LA Culture, Past Their Bedtimes

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Too much thinking.

It’s been quite a hectic week here in my skull. How are all you lovely people out there? Good? Great!

I’ve been trying to plan a local-area relocation, which in our case is far more complicated than it should ever be for anyone, even HITLER. R. and I always have a bit of an adventure, as between us we have a mindboggling lists of Must-Haves and Must-Not-Haves for a new apartment, everything from a big kitchen to no wool carpet to being at least a mile from the freeway (note to out-of-towners: we have A LOT of freeways) to having a guarantee that there have never been pets in the unit (allergies) to being in an urban neighborhood where you can walk to stuff… and can that all be within our budget, please?

Because W. is 4, we have to add to the mix: Is there a decent preschool we can afford that has an immediate opening, and is the school district decent because oh my lord I don’t want to move again in a year?

I looked up the symptoms of fibromyalgia recently, and one that made me laugh (chronic pain gives you a weird sense of humor) was “inability to multitask.” Funny because: yes, exactly, but it never occurred to me that was a symptom of anything. I should be specific here: under normal circumstances, I am a genius multitasker, the person who can be given 20 tasks and 20 deadlines and keep your company together by also remembering all the stuff you forgot that wasn’t even my job. So inability to multitask, for me, might mean I’m working at a normal-people level (I’m not really sure, I haven’t done a focus group on it or anything). My point – there is one, and related to the paragraphs before even! – is that this process is apparently one higher than the number of tasks I can handle. Because if you’ve ever watched an engine struggle to spark and then die? I have that exact feeling in my head.

So hey, it’s a good thing I have some things to do this weekend! Saturday night, my friend Michele and I are going to the Greg Proops Chat Show at Largo. This monthly live talk show is pretty much my favorite thing happening in Los Angeles, and yes, I say that with the full awareness that 50 amazing things are happening within the city limits at any given time. There’s comedy, music, and of course, chat; the guests that have been announced so far for Saturday are Margaret Cho and Andy Richter. I know, pretty cool, huh?

For years now, I have had a secret dream: to leave and return to Largo within 12 hours. That weirdly specific fantasy will become reality on Sunday, for the venue is presenting its first children’s concert at 11am, and lucky for me I have a child. The groundbreaking artist in question will be Justin Roberts, who my kid likes, which puts him on a list of maybe 4-5 children’s recording artists, because my boy, he likes the big people’s music (so far, anyway). Those people usually play past his bedtime. Or are dead. Anyway, I’m not hugely familiar with Mr. Roberts’ oeuvre, but I have liked what I’ve heard, and kids’ music tends to separate into good and evil pretty quickly.

I’m hoping this leads to more family shows; until now, McCabe’s has been the best bet in town, but I think – while I don’t want to endorse a series that doesn’t technically exist yet – Largo would be better. For one thing, although I’m quite certain nobody has ever gone to Largo purely out of a desire to sit in their comfy, comfy chairs, they’re still a few steps up from McCabe’s folding jobbies; I am old and broken-down and this matters to me. But not as much as this: McCabe’s books some seriously great people, but if you see a kids’ show with an artist you’ve never heard of, you can’t really go confident that they’ll be great too. I learned this lesson up close, and quite frankly I still don’t want to talk about it. I really, really, really don’t think a Largo series would be like that. So bring your kids if you’ve got ‘em, because this could be the start of something really cool.

Wouldn’t it be great if the next time I posted I’d found an apartment and moved and gotten the kid in school stuff ? Like, in 3 days? Yeah, I don’t think it’ll happen either. Wish me luck!


Some of you know that I’m the editor of a website dedicated to the Los Angeles and Southern California jazz scene, This week, I’m bringing my work home with me, because I cannot get over how much genuinely amazing music is coming to town.

Last night, we caught sax player Pharaoh Sanders and his quartet at the Jazz Bakery. Can I tell you how much I love that club and everyone who hangs out there? SO much, is how much. If you don’t recognize Sanders’ name, you’ll get the idea when I tell you he worked with John and Alice Coltrane back in the day; the man has not lost a step since then (or if he has, it’s a step only dogs can hear). He’s there through Saturday; if you’re in town, go. Seriously. It improved my entire outlook on life.

The next show I really want to see is Charles Lloyd this Sunday at Catalina’s. Lloyd, a reed player who’s celebrating his 70th birthday, is a legend and entirely a reason to attend on his own; however, what I’m really excited about is the addition of pianist Jason Moran to Lloyd’s quartet. Moran is quite possibly my favorite jazz musician from the younger generation, period. He’s one of those rare people who can synthesize what seems like the entire history of music into a highly original sound of his own. He also has a nice little collection of free MP3s on his website; well worth your time.

The Jazz Bakery goes on to have a jawdroppingly great schedule for the next month or so. There’s vocalist Jimmy Scott, whose distinctive phrasing and instantly recognizable soprano voice have served him in working with everyone from Lionel Hampton to Lou Reed. There’s best-kept-secret Andy Bey, a pianist/vocalist who returned from a 20-year absence from recording to release five astonishing albums over the last decade; word has it he’s better live. The mind boggles, I tell you. There’s saxophonist Lee Konitz, who rivaled Charlie Parker in the ’40s.

And there’s much more, but that’s what that other site I work on is for, right?

Even if you’re not seriously into jazz, do consider checking one of these shows out; we’re really quite fortunate to be able to see the architects of a whole genre of music playing in cozy little clubs, I think.