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…