone voice, it’s hard to argue with Meyer. Not only does Morales’ voice transform into Gahan’s voice of the 1980s, but his physical representation of Gahan’s performance treads in the realm of the uncanny. More difficult characteristics, such as Gahan’s iconic “Microphone Stand Spin,” can take as long as a year to master. “Sonically, everything has to be done from scratch,” Morales said. Meyer, who also serves as the Music Director of the band, perks up. “I’d estimate I’ve got about 3,000 to 3,500 hours into just the backing track programming,” he said. “We’re trying to reverse

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engineer. They were on the vanguard of cutting-edge synths and samplers of the day. We sort of piece it all together through old magazines articles and research back from the ‘80s.

For Depeche Mode fans, Strangelove allows fans to experience the original band’s music live and year-round for a more affordable price. For Morales, the band’s relationship with the fans drives the creation of setlists. “We have the opportunity to play the songs that they don’t play anymore,” he said. “And you know, we pay a lot of attention to what the fans want.” The night of the Riverside show, the band dug up powerhouses such as “Enjoy the Silence,” and rarities like, “But Not Tonight,” and “Somebody.” While the line sometimes blurs during live performance, the band remains grounded. “We’re musicians. We have original projects. We’re not delusional that we’re Depeche Mode,” Sepe said. “But that’s what’s cool about this project,” Morales said. “After a show we like to come out and say ‘Hi’ to [the fans] in our offstage persona.” In addition to perfecting the catalog of Depeche Mode, Strangelove also implements video into live performances that adheres to the original aesthetic, in order to create an authentic Depeche Mode experience. “We’re all having a communal Depeche Mode lovefest,” Meyer adds, his excitement leaking through. “And most of the tribute bands are like that, those who are doing it for the right reasons and are passionate about what they’re playing.” “We’re just a bunch of crazy Depeche Mode fans,” said Morales, smiling. “We get the leather and go on stage. That’s pretty much it. We have a big party with the fans, and that’s what it’s all about.”

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“We’ve been really fortunate. Alan Wilder, the member of Depeche Mode who left in ’93, gave us some of the original sample disc sounds that they used. That really helps the authenticity. We’re playing something that’s the same exact thing that’s on the record.”


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A SPOTLIGHT ON FOUR NEIGHBORHOODS

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ABBOT KINNEY

BY AMINAH IBRAHIM

“There’s a bigger pool of people that come in from all over the world, all over town, all over the country. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the dynamic has definitely changed. We are definitely exposed to many cultures, diversities and orientations. It’s just more.” Felix Navarro, owner of The Juicy Leaf Known for being “the coolest street in America”, Abbot Kinney has been a destination for the impossibly hip for the past decade or so. The street, previously known as West Washington Boulevard, was founded on the idea of local community and uniqueness. In it’s heyday, Abbot Kinney consciously shied away from massmarket stores thanks to a local community group, “Venice Unchained”.

the street since 1999). Despite what some may call the gentrification of Abbot Kinney, veterans on the street are still carrying the tradition and principals that started the street’s popularity. I sat down with Felix Navarro, owner of The Juicy Leaf in the little sanctuary-cum-nursery that he built to talk about their evolution and business ethics as a well-known emporium on the street.

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Abbot Kinney has become exceedingly fashionable—rife with tourists, celebrities and culinary crusaders thanks to establishments like Travis Lett’s G J E L I N A and Casey Lane’s TA S T I N G K I T C H E N (both culinary adventures if you have a big bucks to spare and an appetite for creatively melded flavors). Though the street is still lined with charming (if not, a little stylized) murals, eye-catching and unique store fronts, one cannot help but notice the presence of established brands like Rag&Bone, Lucky Brand, and Alexis Bittar pop up amongst the kitschy and arty stores that Abbot is known for. An upgrade was inescapable, especially with the changing demographics around the area. The “Abbot Renaissance” has forced some long-standing veterans off the street and other principal patrons to be more creative and innovative in their business. “It’s crazy, how much the street changes everyday. The clientele is definitely different and we’ve had to expand, rebrand and hire more people to keep up,” explains Alex, a sales associate who has been working at a B U R R O for the past 2 years (previously known as Firefly, Burro is an eclectic, California-lifestyle home store that has been on

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE J U I C Y L E A F. Growing up, plants were always a part of my life. I grew up super poor, we lived in this little tiny house and right next to our house was a little trailer house that my grandmother live in. My mother and grandmother had like, a million flower beds and all they did was plant... it was their own little paradise. I spent a lot of time with them and learnt a lot about plants, that was basically it. Then I went to college and did the whole banking thing, I would make plants and take them to work and my colleagues would THE PAPER MIXTAPE

(Opposite) Felix Navarro, founder of The Juicy Leaf


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ask, “Can you make me one?” — it was a hobby, something I really loved to do. As the financial world became unsteady, my ex-partner convinced me to do this, he said, “you can do this, you have a gift.” We started out in my garage in OC, then we would do flea markets, swap meets and garden shows for two and a half years before we finally opened here in Venice in 2009. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT OF THE JUICY LEAF? The first thing I really started with was the sand and rock planters that I make... that was just because I’m very a OCD, Type A personality and I wanted plants in my house but hated those little dishes underneath, you know, those little plastic trays. I wanted to have something on my coffee table where I wouldn’t have to worry about a tray. So, I started planting in glass and I didn’t even know it would work the way I was doing it, but the plant started living! I initially started with that. Over time, just being exposed to the different distributors and seeing different elements and textures there was to work with... I just started trying different things. I’m very organic based, because we were poor, we never had a lot of toys so we had to use nature to entertain ourselves. My mother was so good about it, we didn’t realize how poor we were because she really made it a point to allow us to be creative. She would go outside and put water in the dirt and make mud and she would say, “Create things.” She made nature a playground for us. That’s where the underbelly of it all is.

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IF YOU HAD TO DESCRIBE THE JUICY LEAF IN ONE SENTENCE? I would say that our concept is: it’s a place that is very, very nature driven but also a place where you can come in and be inspired and get creative! I think what’s different about us is that we really take the time to educate people about what they’re doing. It’s important to us that when our customers come in that they live with something that will be successful. I see these little guys (the plants) as living organisms, I want to give them a fighting chance! Daily, educating people about the plants that they are buying is what we do. It’s a little bit more involved. W I T H T H AT I N M I N D, W H AT D O YOU THINK YOUR CLIENTELE A P P R E C I AT E S T H E M O S T ? I think we’re a little bit more than the retail. The group of designers that work with me, these guys help me create the things that we have here. We and they spend time with the customer, making sure that they get the right thing. We’ll go to peoples’ homes, we encourage them to bring in dimensions of their area... we’re making it a very personal experience and I feel like customers don’t get that very much. Especially on a street like Abott Kinney, it’s changed so much. HOW HAS THE STREET CHANGED OVER THE YEARS? I think there was a bigger sense of community six years ago, it was more locals and we’ve made a lot of amazing friends and family, we call them family because these people have become families to us. We’ve had a couple of people come in and have had babies, we call them our “juicy babies”! They have been a part of our lives as young adults, gotten married and have had kids. It’s really beautiful to see that. Now, there’s a bigger pool of people that come in from all over the world, all over town, all over the country. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the dynamic has definitely changed. We are definitely exposed to many cultures, diversities and orientations. It’s just more.


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DO YOU THINK THE STREET CHANGING HAS CHANGED YOUR ART? Absolutely. We’ve had to evolve a lot. At first it was simple pots and plants. Over the years, as the rent started going up I had to find alternatives to be able to stay on this street— I’ve had to get a little diverse. The Juicy Leaf collaborates with artists. I’m excited with the work that they all do. What I like about the artists is that we have is that they are all open to any ideas. We incorporate all their skills into different things be it glassblowing, bedazzling... whatever! We have 17 artists outside of the designers in the store and they are all very humble... we’re a family, that’s our Juicy Leaf.

will ask for loyalty, but I want them to come here and do the best they can everyday until they find something that will make them feel alive.

Like the rest of the Juicy Leaf family, I felt compelled to linger a little in the almost sacred nursery with Felix and the rest of the gang. We had a few laughs, talked about wine and food, I learnt about some of their eccentricities and could feel the obvious love they had for each other. As I walked out, they left me with a bunch of hugs and made sure I grabbed a succulent from their “free succulent day” pile.

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FA M I LY ? It’s such an interesting thing... my group... I feel like so many times people work and they are just like, “my work is done... I’m out,” my guys will sit here for hours. We stop work at 7, sometimes it’s midnight and we’re out here having wine and talking. We’re family based. We don’t have titles here. I don’t ever want them to tell me what they think I want to hear, I want them to question. They all have their own dreams and passions on the side. One of my rules to them is to that if they have a better opportunity—take it. No one is going to take care of you like you can. My people are going to come and go and I fully anticipate losing them. A lot of times companies THE PAPER MIXTAPE


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SAWTELLE

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B Y PA L M O FA R B E R

Sawtelle Boulevard, officially renamed Sawtelle Japantown, has also been known to many as Ramen Row or Little Osaka. Whatever you may call it, all can agree that this street has grown into a vibrant scene of walking traffic, scrumptious food, and shops left and right. Although known to have always been a Japanese community, Sawtelle has blossomed into a small melting pot: with restaurants ranging from various Asian countries, fusion food, desserts, bars, burger joints, and even Japanese trinket shops. As you walk down the street, you’ll notice the mix of people from traditional Japanese elders, young UCLA students, tourists, families, bachelors, all enjoying the liveliness that Sawtelle has to offer. Unlike many popular restaurants and happening corners in LA, the stores and restaurants on Sawtelle stay open late, making it a perfect hangout spot for the hungry, lonely, and adventurous. Food trucks pop up at night, the karaoke bar fills up, restaurants are still packed, and dessert shops have lines outside their doors. If you’re from LA or just happen to be passing through, make sure you do yourself a favor and pay a visit to Sawtelle Blvd. Try all the places I’ve listed and don’t be hesitant to go ahead and walk into everything else on the street. Enjoy!

