Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

1muffs2Last week, I went to see an in-store/record-release show by The Muffs at Amoeba. They played most of the great new LP and were as aweseome as ever–combining ultra-catchy girl group melodies with no-holds-barred punk rock attitude and out-of-this-world musicianship. So it was an honor to see one of my pictures printed full-bleed on the insert. Kim and Ronnie had asked me for the file but I wasn’t sure how it would be used or if it wound up on the cutting-room floor. My photography is far from great but the photo looks pretty damn good printed 12″ by 12″ and there is some poetry in the situation.

You might recall that Giant Robot mag was spawned in the era of punk rock zines. Before starting it, Eric Nakamura and I had both contributed to publications like Fear of Grown-Ups, Flipside, and Fiz, and he actually has had photos printed on Muffs 7″ singles. (So did early GR contributor Vicki Berndt.) The print version of GR has run its course but I still go to shows and take and share photos, so it’s very cool that one of them would be used by one of my favorite bands and I would join the esteemed ranks of Eric and Vicki. Thanks, Muffs!

2muffs1I went to some other shows, too… I think it was Pabst that sponsored a night of heavy music at The Echoplex. Deep Six band To The Point opened, featuring members of Fetus Eaters and Spazz. I only caught a few songs but their powerful brand of hardcore was straight-up, filler-free, and a perfect way to fire up the evening.


Next up was one of my favorite bands and the new-school kings of skate rock, The Shrine. Does anyone rip harder or have more fun onstage than the trio from Venice? And are there nicer dudes anywhere? So what could be better than having the homies practically in my backyard at a six-dollar show. No, they didn’t play “Symptom of the Universe” (Sabbath, of course). Yes, they sang, “The Duke” (by friend and supporter Chuck Dukowski). Friends on the East Coast and in Japan, don’t miss them when they head your way.


