Martin's Posts

Show Reviews: Save Music in Chinatown, Paisley Underground Reunion at the Fonda, Redd Kross at the El Rey, ASG at The Satellite, Channel 3 at Alex’s Bar

Photo: Ben Clark

I would have written about Sunday’s Save Music in Chinatown matinee at Human Resources earlier but I’ve been busy writing thank-you letters to friends, helpers, and supporters. The first DIY benefit gig that my wife and I organized to raise funds to pay for music education at our daughter’s school, Castelar Elementary, was awesome and Bob Forrest was a perfect start. (more…)


Save Music in Chinatown on Sunday, December 8!

Remember when my daughter Eloise modeled infant clothing in Giant Robot ads? Now she’s the poster child for a series of benefit concerts that my wife (and GR mag graphic designer) Wendy Lau and I are starting. Our first show takes place this Sunday–a matinee that brings together Chinatown’s punk rock heritage and art gallery scene to benefit the mostly immigrant neighborhood’s kids and community.

Links to info and ticking:

Thanks for checking it out, sharing, and supporting however you can!



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Show reviews: Beck at the Disney Hall, Obits, Wire, Quasi at The Echo and Echoplex (plus CASH Music: LA Summit)

Just got back from the Walt Disney Hall. Wow. While most artists consider releasing new music on vinyl to be O.G., Beck schooled everyone by releasing his last batch of songs in sheet music form. Intended to be interpreted by any musician at any skill level, the Disney performance is only one of a handful of official performances. Most songs were played by the L.A. Philharmonic (conducted by his dad, David Campbell) with vocals from the likes of Jack Black, Jarvis Cocker, Jenny Lewis, and Childish Gambino. John C. Riley, Becky Stark, and Tom Brosseau played as a trio. Interspersed between the songs were brief readings on music from the likes of Jonathan Gold, Allison Anders, Tig Notaro, and Randall Poster. Wow. But ultimately, the point was not to show off big-time names in L.A.’s most elite venue but to communicate that music is meant to be performed, interpreted, and enjoyed by anyone. Only the humble genius of Beck pull it off. (more…)

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Save Music in Chinatown on Los Angeles Nista

Last Monday night I was a guest on one of my favorite Internet radio shows, Los Angeles Nista. In each episode host Eddie Solis (who is also the shredder/singer in It’s Casual) delves into a specific neighborhood of his hometown, and this time our focus was Chinatown. I talked about eating tomato beef chow mein and drinking Sunkist soda there as a kid, as well as the area’s unmatched punk past and current art scene. While the conversation always returned to the Save Music in Chinatown concert series that my wife and I are starting, there was also talk about Los Angeles sports teams, skateboarding, public transportation, and Giant Robot mag.

You can stream or download the entire episode for free at the Los Angeles Nista site, and it’s pretty funny. It’s also pretty rockin’. I made three short playlists of songs with bands that I associate with the neighborhood (X, Weirdos, Dils, No Age), groups with members that have been supportive of Save Music in Chinatown (The Zeroes, OFF!, Channel 3), and music by December 6 co-headliner Bob Forrest (Thelonious Monster, The Bicycle Thief). I brought songs by The Go-Go’s and Plugz, too, but there just wasn’t enough time…

Since last week, there have been additions to the inaugural show’s lineup. Ex-Dirty Projectors member Angel Deradoorian has just finished touring with Animal Collective and wants to participate. Also, DJs from KCHUNG radio will be pitching in between acts. Pretty cool.

Check out the updated flyer below and if you plan on going/supporting on December 6, you can buy tickets via Eventbrite. It’s cheaper that way and you can also get a deal on raffle tickets for some pretty rad items, as well. Prizes from the likes of Best Coast, Daniel Wu, Shizu Saldamando, Philippe The Original, and the Dodgers are listed on Eventbrite and the Facebook event page, too.

Give the episode a listen and hope to see you at the show!

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Save Music in Chinatown 1: Bob Forrest, Lucky Dragons, LA Fog at Human Resources on Sunday, December 8

Editing Giant Robot mag was great. It gave me an excuse to fan out over all of my obsessions–music, art, film, and everything else–but be a journalist and not a stalker. And over 16 years of publication, I made a ton of friends who do interesting things. I’ve kept in touch with many of them.