B SWEET

2005 S AW T E L L E B LV D, L O S A N G E L E S , C A 9 0025 (3 10 ) 9 6 3-7213

Butter, sugar, heavy creams – classic. This fabulous little shop is one of Sawtelle’s newest and most exquisite babies. It opened less than a year ago and has already burst into becoming a popular LA dessert destination. I was lucky enough to sit and chat with Chef Barb Batiste, founder of the store and creator of this shop’s insane sweets. Chef Batiste, a warm-hearted wife and mother, poured her soul into telling me about how B Sweet has grown over the years and become what it is today. Encouraged by her husband, she started out by just selling her chocolate chip banana bread a loaf a week, at the Ocean Park Café in Santa Monica. Soon enough, but not surprisingly, her business quickly grew into a catering company and she began working for Nike, Disney, Sony, and many more huge names. She even opened up two B Sweet dessert trucks, “Angel” and “Devil”. She dreamt of opening a shop on Abbot Kinney or Sawtelle, but never believed it could happen. In 2013, her husband, a real estate broker, magically found a perfect little spot on Sawtelle. B Sweet opened up on August 9, 2014, and the instantaneous love for her desserts had people lining up outside her door. “I’m in this business because I love people so much and I love to bake and I love to cook and that’s what I do daily, it’s my passion. People are really my passion too. I grew up like that. I don’t care if the lights go off, I don’t care if the power goes off, but the people come first. You want to make them feel welcome and cared for.” Different from the typical boba and shaved ice on Sawtelle, Barbara has created a menu combining her Filipino and Spanish background, love for classic American desserts, and even adding a twist of some Japanese flavors. She created this shop to feel like home with its comfort food, cozy atmosphere, and handpicked vintage chairs and furniture. Some of her most popular desserts are the: HALO SANDWICH — A pressed donut ice cream sandwich with several flavor ice creams to choose from. (My personal favorite is the “Ube” ice cream,

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CIT Y, CUISINE, CULTURE

a traditional Filipino purple sweet potato). T H E S L U T T I E S T B R O W N I E — Layered with chocolate chip cookie, graham cracker, Oreo, brownies, marshmallow, and chocolate ganache. B R E A D P U D D I N G — She incorporated all of her classic dessert flavors into FORTY-SIX different flavors of hot bread puddings! (But she only rotates 6 a week in order to not overwhelm us). Don’t forget to add a hot or cold pressed coffee, or even the Nitro coffee that comes out of an awesome little tap. Now those are just three items on her menu. I couldn’t possibly spoil the fun of visiting and trying the rest of it for yourselves. Barbara has made it clear that the general rule is: more butter, more cream, not always more sugar, and lots of labor and love.

delicious, quick and easy snack/comfort food. My top favorite dish? D A K F C . TRY IT. The combo sounded crazy when I first read it off the menu, but the flavors were truly killer. Korean fried chicken (KFC), lathered with pickled daikon, and kimchi cheddar pineapple cornbread. I absolutely adore cornbread, and this, my friends, was by far the best cornbread I have ever tasted.

S E O U L S A U S A G E C O M PA N Y

Inspired by casual Korean grab-and-go street food, Seoul Sausage Company has been another sweet addition to the Sawtelle community. Yong Kim, one of the three co-founders of Seoul Sausage Company, told me that he never imagined his life leading him to open up a sausage shop. But when he, his brother, and a good friend decided to start this company, they quickly spiraled into popularity. Starting with only serving their food at festivals, Seoul Sausage Company was rated number one on Yelp without even having a store or a food truck. They were lucky enough to get casted for The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network, and came in first place. From there, they were able to make stops around LA with their new food truck, and eventually open up their spot on Sawtelle, October, 2012. Yong and his partners made the menu short, creative, and concise. Combining familiar flavors like Korean BBQ, they created the G A L B I B E E F and S P I C Y P O R K sausages on toasted rolls, covered in kimchi relish or apple cabbage slaw. Amazing. T H E F L A M I N G , L I L ’ O S A K A , and S P A M M U S U B I B A L L S , are all inspired by the sausage flavors, seasoned, rolled into a ball, breaded, and deep fried – a super

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SUSHI STOP Finding sushi, especially in LA, is normally a slightly expensive venture. You don’t want to eat funky looking sushi just because it’s cheap. SushiStop, on the other hand, has blessed LA and given us all a chance to enjoy beautiful sushi and other traditional Japanese plates, at a mere cost of $2.95 for EVERYTHING (and I can assure you, the sushi does not look funky). With not only one, but three locations on Sawtelle Blvd. alone, it is almost guaranteed that there will be a line outside each shop in order to sit down and eat. Even though you may have to wait a few minutes, it is well worth your time and certainly won’t hurt your wallet. Top three suggestions:

SPICY SCALLOP ROLL POPCORN SHRIMP ROLL CHICKEN CURRY RICE BOWL

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N I J I YA M A R K E T

BLOCKHEADS

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Nijiya Market is an exciting little gem tucked away in a strip mall on Sawtelle Blvd., just above Olympic Blvd. They are a traditional Japanese chain grocery store with locations spreading across California, and even Hawaii and New York. If you’re looking to experience a real Japanese shopping trip, Nijiya provides amazing imported foods, candies, home supplies, and snacks straight from Japan, as well as pre-made sushi boxes, bento bowls, and much more!

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GIANT ROBOT

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Opened in 2001, Giant Robot has remained to this day, an exciting and popular stop for Sawtelle Blvd. fans. This small, low-key store carries just about everything needed for Asian Pop Culture lovers. With its toys, stationary, rad t-shirts, comic books, silly house ware, and art, Giant Robot has kept its charm and originality for the past 14 years.

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One of Sawtelle’s most popular dessert shops, Blockheads serves a unique hybrid of Hawaiian shaved ice and ice cream – “Snow Cream”. The combination is nothing but magical. Refreshing, fluffy, and sweet, this dessert will leave you in complete and utter satisfaction. Snow Cream has the look and texture of freshly fallen snow and comes in four flavors; Original, Strawberry, Green Tea, and Black Sesame, along with some fun seasonal flavors as well. You can chose as many toppings as you’d like, ranging from almond jelly to rice cakes, toffee crunch, tropical fruit, and so much more. I highly suggest you bring a group of people when you visit, because a size “regular” is more than enough for two or three people…and only $3.95!


CIT Y, CUISINE, CULTURE

LOS FELIZ

B Y T I F FA N Y N G U Y E N

“ORIGINAL. LOS FELIZ IS AN ORIGINAL COMMUNIT Y AND IT’S BEEN AN ORIGINAL COMMUNIT Y. IT STANDS ALONE IN THIS CIT Y OF MONOTONY.” –DJ Chavez, founder of Kingswell

If any store were to capture the eclectic and freespirited nature of Los Feliz, look no further than S P I T F I R E G I R L . Spearheading the ingenuity of this innovative community, I stopped to chat with Jason and Kristen Schroeder, founders of the whimsical and vintage-inspired boutique, about their vision behind the business. “What started as box cards for my daughter’s birthday became a hit that suddenly everybody wanted,” says Kristen. “Now I’m making these and I’m making soy candles, perfumes, dolls… For a while, we were making giant fortune cookies with personalized fortunes in them and you should have seen it. There were fortune cookies all over my living room and all over the floor. We had black fortune cookies which gave bad luck fortunes and lucky fortune cookies, which were chocolate and had pick up lines inside for the guys [laughs].” If you are looking for a memorable gift, Spitfire Girl offers novelty pillows, unique stationary

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I took to the streets of Los Feliz, known as the more refined and laid-back sister to LA’s trendy and culturally hip neighborhood Silverlake, in order to learn about this gem of an area which transports visitors back in time to an era of classic Mom-and-Pop shops, indie bookstores, and community of artistic individuals. In Spanish, feliz means “happy” and in the city of Los Angeles, it’s hard to feel anything but. In this neighborhood alone, you will be in walking distance of Hotel de Ville—the main hub for collectors, musicians, and eyewear enthusiasts seeking an eccentric mixture of vintage specs. Hang a left and you will be at the only Steven Alan Outpost on the West Coast, where you can find designer items for not-so-designer prices. Find some stellar deals at the two-story, ‘70s inspired vintage mecca of Squaresville. And finally, end your evening at hiking trails of the iconic Griffith Observatory.

and postcards, and quirky journals that are sure to bring a smile to your special someone’s face. “I personally loved when we sold grab bags. They had plastic spiders and fake poop and everything”, chuckles Jason. When asked about the inspiration behind Spitfire Girl’s pieces, Jason and Kristen reminisced on their travels, remarking that their inspiration was drawn from every possible avenue and experience they have had, with each idea growing out of each other. And when asked about their favorite piece they own, Kristen admitted: cat taxidermy.

Jason and Kristen Schroeder of Spitfire Girl

Continue your afternoon down the vibrant avenues of Los Feliz Village and you will find yourself both at home and lost among the shelves of novels written by homegrown authors at general bookstore S K Y L I G H T B O O K S . Much of the store remains dedicated to the residents of the Los Feliz area, hosting community events, book clubs, and staff ’s picks of locally published stories and zines. Meanwhile, across the street, you can pick up your newest home décor pieces at C O - O P 2 8 , handmade and antique furniture store and gift shop on Vermont. Here, you can find a selection of timeless and original pieces carefully restored by local smiths and artisans, from one-of-a-kind, homespun accessories sporting vintage watch bands and jewels, to handcrafted apothecary products, to homemade air plant and crystal terrariums that are not offered anywhere else. Further setting the people of Los Feliz apart from other Los Angeles neighborhoods is their genuine passion for the arts and creative culture, and their THE PAPER MIXTAPE


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fiery ambition to make their dreams a reality. At DJ Chavez’s multi-faceted store K I N G S W E L L , a retail space “combining the loves of professional skating, artistic integrity, tattoo and fine art, and the community of likeminded awesomeness and adventurousness,” patrons are invited to partake in the shop’s unique story while shopping the assortment of art, design products, apothecary, and skateboard related items that are in demand from the creative and global community. I got to know more about the maker behind Kingswell as Chavez shares his story with TPM. TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT HOW I T S TA R T E D. We wanted to do something just a little bit more thought out and curated in the aspect of skateboard retail as opposed to doing just the traditional skateboard shop. One of the things we were passionate about outside of skateboarding was the appreciation for quality soft goods… Curating brands together that fit each other and also doing the tattoo shop and doing gallery events as well. So a multi-functioning, moving beast basically.

skate with who are also artists off their board. Basically, your friends who are doing amazing art and unable to get to a traditional gallery, we have a place for them to show their stuff without it being a nightmare process. And skate and clothing and everything that comes with that, that was the easy part. W H AT A R E Y O U L I S T E N I N G T O ? Right now I’m listening to The Talking Heads. [Laughs] I’ve been digging into some stuff that’s more from my ‘90s roots like my kid stuff that I listened to. Old punk stuff like early NOFX, Screeching Weasels. I’m the guy who starts his morning with Frederic Chopin and then goes into Beatles into Fleetwood Mac and into Cat Power. Our playlist on a dayto-day playlist is seriously so across the board like you’ll hear early ‘90s hip-hop straight into Leonard Skinner. It’s a jumblef*** in here. But usually it’s good. It might be a little bad…it can definitely be a little bad at times. You know like, those dirty secrets basically. Like I’m not definitely not opposed to listening to some Usher. W H AT ’ S T H E C R A Z I E S T A D V E N T U R E YOU’VE EVER BEEN ON? Life. Life has been the craziest adventure since I’ve been my own person in my own brain. I think that the school of life has been the craziest adventure I’ve ever been on and this sh*t is still going. W H AT I S S P E C I A L A B O U T T H E COMMUNIT Y OF LOS FELIZ? WHY HERE? HOW WOULD YOU D E S C R I B E T H E C U LT U R E H E R E ? Original.

HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE THESE A S P E C T S O F S K AT I N G , A R T, R E TA I L , A N D TAT T O O S A L L R E L AT E WITH ONE ANOTHER? It’s not necessarily them relating to each other on a demographic, it’s more of the things that we thought were rad and bringing those things together. Tattoos are something we are all into… It’s part of the culture. The gallery side of that stuff came from a bunch of our friends that we SPRING 2015

Los Feliz is an original community and it’s been an original community. It stands alone in this city of monotony. It’s still mom and pop. There’s no big chain around, there’s nothing like that in this city. Los Feliz is a community still doing its own thing and still supporting its own. That was very important for me, coming from a small town. Original brick and mortar. I think this community stays true to


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that. If I could have ever opened a store ever in this city, this was the neighborhood. No ifs, ands, or buts. If Silverlake is referred to as the Williamsburg of LA, then it is no doubt that Los Feliz certainly claims the title of East Village, where in many ways, Los Feliz is like a home away from home for East Coast transplants. The only exception: Don’t count on much bone-chilling cold or scorching heat around these parts.

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KINGSWELL

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SPOTLIGHT

WEST HOLLY WOOD

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Akin to the greater Los Angeles area, West Hollywood embodies a wide variety of urban culture—stemming from distinctive areas within the “WeHo” community. Everything from local businesses to legendary musical venues to modern art can be found on the hills of West Hollywood. The community—a large area comprised of different sections—prides itself on offering individuals access to a number of entertainment venues, cafés, and exceptional exhibits. Known as an area that offers its welcoming arms to the LGBT community, West Hollywood has an air of acceptance. While strolling down the rainbow painted sidewalks on Wilshire Boulevard, one catches glimpses from all walks of life. Dogs and children, women and men can all find their niche in West Hollywood—a mini city in itself. Bursting with diversity, this urban expanse is a unique homage to Los Angeles.

SUNSET STRIP

HOUSE OF BLUES

In what some consider to be the epitome of Los Angeles tourism, the Sunset Strip offers a historical view into Hollywood life—from the legendary Chateau Marmont hotel all the way down to the House of Blues. The rustic ranchlike venue not only hosts a wide range of musical artists, but also offers unique dining experiences. After attending a number of performances in the southern-inspired edifice, I can say with confidence that being in the House of Blues is truly comparable to being in another world. The music syncs effortlessly with the venue, as the overall ambiance pulls you into another time.

If only for a night, the music takes you somewhere else—perhaps a small ranch in a ghost town filled with soulful tunes. The walls, rustic lumber adorned with saloon-style wooden pictures, add to the overall immersion. With performances ranging from Independent Music LA to Alex & Sierra (X-Factor winners) to superstars like Andy Grammer, the House of Blues appeals to all audiences.

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ALFRED COFFEE {IN THE ALLEY}

Melrose Avenue. While iconic and well known in so many ways, Melrose also holds a number of hidden treasures—specifically in the form of marvelous coffee. After discovering the alley bound coffee shop, Alfred Coffee, I found myself continuously returning for their incomparable iced drinks and popular A L F R E D C O N E . Alfred Coffee opened only a short two years ago in the Melrose area, coupled with two other locations— one in Brentwood and a storefront location also on Melrose. Personally, the {In The Alley} branch is the most intriguing environment to sit down and sip on some brew.

In an effort to better understand how Alfred Coffee came to be such a popular stop for locals, I spoke with Retail Manager Ashlee Lawson. After working with the family-owned coffee chain for two years, Ashlee relayed to me the joy that comes from working with such a visually unique and personalized coffee shop. The focus on personalization in the preparation of their coffee is considered to be a contributing factor to the SPRING 2015


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success of the expanding business. By making coffee that targets a specific costumer base, Alfred Coffee has been able to grow with their costumers. Using ingredients such as almond milk and sugarfree components, the shop is able to target broader and popular trends within the coffee industry. Instead of only vamping up their coffee game, Alfred Coffee has gone above the standard coffee shop by designing their stores into a social media phenomenon. If you live in or around Los Angeles, chances are you’ve seen an Instagram or two featuring the popular checker print walls and aesthetically pleasing designs. By opting for social media marketing instead of traditional marketing, Alfred Coffee has been able to grow tremendously through word of mouth.

targeted for a specific audience of professional designers; the program aims to pair designers together in order to piggyback ideas off of one another. For a less invasive and less competitive way to view new designs, PDC has opened a special “designLAb” gallery that showcases the installations of sculptor Justin Beal and painter Jesse Willenbring. Both of these designers have worked to display the history of the past 40 years of the Pacific Design Center’s revolutionary projects.

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PA C I F I C D E S I G N C E N T E R

For the past 40 years, the Pacific Design Center (PDC) has been a harbinger for innovative and modern design. Housing dozens of design galleries and showrooms, residents have the opportunity to observe the state-of-the-art designs that may very well be iconic in the future. Everything from oriental rugs to kitchen layouts to textiles and interior design can be viewed inside the three-part massive building.

While the galleries are exciting to see, the center also hosts a number of other events to inspire designers in the creative process. Programs such as “Work with a Designer” and designLAb help harbor creativity and propel imagination. PDC’s “Work with a Designer” is THE PAPER MIXTAPE


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COFFEE CULTURE

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COFFEE CULTURE Among LA-based fusion food trucks like Kogi BBQ and Downtown Dogs, authentic Japanese ramen shops on every corner of Sawtelle, and customizable sweet, crispy, French-style macaron ice cream sandwiches from Milk, the City of Angels has been rising to the forefront of a forward-thinking culinary movement. And in recent years, LA has continued to step up its game to match its foodie predecessors as artisan roasters and skilled baristas raise the bar on coffee culture in the West Coast—at Vivace and Victrola in Seattle, Stumptown and Ristretto in Portland, at Blue Bottle, Four Barrel, and Ritual in San Fransisco.

“Here, it is all culturally based”, shares Philz barista Terra Ramirez. “We love interacting with people. And it’s really big personality-wise. That’s why everyone here is so willing to talk to everyone else and is generally friendly. That’s something we look for more than barista skills— it’s personality skills. It’s harder to find. You can teach anyone to pour coffee, but you can’t teach everyone to be nice to people on their bad days. That’s part of Philz. They have to love what they’re doing. When you have that, your product always tastes better.” Originating in San Francisco, the recently opened Santa Monica branch of Philz Coffee has a completely different feel. “You can tell by the kinds of things we play as music here [laughs]. Right now it’s rap music—you know, whatever we feel like fits the Los Angeles and Santa Monica area. In San Francisco, it’s calmer, a little more casual. Here its like we made it our own. It’s art from local artists that we sell here,” Ramirez says. This new wave of cafés—Alfred Coffee, Intelligensia, LAMill, the Coffee Commissary, and G&B among them is dripping, steeping, and pulling the most exotic flavors from these roasts

and blends. The best cup of coffee you have ever had may be waiting for you in one of these cafés, especially when paired with a shop’s own unique handcrafted item, like Go Get ‘Em Tiger’s original iced almond macadamia latte. “We make our own almond macadamia milk here. It was featured in The New York Times as ‘the best iced latte in America’ and ever since that happened, it blew up. I would honestly say that for every 10 people that come into the shop, at least 5 of them order an iced almond macadamia latte [laughs],” shift lead Nate Perez tells TPM. Each new coffee shop in Los Angeles brings forth its own unique character; a defining feature that sets it apart from its artisanal counterparts. For Dinosaur Coffee founder, Michelle Hantoot, “at the end of the day, we just wanted something to be pretty whimsical and light-hearted. Ben and I try not to take ourselves too seriously even though we love what we do and take great pride in what we do.” At Dinosaur Coffee, not only do visitors have a chance to try a fine assortment of specialty coffee, but they also have the opportunity to participate in the annual World’s Worst Coffee competition as the shop continually finds new ways to combine quality beverages with a quality time. When asked to give us the low-down of the competition, Hantoot reveals, “It’s always important just to be able to laugh at yourself and have a good time, and that’s what we wanted with this. The United States Barista competition had just happened in Long Beach a week before and it’s very serious and people spend years preparing for it, so we kind of wanted the World’s Worst Coffee Competition to be a fun place to alleviate pressure and be a fun time to celebrate. Competitors had seven minutes to make the world’s worst coffee.” “The rules were bring your own beans, bring your own equipment, and I’ll provide you with a water tower and two electric plugs and that’s all you got. People went above and beyond. People wore outfits, made really bad coffee, but the presentations and time spent in preparation for it was amazing. This year was our first annual competition, implying a second annual. But I really don’t know how next year will top this one. The winner got a dunce cap that said ‘bad’ and a really nice cupping spoon THE PAPER MIXTAPE

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Now, a modest boom of connoisseur-grade coffee bars has sprung up in neighborhoods all over Los Angeles, bringing with them a burgeoning interest in judiciously roasted coffee, brewed to exacting standards, employing elaborate methods of extraction—all while tossing that unique and classic LA flavor of flowers and sunshine into the carefully curated mixture.