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T.S.O.L. singer Jack Grisham just released a new collection of short stories, Untamed. To celebrate, he had a book signing/punk rock matinee at The Observatory in Santa Ana. For the price of the book you got a free show! I got there just in time to introduce Jack to Eloise, have my copy signed, and catch the end of the afternoon’s final opener. The Detours are a first-wave Orange County punk band, circa 1977. And in addition to decades of shredding to dip into, they can throw in a ripping version of “No Way” (doesn’t hurt that various members have played in The Adolescents, D.I., Christian Death, Social Distortion…). Awesome. Four o’clock headliners T.S.O.L. gleefully served up all the old hits like maniacs, from anarchist rippers like “Abolish Government/Silent Majority” to proto-death rock classics like “Sounds of Laughter.” The pit was raging for a Sunday afternoon, and I was stoked that my five-year-old daughter lasted more than halfway through the set. I was also shocked to find out that the band played a second show that night at an American Legion Hall in Baldwin Park. Damn! Jack says the band is embarking on a South American tour this week, but there’s another chance to get your book signed at Beyond Baroque on June 23. Go! Jack isn’t as scary as you think. PUBLICATION REVIEWS Untamed, Jack Grisham Jack Grisham’s literary work is joyfully twisted, right in step with the T.S.O.L. singer’s musical output (dark, violent) and legend (troublemaker, ass-kicker). And like his memoir, An American Demon, the brand-new collection of 10 short stories by T.S.O.L.’s singer is loosely based or at least inspired by his own life experiences. What’s real and what’s made up provide a ton of subtext for literary punks but fallen angels, torture, murder, and sex with stuffed animals make it a real page turner for anyone. Accompanied by R. Crumb-esque illustrations by Scott Aicher. [Punk Hostage Press] Hard Art, Lucian Perkins This collection of images by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lucian Perkins draws not from his stints in Afghanistan, Kosovo, or the Persian Gulf War but the Washington DC punk scene of 1979. The unpublished black-and-white photography captures key gigs in the embryonic punk scene that included Bad Brains (before they left for New York) and Teen Idles (featuring pre-Minor Threat Ian Mackaye and Jeff Nelson). The live shots are stunning but the photos of the audience are just as important–reflecting a real sense of community and not just a star factory. Insightful narrative is provided by none other than participants and musicians Alec Mackaye and Henry Rollins. [Akashic Books] Perpetually Twelve 10 The balance has shifted from words to art in the latest issue of McHank’s zine out of San Diego. Among other pieces, I really dig the hot-rod inspired brushs of Mr. Sleeep and bold inks of Frenemy. McHanks’ fan art is awesome, too. I call it that not disparagingly but because he lovingly depicts Kermit the Frog and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the...
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Holy crap! Long Beach: Work in Progress really happened. The scenario seemed too good to be true: Come up with panels to illustrate and demonstrate the underrated heritage and upside of a city that I’ve been digging since I was a teenager. Crashing culture, colliding communities, and the power of subcultures–I’m all over that. Above you can see Long Beach skaters/activists Chad Tim Tim, Justin Reynolds, Paul Kwon, Dallas Rockvam, and Levi Brown with Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold. The event took place in the historic Edison Theatre, which was built in 1917 as the Nippon Pool Room and went through phases as a sporting goods store, foot clinic, and beauty salon. Most recently it was home to CSULB’s theatre troupe but has been shuttered for five years until it was opened by the city just for Friday’s event. Keynote speaker John Jay (W+K Garage) spoke on the the creative crisis–how the need for creativity is at an all-time high in business, the arts, and society in general. His manifesto was followed by authors Cara Mullio and Jennifer Volland’s very cool study on local Case Study House architect Edward Killingsworth. (Yes, I bought a copy of their brand-new Hennessey+Ingalls book on Killingsworth and had them sign it.) Jonathan Gold’s seemingly stream-of-consciousness-yet-completely-in-control ruminations on things he likes to eat in Long Beach (framed by recollections of sailors at The Pike, a roller-coaster decapitation, and bad metal shows at Fender’s) was so good it almost made me cry, and was followed by an otherworldly panel on Long Beach music moderated by my friend and member of The Vandals Joe Escalante. Somehow, he was able to balance the early hardcore punk stories of his longtime colleague Jack Grisham from T.S.O.L. with peeks into Little Cambodia via Dengue Fever’s Zac Holtzman and Chhom Nimol (who played an acoustic preview of a brand new song). Is that a mash-up of subcultures or what. The final panel was about the importance of skateboarding to Long Beach culture and its future with Justin, Chad, Ricki The Dude Bedenbaugh, and Paul. Of course, it ripped and generated a ton of responses. The long day was capped by a round table discussion handled by jeffstaple and words from District 2 Councilperson Suja Lowenthal. Very legit to get seals of approval from a king of street culture and a city respresentative. And so awesome to witness my worlds colliding right in front of my eyes, with Jack and Joe (above, left) from years of going to punk shows to Tanya, Julia, and Renzei (above, right) from my current efforts to help the team build Long Beach (and everywhere else) through culture labs and backers in business. Keep an eye out for more photos and even a video to be leaked in the near future… But until then I think the message of Long Beach: Work in Progress can be applied to anyone’s hometown. Look for what’s cool about it, and then seek to understand, grow, mix, and share...
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I don’t talk about my day job here very often, but I think that a lot of you will appreciate this. Imprint Culture Lab is a company that showcases up-and-coming, under-the-radar, and imported ideas. Eric Nakamura actually helped kickstart the earliest ones, bringing in high-powered friends from the worlds of streetwear, tech, otaku, and craft. I’ve been helping out with the newest one, which takes place in the home base of Imprint and its sister company interTrend.

The topic was born when the founder of Imprint/CEO of interTrend Julia Huang (above, right) told me that her companies were moving from a high rise to the second oldest building in Downtown Long Beach. I created a job for myself documenting its renovation, digging into the building’s sordid past as a psychic temple, researching the local history, and showcasing the community’s energy and upside in a blog. While sitting in on a meeting to choose a direction for the next Imprint, Long Beach seemed like a perfect choice to me. With the company investing and placing roots in the neighborhood, it was time to give back and grow it.

Long Beach: Work in Progress, which takes place next Friday, will have four panels. Authors Cara Mullio and Jennifer M. Volland will talk about their new book for Hennesy+Ingalls on Case Study House architect Edward A. Killingsworth. On the subject of music, Joe Escalante from The Vandals (above, left) and Jack from T.S.O.L. will represent Long Beach’s first generation hardcore punk subculture and Chhom Nimol and Zac Holtzman will talk about their relationship Long Beach’s Little Cambodia.

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