When my wife and I discovered the music program had been defunded at our kindergartener daughter’s school and that parents were being called upon to help out, we thought crud. There’s no way the mostly immigrant families in inner-city Chinatown can come up with $50,000 to pay for this year’s music program, which is being taught on an I.O.U., as well as next year’s fee so it can be paid on time. Then we remembered who some of our friends are.

Chinatown has an unmatched music culture (punk rock) and ongoing thriving art scene (post punk). And although those folks don’t mix with the residents much, they would surely help out if they were given an opportunity. Hence, Save Music in Chinatown, an ongoing concert series at art galleries and other spots in the neighborhood to raise money for music education at Castelar Elementary School.

With guidance from my old friend Wendy Yao from Chinatown’s coolest shop, Ooga Booga, and my newer friend Eric Kim, who helps run the excellent Human Resources art installation space, the first benefit show will take place on Sunday, December 8.

The 2:00 matinee will feature co-headliners that reflect Chinatown’s punk heritage and its arty present. Bob Forrest plays with Thelonious Monster and The Bicycle Thief, who include members of storied bands like The Weirdos, Circle Jerks, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I fully expect him to talk about the bad old days at the Hong Kong Cafe between songs. Chinatown regulars Lucky Dragons are as experimental as they are participatory, and are perfect for an afternoon gig that is not intended for kids but is open to them. Rounding out the bill is LA Fog, a post punk jazz quartet that might as well be the house band at Human Resources.

In addition to the contributions from the Ooga Booga shop, the Human Resources gallery, and the bands, I have other friends who have been donating items for raffle. The quickly growing list includes signed items from artists (Shizu Saldamando, Stella Lai, Susie Ghahremani), musicians (Best Coast, Mike Vallely), and Hong Kong filmmaker Daniel Wu, as well as Dodger tickets, a Donut Friend gift certificate, and a Wanmock courtesy of Architecture for Dogs. More cool stuff is in the works.

It’s a real gift to be able to parlay my publishing background into something tangible that might help the kids and community in the neighborhood where my grandparents and my wife’s parents have spent a lot of time. And now that’s where our daughter is attending L.A’s second oldest public school.

For more information about the show and the cause, check out the event’s pages on Facebook and Eventbrite. Of course you can contact me directly if you want more information or would like to help. And if you can’t take part in our inaugural event, look out for the next ones in 2014…


An interview with Sam Coomes of Quasi

Sometimes the world seems to good to be true. How cool is it that Sam Coomes (who’s played with Elliott Smith and Heatmiser) and Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Wild Flag, The Jicks) can come together and form a unique and excellent musical bond that sounds nothing like those other top-shelf bands. Like The Beatles on steroids with out-of-this world hooks, free-associating lyrics, and crazy dynamics, Quasi is never less than totally melodic while somehow never leaving the red zone of the Rock-O-Meter. And despite being in even more than the previously mentioned bands–as well as actually been previously married to each other–they are miraculously celebrating their second decade of kicking ass.

And then sometimes the world is lame. Why wasn’t last night’s show at The Echo totally packed? If the rock gods meted out any sort of justice, the Portland duo would be selling out fancy venues instead of playing comfortable dives that are not sold out. Sam wondered aloud at the show if it was a problem that he and Janet started off playing prettier music and may have become too rocking for their audience. The storied drummer responded that she can’t not rock. (more…)


Show reviews: Ronnie Spector at the El Rey, Indian Handcrafts and The Dirty Streets at The Satellite

On Tuesday, I saw Ronnie Spector‘s Behind The Beehive show at The El Rey. It wasn’t really a concert as much as it was the legendary singer recounting her life’s journey via anecdotes, personal photos, rare video, and song performances. From what I understand, this format is a way for the Original Bad Girl of Rock ‘n’ Noll to give a live performance without getting caught in the spiderweb of legalities spun her infamous ex-husband and producer.