BY TIFFANY NGUYEN


COFFEE CULTURE

that said ‘I am just the worst’ in the bowl of the spoon,” she jokingly explains.

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And while some coffee shops shine through their animated charisma, others let the local artists and their showcased artwork speak for themselves. At Br Coffeebar, distinct flavor profiles in the single-origin coffees and unique teas such as the original iced green tea coconut meets monthly art exhibits showcased on the walls of the shop itself. I got a chance to sit down with owner Sharleen Makhtarzadeh as she told TPM more about her love for the arts and culture and how those transpired into her work. W H AT I S T H E S T O R Y B E H I N D B R Ū ? One of my passions is coffee. Growing up, I lived in Northern California going to bookstores and local coffee shops, which is something we often did. It was just a good memory and good feeling of what being in a local environment is. That is what started this; a great memory. My whole goal is to bring together and collaborate with great products. From our milk and our chocolate and our baked goods, I feel like Los Angeles has really come around and really become artisan, so it’s nice to be a part of that. There are so many new places opening up and there are so many levels that we can work with. We’ve done showings and our art. We change it up. We offer local artists to showcase their pieces here. This is the first time we’ve had something three-dimensional. Customers are really enjoying and inquiring. And the last artist has done so well, she’s sold a lot of her pieces. I feel like it’s a great community spot. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE ART? W H AT D O E S I T M E A N T O Y O U A N D W H Y I S I T S O I M P O R TA N T ? I think it is a form of self-expression. Every time a new artist comes in, the place changes with their creativity. It brings in their elements with their design and feeling and it comes into this space. It is nice to see how this place transforms. You feel different when you walk in with every artist. I wish I was I was more artistic and I feel like I created this space because I wanted to connect with artists because that was never really something I was able to do as a child. It is a place I’m exploring still. SPRING 2015

D O Y O U E V E R L O O K AT O T H E R C O F F E E S H O P S A N D S E E W H AT THEY’RE DOING, TO INSPIRE D E C I S I O N-M A K I N G F O R Y O U R OWN SHOP? I think all of our focus is the same: offer high quality coffee in an aesthetically pleasing area. Everyone has his or her own little take on it, but I think the quality is there. The details are there. There are a lot of choices you make everyday. What kind of milks or chocolates? What else do you want to offer with your coffee? I think we all feed off of each other and learn from each other and just generate the best product we can.

So whether you prefer cold brews to pour-overs, or Guatemalan to Columbian origin beans, there is a little bit of everything for you in this city of dreams—each with their own distinctive spin. The artisan coffee shops of LA guarantee you a pleasure well beyond the usual desultory jolt of caffeine, one in which the complexity and depth of flavor in each sip are as memorable as the overall experience itself. Be prepared Los Angelenos, because something big has been brewing in these parts and it won’t be slowing down any time soon. PHILZ COFFEE 525 Santa Monica Boulevard Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 451-9500 GO GET EM TIGER 230 N Larchmont Voulevard Los Angeles, CA 90004 DINOSAUR COFFEE 4334 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90029 mail@dinosaurcoffee.com BRŪ COFFEEBAR 1866 N Vermont Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90027 info@brucoffeebar.com (323) 664-7500


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Go Get Em Tiger

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Terra Ramirez, Barista at Philz, Santa Monica.


“Our Race is a

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of Our Reality” A look at the history of hip-hop in L.A. by Srinu Bhamidipati

In the spring of 1992, the four policemen who brutally beat Rodney King were acquitted for their obvious acts of injustice. Four years prior to the riots, a Compton rap group called N.W.A, short for “Ni**az With Attitudes,” wrote their most controversial song, “F*** the Police.” Although Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella did not prophecize the Rodney King beatings, they increased awareness of police brutality issues, especially towards African-Americans through their music. Today, police brutality against young black men is once again an issue, and the hip-hop world is taking notice. With his recent release of To Pimp a Butterfly, Compton’s very own Kendrick Lamar confronted these racial tensions head-on, just as the N.W.A did years before. On August 14th of this year, the film Straight Outta Compton will come to theaters. The film’s namesake is the extremely popular and controversial album by the N.W.A, whose struggles and successes will be shown on the big screen. One of the most talented hip-hop crews of the late ‘80s, the N.W.A’s success can be partly attributed to their abrasive tone and explicit content which hadn’t yet been adopted by popular music. Concepts such as drugs, gang violence, and police brutality, which were often neglected by even news channels, were popularized and turned into an art form. Many of these issues that the N.W.A rapped about are still very present today, and served as influences for artists such as 2Pac, Kendrick

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Lamar and Snoop Dogg, just to name a few. N.W.A’s success can also be attributed to them being the voices of the hood. They brought to light many issues that plagued not only their community, but many other black communities around the nation. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the N.W.A’s era of hip-hop and today’s, and the release of the biopic serves as a commentary on the slow progress of racial equality.

Their first album, NWA and the Posse, received very little attention from the hip-hop community, but it was their second album, Straight Outta Compton, that put them on the map as the poster-children of gangsta rap. Although it was started by the likes of Ice-T and Public Enemy, gangsta rap became mainstream after the hit record from the N.W.A. The album as a whole

Despite all the popularity and acclaim the album received, the overall public perception of it would change on March 3, 1991, when Rodney King’s beating was caught on tape. The video, which showed a lone African-American man being beaten senselessly by four police officers, was on all news stations by the next morning. From the moment the video surfaced, people believed the N.W.A correctly predicted the incident that took place with their song “F*** the Police.” N.W.A, however, believed this to be untrue, because they grew up in a system that THE PAPER MIXTAPE

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About thirty years ago, the Crack Epidemic took hold of South Central Los Angeles. An area already threatened by gang violence, the Crack Epidemic nearly doubled the homicide rate amongst teenagers, and further worsened gang-related issues. Violence shot up as more kids began to join, and gang territory increased with it. This created an endless loop: the more crack on the streets, the more violence that would take over, leaving people terrified and desperate. These issues became a source of inspiration for artists like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, who used the dangerous Compton streets as a major theme for their music. Although they were relatively unknown to the hip-hop scene, that would all change after meeting with Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, who was gaining momentum because of his record label, Ruthless Records. Started with the money he earned pushing crack on the streets of Compton, Eazy-E, with help from friend Jerry Heller, was looking to assemble a formidable line-up of talented L.A. rappers for his new label. Hearing the obvious lyrical talent that he possessed, Eazy-E asked Ice Cube to write a song for a small East Coast rap group. However, Ice Cube’s lyrics for “Boyz-nthe-Hood” were rejected for being far too West Coast. Dr. Dre refused to give up on the project, and decided that Eazy-E should rap Ice Cube’s original piece. In a clip featured in the trailer for the film, Jason Mitchell (who plays Eazy-E), is seen rapping over the track to Corey Hawkin’s (Dr. Dre’s) approval, which led to the addition of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre into Ruthless Records. Eventually, Dr. Dre would introduce DJ Yella and MC Ren to the crew, leading to the formation of the N.W.A.

was violent and hard-hitting, filled with crude language and controversial material. Many people were extremely bothered by the attitudes that these five young men expressed, and felt that their music would only worsen current gang situations by popularizing them. When the album dropped, rap was barely heard on the radio at all, let alone such a rebellious form. The lyrics and views expressed in the album were more reasons as to why the album received little airplay, and this fueled the N.W.A to try other ways of gaining popularity. Since they couldn’t get their message out via the radio, they tried television. After recording a music video for the title song, they sent a copy to MTV. The video contained a brutally honest depiction of what life in the hood was like, but after watching the video, MTV claimed it was too violent. However, after news of N.W.A’s rejection got out, more people began to listen to and buy the album. What gave the album full notoriety, however, was when the N.W.A received a notice from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In a letter that condemned the N.W.A’s violence towards law enforcement, the FBI banned the public performance of “F*** the Police.” The N.W.A got put on notice by the highest law enforcement agency in the United States, but they rose up against it instead of cowering in fear. While on tour in Detroit in 1989, the group performed the controversial song with complete disregard for the FBI’s notice, and was arrested by police on stage. Once news broke out, the American youth took a strong stance against the FBI, many of them who claimed the FBI was violating the first amendment. By attempting to silence the most outspoken gangsta rappers at the time, the FBI actually increased their popularity. Straight Outta Compton was flying off the shelves, and the album soon became an icon. In many ways, the album could be viewed as a public service announcement addressing the issues that the overlooked hoods in L.A. faced on a daily basis, and the album highlighted this as a significant flaw in society.