Going to the show as a casual fan of Spector, it was mind-blowing to hear firsthand her tales of The Ronettes crashing the Peppermint Lounge, hanging out with Murray The K, playing with The Beatles in England, and touring with The Stones. Taking both of those bands to a BBQ joint in Harlem and recording a 7″ single for Apple. And it was also shocking to hear what a dick Phil Spector was to her as a manager and a husband. Even so, her tone always remained classy and positive and she  remained respectful toward his work with her.

As a big fan of the She Talks To Rainbows that was produced by Joey Ramone and released by Kill Rock Stars, I was stoked that she played so many songs off it. She said that Joey wrote the title track of that EP for her, and that Brain Wilson wrote “Don’t Worry Baby” for her as a follow-up to “Be My Baby” but that her husband wouldn’t record it because he wouldn’t get all of the royalties. She also played her version of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” as the second-to-last song of the show before coming back for a short concert that featured “Baby, I Love You” (also great for a Ramones fans like me) and “Be My Baby.” So rad. If she ever makes it to your neighborhood, don’t miss her. Spector’s voice is a national treasure, her story is the history of cool music, and her perseverance is inspiring.

The next evening I dropped by the Satellite to catch the latest free #scionrockshow. To be honest, I wasn’t familiar with the lineup but the previous two installments of the series featured rippers Fu Manchu and Lecherous Gaze and you can’t go wrong with the LSDJs (featuring homie Don Ngueyn) spinning records. It would be lame not to go–especially since it’s right down the street and free!

Openers from Memphis The Dirty Streets were real cool, sounding a little bit like Rod Stewart singing for ZZ Top. Heavy-duty hooks and licks with zero ego and tons of soul on a sweaty little stage in front of practically no one–probably not the band’s dream show but I get to shows early precisely for moments like that.

Indian Handcrafts were amazing. The duo from Canada attack their instruments like hungry animals, albeit ones with chops for miles, snapping with massive riffs and the gnarliest of drums–not to mention back-and-forth vocals. I loved the “Bruce Lee” song and the fact that knob turner Toshi Kasai was there to support (and show their Melvins connection) is more proof of their badassery. They’re still on tour so see them now!

A legend and two bands that I’d never heard on back-to-back outings–both providing a musical education and rad night out. Seeya at the next shows, probably Quasi and then Wire



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Battle of the Release Parties: Aziatix vs. Best Coast

This week I attended back-to-back music release events for Aziatix and Best Coast. Weird! For the former, I crossed a velvet rope along with invited guests and journalists. For the latter, my Kindergartener daughter and I sat on the sidewalk for a couple of hours with fellow fans outside Amoeba to attend the in-store concert. K-pop vs. indie rock. Massive production value vs. lo-fi. Lil’ Wayne vs. Kid Cudi. Making charts is something I really enjoyed and miss about working on Giant Robot magazine, so I figured this was as good an occasion as any to dust off the old format… Enjoy!

Links that actually work:


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Show reviews: Guitar Wolf, Coathangers, Earthless, Joy, Bulletins, Best Coast, plus David Choe

It doesn’t suck to live in California, where you get to see bands like Best Coast play free record-release shows at Amoeba. Yes, the brand-new EP is as amazing as the RSD 7″ led us to believe, perfectly combining honesty and polish, and the new songs sounded great live. So did favorites like “The Only Place,” “Crazy for You,” and the closer, “Girlfriend.” The place was packed and stoked and so was Bethany, who made a point to repeatedly thank all the fans and friends for being there. Watch the set at the Amoeba site when you have the time!

Afterward there was a record signing where Eloise got to give Bobb and Bethany band portraits that she drew while we were in line. I’ll occasionally run into Bobb at shows or the market, and he is not only the most talented musician and producer but one of the raddest guys. Glad Eloise got to see him in action and say hi. Hopefully next time we’ll see him over donuts in Highland Park! (more…)

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Johnnie To’s Drug War

It isn’t shocking that Johnnie To would make an intense, stylish, and smart gangster movie. The Hong Kong auteur has been doing that for about 25 years. What’s amazing is that this story takes place in China, where movies are epic or wacky but rarely gritty, dangerous, or even cool.

As often is the case in To’s movies, Louis Koo plays a character who doesn’t say much or show much but has a dark undercurrent that is subtly and superbly played. As a busted meth manufacturer, he is forced to become a mole for China’s drug squad in conjunction with undercover cop played with conviction by Sun Honglei.

Is Koo’s character really helping the cops? Who is really in control? As the undercover cop is led deeper into the illegal operation, he is forced to not only travel from city to city but make promises, take dope, and put himself in other unsavory situations. It’s intense and violent and the payoff is worth it.

And you can read as much as you want into it. What’s the meaning of the meth lab mutes and the drug trafficking mules? Is the cops and robbers story an allegory for Hong Kong vs. China? And how cool is it that the handsome and tanned Louis Koo is first seen foaming at the mouth and then with cuts and bandages all over his face?

This movie actually showed in screens over the summer and it’s very cool that a domestic DVD and Blu-ray is being released in the U.S. by WellGo today. Check it out HERE and don’t forget to watch the Ip Man: The Final Fight trailer while you’re at it…

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Reviews: Deltron 3030 at Fingerprints, Red Hare and Coliseum at The Satellite (plus eating out with Dirty Beaches and SISU)

After a 13-year-long hiatus, the Deltron 3030 super group has reunited for a full LP, some festival shows, and… a couple of free in-stores? Pretty damn cool that the heroic trio of Dan The Automator, Del The Funky Homosapien, and Kid Koala would play a Long Beach record shop. But after a long day of travel and press, they had to eat. Good thing Berlin is connected to Fingerprints.

Left to right: Dan The Automator, me, Kid Koala, and my pal Paul Kwon scarfing an early dinner at Berlin. How cool is it that there is a coffee house that serves high-end food connected to the record store? Brilliant and tasty, too. Del didn’t eat with us because he was busy practicing his ollies and had some cheese pizza coming to him. No artisan flatbread slices for Del. He’s a purist. (more…)

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Hawaii International Film Festival 2013: My Schedule

The other day, a friend asked me if I was going to HIFF. I wish. I’ve been to a few film fests around the country but I think Hawaii International Film Festival is the best. And after looking over this year’s excellent schedule and its survey of arty, indie, genre, and dramatic flicks from the around the world (especially Asia), I really miss interviewing filmmakers and reviewing movies for Giant Robot mag. Too bad I can’t justify buying all those movies anymore–let alone carve out time to watch them. Man, I could go for some hurricane popcorn, too.

That being said, you don’t have to be a journalist or even an otaku to enjoy or appreciate HIFF. I would hop on a plane to Honolulu this afternoon if I could, and my schedule might look something like the following. Some arty stuff, some intellectual stuff, and definitely a lot of  junk. This is for enjoyment and not to impress anyone. (If you see one and it’s a stinker, sorry! Ditto if I scribbled down an incorrect time or date.) Of course there are plenty of slots to watch random movies and go to Waiola, Leonard’s, Jimbo, Don Quijote, the Human Imagination… Mornings are reserved for the beach.

Enjoy, and let’s definitely make plans to meet at HIFF next year!


Thursday, October 10, 6:00
The Wind Rises (Japan, 2013) – The festival’s opening movie may be the last for the much-loved animated filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

Friday, October 11, 5:30
A River Changes Course (Cambodia/USA, 2013) – Gorgeous, powerful documentary about the effects of modernization on Cambodia.

Friday, October 11, 9:00
Escape From Tomorrow (USA, 2013) – The already infamous experimental thriller filmed on the sly in Disneyland and Disney World.

Saturday, October 12, 6:30
Unbeatable (China, 2013) – Stool Pigeon‘s director Dante Lam and actor Nick Cheung team up once again for this underdog/MMA flick.

Saturday, October 12, 9:45
Pig Death Machine (USA, 2013) – If you can only see one movie, make it Jon Moritisugu and Amy Davis’s newest eyeball-melting, brain-frying experimental flick that captures the surreal beauty and boredom of Santa Fe, NM like nothing else. Not only is Jon and Amy’s band Low on High on the killer soundtrack but so is Dirty Beaches (above). And the people mentioned above have Hawaiian pedigrees, brah!