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perpetuated police brutality towards young African-Americans. Racial profiling by cops was such a common phenomenon to them that N.W.A didn’t need to predict such an incident, but could expect it to happen. Many critics of the N.W.A were at first ignorant of the biased system that they rapped about, overlooking the many issues they faced on the streets. Now that the Rodney King beating videos were out, there was no excuse to be unaware of police brutality. With their music, N.W.A meant to change an unjust system of racial profiling, and they understood that people would get fed up and rebel. That rebellion came in the form of the LA riots, a product of the officers’ acquittals. For nearly a week, South Central LA was frozen in an almost post-apocalyptic state. People looted stores, started fires, and wreaked havoc on their streets. Disgusted by law enforcement, people turned to anarchy in order to earn their rights. Citizens of Los Angeles finally broke out in defiance against a system that encouraged racial profiling, and “F*** the Police” became their anthem. This solidified the N.W.A as more than just an outspoken rap group out of Compton, but a symbol of rebellion against power and a cultural icon. Today, racial profiling by police officers is still an issue. With recent cases such as the Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner killings, anger towards cops is as high as it was during the LA riots. After the story of Michael Brown’s shooting broke out nationally, the nation mourned his death by taking action. In cities everywhere, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” could be seen everywhere from social media to classrooms. Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb where Michael Brown was from, became the center of the protests. The lyrics to “F*** the Police” could be heard echoing through the chaotic streets, showing N.W.A’s timeless music as an anthem of rebellion and the people’s disgust with law enforcement. However, the fact remains that racial profiling is still an issue. Regardless of the LA riots happening more than 20 years ago, very little has changed in terms of racial justice. One would expect that such a chaotic incident would change a system that repeatedly harmed black Americans, but little progress has been made. In his album To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar comments on the racial injustices and difficulties that young African-Americans go through growing up. His song “The Blacker the Berry” includes a segment towards the end highlighting the SPRING 2015

Michael Brown shooting as a recurring issue in American society, one that needs to be solved. In America today, a young black man is more likely to be killed by the police than by gang violence. While gang-related incidents have declined significantly since the 80’s and 90’s, cops are still targeting African-Americans at exceedingly high rates, showing that there is some level of bias within the system. Law enforcement individuals are supposed to protect the rights of citizens, but black Americans have more reasons to fear police than they do to trust them. Living in a world that constantly puts black lives at a disadvantage, there needs to be more change to improve their condition. Hip-hop and race have always been deeply intertwined, and that is no different with the N.W.A. Their music and lyrics were a reflection of the violent lifestyle they were forced to lead by the situation they were placed in. In schools, we are taught that America is a land of equal opportunity for every citizen, but the N.W.A undermined that teaching by highlighting the many struggles minorities face in their daily lives. N.W.A questioned authority at every turn, and their distrust in society is still very present today. Today, hip-hop artists are talking about the struggles they suffer with less violence, but with the same conviction and poise as the N.W.A. Whereas the N.W.A. had an aggressive approach to addressing these race and societal issues, current artists address these issues in a more calming tone. With rappers like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Wale taking after N.W.A and writing songs about the shootings of young black men, hip-hop is once again commenting on the same issues that existed 20 years ago. Hopefully, with rap becoming a more accepted and celebrated form of music, cultural differences will be put aside and equality can be achieved. There are many parallels that can be drawn between the LA riots and Fergusson protests, and the N.W.A biopic serves as a reminder that very little progress has been made to change a system that claims the lives of young black men, stripping them of their civil rights.


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Concepts such as DRUGS, GANG VIOLENCE, AND P O L I C E B R U TA L I T Y, by even news channels, were popularized and turned into AN ART FORM.

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which were often neglected


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SEWN TOGETHER B Y S O F I A D E M AY | P H O T O S B Y TA S O PA PA D A K I S Conscious capitalism is on the rise as people begin to think about the effects their decisions have on the community at large. Little things like what type of strawberries we buy to where we decide to vacation can influence the world around us, sometimes much more than we can see. More and more companies are working on finding ways to leverage the independent nature of life and acknowledge the broad range of stakeholders affected by business decisions. Eight years ahead of the trend, a community in downtown LA has been growing that focuses on becoming aware of the ways we influence others within the larger social body. Povertees was founded in 2007 as a non-profit organization that uses fashion as a social medium to help willing individuals escape the cycle of poverty. They employ women transitioning out of homelessness in downtown LA to create all different types of pocketed shirts and sweatshirts, which are then sold to raise funds for people living on Skid Row. Combining art and social justice, the non-profit raises awareness about living in poverty, while supporting local artists and building relationships. Povertees works in more ways than one to bring community and people together around individual experiences and realties, and strives to improve the world around them through awareness. Rather than just provide provisions, the members of Povertees work to inspire their friends to become involved with rehabilitation programs and gain access to necessary resources. They are working at the crossroads of art and the social impact space, with all aspects of production having an authentic and thoughtful role that aligns with their mission. Povertees combines art, community, and social justice to collectively strive to raise awareness, build relationships, and break the cycle of poverty. I had the pleasure of speaking with the CEO and Founder, Tyler Patterson, who was able to reveal the thoughtful foundations and inner workings of Povertees. SPRING 2015


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S O M E M AY S AY S K I D R O W H A S A N E G AT I V E R E P U TAT I O N O R I S H I G H LY S T I G M AT I Z E D. C A N Y O U T E L L U S A B O U T T H E C U LT U R E Y O U H AV E D I S C O V E R E D AT S K I D R O W ? I S I T AT T E N S I O N W I T H C O M M O N B E L I E F ?

As people we often feel threatened by concepts that force us to broaden our perspective, and we feel comforted by generalizations that allow us to believe that life is just and predictable— that when something good happens to us it happens because we deserve it and when something bad happens to someone it happens because they deserve it. In an uncertain world, black and white thinking allows people to feel certain. I have encountered the belief that people living on Skid Row deserve their circumstances because they were the ones that made the mistakes that led to their situation. But this is a perspective based on the illusion that all people share the same opportunities from birth. It would be difficult to explain how a Vietnam veteran who has experienced extreme trauma deserves the psychological effects and their repercussions. Most of the people I have met on the streets openly accept responsibility for their circumstances, but I think it is important to get to the root of what leads someone to that point, and to be willing to face the fact that our society does not operate in black and white. We have always tried to relay our experiences, both positive and negative, in a way that broadens the perception of Skid Row. Of course being on Skid Row can be challenging. You cannot expect consistent harmony when people are sleeping on the street. We have to think deeply and openly about the roots of the issue to avoid generalizing those in need. W H AT I S I T T H AT K E E P S B R I N G I N G Y O U T O H E L P T H E C O M M U N I T Y L I V I N G AT S K I D ROW?

For over 7 years our mission was to build a community that allowed our homeless friends (and ourselves) to be transparent and genuine (or as much as possible)—about our circumstances, differences, similarities, etc. and to see how that would affect the way we all viewed ourselves in relation to the outside world. When you cut through the social expectations that prevent people from relating to one another, your relationships take on a new sense of depth. So it was never really a question of whether or not we would continue to work in and with the downtown community, it just felt right and it continues to feel right. SPRING 2015

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE R E L AT I O N S H I P B E T W E E N C O M M U N I T Y A N D A R T I N R E L AT I O N T O P O V E R T E E S ?

The power of great art is that it evokes a profound, ineffable feeling that lifts us above momentary circumstance. Monotonous, daily concerns mean little in the face of great art. To sum up Tolstoy, a real work of art destroys the separation of consciousness between the artist and the viewer—it allows them to dwell in the same space of emotion for a moment. Having a genuine connection with someone is much the same way. When we speak of genuine community, we are speaking of that space where people can learn to shed their personas together. It is a rare thing to share, and at times it is unobtainable, but when you connect with others on that level, it challenges the limits of your perspective. As an organization, that desire for genuine community is the foundation of everything that we aim to do. I HEAR YOU ARE L AUNCHING A NEW PROJECT CALLED THE “COMMUNIT Y ART COLLECTIVE” AS AN EXTENSION OF THE R E C I P R O C A L G I V I N G T H AT Y O U E N C O U RA G E T H R O U G H O U T R E A C H. C A N Y O U T E L L US ABOUT IT AND HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?

The Community Art Collective is a social platform that allows people to get involved with our community without having to donate financially. Instead, an artist can collaborate with us to design a pocket, and get recognition (and the opportunity to work for a cause) in return. Our new line will feature a few pockets that came out of collaborations with local artists. We are always looking for artists who would like to collaborate!


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Sara Catherine Pierce. Photo: Emily Westerfield.

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SARA CATHERINE PIERCE by Erica Vincenzi

THERE’S AN EASE AND FRIENDLINESS TO S A R A’ S P E R S O N A T H AT W E E N C O U N T E R THE MINUTE SHE WELCOMES INTO US INTO H E R S T U D I O. W E S E T T L E D O W N O N T H E FLOOR, FRAMED BY A TINY STILL LIFE ON G R E E N PA P E R S E T U P O N O N E WA L L A N D A D E C O R AT E D C H R I S T M A S T R E E A G A I N S T T H E O T H E R . B R U S H E S , PA P E R , A N D T U B E S O F PA I N T A R E S C AT T E R E D A R O U N D U S . I T I S I N T H I S T I N Y W O N D E R L A N D T H AT W E S I T A N D TA L K A B O U T H E R W O R K .

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Sara is best known for her work as a photographer. The twentyyear-old started working professionally straight out of high school, commissioned by companies like Warby Parker and Refinery29, as well as photographing bands like Wild Wing and Sloppy Jane—the latter for which she now plays guitar. Sara has recently taken up paint as another creative medium. I ask her about the relationship between painting, photography, and music, and if or how they influence each other. “R O U T I N E LY W O R K I N G W I T H T H R E E D I F F E R E N T MEDIUMS ALLOWS ME TO PRESERVE MY E N E R G Y. I T G I V E S M E S T R U C T U R E—A S I ’ V E A LWAY S H A D A N U N F O C U S E D N AT U R E . I T W O U L D M A K E A L L T H E C R E AT I V E S E N S E F O R M E T O H AV E A S H O O T I N T H E M O R N I N G , PA I N T I N T H E A F T E R N O O N, A N D P L AY A S H O W AT N I G H T. T H AT ’ S W H E N I F E E L T H E M O S T AT H O M E I N T H I S C I T Y. W E ’ R E A LWAY S R A P I D LY M O V I N G F O R WA R D A S C R E AT O R S A N D I ’ V E F I N A L LY F O U N D T H E R I G H T B A L A N C E T O K E E P

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U P—F O R N O W. ” Sara has lived in four different states, and thus has a lot of experience to draw from. She considers herself an LA native, though, as she’s been here longer than any other place. When asked if she feels the city has influenced her work, she responds enthusiastically, “Absolutely. I think LA has a really colorful vibe, you can drive anywhere and find a wall that’s really pretty, and that’s what I use in a lot of my work.” ‘Colorful’ is easily the first thing that comes to mind when describing her work, and it certainly isn’t the wrong word to use. She herself considers it a prominent influence, saying “color is the main draw to my work, whether it be in photo or painting. Since I’m not trained, I don’t know much about history but I know I’ve always been drawn to color. My studio looks like a combination of all my childhood bedrooms. Just what I’ve seen in my life has informed [my work]. I remember going to Times Square for the first time and just not wanting to ever leave because of all the colors going on, and how crazy stimulating an experience it was for me.” The influence is clear in her photographs. However, I think there is more to her work than can just be summed up in that single word; although a swath of pink wall or a streak of yellow leather are what first capture our attention, these bright colors always act as a platform to carry something more subtle: the tilt of a chin, or the play of shadows in the corner. With her awareness of the interaction between color and subject, Sara’s photographs become simultaneously striking and sensitive. It’s not surprising that the same qualities carry over into painting. I ask her a little more about her creative exploration with the new medium.

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SARA CATHERINE PIERCE

“I ’ V E B E E N PA I N T I N G A L L O F M Y L I F E , C A U S E I ’ V E TA K E N A L O T O F A R T C L A S S E S I N E A R LY C H I L D H O O D B U T I H AV E N ’ T TA K E N A N A R T C L A S S I N Y E A R S , S O I WA N T E D T O S TA R T PA I N T I N G A S A N O U T L E T T O D E A L W I T H A L L THE FEELINGS OF BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER. WHEN I’M WORKING FOR A CLIENT IT GETS KIND OF STRESSFUL AND I CAN COME HOME A N D C R E AT E . S O G O I N G B A C K T O PA I N T I N G WA S K I N D O F A R E V I S I T I N G E X E R C I S E , G O I N G B A C K I N T O W H AT I L I K E D A S A K I D.”

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I ask if childhood is an inspiration for the work. She tells me, “it is right now, because I’m going through my first year of trying to figure out what I want to do, these years between high school and college, if I decide to go to college after this. Moving on from childhood is what I’m dealing with right now... I kind of just immediately stepped out into the world.” For someone who just ‘stepped out,’ she’s got quite an impressive repertoire of creative endeavors. In addition to photography and painting, Sara plays guitar and performs with the LA band Sloppy Jane, whom she joined last October. According to Sara, she had been collaborating with her friend and fellow artist, Hobbes Ginsberg, on a Halloween shoot for Sloppy Jane, and quickly became friends with the lead singer, Hailey. Two weeks later, Hailey asked her to join the band. “[Hailey] said, “we need an extra guitarist,’” Sara tells me, “and I said ‘well I haven’t played in a while, but, I’ll try...” She had played seriously for years before, and is happy to be getting back into music. She tells me, “We just recorded the new EP. And I really liked being able to do that again, to create with likeminded musicians again. I’m really proud of what we came up with... that’ll be coming out soon...in the next few months... it’s called Cluster.” Striking a balance between art as currency-producing career and art as creative expression is something that many artists struggle to achieve; it seems that working with multiple mediums has helped Sara find this equilibrium. I tell her that I’ll be keeping an eye out for the EP, as well as for future paintings and photographs—or any other mediums she ventures into, which will surely be as bright and beautiful as the rest.

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LIFE INSIDE THE BREWERY T H E D O W N T O W N A R T I S T H AV E N BY AMANDA LUCIDO

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PHOTOS BY DANIEL ALCAZAR

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THE BREWERY

LIFE INSIDE THE BREWERY T H E D O W N T O W N A R T I S T H AV E N BY AMANDA LUCIDO

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PHOTOS BY DANIEL ALCAZAR

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My hands clenched the steering wheel, the “fear-of-being-late” anxiety building inside me at the same rate as the substances in my bladder. After about forty-five minutes more on the 5-Fwy than we bargained for, we approached the large entity, its concrete cylindrical tower jutting into the sky like the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. I read the bold letters lining the structure—BREWERY. This must be the place.

We parked the car with ease, this atypical Los Angeles occurrence already setting the tone for the serene and whimsical experience that was about to transpire. As we navigated our way through a labyrinth of old brick buildings, we came upon an alley—the cheerful voices of a few men sitting in lawn chairs filled the air. I ducked my head beneath twisted branches and stepped carefully over old cement, dressed in fallen blossoms. I prepared myself for David Bowie or a Jim Henson puppet to emerge from the walls, but instead, a welcoming voice called out my name, “Amanda?” It wasn’t the hot-pink haired woman I had seen in the microscopic icon photo from our email correspondence, but sure enough, it was Kristine Schomaker. Though her hair was brown and buzzed, her smile was definitely the same. We filed out of the room and embarked on our field trip, Kristine—our fearless leader—lighted the way as we sampled what the brewery had to offer. THE PAPER MIXTAPE

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The Brewery is recognized as the world’s largest art community, tucked safely away in the heart of Los Angeles—appearing to outsiders as a dormant volcano that only erupts bi-annually for its famous Art Walk. However, today we will be getting an inside perspective on the individuals residing within its walls, living and working among one another 365 days a year—each occupying a unique space within the community.


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TED

“First, we’ll be seeing Ted.”

that’s positive, a print, and then telling the story behind it.

Ted Meyer. Yes. I was beyond excited to pay the master of bodies a visit, who I later learned is actually a jack-of-all-trades. A blue-green-eyed man with a mane of voluminous curls opened the door. He took a breath and with some comments about needing to look more professional, slipped on a pair of glorious, tan, ostrich-skin cowboy boots, referencing a matching jacket he had so proudly acquired only days earlier. The loft itself contained an art collection that’d give the Medici family a run for their money, but my momentary stupor was interrupted when I caught a glimpse of the vibrant and expansive wall that housed his Scarred for Life collection— an ever-growing series of monographs, made from people’s scars and stories. I asked him to describe what he wants people to see when they look at his work. TED It’s all about people’s strength and how they continue their life from that moment on. So even though the work is about the scar, I don’t really show the scar. For me, it’s all about making something from the scar SPRING 2015

AMANDA I love the contrast between the abstract aesthetic of each piece, and the stark reality of the content. Can you explain the creative process behind this juxtaposition? T Well, the abstraction. That’s part of what I want. That’s why I don’t just put up a picture of a mastectomy or a kidney transplant scar. My hope is that people have a one-two with it. They walk by and look at it, and think, “Oh that’s a nice abstract!” Like they would with—say—a Rothko. And then they get closer and go, “Oh… broken vertebrae. That’s the result of someone being paralyzed.” We talked about Ted’s own relationship with the body and illness. He spent most of his childhood in the hospital, as he was diagnosed at a young age with Gaucher’s disease. Given that his past influenced and continues to influence his creative endeavors, I wondered if Ted would’ve found his way to art had his conditions been different.


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T I would’ve found my way to art, but I don’t think I would’ve been doing this. I’ve always, from the time I was young, done art about illness—and that started when I was a kid in the hospital. One day a woman came by with a cart and had me make art mixing bandages and IV tubs and gauze—and that was before art therapy was really a thing. She had me creating this artwork, showcasing my circumstance in the hospital… and that was really smart of her.

A I’m sure this community is very happy to have you here. T Well I don’t know about that, but I’m happy to be here. And with that, we moved our way out of the loft, but not before convincing him to slip on the counterpart to the tan leather boots.

I asked Ted to share a little bit of his experience living in Rhe Brewery. T I moved here sixteen years ago, planning to be here for three years. Because you have people like her (gesturing to Kristine) it’s a remarkably noncompetitive, supportive place for a whole bunch of people who basically all have the same career goals. I’ll shoot people’s work for free for a piece of art. I’m amazed by how helpful everyone is. Nobody really leaves, they just move to a different loft.

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THE BREWERY

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DAVE

Just a few steps down the hall, and we were at our next destination. It was evident the moment we walked into Dave Lefner’s pad that he was the cool guy of The Brewery—casually committed to his mohawk and wholly committed to his practice.

my skills as an artist. I took to woodcuts and linocuts right away, reveling in the clean, hard lines printed from a block that I had carved away by hand. When I discovered the series of “reduction” linocuts by Picasso from the 1950s, my fate was sealed.

We moved toward the back of his loft, fragments of splintered wood coated his drafting table like confetti. I picked up my jaw as I carefully observed the plank of wood, which was currently being reduced—or rather, transformed—with straight, precise lines, into an image of the urban power lines that keep our Los Angeles alive.

When I first started, I had some idea that it seemed to be a lost art form, but I really couldn’t have imagined how unknown it seems to be. It’s been a bit of an uphill battle trying to educate people about the complexity of the medium. But those collectors who understand are always fascinated. Even to this day, the thing that keeps me focused, is that I love every challenge and stage of the process.

Anyone familiar with the art world knows that linocuts and other reductionist techniques are almost an extinct form—thus, artists like Dave are practically on the endangered species list. I asked him to describe what brought him down this path initially, and how he has managed to maintain such momentum over the years. D AV E I started college as a graphics design major because I always had a love for the power of words, types, and fonts. But I wanted to find something that challenged SPRING 2015

A With art of this, somewhat arduous, nature, it’s easy for others to praise the creative process (and rightfully so, it’s quite deserving of the attention) but what is significant about the content of your work? What message do you want your audience to receive? D The main subject of my work is the urban landscape. As I drove around the city, I noticed all the words and letters


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that we are bombarded with everyday… from advertisements to street signs. I was intrigued by the shadows cast from the neon tubing of old signs in the sunshine of LA. I became aware of the beauty of it all, where most people saw grim and decay. Also, the more I created prints of the city, the more I realized I was actually documenting it. Amazing neon works of art from a time gone by, were being torn down to put up new LED plastic, soulless signs. All things “vintage” became my Muse… from cars to candy. The more I studied the designs of the past, the more I realize that new does not necessarily mean better. The main goal of my work is to preserve the greatest of the past and help others appreciate and learn from history, in order to move into the future.

on the five freeway, but they have no idea— because it looks so industrial—that it’s this thriving community. It’s good in a sense, because it does keep it in the hands of the artists—artists always go into an area and make it cool, and then it becomes gentrified. But not this place… He smiled, perhaps sobered by the realization that he was apart of something truly special.

I wondered, given the unique nature of Dave’s work, what he thought of The Brewery, being among such a dynamic and diverse community of artists. D It is the world’s largest art community, but it’s still this hidden gem. You know, they think it’s a brewery, they always drive by it THE PAPER MIXTAPE


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DEBI

Next, we were off to see Altervision 3D… also known as Debi Cable. Despite her misleading pseudonym, she is in fact a woman and not some sort of sentient computer program—although her artwork does induce oculus-like effects. I gazed at the black canvases draped across her driveway, their large neon flowers reducing my wide eyes to mere squints. Debi emerged from betwixt the black curtains, draped in a black dress herself with whispy blonde hair pulled back and pinned with a flower much like the ones she painted. “Come on in,” she motioned, as she walked with bare feet across the painted floors of her loft. I got the impression that she was the wild child of the bunch.

wings across her walls, while a peacock fanned its vibrant foliage in the center of the living room. At this point, I was tossed a pair of 3D sunglasses which I adorned proudly as the whole room was brought to life. However, conducting a professional interview whilst wearing said glasses proved to be more of a challenge than I thought, much like what I imagine doing psychedelics in a professional capacity would be like—my interviewee was being swallowed by the huge, red hibiscus behind her. I respectfully removed the glasses, and hopped back on my train of thought.