Sunday, October 13, 3:00
One Night Surprise (China, 2013) – Screwball comedy/chick flick directed by Eva Jin starring Fan Bingbing.

Sunday, October 13, 8:00
Harlock: Space Pirate (Japan, 2013) – An eye-popping 3-D update of anime’s favorite space pirate.

Monday, October 14, 6:15
A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story (Japan, 2013) – Expect mouth-watering training scenes.

Monday, October 14, 9:00
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo (Japan, 2012) – The update of arguably anime’s greatest mecha saga/religious parable/mind fuck.

Tuesday, October 15, 3:00
A Touch of Sin (China, 2013) – Jia Zhangke’s collection of shorts is inspired by by the stylized martial arts flicks of King Hu but are thematically as raw as Kim Ki-duk.

Tuesday, October 15, 8:00
King Kong (USA, 1933) – A chance to see Merian C. Cooper’s genre-defining classic on the big screen.

Wednesday, October 16 6:00
American Dreams in China (China, 2013) – Award-winning director Peter Chan and Wong Kar-Wai collaborator Christopher Doyle reunite for this intriguing and smart-looking movie.

Wednesday, October 6, 9:30
Intruders (South Korea, 2013) – A screenwriter checks into a bed-and-breakfast for peace and quiet but finds himself surrounded by obnoxious guests.

Thursday, October 17, 12:45
Me and You (Italy, 2013) – Seeing a coming-of-age movie by Bernardo Bertolucci seems like a good thing to do at a film festival.

Thursday, October 17 3:45
See You Tomorrow, Everyone (Japan, 2012) – Artful and awkward indie flick with a misfit man-child.

Friday, October 18, 5:00
Sake-Bomb (Japan/USA, 2013) – Indie road movie pitting an Asian American with his Japanese-American cousin, both on the rebound.

Friday, October 18, 7:15
So Young (China, 2013) – Directorial debut/hit movie by actress Zhao Wei adapting a popular novel about a small-town girl coming to grips in the big city, Chinese style.

Saturday, October 19, 7:30
How To Use Guys With Secret Tips (South Korea, 2012) – Tribute to the ’80s with era-appropriate music, fashion, and battling of the sexes.

Saturday, October 19, 9:30
Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero (Japan, 2013) – The hero is masked and also perverted, with ass-crack powers and a “flying bondage technique.”

Sunday, October 20, 6:30
50 First Dates (USA, 2004) – Drew Barrymore + Adam Sandler + Hawaii = Impossible not to like.



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Reviews: Lecherous Gaze and Hot Lunch at The Satellite, Bob Forrest’s Running With Monsters

Gotta love the free metal shows from Scion. Last week’s was right down the street from my house at The Satellite, and it was very much a Tee Pee records showcase with Lecherous Gaze (above) and Hot Lunch (below). Sweet! (more…)

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Paul Pope on his bad-ass, kid-friendly comic, Battling Boy

The final panel I attended at this year’s Comic-Con was a conversation between Gene Yang and Paul Pope about their upcoming all-ages comics. It’s a genre that I hadn’t really considered beforehand, probably because I grew up reading comics without ever thinking that they were written for kids. From the heaviness of The Silver Surfer to the gore of pre-code E.C. Comics, it was all great. But as mainstream comics have amped up the sex, violence, and controversy to new heights in an effort to keep readers interested, offerings for kids are dumbed down, cleaned up, or just plain stupid. Those sweeping generalizations are mine and not the panelists’, but perhaps it’s time to make quality comics more available to kids–like having all-ages punk shows.

Gene talked about his Boxers and Saints books, which tell story of the Boxer Rebellion through the Chinese patriots’ and Chinese Christians’ points of views, respectively. Especially interesting, considering that Gene is a student of either point of view. His books are already out and available now.