“Can I step here?” I asked nervously. “Ha. YES! That’s the point. I love watching people struggle, deciding whether or not to set foot down. That’s the conundrum, it’s carpet and it’s art.”

Naturally, given that Debi’s art was cultivated in the EDM, music festival scene, it acts as a platform for not only discussion and celebration, but for immense interaction with the community. Given this nature, I asked her to explain how this dialogue with the public has influenced her art.

This one statement captured not only Debi’s freespirited and sarcastic personality, but the mode in which she lived her life—literally emerged in her art. Huge monarch butterflies spread their

D E B I It’s been really nice to see that it’s ageless. I can get little kids who come in and freak out… and then their ninety yearold grandmother will walk in and have a very

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similar reaction. Nobody’s ever asked for their money back. A It must be a unique feeling to witness other people absorbing your creations. Do you get ever get the experience of enjoying it yourself ?

As we exited her loft—still reeling from the experience of her art—she handed me her business card, which read…”Professional Bad Ass.” I nodded in utter agreement, I couldn’t have thought of a more fitting title myself.

D Oh yeah, I don’t get to take it in until everyone else does. I wait for it. It’s exciting for me too. Someone said to me the other day, it never gets old… it really doesn’t. She chuckled to herself again, both proud and happy with her own creations. Like I had done with the artists before her, I asked her to share her perspective on The Brewery. D It’s crazy. The networking and the friends… just the level of professionalism that’s coming out of here is staggering. It’s truly a blessed place to be. You know, I thought it was gonna be one big party, but no, no, no… it’s a bunch of mad scientists… locked away in their laboratories. There are wars, hostilities, but also friendships and amazing collaborations that come out of here. THE PAPER MIXTAPE


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JILL

“Now, Jill Sykes is very different from Debi,” said Kristine. “Oh yes, I can just tell from their artwork.” We approached a bright red door, flecks of gold plating caught the sunlight. I already like her, I thought to myself. After a few moments of babytalking to the huskey strewn out on the door mat, we were let in by a petite woman with hair as red as her door. Her bright blue eyes sparkled through her black-rimmed glasses. The moment we entered, I felt a wave of calmness wash over me. I’m not sure if it was the mood emitted by Jill’s art, or perhaps it was just Jill’s face. She wore the kind of expression that you’d see on your favorite aunt—knowing, wise, sweet, and slightly ornery. You could see the mischievous twinkle in her squinty eyes—the one that found its escape in a painting that hung on the wall—a spin-off of Magritte’s “Ceci n’est pas un pipe” where the pipe was replaced with the silhouette of a cat that read “Ceci n’est pas un vagine.”

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I looked around the room, she had been in the process of hanging and rearranging—preparing for the Art Walk the following weekend. I wondered how her small frame was capable of handling such massive pieces. But sure enough, she scrambled around with grace. I observed her work, each piece an expression of most subtle serenity—a dialogue between abstraction and figuration. A large golden canvas hung to the right of her space, a ray of sunlight from an adjacent window brought it’s metallic surface to life. She smiled, watching us absorb her intentional placement. We paused in front of two complementary pieces that she had recently shifted. Once the twisted, gnarled branches creeping up the walls of The Getty Villa, had now taken on the form of two women. Our encounter with Jill was hardly an interview. I mostly followed her around as she floated like a pixie throughout her loft, telling anecdotes about her life, her son, her work… The Brewery. J I L L Now, I was commissioned to do this large piece in this man’s home, but he wanted it to be removable after completion. So the guy down there at the end (she pointed down


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the lane) is a woodworker and I’m talking to him one day thinking, how am I gonna do this? And he told me who to go to and how to do it, so I spent the summer painting this crazy ass mural. And then partway through this process, the collector said, “You know… I need some backyard gates and a new front door… do you know anyone who can do that?” And I said, “Yeah! Larry! Over there!” (pointing to the same place down the lane) So Larry designed these beautiful gates and windows, and the client says, “Jill can you come up with a design that we can sandblast?” and over there (pointing in another direction) is a guy who sandblasts! It was really quite amazing, it was a wonderful example of how the Art Walk can work, and how working with your neighbors is completely plausible.

botanical stuff, they’ll come to me… if they need abstracts, they’ll talk to Kristine! I smiled, fully comprehending the essence of this massive, cohesive and truly beautiful entity. Jill’s energy was so light and contagious—if there had been a pot of coffee or tea present, I might have stayed the whole weekend.

Whatever I’m doing or whatever Kristine, or Ted is doing… isn’t the same as the guy next door! It’s completely unique. I’m not competing for wall space. If they’re looking for heavy duty graphics, they’ll go to my Dave (she referred to him numerous times with that possessive article) if they’re looking for THE PAPER MIXTAPE


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KRISTINE

Eventually, we arrived back at Kristine’s. She, being the humble individual that she is, had planned a line-up of artists for us to visit that afternoon, not mentioning that she herself was gifted. However, having done a little bit of investigative work prior, I was onto her. “Now it’s time to pick your brain,” I told her. She opened up her door and motioned us into her cool, humble abode. As we moved deeper into the space, the alternate dimension that I had much anticipated was revealed. Rather than egging her on with questions, I simply listened to everything she had to say, which ended up being an eloquent dissertation on the marriage between virtual and tangible realities, and her experience as an occupant of both. She began by narrating the way her project, A Comfortable Skin, came to fruition—sparked by a relationship with Second Life—an online, virtual reality that acts as a platform for people around the world to create avatars that are representative of their true or ideal selves. “A lot of my work,” said Kristine, “is based on my avatar. I did my master’s thesis using this platform, and I created an avatar that embodied my ideal self—tall, thin, blonde… she even had a nose ring.” SPRING 2015

Kristine uploaded virtual copies of her paintings into Second Life and held art shows in which she sold many pieces to other users of the program. This, magnificently, led to exchanges in our reality. KRISTINE My painting professor was really interested in Second Life and what I was doing there. She encouraged me to think about why I created my avatar in that image. I delved deep into myself, the self-image and society’s perception of beauty in the media. Some of her artistic endeavors in Second Life—images of the human form with her own paintings as substitutions for skin—received attention on Facebook from potential buyers. However, given that they were virtual, Kristine was forced to come up with a tangible alternative. K I’m always thinking of ways to bring the virtual into the real—the hybridization of the two—and so I bought mannequins and painted them in my style. Now I take them out around the city and take photos in front of advertising. The idea is to target places like Jenny Craig or plastic surgery offices— places that are elected to help others achieve


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“beauty.” I hadn’t thought, until just recently, about how much Second Life has influenced my actual life. My professor noticed that there was a conversation forming between [me] and [my avatar]. It kind of all comes together, the virtual and the physical world.

her creative, positive energy. I left feeling both inspired and amazed at the conundrum of this peaceful entity, flourishing within the bustling city of Los Angeles—perhaps this was the alternate reality.

She began to talk of her life, the antithesis of the one led by her parents who worked nineto-five jobs. The list of her endeavors went on and on, but she maintained a bright enthusiasm throughout. A

You are a powerhouse.

K [Laughing] It’s life… I’m fully immersed in my life, which is art in every aspect. I love what I do with The Brewery—I’m the president of the Artwork Association and I do multimedia marketing, advertising and networking, so I get to meet people like you and bring the press to everyone here… to people like Ted Meyer whose story is just, incredible. So if I can continue to do that, I’m content with my life. And with that, our visit had come to a perfect end. I hugged Kristine, hoping to absorb some of THE PAPER MIXTAPE


I f the S h oe F i t s? W H Y D O E S T H E C I N D E R E L L A S T O R Y, I N I T S O R I G I N A L D I S N E Y F O R M , C O N T I N U E T O C A P T I VAT E U S ?

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For three years straight during my childhood, I wore the same Cinderella costume for Halloween. I insisted that the dress look just like the one Cinderella wore in Disney’s animated film because, to me, any other version wasn’t the “real” one. I was clearly not an anomaly: for generations, Disney’s 1950 film Cinderella has continued to captivate children and adults alike. While later versions of the story break with Disney’s formula, including more progressive ideals like feminism and ethnic diversity, the same “damsel-in-distress model” reappears in Disney’s newest Cinderella remake, released in March. As Cinderella’s character is often deemed antifeminist and old-fashioned, I have recently found my childhood obsession with her troubling. Why did I want to imitate a girl who uses wishful thinking, rather than hard work, to achieve her dream—and whose dream is essentially to marry rich? Why was I content to accept a prince with apparently only one personality trait: unconditional devotion to a woman he just met? And if I liked Cinderella simply because I looked like her (in which case my obsession seems rather narcissistic), what about the hordes of fans who don’t look like her? Though later Cinderella adaptations alter the features I’ve mentioned, Cinderella is as dreamy, objectified, and blonde in 2015 as she was in 1950. This leads me to one central question: Why does the Cinderella story, in its original Disney form, continue to captivate us? As we witness the March 2015 release of Disney’s newest live-action Cinderella, I hope to discover the reason for the story’s seemingly universal popularity—and to decide whether or not we should be ashamed of it. Below is a brief timeline outlining the features of popular Cinderella interpretations from 1950. B Y E M I LY PA R S O N S

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1950: D I S N E Y ’ S A N I M AT E D C I N D E R E L L A For many, Disney’s Cinderella is a childhood staple. The film set a standard for all future Cinderella stories, establishing dimwitted stepsisters, obliging mice, a dashing Prince Plot Device (Charming, ahem), and a misplaced glass slipper as prerequisites. However, beloved songs like “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” carry dubious implications. While the lyric, “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true” is uplifting, it is not particularly progressive. The song encourages young girls to remain inactive and wait for a better opportunity (i.e. a rich suitor) instead of creating that opportunity themselves. Thus, the music of Cinderella seems to prescribe wishful thinking, rather than hard work, as the means to a better and easier life.

1957: R O D G E R S A N D H A M M E R S T E I N ’ S C I N D E R E L L A Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were the legendary composing duo behind wildly popular Broadway musicals like The King and I and The Sound of Music. They were also hired to write an original score to accompany a made-for-television musical version of Cinderella, to star Julie Andrews (who had yet to achieve major acclaim in the films Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music). Julie Andrews is actually a brunette in the film (which at least somewhat diversifies the Cinderella character), and performs Rodgers and Hammerstein’s original take on the tale with her signature charm. As songs like “In My Own Little Corner” and “Impossible: It’s Possible” support Disney’s emphasis on wishing for something as a means of achieving it, Cinderella’s character is not substantially different in this version. Rodgers and Hammerstein do give the prince more lyrics, but mostly to develop his blind objectification of Cinderella (in that he views her as the solution to all his problems). When the queen expresses realistic concerns, wondering how the prince can possibly love Cinderella after dancing with her once, he dismisses her with the 1957 equivalent of “Whatever, Mom.” THE PAPER MIXTAPE

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However, Cinderella does work hard, if not toward the “right” goal. Dealing with tedious chores and countless insults would grate on anyone, but Cinderella endures these challenges without complaint. She remains kind and optimistic, and despite the odds against her she believes that her life will someday improve. While this attitude might not land Cinderella a corporate promotion, the strength it requires deserves recognition. In some ways, Cinderella represents generations of housewives who truly had few alternatives to domestic life—even if Cinderella were to escape her stepmother, her social status and lack of education/experience would likely force her into yet another servant position. While today some women enjoy greater access to education and wider acceptance of female self-sufficiency, women in other parts of the world still live under confines not unlike Cinderella’s. It is also worth noting that the prince, for all his wealth and power, says very few words in the film. He is not given a personality, as characterizing him would likely confuse his role as a blank canvas for Cinderella’s own hopes and dreams. We know only that as the future king he is obligated to find a bride, and that Cinderella is probably his best option—in this sense, he possesses almost as little control as Cinderella herself. Both are forced into the roles their genders and social classes expect of them.


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However, this adaptation includes a particularly notable scene that Disney excludes. After Cinderella’s stepsisters and stepmother return from the ball, entirely unaware that Cinderella has attended in the guise of a mysterious maiden, Cinderella begins to sing about what she “imagines” it must have been like to dance with the prince in the song “When You’re Driving Through the Moonlight on the Highway.” This song melds fluidly into “A Lovely Night,” in which Cinderella and her highly dysfunctional family, for once, do not hate each other. While their collective pining for the prince may not be particularly feminist, it does allow them to come together as equals and share in a feeling of mutual joy. I think this allows us to see that even the worst and most dysfunctional of families are still, ultimately, families. This may not be the central point of the story, but it does seem to turn the notion that Cinderella’s pseudo-family is unconditionally evil on its head. 1997: R O D G E R S A N D H A M M E R S T E I N ’ S C I N D E R E L L A , R E I N V E N T E D Though not the first remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the 1997 film was the first to include an ethnically diverse cast. Actors were not only acclaimed but also diverse, with Brandy Norwood as Cinderella, Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother, Paolo Montalban as Prince Christopher, and Whoopi Goldberg as Queen Constantina, among others. An African-American Cinderella and a Filipino prince not only exemplify a multicultural relationship, but also challenge the notion that beauty must fit a prescribed mold. In addition, though the film incorporates Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic score, the 1997 cast possesses different vocal styles and ranges, adding richness and variety that the 1957 version lacked. Confusingly, this Cinderella includes Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music but aired on Disney’s ABC—a combination of creative entities that does not persist in later versions. The plot adheres more to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version than Disney’s, though it includes significant dialogue notably absent from both of the former versions. In response to Prince Christopher’s claim that a man should treat a woman like a princess, Cinderella amends, “No. Like a person, with kindness and respect.” Here, Cinderella encourages the virtues her animated counterpart employs while also defying the gender roles and class distinctions that enchained her. Cinderella argues that romance and gender equality are not mutually exclusive—a radical proposition for a Cinderella story. Whitney Houston as godmother also contributes a piece of progressive wisdom: “That’s the problem with most people: they dream about what they want to do instead of really doing it.” Contrary to prior versions, Cinderella’s fairy godmother prizes proactivity over dreaming and empowers Cinderella to seize the reins on the pumpkin carriage that is her life. Thus, this is likely the most equal (in terms of both gender and race) and authentic version of Cinderella ever released by a major studio and embraced by the public. 2015: D I S N E Y ’ S L I V E-A C T I O N C I N D E R E L L A Filmed in England, Disney’s newest Cinderella adaptation answers several questions that the 1950 version leaves open-ended: Why doesn’t Cinderella just leave her ancestral home? (She claims it was important to her mother and father and signifies the sole remaining material part of them.) Why don’t Cinderella’s stepsisters/stepmother recognize her at the ball? (Her fairy godmother has placed a spell over Cinderella so that she will seem a stranger to them). Aren’t the glass slippers uncomfortable? SPRING 2015


ENTERTAINMENT

(Not at all, according to her fairy godmother). Notably, the adaptation also justifies the prince’s at-firstsight infatuation with Cinderella through not only her beauty but also their mutual convictions: “Just because it’s what’s done doesn’t mean it’s what should be done!” Cinderella’s stepmother also receives a backstory that encourages us to view her not as a paragon of evil, but rather as a living example of who Cinderella would become if she gave up her trademark optimism and succumbed to heartbroken bitterness.

To be honest, I’m still not sure why I loved my Cinderella dress so much. I’m still not sure whether the Cinderella story is feminist blasphemy, or if its resurgence spells out doom for equality. Maybe within the framework of 1950s America, Cinderella could not have been expected to “save herself,” and maybe 1997’s Cinderella truly does represent our society’s progress toward greater female empowerment. But I still don’t believe that Cinderella’s story is quite so linear. Certainly, a world in which Cinderella has no option but to perform menial tasks until Prince Charming rescues her is not ideal. Yet in a world where Cinderella could escape her situation, should we condemn her if she does not? As long as Cinderella does have a choice, are we entitled to judge that choice? Cinderella may be a fictional character, but the way she is represented reflects and shapes cultural expectations of what a woman should strive to become. Clearly my bout with Cinderella obsession did not render me a damsel in distress whose principal goal is to marry, and I was still able to develop my own convictions. My fear, however, is that the ideals 1950s Cinderella promotes are not easily forgotten—not just a love-at-first-sight that soon fades, but a lifelong affair that re-ignites in as many forms as there are Cinderella remakes.

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Nevertheless, the narrative deviates little from that of the original 1950 film. On her deathbed, Cinderella’s mother advises Cinderella to always “have courage and be kind.” But does Cinderella abide by this doctrine throughout the film? Cinderella still seems to possess less agency over her fate than her CGI mice friends, without whom Cinderella would miss her chance to try on the glass slipper. Cinderella seems to possess the same resilience for domestic life as her animated counterpart, but it does not seem as if she is forced to remain with her stepmother. At one point Cinderella does attempt to escape her stepmother’s oppression—proving that it is possible—yet this merely leads to her meeting the prince. Technically Cinderella does not take place during a specific time period, but the creative minds representing Cinderella’s society in 2015 have still been exposed to more progressive ideas than their 1950 predecessors. In short, does an ending that resembles one written in 1950 suggest that expectations of women have stagnated, or even regressed?


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SPRING 2015


INDEX

ALFRED COFFEE {IN THE ALLEY} 8509 Melrose Ave West Hollywood, CA 90069 (424) 288-4126 AMOEBA MUSIC 6400 Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 245-6400 B SWEET 2005 Sawtelle Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 963-7213 BLOCKHEADS 11311 Mississippi Ave Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 445-8725

BRŪ COFFEEBAR 1866 N Vermont Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 664-7500 BURRO 1409 Abbot Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291 (310) 450-6288 CO-OP 28 1728 N Vermont Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 669-2828 DINOSAUR COFFEE 4334 Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90029

PHILZ COFFEE 525 Santa Monica Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 451-9500

GIANT ROBOT 2015 Sawtelle Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 478-1819

THE RECORD PA R L O U R 6408 Selma Ave Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 464-7757

GO GET ‘EM TIGER 230 N Larchmont Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90004 HOUSE OF BLUES 8430 Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069 (323) 848-5100 THE JUICY LEAF 1140 Abbot Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291 (310) 907-5019 KINGSWELL 4651 Kingswell Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 522-3028 L ACMA 5905 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90036 (323) 857-6000 N I J I YA M A R K E T 2130 Sawtelle Blvd Suite 105, Place Yuu Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 575-3300 PA C I F I C D E S I G N CENTER 8687 Melrose Ave West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 657-0800

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SEOUL SAUSAGE C O M PA N Y 11313 Mississippi Ave Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 477-7739 SKYLIGHT BOOKS 1818 N Vermont Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 660-1175 THE SMELL 247 S Main St Los Angeles, CA 90013 SPITFIRE GIRL 1939-1/2 Hillhurst Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (323) 912-1977 SUSHI STOP 2222 Sawtelle Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 479-1222 THE TROUBADOUR 9081 Santa Monica Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 276-1158 THE VIPER ROOM 8852 West Sunset Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 358-1881

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THE BREWERY ARTIST LOFTS 1920 N Main St Los Angeles, CA 90031 (323) 222-3007

G A L L E R Y 825 825 N La Cienega Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90069 (310) 652-8272


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ADVA E R T I SCEL M E ENT

BUT FIRST, COFFEE.

LA’s favorite coffee shop just added two more locations. SPRING 2015


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ARTICLE

SPRING 2015

THE PAPER MIXTAPE Issue 1  

Spring 2015 is the premiere issue of The Paper Mixtape! The first issue features artist interviews with Isabella Kelly-Ramirez and Sara Cath...

THE PAPER MIXTAPE Issue 1  

Spring 2015 is the premiere issue of The Paper Mixtape! The first issue features artist interviews with Isabella Kelly-Ramirez and Sara Cath...

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