And then there’s Paul Pope’s new book. I grabbed reader’s edition and it blew my mind with its Jack Kirby meets The Twilight Zone vibe. Main characters perish, the populace is afraid, and there are awesome monsters. The hero just happens to be a kid, and he’s kind of freaked out. This ain’t Scooby-Doo.

The first installment of Battling Boy drops next month, and I want everyone to know in advance that it rules. So here’s a quick Q&A with the creator of THB, Heavy Liquid, and Batman: Year 100 to get you excited and maybe even share with your friends.

MW: Tell me why you’re making an all-ages comic. That’s something many artists don’t do unless they have kids and are stuck reading lousy kids’ comics!
PP: I think there aren’t enough good comics which are directly aimed at a kid audience. I love the challenge of making a bad-ass comic which is kid-friendly and does all the cool shit we remember from Heavy Metal magazine and old Jack Kirby comics, and delivers in such a way as to be accessible to kids. Nothing too violent or too harsh, but still not too sugar-coated and dumbed down. Something genuine. I don’t have kids, but I was a kid, you know?

MW: Do you recall what you read as a kid?
PP: I read everything. I was a voracious reader. Donald Duck through Heavy Metal through Dune, I read it all.

MW: How do you see all-ages comics these days in comparison?
PP: I dunno, I don’t look at all-ages comics, outside of Adventure Time. But if kid’s comics means Scooby-Doo and Bugs Bunny, that stuff is like 40 or 50 years old. Those are classics, for sure. But kids need new comics. (more…)

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Dirty Beaches and SISU at The Echo, RAD at Permanent Records, Shizu Saldamando at VPAM

After circling the world once or twice and releasing a double album, 10″ soundtrack, and a bunch of digital mixtapes, Dirty Beaches came back to L.A. last Friday, teamed up with soulmates SISU as well as Chasms from San Francisco. The opening duo from San Francisco were raw and cool, like the swirling goth of Siouxsie meets the industrial tone of post-Dils, post-Rank & File Blackbird. (more…)

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Donut Friend by Mark Trombino (Drive Like Jehu) is open!

Just got back from Donut Friend, the long-awaited eatery from my friend Mark Trombino. He’s known by most for producing key albums for Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World but also eternally loved by some others for his drumming with Drive Like Jehu and Night Soil Man. (Mark is on the right, and that’s my crew of Angelyn from Kumquat and Carlos from Music Friends on the left. They know him way better then me!)

Donut Friend is on York Blvd. in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, right next door to Scoops Ice Cream and between Gimme Gimme Records and Wombletown Records (way closer to the latter). Today was only its second day of operation, with soft launch hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

When you walk in, you can’t miss the very yummy mural by another friend Saelee Oh. Mammals eating donuts, playing instruments made out of donuts… Wow. Then you turn around and see edible beauty in the form of baked treats that you get to trick out yourself.

Before and after. First, choose a donut to start with. I went with the glazed vegan. Then, select a filling, put stuff in it, and choose toppings. If you’re too hungry to think, there are suggested combinations all named after bands: Jets to Basil, Chocolate from the Crypt, Coconut of Conformity. Yes, there’s a Rites of Sprinkles T-shirt. Mine was the GBH (Greek yogurt, blueberry jam, and honey) with pistachio bits on top, and it was tasty.

You have to admire a guy like Mark, who has been in some rad bands and found success producing huge albums but chucked music altogether to follow his dream of opening the most awesome donut shop ever. Check it out at or and then pay a visit to the shop:

Donut Friend
5107 York Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90042

Seeya there and please tell me if there’s crud on my mouth!

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Writer/co-director Matt Riggle on FILMAGE (Descendents documentary) w/ info on this weekend’s San Diego screenings

FILMAGE, the long-awaited documentary about the Descendents and ALL has been making rounds on the film festival circuit throughout 2013, and currently it’s hopscotching the country yet again with the help of cool supporters such as Vannen Watches (makers of the Descendents/Coffee Time watch) and Hi My Name Is Mark (Mark of Blink 182 appears in the flick). They are sponsoring three screenings at the Digiplex Mission Valley in San Diego on Saturday, September 21.

I was able to catch an early screening in Long Beach, and was not only stoked to see one of my all-time favorite bands on the big screen blasted though huge speakers but actually learned a lot about the road bumps they’ve encountered and suffering they’ve endured on the quest for ALL. It’s a worthwhile story to tell, and the band’s commitment to its craft (up there with The Beatles and Queen, says Robert Hecker from Redd Kross) and enduring a rough life (as some brushes with death) will appeal to audiences well beyond O.G. punks. I hit up writer/co-director Matt Riggle about the movie, its making, and its future.

MW: How did you get into the Descendents? A rad show, hearing the right song at the right time?
MR: I personally started with ALL’s “Dot” single then traced things back to Descendents. To me they were just so unique sounding. “Can’t Say” was the first thing I heard and it remains, to me, a shining example of a perfect song. I’d never heard a band with so many songwriters sound so cohesive. And they were so strong and melodic and funny without being a joke. I loved the look of their records, too–the covers, the sparse use of pictures, the consistent typesetting. And the fact that the drummer wrote great songs and produced was insane to me. It defied the laws that I thought were in place for bands. (more…)

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Dustin Wong (ex-Ponytail) on his newest solo LP, collaboration with Takako Minekawa, and upcoming tour

Dustin Wong has released so many solo albums, there’s probably no need to specify that he used to be in a band called Ponytail. Yet it is interesting to look back for comparison’s sake. He’s gone from the Baltimore group’s spastic rhythms and hyper energy to dreamy loops and improvisation. He’s also moved to Japan. I look forward to hearing his meditative and loopy but intellectual jams in a live setting when he returns to the United States next week, accompanied on many dates with his frequent collaborator and Japanese subculture icon, Takako Minekawa. Here’s the scoop…

MW: You’re on a roll with new releases. Have you been out of your mind creatively or do the releases just happen to be coming out around the same time?
DW: 2012 was a really productive year for me, writing-wise. Only a moment after finishing the mix for the last album, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, I started writing new songs. Since I finished this record I haven’t been writing as much for myself but I have been writing with Takako more, which has been really fun and imaginative.

MW: After leaving Ponytail and doing so much solo work, what is it like to collaborate again? And with Takako Minekawa!
DW: Oh my god, so much fun! Making music with her is like recess, running around the playground. In the beginning, we were definitely trying to figure out how to work together but once we got it going it’s been really amazing. We are working on a bunch of songs right now and hoping to put something out next year! (more…)

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Brian Ralph and Reggie 12 land in Los Angeles

How cool is it that Brian Ralph’s “Reggie 12″ comic strips have been collected from the back page of Giant Robot mag and compiled into a gorgeous oversize hardback with amazing spot UV on the cover? Even better, Brian Ralph has been on the road and doing signings. The SCAD Professor of Sequential Art concluded the West Coast leg of his journey at Secret Headquarters in Silver Lake yesterday, so I got to do some catching up with him. (more…)

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Tae Won Yu’s Poses, Kicking Giant, and REMAKE: The World In Paper in one awesome weekend

Wendy and I flew into Portland, had dinner with my old college friend and his family, and then rolled up to the Land Gallery where we immediately ran into even more friends: artists transplanted from Los Angeles Souther Salazar and Monica Choy, musicians from Brooklyn Aaron Hartman and Alicia Jo Rabins. Portland may be a small town but I guess the world has become even smaller…

Like me they traveled to Portland’s Mississippi district to attend the opening night of Tae Won Yu’s art show, REMAKE: The World in Paper. As fans of his album cover art for Built To Spill and Versus might guess, Tae’s paper constructions are as whimsical as they are meticulously crafted. Wendy and I couldn’t not buy a print.

The art was amazing but the other reason we flew up from Los Angeles was to see Tae play in his new duo, Poses, with fresh drummer Victoria Salvador. As Paul Weller went from the harder-rocking Jam to the more soulful Style Council before finding middle ground in his solo career, Tae has gone from the art-punk Kicking Giant to the R&B-tinged KG to something in the middle with Poses. Fans will not be disappointed and, yes, he is still a rock ‘n’ roll animal. And who is that setting up in the top right photo? (more…)

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